Accidents can be costly, especially in the bourbon business. So when Wild Turkey realized they had mistakenly blended small batch bourbon with high proof whiskey, people were worried. But then the Associate Master Distiller tasted the accidental blend and declared it worthy of bottling, and a mishap turned into Wild Turkey Forgiven ($50). Forgiven clocks in at 91 proof and makes no apologies, accident or not. It has a spicy, bold taste that finishes unlike most drinks in its category. All is Forgiven, so track down a bottle because this one time foul up isn't likely to be duplicated.
When it comes to big, barrel-proof bourbons, there aren't many that are in the same class as George T. Stagg. After waiting for it to properly mature, Buffalo Trace is releasing a younger version of their award winning bourbon, named Stagg Jr. ($50). The son of Stagg is another beastly entry, clocking in at 134.4 proof, and also happens to be another incredibly inviting spirit. It's unrestrained and unapologetic, with strong oak, vanilla and even some smoky brown sugar flavors that should satisfy even the most hardcore bourbon fanatic. This young buck is poised to grab your attention, and might even challenge his old man for the spotlight.
How much does the age statement on a bottle of bourbon mean? If you're like us, an older bourbon seems like it should be better, but doesn't always live up to the more mature billing, or price. One incredible exception however, is Elijah Craig 21-Year-Old Single Barrel Bourbon ($140). It's a remarkable bourbon that seems to be at an ideal age for sipping, with plenty of flavor, oak, and a subtle, easy burn. Where you might expect extra wood characteristics because of how long it spent in barrels you instead receive the welcome surprise of incredible balance. So have a pour and relax, and try to remember what you were doing when this stuff was put into barrels all the way back in 1990.