Tag Archives: bourbon

Four Roses Limited Edition Bourbon Retailers in Massachusetts

The following stores are reported to have received allocations and/or recently sold bottles of Four Roses Limited Edition bourbons like Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch. Where possible, we’ve also added details about how the bottles were sold (first come/first serve, lottery, waiting list, best customers, etc.).

Terms of Use: This list took a ton of time and effort to create. All rights reserved. All I ask is that you don’t steal it, copy it, repost it somewhere else, create derivative works, or try to profit from this in any way.  As long as you’re cool with that, feel free to use the list to help with your hunt!  Check back often for updates and additional features.  I’ll try to update this when I can.

RetailerAddressCityStateNotes
ATLAS LIQUORS156 MYSTIC AVEMEDFORDMA
ATLAS LIQUORS661 ADAMS STQUINCYMA
AUSTIN LIQUORS117 GOLD STAR BLVDWORCESTERMA
BLANCHARDS WINE & SPIRITS741 CENTRE STJAMAICA PLAINMA
CAMBRIDGE WINE & SPIRITS202 ALEWIFE BROOK PKWYCAMBRIDGEMA
CAMBRIDGE SPIRITS9 BROAD CANAL WAYCAMBRIDGEMA
GORDON'S FINE WINES & LIQUORS 894 MAIN STREETWALTHAMMAC
JULIO'S LIQUORS140 TURNPIKE RDWESTBOROMA
KAPPY'S FINE WINE & SPIRITS325 BENNETT HWY / RTE 1MALDENMA
KAPPY'S FINE WINE & SPIRITS175 ANDOVER STPEABODYMA
KAPPY'S FINE WINE & SPIRITS10 REVERE BEACH PKWYMEDFORDMA
LIQUOR WORLD13 WHITE STREETCAMBRIDGEMA
LIQUOR LAND1033 MASSACHUSETTS AVEBOSTONMA
MARTIGNETTI1650 SOLDIERS FIELD RDBRIGHTONMA
MARTY'S LIQUORS675 WASHINGTON STNEWTONVILLEMA
NORFOLK WINE & SPIRITS206 DEDHAM STNORFOLKMA
Ou2019HARA'S WINES & LIQUORS402 WEST BOYLSTON STWORCESTERMA
PEMBERTON FARMS MARKETPLACE2225 MASSACHUSETTS AVECAMBRIDGEMA
RAPID LIQUORS171 MAIN STSTONEHAMMA
REDSTONE LIQUORS109 MAIN STSTONEHAMMA
SAV-MOR13 R MCGRATH HWYSOMERVILLEMA
TABLE & VINE1119 RIVERDALE STWEST SPRINGFIELDMA
WOLLASTON WINE & SPIRITS58 BEALE STQUINCYMA
YANKEE SPIRITS376 MAIN STSTURBRIDGEMA

Pappy Van Winkle / Old Rip Van Winkle Retailers in Massachusetts

The following stores are reported to have recently received allocations and/or sold bottles of Old Rip Van Winkle bourbons such as Pappy Van Winkle, Lot B, etc.  Where possible, we’ve also added details about how the bottles were sold (first come/first serve, lottery, waiting list, best customers, etc.).

Terms of Use: This list took a ton of time and effort to create. All rights reserved. All I ask is that you don’t steal it, copy it, repost it somewhere else, create derivative works, or try to profit from this in any way.  As long as you’re cool with that, feel free to use the list to help with your hunt!  Check back often for updates and additional features.  I’ll try to update this when I can.

