Spirits & Liqueurs Bourbon

The Best High-Roller Bourbon

Image: Elizabeth Reyes

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.

  • Angel’s Envy ($60)

    “It has one of the smoothest yet complex flavor notes for a bourbon—classic corn flavor with baking spices and wood. The kicker is that there's a tropical note of bananas, sweet pineapple and mango flavors that really creates a truly interesting experience.”—Juyoung Kang, lead bartender at Las Vegas' Dorsey

  • Barrell Batch 002 ($145)

    “This is a uniquely fragrant sherry-finished bourbon.”—David Y. Dong, bartender at New York City's North End Grill

  • Belle Meade Madeira Cask ($70)

    “Belle Meade is a bourbon made in Tennessee that’s just simply perfect. It’s smooth sipping with all the right notes of sweet, spice and everything nice. But this new experiment of casks is coloring outside the box. There’s a sherry, cognac and now this Madeira cask. And this Madeira cask just blew my taste buds. It’s just heaven.”—Kang

  • Blanton's ($59)

    “It’s a single-barrel bourbon (that claims to be the first). Besides the bourbon being very good for the price, this is an awesome gift. The bottle is beautiful, and the corks are meant to be collected so you can use it as repeat gift.”—Tomas van den Boomgaard, beverage manager at The Langham, Chicago

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  • Booker’s ($72)

    “It is a intense cask-strength, non-chill-filtered balance of leather and oak and opens up with dark cherry.”—Karen Fu, former bar director at New York City's Donna

  • Elijah Craig 18 Year ($325)

    “It has classic oak with a balance of orchard fruits and soft caramel.”—Fu

  • Elmer T. Lee ($130)

    “Year in and year out, it’s one of the most satisfying, affordable bourbons you can find. You can tell how beloved Elmer was, because this bottle has all of the quality of much more expensive bourbons at a fraction of the cost.”—Neal Bodenheimer, owner and bartender at New Orleans' Cane & Table and Cure

  • George T. Stagg ($800)

    “It’s hearty, uncut and unfiltered, with rye spice, clove and smoke.”—Fu

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  • I.W. Harper 15 Year ($90)

    “Ridiculously smooth, this bottle is the ultimate crowd pleaser for bourbon drinkers of all stripes—light and fruity but exceedingly flavorful.”—Bodenheimer

  • Jefferson's Ocean ($80)

    “This whiskey has a great flavor that pairs well with a fun story of its aging process, where it spends its life in a barrel at sea with the natural agitation of the waves instead of turning barrels.”—Gil Izaguirre, beverage director at Chicago's Honey's

  • Jim Beam Distiller’s Masterpiece ($200)

    “Everyone is so quick to dismiss a product with ‘Jim Beam’ on the label. This is a limited-production 12-year-old bourbon finished in PX sherry casks that will change your mind about that. It’s an excellent after-dinner sipper.”—Michael Lazar, whiskey concierge and lead bartender at San Francisco's Hard Water

  • Noah’s Mill ($67)

    “It’s actually a pretty affordable, smooth bourbon, especially when it’s set at around 114 proof. It has nutty core fruit notes from scent to taste—a high-proof bourbon that’s balanced, smooth and at the right price tag.”—Kang

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  • Orphan Barrel Barterhouse 20 Year ($120)

    “I'm not a huge fan of the Orphan Barrel series, but this is my favorite. Creamy orange and peach are nice backbones to classic bourbon notes.”—H. Joseph Ehrmann, owner of San Francisco's Elixir

  • Orphn BarrelaForged Oak 15 Year ($130)

    “With this age statement comes long notes of cocoa backed with notes of maple sweetness and cedar wood.”—Izaguirre

  • Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 21 Year ($157)

    “It’s a unique bourbon with tropical fruit notes and hints of vanilla with a subtle spice. This is a great gift for a high price but worth it compared to the overpriced Pappy Van Winkles out there.”—Van den Boomgaard

  • Rabbit Hole Finished in PX Sherry Casks ($63)

    “With a long sweet finish of golden raisin and sweet roasted nuts, it has great body to stand up to classic applications like an Old Fashioned or a Hot Toddy.”—Izaguirre

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  • Widow Jane 10 Year ($72)

    “Known for its choice of where the water comes from, it turns making bourbon the right way into a true work of art. What’s also surprising is that it’s from New York. It’s just a great, balanced and smooth bourbon, all thanks to its limestone mineral water.”—Kang

  • Wild Turkey Master's Keep 17 Year ($140)

    “I'm not a big fan of old bourbon, but when it's done right, it’s delicious. This is one I grab for.”—Ehrmann

  • Willett Pot Still Reserve ($60)

    “It’s a beautiful bourbon from one of my favorite distilleries and in a beautiful still-shaped bottle to boot.”—Jamie Boudreau, owner and bartender at Seattle's Canon

  • W.L. Weller 12 Year ($170)

    “W.L. Weller 12-year-old is the Pappy that bourbon enthusiasts are looking for. With its rich plum and caramel notes, this wheated bourbon is the most bang for your buck since dynamite.”—Max Green, senior bartender at New York City's Amor y Amargo