It’s time to start the annual rundown of the bottles everyone is looking for. The most wanted Bourbon seem to vary dramatically in price from budget-friendly to fiendishly expensive.
Feautred image credit: @BlantonsBourbon
For a category that was in the doldrums 20 years ago, Bourbon’s unstoppable rise is truly remarkable.
There was a time when Bourbon was the red-haired stepchild of the whiskey world, ignored internationally and often sneered at in the US. Scotch was where all the cool kids played and Bourbon was just a fusty old has-been, constantly reliving its pre-Prohibition glory days.
That’s an exaggeration, obviously, but it contains a kernel of truth. The truth about Bourbon these days is that it is an irresistible force globally and robustly healthy domestically, borne aloft by an increasingly sophisticated audience who appreciate the sterling efforts made by producers to broaden and deepen the range of Bourbon available.
The surge in popularity and availability – and price, inevitably – has been all the more impressive given the external pressures making themselves felt across all alcohol categories. It’s been a tough year for people, with inflation up, mortgage rates rising and fuel costs soaring, so for Bourbon to have not just maintained its momentum but increased it is a triumph.
Over the past 12 months, spirits have overtaken beer as the biggest liquor category in the US and, while Tequila and mezcal have done much of the heavy lifting, Bourbon managed to increase sales volumes by 5 percent and value by more than 10 percent. That’s some going.
So it’s no surprise, then, that Bourbon searches are still rising – but what is everyone looking for? Let’s take a look.
The World’s Most Wanted Bourbons on Wine-Searcher:
- Blanton’s The Original Single Barrel
- George T. Stagg
- Eagle Rare 10 Year Single Barrel
- Buffalo Trace
- WL Weller 12-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Wheated
- Colonel EH Taylor Small Batch
- Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23 Year Old
- William Larue Weller
- Stagg JR Barrel Proof
- WL Weller Special Reserve Wheated
As always, it’s interesting to compare the list with last year’s.
The first thing that leaps out is the number of old favorites on the list. Seven of this year’s top 10 are the same as last time, including the perennial chart-topper, Blanton’s. Other repeat offenders include the Stagg whiskeys, the first two WL Wellers, Eagle Rare and Pappy.
What’s probably more interesting are the newcomers. WL Weller gets a third representative this year, and Buffalo Trace and EH Taylor also make the cut, at the expense of Four Roses Small batch Barrel Strength and a brace of Van Winkles (the Old Rip 10 year old and the Pappy 15).
We should also point out here that congratulations are due to the Buffalo Trace Distillery; every single bottle on our 10 most wanted list came out of its gates, the first time any single facility has swept the board.
And in these times of spiraling costs, it’s very refreshing to see that Bourbon is still very much the consumer’s friend. Only one whiskey has seen a double-digit price rise (the Stagg JR, which was up by 17.5 percent) while three of the whiskeys listed above actually dropped their global average retail price: Pappy Van Winkle, William Larue Weller and the Weller 12 year old.
Among the new entries, the Weller Special Reserve dropped its global average retail price by $7 a bottle, while the Buffalo Trace rose by $4 and the EH Taylor dropped a buck a bottle.
You can see why Bourbon has such appeal for modern consumers.
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