Bourbon whiskey just over $100 but under $125 is an eccentric, fascinating in-between space. We’re past the best small batch bourbons and entry-point bottles. Yet, we’re not anywhere near the elite bourbons that draw the attention of the bourbon nerd crowd. We’re still squarely in the realm of special oak barrel finishes and 100-proof bottled-in-bonds with some older age statements and a few funky/crafty flavor profiles that go beyond the classic American whiskey sweetness bourbon is known for.
So how do you navigate a liquor store shelf loaded with bourbons that feel very scattershot while also being unarguably expensive? You bring in an expert like me to lead the way.
Below, I’m calling out 15 bottles of bourbon — all between $100 and $125 — that are worth adding to your bar cart. But since this is a kooky sort of middle-ground price point, huge brands like Wild Turkey, Knob Creek, and even Buffalo Trace tend to be absent (we’ll get back to them at higher price points). Instead, I’ve compiled a list of bourbons from bespoke blenders/bottlers, craft masters, and independent operators from all over America. But don’t worry, there are still some huge name bourbons peppered throughout — all ranked by how special and tasty they are.
Lastly, these prices are based on delivery in Kentucky or bottle shops at distilleries. Prices and availability will vary depending on your region. Let’s dive in!
15. Cathead Distillery Old Soul Straight Bourbon Whiskey TinType Series #1 Aged 7 Years
Average Price: $109
This whiskey was distilled in Indiana with a high-rye mash bill of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley. Those barrels were then sent to Jackson, Mississippi, where they spent a few years aging. Finally, the team at Cathead batched the barrels and bottled them as-is.
Nose: There’s a subtle boot leather on the nose with a hint of caraway on rye crust next to salted caramel sauce, and old oak staves with a hint of musty earthiness.
Palate: The palate leans into the salted caramel with a buttery underbelly next to warm winter spices — cinnamon, cardamom, star anise — next to burnt orange and a whisper of marzipan.
Finish: The end is fruity, vanilla-filled, and just kissed with woody tobacco spice.
This is a masterclass in blending MGP whiskey. The depth is real and takes you on a journey. This makes a killer old fashioned but also works well on the rocks. Overall, get this if you’re looking for something that steps outside classic bourbon sweetness and really leans into dry rye vibes.
14. Olde Raleigh Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in a Honey Barrel
Average Price: $100
The whiskey in this bottle is a four-grain of corn, malted barley, rye, and wheat from barrels of whiskey sourced from Colorado, Indiana, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wyoming. Those barrels were five, nine, and 17 years old when they went into this blend and were finished in an old honey barrel.
Nose: There’s a tannic nature to the nose with dark and woody spices (cloves, allspice, anise) next to a mild sense of Honey Nut Cheerios.
Palate: The palate has a honey candy feel next to Hot Tamale candies, singed toffee, and dark red berries with a dry edge.
Finish: The end has a sense of honey vanilla wafers next to more of that bold cinnamon and woody allspice, a hint of cherry/vanilla, and a twinge of charred oak with honey tobacco backing.
This feels like a big bourbon and delivers deep and bold flavor notes that are succinct. If you’re looking for a honey barrel finished bourbon that still tastes like brazen bourbon, this is the bottle for you. The honey is a wonderful accent, not an overpowering sweetness.
13. Backbone Bourbon Anniversary Edition “Decade Down” Uncut Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Average Price: $104
Backbone is made with classic MGP whiskey. That juice is hewn from a mash of 74% corn, 21% rye, and 5% malted barley that’s five to seven years old. The barrels are shipped down to Bardstown, Kentucky, where they are batched and bottled as-is with proofing or filtering.
Nose: The nose is classic bourbon with a balance of caramel, vanilla, cherry, and sweet wood that’s cut with plenty of dark winter spice.
Palate: The palate is largely the same with a sense of stewed plums and marmalade next to an almost malty note tied to the vanilla and spice.
Finish: The end has a nice sweet oakiness that leads back to dark caramel and cherry tied to tobacco leaves and humidors.
This is another prime example of why and how dominant MGP’s classic 74/21/5 high-rye bourbon is right now. Think of it like a fine wine that’s peaking. This blend is the perfect balance of some of the best barrels available today with a deeply classic bourbon vibe. This is the bottle you get when you want a comfort pour of something straightforward.
