One Great, One Bad And A lot of Very Good: $41 to $60 Bourbon Taste Off


August 13, 2020

When I completed my $41 to $60 shop, I knew it would be a difficult tasting. These were some heavy hitters of the available bourbons. From Michter’s to Eagle Rare and Old Forester 1920 to Rare Breed, all of which were in this price at the liquor store I shopped at (Party Center in Prospect, Ky.), the 24 bourbons are largely ones I buy regularly.

In this exercise, I walk into a liquor store with a goal of buying every bourbon in a certain price point. I’ve done under $15, $16 to $25, $26 to $40 and this is the $41 to $60. I’ll take the top two of each taste off, throw in a blind and taste them at a later date. Now, if it’s not in the store, I don’t buy it. If it’s finished in another barrel, it’s not suitable for this tasting. Only bourbon. I do plan to do similar exercises with rye and barrel finishes. 

Contenders in this taste off: Belle Meade, Bib and Tucker, Boone County, Four Roses Single, Barrel , MB Roland , Michter’s , Old Forrester 1897, Old Forrester 1920 , Wathen’s , Wilderness Trail Bottled in Bond, Willett Pot Still Reserve  and Woodinville.

I broke the 24 bourbons up into two tastings. Yesterday, I tasted the first 12 and it was incredibly close. Other than the last place finisher, Bib & Tucker, which should not be in this price point and is among the worst things I’ve tasted this year. 

After that, there was not a lot of separation between the second place to eleventh, and two through eight were within three to five points close. And I’m willing to bet that if I threw any one of those in taste off with some limited edition gems like BATC, as I did last year with Rare Breed, we could see an upset. 

That said, in focusing on this tasting, one glass rose to the top and stayed there. While another had the sort of funk I love, but others will automatically dismiss.

Round 1, $41 to $60

Abbreviated Tasting Notes

12. Bib & Tucker, Glass F: Flinstone vitamin, dehydrated orange.

11. Willett Pot Still, Glass H: Smoke, cinnamon, peanut butter, anise and black licorice. (If you love black licorice and peanut butter, this likely would be your favorite glass in the flight.)

10. Woodinville, Glass B: Floral, burnt cornbread and spice.

9. Four Roses Single Barrel, Glass D: Fruit forward, molasses and cinnamon.

8. Michter’s, Glass E: Corn tortilla, brown sugar butter, Sweet & Low, almond butter.

7. Belle Meade, Glass L: Wood on the nose and caramel bomb palate.

6. Boone County, Glass A: Butter, toffee, fig and hazelnut.  

5. Wathen’s, Glass C: Cinnamon, as in cinnamon roll, with vanilla icing, walnuts and the doughiness of the roll.

4. Old Forester 1897 Bottled-in-Bond, Glass J: Bananas, fruit, butterscotch pudding.

3. MB Roland Straight Bourbon, Glass I: Who’s got the funk? I’s got the funk! Funky, herbs, oak, chocolate, pecan and pecan shell bitterness.

2. Wilderness Trail Bottled-in-Bond, Black Label, Glass K: Cotton candy, whipped foam in a latte, caramel chew and peaches.

1. Old Forester 1920, Glass G: Sweet potato pie, cinnamon, sorghum molasses, balsamic and banana. Delish.

I recommend every bourbon in this mix 1 through 11, and I think the tasting could go differently on another day. But that is the beauty of a blind tasting: When you remove bias, you never know what will happen.

Don’t miss the next blind taste off in this round, which takes places August 19 at 6:30. Subscribe to the YouTube Channel and sign up for my free drinks newsletter.