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Bourbon 2014

Best Bourbon - 2014


The Fifty Best Bourbon Tasting of 2014


The Tasting Results:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 27 American bourbon whiskies with 20 pre-qualified judges. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Each of the bourbons were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles, and served at slightly above room temperature. Only ice water, neutral unflavored crackers and bar snacks were available to cleanse the palate. The judges tasted through three flights of 7 bourbons and one flight of 6 bourbons.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each product on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the best. Double-Gold, Gold and Silver medals were awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no Bronze medals awarded in this tasting.

The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The states of origin are identified for each brand.


Here are the final results:



Nose: Tropical fruits, citrus, creamy, vanilla, marshmallow, wheat.
Palate: Caramel, demerara, creamy, marzipan, nougat, vanilla, apricot, cranberry, dates, raisins, sherry, citrus, wheat, silky.
Finish: White pepper, wood, pine, rich, smooth, complex.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Breckenridge Bourbon

Benjamin Prichard's Double Barreled Bourbon

Benjamin Prichard's Double Barreled

Nose: Fresh orange, floral, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, corn, mint, oak.
Palate: Citrus, treacle, honey, nougat, marzipan, nutty, almond, spearmint, spice, oak, silky, smoky.
Finish: Molasses, raisins, pepper, tart, lovely, sophisticated.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

John B. Stetson

Nose: Toffee, candied fruit, maple, green banana, walnut, spice.
Palate: Apricot, vanilla, maple, butterscotch, dates, wheat, sandalwood, pepper.
Finish: Dried fruits, pepper, smooth, fresh, lively, short.

Double-Gold Medal
Double-Gold medal

John B. Stetson Bourbon

Ranger Creek .36 Bourbon

Ranger Creek .36

Nose: Brown sugar, demerara, molasses, maple syrup, cinnamon.
Palate: Ripe fruits, raisin, dark sugar, caramel, maple, pecan, wheat, cinnamon, spice, allspice, tobacco, beautiful wood, rich.
Finish: Citrus peel, cinnamon bun, maple syrup, rye, spice, toasted wood.

Double-Gold Medal
Double-Gold medal

Widow Jane
(New York)

Nose: Honey, treacle, toffee, butterscotch, vanilla, banana leaf, spice.
Palate: Butterscotch, corn, buttery, sherry, nutty, herbs, pepper, spice, oak.
Finish: Corn, spicy, savory, lingering.

Double-Gold Medal
Double-Gold medal

Widow Jane Bourbon

Colorado Gold Bourbon

Colorado Gold

Nose: Caramel, brown sugar, apple wood, teak, green grass.
Palate: Honey, cream, salted caramel, floral, citrus, cinnamon, almond, hazelnut, oak, balanced.
Finish: Spice, maritime, smooth, impressive.

Double-Gold Medal
Double-Gold medal

Devil's Share

Nose: Vanilla extract, honey, sugar cane, brown sugar, molasses, treacle, maple syrup, orange, wheat, wood.
Palate: Caramel, honey, vanilla, creamy, buttery, maple, savory fruits, dates, sherry cask, spicy, rich, delicate.
Finish: Rich, creamy, robust, orange peel, nutty, perfect, lingering.

Double-Gold Medal
Double-Gold medal

Devil's Share Bourbon

Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. Bourbon

Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr.

Nose: Sugar cane, honey, vanilla, butterscotch, hard candy, citrus fruit, green apple, pineapple, mint, green leaves, tea leaves, hay, sherry, oak.
Palate: Honey, molasses, caramel, dried fruits, ripe banana, apricot, cola, Oloroso sherry, nutty, pepper, tobacco, oak.
Finish: Spice, peppery, leather, lingering.

Double-Gold Medal
Double-Gold medal

Knob Creek

Nose: Caramel, treacle, honey, cane sugar, vanilla, coffee, citrus, pine.
Palate: Dark fruits, treacle, honey, vanilla, caramel, creamy, coconut, toasted almond, cinnamon, nutmeg, pine, peppermint, earthy, woody, oak, rich.
Finish: Spicy, oak, short.

Double-Gold Medal
Double-Gold medal

Knob Creek Bourbon

Rough Rider Bourbon

Rough Rider
(New York)

Nose: Vanilla extract, honey, sugar cane, brown sugar, molasses, treacle, maple syrup, orange, wheat, wood.
Palate: Caramel, honey, vanilla, creamy, buttery, maple, savory fruits, dates, sherry cask, spicy, rich, delicate.
Finish: Rich, creamy, robust, orange peel, nutty, perfect, lingering.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Grand Traverse Bourbon


Grand Traverse

Nose: Sweet spices, cinnamon, butterscotch, honey, vanilla, corn, cola.
Palate: Ripe fruits, orange, apricot, treacle, creamy, caramel, honey, sherry, macadamias, lemon, mint, peppery, smooth.
Finish: Dark raisin, spearmint, elegant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal


Nose: Creamy, cream soda, banana, tropical fruits, candied fruits, sherry, tobacco.
Palate: Fruity, coconut, banana, raisin, butterscotch, honey, maple, chocolate, wheat, grain, oak, spicy.
Finish: Dried fruit, cola, nutty, spicy, smooth.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Lexington Bourbon

