How To Choose The Best Bourbon For NYE: A Guide From An Expert

12.27.17 4 months ago


If you’re anything like us, you’re going to be enjoying an alcoholic beverage (or six) this New Years Eve. Obviously, when the ball drops in Times Square (or wherever you live) and Anderson Cooper, Ryan Seacrest, or your local newscaster chants his or her way into 2018, you’re going to be sipping on some tasty bubbly. But before that, roundabout the time when Mariah Carey is lip syncing her way into the new year, you’re going to want to imbibe something with a little more heat.

If your spirit of choice is bourbon, you’re confronted with an immediate question: How do you determine the right bottle to buy for NYE? There are so many different styles that buying a bottle is almost as dizzying as the buzz you get from drinking it. Perhaps your New Year’s 2018 solution should be to finally learn to navigate the differences between small batch, craft, special batch, single barrel, barrel proof, bottled in bond, bonded, and limited-edition bourbons. That way, you can start your year looking impressive and refined (until 10am New Year’s Day, when you’re double fisting breakfast burritos).

We turned to Wild Turkey Master Distiller Eddie Russell for an education on the spirit he loves. He was happy to oblige, telling us that this is the best time ever for the bourbon fan.

“There’s so much out there,” he says. “Everyone’s palate is different and always evolving so trying them all is the best way to find your taste profile.”

Russell was kind enough to give us a refresher on some of the Bourbon terms you might be unfamiliar with. Learning these will make purchasing bourbon much easier during the holiday season and beyond:

Small batch

RUSSELL SAYS: “There is no federally regulated definition within the industry for small batch. Typically it connotes bourbon that’s made in smaller batches from hand-selected barrels, but it’s not beholden to this. There is no a max because there isn’t a regulated definition for small batch. Some bottles will include the number of barrels or bottles produced on the label, but it’s not necessary.”


RUSSELL SAYS: “Craft is another term that’s not very well defined, but is often used to describe smaller, local distilleries. Craft isn’t a term you can bank on for quality or flavor because there’s not one definition of craft that distilleries are beholden to. What’s more important is how it’s crafted.”

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