In this post, we will pick the brain of Blake @ Bourbonr.com, who runs one of my favorite bourbon blogs. It's also home to the Pappy Release Map, as well as a few other cool whiskey tools, like the Whisk(e)y Library. So enjoy his take on Pappy and Bourbon and then take some time to check out his site @ bourbonr.com.
How did you get interested in Bourbon?
Hard to pin it down. I don’t come from a family of bourbon drinkers (or drinkers in general) but I think it just started with liking the look of Maker’s Mark bottles and snowballed from there. Bourbon was always a “cool” thing to drink.
When did you first discover Pappy Van Winkle?
Probably a year or two after getting into bourbon. Long enough ago for it to be sitting on shelves, but not back in the day when no one really knew what it was. Plus, the bourbon game in FL is a little bit behind other states.
So tell us about your first hunt or the first time you found and tasted Pappy?
The first time I tried Pappy was at a bar for a friends bachelor party. They had 15 and 23 so I tried the 15. This wasn’t a super nice bar or even a bourbon bar, but those were different times. I had been reading about how great it was and while $20 for a 2 oz pour seemed crazy (at the time) I figured I’d give it a shot.
So did you find it at retail or did you have to pay the "Pappy Mania" tax?
Found a bottle at retail after trying. Seemed like a huge premium at the time. Turns out it was more like a 90% discount.
When did you start putting out the Bourbon release map?
They started in 2013 shortly after starting the blog. I noticed a lot of posts in the Facebook groups about if "X" state had released. I thought it would help to consolidate those questions.
How do you go about pinpointing the release dates? Is it just a matter of hearing from your blog community once it arrives or do you have other methods you can share?
These days it’s a mix. I know retailers and some distributors which will give me dates. Other states it’s just from a reader that sends a picture of the bottle to verify.
What about your Whiskey Library tool at Bourbonr.com? How does that work?
That was the original idea of Bourbonr. A way to keep track of all your bourbons and reviews. Kind of like a social network for bourbon. The blog grew out of that and is now the focus
Give us a quick overview of what your overall bourbon collection looks like?
I probably have too many bottles. Close to 200 bottles if I had to guess. It’s in two categories. Trying for the blog and collecting. There’s a lot of open bottles in both categories.
The collecting bottles range from dusty releases to BTAC (Buffalo Trace Antique Collection) and Pappy to Four Roses Limited Editions.
What are your favorites?
I have one of the original gold wax Pappy 23’s that’s probably my favorite. Or, the Jim Beam Distillers Masterpiece #2. Very rarely do you see those bottles pop up on the trading groups so it’s cool to have them.
What about your favorite "I-can-walk-into-any-liquor-store-and-get anytime" bourbons?
I have three. Four Roses Small Batch, Blanton’s and Booker’s. I could never buy another bottle and get by on those for the rest of my life if I had to.
Do you hunt or collect any other rare bourbons? If so, which ones?
Yes, hunting is a lot of the fun for me. You don’t find much anymore, but it’s still fun. I look for the obvious bourbons as well as old National Distiller bottles or older Wild Turkey.
Any that you want, but haven't been able to find yet?
Lots! I’ve cut back on buying/hunting but would still love to get my hands on a 2010 Michter’s 10 or a Michter’s 20. The 20 pretty much never makes it’s way to Florida
List the top 5 bourbons you've actually tasted in order of your preference.
That is tough. These probably aren’t in order but I’d say they’re the top 5. Pappy 23 decanter, 10H- Michter’s 10, Jefferson’s 17, Old Weller Original (I don’t remember the year) and Sazerac 18 (because it’s fresh on my mind). I’m sure I’m forgetting some better bottles but still a solid 5.
Hope you enjoyed this take and take some time to check out Blake's blog @ www.bourbonr.com.