Looking for the perfect bottle of bourbon or rye? We asked top bartending and spirits industry professionals to tell us which bottles they love and why.
Heads up: The numerical order below is organized alphabetically, not by importance or quality; it’s a list, not a ranking. Prices are averages and can vary state to state.
“Since the first time I had ever tasted this amazing bourbon, it has remained one of my favorites and certainly always will. It’s rich and full flavored, with orange peel and clove aromas. A classic treat, balanced with citrus, sweet grains, sugar and spice.”—Logan E. Rushing, head bartender and whiskey curator for The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colo.
“Elliot's Select, if you can find it, a beautiful expression boasting a 14-year-old whiskey, is everything you want from a world-class bourbon. Peach, nutmeg, vanilla and maple are only a few characteristics of the pleasantly complex bourbon.”—Craig Schoettler, beer curator at Beerhaus and director of spirits, wine and beer at ARIA Resort & Casinodd
“Bourbon carrying an age statement is quickly becoming collectors-only territory, available in small quantities and demanding big bucks. Thank goodness for this bottle—quality and affordability in spades.”—Beau Williams, owner and bartender at Julep in Kansas City, Mo.
“This highlights the pre-Prohibition production of a less aggressive, gentler, more mild spiced/subtle flavor to start with a youthful, spiced zestful, berry feeling, rounded out with a peppery, clove/smoked cinnamon.”—Shanna L. Sweeney, sales and marketing coordinator at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa in Colorado
“I may be a little partial to the Stoke Edition of this one, as this is the barrel I was able to create with the team at Maker’s Mark specifically for our restaurant. So you may not be able to get it, but the Maker’s Mark Private Select would make a solid substitute.”—Sean Potter, head of “eat and drink” at Stoke in Charlotte, N.C.
“The nose reminds you of sitting in a battered leather chair in a library, which leaves you floored by the palate's powerful confectionary notes laced around stewed fruit and perfectly integrated oak. Happy birthday indeed!”—Joaquín Simó, partner and bartender at Pouring Ribbons in New York City
“It's a soft, balanced bourbon from the addition of wheat to the traditional bourbon mash. It's also very complex.”—Masa Urushido, bar manager at Saxon + Parole in New York City