I realize that you are associated with ‘Pappy’, but the truth is that for my taste, it is overrated based on price and overall subtleties of the bourbon. I just finished a 23 yr Pappy and while it was a fine bottle, the hassles of finding another one made the deal too much of a hassle to think of doing it again. Now, that being said – Col. Taylor Single Batch, another Buffalo Trace bourbon, is as nice and far easier to obtain at a fraction of the cost. This is a real winner! The nutty, yet fruity taste; the long finish; and the overall pleasure as one swirls it thereby allowing every tastebud to search the raspberry; leather; pine nuts and casis that the golden liquid offers, simply puts a smile on every face to whom I have offered it. The finish lasts for well over a minute – another indication of how well the making of this fine bourbon has achieved. An overall 4.5 stars!

    I don’t have an association with any bourbon and will be the first to admit there’s tons of great bourbons sitting on shelves. You’re right, EH Taylor Small Batch is a great bourbon!

    I was able to obtain a bottle of Pappy 23 this year after searching through many connections. Personally I think the whole Pappy craze each year is ridiculous. I only did it for an important client who is biased that this is the best bourbon. I sometimes wonder how sought after it would be if a supply was high?

    There are many great bottles of bourbon on the market for far less money and no crazy chase or high auction prices.

    We will never know the answer to that question but hype plays a lot in to peoples taste. Personally, I don’t really like the 23 but every has their own taste.

    I don’t like the 23 year either. It is very woody and oaky. The 15 is like “Christmast in a bottle”. Tons of spices, sweetness, and some kick. The 20 sits somewhere in the middle for me. Only ones I really buy are the 15. At $80, I think it is worth it. No way would I pay $250 for a Pappy 23 to drink it.

    Tom, Do mean E.H. Taylor Small Batch or Single Barrel? Two different products. I have sampled Small Batch which is much easier to come by and a fine bourbon IMHO. I just scored a bottle of Single Barrel and may crack it open tonight to compare.

    As for the poll, I voted for Maker’s Cask Strength since it is the only one on the list I have had a chance to purchase. That alone makes it the best of bunch for me. Which begs the question, how valid can a poll of this type be? Can there be ANY Bourbonr who has had the chance to sample more than a very few of these?

    with prices all aside (tho i got it at ticket price) This year’s George T Stagg tasted different than anything else i had this year. Elijah Craig 23 was great, michters toasted was great, eagle rare was great, still have a few releases i havnt opened yet but both me and my brother in law would say the stagg was definitely different than anything else we had this winter.

    I choose Pappy Van Winkle 15yr for my 2014 best pick because it is very, very good. I had to wait all year to get it. So, it is my supply & demand best choice. I cherish the taste because it is so good & difficult to get. My second choice is without question Eagle Rare. I am on my 2nd bottle of Eagle Rare in 2 months and still have 3/4 of my 750ml PVW 15yr left. Before PVW & Eagle Rare, Maker’s Mark was my bourbon of choice. I have Worldwide Wines and Spirits in Southington, CT to thank for my refined taste.


    Several left to try but really enjoys the EC23. Strong biurbon with lots of flavor. The PCH8 was close for me. Having said that I still need to try Pappy, Geo T. Stagg and 4RosrsSmB. Will know more next week.


    The Handy and the Pappy Rye were the two best I’ve had although the Handy wins by virtue of sheer intensity. A truly massive rye.

    A lot of people might laugh at this. But Fighting Cock is the best bourbon I’ve ever drank in my life and I’ve drank a lot of Bourbons!!! There’s no drama about it. It’s just damn good!!!

    Lot of worthy candidates. The 2014 BTAC release George T Stagg is a special bourbon nearly perfectly marrying age, nuanced complexity and the magic that only an unfiltered barrel proof bourbon can have and suspect it will garner a number of high accolades and awards during calendar 2015 spirit competitions.

    Well fellow bourbon brothers, I have the Eagle Rare 10 yr old, Woodford Reserve Mater Distillers, Col. E.H. Taylor small batch, Jimmy Russell’s Diamond and many others, but I find them all excellent bourbon’s. It’s all in the time of day and your surroundings, never mood, men are seldom moody but your setting can make it make more enjoyable. As most have said yes price is a big game changer, but I’m blessed to live in Tennessee where I am next door to bourbon country, Good ole Kentucky. Cheers my fellow bourbon brother’s and sisters.

    Mike – You make a good point about surroundings. I’ve tried bottles in a bar that I loved only to be underwhelmed after buying the bottle and vice versa. It’s funny how whiskey can taste different based on time, place, mood, etc.

    I live in the heart of bourbon country in KY. I would say it is much harder here to fine any of the limited release bourbons. But we do have a lot of selections of other bourbons you cant find anywhere else, so I guess that is nice.

    I would look into trading it if you can. I was sorely disappointed by the quality within that bottle. It lacked in every category for a bourbon priced at $100 + . Flavor profile was lacking and the finish was just plain flat IMHO. I can say without question that I immediately wished I would have tried it before I had purchased.

    I really liked it. It is a mix of 13 and 16 year old bourbons. I tend to like higher rye bourbons, but sometimes the spice is too much. IMHO, Jimmy Russell Diamond is sweeter and smoother than a lot of other aged bourbons (most notably Elijah Craig 23 y/o) with more caramel notes than 10 and 12 year old Pappy. I have also tried the Old Forester Birthday Bourbon and find that it has more oakiness than I care for. I like smoked flavor, but like the Elijah Craig 23 year old, the oakiness tasted like eating wood chips. It is worse in the Elijah Craig, but still there in the Old Forester Birthday Bourbon. I have tried the 4 Rose LTD edition this year. That one is also very good, but does not have the caramel notes of the Jimmy Russell Diamond. My favorite this year was the Kentucky Owl which is a smooth bourbon that came out of a century old recipe. Only sold at cask strength and totally worth the $179 I spent for each bottle (2).