12. WhistlePig FarmStock Bourbon Beyond Bonded Straight Bourbon Whiskey Single Barrel Bottled in Bond
Average Price: $109
This is WhistlePig’s first bourbon that’s made 100% on their Vermont farm (most of their whiskey is sourced otherwise). The juice is made from corn and rye — 51% Dent corn and 49% Remington and Rifle rye — grown on the farm. The mash is made with their own well water and yeast and then distilled. Finally, the hot spirit rests for just over four years before single bottle bottling with a touch of proofing water.
Nose: Heavy lemon notes lead the nose with a sweet grain porridge vibe next to sweet cinnamon, almost burnt toast, and a touch of vanilla woodiness.
Palate: The heavy sweet porridge is cut with fresh orange zest and lemon oils with a spoon of white sugar and tiny pinches of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.
Finish: The end leans into the woodiness of those spices with a soft Cream Of Wheat finish next to more of that lemon and orange zest.
This is heavily crafty — all that sweet porridge and lemon — but it kind of works. There’s a balance here that draws you in and keeps your attention. That said, this is really a bottle for WhistlePig fans more than anything else. If you’re a big fan of huge crafty bourbon notes (all that sweet graininess), then you’re going to like this too.
11. Garrison Brothers Single Barrel Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Average Price: $110
This single barrel expression is all about highlighting the craft distillery’s grain-to-glass process. The juice is made from a mash of 74% local white corn, 15% estate-grown soft red winter wheat, and 11% Canadian malted barley. That spirit is then rested for three to five years, or until the barrel is just right to be proofed and bottled with no other fussing whatsoever.
Nose: There are going to be clear notes of cedar, cherry, old leather, vanilla, caramel corn, and sour apples on the nose with a light sense of sweet white grits.
Palate: The palate should edge towards that sweet cherry with a counterpoint of dry cedar next to Red Hots, angel food cake, more apple, and a touch of spicy tobacco leaf.
Finish: The end is long and warming with spicy cinnamon, white sugar cubes, and a cedar box full of tobacco with a fleeting sense of white grits cut with creamy butter and fresh and floral honey.
This is perfectly balanced between a deeply aged bourbon and a crafty grain-forward whiskey. The spice accents the sweet corn mush well and brings about equilibrium to the pour. Plus, if you’re already in Texas, this is a no-brainer addition to your bar cart. If you’re not, it’s worth seeking out to see how far Texas whiskey has come in the past decade.
10. Southern Star Paragon Single Barrel Cask Strength Wheated Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Average Price: $103
This North Carolina bourbon is starting to make some serious waves. This very limited batch of single-barrel bourbon is made from wheated bourbon mash bill with 70% corn, 16% wheat, and 14% malted barley. The hot juice was left for around four years before the barrel was hand-pocked and bottled as-is at cask strength.
Nose: The nose opens with a sense of orange blossoms and an apple orchard with a hint of pear and plum next to walnut shells, old honey bottles, and rich vanilla sauce with a hint of poppy seed.
Palate: The palate has a touch of dark chocolate powder sweetness that melds with walnuts and honey to make a cluster before the brown spice kicks in with sharp cinnamon and a touch of root beer.
Finish: The end leaves the spice and warmth behind for smooth vanilla walnut cake with a hint of apple-honey tobacco wrapped up with old cedar bark.
This is just good. It also tends to rack up awards because of that. It will be hard to find outside of the main bourbon markets (and North Carolina), but I’d argue it’s worth the effort to find. This is quality bourbon with a deep richness.
9. Peerless Double Oak Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Average Price: $114
This whiskey from Kentucky Peerless is around five to six years old and comes from one barrel that lets the grains shine through before it goes into another new oak barrel for a final maturation to let the oak shine through. That final barrel is bottled at cask strength, as-is, allowing all that beautiful bourbon and oak aging to shine brightly.
Nose: This opens with a nose full of salted butter next to hints of very soft leather, light notes of vanilla bean, a touch of toffee sweetness, and freshly cracked walnuts with a dry edge.
Palate: The taste leans into that oak barrel with dashes of woody spices (think allspice berries, star anise, and cinnamon sticks), dry cherry tobacco leaves, salted caramel, and more of that super soft leather.
Finish: That leads towards a mid-palate of dark red fruits stewed in mulled wine spices and cut with a dollop of fresh honey before the (long) finish dries out towards an old wicker chair, a very distinct hint of a cellar funk, and a touch of dried mint.
This has a great balance of fresh and classic. If you’re looking for a great craft whiskey that still feels nostalgic, this is the bottle to get right now.
