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The Best Bottles Of Bourbon Whiskey Between $80-$90

At this point in our journey to find the best bourbon whiskey at every price point, we’re out on the frontier — bushwhacking to discover the very good and increasingly rare stuff. These are bourbons that might be a little out of reach for reasons of both availability and aftermarket markup. Some of them won’t feel like traditional bourbons anymore, thanks to rare cask finishings that shift their taste profiles; others will feel like the mountaintop of just how dialed in those “trademark bourbon flavor notes” can get.

All told, it’s an exciting price point for bourbon whiskey. Though we admit, it’s also getting into that space where you probably want to be something of an aficionado to really savor what you’re drinking.

The ten bottles below are meant to represent a general price point between $80 and $90. It’s important to note that these prices can shift dramatically. Some of these bottles are going to be extremely hard to find outside of small corners of Kentucky (or wherever they’re made). That means prices will sometimes skew much higher — or, if you’re lucky, lower — depending on where you are in relation to where the whiskey is produced and distributed.

With all that price talk out of the way, it’s important to state that this is really all about taste. We choose these ten bottles because they taste really f*cking good. And trust us, the competition between $80 and $90 was stiff, just like the proof on many of the bottles. If you want a bottle, just click on the price link.

Traverse City Barrel Proof Bourbon

Traverse City Whiskey Co.

ABV: 58.3% (varies)

Average Price: $80

The Whiskey:

Michigan’s Traverse City Whiskey Co. makes some quality juice thanks to the harsh northern winters of Michigan and all that freshwater that surrounds the state. The juice in this bottle is a fairly high-rye bourbon (71 percent corn, 25 percent rye, and four percent barley). The whiskey spends four years in the barrel, enduring those harsh winters and short, balmy summers.

The honey barrels are hand-selected by the Traverse team for their taste and bottled at barrel-proof, letting that commitment to process shine in the glass.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with this sense of rich toffee next to a dark chocolate bar that’s been spiked with orange zest and a touch of musty oak. The taste leans into an almond encrusted butter toffee with dark berries next to rich shortbread and a touch more of that old oak. The end brings in a classic and silken note of vanilla with a hint of warmth leading back to the dark chocolate, citrus, and almost bitter wood.

Bottom Line:

This is a classic Midwest craft bottle at this point. The juice is a great candidate for an exquisite cocktail, but also works wonders on the rocks.

Belle Meade Sherry Cask Finish Bourbon

Nelsons Green Brier

ABV: 45.2%

Average Price: $83

The Whiskey:

This masterful blend of sourced whiskeys is a highwater mark for Nelson’s Green Brier out in Nashville. The nine-year-old barrels are hand-selected from a reserve sourcing program. Those high-rye bourbons (the 36 percent rye MGP mash bill) are married and then transferred to Olorosso sherry casks for a final maturation before the whiskey is slightly proofed and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear sense of a Christmas cake full of dark spice next to fatty nuts, vanilla, dried fruits, and candied orange peels with hints of plummy wood popping up on the background. The taste follows that path and adds in more dried fruits with a toffee sweetness and buttery edge next to a touch of dried florals. The end builds as the vanilla and spice meld into a bread pudding body with a lingering sense of spice on the slow fade.

Bottom Line:

This is the perfect post-dinner sipper. It’s not a “dessert” bourbon by any stretch, but it really does feel like a great digestif with a single rock to really let it bloom in the glass.

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection American Oak

Brown-Forman

ABV: 45.2%

Average Price: $85

The Whiskey:

Woodford’s Master’s Collection aims to highlight each step of the whiskey-making process. This expression focuses on the maturation step by really underscoring the effect of the wood. This four-grain bourbon (corn, rye, oats, and barley) was aged for nine years in a specific American oak called Ozark Oak, which imparts a real sense of terroir into the body of the juice.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear fruitiness on the nose that reaches towards earthy huckleberry brambles, sweeter blackberry, and cherry with almost toasted oak on the nose. The palate dries out all that fruit to a bitter/sweet edge while hints of clove-spiked oranges arrive with a touch of tobacco chew and buzz on the tip of the tongue. There’s a slight cereal note near the finish as that tobacco buzz grows and warms, and the fruit makes one last appearance next to more oak on the slow fade.

Bottom Line:

This is a fascinating one-off expression. Since it dropped in 2018 (and Woodford has been releasing different expressions since then), it may be a little hard to find. Still, it’s a unique look into a special barreling in the bourbon world, which is pretty rare and wonderful to experience.

Just make sure to let this dram bloom with some water and really take your time with it.

Jefferson’s Old Rum Cask Finish

Castle Brands

ABV: 45.1%

Average Price: $85

The Whiskey:

Jefferson’s Bourbon is a highwater mark and what great example of what contract distilling, on-site distilling, and masterful blending can do when working in harmony. The whiskey is a blend of around eight-year-old bourbons that are married and then spend an additional 15 months resting in Gosling’s Old Rum casks (barrels which held that rum for up to 16 years). The results are proofed down with that soft Kentucky limestone water and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear sense of rummy molasses and spice on the nose that’s countered by a light hint of ripe banana and an almost rye bread crust. The palate then veers into classic bourbon territory with big and rich vanilla notes next to almost buttery caramel corn, hints of sweet oak, and a dash of spiced chocolate. The end is medium-length, pure silk, and hints back at that banana, rummy spice, and vanilla.

Bottom Line:

This is a damn-fine sipper. We’d argue you don’t even need water to enjoy this velvety bourbon. Still, a little water will help you find deeper cacao notes and more tropical fruits, making this one worth your time and effort.

