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Best Bourbon Whiskey

 

The Fifty Best Bourbon Tasting 2020


The Tasting: The Fifty Best held a "blind" tasting of 41 bourbon whiskies with seventeen members of our spirits judging panel. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. The higher proof spirits (100+ prf) were tasted after the lower proof bourbons. Each of the bourbons were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles, and served at slightly above room temperature. The judges wrote down their impressions of each product on score sheets. Double-Gold, Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The states of origin, distilleries and alcohol proofs are identified for each brand.


DOUBLE-GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

St. Augustine Distillery Florida Straight Bourbon
(St. Augustine Distillery, FL)  Aged 3 yrs - 88° prf

Nose: Caramel, toasty caramel, toffee, chocolate, fudge, treacle, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, toasted coconut, coconut, prune, mango, banana, apricot, green apple, lemon leaves, green leaves, hay, wheat, hazelnut, coffee grounds, wine notes, madeira, cognac, musty, cedar, pine, oak.
Palate: Caramel, butterscotch, toffee, fudge, molasses, powdered sugar, cocoa, creamy, butter, vanilla, dried fruits, raisins, apricot, rose, biscuit, toasted oats, black tea, green grass, cinnamon, sharp canella, allspice, spicy, black pepper, leathery, woody, oak, old oak, burnt oak, rum, smooth.
Finish: Raisins, dates, cocoa powder, demerara, toasted coconut, burnt nuts, wheat grain, herbal, peppermint, mint notes, bay leaf, spice, peppery, white pepper, black pepper, pine, cognac, funk, smooth.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

St. Augustine Distillery Florida Straight Bourbon Whiskey



Douglas & Todd Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey

(Ed Phillips & Sons, MN) Aged min. 4 yrs. 93° prf

Nose: Vanilla, cane sugar, maple sugar, maple, honey, buttery, clotted cream, toasted marshmallow, orange wafers, almond, hay, dill, moss, tobacco, cigar, oak, cabernet wine notes, sherry.
Palate: Caramel, sweet caramel, toffee, butterscotch, clotted cream, honey, coconut, dried purple figs, mango, plums, kumquat, orange, orange peel, sweet cornbread, cereal, almond, tea, tea leaves, peppermint, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, spice, cigar, wood burning stove.
Finish: Fudge, caramel, mocha, vanilla cream, dried fruit, cinnamon, spice, hay, leafy, dried leaves, very smoky, smoky pine, pine, smooth, bright, awesome.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Douglas & Todd Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey



Hillrock Estate Distillery Solera Aged Bourbon

(Hillrock Estate Distillery, NY)  Finished in sherry casks. 92.6° prf

Nose: Caramel, butterscotch, buttery, sweet molasses, vanilla, mocha, cola, honey, candied pineapple, dried apricots, apple pie, pear notes, orange, sweet tea, black tea, straw, hay, olive, cinnamon, sherry.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, butterscotch, buttery, brown sugar, cane, vanilla, honey, raisins, baked apples, apricot, sweet corn, ginger, nutty, cinnamon, nutmeg, spice, smoky, good heat, balanced, sherry.
Finish: Caramel, white chocolate, creamy, coconut cream, muscovado, peach, pear, apples, mint, cloves, light spice, tobacco, peat, smoky, oaky, dried cedar, well balanced, so soft, smooth.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Hillrock Estate Distillery Solera Aged Bourbon Whiskey



Western Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey 8 Year

(Western Reserve Distillers, OH)  86° prf

Nose: Molasses, vanilla, cream biscuits, coconut cream, honey, blossom honey, tropical fruits, banana, sweet corn, green apple, citrus, mild verbena, green leaves, hay, toasted almonds, leather, earthy, pine, oak, summer.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, fudge, molasses, vanilla, sweet biscuit, toasted oats, buttery croissant, coconut, corn, apricot, prune, lemon, green grass, nut, coffee grinds, light cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, spice, peppery, sherry, mineral, eucalyptus, pine cones pine trees, mild cedar, oaky.
Finish: Caramel, lingering chocolate, molasses, vanilla, vanilla crackers, pecan pie, dried apricot, herb, mint, cinnamon, soft pepper, toasted tobacco, sherry notes, good balance, smooth, easy, delicious, delightful.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Western Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey 8 Year