RETAILERADDRESSCITYSTATENOTES
ACADEMY LIQUORS699 SOUTH MAIN STHAVERHILLMARarely gets
ACTON WINE & SPIRIT CO305 MAIN ST RT 27ACTONMA
ANDOVER LIQUORS209 N MAIN STANDOVERMA
ANDY'S MARKET425 NATHAN ELLIS HWY.MASHPEEMA
ANDY'S MARKET & LIQUORS802 BAY STREETTAUNTONMA
ANTHONY'S LIQUOR MART12 PEARSON BLVDGARDNERMA
ATLAS LIQUORS156 MYSTIC AVEMEDFORDMAFCFS
AUSTIN LIQUORS117 GOLD STAR BLVDWORCESTERMA
BACON'S WINE & SPIRITS308 MAIN STNORTHBOROMA2-3YR Wait List
BALL SQUARE FINE WINES718 BROADWAYSOMERVILLEMAFCFS
BAUER WINE & SPIRITS330 NEWBURY STREETBOSTONMA
BERTELLIS LIQUOR MART726 MAIN ST #BWEST SPRINGFIELDMA
BLANCHARDS WINE & SPIRITS103 HARVARD AVEALLSTONMA
BLANCHARDS WINE & SPIRITS167 CORPORATION RDHYANNISMA
BLANCHARDS WINE & SPIRITS741 CENTER STJAMAICA PLAINMA
BLANCHARDS WINE & SPIRITS700 PLAIN STREETMARSHFIELDMA
BLANCHARDS WINE & SPIRITS286 AMERICAN LEGION HWYREVEREMA
BLANCHARDS WINE & SPIRITS418 LAGRANGE STWEST ROXBURYMA
BURLINGTON WINE & SPIRITS43 MIDDLESEX TURNPIKEBURLINGTONMARaffle
BUSA131 MASSACHUSETTS AVELEXINGTONMA
CAMBRIDGE WINE & SPIRITS202 ALEWIFE BROOK PKWYCAMBRIDGEMA
CAPE COD PACKAGE STORE1495 FALMOUTH ROADCENTERVILLEMAFCFS from Wait List
CAPORALE'S LIQUORS29 BROADWAYWAKEFIELDMA
CHARLES STREET LIQUORS143 CHARLES STBOSTONMA
CHRIS GASBARRO'S FINE WINE & SPIRITSRT 1 / 1212 S WASHINGTON STNORTH ATTLEBOROMA
CITY SPIRITS74 PARK STATTLEBOROMA
COLD SPRING WINE & SPIRITS8 JABISH STBELCHERTOWNMA
COLONIAL PACKAGE STORE3 RUSSELL STWOBURNMA
COLONIAL SPIRITS87 GREAT RD / RTE 2AACTONMA
COLONIAL SPIRITS17 GREAT ROADSTOWMA
COTUIT LIQUORS3858 FALMOUTH ROADMARSTON MILLSMA
COUNTRY SPIRITS DISCOUNT LIQUORS10 W MAIN ST, RTE 9SPENCERMA
CURTIS LIQUORS486 COLUMBIAN STREETSOUTH WEYMOUTHMA
D & L LIQUORS111 RIVER STWALTHAMMA
DEBUCAS WINE & LIQUORS600 S ST WRAYNHAMMA
DOMANEY'S66 MAIN STGREAT BARRINGTONMA
DUB'S LIQUORS & FINE WINES30 CHAUNCY STMANSFIELDMAFCFS + Wait List
EASTGATE LIQUORS211 LOWELL STREETWILMINGTONMA
EMPIRE WINE & SPIRITS164B SUMMER STKINGSTONMARarely gets
ESPRIT DU VIN25 CENTRAL AVENUEMILTONMA
FEDERAL WINE & SPIRITS29 STATE STBOSTONMA
FIFTH AVENUE LIQUORS235 OLD CONNECTICUT PATHFRAMINGHAMMA
FOUR SEASONS WINE & LIQUORS333 RUSSELL STHADLEYMA5 yr Wait List
FOUR SEASONS WINE & LIQUORS793 WILLIAMS ST.LONGMEADOWMA5 yr Wait List
GARY'S LIQUORS655 VFW PARKWAYCHESTNUT HILLMA
GORDON'S FINE WINES & LIQUORS 894 MAIN STREETWALTHAMMASubscriber raffle
HARBORSIDE WINE COMPANY109 FRONT STSCITUATEMA
IPSWICH BOTTLE SHOP188 HIGH STIPSWICHMA
JAMIE'S FINE WINE & SPIRITS100 N MAIN STCARVERMA
JULIO'S LIQUORS140 TURNPIKE RDWESTBOROMAPrevious purchase raffle
KAPPY'S FINE WINE & SPIRITS216 BORDER STREETEAST BOSTONMA
KAPPY'S FINE WINE & SPIRITS746 MAIN STMALDENMA
KAPPY'S FINE WINE & SPIRITS474 BOSTON POST ROADSUDBURYMA
LANK'S SUPER LIQUORS1055 TRUMAN HWYHYDE PARKMA
LEARY'S FINE WINES & SPIRITS100 MACY STREETAMESBURYMA
LEARY'S FINE WINES & SPIRITS202 MERRIMAC STNEWBURYPORTMA
LEES796 MAIN RDWESTPORTMA
LIGHTHOUSE LIQUORS199 N MAIN STEAST LONGMEADOWMA
LIQUOR BARN150 MAIN STREETBUZZARDS BAYMA
LIQUOR LAND1033 MASS AVEBOSTONMA
LIQUOR WAREHOUSE28 S CAPE VILLAGE UNIT CMASHPEEMA
LIQUOR WORLD13 WHITE STREETCAMBRIDGEMA
LIQUORS 44458 CAMPUS PLZ, RTE 9HADLEYMA
LIQUORS 44238 KING STNORTHAMPTONMA
