Paycheck Whiskey

The Best Bourbon Whiskeys You Can Buy for $100 and Up


January 7, 2020 Drinks By
Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

So, you want to spend more than $100 on a bourbon. Great! This is your right. (If you haven’t tried the army of great bourbons for less than $50 or $25, you should probably start there first.) There are loads of “high-end” bourbons to choose from. Since the bourbon boom in the early 2000s, a whole marketplace of very expensive bourbons has exploded, despite dismay from thrifty collectors, incredulity from the old guard and downright legal actions against the burgeoning black market.

Here’s what you need to know: at this price point, buying bourbon becomes a lot more like buying collectible Air Jordans: it’s a lot more about supply and demand than it is quality and value for your dollar. But fear not. These are the ones we’d give an arm and a leg for, if we decided to splurge.

The Pappys

Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Proof: varies
Price: $250 – $2,000+
The Legends: The “Pappy Suite” is the most recognizable name in expensive bourbon. It was first sold by its namesake’s son and grandson in the 1980s, who had bought up sweet barrels from shuttered distilleries like Stitzel-Weller; in the early 2000s, just after its hype train really started rolling, the Van Winkles turned over its production and bottling to Buffalo Trace. Today they sell five consistently (plus a well-loved rye): the 10- and 12-year olds, which are technically not “Pappy” but are still pretty great, and the 15, 20, and 23 year old versions. Good luck finding those last three for under a grand.

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond

Distillery: Heaven Hill
Proof: 100
Price: $150+
Corn, Meet Wheat: Heaven Hill’s top-end beauty is a corn-and-wheat-forward monster they release twice a year. Age statements vary, but in the past it tended to be around 10 years; the 2019 spring edition, however, was 13 years old—and the fall edition a whopping 15.

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Proof: varies
Price: $250+
Top Dogs: “Pappy” might have the catchier name, but it’s the members of the “BTAC” (Buffalo Trace Antique Collection) that really make collectors’ eyes light up. Between Eagle Rare 17 (the elder statesmen of the bunch), William Larue Weller (a wheated beauty) and George T Stagg (15 years, barrel proof, the older brother of Stagg Jr.) — not to mention the other non-bourbon members of the club, Sazerac Rye 18 and Thomas H Handy Sazerac — these are some of the undisputed top dogs in American whiskey, with the sweetest juice from BT to be found on the market.

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon

Distillery: Brown-Forman
Proof: varies
Price: $300+
Happy Birthday to You: Bourbon’s best birthday tradition belongs to Brown-Foreman, which every year marks the birthday of its founder, George Garvin Brown, with the best it’s got. The Birthday Bourbons I’ve tasted have had wildly interesting flavor profiles, full of spice. Delicious.

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel

Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Proof: 90
Price: $200+
Single Barrel Benchmark: While Elmer T. Lee was a master distiller at Buffalo Trace for nearly four decades, he helped popularize the single-barrel bourbon. His namesake bourbon from BT is perhaps the purest example of the beautiful, surprising flavors that come from a single barrel of the best juice.

Michter’s 10 Year

Distillery: Sourced
Proof: varies
Price: $125+
New Kid on the Block: People love this new kid on the block. Michter’s, a distillery based in Pennsylvania that went bankrupt in 1989, was re-imagined in Joe Magliocco in the 1990s and early 2000s, and great whiskey has accompanied the name since. They opened their massive Shively Distillery a few years back, which means this 10-year-old is sourced, like their other whiskeys, for now.

Weller CYPB

Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Proof: 95
Price: $250+
The Crowd Favorite: Back in 2015, Buffalo Trace launched a creative and relatively innocuous interactive website feature: fans could answer six questions (which mashbill? How to make it? Light or dark char barrel? Where to store the barrel in the rickhouse? How long to age? What bottling proof?). Then, two years later, they “used the input” to “create” what they said drinkers had asked for: CYPB, or “Craft Your Perfect Bourbon,” a wheater aged 8 years and bottled at 95 proof. As some reviewers noted, it’s incredible that they made an eight-year-old bourbon in just under three years — but regardless, it’s a cool special edition that continues to be sought out.

The Best Bourbon Whiskeys You Can Buy in 2019

Everything you ever wanted to know about America’s favorite brown spirit, including, of course, the best bottles you can actually buy. Read the Story

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Chris Wright

More by Chris Wright | Follow on Twitter · Contact via Email
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