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Whiskey Goggles: Most Overrated Bourbon

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We’ve Got Ourselves a Horse Race

Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Throughout this process (and this quarantine), I’ve had to figure out the best value/taste/ABV ratios. Sure, I could drink paint thinner aged in freshly charred oaken barrels to pass this COVID-19 pandemic, but I wouldn’t enjoy it. And I could shell out hundreds (or thousands) on the aftermarket for Pappy, but then I wouldn’t have money to spend on all the golf training aids that are sure to make me a scratch golfer when this is all said and done.

It has been important to find balance, which is why I’ve compiled a short list of the most overrated (and overvalued) bourbons. Each has a specific reason it is overrated and overvalued.

Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Pappy Van Winkle (Shelf Price: $119-229)

Eight years ago, I won a lottery at my local ABC store to purchase a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle. I was working as a teacher, and my wife was in her first year of medical school. We had next to no money, so I purchased it shelf value and sold it my brother, an attorney. Pappy was big back then, but it has become huge now. Many consider it a holy grail of bourbon for its scarcity, while others think it tastes bad. Here is a great podcast detailing the PVW story, including the rise in demand, critique of it’s taste, and a conspiracy theory behind the thing.

@BlantonsBourbon Twitter

Blanton’s (Shelf Price $50-60)

While at dinner about two years ago, my wife said to me, “I feel like Blanton’s is the kind of bourbon that you don’t want to order when you’re out because the mark up is too much. Just buy a bottle for the house at a much cheaper price.” A year later, a friend in Nashville regaled me with a story about how he inquired on Blanton’s at his local package store only to have the clerk silently signal to him, as to not alert other costumers, that she kept bottles behind the counter because demand was so high. Now, I can’t find it anywhere.

Blanton’s is delicious. It’s smooth and potent. It reminds me of Fall and Winter with all the vanilla and cinnamon tastes. It comes with a random cork topper that depicts a different stage of a horse in stride.

The after market value is in the low hundreds, and there is no reason. It was like the bourbon community decided Blanton’s was the new hot item that meant bourbon superiority.

@MakersMark Twitter

Maker’s Mark (Shelf Price: $25)

This might hurt some feelings, but I don’t like Maker’s. They are very proud of their product, and they should be. They are known for their distinctive red wax bottle top- the mark of a great maker. Their distillery is a working museum, an elaborate estate. It’s tremendous. And they make a quality, consistent product that is just too sweet for me.

However, I love it mixed with Coca Cola. No, Pepsi is not okay. Maker’s is the Coke of bourbon. It’s massed produced, it has it’s purpose, and it usually is a touch point for many moving into the bourbon drinking world. It’s overrated because so many know about it and consider it good, though there are so many other bourbons that are better.