Top 10: Bourbons Of The Year 2018
It’s that time again… Bourbon of the year (or BOTY as we in the know refer to it) is the big one. It’s when the Gents come together, roll up their sleeves, and get ready to be ruthless and make that all important list of their favourite 10 bourbons for 2018.
As always we recorded the session, so if you so wish you can listen in behind the scenes and hear how the Gents came to the top 10, and ultimately their number one favourite bourbon this year - click here to listen.
For anyone who doesn’t want to listen to an hour of 2 guys talking, then the full list is below. But before you scroll down to look, please take a second to read the rules we apply when choosing our list;
The list is open to any bourbon, no matter when it was released or when we tasted it. i.e. It is NOT exclusive to bourbons from 2018 or that we have tried in 2018.
Either Mav or Mr Pie must have actually tasted the bourbon for it to be in consideration.
The list does not have to reflect the Gents previous review scores.
This list is our list. You don't have to like it.
Wild Turkey 101
A first-time entrant in the BOTY top ten, which is somewhat of a surprise to us as this has always been a favourite of the Gents. A must have bourbon in any discerning gentleman’s whiskey cabinet, it delivers an exceptional spice heavy taste profile and is outstanding value for money. How the folks at Wild Turkey can produce such richness of spice in a relatively low mash bill of only 13% and obtain an apple fruit bomb on the nose is why they are experts in their field, and we can only look on in awe.
Maker’s Mark Cask Strength
A different Maker’s Mark uses its muscles this year and pushes out Maker’s 46 to achieve a very respectful ninth position on the list. Maker’s Mark Cask Strength is one of only 2 wheaters in this year’s BOTY top ten. First introduced in 2014 and bottled at a surprisingly low ABV for a cask strength whiskey, this is blended from up to 19 different barrels all at different ages and strengths. Each time we talk or write about this whiskey, we remind everyone to proceed with caution – once you’ve tried the Cask Strength version, there really is no turning back to the standard Maker’s Mark.
Four Roses Single Barrel
The bunting has been hung out, the flags are waving, the batons are twirling, and the cheerleaders are dancing. Four Roses Single Barrel makes it onto the BOTY for the third consecutive year. You would think that the Gents are being sponsored by Four Roses with how much love this bourbon receives on our site. Double Bourbon Gents World Cup winner and triple BOTY top ten entrant, there is very little else we can say. Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, euro for euro, is there a better bourbon to be had? This is without doubt a true contender.
Blanton’s Gold Edition is one of only 3 bourbons to have been on all previous BOTY top 10’s, but it appears to be on a downward trajectory and is down 2 places compared to last year. The regular Blanton’s Single Barrel also made it to the last 15 but Mr Pie will just not let the Gold Edition drop out of the top 10. Fruits, sultanas and raisins ooze from the nose with dark fruits and rich deep spices on the palate. It is unfortunately more expensive than your average bourbon, but you get what you pay for and this we think (well Mr Pie anyway) is well worth it.
A brand new entry, and a very impressive sixth position, for Weller 12. The Gents may have been a little late to the wheated bourbons party but are now fully-fledged advocates of their kind. We were recently asked to recommend a bourbon with the smoothest creamiest finish and without hesitation, Weller 12 came to mind. Prices vary widely in the UK from the mid £50’s up to nearly £100. It is a superb whiskey and a must have if you can find it at the cheaper end of the pricing scale. Whatever you do, just don’t ask Mav what he thinks about the screw top.
Like Blanton’s Gold, this one is also dropping down our list. Winner in 2016, and runner up last year, Noah’s Mill sees itself slip to 5th this time around. Noah’s Mill is solid bourbon that opens up to offer a complex array of smells and flavours that pull you back again and again. Not a popular one in and around the internet, but it will always be a favourite of the Gents and in particular Mav, who is never without a bottle or 2 in his collection.
E. H. Taylor Small Batch
This one just missed out on a top 3 spot. It is a powerhouse of a bourbon and needs to be tried by every bourbon lover out there. It's genuinely hard to believe that the Small Batch is the entry level E. H. Taylor offering. The quality of this bourbon is just astounding. From the moment you smell it, to the final moments of the surprisingly long finish, it is a pure joy. In fact, the Gents actually would choose this over the single barrel version any day. That's how good it is.
Smooth Ambler Old Scout Single Barrel
The Gents tried this bourbon for the first time at a tasting event earlier this year at our much loved (and now much missed due to its closure) bourbon bar. Mr Pie and Mav immediately fell in love with it, and were blown away by the taste. It’s such an easy bourbon to drink, you would think the over 50% volume would make it too strong to be an everyday sipper but it doesn’t. This is a bourbon you can enjoy over and over again… if you can find it of course.
Wild Turkey Decades
Mav was slightly drunk when he paid £200 for this bottle in a shop in London. However, it turned out to be one of the best decisions he had made all year. Wow this bourbon is good! Like, really, really good! So good in fact that for a few minutes it was the Gents choice for bourbon of the year. A mixture of bourbons aged between 10 and 20 years, hence the clever name, all come together to create one hell of a drink. We can’t stress enough how much we recommend you seek out and try a dram or 3, we will certainly be making short work of our bottle.
George T. Stagg (2016)
So here we have it, last years winner retains the top spot for another year. As mentioned above we were all ready to crown a new winner in Wild Turkey Decades, until we decided to do a quick side by side tasting of the 2 just to be sure. We are very glad we did.
The Gents had not had a dram of Stagg in a while and we had forgotten just how much it blows the competition out of the water. Once you get over the initial burst of warmth and alcohol (it is 72% after all) you are left with an intense and beautiful flavour that just doesn’t quit. The finish is so long there will be huge gaps between your sips as you savour the flavour.
As we said in our review, if you could actually buy this for it’s recommended retail value of $90-$100 it would be the greatest sipper known to mankind. As it is you have to pay a lot to get your hands on a bottle, so it’s not a choice everyone can make, but if you do splash out on a bottle you will be heavily rewarded. Well done Stagg, take a bow son.