My introduction to small batch whiskey came the summer after my junior year in college–specifically, the night before my sister got married. I walked up to my sister’s future sister-in-law’s husband and–since this was before I was enlightened–said, “What’s that, a Shirley Temple?” Oh! The shame. It turned out to be a Maker’s Mark Manhattan on the rocks, my cocktail of choice for years. In fact, if there was bourbon in my liquor cabinet, it was Maker’s. Then at my friend Matt’s birthday party we sampled a little Woodford Reserve. It was no more Maker’s for me after that. Similar price point, much richer flavor. Then I decided I needed to try the other widely available, small batch bourbon, Knob Creek. I had been slightly turned off by it’s kitschy label for some time but I said what the hey, you know? Not only did Knob Creek have at least the same richness as Woodford, but it was also more complex, combining a nice caramel with a sharper edge, sort of characteristic of the interesting combination of sweet and spicy in good rye. Now my bourbon heart belonged to another.
Well folks, it turns out that the good people–and by good people I mean the team of liquor drinkers assembled by the Times’s Eric Asimov–agree. Knob Creek beat out Woodford Reserve in their recent bourbon rankings. Maker’s didn’t even make the list. Incidentally, it turns out that Maker’s is manufactured in much larger batches. When you check out the recent rankings also note the nod to Tuthilltown Spirits, a distillery focusing on local sourcing that’s in Gardner, New York–only a stone’s throw from my home town of New Paltz.
I love vindication.