LIQUORS INC485 DALTON AVEPITTSFIELDMA
LUKES LIQUORS167 MARKET STROCKLANDMA
LUKES SUPER LIQUORS511 MAIN STREET / RTE 28WEST YARMOUTHMA
LYNNWAY LIQUOR MART702 LYNNWAYLYNNMA
MACY'S4 S MAIN STREETWEST BRIDGEWATERMA
MACY'S1826 CENTRE STWEST ROXBURYMARaffle
MACYS BEACHWAY LIQUORS701 BRIDGE STWEYMOUTHMA
MARLBORO SQUARE WINE & SPIRIT44 BOSTON POST ROAD EMARLBOROMA
MARSH'S WINE & SPIRITS104 WASHINGTON STNORWELLMA
MARTIGNETTI1650 SOLDIERS FIELD RDBRIGHTONMA
MARTY'S LIQUORS675 WASHINGTON STNEWTONVILLEMA
MARTY'S OF DUDLEY119 W MAIN STDUDLEYMA
MASS LIQUORS392 CHANDLER STWORCESTERMA
MERCHANTS LIQUOR88 HIGH STDANVERSMA
MUCKEY'SRT 44 S/S HARDING STLAKEVILLEMAFCFS to Wait List
NATICK WINE & SPIRITS7 WATSON STREETNATICKMAPrior Purchase Raffle
NEJAIME'S WINE CELLAR60 MAIN STLENOXMA
NEW ENGLAND WINE & SPRTS151 STATE STNEWBURYPORTMA
NORFOLK WINE & SPIRITS206 DEDHAM STNORFOLKMA
NORTH SHORE LIQUORS180 MAIN STSAUGUSMA
NORTH STATION LIQUORS103 CAUSEWAY STBOSTONMA
ONE STOP LIQUORS265 MAIN ST ATLANTIC PLZNORTH READINGMA
PALUMBO LIQUORS547 MAIN STMEDFIELDMA
PALUMBO LIQUORS421 HIGH PLAN STWALPOLEMA
MR PHIPPS DISCOUNT LIQUOR1350 SPRINGFIELD ST.FEEDING HILLSMA
PIOPPI'S PACKAGE STORE183 COURT STREETPLYMOUTHMA
PLAZA LIQUORS935 GRAFTON STREETWORCESTERMA
PLAZA PACKAGE STORE155 STATE RD.GREAT BARRINGTONMA
QUALITY LIQUORS5 GEDNEY STREETSALEMMA
RAPID LIQUORS171 MAIN STSTONEHAMMA
RAYNHAM WINE & LIQUORS421 RT 44 NEW CAPE HWYRAYNHAMMA
REDSTONE LIQUORS109 MAIN STSTONEHAMMAR
ROUTE 110 LIQUORS25 MACY STAMESBURYMA
RYAN & CASEY LIQUORS55 MAIN STGREENFIELDMA
SAV-MOR13 R MCGRATH HWYSOMERVILLEMA
SHOP 'N SAVE PLAZA1586 S. MAIN ST.ATHOLMA
SOCIAL WINES52 W BROADWAYSOUTH BOSTONMAR
SOMERSET LIQUORS1011 G.A.R HWY, RTE 6SOMERSETMA
SOUTHWICK PACKAGE 466 COLLEGE HWYSOUTHWICKMA
SPIRIT HAUS338 COLLEGE STAMHERSTMA
SPIRITED WINES444 PITTSFIELD RDLENOXMA
SPRINGFIELD LIQUOR MART1785 ALLEN STSPRINGFIELDMA
SUPER DISCOUNT LIQUORS672 WASHINGTON STSTOUGHTONMA
SUPER PHIPPS485 EAST MAIN STREETWESTFIELDMA
SUPREME LIQUORS600 MASSACHUSETTS AVECAMBRIDGEMA(F,O) 2014 - randomly put bottle in cabinet. First to ask for it, got it.
SUPREME LIQUORS508 GENEVA AVEDORCESTERMAF
SUPREME LIQUORS615 HANCOCK STQUINCYMA
TABLE & VINE1119 RIVERDALE STWEST SPRINGFIELDMA
TED'S PACKAGE27 WORCESTER RDCHARLTON CITYMA
THE LIQUOR FACTORY630 HIGH STMEDFORDMA
THE SPIRIT SHOPPE295 AMHERST ROADSUNDERLANDMA
THE SPIRIT SHOPPEWEST MAIN STREETWEST BROOKFIELDMA
THE URBAN GRAPE7 BOYLSTON STREETCHESTNUT HILLMA
THE WINE CELLAR85 CEDAR ST (IN BJ'S)STONEHAMMA
TOPSHELF161 CHARLES STREETBOSTONMA
TOWN LIQUORS INC700 BOSTON RDBILLERICAMA
TUDOR HOUSE DISCOUNT LIQ161 SHAKER ROADEAST LONGMEADOWMA
UPPER FALLS BEVERAGE150 NEEDHAM STNEWTONMA
V CIRACE & SONS LIQUORS173 NORTH STBOSTONMA
VINNIN SQUARE LIQUORS371 PARADISE RDSWAMPSCOTTMA
WALPOLE WINE & SPIRITS669 MAIN STWALPOLEMA
WEST CONCORD LIQUORS1216 MAIN STCONCORDMA
WINDMILL LIQUOR & FINE WINES28 RT 6AORLEANSMA
WINES & MORE2421 CRANBERRY HWYEAST WAREHAMMA
WINES & MORE280 SCHOOL STMANSFIELDMA
WOLLASTON WINE & SPIRITS58 BEALE STQUINCYMA
WYMAN'S LIQUOR MART30 PLEASANT STLEOMINSTERMA
YANKEE SPIRITS628 WASHINGTON ST / RTE 1ATTLEBOROMA
YANKEE SPIRITS376 MAIN STSTURBRIDGEMA
YARMOUTH WINE & SPIRITS484 D-STATION AVESOUTH YARMOUTHMA

