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15 Great Bourbons
Top grade taste at the right price.
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Today in Gear: May 20, 2014

Today in gear: a new entry level Logitech Harmony remote, the Nuvyyo Tablo DVR for cord cutters, Quixotic Pocket Squares, Wild Turkey Diamond Anniversary Bourbon and BBQ recipes from London.

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The Quest for Affordable Pappy

Hacking Pappy: An Experiment in Home Whiskey Blending

At night, when bourbon connoisseurs go to bed, many dream of Pappy Van Winkle, a line of three exquisite bourbons (15, 20 and 23 years old, all of them colloquially referred to as “Pappy”) distilled and bottled by the Sazerac Company at the Buffalo Trace Distillery. Much of Pappy’s legend comes from its high demand: when it’s released, liquor stores dust off month-long waiting lists to decide who gets a bottle.

At the end of last year, Bourbonr Blog made headlines in the liquor community by posting a recipe for “Poor Man’s Pappy,” a mix of two mid-range W.L. Weller whiskies that they claim, while not being able to emulate Pappy Van Winkle completely, “comes close.” But does the recipe hold up? With $50, a postal scale and a mason jar, we decided to find out for ourselves.

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Less Searching, More Sipping

The 15 Best Bourbons You Can Actually Buy

There’s no denying that bourbon is having a moment. The pride of Kentucky wins out over other whiskies because it’s a little sweeter, a little smoother, and a whole lot easier to mix. It’s also relatively affordable — very good bottles are available at very good prices. But thanks to its newfound popularity, some of the top-tier bottles — Pappy Van Winkle’s family reserve, George T. Stagg — are now shockingly expensive and, increasingly, hard to track down. Luckily, there’s still a wide variety to bourbons at accessible prices that are readily available in nearly every state. Which one to choose? Here’s a list to help you out.

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A look inside New York's first ever Bourbon

Tasting Notes: Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey

On a brisk Manhattan morning, we met with Ralph Erenzo of Hudson Whiskey for a taste test. He introduced us to Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey ($45), the first bourbon whiskey ever made in New York, and the first legal pot-distilled whiskey made in New York since prohibition. Made from 100 percent New York corn and aged in American Oak barrels, it proves that not all good bourbon needs to come from the South.

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Not for pancakes

Tasting Notes: Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon

Fall is upon us, and there’s no better way to usher in the cooler months than with a spirit seemingly created in autumn’s honor: Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon ($31). To be clear, we’ve been completely satisfied with the standard Knob Creek 9 Year Straight Bourbon, but expanding whiskey horizons can’t be a bad thing. Still, adding flavoring to a solid whiskey can be a risky endeavor. Did Knob Creek gamble and lose by producing something tantamount to being whacked in the face by a maple syrup bottle, or did they win by creating a real bourbon that hums its own tune?

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Small batch, big pleasures

Tasting Notes: 5 Great Small Batch Bourbons

Asking us to choose between whiskey (bourbon) and whisky (single malt scotch) is like posing the question, “Would you prefer to drive a C2 Corvette Split Window or a Jaguar E-Type?” The answer is always “both and yes.” But if you’re a single malt devotee, you’d do right to expand your taste horizons, and the best way to experiment with bourbon is to go small batch — the complexities are pleasing, and you’ll find yourself a worshiper in many different temples. There’s a lot to love. Here are tasting notes on our five favorite small batch bourbons worth warming your palate.

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Woodford Reserve's Master Distiller

30 Minutes With: Chris Morris

Talk about working your way up from the bottom. Chris Morris came to Woodford Reserve’s parent company, Brown-Foreman Corporation, in 1976 as an intern. The native Kentuckian stuck it out, rising to the position of Master Distiller as American bourbon rose, too, from a soda additive to a super-premium product on the same level as its haughtier cousins. We caught up with him as part of our summer preview to hear some drinking stories, find out what’s next and hear about his love of the Kentucky Derby.

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Reload your bar

Bulleit 10 Year Bourbon

Bulleit Bourbon has long been an affordable favorite for lovers of the smokey libation. Bulleit 10 Year ($45) adds some age and flavor distinctions, at a price. The fine gentlemen over at Bourbon Blog have had the first crack at the new whiskey, and from what we can tell, it’s definitely worth a try. This…

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12 gifts for the booze lover

12 Guys of Christmas: The Mixologist

The Mixologist’s gotten you into plenty of blissful adventures, most of which ended without real long term damage to your record or your marriage. He’s a passionate guy, and he knows his craft: beer, that is. Malts, mash, wheat, barley, rye, and oh yes, sweet sweet delicious hops — he sucks them all down, grinning…

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Briefings: Tony Scott, High-Frequency Trading, Pappy Van Winkle, Mobile Phone Throwing, and the Oglala Lakota

We’re off to Ironman this week. There’s plenty to keep you occupied, though: a great director needs to be mourned, rare bourbon consumed, and mobile phones hurled. All in a days work. It’s a big and complicated world. We’re at tips [at] gearpatrol.com if you think there’s something we should know about.

