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.
“It's super smooth, with a ton of character that isn't overwhelming. I love the subtle vanilla and rounded caramel notes that it has while still maintaining a good amount of spice.”—Michelle Szot, general manager at Chicago's Split-Rail
“This 100-proof single-barrel expression from Four Roses is still a pretty good bargain. This complex bourbon with its high rye mash bill has it all: initial sweetness from the corn, spiciness from the rye and a long finish with slight floral notes.”—Paul McGee, owner and bartender at Chicago's Lost Lake
“This Bay Area bourbon stays with the tradition of fruitcake, vanilla and caramel on the nose. Toasted almonds, cinnamon and subtle tobacco flavors show through this whiskey, giving it a soft yet full finish. It’s easy drinking and reasonably priced.”—Alicia Walton, owner and bartender at San Francisco's Sea Star
“It’s more bang for your buck. At slightly more than 100 proof, it has the aromas and tastes of vanilla and caramel, with herbal and floral notes. It’s quite the underrated bourbon. Give this stepchild a chance.”—Juyoung Kang, lead bartender at Las Vegas' Dorsey
“This is one of my go-to whiskeys when I’m out after work or when someone is looking for something new to try. Russell’s is Wild Turkey’s midtier brand and generally flies under most people’s radar. It makes an excellent Old Fashioned. I love turning people on to it.”—Michael Lazar, whiskey concierge and lead bartender at San Francisco's Hard Water
“Wild Turkey is still my favorite bourbon distillery. This Wild Turkey single barrel comes in a beautiful bottle and is a slightly more elegant way to give the gift of Wild Turkey to a friend or co-worker this holiday season.”—Shock
Mixing your cocktail