Stagg Jr. Bourbon

STAGGjr_0Stagg Jr. is a limited production barrel proof bourbon.  Buffalo Trace released the first batch in Aug, 2013 and has released two batches per year since then.  Each batch is blended from bourbons that are roughly 8 or 9 years old and released at a unique proof.  Collectors use those proof numbers to identify specific batches.

When Stagg Jr. was first released, it didn’t receive a very warm welcome.  Bourbon drinkers familiar with George T. Stagg (an older, much rarer BTAC bourbon) were expecting Stagg Jr. to be a barrel proof offering with a similar profile.  When they realized it didn’t have a similar profile, many prominent reviewers thought it was too “alcohol forward” and downgraded Stagg Jr. to a “Pass” and dismissed it as a failed version of George T. Stagg. While this negative opinion still exists among some whiskey circles and experts, many bourbon enthusiasts switched camps after the 3rd batch and now consider this to be a well-executed barrel strength offering. Newer batches typically receive high ratings and sell out relatively quickly.

Aside from renewed interest in the bourbon’s quality, Stagg Jr. also has value as part of a larger vertical, meaning that collectors will try to get at least one bottle from each release to display or drink. This “vertical value” emerged shortly after the third release and grew as a purchase influence with each subsequent batch.  Likewise, the value of previous releases has also increased, as has the number of collectors who are trying to assemble verticals.

Availability of Stagg Jr. varies widely by region.  It can sit for months in some areas and disappear in days from others.  Even with that variation, it’s very rare to find bottles on shelves that are older than the most recent batch or two. Collectors pulling together verticals likely need to leverage friends, trades, purchase groups, or the secondary market to source early batch bottles.

Producer’s Description: Just like George T. Stagg Bourbon, this whiskey is not filtered and offers all the rich and complex flavors of bourbon right from the barrel. Bottles of Stagg Jr. will be limited, but several batches each year are planned. This new Stagg Jr. offering will not affect the stock of barrels already set aside for future George T. Stagg releases.

Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley describes that taste as, “rich, sweet, chocolate and brown sugar flavors mingled in perfect balance with a bold, rye spiciness. The boundless finish lingers with hints of cherries, cloves and smokiness.”

Producer:  Buffalo Trace
Release Category: Limited-Edition, Allocated
Release Frequency: Approx. 2 batches per year
Releases to Date:  7
Release Season:  Spring / Fall
Release Volume:  Unknown (still hunting this fact!)
Release Region: Wide release
Sell Out Timeframe:  Up to a few months (varies significantly by region)
Bottle Size:  750ml
Nicknames:  Baby Stagg, SJR, Stagg Jr + proof (ex: Stagg Jr 132.2)
Avg. Price Retail:  $59
Avg. Price Among Whiskey Traders:  $65+ (early batches more valuable)
Avg. Price on Secondary Market:  $75+ (early batches more valuable)
Trading Value:  Low (early batches more valuable)
TTB ID: 12355001000167
DSP Codes: DSP-KY-113, DSP-CA-63, DSP-MD-11, DSP-KY-12, DSP-KY-24
UPC Code: 00088004018580
Mash Bill: BT Mash Bill #1 (low-rye)

Releases
Batch 7 – (Fall, 2016) – 130 Proof
Batch 6 – (Spring, 2016) – 132.5 Proof
Batch 5 – (Fall, 2015) – 129.7 Proof
Batch 4 – (Spring, 2015) – 132.2 Proof
Batch 3 – (Fall, 2014) – 132.1 Proof
Batch 2
 – (Spring, 2014) – 128.7 Proof
Batch 1 – (Fall, 2013) – 134.4 Proof

Reviews / Awards
2016 Gold Medal – International Wine & Spirits Competition
2016 Best of Category / Gold Medal (92 points) – Los Angeles International Spirits Competition
2015 Best of Division (Whiskey) / Gold Medal (97 points) – Los Angeles International Spirits Competition
2015 Double Gold Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
2015 Trophy Finalist – 95 points – Ultimate Spirits Challenge
2015 BTI International Review of Spirits – “Exceptional” – 95 points
2015 Gold Medal – North American Bourbon & Whiskey Competition
2014 Silver Medal – International Wine & Spirits Competition
2015 Silver Medal – Denver International Spirits Competition
2014 Silver Medal – Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition
2014 Double Gold Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
2014 Bronze Medal, American Bourbon Whiskey No Age Statement – World Whiskies Awards
2014 Excellent/Highly Recommended – Ultimate Spirits Challenge

Modern Guide to Bourbon Hunting

bourbon hunting guide tipsThe bourbon hunting game is changing and hunters need to modify their approaches to keep up.

Here’s how it used to work.  It would start as an endurance challenge. Cover the most ground in the shortest period of time and hope to stumble across something great. Over time, you would identify the subset of stores that have the good stuff and narrow your search to a few select spots. It was still a game of chance, but the odds went up because you weren’t wasting time at stores that didn’t carry allocated bourbon. You would start visiting these high-value stores every few days or weeks, scanning the shelves for new product.  Eventually, some of the managers would recognize you, learn your name, and build a relationship with you. Once the relationship formed, you would start getting tips on new releases and stop visiting the stores where you weren’t known. In the end, you would settle on a few key stores to support and buy all of your liquor, beer, and wine from those supportive merchants. In exchange for being friendly and spending hundreds of dollars a year, you would get a few prize bottles of whiskey and a lot of great tips during bourbon season.

