Now that I have a few participants lined up for the Bourbon in Exile Bottom Shelf Blind Tasting, it’s time to figure out what we’ll be tasting. I suppose we ought to start by refining what we mean by “bottom shelf bourbon”.
Obviously, price has to be the first thing we consider. If you’re paying $20 or more for 750mL of whiskey, you’re no longer shopping on the bottom shelf. Anything over $20 is right out. Under $15 is better. Under $10 is a home run.
Just so I don’t have to do any complicated dilution math, we’re only going to consider 80 proof (and maybe 86 proof – aka Kentucky Proof) whiskeys.
Finally, whole I have a natural bias in favor of bourbon, I see no reason to exclude Tennessee whiskey. It may not be aged the same, but it’s close enough for government work.
Based on these entirely arbitrary rules, I’ve compiled a list of candidate whiskeys. In reverse alphabetical order, they are:
- Wild Turkey 80 proof – produced by Wild Turkey – $13
- Ten High 80 proof – produced by Sazerac- $9
- Rebel Yell 80 proof – produced by Heaven Hill for Luxco – $14
- Old Taylor 80 proof – produced by Sazerac – $15
- Old Grand Dad 86 (Kentucky) proof – produced by Beam – $13
- Old Forester 86 proof – produced by Brown Forman – $13
- Old Fitzgerald – produced by Heaven Hill – $16
- Old Crow 80 proof – produced by Beam- $10
- Jim Beam 80 proof – Beam – $13
- Jack Daniels – Brown Forman – $17
- Henry McKenna – produced by Heaven Hill – $15
- Heaven Hill – $11
- Ezra Brooks – produced by Heaven Hill for Luxco- $15
- Evan Williams 86 proof – produced by Heaven Hill- $10
- Early Times – produced by Brown Forman – $11
- Ancient Age – produced by Sazerac – $15
Of course there’s no way we can taste more than four or five bottles, so the list will be trimmed down based on availability and the desires of the panelists. We can also thin out the pack a bit by only tasting one whiskey from any given producer. Finally, if there are any whiskeys you guys feel strongly about, let me know and I’ll take that into consideration when compiling the final list.