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.
“For true bourbon lovers, this is the first mass-produced single-barrel bourbon—vanilla, caramel, tobacco and toffee notes and a dry, medium finish. Collect all of the Blanton’s horse corks. They spell out “Blanton’s” and depict the horse and jockey in eight different scenes of a horse race.”—Jung Park, founder of Philadelphia's Cocktail Culture Co.
“This bourbon will never let you down—a real crowd-pleaser. Coming out of the Buffalo Trace distillery and bottled in bond at 100 proof, it drinks super easy and is loaded with toasted vanilla bean, caramel, creamed corn and a nice oaky spice to back things up. No regrets here.”—Jordan Joseph, bar manager at Raleigh, N.C.'s Centro and Gallo Pelón
“I wish there was more of this to go around. It’s one of the best special releases from Four Roses in recent memory.”—Fortuna
“I'm always surprised by how much I enjoy this whiskey.”—Fortuna
“It’s a blend of whiskeys from nine to 18 years old. The packaging is gorgeous, and the whiskey inside is delicious with good viscosity—a trait that I look for and love in my bourbon. I've yet to be disappointed with any bottle coming from this distillery.”—Jamie Boudreau, owner of and bartender at Seattle's Canon
“Drinking this muscular 114-proof bourbon is like your granny's pecan pie rising up to smack your palate into deliriously happy submission. This spicy blend of whiskeys from four to 20 years old marries dried fruits and nuts beautifully, with just a hint of gingerbread and cut grass to remind you of the rye in the mash bill.”—Joaquín Simó, partner at New York City's Pouring Ribbons
“It has all the richness of other wheated bourbons but with that extra bit of alcohol.”—Fortuna
“This one is so rarely available, and if it is, its pricey. Notes of caramel and a peppery nose might make this a good fireside chat.”—Sterling
“The kid brother to the legendarily hard-to-source overproof kingpin of the Antique Collection, this one proves that younger siblings are not to be ignored. Usually clocking in well over 130 proof, this spice bomb is somehow perfectly sippable even neat. Cigar box, cherry pie and vanilla all round out gorgeously integrated oak and varnish notes.”—Simó
“This bourbon is everything an older bourbon should be—rich, deep, warm and yet not overly oaked.”—Hah
“Everything is perfect about this bourbon. Nose, flavor, mouthfeel—all of it is exquisite.”—Hah
“This cask-strength bourbon shows a surprisingly elegant side to Wild Turkey. Toasty pecans, orange madeleines, black pepper and tobacco notes display an extraordinary integration of oak and grain in this masterful blend of bourbons aged between six and 12 years.”—Simó