As it is March, it is probably time for brackets of one sort or another. And even though my beloved Minnesota Gophers will actually make an appearance in a basketball tournament this year...I still don't really care. I mean, I'm happy to hear they are doing ok, but it isn't going to ruin my day should they not beat Louisville.
No, once again it is time to get our fill of competitive bracketing by finding inexpensive bourbons and pitting them against each other head-to-head to see if there is one that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Normally I run all over the Metro trying to find bourbons that fulfill a stringent set of qualifications while minimizing bourbons from the same producer. But this year, I decided to be lazy…errr…crowd-source the decision by opening the nomination process up to you, the readers.
And boy did the nominations roll in (it might have helped that I asked the question as part of couple different give-aways). It’s funny, a couple of years ago, I got chastised in the comments for having an elevated Bottom-Shelf. But let me tell you, ya’ll have a much more high-end bottom shelf than I do.
So how does this competition work? Well, the bourbons included were all nominated by the readers. After the nomination process, I tallied the number of nomination each bourbon received, cross referenced that with bourbons I could buy for less than $25 (750 mL bottle or larger) and figured out which of those were actually available in my market.
And it was at that point that I realized there were way too many interesting suggestions for an eight bourbon bracket. So this year we are bracketing it NFL-style with 12 whiskeys, the top four seeds of which have earned first-round byes. Which leads me to how these were seeded. I have a very precise algorithm which I …
nah. I just went by the number of nominations each bourbon got. After that I broke any ties first by age and then by proof. The divisions were chosen in alternating order so Division 1 chose the top seed as first, then Division 2 got to choose the second seed first and so on down the line. And now, the moment you were waiting for:
The number one overall seed, with 5 nominations and 103 proof is Heaven Hill’s Fighting Cock. Following that with the number one seed in Division 2, also with 5 nominations, is Wild Turkey 101. The third overall seed and the number two seed in Division 2 is Evan Williams Bottled in Bond (four nominations and 100 proof). Following that as the number two seed in Division 1 is Larceny (Four nominations and 92 proof). The number three seeds are Evan Williams Single Barrel (Division 1, three nominations, 7 years old) and Buffalo Trace (Division 2, three nominations, 90 proof). Number four seeds are Four Roses Bourbon (Division 2, three nominations, 80 proof) and Jim Beam Bonded (Division 1, two nominations, 100 proof). Number 5 seeds are Old Grand-Dad Bonded (Division 1, two nominations, 100 proof) and Bulleit Bourbon (Division 2, two nominations, 90 proof). There were a lot of suggestions that only had one nomination, so I chose ones I thought might be interesting as the number six seeds. They are Old Forester Signature (Division 2, one nominations, 100 proof) and Jim Beam Repeal Batch (Division 1, one nominations, 100 proof).
There are a lot of interesting story lines this time (that tends to happen when you elevate the level of competition). We start out with Jim Beam Bonded versus Old Grand-Dad Bonded. Which of the two Beam Bourbon recipes will win out? We also have Four Roses versus Bulleit. So we have a Four Roses product versus one that used to be mostly Four Roses, but is no longer so. And honestly, I’m curious to see how the Beam Limited Release fares against the Heaven Hill Limited Release in Repeal Batch versus Evan Williams Single Barrel. And if Evan Williams wins, which of the Heaven Hill Bourbon recipes will win out? The wheat or the rye based?
Anyway competition starts Thursday. Check back then to see which of the bourbon in the Reader’s Choice Bottom-Shelf comes out on top!
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