Low Gap Bourbon Whiskey
(American Craft Whiskey Distillery, CA) 84.4° prf

Nose: Butterscotch, caramel, toffee, fudge, vanilla, maple syrup, demerara, marzipan, cheesecake, candied pecans, bananas foster, coconut, toasted pineapple, dried apple, mild lemon zest, floral, roasted coffee beans, cold brew coffee, graham crackers, hay, liniment leaves, new wood, sherry.
Palate: Butterscotch, toffee, caramel, buttery, sweet cream butter, vanilla, maple, chocolate, dark chocolate, cocoa, cinnamon cake, raisins, banana, soft citrus notes, rose, nutty, sherry, clove, pepper, grass, dark rum note, balanced, smooth, lovely.
Finish: Caramel, vanilla, graham crackers, some hazelnut, almond, mocha, minty, clove, allspice, pepper, white pepper, red pepper, saline, oak, well balanced, smooth, pleasant, very yummy, delicious, a great sipper.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Low Gap Bourbon Whiskey



King’s Family Distillery Straight Bourbon
(King’s Family Distillery, TN) Distilled in Indiana. 87° prf

Nose: Maple syrup, cedar honey, vanilla, apricot, dried pineapple, ripe banana, papaya, melon, tropical fruit, prune, cashew apple, ripe banana skin, orange peel, orange zest, ginger, cherry blossom, blossoms, flowers, flowery, kids cereal, minty, spice, tobacco, earthy, leather.
Palate: Butterscotch, sweet clotted cream, creamy, dried cream, demerara, sugarcane, cane sugar, vanilla, pound cake, ripe banana, mango, pear, apple, lemon, dried tropical fruit, dried fruits, rose, peppermint, clove, spice, leather, smooth, laid back.
Finish: Sweet butterscotch, buttery, leather, vanilla, toasted coconut, banana, pineapple, pear, cinnamon, coriander seeds, garam masala, white pepper, woodsy, sherry note, balanced, consistent, soft, smooth, velvety, yum, great.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

King’s Family Distillery Straight Bourbon Whiskey



Balcones Texas Pot Still Straight Bourbon
(Balcones Distilling, TX) Aged min 24 ms. 92° prf

Nose: Toffee, caramel, butterscotch, cream, chocolate fudge, maple fudge, maple, sweet raisins, dates, pineapple, Asian pear, buttery mead, corn, peanut butter, pecan tarte, macadamia, walnut, nutmeg, toasted bread, toast, herbal, cinnamon, new bricks.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, mild vanilla, clotted cream, nougat, demerara sugar, dark sweet honey, raisins, dates, apricot, mango, lemon, spearmint, cinnamon, mild pepper, pure corn mash, leather, peaty, scotch, balanced, smooth.
Finish: Chocolate, toffee, buttery note, maple, marzipan, honey, dried tropical fruit, orange zest, tea pekoe, toasted canella, spice, white pepper, mild pepper, smoke, peat, pine wood, smooth, elegant, perfect.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Balcones Texas Pot Still Straight Bourbon Whisky



Balcones Texas Blue Corn Straight Bourbon
(Balcones Distilling, TX) Pot distilled. Aged min. 27 months. 103° prf

Nose: Toffee, fudge, chocolate, chocolate covered raisins, caramel, molasses, demerara, burnt sugar, maple, vanilla, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, toasted coconut, banana, candied apple, blossom, hazelnut, almond, coffee, spice.
Palate: Toffee, chocolate, toasted caramel, molasses, demerara, maple, nougat, clotted cream, coconut, honey, pineapple, orange, orange zest, banana nut, almond, walnut, herbs, green pepper, eucalyptus, cinnamon, coffee, tobacco, green pine, tannins, oak, delicious.
Finish: Caramel, treacle, mocha, nougat, maple, orange, tea, spearmint, almond, woody, green pine, well balanced.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Balcones Texas Blue Corn Straight Bourbon



GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

Driftless Glen Bourbon Whiskey
(Driftless Glen Distillery, WI)  Aged min 2 yrs. 96° prf

Nose: Butterscotch, toffee, vanilla, honey, sweet dried fruit, ripe pineapple, red apples, green apple, mild citrus, green pepper, floral, delicate carnation, dried autumn leaves, nutty, eucalyptus, lemon balm leaf, green leaves, grass, wet stones, smoky, woody oak.
Palate: Caramel, brown sugar, maple sugar, mocha, burnt chocolate, honey & cream, buttery, vanilla, dried apricots, apricot, mango, dates, pineapple, strawberry, MacIntosh apples, lemon, licorice, toast, nutmeg, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, mineral, leathery, smoky, cedar.
Finish: Dried fruit, honey, dry vanilla bean, cocoa dust, nutty, elderflower, sweet tea leaves, herbs, dill, eucalyptus, toasted bay leaf, nutmeg notes, spice notes, limestone, woody, oak, old oak, smooth, nice, pleasant.


