I paid $97 (including tax) for a bottle of Tradition (I just posted a review). Is it worth that price?...........the eternal question that each person must answer for himself or herself. Apparently my answer is yes, since I bought it and am enjoying it and have no desire to return it.
Agin my doctor's advice, I have exceeded my allotment of whiskey today as I could not resist the temptation to compare the Tradition to the best WT whiskies (in my opinion) in my collection............that would be Tribute and the 12 YO. These latter two are extremely rich, with a deep, deep, sweetness almost beyond equal. They are superb bourbons and it is rare that you find their equal, much less their superior.
But, having done a side by side by side with Tribute, 12 YO, and Tradition, it is my opinion that Tradition does not need to be compared to them because it is in a different category. It lives in the village with the ultra-aged bourbons (Pappy 20, Rittenhouse rye 21, Black Maple Hills 21, etc., etc.), where the tannins of the oak take some of the intensity of the sweetness, make it spread more slowly and widely and allow it to softly morph into a dry cleansing (and complex and interesting) quality that i can only describe as 'delicate' in it effect.
In Tradition, this is almost immediately contradicted by the robust spicy 'kick' from the rye. That, bourbon friends, is one of the things that makes Tradition such an interesting and compelling whiskey. What it gives you with one hand is taken away with the other. This is not a trick............it is a surprise.........and humans enjoy few things as much as a surprise (leastways many of us humans do.........I have no truck with folks who never want to be surprised, especially with their taste module).
For me, Tradition, like Birthday Bourbon 2009, is a challenge to the palate, and one walks away feeling both conqueror and conquered.
As I have said so many times before, some (not all) ultra-aged bourbons have a quality that I find makes for superb boubon. It has to do with aging and tannic dryness, but it is not best defined in those terms. The terms I have usually chosen to use include these: delicacy, softness, cognac-like, hint of the grape (white wine) and sophistication.
There are excellent and educated palates who disagree with me...........which, in my opinion, only makes it all the more interesting. Were we all to taste alike there would be a much duller world and no need for Bourbon Enthusiast.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas