The World’s Best Bourbon—According To The 2021 World Whiskies Awards

Food & Drink

The hits just keep on coming for Buffalo Trace Distillery. The Kentucky all-stars, responsible for such celebrated standouts as Pappy Van Winkle, Antique Collection and E.H. Taylor, have struck gold again. This time at the 2021 World Whiskies Awards, where they took home top honors for their W.L. Weller C.Y.P.B. The annual competition named the bottling ‘Best Kentucky Bourbon’ as well as ‘Category Winner’ among a dense field of sought-after spirits.

For this particular offering, master distiller Harlen Wheatley had to share at least some of the credit with the many loyal fans who have catapulted the brand to cult status in the 21st Century. C.Y.P.B., you see, stands for ‘Craft Your Perfect Bourbon.’ As the name implies it was a crowd-sourced affair. The odyssey began all the way back in autumn 2015, when Buffalo Trace launched an interactive website. It encouraged drinkers to consider—and then specify—the production characteristics of their ideal American whiskey.

Two years later, the site tallied more than 100,000 entries with participants personalizing factors such as mashbill, age statement, proof—even barrel placement within the warehouse. Some profound commonalities emerged. The typical Buffalo Trace enthusiast preferred a wheated bourbon aged for at least 8 years along the top warehouse floors, bottled between 90 and 99-proof. Thus, CYPB was born. And so this week’s accolade at the World Whiskies Awards also serves as vindication for the fanbase.

“As a crowd sourced bourbon, what this tells us is that our fans have great taste,” confirmed Wheatley in a press release for the brand. “The feedback we receive from our fans is taken very seriously, so it’s great to see that effort rewarded.”

Now for the not-so-great-part.

CYPB was already difficult to score before. It will likely become even more scarce in light of the recent recognition. When it debuted in the spring of 2018 its suggested retail price was $40. Today you cannot find it on shelves for less than $800.

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A good consolation prize arrives in the form of E.H. Taylor Small Batch. The eminently approachable sipping whiskey took home a gold medal at the World Whiskies. You shouldn’t have any trouble snagging a bottle for well under $100. The distillery, for its part, is releasing a special edition of the 100-proof crowdpleaser just in time for National Bottled In Bond Day on March 3rd.

Yes—this is a real holiday, commemorating congressional passage of the Bottled in Bond Act on the same date in 1897. Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr. actually helped champion the legislation. So there’s arguably no better way to celebrate than with the whiskey named after the bourbon pioneer who indirectly gave birth to the holiday. Of course, it’s the juice that matters most. And this particular release of E.H. Taylor sings with notes of butterscotch, caramel corn, even a hint of citrus jam.

If you’re lucky enough to be in the San Francisco Bay Area this March, you can also enjoy a four-course feast prepared using actual Weller whiskey—and paired with pours of its sister brand, Pappy Van Winkle. The $220 affair takes place at Alexander’s Steakhouse in the SoMa district of the city.

All this is to say, it’s a pretty great time to be a fan of Buffalo Trace whiskies. Even more so if you’re willing and able to spend a pretty penny on your preferred beverage.

For a full list of winners at this years World Whiskies Awards, click here.

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