2017 Bourbonr Whiskey Of The Year Winner

The 2017 Bourbonr Whiskey of the Year vote is in! For the past few years, Bourbonr has crowdsourced the Whiskey of the Year selection. I’ll still add my favorite whiskey but this is about the whiskey you loved. Plus, I disagree with most books/sites for “Whiskey of the Year”.

Every year there seems to be a clear-cut winner. This year was no different. Four Roses Al Young 50th Anniversary Limited Edition is the 2017 Bourbonr Whiskey of the Year! It beat out the second place whiskey by more than 50%. There’s no doubt that Al Young’s 50th was a great release. It’s interesting that it didn’t do as well in the Bourbonr blind tasting. If you’re unfamiliar with the Al Young release it’s a blend of 23-year-old OBSV, 15-year-old OBSK, 13-year-old OESV and 12-year-old OBSF. It was released to honor the 50th anniversary of Four Roses Senior Brand Ambassador, Al Young.

Once again, the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection has a strong performance. BTAC bottles made up two of the top three bottles. I was a little disappointed in the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch B. In July, I named it my Bourbon of the Year. Even after tasting all of the fall releases I stand by that statement. Jim Murray’s Whisky of the Year (E.H. Taylor Four Grain) barely cracked the top 11.

Each year I try to highlight some of the smaller brands/distilleries that do well. This year Old Baldy from J. Mattingly and Ed Bley at Cork n’ Bottle was a standout. Old Baldy is a blend of 5 different barrels. It’s comprised of mostly  8 and 11-year-old bourbon from multiple distilleries. It’s basically a whiskey nerds dream. I got a chance to try it at a tasting and I immediately understood the hype. It’s sweet with a heavy buttery mouthfeel. Balanced with a heavy dose of cinnamon, oak and leather it was tasty! With only 300(ish) bottles released, Old Baldy still managed to rack up 100+ votes.

That’s it for this year! What’d we miss? What whiskey do you think was more deserving of one of the top spots? I’m thinking about doing a voting for bottles $60 or less. Let me know in the comments if you’d be interested in that.



    that’s all I drink basically all I can afford. Good whisky might I add. I think if you spend more than 60$ on a bottle it should get you feeling good in a cpl shots. Alot of good whisky for way under the 60$.

    I received a bottle of redemption rye for my bithday Nov. 30th and I was stunned. Regardless of price, there are very few sins I would not at least consider to have it around daily!

    Yes to the $60 and less idea. I have little to no shot at getting those specialty bourbons. In addition, I would guess most folks have low roller budgets. I like reading about the “best of” but it’s just out of curiosity. I never own those bottles. Btw, thanks for the time and effort you put into your site. I enjoy what you do.

    I have to agree with Rich. Unfortunately (at least as far as bourbon goes), I live in North Carolina where the state runs all liquor sales and decides what bottles will be available to the public. I have zero chance of getting my hands on these even if I was willing to shell out the cabbage for them. It’d be great to see a $60 and under every man’s/woman’s top bourbons of 2017. And throw in a top Rye list, I love that spicy juice!

    Right now, my everyday bourbon that I really enjoy sipping on is Knob Creek Single Barrel 120 proof. Super smooth and sweet, very easy to drink and clocks in around $48 here in NC.

    Its not impossible to get good bottles of bourbon you just have to put in the leg work and build relationships to get them. I had an extremely good year doing this as i was able to snag 2 elijah craig 18’s, pappy 12, old forrester birthday, btac stagg and handy, four roses al young, a couple rhetoric, blood oaths, mid winters, angels envy cask strength, elijah craig batch b, black maple hill, jeffersons presidential select 16 yr and elmer t lee. Just make friends with the local owners!

    Go to Louisiana or Florida and get all the speciality bourbon you want. I went to new orleans and walked in and there it was on the shelf .Orphan Barrels, and others

    Blake, while not surprising to me that a Four Roses offering came out on top in your process, I find it very interesting that a Weller wheated bourbon came in a second. That feels good to me since I tend to like the wheated bourbons better than the ryes. Yes, I am a dyed-in-the-wool Maker’s Mark Ambassador For Life, but I have really been venturing out and doing a lot of sampling the last couple of years. But haven’t had the opportunity for much of the really high end stuff. My three favorites from my recent Bourbon Expo haul are: Maker’s Mark Private Select Rob Samuels; Russel’s Reserve Single Barrel 110 proof; and Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Decades.



    I am new to your site and love the content and insights. I would strongly suggest a voting on bottles $60 and lower to include the masses of drinkers who cannot afford nor obtain the rare vintages you often try. Keep up the great work.

    Hi Blake. First thing I have to say is, you guys must all be in the 1/10th of 1%, as you can afford to buy and try these ridiculously expensive bourbons. I have a significant amount of expendable income, but principal alone keeps me from spending this much on a bottle of whiskey. I am seeing jacked up prices exceeding $500. for the bourbons that comprise most of the bottles on this list. Not to mention scarcity. Find me a bottle of Four Roses Al Young.
    That being said, I have to congratulate you on selecting Elijah Craig barrel proof B517 as your bourbon of the year. I have been drinking ECBP since it first hit the shelves and think it is a beautifully balanced bourbon. The B517 expression is not just sweet with all of the other bourbon attributes that we read about ad-nauseum, but with a real wood presence that really makes it for me. I started buying this bourbon whenever I saw it, at around $59 per bottle and I now have a stash that will take me through the winter and possibly, Spring. It was named whiskey of the year in Whiskey Advocate magazine, which pitted it against not only other bourbons but single malts, and others. So, while you might “disagree with most books/sites for Whiskey of the Year” I still think it is a feather in your cap (and mine) that we chose it first.
    I tried the Four Roses LE and thought it was a little too fumey and was very alcohol-forward, which was nicely tamed with a splash of water.
    I look forward to the best bourbons for under $100 and under $50. I would definitely put Noah’s Mill on that list. I think it comes very close to Pappy 15 year which I saw recently on a shelf selling for $1500.
    I really enjoy your site. Keep up the good work.

