Don’s Single Barrel Bourbon Showdown! What Will Be the Last Whiskey?

The time is drawing very near.  I’ve mentioned this in the comments, but I am making it official here today.  I will be doing a Single Barrel Showdown.  Eight single barrel whiskeys pitted against each other in bracket style.  Trouble is I haven’t completed the bracket yet.

See, I only have 7 of the 8 whiskeys necessary to fill out the bracket.  So far in no particular order here are the whiskeys that will be involved.

  • Henry McKenna Single Barrel–I have had this bottle for a couple months now, but I haven’t opened it yet.  Looks interesting.
  • Wathen’s Single Barrel–This is a very good whiskey.  I have had it on several occasions and think it will be a strong contender.
  • Four Roses Single Barrel–Last time I had this whiskey I loved it.  I have a new bottle that I haven’t opened yet, so I’m hoping it is just as strong.
  • Evan Williams Single Barrel–I think this one might be a throw away.  Had it and didn’t love it, but it is in the bunker so its in.
  • Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit–This is a VERY strong contender.  One of Jim’s favorites, and at 101 proof a force to be reckoned with.
  • Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve–This too is a new bottle I haven’t opened.  I’ve heard great things, and at 120 proof it just might be the biggest whiskey in the bunch
  • A Special Single Barrel–This was sent to me from my buddy Greg over at Bourbondork.com.  He and several others purchased an entire barrel and then split it up amongst the buyers.  I have high hopes for this because it is barrel strength, so probably around 125 proof and it was hand selected, so you know they aren’t going to pick a bad barrel!
  • Last and finally, I don’t have one, and this is where you come in.
See, I have to fill out the bracket, but I also need to pick a whiskey that is available to me here in Idaho.  So I have gone through my list of whiskeys that the State of Idaho currently carries, and it seems as if I have four choices to complete the bracket.  My four choices are:
  • Blanton’s Single Barrel–I know nothing about Blanton’s except they have those really cool brass tops with the horses on them.
  • Eagle Rare 10 Year Single Barrel–In the interest of full disclosure, I actually have a bottle of this in the bunker, but didn’t realize it was a single barrel bourbon.  I’ve heard mixed reviews on this whiskey.  Some love it, others think it misses the mark.
  • Elijah Craig 18 Year Single Barrel–I’ve heard nothing but good things about this whiskey, but to date I’ve never tried it.  If it is as good as the 12 year small batch, it should be a strong contender.
  • Finally, Jack Daniels Single Barrel–I’ve had this a time or two several years ago.  From what I remember it was very good, but I really don’t remember it that much. I thought this one might be a good add because it represents Tennessee Whiskey.
So there is the lineup, and the list of possibles for the last spot in the bracket.  What are your thoughts?  Which whiskey should I use to round out the bracket?  Which do you think would be the strongest contenders?  As usual let me know in the comments.
-Don
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33 Comments on “Don’s Single Barrel Bourbon Showdown! What Will Be the Last Whiskey?”

  1. July 18, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    I think since Jack Daniel’s is a Tennessee Whiskey it doesn’t actually qualify for a Bourbon showdown. Personally, I’d go for the Elijah Craig, but I think you’ve brilliantly discovered an excuse to drink a lot of good Bourbon with purpose, so enjoy all the choices.

    • Don
      July 18, 2011 at 10:41 am #

      Thanks Ryan. I know I said Bourbon in the title, but I really am thinking about Whiskey in general. After all we are the Beer and Whiskey brothers, not the Beer and Bourbon Brothers. That is why I thought to include the JD. Lots of people love the Elijah Craig 18 year. This might be a good excuse to pick it up finally.

      • July 18, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

        In that case Don, can you find a single barrel Scotch? or Irish? Or is the category really corn whiskey?

        • Don
          July 18, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

          I’ve thought about that, and I would consider that under two conditions. 1) I know about it, and 2) its available in Idaho. It is amazing how difficult it is to satisfy those two criteria!

  2. John
    July 18, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    George Stagg is pricey but look at it as two bottles of alcohol in one.
    Eagle Rare 17 is beautiful as well. Nothing wrong with the 10 though.

    Remember to space out tasting as I once drank a AH Hirsch after some Stagg and that was a disservice to a great bourbon!

    • Don
      July 18, 2011 at 10:44 am #

      Is Stagg Single barrel? It didn’t say on the list I had, just said Stagg. If I could actually get a Stagg It would have to be on the list. Also, I’m not sure the 17 is single barrel. As for spacing, I was thinking about just doing two at a time and getting a few posts out of the topic.

  3. johnking82
    July 18, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    Blantons. Pony up.

    • Don
      July 18, 2011 at 10:44 am #

      Why?

      • johnking82
        July 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

        It was a pun in a sense, Blantons is good but it’s pricey.

        • Don
          July 18, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

          I got the pun, but I thought it was a serious recco. That said, it is getting a lot of votes. It is neck and neck with the EC 18. It isn’t that bad here, under $50.

