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Ten Bourbons & Whiskeys to drink before you die

By Miguel in Featured , Whisky

We are just one day away of celebrating again the Repeal’s day. The day when distilling alcohol for consumption was no longer illegal on the United States of America. So what better way of enjoying this moment that with a list of The Ten Most Interesting Bourbons I have had.

ten-top-bourbon-best-whiskey

I am no expert in whisky although I have tasted right now way above 1,200 of them but I still have to work my way through bourbon. I have tasted most of the great stuff that it is available outside USA but I know I must be missing awesome stuff that it is hard to spot at this side of the pond.

So here is my list of ten Bourbons you should drink before you die…

1. George T Stagg of Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

A bit expensive at this side of the pond but a fantastic bourbon. It is one of the best bourbon experiences I have had.

“Awesome bourbon with a more cereal nose than its partners: William Larue and Thomas Handy.”

91
George T Stagg 2011 Release
George T Stagg is an utterly superb high strength bourbon.

Weighing in at a potent 71.3%. Every year this is a critically acclaimed whiskey from Buffalo Trace's Antique Collection. Roughly 15 years old.

If you like this Kentucky straight bourbon, you should check the other two bourbons of the Antique Collection: Thomas H Handy and William Larue Weller. Mindblowing stuff if you ask my opinion.

This dram has a cooper-like color.

Nose (91): more than average. corn, biscuits, honey, wood, spices, cinnamon, herbs.

Palate (91): smooth, powerful, oily. corn, floral, honey, spices, cinnamon, wood, pepper, vanilla.

Finish (90): longer than average. corn, spices, honey, wood.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this George T Stagg 2011 Release with 91 points over 100.

2. Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve

I ordered it a few years ago and there it was on the samples’ box… until I read all the buzz about Pappy Van Winkle and remembered that I had a sample of it. Respect.

“Quite good! Now I understand all the buzz about this whiskey. It is lovely aged with just the perfect amount of wood”

91
Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve Bourbon 20 Year Old
Awesomely old for a bourbon, this bottling of Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve was aged for 20 years in virgin oak casks as the rules said.

This dram has a cooper-like color.

Nose (90): more than average. corn, vanilla, candies, spices, dust, wood, cinnamon.

Palate (91): powerful, oily. corn, vanilla, honey, citrus, wood, spices, cinnamon, sandalwood, pepper.

Finish (91): longer than average. corn, wood, vanilla, spices.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve Bourbon 20 Year Old with 91 points over 100.

3. William Larue of Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

The wheat-ed brother ( or sister ) of George T Stagg. Another one you can’t miss…

“Mindblowing bourbon! Your dram for the coldest winter nights.”

92
William Larue Weller / Bot.2011
The 2011 release of Buffalo Trace's Antique Collection edition of Weller whisky. It's the wheated entry in the collection and bottled at an eye-watering 66.75%.

One of the stars of an already impressive line-up for 2011.

If you like this Kentucky straight bourbon, you should check the other two bourbons of the Antique Collection: Thomas H Handy and George T Stagg. Mindblowing stuff if you ask my opinion.

This dram has a tawny-like color.

Nose (92): more than average. corn, old, wood, spices, honey, raisins, cinnamon, floral.

Palate (93): smooth, powerful, oily. corn, wood, spices, honey, pepper, cinnamon, wood. Very hoy whiskey. It burns.

Finish (90): longer than average. honey, corn, wood, spices.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this William Larue Weller / Bot.2011 with 92 points over 100.

4. Eagle Rare

Enough of bourbons none can find or none can afford when you find them. This one is also from Buffalo Trace distillery and it is a really awesome value whiskey.

“Good bourbon. One of the best noses I remember on Bourbons of this price range. I can't recommend you this enough.”

90
Eagle Rare Single Barrel
Buffalo Trace, who makes this 10 year old whisky, was named Distiller of the Year by Whiskey Magazine in 2005 and 2007 and by the Wine Enthusiast in 2006.

Paul Pacult of the The Spirit Journal gave it four stars and said: "Easily one of the most tactile yet assertive and expressive bourbons I've tasted in the last two years; fasten your seatbelts."

This dram has a tawny-like color.

Nose (92): strong. corn, vanilla. Perfect bourbon nose!. You can't get anything cleaner.

Palate (90): light, smooth, powerful. corn, honey, vanilla, floral, bananas.

Finish (88): long. vanilla, floral.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Eagle Rare Single Barrel with 90 points over 100.

Buy this bottle at

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5. Rittenhouse Rye 25 years old

Now back into the expensive, hard to find stuff… this rye whiskey is from Heaven Hill and it is a whopping 25 years old Rye whiskey from a single barrel and bottled at 50% ABV.

“Excellent rye! Despite its venerable age it is fresh and vibrant! Lovely whiskey”

91
Rittenhouse 25 Year Old Single Barrel Rye
75cl / 50% - An extraordinary single barrel of Rittenhouse Rye 25yo from Heaven Hill, bottled at 50% to give its deep, rich spiciness a little extra oomph.

This dram has a cooper-like color.

Nose (91): more than average. corn, vanilla, candies, spices, citrus, wood, cinnamon, dust, flowers.

Palate (91): powerful, oily. corn, honey, citrus, wood, spices, flowers, mango, cinnamon, pepper, dust.

Finish (90): longer than average. corn, vanilla, flowers.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Rittenhouse 25 Year Old Single Barrel Rye with 91 points over 100.

6. Four Roses Single Barrel

Another in the affordable range. Not sure how this Four Roses compare to the new Small Batch and the Single Barrel… but if it is close to this, it is a sure shoot.

“Fantastic bourbon! A real surprise and a quite good high strength replacement for the real cracking stuff”

89
Four Roses / Single Barrel
A great premium single barrel bourbon. Complex and full-bodied, yet still surprisingly smooth, this is a steal: excellent value for money.

This dram has a amber-like color.

Nose (87): more than average. corn, spices, vanilla, citrus.

Palate (90): powerful, oily. corn, vanilla, citrus, wood, spices, cinnamon, candies.

Finish (89): longer than average. corn, vanilla, spices.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Four Roses / Single Barrel with 89 points over 100.

7. Thomas H Handy Sazerac

Another delicious dram from Buffalo Trace. Do they do any bad bourbon?!

“Incredible rye whiskey! Spicy hot liquid honey!”

90
Thomas H Handy Sazerac / Bot.2011 Straight Rye Whiskey
The 2011 bottling of Thomas H Handy's Sazerac, the multi-award winning straight rye and one of the cornerstones of Buffalo Trace's yearly Antique Collection releases.

A vibrant and super-spicy rye that is worth the hype.

If you like this rye whiskey, you should check the other two bourbons of the Antique Collection: William Larue Weller and George T Stagg. Mindblowing stuff if you ask my opinion.

This dram has a amber-like color.

Nose (89): more than average. floral, honey, spices, bread, wood.

Palate (92): smooth, powerful, oily. honey, corn, spices, pepper, gnger, wood.

Finish (90): longer than average. honey, corn, floral.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Thomas H Handy Sazerac / Bot.2011 Straight Rye Whiskey with 90 points over 100.

8. Elijah Craig 12 years old

Jim Murray enjoyed this one, and I too. Not sure if I should feel ashamed… but here it is. Also quite on the budget.

89
Elijah Craig 12 year
"About as complete a bourbon aroma as you are likely to find...one of the most beautiful noses found anywhere in the world today. A bourbon to keep in the mouth forever." Jim Murray

This dram has a white-like color.

Nose (88): inexistent. corn, sweet, grapes, vanilla. First nosing data is innacurate as the previous tasting sheet lacked of this field.

Palate (92): . corn, sweet, oak, spices, honey, vanilla. Bouquet data is innacurate as the previous tasting sheet lacked of this field.

Finish (88): no finish. honey, corn, vanilla. Finish length is innacurate as the previous tasting sheet lacked of this field.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Elijah Craig 12 year with 89 points over 100.

Buy this bottle at

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9. Blanton’s Special Reserve Single Cask

Love this whiskey. The bottle is very cool and the dram is delicious and still on the budget. You can even collect the bottle’s stopper, are there several different ones that are the animation of a horse running.

“Interesting. Quite interesting in fact with what looks to me a higher rye mashbill than the average”

87
Blanton's Original Single Barrel - Barrel 32
The horse atop the Blanton's bottle is almost as recognizable as the wonderful single barrel bourbon. One of the first single barrel bourbons and still one of the best.

This dram has a amber-like color.

Nose (88): more than average. corn, honey, vanilla, candies, spices, citrus, dust.

Palate (87): light, smooth. corn, honey, citrus, wood, spices, pepper, flowers.

Finish (87): longer than average. corn, spices, citrus.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Blanton's Original Single Barrel - Barrel 32 with 87 points over 100.

10. Evan Williams 23 Year Old

And finally a whopping 23 years old bourbon from Heaven Hill.

“Maybe the nose is a bit close because of the alcohol, but the rest of it is an incredible whiskey. I love it.”

89
Evan Williams 23 Year Old
75cl / 53.5% - A truly remarkable bourbon, bottled at the old-style traditional 107-proof after an incredible (for a bourbon) 23 years of ageing. Gloriously long, complex palate.

This dram has a tawny-like color.

Nose (87): more than average. spices, citrus, corn, pepper, wood.

Palate (91): powerful, oily. corn, honey, spices, fruits, mango, wood, citrus, cinnamon, dust.

Finish (90): longer than average. corn, fruits, spices.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Evan Williams 23 Year Old with 89 points over 100.

Miguel says…

This is a list of the bourbons and straight whiskeys that impressed me most. But I would really love to read about stuff that I missed and that you think it is really a MUST. Personally I would add in a bigger list whiskeys like Wild Turkey, the Single Barrel Jack Daniels and Jim Beam Black Label… they are not the best but they are pretty decent and definitively let you appreciate the above stuff in it awesomeness.



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