I get this a lot. "What's the best bourbon?" Or the equally problematic, "what's your favorite bourbon?"
What do I say? I may mention a couple of things I particularly like, although the list always varies. I often dismiss the query with, "the best bourbon is free bourbon."
The truth is, the list of things I like about equally well is very long, and what I say tends to reflect what I've enjoyed most in the last week or so. Recently it was Four Roses Single Barrel. Sometimes it's Woodford Reserve or Knob Creek or Buffalo Trace.
I tend not to mention the cheaper products I also like just as well, such as JTS Brown. I also generally don't mention products that are difficult or impossible to find, such as Very Very Old Fitzgerald or A. H. Hirsch. I also tend not to mention the more challenging older bottlings, like George T. Stagg.
I also don't mentions rye (unless specifically asked) or corn whiskey.
But I never give the true answer, which is that there is no best and hardly any true favorites. If I narrow the words used to describe the experience, I can plug in a few products. Most memorable would have to be Very Very Old Fitzgerald and A. H. Hirsch, but also the Fairfield Henry McKenna my friend Doug found and shared with me. Always in my house and open: Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond and Very Old Barton Bottled-in-Bond. I can name a favorite from each distillery, although if they make multiple recipes then it's one per distillery per recipe. And, like I said, it will change tomorrow.
So let's bury the concept of best, which is the search for The One. That's not what the whiskey enthusiasm is about. It's about luxuriating in The Many. And hoping for many, many more.