December 31, 2013

Fantasy Bourbon Championship! Four Roses 125th Anniversary Small Batch vs Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year

It's the moment we've all been waiting for.  Thanks to all our readers for patiently putting up with vacations, time off with family, gifts, feasts, drinking, seeing old friends, and all the other holiday necessities while you desperately waited for the Fantasy Bourbon Championship!  Your wait is over!

The King of Hype vs The Crowd Favorite

Literally, no exaggeration, we've seen Pappy Van Winkle on the shelf in two liquor stores this season (the below bottle was not bought retail, it involved close personal favors and hefty IOUs...).  One of those bottles was marked at $699.00, the other $999.00.  The suggested retail price of PVW15 is $79.99.  Is there any other product in the world that sells for over ten times MSRP?  (ok maybe BitCoins!)

Four Roses 125 was *nearly* as tough to find this year as Pappy.  In some states you could still get lucky.  At the industry events we saw this year, it was spoken of in hushed tones and reverential praise.  While SmokyBeast's War of the Roses preferred the 2012 Limited Edition Small Batch, there was no doubt that the 125th is a world-class bourbon.

It's all come down to these two.  Six other beasts of bourbon lay defeated on the battlefield and as sunrise draws near, these two master samurai draw swords and prepare for war.

2013 Pappy Van Winkle 15-Year & Four Roses Limited Edition 125th Anniversary Small Batch


They are equally dark, however the Pappy is more red and the Roses is more brown.


PVW15:  The more we smell it, the better it gets.  Huge chocolate, vanilla, honey roasted peanuts, saddle leather, pipe tobacco, and deep oak.  So rich and endless, it's just unstoppable.

4R125:  Dry & crisp, some more exotic spices (curry?  cumin?).  Very subtle and complex.  Sophisticated.  Lots of wood.  But to be honest we're still dreaming about the Pappy.

Pappy absolutely slaughters the nose.  1 Point PVW.


PVW15:  Damn it's tasty.  So much warmth going down, just a true whiskey-drinker's whiskey.  Big, bold, not shying away from being a high-test, ballsy beast.  All vanilla & cocoa, woods & leather.

4R125:  It's a lot more complex.  Green apple skins, chile peppers, campfire rocks, cinnamon, cloves, sour tangerines.  They all come together so nicely.  It's a spicy and crisp, sophisticated monster.  But again, the simple, straight up, sweet rich char of the Pappy is unbeatable.

Pappy takes the palate, 2 to nothing.

End Game

PVW15:  Warm and beautiful, it really hits home in the finish.

4R125:  Lovely, dry crisp, woods & spices, little fruits and sugars.  These are both an unbelievable treat to experience.

& Taking Home the Trophy Is.....   (drumroll please)

Ok, so to be honest, we really saw ourselves putting either Four Roses or Angel's Envy in the gold medal spot this year.  They both are so good, so unique, and so well made.  We almost threw Pappy into the mix out of obligation.  "Can't have a bourbon contest without Pappy, right??".  After all, it's the new Buffalo Trace sauce, the Stitzel-Weller was the real stuff.  At this point it's all hype, the real gems are elsewhere.  Well, we have to be honest.  After multiple tastings, blinds, non-blinds, tasting against every other sauce under the sun...  The Pappy reigns supreme.  It's Pappy 3-to-0 in the championship!


And The Winner Is...

The final round is worth 3 Points!  And the winners are...

PlayerGame 1Game 2Game 3Game 4Game 5Game 6Game 7Total

Bo Wang
Daniel Forth10112207
Justin Sloan01110003
Chris Jones10112005
Zach Raymer10110003
Josh Lawrence11102207
Matt Zimbler00110002
Stephen Joos10110205
Jason Brown11112208
Carla C.11102207
Joe S.11110206
Kelly Beggs00110204
Jake Van Nuland00010001
Stefan Bing11110206
Maggie Wafford11102207
zak rotello10110205
Brent Sehnert10110003
ZacP in RI01110003
dave nichols11112208
stl cork'd10112005
Kevin M11112006
Rush Thrift10110003
Michael St.pierre11110206
Sarah Ilinitch101122310
Danny Cakes11112208
Matt Rychtanek11112006
Dan Gilbert10112005
Charles Binger101122310
Tim Moon10102206
Lucy Crow10112005
Jeff Roth10110205
Bryan Nanna00110204
Max Burstein10112005
Tom Kimball10112207
Thomas Hurst00110002
Will Moller10110205
Mikel Isaacs10110003
T.J. Thompson01100204
Stephen Grim10110205
Vincent Licata10110205
britney tucci11102207
Reuven Weinstein11110206
Funky Tape11112006

Say What??

Well we can't really call Pappy a dark horse contestant, because after all it was our number one seed, but for whatever reason all the early point leaders chose Four Roses to take the title!  So here we have three brand new players coming out of the woodwork to finish in the lead!  Quite a contest!  Congratulations to BennieFF, Sarah Ilinitch, & Charles Binger, our big winners!  Please hit us up on Facebook.  One of you may be getting an extra special present from Santa this year.  And as our big winners, you are all invited to be guest judges in the next SmokyBeast tasting marathon!

Happy New Year

Well it's been a wonderful year and we want to thank all of you for spending time with us this holiday season and all year.  2014 is shaping up to be another awesome year for whiskey, we are putting together some typically impossible tastings and featuring some amazing new treats.  Have a happy and healthy celebration tonight and toast a glass of something dark and lovely!



  1. This was an awesome idea! I had a ton of fun following it. Keep up the good work in 2014. Happy New Year from Bargain Bourbon!

    1. Thanks man! Glad you enjoyed it. Happy & healthy new year!

  2. This was a blast. Thanks so much for doing this! Great idea. Thanks for all you do keeping us up to date on the bourbon world. If you need any other special guest judges for the next tastings, please don't hesitate to let me know!! Keep em coming!

    1. Thanks Dan. We had a blast doing it!

      Ask and ye shall receive... You're on the list for our next guest judge spot!

    2. Yeah!! That is awesome, looking forward to it. That is the best thing to happen to me all year :) I don't have facebook but will continue to follow along from here in TN. BTW, when does the play at home version hit store shelves?

    3. Oh man if board games could contain whiskey then we'd have a few ideas hahaha!

    4. Whisky Monopoly. Replace Go with the Store, where you are allowed to refill your glass if needed. Replace Jail with The Bar. "Go to the Bar. Go directly to the Bar. Do not pass the Store." And in the bar ... generic NDP whiskey and you must have a drink!

  3. While I couldn't get my hands on all of these, I did crack open my own bottles of 4R125, AECS, and PVW20, and as good as the others are, the PVW is just a completely different tasting experience!
    1. PVW20
    2. AECS
    3. 4R125

    1. Nice, you did very well! Glad to hear you agree with our winner! The AECS vs 4R was almost too close to call :)