Malt Advocate Whisky Awards “Best Buy Whisk(e)y of the Year”: Tie – Evan Williams & Very Old Barton 6 Year Old Bottled in Bond
Best Buy is always a touchy category. It’s not cheap whisky, and it’s not barely endurable whisky — there are plenty of both, but we’re not interested — it’s about whisky that’s a great combination of flavor and price.
We went American, as we often have in the past. American whiskey is still an outstanding value, with many excellent bottlings under $30, and some still quite tasty under $20. We zeroed in on about five good ones, then tossed a few aside somewhat cavalierly because they were too expensive…over $15! That’s the kind of value you can find in this category.
That still left us with two bourbons: Heaven Hill’s Evan Williams and Buffalo Trace’s Very Old Barton 100 Proof. On value by the numbers, it was a toss-up. Evan Williams is a dollar or two less, but the VOB is higher proof, but the Evan is probably a bit older… Back and forth: no tie-breaker.
The tale in the glass was no different. Evan Williams is a sophisticated whiskey for its price: smooth, a great aroma, and neither gets lost in nor dominates a cocktail, a classic table bourbon. Very Old Barton is an equally impressive example of another category of bourbon, the pleasantly rough ride: a whiskey with vigor, robust corn character, and unabashed power that lets you know you’ve had a snort, while not so aggressive that it leaves you gasping.
We finally realized we didn’t have to choose one over the other, and neither do you. Both of these are excellent values; in fact, at these prices, you can happily buy both!
This is the first of the 17th Annual Malt Advocate Whisky Awards to be announced. One award will be announced each day through February 28, 2011. Tomorrow, the “Artisan Whisky of the Year” will be revealed.