Neversweat Bourbon


Nose: Apricot, stone fruit, honey blossom, floral, young oak.
Palate: Toffee, nougat, vanilla, apricot, licorice, spice, black pepper, leather.
Finish: Pepper, spice, anise, smooth, short.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Kings County
(New York)

Nose: Taffy, nougat, coconut, tropical fruits, maple, nutmeg, mint, spicy, cognac.
Palate: Fresh fruit, orange, sweet banana, butterscotch, buttery, dark chocolate, maple, bacon, nutty, wheat, tobacco, oak.
Finish: Buttery, wheat, toasted oak.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Kings County Bourbon

Tatoosh Bourbon


Nose: Dark chocolate, maple, dates, raisins, orange, woody.
Palate: Dark chocolate, fudge, honey, maple, creamy, vanilla, dates, citrus, spicy, oak, savory, balanced.
Finish: Dark chocolate, spice, short.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Simeon Turley's Taos Lightning 6 Y.O.
(New Mexico)

Nose: Citrus fruit, stone fruit, green apple, vanilla, caramel, spicy, nutty, wood.
Palate: Sweet toffee, buttery, butterscotch, orange, coffee, nutty, tea leaves, oak, spicy, rich, well-balanced.
Finish: Soft, short.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Simeon Turley's Taos Lightning 6 Y.O. Bourbon

Dark Horse Reserve Bourbon

Dark Horse Reserve

Nose: Wheat, maple, bacon, nutty, mahogany, leather, spicy notes, seductive.
Palate: Sweet maple, buttery, mango, herbal tea, savory, smoky, beautiful toasted oak.
Finish: Finish: Sweet spice, smooth, fresh, short.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Corner Creek

Nose: Caramel, honey, butterscotch, chocolate, clove, spicy, tobacco, oak.
Palate: Dates, raisins, prunes, toffee, eucalyptus, pepper, spicy, tobacco.
Finish: Citrus fruits, herbal, spicy, rich, round, clean.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Corner Creek Bourbon

Red River Bourbon

Red River

Nose: Ripe banana, caramel, floral, rose, spearmint, sherry, oak.
Palate: Banana, orange, tropical fruit, caramel, buttery, biscuit, cereal, tea leaves, eucalyptus, sour mash, pepper, dry.
Finish: Light butterscotch, dried fruits, leather, spice, exceptionally smooth, lingering.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Bowman Brothers

Nose: Sour apple candy, apple, gorgeous honey, floral.
Palate: Treacle, honey, creamy, buttery, corn, dates, ginger, eucalyptus, spice, mint, tobacco, tart.
Finish: Citrus, pepper, spicy, smooth.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Bowman Brothers Bourbon

Temperance Trader Straight Bourbon

Temperance Trader Straight

Nose: Caramelized sugar, stroop, honey, maple, toffee, vanilla, tropical fruits, orange, cherry, dried fruit, almond, nutty, Frangelico, peppermint, spices.
Palate: Corn, hint of vanilla, grain, soft spice, citrus, grassy, mint, oak.
Finish: Peppery, bold, vanilla, maple, lingering.

Gold Medal
Gold medal


Nose: Corn, tangerine, green apple, tropical fruit.
Palate: Creamy, buttery, caramel, butterscotch, vanilla, corn, leather, white pepper, spicy, woody.
Finish: Spicy, peppery, balanced, short.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

OYO Bourbon

Town Branch Bourbon

Town Branch

Nose: Honey, blossom, tropical fruit, banana, herbal. nutty, cinnamon, spice, oak.
Palate: Dried fruit, raisins, fruit, nectar, buttery, cream, nougat, toffee, honey, cola, spices, light, silky.
Finish: Lemon, citrusy, sweet oak, fresh, lingering.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Temperance Trader Barrel Strength

Nose: Sweet spice, pineapple, toast, hay, sour mash.
Palate: Coffee, chocolate, caramel, butterscotch, maple, Juicy Fruit, kumquat, tangy, spicy, peppery, woody.
Finish: Citrus, biscuit, spicy, peppery, lingering.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Temperance Trader Barrel Strength Bourbon

PennyPacker Bourbon


Nose: Green apple, green banana, creamy, cereal, nutmeg, spice, pine.
Palate: Pineapple, banana, honey, vanilla, fudge, tea leaves, biscuit, walnut, nutty, blossom, floral, pine, licorice, spicy, mint.
Finish: Honey, candied fruits, clove, soft pepper, short.

Gold Medal
Gold medal


Better Days

Nose: Caramel, treacle, butterscotch, toffee, molasses, honeycomb, banana, orange peel, tropical fruit, almond, wheat.
Palate: Maple, treacle, dark sugar, corn, coconut, orange, pear, lemongrass, chocolate, coffee, wheat, clove, spice, pepper, oak.
Finish: Candied fruit, wood, dry, short.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Better Days Bourbon

Feisty Spirits Bourbon

Feisty Spirits

Nose: Apples, dried fruits, dates, maple syrup, chocolate, wheat, almond, nutmeg, pot still whiskey, malty, dark wood, cedar.
Palate: Dried pineapple, dried fruit, dark sugar, fudge, toffee, floral, clove, pine, hay, hazelnut, rye, hint of sherry, oak, dry.
Finish: Walnuts, soft, mellow, savory, short.

Silver Medal
Silver medal




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Comments and Suggestions:

Mon. December 29, 2014 4:50 PM - by: Michael
Bullitt small batch limited release aged 10 years....very nice and should definitely be on this list....
Tue. December 23, 2014 4:17 PM - by: Kyle
Ya Ray- you're wrong bourbon can be made anywhere in the U.S. I
Sun. December 21, 2014 12:32 AM - by: John Capriotti
How about Blantons Bourbons and Woodford Reserve?
Sat. December 20, 2014 8:02 PM - by: Eric D.
I agree with Shee on Angels Envy, for my current top choice it's either that or Michter's small batch sour mash. Also, Dickel #12 is a good everyday whiskey.
Wed. December 17, 2014 10:17 AM - by: Rich Anders
Raymond, that is not true. Bourbon must be made in the US from minimum 51% corn mashbill and aged in new charred American oak barrels.
Mon. December 1, 2014 11:30 AM - by: WhiskeyCollectorDan
"50 best" but you only try 27? I've been collecting bourbons for a little over a year and have 75 different brands of bourbon from Kentucky alone. You guys should try harder.
Wed. November 12, 2014 2:12 PM - by: dan
Correction, meant to say 12 year on the Old Medley
Sun. November 9, 2014 5:45 AM - by: dan
You forgot Old Medley. 14 years old, bottled into 15,000 bottles as a "one time deal" in 2013. There are still a few left out there and this has been called one of the best 14 year old bourbons out there(bourbonblog).
Thu. October 30, 2014 7:35 PM - by: Raymond grace
Hey people, All Bourbon is whisky, but NOT ALL Whisky is Bourbon...New York, Texas, Colorado, and Michigan have good whisky but have NO bourbon...Now how 'bout dat???
Thu. August 28, 2014 5:58 PM - by: amy jakusovszky
Approximate range in price/bottle,please? Thank you - Virgin Bourbon
Wed. August 6, 2014 8:00 PM - by: c.hines
Conspicuously absent,Blantons. Although I do love the Knob Creek.
Mon. July 28, 2014 6:53 PM - by: k.stev
I agree with shee, true bourbon only comes from Kentucky, call the other stuff what you will.
Wed. July 9, 2014 7:46 AM - by: more informed than shee
The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (27 C.F.R. 5) state that bourbon made for U.S. consumption[15] must be: Produced in the United States[16] Made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn[16] Aged in new, charred oak barrels[16] distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof (80% alcohol by volume)[16] Entered into the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume)[16] Bottled (like other whiskeys) at 80 proof or more (40% alcohol by volume)[17] Bourbon has no minimum specified duration for its aging period.[18] Products aged for as little as three months are sold as bourbon.[19] The exception is straight bourbon, which has a minimum aging requirement of two years. In addition, any straight bourbon aged less than 4 years must state the age of the spirit on the bottle.[20]
Sun. June 15, 2014 5:41 AM - by: Shee
Last year I read government guidelines regarding true Bourbon. It had a lot of things to say but most importantly it said only Bourbon made in Kentucky is the only true Bourbon made in the United States. So I am a bit confused why you have listed all these so called Bourbons made in states other then Kentucky and are calling them the top fifty Bourbons. The US government wouldn't recognize them as duch . The don't recognize Jack Daniels as a Bourbon, it's a Tennessee sour mash whiskey. You haven't listed the true Bourbons of our country and the world. Woodford Reserve, Blantons , Four Roses, Makers Mark for heavens sake!!! Pappy Van Winkels, Old Forester, Bookers, Angels Envy, Black Hill, Wild Turkey, Jim Beam Black Label, and many more, just to name a few of real and true US Kentucky Bourbons. You need to read the US guideline on Bourbons and you will see that the US gov only recognizes Bourbons made in Kentucky!!!
Thu. May 29, 2014 12:50 PM - by: AL Collins
I USED to be a huge Blanton's fan. Then they got bought out some years ago. I have about a 1/3 of a bottle of the OLD Blanton's before the corporate accountants & efficiency experts started hacking on the process & making the tiny changes that begin to build up & make a sizable difference in the taste. My taste buds say there is a HUGE difference in today's Blantons versus the good old family owned Banton's, and the change is NOT good!
Fri. April 18, 2014 8:48 AM - by: Jim
As with every list of the best I ever seen there are always great bourbons left out.
Sat. March 29, 2014 10:52 PM - by: R P
I'm sure these are excellent and a few I have had. However as Jim Murray states, " Blanton's is Liquid Gold"
Sun. February 16, 2014 4:30 PM - by: gord king
I just had a shoot of 1789 I am bringing it back across the border
Sat. December 21, 2013 6:44 AM - by: Larry Hopson
I believe Bowman Brothers is a Virginia bourbon, not Kentucky. Excellent nevertheless.

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Fifty Best > Spirits Archive > Bourbon 2014
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