8. Calumet Farm Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 14 Years Old
Average Price: $114
This bourbon is kind of like Kentucky in a bottle — it’s all about Derby horses and the state’s own spirit. The whiskey is sourced from a set of 19 barrels from the center of an unnamed warehouse. Those barrels are small batched after 14 long years of resting and the whiskey is proofed with soft Kentucky limestone water.
Nose: This sip draws you in with a silken balance of cherry and vanilla cream that’s shockingly light.
Palate: The taste builds on that foundation by adding soft notes of cedar and cinnamon sticks next to a hint of dark chocolate with a whisper of pancake syrup sweetness.
Finish: The end marries the cherry and vanilla into cherry-bespeckled ice cream with hints of those woody cinnamon sticks and dark chocolate peeking in on the velvet finish.
This is a quintessential “behind-the-glass” bourbon buy from Kentucky. It’s very bespoke and always delivers. Having this on your bar cart really amps up that whiskey nerd status.
7. 291 Bad Guy Colorado Bourbon Whiskey
Average Price: $109
This Colorado whiskey is made from a mix of local corn, malted wheat, malted rye, and beech-smoked malted barley. As per 291’s classic aging methods, the whiskey is aged for about two years with aspen wood staves in the barrel to accelerate the aging process. Finally, this is batched and bottled as-is.
Nose: There’s a whole fruit basket of fruitiness with stone fruit really shining through — think apricots and peaches — next to old tart apples, cinnamon sticks, toffees dusted with crushed almonds, and a murmur of chamomile tea.
Palate: The palate has a crafty graininess that’s akin to oatmeal cookie dough with a hint of nuttiness, brown sugar, cinnamon, and something slightly floral but woody.
Finish: The end brings the apricot back as a spicy jam with a little vanilla creaminess and tannic florals.
This is another crafty bourbon that really balances the new graininess with the iconic bourbon notes well. There’s also a great stone fruit vibe that takes this bourbon beyond the ordinary to something truly special. Moreover, if you’re a fan of Billie Eilish, this is a must-have.
6. Widow Jane Lucky Thirteen Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Average Price: $114
This started out as a limited release and caught on like wildfire, making it a standard release since 2021. The whiskey is a very small selection of hand-picked 13-year-old barrels (likely MGP) that are proofed with limestone water from the Rosendale Mines in New York, marrying the Ohio Valley to New York.
Nose: This is pure apple crumble on the nose with plenty of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, brown sugar, brown butter, and almost tart stewed apples next to old leather belts and a touch of salted caramel drizzled vanilla ice cream.
Palate: The palate takes the apple a step back towards dry Granny Smith apple peels and cores as dry wicker furniture mixes with the cream from the top of an espresso pull.
Finish: Toffee sweetness arrives on the mid-palate as the bitterness from the coffee turns toward dark chocolate with the wicker and leather making a return while the stewed apple filling layers into a chewy tobacco leaf on the very end.
This is a great fruity bourbon that has a nice buttery sweet depth. All the classic bourbon notes are present but go deeper than your average bourbon flavor profile, making this a great addition to any collection. It’s also a great sipper.
5. I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 15 Years
Average Price: $109
I.W. Harper has a long history with a new feel. The booze is made at Heaven Hill’s New Bernheim Distillery but aged at Diageo’s Stitzel-Weller Distillery — a classic contract distilling partnership. The juice spends 15 years mellowing before it’s married and proofed down to a very approachable 86 proof.
Nose: There’s a clear sense of almost fresh off-the-stalk sweet corn and bright berries on the nose with hints of orange zest, oily vanilla, and cedar.
Palate: The palate leads with the cedar towards tobacco spiciness, more of that concentrated vanilla, and a very mild whisper of minty dark chocolate nibs.
Finish: The finish takes its time and starts with the dry cedar, passes through that spicy tobacco buzz, and ends up with a sweet vanilla/caramel softness.
This is the most straightforward whiskey on the list. There are no bells or whistles. This is just good bourbon with a clear and concise profile. Sometimes that’s all you need.
4. Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Batch Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Average Price: $124
This year’s new Batch Proof from Woodford Reserve’s Master’s Collection leans into high ABVs straight from the barrel. The whiskey is hewn from a few barrels that worked wonders at their barrel proof. Those barrels were batched and then bottled at the ABVs they evened out to meet.
Nose: A whisper of old grains and chocolate powder mingle on the nose with creamy vanilla ice cream cut with winter spices (especially allspice and cola berries) as a touch of dry orchard fruit sneaks in late.