  4. Fred Colby
    July 18, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    18 year old Single BBL Elijah Craig

    • Don
      July 18, 2011 at 10:54 am #

      Somehow I thought that would be your vote Fred! 🙂

    • Rob Wallace
      July 18, 2011 at 11:09 am #

      Agreed on the Elijah Craig 18yr being the best of the suggested whiskeys, but I do enjoy the Blanton’s quite a bit as well

      • Don
        July 18, 2011 at 11:14 am #

        EC 18 is starting to run away with it. Any other suggestions…anyone?

  5. Kevin
    July 18, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    Blanton’s – because it’s fantastic and you’ve never had it. Also Stagg is not a single barrel.

    • Don
      July 18, 2011 at 11:39 am #

      Well there is two votes for Blantons. It is catching up with the EC 18.

  6. John
    July 18, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    Easy choice. “The Original Single Barrel Bourbon.” Without Blanton’s the others wouldn’t exist.

    • Don
      July 18, 2011 at 11:48 am #

      Hmmm…I like the nostalgia angle. Like the old man versus the young bucks. Perhaps the old man could still teach a thing or two. Like that old Toby Kieth song, “I’m not as good as I once was, But I’m as good once as I ever was”.

  7. FatCatKC
    July 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    I would vote for Elijah Craig, I’ve been wanting to pick it up myself but haven’t yet. What about Bookers from jim beam? Is the Kentucky Spirit better than the Rare Breed?

    • Don
      July 18, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

      I personally like the KS better, but it is about $12 more per bottle, so I don’t get it too often. Is Bookers Single barrel? I know it is barrel strength, but I thought it was small batch.

  8. FatCatKC
    July 18, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    I’ll have to pick up some KS then because I love Rare Breed. I’m not sure what Bookers is considered but it’s one of my go to’s. Thought it was single barrel but I could very well be wrong about that. Where do you live I’m coming out for this one.

    • Don
      July 18, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

      Anytime. Idaho. Go to Nevada and turn right, you can’t miss it! 😉

  9. July 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    Don – based on your list, Buffalo Trace is not represented in the 7 so I would suggest Eagle Rare 10 yr.

    • Don
      July 18, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

      Good points Greg. Hard to believe that BT only has the two single barrel offerings available in Idaho. Now, its decision time, I already have an Eagle Rare 10, but I’ve heard Blantons might be a stronger contender…Decisions, decisions!

  10. July 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    ….oh and if price is a consideration, Blanton’s is also BT but is twice the price as ER10. Just a thought.

  11. David T
    July 18, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    Hmm, I was going to vote for whichever we had on Ohio’s limited list, but lt looks like both are there. The ‘first’ single barrel vs ‘oldest’ (actually longest aged)? Kind of a toss-up for me as I haven’t had either. Coin flip?

  12. johnking82
    July 19, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    how about this one…and I ain’t talking about the Y2K on your zipper http://blogs.courier-journal.com/bourbon/2011/07/16/buffalo-trace-remembers-y2k-with-special-bourbon/?odyssey=obinsite

    • Don
      July 19, 2011 at 9:11 am #

      Sure John, You probably have an extra $1000 hanging around in wedding money, you want to float me a loan so I can get in on this?

      • johnking82
        July 19, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

        Ask my wife, she runs the show.

  13. Pete O
    July 19, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    I would vote for Blanton’s as well. It is a very good whiskey.

    Not sure if you know this or not … at the foot of each of the horses on top of the Blantons bottles is a letter. You can collect them and line them up to spell out BLANTONS. When you do so, you will see that the horses are each in a different stride and appear to be in a horse race.

    That is my piece of useless knowledge for the day.
    -Pete

  14. matt c
    July 20, 2011 at 2:09 am #

    So how will you drink these? I would think that it could make a difference in the judging. I take my whiskey on the rocks, but with cask strength/ barrel strength, I prefer some water.

    If you’re opening it up to all whiskeys, then I’ll recommend my favorite Scotch, Nadurra (cask strength sort of the same thing as single barrel? Or completely different?). Might be a bit out of its element here, though. And I’m really curious to hear how the Knob Creek fares, as the regular variety used to be mainstay whiskey.

    • Don
      July 20, 2011 at 9:56 am #

      Matt, for this challenge, I am drinking them neat out of a Glencarin glass. That is really the only way to judge them. Oh, I suppose I could add some water, but I typically prefer them neat, and I think this is the purest way to judge them, from the expression of the distiller, without interference. As far as the Nadurra, it is a great Whisky, but Cask Strength is totally different from single barrel. Cask Strength means that the mix the barrels and whatever the proof of the barrel is the proof of what gets bottled, so they don’t dilute the whiskey with any water to lower the proof to say 100 or 80proof. Typically Cask Strength, or Barrel strength whiskeys are around 125 proof, but the do mix the barrels. Single barrel is just that, from one single barrel. It may be diluted to get to the proof they want, but it is from one individual barrel.

  15. July 26, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    I’m voting Blanton’s as well. Elijah Craig 12 is one of my favorite “for the money” bourbons but I wasn’t a huge fan of the 18. It was a bit too watered down tasting for my liking. Eagle Rare is good but I take Blanton’s over it every time.

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