GENTLEMEN’S GUIDE

Top 5 Best Bourbons for the Perfect Holiday Gift

OUR AFICIONADOS GUIDE FOR 2020

Let me first be very transparent, I have been in the beverage industry for over 20 years on the buying side, owning restaurants and bars in New Paltz, New York. Since 2014 I have been on the sales and supply side. I have gotten to meet the owners of Bulleit & Peerless and have many friends that represent Four Roses, Blanton’s, and Michter’s. That said, there are many reasons that I have selected the following five as great choices for gift-giving this holiday season. All have great packaging, all have been recognized for their attention to detail, all don’t add any water to the finished product, and all are 90+ proof from Kentucky. Most of them are easy to find at your local liquor stores but keep in mind that there are 100s of bourbons on the market today and these are by far, my favorite five.

The DSP-K on every bottle is the number when each distillery received their license to distill in Kentucky. This numbering system is very much like how Masonic Lodges are given their lodge number. Currently, Kentucky is in the 20,000 just to give you some perspective. Many have gone the way of the Dodo bird considering there are only about 70 active licenses in KY as of today. Bourbon is America’s only native spirit, as declared by Congress in 1964. It must be made with a minimum of 51 percent corn, aged in charred new oak barrels, stored at no more than 125 proof, and bottled no less than 80 proof. Now for my favorite part, the side by side tasting.

glass of bourbon

The Bulleit has a proof of 119.2 and on the nose has a lot of heat & spice. You can definitely taste the spice with the high rye mash bill. The Four Roses is 100 proof and much mellower on the front pallet. I get a lot of vanilla and caramel on the Four Roses. Next up is the Michter’s. This one is 91.4 proof and very floral on the nose. More smoke on the taste and much more heat on the side pallet. Neither falls flat or falls short on the overall mouthfeel. Now for the really hard to get Blanton’s. This one was 93 proof. The mouthfeel can only be best described as wonderful. It has spice, it has coffee, and I get a little nutmeg on this one. And I saved my very favorite and best for last. This bottle was 110.2, and it tastes more like 80-ish. There is almost no heat on Peerless at all. The high corn content is very obvious on the first sniff. Sweet toffy and dark chocolate are on the nose and on the front pallet. The last two are collectible for a reason. They are by far the best package and just over-deliver in every aspect. You can’t go wrong with any of my top 5 and they all will wow the person you are gifting them to. And whatever you do, don’t forget to get one for you!

Bulleit Bourbon Barrel Strength DSP-KY-20,026

Suggested retail $45.00-$60.00

Original recipe dates back to 1830. In 1987 Thomas E. Bulleit, Jr revived the distillery that his great-great-grandfather started. Aged and bottled at Stitzel-Weller in Louisville KY, made with a high-rye mash bill with no water added after removed from the barrel. This is also an uncut and non-chill filtered spirit.

bulleit bourbon barrel strength

Four Roses Single Barrel DSP-KY-8

Suggested retail $40.00-$50.00

Four Roses is aged 7-10 years in its Lawrenceburg, KY distillery. The original recipe was created in 1884 by Paul Jones Jr.

four roses

Michter’s Small Batch DSP-KY-20,003

Suggested retail $45.00-$50.00 (allocated)

Michter’s is considered by many to be the first distillery in America, dating back to 1753 starting in Pennsylvania. In the 1900s Joseph J Magliocco moved the operation to Kentucky and now operates out of three locations including a 78,000 square foot distillery in the Shively section of Louisville. Around 90-ish proof, using 20 barrels per batch to blend for its, no water added small batch bourbon.

mitcher's

Blanton’s Single Barrel DSP-KY-113

Suggested retail $150.00-$230.00 (highly allocated)

Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon started in 1984 with Master Distiller Elmer T. Lee. They are considered to be the first to market a single barrel offering. The original recipe was born in 1881. Their highly collectible stoppers started in 1999 and been on every bottle since. This un-cut no water added spirit is usually just under 100 proof.

Blanton's

Peerless Small Batch DSP-KY-50

Suggested retail $80.00-$150.00 (highly allocated)

Peerless started in the 1880s in Henderson, KY, and produced whiskey all during prohibition as a federally-bonded product. Only 6 barrels are blended to get this very small batch and its relatively consistent flavor profile. Peerless, like Blanton’s, puts a lot of thought into the bottle topper. It is the only spirit ever to win best bottle, best label, and best topper on the same bottle. It also was named the best Kentucky Bourbon in 2020 by World Whiskies Awards.

Peerless bourbon

I hope these suggestions aid in your search for that perfect Holiday toast. Please enjoy responsibly!

Happy Holidays, my Brothers!

Written by WB Anthony Prizzia Adonai Lodge #718 Member of Cyprus Shrine, Oriental Shrine, Ulster County Shrine Club, Valley of Albany A.A.S.R, Poughkeepsie Chapter 172, Poughkeepsie Commandery 43, Royal Order of Scotland.