That was before the bourbon boom.

Now there’s a herd of cash-waving whiskey fanatics stomping all over your hunting grounds and the game has changed. With each passing bourbon season, relationships are earning fewer and fewer bottles. Raffles are replacing handshakes, waiting lists are replacing special orders, and distributor allocation strategies are pushing mom & pop shops out of the distribution chain.  Hunters who used to get a whole set of BTAC are lucky to leave with a bottle of Blanton’s.

Fear not! We’re assembling a ton of wisdom, tips, and tricks to help you adjust your strategies to compete in the current whiskey-crazed market.  Right now, it’s only one story, but this list will be updated frequently, so check back often to hone your skills!

1.  How to Avoid Buying Bad Bourbon – Knowing what not to buy is just as important as knowing what to buy.  Here’s a good technique to keep cash in your wallet and great liquor on your shelves.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Avoid Buying Bad Bourbon

(This post is the first in our new series “The Modern Guide to Bourbon Hunting“)

modern guide to hunting bourbon two listsNow that the bourbon boom is upon us, many liquor store owners are looking to their distributors for help expanding their bourbon aisle. Unfortunately, many of those distributors are using these requests as opportunities to move stale product, push marketing agendas, or hit sales targets, and bourbon hunters are paying the price.

Since most store owners are far less educated about bourbon offerings than the average enthusiast, they look to the distribution channel for tips on what to buy and how to sell it.  The distribution channel often responds by unloading mediocre bourbon on the retailer along with tasting bottles and shelf tags showing an insanely high rating from some official-sounding tasting institute.

When a customer comes into the store and asks which bourbons are best, the unknowing retailer repeats the producer’s/distributor’s marketing message and the customer leaves thinking they just found a delicious, highly sought-after whiskey. Many bottles of Calumet Farms, Hudson Baby Bourbon, Bib & Tucker, WhipperSnapper, and Templeton Rye are sitting in liquor cabinets right now thanks to this marketing method.  (Sidenote: Before you send hate mail, I’m not saying any of those are bad whiskies.  They’re just not considered by bourbon enthusiasts to be in the same league as the highly allocated bourbons most hunters are talking about and actively seeking.)

Since most bourbon hunters feel obligated to purchase something when they go into a store, it’s not uncommon for us to find ourselves with one of these over-marketed items in our passenger seat as we drive home.  When we finally look online to see what we bought, we often learn that the tasting institute isn’t top tier, the reviews are paid endorsements, the whiskey is from a Non-Distiller Producer, and the bourbon in the bottle isn’t really all that good.

So, how do you cut through the hype to find the bottles worth buying?

Easy – just create two shopping lists!

Shopping List #1 – Let’s call this our “Stick to the Plan” list.  It is a well-researched and frequently updated list of all the allocated or highly-rated bourbons you want to buy, their suggested retail price, and how much you’re willing to spend above retail. The more time you spend managing this list, the less likely you are to buy something you regret.

When you’re in the store and hear about an incredible new bourbon that is flying off the shelves, simply look at your list. If it’s not on the list and within your price range, write down the name and price, but don’t buy it.  Period.  Ever.  When you get home you can look it up to see if it deserves a place on the list or a price adjustment for the next trip.  If you stick to this method, you’ll keep more money in your wallet to spend on the whiskey you really want.

Now, on to the second list.

Shopping List #2 Let’s call this one our “I Have to Buy Something!” list. It’s the list you pull out when you have the undeniable urge to buy something in the store to avoid leaving empty-handed.  It also comes in handy when you want to form a new relationship with a local liquor store or maintain an existing store relationship throughout the year.

Here’s how it works.  Write down all of the occasions you have throughout the year that involve buying, giving, or getting alcohol.  Summer cookouts, co-worker holiday gifts, big games, tailgating, brother-in-law birthdays, etc. should all make the cut. Now, figure out which liquor, wine, or beer you’ll need to buy for each of those events.  Maybe 6 bottles of wine for the cookout, a bottle of medium-grade scotch for the brother-in-law, a case of beer for tailgating, tequila for game night, etc.

If you’re like most people, your normal routine for buying these non-bourbon items is to go on a last minute shopping spree at the closest liquor store.  It’s likely a one-time purchase at a store you don’t care about where you’re just another nameless face in a long line of people stocking up for the big game or buying wine for the weekend.  That needs to change.

If you’re a hunter, you need to focus all your purchases on the prize.  Every single alcoholic beverage you buy needs to support the store or stores that support you.  Don’t just act like a great customer – you need to actually be a great customer.  Put your money in the hands of the people who are helping you.

But that doesn’t mean you need to buy things you don’t want.  Make sure everything you buy is something you actually plan to drink or give away.  No exceptions.  So next time you’re in one of your favorite stores and feel the urge to buy something, pull out list #2 and start adding to the pile of Christmas gifts and cookout beverages you’ll need later that year.  If you do that one simple trick, you can save money, support your favorite stores, become a well-known customer, and avoid last minute liquor shopping forever.

