Kenny Coleman — the co-founder of Kentucky’s own Bourbon Pursuit — is more than just a whiskey podcaster. The proud Kentuckian lives and breaths whiskey. As with anyone deep in the whiskey game, Coleman taste-tests a wild amount of bourbon, rye, American whiskey, and other various spirits each year. So we knew we had to reach out to find out which expressions he actually keeps on hand at home.
Under the Bourbon Pursuit shingle, Coleman and his partners (bourbon experts Ryan Cecil, Fred Minnick, and Lauren Coleman) started off reviewing all things bourbon via the Bourbon Pursuit podcast and offering quick, 60-second whiskey reviews on YouTube. That led the team to release their own bourbon as independent Kentucky bottlers. Their flagship whiskey, Pursuit United, was an instant hit and one of our favorite bottles of 2021 (so far).
All of this is to say that Kenny Coleman knows a thing or two about bourbon and the broader whiskey world. We were lucky enough to get a few minutes of his time this week to have him call out bottles of the good stuff and break down why you should give these bottles a shot. If you’re into one of the expressions below, click on the price to give it a try yourself!
The Staple Whiskey: Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel
Average Price: $60
Everyone likes to put Wild Turkey 101 on their list but I’m a bigger fan of Russell’s Reserve, especially any single barrel selection. This expression kicks it up a notch to 110 proof and with non-chill filtering, which really lets the barrel character shine through.
You’re met with a big punch of baking spice with lingering fruit and oak. The finish continues by tingling areas of your tongue and letting traditional notes of caramel make an appearance. Can you really hate anything about this bourbon?
I would recommend this whiskey to anyone starting their bourbon journey. It’s also a bottle that is on every liquor store shelf in the country.
Once you go all-in on bourbon, start seeking private barrel selections of Russell’s and begin comparing them to each other. Find out if there are certain warehouses and floors you prefer. It will slowly become a bourbon nerd’s go-to.
The Under the Radar Whiskey: Woodinville Cask Strength Rye
Average Price: $70
By now, the secret is out on Woodinville. But if you haven’t had a chance to try their Cask Strength Rye, you don’t know what you’re missing. At 5 years old, this whiskey can compete with the best in the world.
The nose seems humble, with expected scents of honey and rye. The taste, on the other hand, will absolutely make you weak in the knees. You don’t know if you are at a farm or at a county fair because you become overwhelmed with red delicious apples and cotton candy.
This bottle is only regionally distributed (in the Pacific Northwest), but it’s available any day at their gift shop. If you see it, grab two and thank me later. The cask strength releases are usually around 120+ proof and will surely impress your friends (especially if they have never even heard of it).
The One Whiskey Everyone Wants To Try: Michter’s 20-Year Limited Release Bourbon
Average Price: $2,000
“Heaven in a bottle” is probably the only way to describe this unicorn. With its limited availability, bourbon hunters are always on the lookout for the silver wax. It’s one that most people will never get the chance to try and you should never turn it down if someone offers.
Nothing melts my heart faster than the smell and taste of sweet oak. With an almost “dusty funk” undertone, the oak coats your tongue with an oil that has you licking the inside of your cheeks for more. It’s a flavor that can’t be matched by anything else, because this bourbon has been carefully aged for so long.
I’m still kicking the 2014 version of myself for not buying a bottle when I had it in my hands, but couldn’t afford it. I won’t let that ever happen again.
The whiskey is phenomenal, but the best part comes from discussing its source with other bourbon nerds. Michter’s will never reveal the source, but it’s fun to sit back and watch people argue about it and discuss if the taste matches the profile.
The One Whiskey I Call My Baby: Pursuit United
Average Price: $62
I feel compelled to put our new line extension on this list because I share it with everyone. We worked tirelessly for a year on finding the right partners to craft this blend and deliver a taste profile that has yet to be seen. As one of the few independent bottlers in America, it was an opportunity to start fresh and create something we knew every bourbon enthusiast would enjoy.
With aromas of caramelized sugar and honeycomb, it feels like a sweet bomb is incoming. The flavor is rich like a malted chocolate ball with citrus tea and finishes with a rush of spicy orange marmalade.
As one of the founders of Pursuit Spirits, I’ve been enthralled to see all the positive feedback from this release. I’m happy to say there will be another release coming out very soon but it will still have limited availability. We do have new barrels aging, so stay tuned because Pursuit United will be on shelves across the U.S. in a few years.
Thank you to everyone that has supported us in this journey so far. We’re just getting started!
The Surprise Bottle: 1980 The Rare Armagnac Collection “Mars”
Average Price: $150 (waiting list)
Once the bourbon bubble got bigger, many OGs started getting into Armagnac. I was hesitant at first but I followed the masses and found that I enjoy it quite a lot when I need to switch things up. This K&L Wines Exclusive was a bottle I purchased after trying many L’Encantada expressions, hoping it would beat the famed “Lous Pibous.” This particular expression is sold out but there are many good Armagnacs to be found.
If you don’t like Cabernet Sauvignon, you can go ahead and just skip this, because the nose tastes like a big glass of it. The taste, however, brings forward more pronounced dried cherries and figs. The finish is subtle and sweet, making you want to pour yourself another.
Armagnac may have some of the best values in spirits. How often can you purchase a 38-year-old whiskey for $150 and there isn’t a line of people outside the door? If you haven’t dabbled in ‘yak, bite the bullet or split a bottle with a few friends to see what it’s all about. It’s not going to be a $30 value spirit, but it’s certainly a conversation piece for those who can appreciate a well-aged whiskey.