Well, it's finally here. The championship rounds. We are down to the last four bourbons. In Division 1 we have Old Grand Dad Bonded facing off against Larceny. And in Division Two we have Old Forester Signature 100 proof up against Wild Turkey 101.
Division 1: Old Grand-Dad Bonded (Whiskey 1) vs Larceny (Whiskey 2)
Pre-Reveal Thoughts: Both noses are sweet, but Whiskey 2 is showing a bit more graininess. I’d say this is a bit of a draw on the nose. Neither is particularly better than the other. On the mouth however, Whiskey 1 pulls way ahead. In comparison to Whiskey 2, Whiskey 1 is an explosion of deliciousness. It is the hands-down winner in the one.
Post-Reveal Thoughts: To be honest, I’m a bit shocked on the results here. I expected Larceny to put up a bit more of a fight. And even though, I knew that Old Grand-Dad might have more flavor due to the proof, I didn’t expect it to necessarily have a better flavor. And yet it did. This is why we do these things blind, to eliminate the preconceived notions. Old Grand-Dad Bonded advances.
Division 2: Wild Turkey 101 (Whiskey 1) vs Old Forester Signature 100 proof (Whiskey 2)
Pre-Reveal Thoughts: The nose on Whiskey 1 is sweeter and shows more baking spice. The nose on Whskey 2 is more tannic. Reminds me a bit of a glass of Lipton’s iced tea. Whiskey 1 follows the nose and is sweet and spicy. The mouth on Whiskey 2 is also more tannic but is sweet as well. These are both nicely complex bourbons in the mouth. I like the finish on Whiskey 1 better. It is a spice bomb which i love. Whiskey 2 has a fine finish, it follows the mouth but at this point it feels like just “more of the same.” It doesn’t really stand out or distinguish itself. Honestly, these are both delicious and it is super close, but I think that spice-bomb of a finish pushes Whiskey 1 ahead ever so slightly.
Post-Reveal Thoughts: I’m honestly surprised at what happened here. I would have bet money that Whiskey 2 was Wild Turkey. But once again, this is why we do blind tastings. I think either of these would have been a winner with a different opponent or on a different day (and I guess they were to get here) but today Wild Turkey 101 advances.
Championship Round: Wild Turkey 101 (Whiskey 1) vs Old Grand-Dad Bonded (Whiskey 2)
Pre-Reveal Thoughts: Whiskey 1 has a sweet nose where Whiskey 2 is reminding me of rye bread. Whiskey 1 is sweeter on the mouth while Whiskey 2 is drier and much spicier. This is super, super tough. Finishes on both are great. It comes down to the fact that Whiskey 1 makes me ever slightly happier.
Post-Reveal Thoughts: I did this same matchup on three different days. It was that close. OGD and 101 each won one of the first two. On the third round, I gave up on analyzing the notes and just asked myself, “Which of these makes me happier when I drink it?” And that one was Wild Turkey 101.
So was I shocked by anything this year? I mean, besides the fact that you guys have a much more high-end bottom-shelf than I do? Yeah. I actually was. I continually gave Old Grand-Dad no shot in it’s matchups. I wasn’t sure what would happen versus Beam Bonded, but I expected it to lose in every matchup after that. I just think of Old Grand-Dad as dry and ever so slightly dusty and grainy. Every time I drink it, I am reminded that it isn’t, but I can’t get that impression out of my head. I mean it won the whole thing last year and that didn’t help. And it was a tie-breaker game away from winning this year. And it lost to another former winner (2017 Wild Turkey 101 was the Champ). I think I need to reassess my thoughts on OGD Bonded and try to remember that it really is a very good bourbon.
I was also a bit shocked that the two finalists were ones that would have fit in my normal pricing rules. Those being 2.4 cents per milliliter or less (which works out to $18 per 750, $24 per liter or $40 for a 1.75 L handle). In fact, I can get a handle of Wild Turkey for just under $30 locally. And the fact that they beat out bourbons that sell for $25 per 750 mL? That’s a bit shocking as well. But it does show one of the guiding principles of this site: you don’t need to spend a lot to drink well.
I’m off to Las Vegas for a well earned vacation next week so no posts. But I’ll be back a week from Tuesday with my review of Legent from BeamSuntory.