If that doesn’t convince you about list #2’s value, then I’ll add that it’s a great “get out of jail free” card when your spouse is questioning your credit card bills.  Here’s how to use it:

Spouse: “WTF!?!?!?!  You spent another $80 at the liquor store this week???  Have you lost your damn mind???”
You: “I’m trying to spread our holiday expenses throughout the year so we don’t get a big bill all at once.”
Spouse: “Seriously?  Prove it!”
You: “Sure – Your sister really likes Pinot Grigio so I picked up a nice bottle that was on sale. I don’t drink the stuff, so I put it in the front cabinet. We can pull it out for her on Christmas Eve.”
Spouse: “You are a financial genius.  Thanks for looking out for us. I love you.”
[divider style=”solid” top=”20″ bottom=”20″]
EDITORS NOTE: If you like the story and want to support the site, please feel free to click on a banner ad or two or send us a tip about a local store with a good stock of bourbon.  The ads are all served up by Google and we get a few pennies for each click.  The tips help us help others.  Oh yeah – If you hate the story, please let us know that too and we’ll try to improve it for next time.  Feedback encouraged at erik@bourbonseason.com or in the comment section below.  Thanks!

Single Oak Project

SingleOak_mfgEvery three months between May 2011 and Feb 2015, Buffalo Trace released 12 unique barrels from their highly experimental Single Oak Project collection and encouraged buyers to review them on the SingleOakProject.com website.  Each barrel produced approximately 400 hand-numbered 375ml bottles that sold for $45-$60 each, a hefty price to pay for an unknown bourbon. In the end, only about 6% (est.) of the ~76,000 total bottles produced were actually reviewed on Buffalo Trace’s project website and many of them ranked in the B/B- grade range compared to other bourbons at that price point.

Despite the mixed response from the public, there were a few barrels that managed to separate themselves from the pack and earn status as “must have” bottles for serious bourbon collectors and drinkers. Unfortunately, they earned this status well after their respective releases occurred, so these bottles are extremely difficult to find now outside auctions, trading groups, or dusty mom & pop shops.  They are barrel #80 (the overall winner for the experiment), barrels #82, #109, #161, and #179 (the four runners up for overall best), barrel #1 (wanted for collectible status), barrel #111 (highly rated on the website), barrels # 155, 187, 188 (earned a rare 5/5 rating from F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal), barrels # 14, 27, 30, 63, 101 (scored 95+ in Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible) and barrels # 56, 136 (referenced in a press release as favorites of voters with most barrels reviewed).

The best barrel (#80) was ultimately selected by a panel of experts. It had a rye-focused mashbill, 12 months of stave seasoning time, average grain size, 125º entry proof, #4 char, wood from the bottom half of the tree, and was matured in a warehouse with a concrete floor.  Buffalo Trace will produce a bourbon brand that matches that barrel, so it is the most valuable of the entire series for enthusiasts who want to try it or collect the original bottle.  In addition to that winner, all of the better rated and runners up bottles from this series will likely grow in value over the next few years as the whole line disappears from the market.

You can still find bottles on shelves in smaller stores with large bourbon aisles but remember, this one is all about the barrel numbers.  Good numbers are worth hunting, bad ones are a waste of money.  If you’re unsure about the barrel numbers, aim for the ones listed here or look over drinkhacker.com’s  detailed reviews & data on each barrel.

Producer’s Description: For over two centuries Buffalo Trace Distillery has been a pioneering leader in quality and innovation. The Single Oak Project is its most inventive and comprehensive experiment yet. It all started with 96 individually selected American oak trees that differed according to the number of growth rings per inch and growing location. Each tree was then cut into two parts – top and bottom – yielding 192 unique tree sections. A single barrel was constructed from each section. Prior to construction, the stave seasoning was varied. The 192 barrels were then charred differently. These single oak barrels were then filled with different recipe whiskeys, at various entry proofs and aged in a variety of different warehouse styles. This experiment allows whiskey connoisseurs to directly compare the impact of seven different critical variables across 192 bottles for a total of 1,396 taste combinations.  None of the 192 bottles in the complete set are exactly alike. The Single Oak Project is undoubtedly the most extensive bourbon experiment ever undertaken.

Producer:  Buffalo Trace Distillery
Release Category: Limited-Edition, Limited-Time
Release Frequency: 12 Barrels Every 3 Months (2011 – 2015)
Releases to Date:  16 (no additional releases planned)
Release Season:  Quarterly
Release Volume:  400 Bottles per Unique Barrel; 192 Unique Barrels
Release Region: Primarily US, some UK
Sell Out Timeframe:  Medium (varies widely by geography, store focus, and bottle #)
Bottle Size:  375ml
Nickname: SOP, BTSOP, Oak Project, Single Oak, SOP+Barrel (ex: “SOP75” is barrel 75)
Avg. Price Retail:  $55
Avg. Price Among Whiskey Traders:  $70 (general bottle) – $125 (uniquely rated)
Avg. Price on Secondary Market:  $100 (general bottle) – $150+ (uniquely rated)
Trading Value:  2/10 for general bottles; 4/10 for highest rated bottles
DSP Codes: DSP-KY-113
UPC Code: 00088004009915
Mash Bill: Varies by barrel