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Rockin' good bourbon

Tasting Notes: Rock Hill Farms Bourbon

In the single barrel bourbon space, the Buffalo Trace Distillery is at the top of our list for their variety of well-made, accessible and just generally great bourbons. Their Blanton’s Bourbon gets most of the shelf space — and for good reason, it’s delicious — but our current single barrel favorites in the Buffalo Trace…

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The Spirit of '95

Jim Beam 1795

Fresh on the heels of your last thought about a reason to imbibe comes

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Whiskey for the common connoisseur

Tasting Notes: Elmer T. Lee Bourbon

In addition to its flagship offering, the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, KY produces some of our favorite bourbons, including Eagle Rare, Rock Hill Farms and Elmer T. Lee ($28). The latter is a small batch, single barrel bourbon that’s named for the former Master Distiller at Buffalo Trace. Mr. Lee created this bourbon with…

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Two barrels drink better than one

Tasting Notes: Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

Woodford Reserve has put out a handful of interesting whiskeys of late, including the New and Aged Cask Ryes and, coming this March, its Double Oaked Bourbon ($50). While the former spirits are part of Woodford’s Master’s Collection and therefore available for a limited time, Double Oaked is an extension of the brand’s permanent lineup….

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Whiskey fit for a president

Tasting Notes: Jefferson’s Bourbon

Maybe it’s just our nature to root for the little guy, but man, we sure love small batch bourbons. The industry giants put out some fine products, but it’s the smaller players that take up most of the space on our home bars. Like Jefferson’s ($30), a very small batch, hand-crafted and Kentucky-bred bourbon. Jefferson’s…

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New whiskey from an industry veteran

Tasting Notes: Angel’s Envy Bourbon

Angel’s Envy Bourbon ($43) comes courtesy of Lincoln Henderson, a former 40-year veteran of Brown-Forman who was tasked with crafting some of the world’s most popular and widely-consumed whiskeys. Henderson’s latest venture defies rules and corporate expectations as he makes the bourbon he always wanted to make. Angel’s Envy starts with Kentucky-grown corn and rye…

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Like Father, Like Son

Wild Turkey 81

Wild Turkey’s powerful, flagship 101 proof blend has attracted both bourbon fans and “dirty bird” escapists thanks to its bold, peppery flavoring and leg-rubberizing alcohol content. For years, the company has also offered an 80 proof blend for those looking to enjoy bourbon and still stay conscious after a few rounds. While master distiller Jimmy…

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A boozy tribute to Kentucky

Tasting Notes: 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Bourbon

Named for the year that Kentucky became a state, 1792 Ridgemont Reserve ($28) is a handcrafted small batch bourbon from the whiskey-soaked hills of Bardstown. Created with a high percentage of rye grains, aged for eight years and bottled at 93.7 proof, this bourbon is spicy, complex and full-bodied. On the nose, 1792 Ridgemont Reserve…

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Stylishly shocking

Electric Visual Sunglasses

Wireframe sunglasses are a departure for Electric Visual, a company who has built a reputation for their snow goggles and nylon framed sunglasses. The departure has been a good one, neither ill-conceived or hurried. The frames are well-built with hinges that flex, just so, to avoid the obnoxious flimsy feeling and offer 100% UV protection….

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A whiskey by any other name...

Tasting Notes: Four Roses Bourbon

Whiskey (or whisky) drinkers tend to fall into one of two camps – single malt Scotch fans and those who favor Bourbon. Devotees of each tend to be fiercely loyal and passionate about their distilled grains. But there’s no reason why any man should limit his imbibing to the Old World or the New. After…

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Man Up, Straight Up

Rowan’s Creek Small Batch Kentucky Bourbon

A good bourbon, neat or on the rocks, is a man’s drink. No explanation required. You can keep your Red Bull and vodka. Though there are plenty of big name Kentucky Bourbon makers out there, small batch bourbons are making some serious headway, and not just amongst connoisseurs. Among them, is Rowan’s Creek Small Batch…

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30 Essential Movies | Bullitt

Bullitt… McQueen. Bisset. Car chase. Mustang. Charger RT. Car chase. Witness Protection. Mafia. Car chase. Turtlenecks (that are cool). Dirty cops. Did we mention the car chase? Buy Now: $9 (Blu-Ray | $22 (Special Edition DVD) 30 Essential Movies is a Gear Patrol series focused on highlighting the 30 core films every guy should own…

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Recipes for a Classic American Spirit

Bourbon by Fred Thompson

You needn’t be an employee at Sterling Cooper to appreciate the value of a well-made American cocktail. For our money, bourbon is one of the best ways to get there from here. Happily, food writer and chef Fred Thompson agrees and has thus served up a definitive selection of recipes to utilize and improvise on…

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Jack Daniel’s Single Whiskey Barrel

240 Bottles of J.D. – Almost Enough To Get You Through The Holidays You probably don’t know this, but there’s a pretty popular drink called Jack Daniel’s Whiskey. It’s a semi-famous drink distilled in Lynchburg, Tennessee (population: 361) and it’s been around since 1866. You probably don’t know that it might be one of America’s…

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Wild Turkey Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon

Jimmy Russell gives the okay at Wild Turkey, and I’m okay with that. Like you, good distilled beverages get better with time. As a matter of fact, I was treated to a supurbly aged and decanted 10 year old Cabernet Sauvignon this past weekend that literally gave me chills of vino-delight. It had a body…

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September Is National Bourbon Heritage Month, Drink Accordingly

The Jim Beam Distillery. I can already smell the bourbon. Looking for a getaway this month? Vegas, Europe, Mexico maybe? Well, how about making a trip to Louisville, Kentucky? September is National Bourbon Heritage Month (bet you didn’t know that) and what better way to celebrate than partaking in the caramel-hued libation. Combine that with…

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Small Batch Bourbon

If you’re a man and enjoy a good drink then relegating yourself to beers and vodka alone is truly sad. Take your personal consumption and home bar up a notch with a small batch bourbon. It’s a drink truly made for the connoisseur. Every sip of a small batch bourbon is made to be enjoyed….