my knowledge of bourbon is extremely limited, but in my recent international tasting I opened a Blanoton's Gold (single barrel) which was really excellent!
This has given me the incentive to try some other, slightly cheaper Blanton editions.
I also hear from many people that if you can get hold of G.T. Stagg it is a veritable treasure.
You might also look in at:
For me, I would buy 6 different bottles to get an idea of the variations. One thing I can attest is that the variances in taste with bourbon is not nearly as drastic as with scotch whisky. I would buy one from each of the following categories (except the last - buy both) which should give you a good perspective on American whiskey:
- Eagle Rare
- Elmer T Lee
- Wild Turkey 12
- Van Winkle 12 Lot B
- Pappy Van Winkle 15 (hands down my favorite non-barrel proof American whiskey)
- WL Weller Centenial
- Sazerac Jr
- Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye
- Rittenhouse BIB
- Bernheim (only one I know of - and it is very good)
Barrel proof bourbon (Buy Both - they are INCREDIBLE!!!):
- George T Stagg (rye-based)
- William Larue Weller (wheat-based)
This should be a good start...
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