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THE BOURBON RESOURCE: NOVEMBER 2022
Our holiday buying guide, a new feature, and more
Bourbon in a Minute
If you haven’t liked our Facebook page, please do. In addition to the occasional news and reviews, we’ve started a new feature --- Bourbon in a Minute. These will be short, about 60-second video reviews of Bourbon that focus on mash bill (if available), price, taste/nose/finish, and whether it’s worth your money.
Yes, there are LOTS of good videos on multiple platforms, but the video length is the one differentiating factor. Other videos can be 10 or 15 minutes (or more) long, and with so much competing for our attention, that’s a lot of time.
The first Bourbon in a Minute is up now. Check it out and let us know what you think.
Old Forester has released its King Ranch bourbon, which pays homage to the birthplace of American ranching, the King Ranch in Texas. The Bourbon is only available in retail stores in Texas, but it’s available at about twice the $69.99 retail on the secondary. I love Old Forester and would take a Kings Ranch at retail, but $150 or more (I’ve seen as high as $249) is way too high given the Bourbon’s overall profile (solid in all aspects, with the single barrel the only one worth it at $90 or so retail).
I found this interesting. Campari, the spirits conglomerate based in Milan, has agreed to a deal to purchase a majority stake in the Wilderness Trail Distillery in Danville, KY. Campari gets a 70% stake in the company with an option to purchase the remaining 30% in 2031. The deal could be worth as much as $600 million. You’ve got to figure Campari has plans to raise Wilderness Trail’s profile and, I would hope, begin working on a plan to introduce products beyond its six-year straight Bourbon, small batch bottled in bond, high rye bourbon, and rye whiskey.
Dr. Pepper has released a bourbon-flavored soda. No. Just no.
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HOLIDAY BUYING GUIDE
Have someone you want to impress? Know someone who’s a bourbon lover? The Holiday Buying Guide is here to help!
The prices are approximate and vary based on the location
$50 and under and readily available
The “readily available” is the key phrasing. That’s why you won’t see Eagle Rare, McKenna, Buffalo Trace, and the like on this list. In general, these are often overlooked and very solid bourbons.
THE LIST AND WHY
$20: Evan Williams 1783. Arguably the best Bourbon on the market at the price. Typical bourbon flavors (caramel, vanilla, a little oak) make this 90-proof pour an easy sipper that will impress friends.
$30: Old Granddad 114: One of the more underrated bourbons on the market. It’s a big, rich, maple and brown sugar treat that will make you all warm inside. Some might need ice at that proof.
$40: Wild Turkey Rare Breed: My favorite daily sipper. Always consistent, always good, the pepper and spice complement each other well, and at 112 proof, it’s not overall hot.
$50 Noah’s Mill. I’ve never understood why this Bourbon hasn’t received more love. Hints of chocolate and brown sugar give way to vanilla, and you wouldn’t guess it’s 114 proof. I buy it whenever I see it.
$55: Rebel Yell 10 year: I figure at some point this Bourbon is due for a price increase because it’s undervalued relative to others on the market. In an era in which $100 is no longer out of bounds, this is the best bargain on the list. Deep, dark fruit results in a big finish. You’ll want more.
These are the Bourbon you’ll have to scour the secondary market, but they’re all special. I’m not adding the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection or the Pappy line because those start at $850 each, a price point I wouldn’t entertain (though I have seriously thought about dropping $2K on the John E. Fitzgerald 20-year. That may sound nuts, but there are so few bottles it’s a $5K find.)
THE LIST AND WHY
Lux Row 12 year. $199 retail, $250-$300 secondary. Steal at the $250 level. This is a unique bourbon, from its distinctive bottle to thick, cherry, and fruit flavors. Given the price, It’s not a daily drinker but if you have someone you want to impress, this is a great bottle. You can find a more detailed review here.
Remus Gatsby: $199 retail, $350 secondary. This stuff is so good I put out a separate newsletter. This limited-edition Bourbon has a tremendous flavor and is another special bottle. I’ve been looking for one; I don’t want to finish the sample until I get one.
Russell Reserve 13-year: $100 retail, $350-$375 secondary. I’ve been fortunate enough to taste the RR 13, and it’s the best products Wild Turkey has released in ages … and it’s not particularly close. At 114 proof and aged 13 years, this buttery pour with hints of apple and spice will knock your socks off. It’s not as nicely packaged as the Lux Row or Remus, but holds its own. Secondary prices have dropped from a high of $600.
Old Forester 150th anniversary, $150 retail, $350 secondary. The proof varies depending on the batch, but it’s in the 126 and above range. This big, thick, complex Bourbon explodes with brown sugar, caramel, spice, and oak flavors. Grabbing a bottle at retail makes this buy a no-brainer, but good luck finding one in the wild. They’re very popular, and with good reason.
Bomberger’s Declaration: $89.99 retails, $175 secondary. Could be the best bargain, using the term loosely, on these special bottles. We did a full review in March and noted the 108-proof Bourbon’s toffee, burnt sugar, caramel, vanilla and citrus. It’s delicious.
The type of glass you prefer depends on several factors. Do you like a heavier glass? Larger? Smaller? Glencairn style? Traditional rocks?
This last factor may be the most important:
how does the glass feel in your hand?
I have to have a glass that feels good, so I’ll never make the mistake I once made and ordered two nice-looking glasses online. I received them; they were everything I didn’t want in a glass. The diameter and the height were too small. The glass felt as light as paper. The glass had a weird plastic-like feel, and it felt strange as I tried to take a sip.
The best rocks glass I ever owned --- the 1792 from the Barton’s giftshop. Tall, perfect weight, a slightly wider bottom than top. I should have purchased eight of them. Alas, I only purchased two, and clumsy me dropped and broke them both.
Bottom line: Don’t order rocks glasses online (unless it’s a replacement and I know what I’m getting).
REVOLVER CLASSIC COCKTAIL
2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce coffee liqueur
2 dashes orange bitters
Garnish: flamed orange peel
Add the first three ingredients, chill, add the orange peel.
Source: Liquor.com, where you can find more details.
That’s it for this month. With Christmas on the way, the December newsletter will look traditional Christmas meals and bourbons that pair with them. And check out Bourbon Obsessed, with distillery reviews, tasting notes and much more.