Maker’s Mark- Lots of caramel and vanilla on the nose. Charred, like grilled wheat and corn. Really complex, grilled wood and smoke are huge flavors but notes of stone fruits also come out to play. Very acidic but a pleasant spiciness. This is a staple for me when it comes to brown spirits.

Bulleit Bourbon- Sweet and spicy with a lot of peaches and pears. Charred wood and grilled vegetables, with hints of cocoa and caramel as well. Really well-rounded and smooth. Fairly dry, with a very low acidity and a nice spice that lingers for a long time.

Hudson Baby Bourbon- A huge amount of chocolate and caramel on the nose as soon as it’s poured into the glass. Really timid but full of interesting flavors and scents. Dark chocolate and vanilla bean, with grilled peaches as well. Lots of acidity with a bit of a spicy kick at the end, but this levels out with a lingering sweet and buttery aftertaste.

Wild Turkey 81- Honey and caramel on the nose, with a light smokeyness as well. Really delicate flavors, light, crisp and very dry. Very low acidity, with lots of grilled corn and warm cereal notes. Smoked apples and pears. This is a gentle bourbon and would be great for a first time brown spirits drinker.

Wild Turkey 101- The 101 definitely has a lot more complexity and character than the 81, but both are incredible. Lots of grilled wood and smoke, with notes of apple pie and cinnamon. Buttered popcorn and browned butter. Very warming and silky, and virtually no burn. An aftertaste of burnt cherries is very pleasant.

Want to see who won the Chairman's Trophy for bourbons in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge? Find out here! And look here for the cocktail portion!