The Best of Kentucky Bourbon

January 27, 2010

Cincinnati’s convenient proximity to Kentucky — where 95% of the world’s bourbon is distilled and aged — gives us an edge when it comes to buying the really good stuff. Experts from Cork ‘N Bottle and The Party Source are able to travel to surrounding Kentucky distilleries and hand select single barrel bourbons (that would otherwise not be single barrel) for our tasting pleasure.

Featured below are two worthy Kentucky bourbons from Cork ‘N Bottle that are worth checking out. One is a great value and the other is pure luxury…

Best Value Old Weller Antique Single Barrel
For the money, 20 bucks to be exact, you’ll be hard pressed to a find a bourbon with this much kick. Aged 7 years and at 107 proof, this bourbon is incredibly smooth. Experts say that it’s best on the rocks or with a drop of water to open it up. Of course, if you’re in the mood for an Old Fashioned or a killer Manhattan, no one will hold it against you.

east-by-north Cork & Bottle Description:
“Light oak on the nose with just a touch of oak sap. Take a sip and the dry oak is still there, but with a touch of cinnamon and some tantalizing sweetness.”

Superior Taste

Van Winkle Family Reserve

Truth be told, some bourbons kind of turn my head around. Not this one. This small-batch bourbon includes a 15-, 20- and 23-year-old malt and is exceptionally smooth and dangerously easy to drink. Pictured above is the 15 year old variety for $50. Just be warned — it’s incredibly rare. As one of the last whiskies that Julian Van Winkle II distilled at the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY, there is a limited run.

Spirit Journal description
“The palate entry is spicy, piquant, prickly and raisiny; at midpalate the taste profile features lead pencil, slate, black pepper, brown butter, and deep-seared oak. Finishes with an ash-like, chewy, and oily aftertaste that’s smashingly luscious…. American whiskey doesn’t come any finer.”

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

natecov January 27, 2010 at 10:54 am

I have a bottle of the Weller right now and was lucky enough to have a friend give me a bottle of the 20yr Pappy ($100/bottle) a couple years ago and agree that both bourbons are great. Pappy is as smooth a bourbon as you will find and the Weller is a great bargain at $20.

What is interesting about both of those is that they are in the small family of “wheated” bourbons which also include Makers and most offerings from Buffalo Trace. I’ve found that they are a little smoother and better to introduce to those trying bourbon for the first time.

Either way, both of those bottles are in my top ten and were good choices for the post.


Courtney January 28, 2010 at 6:51 am

Nice score on the 20 year old Pappy! You are definitely right about both being wheated bourbons … and I agree the taste is sweeter & smoother than rye bourbons. You’ll have to let us know which other bourbons are on your top 10.


Laura January 27, 2010 at 11:00 am

I spoiled David with a bottle of George T Stagg for sweetest day! I found it at Cork N Bottle–the owner there is a bit of a bourbon enthusiast. I recommend tweeting at them or giving them a call to see if they can find or hold a bottle for you. If thats something you’d be interested in finding. I think it is released in the fall?

We like the Pappy van winkle 15 yr too. Four roses is also pretty solid, it is very spicy. Have you guys tried the “Mariage” four roses? We were curious about it.


CincyCapell January 27, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Brian Hue at the Cork is one of the most knowledgeable whiskey/whisky authorities in this region, and he has an extremely discerning palate as well. Those barrels that he has been selecting are really exceptional.


Courtney January 28, 2010 at 7:02 am

Agreed! Love all of those guys at Cork ‘N Bottle .. all really knowledgeable and friendly. Have always steered us in the right direction.


Courtney January 28, 2010 at 6:57 am

So you like the George T Stagg? Have heard mixed things about it but glad it’s proving worth for you. Had some Four Roses at Tonic last week (new fav place to get drinks) but have not tried the Mariage.


Courtney February 2, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Enjoyed the George T Stagg but definitely could not drink too often. Very strong indeed!


Matt January 27, 2010 at 6:49 pm


Not related to Bourbon, but did you see this?

Travel Channel star Anthony Bourdain comes to the Aronoff Center June 27 to talk about his world travels, his “No Reservations” TV show, and experiences in kitchens and restaurants. Tickets go on sale March 5 for the 7:30 p.m. show called “No Reservations: An Evening with Anthony Bourdain.” VIP tickets ($85) include a meet & greet and book signing after the show $85. Other seats are $46.50 and $26.50 at Cincinnati Arts Association or 513-621-2787. See more about his live show here.


Courtney January 27, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Yes, any desire to attend?? Ask Marin!


Steve Z January 29, 2010 at 7:44 am

Great post…no better topic! After putting the kids to bed, is there anything better than bourbon and a book?


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