By ZACH JOHNSTON
Finding the best bottle of bourbon (or any whiskey for that matter) is a never-ending endeavor. It’s a fun journey with no destination in sight. Hundreds of new bottles are released every year — from big name brands to little craft distilleries and everything in-between. No one can try them all, but we sure do give it our best shot.
Today, we’re shouting out our ten favorite bourbon whiskeys of 2021… so far. Who knows if these will make our final Best Bourbons Of 2021 list, published just before the new year. With how many expressions are still to come, all ten of these might be usurped by year’s end. After all, the fall/holiday whiskey release season is just around the corner.
The ten bottles below are picked based on taste alone. Price and availability are not a factor and, frankly, we wish you the best in finding some of these expressions. Click on the prices to see if they’re available in your region. If you can ahold of them, you won’t be disappointed.
Heaven’s Door Redbreast Master Blender’s Edition
Average Price: $130
This whiskey is a collaboration between Heaven’s Door Master Blender Ryan Perry and Redbreast’s legendary Master Blender Billy Leighton. The duo worked long and hard to create multiple whiskey expressions, which Bob Dylan taste-tested and granted final approval on.
The juice in the bottle is Heaven Door’s low-rye 10-year-old Tennessee bourbon. They take that whiskey and fill it into Redbreast whiskey casks that had previously aged Irish whiskey for 12 years. After 15 months of final maturation, those barrels are vatted and slightly proofed down with soft Tennessee spring water.
This opens with this medley of marzipan, soft leather, prunes and dates, Gala apples, a hint of cedar, and a whisper of ripe red cherry. There’s this body of nutmeg that leads towards a light vanilla pound cake full of candied and dried fruits with a soft Niederegger marzipan center. That then draws towards subtle pops of orange oils, floral honey, walnuts in buttery brown sugar syrup, and this mild touch of spiced apple tobacco leaf. It’s an incredible dance and a tough balancing act. The end lasts for just the right amount of time and leaves you with a walnut shell dryness, soft warmth, and slight tobacco chew buzz that all circles back towards a raisin sherry sweetness and a final morsel of that vanilla pound cake.
This is the sort of pour that sticks with you. You’ll find yourself thinking about it well after you’ve sampled it. It’s super easy to drink without sacrificing depth or flavor. It’s just … really freakin’ good.