Blind Battle of the Barrel Proofs!
In my opinion, barrel proof bourbons can represent the best value and best taste on the shelf, but not all barrel proofs are created equal. Read below to see which bottle came out on top!
A buddy of mine runs a large liquor store in town and has personally selected dozens of barrels. That is to say, his palate is more sophisticated than my own. To get a more well-rounded verdict, he joined me in this blind taste test.
Up for this test were five bottles:
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch B517 (124.2 proof)
Stagg Jr (131.9)
Four Roses Barrel Strength OBSV pick (104)
Booker's Annis' Answer (126.7)
Booker's Sip Awhile (128.1)
So, which bottle came out on top? I'll get right down to it. The ECBP and Four Roses Store Pick were both head and shoulders above the other three. We each separately identified these two as our favorites. While all of these options pack heat, these two were exceptionally smooth and have great depth of flavor. Each sip seemed to bring something new. You will never be disappointed with either of these two bottles.
It was a tough choice to pick a winner between these two, but in the end, we both agreed that the ECBP just had a little something extra that put it over the top. This was my favorite bourbon of 2017, so I wasn't surprised when we revealed the bottles, but I was very impressed with how the Four Roses held up.
The other three were all heat up front and more one-dimensional in their flavor profiles. Booker's Annis Answer came in third and was a really enjoyable pour. It had the perfect level of heat while maintaining a smooth mouthfeel. I think this could've come out on top against a weaker field, but those two up top are hard to beat.
The Stagg Jr and Booker's Sip Awhile came in fourth and fifth respectively and were almost harsh when compared to the others. They each opened up with a few drops of water, but it wasn't enough to get them anywhere near the top options. They are still decent bourbons, but they were a clear step or two down from the options at top.
So, there you have it. If you find yourself in a store or bar with a decent selection, and you can't decide between barrel proof options, use this as a starting point.
1. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof B517
2. Four Roses OBSV 11yr Store Pick
3. Booker's Annis Answer
4. Stagg Jr 131.9 proof
5. Booker's Sip Awhile
Anything ranked too high or too low? Leave me a comment below and let me know how you'd rank these.