My Picks for Spring

by Colonel Steve Akley


It's kinda starting to feel a little like spring out there, right? I mean it's been a crazy winter. Not necessarily harsh... I think we only had a few sub-zero days and really no measurable snow in St. Louis to speak of... but, the unseasonably cold temps just keep hanging around. There is one real indicator spring is going to be here no matter what Mother Nature is throwing at us and that's the spring bourbon releases.

Yep, after a quiet winter where there weren't any notable releases to speak of, we're about ready to be hit with a flurry of highly desirable bourbons you just feel like you have to get your hands on.

I've narrowed my target list down to five. Here's a look at five "must have" spring releases and some insight on how badly I actually want these particular bottles and what I think my chances of scoring a bottle actually are.

#5 - Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain / Score on How Badly I Want This Meter*: 29  / My Self-Assessment of My Chances of Scoring a Bottle**: 25%

Colonel E.H. Taylor's 2017 Four Grain scored a controversial Whiskey of the Year award from Jim Murray last year. Other reviews were fairly mixed. The general consensus was that it was solid and that a little time with the bottle open markedly improves it. There is enough there I am definitely interested in trying the second offering to see how it stacks up against the first.

#4 - Seared Bu 1-3 / Score on How Badly I Want This Meter*: 42  / My Self-Assessment of My Chances of Scoring a Bottle**: 6%

This is the only one of my list here which I actually got to already try. Rob Samuel brought a bottle of this to the New Orleans Bourbon Festival and actually poured me a dram of this. It's a butterscotch bomb. So good... yet, as a gift shop and extremely limited retail offering, my chances of scoring one of these are almost non-existant.

#3 - Wilderness Trail Bourbon / Score on How Badly I Want This Meter*: 83  / My Self-Assessment of My Chances of Scoring a Bottle**: 90%

I knew I wanted a bottle of this the moment I heard Dr. Pat Heist speak. He and his business partner Shane Baker spent years as whiskey industry experts with their company Ferm-Solutions assisting hundreds of distilleries with diagnosing issues and assisting in yeast strand development. Can the teachers deliver with a solid bourbon of their own? We are about to find out. I am going to their bourbon release party in Danville on April 28 and I am anticipating scoring a bottle there... but nothing is 100% in bourbon, so we will see.

#2 - Old Fitzgerald 11-Year-Old / Score on How Badly I Want This Meter*: 95  / My Self-Assessment of My Chances of Scoring a Bottle**: 75%

This is an exciting one for sure... a well-aged bottle of Old Fitzgerald, there isn't a lot that sounds more appealing. When you see the bottle, there isn't a lot that looks more appealing than this offering. Does it stand up in the all important category of taste, though? That's the unknown here and of course that's the key to everything... hence, my desire to score a bottle of this. A friend says he can help me score a bottle... again, this is bourbon... you never know.

#1 - King of Kentucky / Score on How Badly I Want This Meter*: 100  / My Self-Assessment of My Chances of Scoring a Bottle**: 0.0001%

This is the one... this is the bottle to score this spring. They had a little press event and people I respect raved about the taste of the former bottom shelf dweller now revived as an ultra-premium offering. This is a historic brand that went away in 1968... the year I made my debut. I want to make the 50-year anniversary of the two events the year where we finally meet. Yep, King of Kentucky is my very own "Birthday Bourbon" and I really hope I can get a bottle. With only 960 total bottles available the chances are slim, I'm taking the approach of Lloyd Christmas in the movie Dumber and Dumber, "so you're telling me I have a chance" when it comes to this one... if there is any chance I can get this one, I'm pursuing it. Even if it means driving to Kentucky and sitting in a chair outside of a liquor store all night. Long live the King!

The Meters Explained:

*Score of How Badly I Want This Meter - A look at how badly I want this offering on a 100-point scale... zero being "no thanks" to 100 being "I have to have this."

**My Self-Assessment of My Chances of Scoring a Bottle - The percent chance out of 100% of actually being able to purchase a bottle. Factors like total bottles, retailer relationships and insider information were considered.