Palate: The palate marries the dried fruit with the spices as an apple tobacco vibe arrives and counters a very creamy vanilla feel with a dash more of those chocolate malts.
Finish: The end leans into the chocolate malts as sour spiced red wine with a sweet edge leads to soft and worn leather.
This is a great Master’s Collection release from Woodford. There’s a serious depth that goes beyond just classic Woodford throughout the flavor profile. If you’re a fan of Woodford and want something that takes that whiskey up to 11, then this should be your next buy.
3. Heaven’s Door Redbreast Master Blender’s Edition Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Irish Whiskey Casks
Average Price: $108
This whiskey is a collaboration between Heaven’s Door Master Blender Ryan Perry and Redbreast’s legendary Master Blender Billy Leighton. The whiskey in the bottle is Heaven Door’s low-rye 10-year-old Tennessee bourbon. They take that whiskey and fill it into Redbreast whiskey casks that had previously aged Irish whiskey for 12 years. After 15 months of final maturation, those barrels are vatted and slightly proofed down with soft Tennessee spring water.
Nose: This opens with this medley of marzipan, soft leather, prunes and dates, Gala apples, a hint of cedar, and a whisper of ripe red cherry. There’s this body of nutmeg that leads towards a light vanilla pound cake full of candied and dried fruits with a soft Niederegger marzipan center.
Palate: That then draws towards subtle pops of orange oils, floral honey, walnuts in buttery brown sugar syrup, and this mild touch of spiced apple tobacco leaf.
Finish: The end lasts for just the right amount of time and leaves you with a walnut shell dryness, soft warmth, and slight tobacco chew buzz that all circles back towards a raisin sherry sweetness and a final morsel of that vanilla pound cake.
This is delicious whiskey with a great finish that truly helps the bourbon sing. The Irish whiskey finish aside, this is vivid bourbon that takes you on a journey and just keeps going. Plus, any Bob Dylan fan should have this bottle on their bar cart.
2. Nashville Barrel Company Straight Bourbon Whiskey Single Barrel 6 Years Old UPROXX January 2023 Barrel
Buy Here: $119
The barrel was chosen and bottled at the tail end of 2022 on a visit to Nashville Barrel Company. The whiskey in the bottle is a 6-year-and-two-month-old bourbon from MGP of Indiana. The high rye mash bourbon (75/21/4 corn/rye/malted barley) aged for five years in Indiana before moving to Nashville for an additional 14 months of resting. The bourbon went in the bottle at cask strength straight from the barrel.
Nose: The nose opens with toffee, mild leather, orchard barks, blood orange, soft sweet grains, cinnamon sticks, cherry tobacco, plum, and a whisper of old pine accented by a touch of thyme.
Palate: The taste meanders through salted caramel, dates, cinnamon bark, cardamon pods, clove buds, and soft vanilla cake before leaning slowly into a spiced warmth.
Finish: The end arrives with sweet and chewy pipe tobacco, orange bitters, rock candy, and very light yet creamy cacao lushness next to hazelnut Manner Neapolitan Wafers and dry oak.
I picked this barrel so I can assure you that you’re getting a great bourbon in this bottle. That aside, if you’re looking for a deeply classic and comforting bourbon experience with a little pep, then this is the bottle for you.
1. Bomberger’s Declaration Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 2022 Edition
Average Price: $119
This whiskey heralds back to Michter’s historical roots in the 19th century before the brand was even called “Michter’s.” The whiskey in the bottle is rendered from a very small batch of bourbons that were aged in Chinquapin oak which was air-dried for three years before charring and filling. The Kentucky bourbon was then bottled in an extremely small batch that only yielded 2005 bottles this year.
Nose: Sweet mashed grains — thinks a bowl of Cream of Wheat — mix with sticky toffee pudding, old leather, old cellar beams, and sweet cinnamon with a hint of burnt orange and dark chocolate next to eggnog with a flake of salt.
Palate: The palate is super creamy with a crème brûlée feel that leads to soft winter spices, dry cedar, and orange chocolates with a hint of marzipan in the background.
Finish: The end has a creamed honey vibe next to figs and prunes with fresh chewing tobacco and salted dark chocolate.
This is often called “secret Michter’s” and that’s apt. Semantics aside, this is a killer bottle of whiskey. It’s going to be harder to find, but it’s worth it just to add to your whiskey journey. Once you try it, this might end up being your new go-to.