Unlike with Scotch whisky, you have to work a little harder with bourbon to find a bottle over $150, especially if you stick to shopping at the local liqueur stores. Still, some truly exquisite bourbons exist on the high-end market that you can’t find on store shelves, but a watchful eye might lead you to a tasting of something rare and delicious.
Doubtlessly one of the smoothest 20-year bourbons you’ll ever taste, Barterhouse hails from one of the mysterious Stitzel-Weller rickhouses. Easy on the nose, this whiskey touts a light sweetness, and notes of biscuits and buttercream, with brown sugar and spice on the finish. Keep your eye out for a bottle of Barterhouse the next time you head down to Kentucky for a malt that will keep on giving.
Available since 2013, this high-end bourbon from the Jefferson’s lineup presents a decadent amber color with caramel, maple, and toffee on the nose. Its smooth body is finished with lingering leather before rounding out with spice. Perhaps not an everyday bourbon, yet you won’t be disappointed in this malt should you have find yourself able to sample it.
With notoriety rivaling a certain Van Winkle, A.H. Hirsch Reserve is one of the rarest and reportedly most delicious bourbon whiskies available on the high-end market. The nose reveals deep sweetness, oak, spice, and vanilla before toffee moves in on the palate. Black pepper, oak, and char bring out the full body on the finish. Prepare your wallet in case you ever find a pour available to you – you can bet it’ll cost you.
Often flying under the radar, Heaven Hill has a devout cult following that raves for the Parker’s Heritage Collection. This 24-year bourbon opens with stern oak before vanilla and cinnamon open up on the palate. The finish is clean with hints of bitter chocolate. You won’t regret a sampling of this fine whiskey should you be able to get your hands on it.
What bourbon list could be complete without the infamous Pappy Van Winkle? Perhaps the most notorious and most expensive bourbon in the world, those who have tasted it say that Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23 has hints of caramel and ripe apple, with strong flavors of cherry, oak, and tobacco. A long-lasting finish rounds out with a relaxing, pleasant sweetness. Good luck finding even a sample of this extremely-rare bourbon, as every bottle is a coveted item.