Worth the Trip

9 Bottles of Bourbon You Can Only Find in Kentucky


May 2, 2019 Drinks By Photo by Chase Pellerin

Great bourbon isn’t hard to come by. But as any bourbon collector will tell you, the hunt is half the fun. And when it comes to hunting bourbon whiskey, there’s no more-fertile ground than its origin. Here, eight bottles of brown you’ll have to travel to Kentucky to find.

Heaven Hill 6-Year-Old Green Label

Occasionally, bottles of this mysterious bottle of bourbon appear on the bottom shelf of stores outside Kentucky, but not often. Heaven Hill 6-Year-Old Green Label is meant to be a Kentucky-exclusive bottle and few people outside the distillery know anything about it. In the Bluegrass, it retails for anywhere between $9 and $12 and Heaven Hill Distillery devotes no marketing dollars toward it — it’s not even on the distillery’s website. Green sits at a drinkable but not-too-watered-down 90 proof and it’s aged for six years. Buy a case if they let you.
Price: $9+
Proof: 90

Old Tub

Once upon a time, Jim Beam was a man, not a brand. And his bourbon was called Old Tub. These days, you can only find bottles bearing that name at the Beam American Stillhouse in Clermont, Kentucky, and it only comes in 375mL bottles. For the record, Old Tub was also Booker Noe’s favorite everyday drinker. If it’s good enough for the man who introduced the world to high-proof, premium bourbon, it’s good enough for you.
Price: $15
Proof: 100

Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse Select

Available exclusively at Jim Beam’s Urban Stillhouse in downtown Louisville, Stillhouse Select is an older, 100-proof version of classic Beam. It’s non-chill-filtered, meaning residual fat and protein compounds aren’t filtered out before bottling. The effects of non-chill filtration are controversial, but it’s generally assumed to have a more rounded mouthfeel and may be cloudier than modern, filtered whiskeys.
Price: $30
Proof: 100

Woodford Reserve Distillery Series

Woodford’s Distillery Series is the largest deviation from the brand’s very classic lineup of whiskeys. It’s also Master Distiller Chris Morris’s playground. Past releases include a double-barrel finished rye and a Bottled-in-Bond offering, both atypical for a traditionalist distillery like Woodford. Available only at Woodford Reserve’s Versailles, Kentucky, distillery and a select few Kentucky retailers, new expressions release three times a year.
Price: $50
Proof: Varies by release.

How Bourbon Is Made

Four Roses Single Barrel Cask Strength

The only thing that’s missing from Four Roses small but well-respected permanent line of bourbon is a barrel-strength offering. And while an expression exclusive to visitors and the brand’s custom-barrel program isn’t the peak of availability, it can at least be had. Exact proofing and measurables vary bottle to bottle, but it’s typically a nine- to eleven-year bourbon that lands north of 120 proof.
Price: $60-$75
Proof: Varies by release.

Maker’s Mark Private Select

Every barrel used to age bourbon is built with ten wood staves, the wood slats that make up the body of a barrel. Typically, these slats are all identical — the same type of wood (American oak), the same level of char. The Private Select series, available through private order or at the Marion County distillery, does away with this: Private buyers choose which staves make up the barrel their bourbon will go into, with five stave options and 1,001 stave combinations (see the options here). Stocks of Private Select change as the year goes by, and there’s a good chance what’s at the distillery during your visit won’t ever be made again. (While you’re there, look for Maker’s White, the brand’s unaged, very funky white dog — another Kentucky exclusive.)
Price: $75
Proof: Varies by release.

Old Forester President’s Choice

In 1964, Old Forester President George Garvin Brown II started selecting specific barrels for his President’s Choice bottling. Last summer, the distillery’s current president Campbell Brown and master mistiller Jackie Zykan brought it back. The catch? The President’s Choice isn’t a sure thing — it’s only bottled and sold when the selected barrels reach maturity. This means there’s no release date to earmark and no bottle specifics until Old Forester announces it. Good luck.
Price: $90
Proof: Varies by release.

William Heavenhill

Think of Heaven Hill’s bottleshop-exclusive offering as a chance for the brand’s master distillers to flex a bit. Every bottle is a different beast, with past offerings ranging from 15-year-old cask strength monsters to smooth batch blends. If you want a bottle, however, prepare to pony up — the prices at the shop typically float in the $300 range.
Price: $300+
Proof: Varies by release.

Evan Williams 23-Year

The oldest Evan Williams by a country mile is available in some international markets, but unless you’re willing to spend a pretty penny, you’re better off heading to Louisville in search of it. But it’ll be a tough find even in the bourbon capitol — twice named Jim Murray’s Bourbon of the Year, this bottle is prized by bourbon hunters.
Price: $350+
Proof: 107

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