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You know who knows best which bottles to buy? The people who pour and sell drinks—that’s who. We asked dozens of top bartending and spirits industry professionals to tell us which bottles they love and why.
Heads up: The numerical order below is not organized by importance or quality; it’s an alphabetical list, not a ranking. Prices are averages and can vary from state to state.
Knob Creek Rye
“With the recent interest in American whiskey, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find good expressions that are also affordable. Knob Creek is readily available and a great bang for your buck, meaning that you don't have to covet the bottle you have, knowing that your local liquor store probably has some on the shelf right now. If you like this and you come into a touch more cash, get the cask strength if you can find it, for a more intense rye.”—Jamie Boudreau, owner of and bartender at Seattle's Canon
“I find the 100 percent corn flavor profile so easy to use with other spirits or on its own.”—Lucinda Sterling, managing partner and bartender at New York City's Middle Branch
Rieger's Kansas City
“Rectified whiskeys get a bum rap, but this beauty from K.C.'s masterful bar impresario Ryan Maybee proves that this category shouldn’t be dismissed so readily. A tiny dose of oloroso sherry adds a gloriously oxidized note to a bouquet already redolent with holiday fruit pies.”—Joaquín Simó, partner at New York City's Pouring Ribbons
“Does your gift recipient like cocktails? Then why not give them every bartender's favorite rye? It’s affordable, proofy and beyond delicious.”—Smith
Wild Turkey 101 Rye
“It’s some of the best rye around. With the affordable price and one-liter bottles, it’s a no-brainer.”—Adam Fortuna, assistant general manager and sommelier at Grand Rapids, Mich.'s Reserve Wine & Food
Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Malt
“Woodford Reserve Kentucky straight malt is a consummate introduction to the growing and exciting category of American Malt Whiskey.”—Hoard
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