Gold Medal
Gold medal

Driftless Glen Bourbon Whiskey



Chicken Cock Beer Barrel Select Kentucky Bourbon

(Chicken Cock Whiskey, KY)  Finished in beer barrels. 90° prf

Nose: Toffee, creamy caramel, butterscotch, fudge, nougat, vanilla, toasted marshmallow, honey, coconut, dried apple, hibiscus, violet, rose petals, tea, biscuit, brioche, wheat field, hay, almonds, clove, peppercorn, green leaves, musty, beer.
Palate: S’mores, sweet cream, vanilla, molasses, honey, baked apple, pineapple. ginger, corn, rice, herbaceous, licorice, peppermint, flowers, jasmine, sandalwood, rose bushes, nutmeg, toasty, tobacco, peaty, oak, sherry, elegant.
Finish: Graham cracker, maple, root beer, dark syrup, vanilla, pineapple, almonds, peppermint, nutmeg, spicy, pepper, earthy, peaty, tobacco, charred, smoke, rich, interesting.


Gold Medal
Gold medal

Chicken Cock Beer Barrel Select Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey



St. Augustine Distillery Port Finished Bourbon

(St. Augustine Distillery, FL)  Aged 2 yrs, 102° prf

Nose: Toffee, rich caramel, mocha, molasses, brown sugar, vanilla wafers, Marie biscuits, butter, honey, stewed pears, figs, toasted almond, dark coffee bean, coffee notes, nutmeg, peat.
Palate: Toffee, cocoa, molasses, maple, vanilla, biscuit, honey, raisins, orange, minty, tea leaves, espresso, coffee, stout, licorice root, cinnamon, clove, bay leaf, mushroom, tobacco, smoke, oaky, toasted oak.
Finish: Butterscotch, buttery, dried apricots, orange peel, honey, Graham crackers, biscuits, toasted pecans, canella, cinnamon, tea leaves, eucalyptus, bay leaf, peat notes, smoke.


Gold Medal
Gold medal

St. Augustine Distillery Florida Port Finished Bourbon



Colonel Hunter’s Select Barrel Tennessee Bourbon

(Leiper’s Fork Distillery, TN)  Aged 10 yrs. 90° prf

Nose: Caramel, butterscotch, muscovado, clotted cream, cream, vanilla, banana foster, tropical fruit, cherry, dry apple, citrus, verbena, toast, grain, wheat grass, grassy, green leaves, hay, new hay, leather, new leather, cigar box, woody, pine wood, cedar.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, toasted vanilla toffee, vanilla, rich cocoa notes, treacle, creamy, honey, dried stone fruit, prune, bananas, orange zest, orange peel, lemon, rose, hazelnut, biscuit, toast, bready, grainy, eucalyptus, grass, cinnamon, a hint of allspice, leather, tannic, pine, cedar.
Finish: Marshmallow, creamy, coconut, raisins, spicy dried fruit, toasted almond, nutty, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, tea, bee balm, minty, spice, musty, wood, well-balanced, smooth, velvety, delectable, elegant, delicious.


Gold Medal
Gold medal

Colonel Hunter’s Select Barrel Tennessee Bourbon



Sugar House Distillery Bourbon Whiskey

(Sugar House Distillery, UT)  92° prf

Nose: Caramel, toffee, molasses, burnt sugar, cane sugar dark honey, toasted orange peel, vanilla, toast, nutty, tea, clove, spice, grassy, hay, dried leaves, hops, leather, burnt firewood, wood, cedar, bourbon barrel, sherry, aged rum.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, brown sugar, cola, sugar cane, vanilla, vanilla cracker, honey, apricot, orange peel, peppered fruit, orange blossom, spearmint, almond, hazelnut, clove, cinnamon, allspice, spice, spicy, grassy, leaves, cane sugar, smoke, oak.
Finish: Butterscotch, chocolate, cane sugar, vanilla, cherry cola, berries, Fuji apple, apples, orange peel, sweet spice, spicy, black pepper, smoke, leather, dark wood, well balanced, clean, smooth, tasty, great.


