2016 Bourbonr Whiskey of the Year

As you may remember, we opened up voting for the Bourbonr Whiskey of the Year (WOTY) last week. While I’m sure, you won’t see a sticker on a bottle anytime soon with the words “Bourbonr Gold Medalist” this award is significant. It’s significant because it was awarded by you, the readers. Each year we open up the voting for Bourbonr WOTY.

We had a record-setting number of votes in 2016. There were over 3,000 votes casts during the four-day voting process. Without further ado here is your Bourbonr WOTY:

2016 Bourbonr Whiskey of the Year: William LaRue Weller

2016 Bourbonr WOTY WLW

This was the closest voting we’ve seen. William Larue Weller edged out Booker’s Rye by a mere six votes. Below are the top three whiskeys:

2016 Bourbonr WOTY Top 3

The top three whiskeys are no surprise. There were still several whiskeys that had a surprising and great showing. Consider three bourbons’s in the top 10 are $50 or less (Old Forester 1920, Rebel Yell 10 and 1792 Full Proof). There were also some expensive bourbons that garnered only a few votes. We didn’t need additional proof, but price doesn’t correlate with quality. The final comment I’ll make is about Kentucky Owl. While they only released a couple of thousand bottles in Kentucky, they still received a number of votes. Making themselves competitive with a larger brand that has higher bottle counts. Not bad for the guys at the Beaumont Inn. Here are the full results. I left off any bottles that received less than 50 votes due to space issues.

2016 Bourbonr WOTY



    The 2016 release was awful this year! With the huge increase of WLW this year there must not have been very many good barrels left.

    Pappy 20 by a mile. But I’m not a high proof guy. Many love the 140 proof GTS WLW etc but the PVW20 goes down like honey.

    Blake, you should consider making this a top 3 ranking system or something. I say this because my bet is some of these rankings would be different had people who tried the whole BTAC line and picked Weller actually been able to select other runner ups. Because of accessibility I think the data may get a little skewed… Example is OF1920. Great product, but I bet many of those people who selected WLW as the WOTY would have selected Stagg as a potentially better runnner up than OF1920, which was also far more available meaning many who didn’t get a chance to try many of the other LEs on this list picked it. Not that it doesn’t deserve some credit for being a great product but I’m curious of its rank here. Just a thought on the analysis. Still a great job getting all of this together!

    Are you thinking of a process similar to MVP voting in sports? For example: 5 points for first place. 3 points second. 1 point for third.

    For as long as I can remember, PVW rye has been my favorite…the unquestionable top of the heap. However, when my cousin had me do the Pepsi challenge with this year’s PVW rye vs the Booker’s rye, the Booker’s tasted like angels dancing in my mouth. Pure magic.

    I spent a whole year working on a store manager relationship and scored a single bottle of the WLW. It’s sublime, and it was worth the effort. However, I voted for the RY10 for the fact that it’s tremendous juice and can still be found on some shelves. Whether or not that was the objective of this vote is immaterial to me…RY went against the grain and offered age stated quality at a reasonable price.

    Hello, I manage a bar in Pennsylvania (Cry for me later, the liquor laws here are unlike anywhere else in the country.) and based off this list I bought a couple of bottles of the Rebel Yell 10 year a while back. I still can’t believe how amazing it was. The two bottles were gone quickly, and when I went to restock, well, you can imagine. No more are available in the state! Can’t find it in New Jersey or Delaware either, and Astor’s in New York is out as well. I currently have two bottles pulled from a Binny’s in Chicago and am trying to convince an old friend to pick them up and mail them to me. Fingers crossed! So I’d like to ask the forum in general, where do you go to find bourbon if you can’t find it locally? Is there a best online resource?

    Anyways, thanks for the recommendation. I can’t believe it was under $60. Tastes vary, but I love this Bourbon so much I won’t even share it. The stash I pull from across the country will be for me alone.

    I’m not trying to be a downer or anything, and I do think there is some merit to these choices because people actually voted for their favorite (hopefully they tasted what they voted for and didn’t just pick their dream bourbon because it sounds good), but most of the people that voted probably have only tasted a very limited number of these 2016 bourbons, unless there was some sort of sample pack given to each voter or tasting all 2016 releases was some sort of requirement to vote. That’s doubtful. I live in KY and drink a bunch of bourbon and have only tasted a few mentioned, mostly because they are almost impossible to get unless you want to buy secondary or pay ridiculous prices at a bar. Thank you Blake for taking the time to put this together though.

    I’m curious by what criteria people vote that makes this any sort of meaningful “award”. One must imagine that 98+% of voters have not tasted these whiskies. So what substance or significance does this even have? Voters have no clue which is heir favorite of the year. Is this just a “I read somewhere that it’s good so I voted for that one” award? Or “it seems pretty cool”? Given all of your typically very valuable posts with substantive information, this annual post just makes this all seem like an insulting joke. Perhaps this idea needs to be reworked to make it an insightful vote on consumers’ thoughts in some manner.