Releases
We estimate about 400 bottles per barrel# were released.
Release 16 – (Feb, 2015) – Barrels # 7, 20, 39, 52, 71, 84, 103, 116, 135, 148, 168, 180
Release 15 – (Nov, 2014) – Barrels #21, 22, 53, 54, 85, 86, 117, 118, 149, 150, 181, 182
Release 14 – (Aug, 2014) – Barrels # 2, 12, 34, 44, 66, 76, 98, 108, 130, 140, 162, 172
Release 13 – (May, 2014) – Barrels #11, 13, 43, 45, 75, 77, 107, 109, 139, 141, 171, 173
Release 12 – (Feb, 2014) – Barrels #15, 16, 47, 48, 79, 80, 111, 112, 143, 144, 175, 176
Release 11 – (Nov, 2013) – Barrels #19, 23, 51, 55, 83, 87, 115, 119, 147, 151, 179, 183
Release 10 – (Aug, 2013) – Barrels #9, 25, 41, 57, 73, 89, 105, 121, 137, 153, 169, 185
Release 9 – (May, 2013) – Barrels #5, 6, 37, 38, 69, 70, 101, 102, 133, 134, 165, 166
Release 8 – (Feb, 2013) – Barrels #28, 59, 60, 91, 92, 123, 124, 155, 156, 187, 188
Release 7 – (Nov, 2012) – Barrels #18, 26, 50, 58, 82, 90, 114, 122, 146, 154, 178, 186
Release 6 – (Aug, 2012) – Barrels #30, 32, 62, 64, 94, 96, 126, 128, 158, 160, 190, 192
Release 5 – (May, 2012) – Barrels #1, 17, 33, 49, 65, 81, 97, 113, 129, 145, 161, 177
Release 4 – (Feb, 2012) – Barrels #10, 14, 42, 46, 74, 78, 106, 110, 138, 142, 170, 174
Release 3 – (Nov, 2011) – Barrels #8,
 24,
 40,
 56,
 72, 
88,
 104,
 120,
 136,
 152,
 167
, 184
Release 2 – (Aug, 2011) – Barrels #29, 31, 61, 63, 93, 95, 125, 127, 157, 159, 189, 191
Release 1 – (May, 2011) – Barrels #3, 4, 35, 36, 67, 68, 99, 100, 131, 132, 163, 164

Reviews / Awards
2012 Ramsay’s Dram Hogmanay Award (The “Hoggies”)
Barrel #155 – 5 stars/Highest Recommended – F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal
Barrel #187 – 5 stars/Highest Recommendation – F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal
Barrel #188 – 5 stars/Highest RecommendationF. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal
Barrel #101 – 96/100Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible
Barrel #82 – Overall Favorite as of Jan 2015Voters at SingleOakProject.com
Barrel #109 – Runner-up for Overall Favorite as of Jan 2015Voters at SingleOakProject.com
Barrel #111 – Runner-up for Overall Favorite as of Jan 2015 – Voters at SingleOakProject.com


Bourbon Hunting is an Extreme Sport

extreme-sportTo someone who’s never been through a bourbon hunt, I can only describe it as one of the most intense, emotional, stressful, rewarding, extreme and exhausting non-contact sports in existence.

Starting in mid-September, bourbon fans across the country begin checking-in daily with local store owners to rekindle lost friendships, lobby for list spots, and work leads on potential delivery dates.  They slowly change their commuting routes to pass a few liquor stores a night, scouting potential new hunting grounds.  To avoid the embarrassment of leaving these scouted stores empty handed, they also start buying stray bottles at each stop.  The debt starts to add up and they don’t even have any of the good stuff yet…but they’re hot on its trail.

Within weeks, they know more about this country’s bourbon inventory than the store owners and distributors combined.

About that same time, a national rinse & repeat headline news story surfaces about the bourbon shortage, the hype surrounding Pappy Van Winkle, how much store owners hate getting bourbon calls, and the insane prices people are paying for rare whiskey.  Pappy renews its reputation as the ultimate accessory and the brand name clothing crew joins the hunt.  The excitement grows.

Then, just before Pappy hits the stores, the news runs a story about a potential lead in the Pappy Van Winkle theft and whips the crowd into a frothy frenzy.  “MUST FIND PAPPY!” they chant as their shivering huddled lines wind through the aisles, out the doors, and around the neighborhoods of potential release sites.

Photos of BTAC and Pappy start popping up on social media with captions like “Look what I stumbled across!” or “don’t like bourbon but heard this was good”.  Hate, jealousy, urgency, and frustration join forces and push the excitement beyond all measurable levels.

Stunned by the level of competition, the bourbon hunters prepare themselves mentally for potential defeat.  They start claiming Pappy Van Winkle is overrated, new bourbon hunters are ruining everything, nobody sells it right, and prices are insane.  They curse the distilleries for not making more, the distributors for favoritism, and the local retailers for ignoring them despite a long history.  Finally, they reach a breaking point, swear they don’t care anymore, and decide to permanently switch to widely available $30 bourbons that are ‘just as good’.

…then they snap back into the game, sneak off to a dark corner of their house, and start calling around for new leads on BTAC and Pappy.

