Father's Day Gift Ideas from the Readers of BourbonGuy.com

A couple weeks ago, I gave away a pair of socks to a lucky reader. But, being the sneaky devil that I am, I required them to answer a question for me in order to enter. In this case, I asked them what "gift-worthy" relatively available bourbon they would give to someone for Father's Day.

That’s right, I got the readers to do my work for me. And as I had hoped, I found the information interesting and I think you might too.

10 “Gift-Worthy” Bourbons as Chosen by the Readers

1. Henry McKenna Bottled in Bond 10-year old.

This beloved darling of a whiskey was the most submitted bourbon by the readers. And with good reason. This is an affordable bourbon that comes with a 10 year age statement. That combination is a rarity these days. Of course since this just won multiple awards at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, including “Best in Show Whiskey” I don’t know that I would expect to see this sitting on the shelf anytime soon. But if you do, grab a bottle. It really is quite good. Spicy, rich and complex. And if you see two, maybe grab one for a gift too.

2. Colonel E. H. Taylor Single Barrel Bourbon

One of two suggestions coming from the EH Taylor portfolio, Single Barrel is just what it sounds like. A Single Barrel, Bottled in Bond Bourbon. Clocking in at 100 proof, this one should be high enough proof for the experienced drinker but not proofed so high that it scares away the novice. I haven’t had this one personally but the distillery says this: “The aroma carries lightly toasted oak, with dried figs and butterscotch. One sip brings flavors of sweetness balanced with tobacco and dark spices. The finish is just long enough to prepare the palette for another sip. The bottle itself is a likeness to Colonel Taylor's original design used over a century ago.”

3. Four Roses Single Barrel

This is one of my favorite bourbons and my favorite in the Four Roses line-up. In my mind when I think of “bourbon flavor” I’m thinking of Four Roses Single Barrel. Of course, I am an admitted Four Roses Fanboy so take all of this with a grain of salt. In fact, the last time I wrote about it I had a very short review of it: “This is a fantastic bourbon. If you haven't had it yet, you should. If you buy it and you don't love it, I'll be happy to drink it for you if you send it to me.” And as a gift, not only does it come in a lovely bottle but if your local store has private selections, you can get something unique as well.

4. Blanton’s Single Barrel

This is one of five entries on the list that is made at the Buffalo Trace Distillery. This particular entry will be a bit hard to find most of the time. Though it isn’t impossible depending on where you live. Introduced way back in 1984, Blanton’s was the original Single Barrel and helped kick off the Bourbon Renaissance we are living through today. Internationally, there are multiple labels in the Blanton’s portfolio, including a Barrel Proof version that is to die for. Here in the US, we only get this one. But don’t be too sad, it is a hell of a bourbon and any person would be happy to receive it as a gift…if you don’t decide to keep it for yourself.

5. Booker’s Bourbon

This is one that you will not want to give to everyone on your list. Regularly clocking in at well over 120° proof, this is not for the bourbon novice. If your recipient is an experienced bourbon lover though, you cannot go wrong with Bookers. Sweet, thick, chewy and delicious, I am never disappointed with a bottle of Booker’s. Makes me wish I had a bottle right now.

6. Colonel E. H. Taylor Small Batch Bourbon

The second of two suggestions coming from the EH Taylor portfolio, Small Batch is also a bonded bourbon. I’m a bit ashamed to admit this, but I haven’t had this one either. Not sure how the entire E.H. Taylor line escaped my attention, but I should probably remedy that soon. In any case the distillery says this: “Tastes of caramel corn sweetness, mingled with butterscotch and licorice. The aftertaste is a soft mouth-feel that turns into subtle spices of pepper and tobacco.”

7. Eagle Rare Bourbon

I’ve had this bourbon on my shelf numerous times over the course of my bourbon journey and I’m going to tell you something. I’ve never noticed that the top of the E in the logo was an eagle head until right now. As a graphic designer for almost two decades, that bothers me more than it should. But maybe I can be excused, I mean most of the time I’m looking at this bottle, I’m focused on what is inside it, not on the label. This ten year old bourbon from the Buffalo Trace company clocks in at a respectable 90° proof and is probably my favorite bourbon from the distillery that is available here in the States.

8. Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon

This is the bourbon that I give as a gift most often. It is mellow and smooth, comes in a pretty bottle and tastes delicious. It is a great gift for the bourbon novice and is tasty enough for the bourbon expert. In fact, for a long while it was my go to from the Four Roses lineup before finally being overtaken by Single Barrel in the last few years.

9. Four Roses Small Batch Select Bourbon

Small Batch Select is the most recent release from Four Roses Bourbon, and the one in my glass as I wrote this. I got mine on my last trip to Kentucky since unfortunately it isn’t available nationwide yet. Non-chill filtered and clocking in at a hefty 104° proof, this is a bourbon to give to the experienced bourbon drinker. Being a mix of OBSV, OESV, OBSK, OESK, OBSF, and OESF recipes, this bourbon caters to the floral side of the Four Roses flavor profile without skimping on the spiciness. If you live in an area where this is for sale, it’s a no brainer as a gift for a whiskey lover that lives in the rest of the country.

10. Stagg Jr. Bourbon

This final entry on the list is another barrel proof, unfiltered bourbon. This time from Buffalo Trace. Named similarly to George T. Stagg of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, Junior is a bit younger than the 15+ years of its older brother. Stagg Jr. doesn’t carry an age statement but is assumed to be in the 6-10 year old range. And as one of the readers who suggested it said: “Separates the men from the boys.” I’m assuming he means the women from the girls as well. But the sentiment is correct, this is a burner.

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Four Roses Small Batch Select

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. I’d like to thank Four Roses for providing this sample to me with no strings attached.

By now you will all have heard that Four Roses is releasing a new addition to their core lineup. Their “fourth rose” to quote their social media feeds. This new release features six of their ten bourbons: OBSV, OESV, OBSK, OESK, OBSF, and OESF. It is non-chill filtered and bottled at 104 proof. Both Whisky Advocate and The Bourbon Review are reporting that the cost will be in the $50-60 range, slightly higher than Four Roses Single Barrel. It will initially be available in Kentucky, Georgia, Texas, New York and California with a nationwide rollout to follow.

Ok, so now that we have that out of the way, let’s address your real question. How does it taste and is this something that you should be waiting in line for or clearing shelves when you see it? Let’s get into how it tastes first.

Four Roses Small Batch Select

Purchase Info: This sample was graciously provided by Four Roses for review purposes. Reports are that this is suggested to be in the $50-60 range per 750mL bottle.

Details: A blend of six and seven year old bourbons from recipes: OBSV, OESV, OBSK, OESK, OBSF, and OESF. 52% ABV. Non-chill filtered.

Nose: Herbal mint, juicyfruit gum, caramel.

Mouth: Sweet caramel and floral notes dominate at first. After a few sips the spicy notes of cinnamon and notes of mint and juicyfruit gum begin to appear.

Finish: Warm and long with lingering mint. cinnamon and floral notes.


Thoughts: This is a Four Roses Bourbon that caters to lovers of the herbal and floral side of their line-up. Let’s put it this way, if the standard Four Roses Single Barrel is your jam because you love the spicy, classic bourbon notes it brings to the party, then this may not be your favorite of their line-up. If, however, you’ve loved every Private Selection that features the F yeast, then this will be right in your wheelhouse.

So, onto that second part of the question above. We all know that there will be enough buzz around this release that there are going to be dickheads who try to snatch up every bottle they can lay their hands on to try to sell on the secondary market. Whether they succeed is beyond me. Here’s the thing though, while this is a very good whiskey (and even though I am the F yeast lover I mentioned above), I think I like the standard spicy Single Barrel better. I tasted this alongside both Single Barrel and Small Batch tonight. It turns out that Small Batch Select is number two on my list of their core releases. It goes Single Barrel, Small Batch Select, Small Batch and then Beige Label.

