In closing out 2019 we wanted to put a slight spin on things, and present something that can be enjoyed by bourbon drinkers from all age groups. Of course, that doesn’t totally exist, so we’re just going to do a big blind tasting from The Bourbon Finder’s Best Whiskeys of 2019 and try to have some fun with it. Let’s drop in…
With any battle royale it’s crucial that all players start on a level playing field. In our case, the contenders were all poured blind (neat, of course) into labeled glencairn glasses.
From The Bourbon Finder’s Best Bottles of 2019 (in no particular order)
- Pursuit Series Episode 17 (Willett Family Estate 6yr SiB Bourbon)
- Blanton’s Gold Edition
- EH Taylor Single Barrel (L192130123:22K)
- Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel
- WB Saffell
- Stagg Jr. (Batch 12)
- Maker’s Mark RC6
- Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 “Lot B” (2018)
- Peerless Bourbon
- Rare Breed
The format: an all-out battle where we each worked through the entire flight of ten pours, making notes, and turning away samples one at a time until there was just one left on each end of the table. It was much harder to start eliminating pours than we initially thought it would be. Part of the trouble was the fact that every bottle in the blind was one we had selected because it was among our favorites of the year–meaning we knew we liked them all going into the blind. After some note-taking and analyzing we started breaking things down, and turning away some of the pours as we went.
After the first wave was eliminated we each had four or five remaining. A quick reload of the contenders, and we launched back into the action. One sample stood out so much that we both knew exactly what it was, which made it impossible taste it blind. The Pursuit Series Episode 17 (Willett Family Estate single barrel bourbon) is so distinct that we decided to eliminate it from the blind and set it aside as one of our best of 2019.
Narrowing down from here is where the real battling went on–seeing as how these were the best of our favorites it was all about picking out the things we liked best in each pour–finding the glasses that provided the nose, taste, and finish we each appreciate most.
The final lineup looked like this:
- Blanton’s Gold
- Stagg Jr. (batch 12)
- Maker’s Mark RC6
- EH Taylor Single Barrel
- Van Winkle Special Reserve “Lot B” (2018)
- WB Saffell
The 2019 Bourbon Finder Bourbon Battle Royale Winner(s):
John’s winner: Van Winkle Special Reserve “Lot B” (2018)
Sam’s winner: EH Taylor Single Barrel
What an awesome experience this was. Again, it’s worth mentioning that these contenders were selected from our own Best Bottles of 2019. The importance of that note is that we only were choosing from bottles we had personally tracked down and purchased throughout the year. While a total “best whiskey of 2019” would almost certainly have yielded different results, we’re all about tracking down great bottles and sharing the experiences–we didn’t want to include something we couldn’t get a bottle of (or only had a small sample of). The real takeaway is that the time spent researching and chasing down great bottles is only a small portion of the whiskey pie, and getting together with friends and family is really where the fun is at–so get out there and find some outstanding bottles–but be sure to take the time to share a pour with your bourbon buddies!
Cheers to an excellent year in 2019, and we look forward to hearing what bottles were in your Best of 2019 list. Did you totally rip off Fortnite or PUBG like we did? Let us know who was in your Battle Royale in the comments, or hit us up on Instagram @TheBourbonFinder.