    I’m not sure how the vote would be insulting. During voting, I asked that people don’t vote unless they tried 4-5 of the whiskeys. It’s just another way for people to participate and get the conversation started about these limited releases. That’s why I highlighted 3 bottles that were in the top 10 and less than $50. At the end of the day, I believe in the three bottles that received the most votes. I think they were the three best releases in 2016.

    Perhaps allocated bourbon should be left off the ballot, as it is not only sold at a hefty premium but hard to find and compare with otherwise commercial stock. Just my opinion.

    Of the entire list I’ve maybe seen 5 of those bottles and own 2. Nice list and I’d love to try them all but availability let alone the cost makes that a pipe dream. Maybe a WOTY for the little guy would be nice.

    If I remember correctly, the instructions said “There are no official guidelines for voting. But, if you haven’t tried at least 4-5 whiskeys on the list it’s hard support a favorite.”

    As most of these bourbons are extremely hard to find, and if are able to be located, are a small fortune – I didn’t vote.

    Maybe do the point system like mentioned before – or do voting based on availability and pricing. Just my 2 cents.

    Not trying to slam anybody, as I really enjoy this blog and the information it provides.

    Sounds like to me no one has had any Elmer T. Lee. My absolute favorite and it didn’t even make the count. After a three year drought I finally scored another bottle, whereas I have bought six bottles of Pappy in the same timeframe. Go figure.

    Totally agreed on 2016 WLW. It’s amazing and I think so many other offerings in 2016 were dissapointing including BTAC and Pappy. I still don’t get why Booker’s LE Rye even gets mentioned in anyone’s BOTY. It’s middling at best, and I’m a rye fan. Yes, it’s in a cool bottle, and comes in a wooden box. But I’d love to see anyone blind taste this next to THH (NOT 2016 lol), SAOS BP Rye, or Willet 8yr Rye and say it’s a standout.

    Surprised Blantons didn’t show up anywhere after my own personal experience, and everything I’ve read. On another subject, what’s the word on the street about Elijah Craig small batch? It’s going for $35. here in Jersey.

    Hahahaha what a bunch of Bullshit! WLW 2016 was the WORST WLW ever released. Pathetic really. Keep chasing unicorns you idiots. For those of you that thing I’m just trolling, I have kept every bottle from the antique collection and PVW (besides the ones my lady made Christmas gifts with) . Since 2013 it has changed and not for the better. Here’s to better palates in 2017…

    Geez why are people complaining so much? It was just a simple survey, granted these are very expensive bourbon’s that alot of us can’t afford but I think people take this survey a little to seriously…. Anyways good job Blake thanx for your HARD work !

    Blake – Thanks for putting this together. It is always interesting to see what others think is the best! I “worked” hard all year with two of my favorite liquor store owners with the goal of having the opportunity to purchase any of the 2016 BTAC offerings and failed! Glad others were able to find these unicorns! I did have the opportunity to purchase any of the VW/PVW offerings but the price the store was asking was too much for me. Same for EC18 – could have purchased a bottle but just couldn’t justify paying what the store was asking. My favorite bourbon purchases for 2016 were EHT Barrel Proof, EHT Seasoned Wood and ETL. Based my review of this list I did purchased a bottle of the OF1920 and found it absolutely wonderful! I was very hesitant to purchase this because most have indicated this bourbon is around 4.5 years old. I was very surprised how complex and smooth this juice is! I will definitely purchase another bottle for the basement bourbon vault.

    I have tried most of these and own 1 if not 2 of each from BTAC. WLW is worthy of the top choice. GTS THH are also amazing as is the Pappy 12, 15, 20 & 23. Blanton’s, too is incredible even though it did not make the cut! If you love your bourbon…. any one on the list could easily have scored higher in my opinion… It’s hard to argue the final score!

    I have both the 2015 and 2016 WLW and the 2016 is head and shoulders above the 2015 in my opinion. My 2015 bottle has that same rancid undertone that someone else mentioned. I have the Pappy 15 and to me it has the best mouth feel of any bourbon I’ve tried. Birthday 2016 was superior to 2015. Four Roses LE is delicious, as is EHT barrel proof. And I think the Elijah Craig barrel proof is amazing. OF 1920 was a very solid high quality sweet bottle. I really enjoy my Michter’s 10, even if it has a strong hint to me of similarity to Woodford or OF1870. To me, Stagg Jr. Is King Kong and with one cube, great. But guess what? I didn’t vote.

    Not to overthink it, but I don’t have a trained palate and don’t think I could seriously rank these. At this level of quality, I don’t think I can honestly say that one is “better” than another, but I can say that they are all favorites for different reasons and different occasions or moods. We did a double blind taste test and most folks ranked PVW15, ECBP, Weller 12 and yes, plain old Eagle Rare as tops. Purely subjective, with some folks not appreciating extreme heat or the cinnamon burn or whatever…

    Finally, as a few others pointed out, this is a nice anecdotal test, but cant be taken seriously as any kind of true evaluation. Why? Because to rank them would mean those who voted would need to have tried them all, or how can anyone know if one is better than another.

    I would like to hear some comments on Orphan Barrel Lost Profit ,Garrison Brothers and Belle Meade 9 year old

    I would like to hear some commentary on Orphan Barrel Lost Profit , Belle Meade 9 year old and Garrison Bros

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