So my plan is this: if I see Small Batch Select next time I’m in Kentucky, I’m going to pick up a bottle to have on hand as a change of pace bourbon. If I don’t see it, I’ll wait until I get home and get the Single Barrel. It’ll be around eventually and I can be patient with this one. I guess what I’m saying is this. It’s very good, but let’s not lose our heads over it. They are going to be making more.

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Bottom-Shelf Brackets 2019: Round 1: Four Roses vs. Bulleit and Jim Beam Bonded vs. Old Grand-Dad Bonded

In light of recent allegations made by the daughter of Tom Bulleit of his homophobia and mental and physical abuse toward her, I have made the decision that BourbonGuy.com can no longer endorse products bearing the Bulleit name. If I had known of these allegations previous to this article, I would have not included their bourbon in the competition.

Round 1 of the 2019 BourbonGuy.com Bottom Shelf Brackets continues with Division 2 Number 4 seed Four Roses “Beige Label” Bourbon versus Number 5 seed Bulleit Bourbon. 

This is an interesting battle. For the longest time it was an open secret that Four Roses produced whiskey made up all or most of the bourbon in a bottle of Bulleit. But about five or six years ago, that all changed. Four Roses cancelled their contract to supply Diageo with bourbon and Bulleit began the slow transition to filling their bottles with bourbon from other manufacturers. So now that enough time has passed for Bulleit to have gotten most of the Four Roses juice through their pipeline, how does the entry-level Four Roses product compare to Bulleit now that these two companies have gone their separate ways.

These were tasted blind in the following order. Tasting notes are from before the reveal.

Bulleit Bourbon

Purchase Info: $18.99 for a 750 mL bottle, Total Wine, Burnsville, MN

Details: 45% ABV.

Nose: Oak, Toffee, Vanilla, cinnamon red hots.

Mouth: Spicy cinnamon, sweet vanilla, creme brûlée and a little oak

Finish: Medium length. Lingering cinnamon, oak and chocolate.

Four Roses Bourbon

Purchase Info: $21.99 for a 750 mL bottle, Viking Liquor Barrel, Prior Lake, MN

Details: 40% ABV.

Nose: Cinnamon, oak, black tea and a little mint.

Mouth: Thin mouthfeel. Cinnamon, black pepper and a hint of vanilla.

Finish: Very gentle. Lingering vanilla, mint, black pepper and Juicyfruit gum.

Pre-reveal Thoughts: This one is tough. The bourbons are of a very similar quality level so there isn’t a hands-down winner on the quality front. They both taste good. And honestly, I think one could be forgiven for choosing either of these as you personal winner. For me though, in this head to head matchup? I think Whiskey 1 edges its way to the winner’s circle.

Post Reveal Thoughts: Higher proof can often lend itself to higher complexity and a nicer mouthfeel. It does so in this case as the higher proof Bulleit Bourbon wins the chance to meetup with Wild Turkey 101 in Round 2.

And once again, in order to finish this competition sometime before summer, we are doing two in each post. So moving on to our second 4v5 matchup, we have Division 1 Number 4 seed Jim Beam Bonded versus Number 5 seed (and corporate cousin) Old Grand-Dad Bonded. 

This is also a super interesting matchup. It features the Bottled in Bond version of both of Jim Beam’s main bourbon recipes. Jim Beam and Old Grand-Dad are both BeamSuntory brands. Both are produced by Jim Beam at one of their two big distilleries in either Clermont or Boston, Kentucky. Old Grand-Dad is often touted as using Beam’s “High Rye” recipe. How much higher is it than the standard Beam recipe? Well the good folks over at ModernThirst.com have a handy, and sortable, table of all the known, assumed, and estimated bourbon mash bills. According to that Old Grand-Dad clocks in at 63% corn, 27% rye and 10% malted barley compared to Jim Beam’s 75% corn, 13% rye and 12% malted barley. So let’s see who wins head-to-head, shall we?

These were tasted blind in the following order. Tasting notes are from before the reveal.

