Spirits & Liqueurs Other Whiskey

The Best Break-the-Bank American Whiskeys

(photo illustration: Laura Sant).

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.

  • A.D. Laws Secale Straight Rye Bottled in Bond ($80)

    “It's a beer drinker's whiskey, and I mean that in a good way—light and flavorful.”—Patrick Marran, bartender at New York City's On the Rocks

  • Charbay Doubled & Twisted ($55)

    “It’s odd and funky. I recommend it for those looking for a whiskey that’s unexpected or for craft beer fans.”—Mike Strohm, lead bartender at Kansas City, Mo.'s The W

  • E.H. Taylor Jr. Straight Rye ($80)

    “If you ever have a friend that thinks they don't like rye neat, here’s how you convince them easily, smoothly and not at all smugly.”—Nathaniel David Smith, bartender at St. Paul, Minn.'s Hodges Bend and ambassador for Teeling Irish whiskey

  • Kentucky Owl 11 Year Straight Rye ($200)

    “If you can find it, it will be sure to please the American whiskey lover in your life. Known for its limited releases, this whiskey is delicious as many of its others have been, and although it’s a very spicy rye, it’s still very easy to drink and behaves as a spirit with a much lower proof than stated on the bottle.”—Jamie Boudreau, owner of and bartender at Seattle's Canon

    Continue to 5 of 13 below.
  • Michter's US*1 Barrel Strength Rye ($100)

    “A spicy kick in the pants? Yes, please.”—Adam Fortuna, assistant general manager and sommelier at Grand Rapids, Mich.'s Reserve Wine & Food

  • Pikesville Straight Rye ($63)

    “It’s Rittenhouse on steroids but so much more tasty.”—Fortuna

  • Ransom Rye, Barley, Wheat ($55)

    “Choosing not to have any corn will throw off a hardcore Bourbon fan but it's worth it if you see this on the shelf.”—Marran

  • Stranahan's Original ($58)

    “It’s smooth, like butter in your mouth.”—Jose Medina Camacho, bar manager at Birmingham, Ala.'s Marble Ring

    Continue to 9 of 13 below.
  • Stranahan's Sherry Cask ($80)

    “I enjoy American malts, and this one is fairly new and definitely a smooth sipper.”—Marran

  • Thomas H. Handy Sazerac ($500)

    “It’s quite possibly one of the best whiskeys I've enjoyed. That's it and that's all.”—Smith

  • Westland Sherry Wood ($75)

    “I think Westland is making some of the best American single-malt whiskey, period.”—Fortuna

  • WhistlePig Farmstock Rye Crop No. 002 ($70)

    “Even though most of the WhistlePig sold until now has actually come from a Canadian distillery, this is part of its series of releases that features whiskey distilled from its own Vermont rye and aged in Vermont oak barrels. It’s truly a unique whiskey that will be one-of-a-kind forever.”—Chaim Dauermann, co-owner at New York City's Stay Gold

    Continue to 13 of 13 below.
  • WhistlePig The Boss Hog ($400)

    “Do you really, really, really love someone? This once-in-a-lifetime whiskey is for best friends and special occasions.”—Smith