It’s an annual tradition, kids. It’s that time of year when Fred Minnick does his blind tasting to determine the Best Everyday Bourbon of 2020.
Fred donned his holiday ascot and set out to tasting with a large group of online viewers. And the hope is, a few caught the bug of finding the tasty and easy-to-find whiskey for their specific palate. Fred sees this as a big part of his job.
“I love educating people about American whiskey,” Fred says. “It is my passion.”
Yes, it’s tough to get Blanton’s these days, and good luck finding a Weller 12 Year (or hell, even Special Reserve), but there’s plenty of good bourbon to be had, and it’s Fred’s goal to help viewers and readers navigate those sometimes choppy waters without becoming a tater.
This year’s contenders included the 2019 winner Evan Williams Bottled in Bond, Knob Creek, Old Tub Bottled in Bond, Wild Turkey 101, Rare Breed, Elijah Craig Small Batch, Early Times Bottled in Bond, Old Grand-dad 114 and Old Forester 1920. The final tasting came down to a pair of bourbons with vastly different flavor profiles.
Note that the price points on these vary quite widely, with a couple of under $20 bottles facing off with more expensive whiskeys like Old Forester 1920, which is priced up to $60 – but the tasting is about availability on a wide scale, not price. The winner goes on to compete for Best American Whiskey of 2020.
So without further ado, here’s how the 2020 Best Everyday Bourbon blind tasting went down, along with notes from his first tastes of each contender and the time stamp where you can watch Fred’s initial tasting:
9. Glass 8, Old Tub (37:47) – Funk, least complex so far. “Feels very flat.”
8. Glass 3, Elijah Craig Small Batch (29:46) – “Pretty interesting.” Mild caramel pudding note. “Not really wowing me.” Ultimately says it’s drinkable, but not in the top echelon of the flight.
7. Glass 2, Wild Turkey 101 (27:04) – Perfumy aroma, like walking into Dillard’s and passing the makeup counter. Lighter than 1, notes of corn, maple and pecan. Pecan pie comes out with second taste.
6. Glass 9, Knob Creek (39:16) – Smells flat. But on the palate, black and white pepper, pumpkin seeds, banana. Not in top echelon.
5. Glass 4, Early Times Bottled in Bond (30:37) – Coffee, hazelnut. “Ooh yeah.” Honey, jalapeno and cornbread. Active on the palate. “One to be reckoned with for sure.” Flattens out with final tasting.
4. Glass 5, Old Grand-Dad 114 (31:52) – Apple note, baked apple. “Uh oh, watch out. Whoooeee.” Baked apple with cinnamon dust, apple crumbles. Second taste brings on doughy bread notes. Active.
3. Glass 6, Rare Breed (33:47) – Caramel bomb, leather. “I wonder what Santa would say if you were sitting on his lap and you asked for a caramel and leather bourbon? I bet it would be a very weird look.” Pepper, honey glaze, Frosted Flakes.
2. Glass 7, Evan Williams Bottled in Bond (35:19) – Canned peaches, rye bread, pine nut, grape jelly. “I do like that one.” Dominates the palate.
1. Glass 1, Old Forester 1920 (25:40)– Toffee, chocolate; peanut brittle. Cornbread. “Very nice.” Fred likes it more with repeated nosing and tastes. “It grabbed me more and more and to me is the clear-cut winner tonight.”Stay In Touch!