Old Grand-Dad Bonded

Purchase Info: $23.99 for a 1 liter bottle, Blue Max, Burnsville, MN

Details: 50% ABV. DSP-KY-230.

Nose: Mint, toasted grains, caramel, oak, green tea.

Mouth: Mint, spicy cinnamon, oak and green tea.

Finish: On the longer side of medium and warm. Lingering mint, green tea and oak.

Jim Beam Bonded

Purchase Info: $21.49 for a 1 liter bottle, Total Wine, Burnsville, MN

Details: 50% ABV. DSP-KY-230.

Nose: Vanilla, cinnamon, corn, almond, and toffee.

Mouth: Oak, a generic “fruitiness,” cinnamon candies and caramel.

Finish: Medium length and warm. Lingering mint, corn, cinnamon candies and a hint of peanut.

Pre-reveal Thoughts: Whiskey 2 is a lot sweeter than whiskey 1. So this basically comes down to if you like your bourbon on the sweet and spicy side or the dry and spicy side of the equation. That’ll be a personal preference issue. For me, I choose whiskey 1 to advance. My wife went back and forth before agreeing with me.

Post Reveal Thoughts: This was much closer than I expected it to be. Going into the matchup, I expected that Old Grand-Dad would win this one hands down with no contest. It turns out that Old Grand-Dad did win, but it really close. And now they will face Fighting Cock in Round 2.

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Four Roses Single Barrel: Private Selections from Binny's, OESQ and OESF

Well, my wife left. 

Not forever, just for the weekend. It's times like this when I realize just how much she does around here. Sure, I do a fair bit of the cooking even when she is here but that isn't what I'm talking about. No, she performs that greatest of all tasks: she deflects the kid. 

My daughter is a bit of a worrier. Add in the fact that she is in her mid-twenties, and hasn't realized that other people know things yet, and you have the makings of a doting and slightly condescending young lady. One who is pretty sure that I can't take care of myself for a few days even though I took care of her for somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 years. 

Luckily I convinced her that I wouldn't starve this evening and she decided to go out to see her boyfriend...now I just need to find something to eat. I had planned to run to the store before she left but I didn't, and she took the car. Guess she wasn't that worried.

But even though I may not know what I am going to eat, I have a pretty good idea of what I am going to drink this evening. Last weekend my wife and I tasted two different private selections of Four Roses from Binny's in Bloomington, Illinois. Binny's is mostly a Chicago chain, but they have a couple of locations further south in Illinois that I drive past on my to and from Kentucky. 

These particular Four Roses Private Selections are OESF and OESQ. To my palate, these are the yeasts that are furthest from the classic bourbon flavor profile of caramel and spice. The F and Q yeasts tend to bring in more floral, fruity, and herbal notes. As such, they are some of my favorites to buy as private selections as they are both delicious and add a bit of fun to any blends I happen to make. 

Four Roses Single Barrel Private Selections: Binny's OESQ and OESF

Purchase Info: Each bottle was $59.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Binny's Beverage Depot, Bloomington, IL.

Details: OESQ: 9 years 5 months old and 57% ABV. OESF: 9 years 6 months old and 56.7% ABV.

: Caramel, cherry, dusty oak, and hints of leather.
OESF: Caramel, mint and citrus.

Nice mouthfeel. Floral, fruity and mint notes. The proof brings a nice tingly warmth. 
OESF: Proof brings a lot of heat. Once you get past that it follows the nose with sweet sweet caramel, herbal mintiness, and fruity citrus notes. 

: Longer side of medium. Dusty oak precedes lingering spicy, floral, and cherry notes. 
OESF: Long and warm. Lingering cherry and mint. 

IMAGE: A hand drawn heart because I love these!

Thoughts: I was super excited to find the F and Q versions of this on the same shelf. I had to talk my wife into allowing both to travel home with us, but we are both very glad that they did. The Q is my favorite of the two as I am loving the floral notes. My wife prefers the rich caramel of the F.

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