Gold Medal
Gold medal

Sugar House Distillery Bourbon Whiskey



Western Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey 14 Year

(Western Reserve Distillers, OH) 90° prf

Nose: Caramel, chocolate, sweet maple, brown sugar, cane sugar, coconut, vanilla, cherry pie, apricot, fig, pear, orange zest, white flower, hibiscus, green leaves, nutty, cappuccino, coffee, cinnamon, clove, wormwood, spice, soft oak, rum.
Palate: Chocolate, molasses, demerara notes, vanilla, marzipan, coconut, raisins, fig, banana, peach, cloves. orange, orange zest, citrus, rose, almonds, nuts, savory nut, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, spice, pepper, tannic, peaty, smoky, woody, pine tree, toasty cedar, smooth.
Finish: Chocolate, vanilla, honey, Fig Newton, fig, pineapple, boiled corn, rose petal, cinnamon, spice, pepper, bacon, burnt ribs, charred wood, smoky, oaky, balanced, smooth, approachable.


Gold Medal
Gold medal

Western Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey 14 Year



914 Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey

(StillTheOne Distilery, NY)  Aged 34 ms. 90° prf

Nose: Vanilla, cane sugar, maple sugar, maple, honey, buttery, clotted cream, toasted marshmallow, orange wafers, almond, hay, dill, moss, tobacco, cigar, oak, cabernet wine notes, sherry.
Palate: Caramel, sweet caramel, toffee, butterscotch, clotted cream, honey, coconut, dried purple figs, mango, plums, kumquat, orange, orange peel, sweet cornbread, cereal, almond, tea, tea leaves, peppermint, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, spice, cigar, wood burning stove.
Finish: Fudge, caramel, mocha, vanilla cream, dried fruit, cinnamon, spice, hay, leafy, dried leaves, very smoky, smoky pine, pine, smooth, bright, awesome.


Gold Medal
Gold medal

914 Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey



The Heart Distillery Bourbon Whiskey Cask Strength
(The Heart Distillery, CO)  Aged 16 ms. 123° prf

Nose: Caramel notes, sweet molasses, vanilla, dried apricot, figs, melon, orange zest, green apples, apple blossoms, fresh cut grass, roses, herbal, straw, walnut, tannins, pine needles, pine, wood dust, wood.
Palate: Caramel, clotted cream, treacle, cane sugar, honey, raisins, apricot, melon, citrus, cereal, sweet boiled corn, elderflower, spearmint, mint, nuts, nutmeg, ras el hanout, spices, leather, light wood, pine.
Finish: Honey, sweet corn, bright orange zest, melon, mint, bright cinnamon, allspice, spice, talc, oak, sherry, balanced, powerful, smooth.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

The Heart Distillery Bourbon Whiskey Cask Strength



Evans & Pike Reserve Solera Bourbon Whiskey

(Black Forest Distillery, CO)  126.4° prf

Nose: Caramel, butterscotch, toffee, molasses, cane sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, vanilla wafers, raisins, dried fruits, pineapple, coconut, allspice, menthol, dark wood, oak.
Palate: Caramel, butterscotch, toffee, buttery, vanilla, marmalade, dates, figs, pineapple, banana, apricot, mint, cinnamon, nutmeg, leather, smoky, burnt oak, oak, rustic wood, rich.
Finish: Caramel, butterscotch, treacle, muscovado, honey, toasted pineapple, banana, orange blossom, mint, cinnamon, spice, spicy, clove, flaky dough, oak, really balanced, rich, stunning.


Gold Medal
Gold medal

Evans & Pike Reserve Solera Bourbon Whiskey



Iron Fish Distiller’s Cut Bourbon Whiskey

(Iron Fish Distillery, MI)  Finished in sherry casks. 90° prf

Nose: Caramel, chocolate, mocha, flan, light vanilla, demerara sugar, maple sugar, dried fruit, dates, pineapple, pear, apple, mild citrus, light floral, marzipan, almond oil, nutty, straw, dill, corn leaves, cinnamon, spice.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, chocolate, cocoa, creamy, molasses, maple, vanilla, honey, sweet corn, apple, ginger ale, minty, hazelnut, roasted nuts, nutty, green pepper, olives, briny, peaty, smoky, wood, pine, oaky, light oak, nice mouth feel.
Finish: Caramel, chocolate, pineapple, raisin, orange blossom, citrus, mint, almond, clove, bright cinnamon, dried spices, pepper, smoky, oak, well balanced, soft, great.