    While I admit I am new to whiskey drinking on it own (still a scotch man at heart) I do find it much better than it was forty plus years ago. As far as rating the almost impossible to get whiskey’s, they should have a class or rating on their own. What would be good is a rating just for those whiskeys that you can find without having to search all over the country for and that the vast majority of us will never get to try. On such is John J. Bowman Virginia Whiskey. Single Barrel. I found it to be smooth with an appealing taste. Just saying. Hope to experience a lot more in the years to come.

    For some reason I’m not able to cast a vote so I’ll just leave it down here.
    I’m fortunate enough to have a cup of the bottles you have listed up above and I’d have to say my favorite this year was the Mitchners…
    It’s probably not the “best”…but it was my favorite. was able to obtain a couple bottles of 2014 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon…but I save it to open on my birthday…lol!!

    Dittos with the gentleman above who lauded the Colonel Taylor single barrel …another fine bourbon!!

    Just to leave my two cents I have to admit I really soured on running around trying to find a bottle of Pappy this or Pappy that.

    there are way too many phenomenal Bourbons for $75 or less a bottle to play the inflated price game that has befallen Pappy Van Winkle!!

    Enjoy…and thanks for a great resource and website!!

    Thanks for reading J.! Like you I usually turn sour about Pappy around this time since there’s so many good bourbons out there but then find myself back each fall trying to find it 🙂

    The unfortunate thing here is that these are fall releases only, and while some are limited editions, some are the pretty much same juice year after year.

    The best bourbon of 2014 is Booker’s 25th. That’s my opinion and I’m not alone.

    I would add the Parker’s, Elijah Craig Hazmat, and a Willett 10yr PB as some of my other favorites. It was a good year for whiskey lovers, even if the demand is destroying the very booze that we love. That said, I’ve had a sip of almost every bottle on this list and if anyone names Woodford Reserve Masters as their favorite, they should be stripped of their tongue.

    I’m with you on Booker’s 25th as the best whiskey of 2014. I debated whether or not to add it in the voting but decided to leave spring releases out. There was definitely plenty of good bourbon to go around this fall

    You really can’t go wrong anywhere on this list. Obviously your pallet and personal preference way heavy on your individual decision for whats best. However having tasted and owning most of these this year heres where my opinions lye, for what its worth, which isn’t much… My top 3 as follows.
    First, I understand the annoyance and the public drowning in the Pappy PR but imo its worth the hype. Ive yet to sip a dram from any of my Van Winkles that I didn’t think “Damn thats some good ass bourbon”. I’ve not tasted this years 23 or Rye, out of the rest I like this years 20 the best. That being said there are some more easily accessible bourbons on this list that aren’t too far behind. Although the 14′ FRLE isn’t as spectacular as its predecessor it’s a great bourbon. So I have this years edition at #2. My favorite from this years BTAC and at #3 is the Saz 18. with WLW right behind. My honorable mentions would be: Willett XCF, OFBB, and High Wests A Midwinters Night’s Dram.

    I realize the William H. Heavenhill BIB is a distillery only purchase, and therefore to some may not be attainable, but for my money and personal ease of acquiring, I place this bourbon very high on my list of 2014 favorites. The Pappy 15 was outstanding and probably my #1, but I also recognize the factor of absurdity in getting a bottle begs the question “is it worth it”? Another Heaven Hill product makes my top three. The PHC 8 Wheat was a stunner. Not sure it qualifies since it is a wheat whiskey, but the finish on this baby, goes on and on. Love it.

    i like the Heaven Hill BIB very much as well. i would say that was my #2 or 3 this year. For that price i grabbed two bottles. I liked the fact that it’s not too too aged. I preferred it over the Elijah Craig 23 which i felt was maybe too much tannin from perhaps overaging. it made it more complex vs tasting better.

    No Colonel Taylor?? My faves this Fall were Four Roses small batch LE and Colonel EH Taylor Single Barrel. Honorable mention to Makers Mark Cask. Angels Envy Cask is on the way so can’t comment on that one. Hey, all in all, it’s a glorious time to be a bourboner!

    going back to Blake’s comments on not finding the pappy 23 to be the best and people having different tastes. I preferred the 15 this year but my brother in law preferred the 23.
    He said it was smoother. Which is actually the reason i preferred the 15. i felt the 15 had a little more punch and was interesting.
    That’s probably why i found George T Stagg this year to be very special as well. Maybe (or maybe not) it may not be the best “bourbon” this year but i enjoyed it most.
    also not the best but i found the old forester original batch to be interesting as well. The fact that its not sooo soo different was what made it interesting.

    Agree. Sometimes it is about personal preference. I am not so sure I really like my bourbons “smooth”. I like big complex flavors and strong!! I think for many people the “23 years” affects their taste buds 🙂 To me, the 23 year is very woody and flat.

    I can only vote on what I have tried. Tie – GTS and MMCS. 3rd – ER17. 4th- ECPB. GTS is very balanced and enjoyable at various proof points. It seems to really sing around 115 proof. MMCS is already at an enjoyable proof (~113). However, a small touch of water or a small cube of ice and it is like a flavor explosion. I am not a fan of regular MM. MMCS is a totally different experience. The thing is that all of these are great pours and above what your typical everyday pour is.

    I have five bottles of Pappy VanWinkle . They were bottled in 1977. They are still in the black and gold velvet bags with the neck tags. The Pappy that I tasted from my collection is without question something to treasure just an amazing bourbon.

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