At some point in late October the overwhelming pull of the hunt eclipses virtually everything else and consumes the hunters.  Their normal lives fade into the background as they skitter from store to store and website to website, scanning the aisles for new bottles and the headlines for new leads. Money? Who cares.  Work? Who cares.  Sleep? Overrated.

And then, as if by magic and with a sense of pride that rivals hitting a game 7 World Series walk off home run, they finally find a rare bottle.  They stare at it in disbelief while they slowly swipe the credit card and claim it as their own.  Prize in hand, they shuffle out to the car, buckle it into the passenger seat, and take the long way home…proudly staring at it all the way.  They are emotionally exhausted and utterly amazed at what they went through to reach that point.

When they get home, they take a few bragging photos to post online then immediately hide the bottle away, knowing that it will be a long while before they work up the nerve to open something that took so much dedication, time, and energy to earn.  When the bottle is safely in the bunker, they finally step back, realize how much they missed during the past few months, and swear they’ll never hunt bourbon again.

…and then they get a tip about another bottle.  Game on!

 

Author’s Note: During the fall, we often hear stories about the companies that make the bourbon and the stores that sell it, but we rarely hear about the people who buy it.  I am a bourbon hunter and I thought it would be fun to show another side of the news story.  Enjoy! – Erik

 

angels envy cask strength

Angel’s Envy Cask Strength

Angels Envy BourbonIt’s very hard to get your hands on a bottle of Angel’s Envy Cask Strength bourbon, as there aren’t many bottles in circulation and those that are only make it to a few select states.  It’s typically released in October/November/December and available in November/December/January for a suggested retail price around $170, although we’ve seen retailers charge as much as $300.  It’s one of those bourbons that often goes to a store’s best customer or into raffles in popular bourbon areas, so you’ll need to put in the legwork to earn this bottle.  If you’re in a lukewarm bourbon state, you may find a bottle or two sitting on store shelves into late January.

It’s relatively rare to find a prior batch bottle due to the extremely low release volumes, although they do surface occasionally in the secondary market.  The First Edition (2012) is considered a unicorn bottle.  The Second Edition (2013) and Third Edition (2014) are a little less valuable, but still in demand.  Signed bottles and bottles in well preserved cases have more value to collectors.  Splitting was relatively common on the collectible case that accompanied the bottle in 2014 and is not an indication of mishandling.

The 2015 bottle is considered the best tasting release so far, but it also marks a shift in opinions for this rare bourbon.  In early 2015, Bacardi Ltd. purchased Angel’s Envy, taking this from a boutique brand associated with the famed Lincoln Henderson to a corporate brand with no ties to bourbon history. The hard core bourbon community’s enthusiasm for this brand dropped significantly when this happened, as did the secondary value of these bottles.  While this is still a great tasting bourbon that is actively hunted, it isn’t as prized as it once was.

Producer’s Description: “The world’s highest rated bourbon.  Period.”  Perfection is a patient man’s game. So we waited until Angel’s Envy reached the perfect level of maturity. It can take years for a barrel to reach our Cask Strength standards. Then we aged the spirit in ruby port wine casks until we tasted a previously undiscovered sweet spot. Finally we stopped waiting and started enjoying. Angel’s Envy Cask Strength is unlike any bourbon you’ve ever tried. We judge only a handful of barrels exceptional enough for our lengthy ruby port cask finishing process, and we only release it at the end of every year. The result? Even at 123 proof, every sip is rare and worth savoring. A remarkably complex and unfiltered bourbon, we suggest you enjoy it neat or with just a splash of water to release the flavor nuances, and perhaps with a few friends who appreciate outstanding bourbon. Angel’s Envy Cask Strength was worth waiting for. Now it’s worth sharing.

Producer:  Louisville Distilling Company (now owned by Bacardi Ltd.)
Type: Non-Producer Distiller (NPD)
Age: Made from 4 – 7 year old sourced bourbons (finished in port barrels)
Release Category: Super-Premium, Limited-Edition
Release Frequency: Annual
Releases to Date:  4
Release Season:  Fall
Release Volume:  6,000 – 7,000 bottles
Release Region: Select US States
Sell Out Timeframe:  Immediate (typically pre-sold/pre-claimed/one day on shelf)
Bottle Size:  750ml
Nicknames:  AECS, Angle’s Envy CS, AECS w/ Release (ex. AECS2), AECS w/ Date (ex. AECS 2013 or AECS13)
Avg. Price Retail:  $180
Avg. Price Among Whiskey Traders:  $180 (no box) – $250 (with box)
Avg. Price on Secondary Market:  $250+
Trading Value:  7/10 (first release is 9.5/10)
TTB ID: 15070001000122
DSP Codes: DSP-KY-20022
UPC Code: 00850047003058
Mash Bill: 70-73% corn, 15-20% rye, and the balance malt
Finish: Finished in 59 gallon ruby port casks

Releases
2014 – 6,500 bottles produced, MSRP $169, 15 US states (CA, CO, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, MA, MI, NJ, NY, OR, TN, TX, WA)
2013 – 4,200 bottles produced, 100 – 500 bottles remaining (est), MSRP $149, 8 US states (CA, FL, IL, KY, MA, NY, TN, TX)
2012 – 600 bottles produced,  < 50 bottles remaining (est), MSRP $149, 2 US states (KY, TN)