Gold Medal
Gold medal

Iron Fish Distiller’s Cut Bourbon Whiskey



Missouri Ridge Distillery Single Barrel Bourbon

(Missouri Ridge Distillery, MO)  Aged 328 days. 94° prf

Nose: Sweet caramel, caramel, toffee, butterscotch, chocolate, nougat, maple, prunes, raisins, dried fruit, vanilla, cotton candy, honey, Graham crackers, buttery, buttered popcorn, coconut, berry, apple, green apples, lemon, orange, coffee beans, pine, amaretto, tequila.
Palate: Caramel, butterscotch, toffee, buttery, creamy, nougat, marzipan, cane sugar, sugarcane, sweet honey, raisins, banana, orange zest, lemon, citrus, coconut, popcorn, nutty, licorice, spices, burnt wood, sherry.
Finish: Caramel, butterscotch, molasses, honey, vanilla, butter, clotted cream, baked goods, bread, nutty, flowers, orange zest, dried leaves, white pepper, sherry note, delicious.


Gold Medal
Gold medal

Missouri Ridge Distillery Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey



Black Dirt New York Straight Bourbon Whiskey

(Black Dirt Distillery, NY)  Aged 3 yrs. 90° prf

Nose: Toffee, caramel, butterscotch, dark chocolate, molasses, brown sugar, maple syrup, nougat, honey, dried fruits, coconut, mango, pineapple, apricot, berries, orange, green apple, lemon, almonds, toasty, spices, leathery, oak, sawn oak, sherry.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, butterscotch, dark chocolate, bitter chocolate, molasses, vanilla, marzipan, honey, marmalade, dried fruit, mango, orange, lemon, lime, citrus peel, lemon zest, citrus, ginger, licorice, almond, potato chip, poppy seed, leather, cigar, charred wood, wood notes, oaky, sherry.
Finish: Butterscotch, chocolate, butter, lemon poppy cake, spice, minty, peppery, black pepper, leather, smoky, cigar box, woody, oak, well balanced, smooth.


Gold Medal
Gold medal

Black Dirt New York Straight Bourbon Whiskey



Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey

(Redwood Empire Distilling, CA) 90° prf

Nose: Chocolate, dark chocolate, toffee, dried fruit, butter, ripe banana, pineapple, tropical, red apple, green apples, apple seeds, lemon zest, orange pekoe tea, green beans, grass, green leaves, walnut, brioche, sandalwood, spice, pepper, pine, madeira.
Palate: Toffee, vanilla toffee, maple, maple syrup, vanilla, honey, baked cake, spiced cheerios, wheat, barley, coconut, banana, mango, green apple candy, sour apple, apples, lemon zest, floral, eucalyptus, tea leaves, hazelnut, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, spicy, tannins, cedar.
Finish: Vanilla, orange cream, dried apricot, cinnamon applesauce, honey, hazelnut, lemon spice, clove, licorice, sour mash, smoky, well balanced, smooth, polished, perfect.


Gold Medal
Gold medal

Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey



Five Drops Bourbon Whiskey

(WildRye Distilling, MT)  Aged 1 yr. 90° prf

Nose: Pronounced caramel, toffee, molasses, brown sugar, cane sugar, salted cream, vanilla, corn, honey, orange blossom honey, pineapple, green apple, green apple skins, mild lemongrass, minty, green leaves, hay, rye, spice, leather, tobacco, new wood, woody, pine.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, creamy, butterscotch, maple syrup, sugarcane, vanilla, honey, mango, apricot, ginger, raisins, orange zest, orange peel, biscuit, wheat, hay, salty, nutty, cinnamon, canella, eucalyptus, green leaves, clove, Sichuan pepper, burned, charred, new wood, cedar, rich, craft taste.
Finish: Butterscotch, orange peel, green apple, dried apples, dried fruit, rye, coffee, cloves, toasted cinnamon, light spice, Sichuan pepper, leathery, funky, smoky, woody, pine, oaky, balanced, smooth, rich, zesty, lively.


Gold Medal
Gold medal

Five Drops Bourbon Whiskey

 


Best Bourbon Part 2
Best Bourbon - Part 2



 
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