    Blake recently I was introduced to Pikesville Rye . I found it very good. What do you think of it. Love your blog. Thanks.

    Blake, did I imagine it, or do you mention something about doing a vote for Rye Whiskey of the Year? I would love to see a vote for that, especially with the large number of strong contenders this past year…

    Blake, I really find this hard to believe after tasting all three. The antique collection are much harder to find him thereabouts would make it harder to find and vote for. Cant see how AL young although very good was 50% better than anything out there. As for bourbon of the year your hard-pressed to find a better bourbon in several years in the antiques this year. I think last year‘s Stagg was better than this years. But that’s splitting hairs. And the Prohibition style 1920 from old Forrester is a star in the making. In my humble opinion.

    Yes to $60 or less!
    You’ll get a lot of votes. Plus new drinkers, want to know what’s great out there (and affordable) in the midst of all the marketing flash and hype.

    Please yes on the $60 or less front. I feel that that category, or even $100 or less, is far more relatable. I am in the industry, love bourbon, go to many events, and haven’t very many any of the 2017 best bourbons on your site. Now I live in a control state, fair enough. But still, for the average bourbon lover this list isnt much help or relevant to their purchasing at all.

    Cannot disagree more with this selection. Taste these blind people! While Al Young was a nice pour (I paid $15 in Bardstown) it wasn’t anything that special…as the bourbnr blind test shows. Both 4R barrel proof store picks I have bought from Costco for $53 outshine Al Young which costs $500. People can hate on people selling bourbon all they want, but if I see an Al Young on the shelf for $200…it’s going straight to bottle-spot for some sucker to buy 🙂

    It is a curious outcome. The best bourbon of the year may very well be something no one can get their hands on, but to have it come out as a winner in a poll leaves me wondering how many actually tried it when it was so hard to find in most of the country? If we were voting for coolest bottle, or label, I get it, we can all see that, but best bourbon? I agree on ECBP. Love the site! Keep it up.

    Here in the Panhandle of Florida, I never see the Four Roses “specials”, but was able to snag a case of the ECBP B 517 for $55/ bottle; in of all places, a Publix Liquor Store. My vote went to this bottle!

    Blake, With the control board in Mi. giving primary selection to the food service the chance for the very high end is near impossible to get a hold of . It would be great to see a top 5 tier bracket $20 to $50 , $50 to $75 and $75 to $100 to advise the entry to above average bourbon fan that we may be more often to find .

    I think this next poll will help. EH Taylor small batch, Pikesville Rye and Four Roses single barrel are always great choices

    Including Old Baldy in this poll really undermines your credibility. The secondary price and online “hype” are being artificially inflated in what may be the biggest disservice inflicted upon the bourbon community to date. Get ready to be disappointed if you blow your hard earned cash on a bottle via the secondary market. A cute name and a dubious story do not make great bourbon. Point in case – Orphan Barrel collection.

    Please explain how it undermines my credibility? It was a fall release that received attention. Are you suggesting that I should have left it off because people may have wanted to vote for it? I think everyone should be disappointed if they spend more than about $300 on a special bourbon. But it’s their money and they can spend it however they please.

    Much of the online hype and driving up of the secondary pricing is being done by locals to CnB in order to flip the bottles.

    I am not sure it is a disservice, but I find it hard to believe that the 100 people that voted for it actually tasted it. This bottle is almost impossible to find even at ridiculous secondary market prices. I question having a bottle eligible that 99.9% of the people will never have access to. I think the eligible bottles should have a minimum national (or at least regional) distribution. Just a thought.

    I disagree with the premise of limiting it to $60 or less. Price, is not so much the issue, IMO as availability. There were about 10,000 bottles of Al Young. I was not fortunate enough to be able to buy one, but was able to taste it in a bar. Perhaps number of bottles available (more than 20,000) would be a better criterion to allow people to vote for a bourbon they can actually find?

    Good characterization of 2017 offerings. The market does make acquiring these challenging. Nonetheless, the results should stand. I see 7 hear the rate what I can buy comments. Point well taken. Still, I’d like the results as they are.That way I know your opinions all things considered. Perhaps another >$60 category with its own ratings? That is, much like the Pound for Pound honorable mention. (BTW: Old baldy is quite good. I was fortunate enough to pick one up. Ed’s got it going on. Hopefully there will be more OB#2 to go around.) It could be an >$60 top three? To be fair, no matter what you do, someone out there will want something more, else, etc. Opinions are like…everyone’s got one. You get the idea. Again, good job and thanks for doing this. Cheers!

    Its funny how the blind tastings often don’t reflect winners of the top whiskey competitions.
    I think this is exactly what the problem is.
    Blind tastings are like controlled clinical trials.
    You are not seeing what you are drinking and thus must base your opinion on your subjective experience of the whiskey without being influenced by the hype. You MUST have certain preconceived notions and expectations when you are drinking a whiskey that has gotten rave reviews in the press and is currently selling for $500. at 2 stores in the US that are carrying it. For that reason, whiskey reviews and labeled competitions are not really valid.

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