291 Small Batch Colorado Bourbon Whiskey

291 Colorado Whiskey

ABV: 50.8%

Average Price: $85

The Whiskey:

291 Colorado Whiskey is one of those craft distillers that have been around for a minute and have remained one of the most lauded for all that time. Their Small Batch is a great entry-point into the wider world of the brand. The juice isn’t a “straight” bourbon, since it’s only aged for one year, but Aspen wood staves are added into the barrels to create a deeper sense of maturation without taking half-a-decade to achieve it.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a push towards cornbread dripping with butter next to hints of berry bushes plus a touch of caramel apples. The taste adds a good dose of cinnamon to the mix as the caramel leans away from apple and towards kettle corn with hints of nougat and maple syrup arriving late. The end holds onto the warmth of the cinnamon and the sweeter edges while a pine-y resinous note sneaks on the short finish, adding a nice nuance to the sip.

Bottom Line:

This is getting easier to find outside of Colorada (and whiskey trade shows) since you can get it delivered from the distillery now. If you do come across a bottle, give it a shot in cocktails. It makes one of the best ever high-end old fashioneds.

Bib & Tucker 10-Year-Old Small Batch Bourbon

Deutsch Family

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $85

The Whiskey:

Bib & Tucker is another classic example of what great blending can do with sourced juice. The Tennessee bourbon is a marriage of ten-year-old whiskeys aged in the lowest char barrels available, allowing more direct contact with dried wood rather than black char. Those barrels are blended and then proofed down with soft Tennessee water.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a sense of vanilla bean (pod, seeds, essence) up top with hints of spicy chewy tobacco, dry oak (almost pine), and a distant note of fresh corn husks. The palate really holds onto that velvety vanilla as the corn husks dry out and notes of orange-infused dark chocolate mingle with that spicy tobacco, which starts buzzing on your tongue. The end is long-ish, has touches of that dry pine, and holds onto both the vanilla and dried corn husks.

Bottom Line:

This is pretty f*cking tasty and definitely complex. You’re going to need to give it time and water to really plumb the depths of the pine and choco-citrus, but it’s worth the effort.

Peerless Single Barrel Bourbon

Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company

ABV: 55.55% (varies)

Average Price: $86

The Whiskey:

Kentucky Peerless Distilling takes its time for a true grain-to-glass experience. Their Single Barrel Bourbon is crafted with a fairly low-rye mash bill and fermented with a sweet mash as opposed to a sour mash (that means they use 100 percent new grains, water, and yeast with each new batch instead of holding some of the mash over to start the next one like a sourdough starter, hence the name). The barrels are then hand-selected for their taste and bottled completely un-messed with.

Tasting Notes:

Naturally, this will vary ever so slightly, but expect notes of blackberry next to worn leather, rich toffee, vanilla oils, and wet tobacco leaves. The taste holds onto the toffee and vanilla as the tobacco dries out and spices up, with touches of cedar bark and a few bitter espresso beans. The end is long, holds onto the vanilla and tobacco, and touches back on the berries as it fades through your senses.

Bottom Line:

This is another bottle that might not be easy to source outside of Kentucky (or literally off the distillery grounds). Still, it’s an interesting whiskey that’ll hit some classic notes while expanding your whiskey knowledge about the difference between sweet and sour mashed juice.

Wilderness Trail High Rye Bourbon

Wilderness Trail

ABV: 56%

Average Price: $86

The Whiskey:

Wilderness Trail is the whiskey nerd’s whiskey. Their High Rye Bourbon is a mash of 64 percent corn, 24 percent rye, and 12 percent barley grains that are fermented with a proprietary Wildness Trail yeast using the sweet mash process. The whiskey then spends four years and nine months aging before it’s bottled without any filtration and barely proofed.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a mild holiday cake vibe with brown spice, nuts, and dried fruit mingling with touches of oak, chocolate-covered berries, and biscuits. The taste becomes a sort of buttered-biscuit-smothered-with-berry-jam that’s been touched with spice as a note of sweetened vanilla lurks in the background. The end is long and leans back into the fruit as the vanilla and spice create a silken mouthfeel.

Bottom Line:

These are generally reserved for barrel picks, so only select retailers will have them (if they picked a barrel and bottled it up for retail). If you’re lucky enough to come across a bottle, give it time and really dive in with the nose first. Let it bloom and go back and forth between the nose and the taste to let it build on your senses.

Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon

Sazerac Company

ABV: 46.5%

Average Price: $85

The Whiskey:

This is the “original” single barrel bourbon. Buffalo Trace’s Blanton’s is hand-selected single barrels that meet the sky-high standards of former Master Distiller Elmer T. Lee, who created the expression back in 1984.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear sense of Christmas spices right away, leaning towards eggnog spiked with vanilla. The taste holds onto the spice, especially nutmeg, as caramel kettle corn, fresh honey, and vanilla husks dominate the palate. The end doesn’t overstay its welcome as hints of eggnog spice, dry vanilla, and popped corn fade away.

Bottom Line:

This is just quality booze. The bottle is cool and the stoppers are collectible. But what really matters is the svelte juice in that bottle. It’s amazingly easy to drink straight while also making a killer Manhattan, if you can pay that sort of money for a cocktail (try it at least once!).

Barrell Bourbon Batch 025

Barrell Bourbon

ABV: 56.7%

Average Price: $89

The Whiskey:

Barrell Bourbon is one of the best blenderies in the bourbon game right now. This fairly new batch marries bourbons from Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana that are anywhere from five to 15-years-old. The juice is then bottled at cask-strength, allowing what was in those barrels to shine the brightest.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a fruity note on the nose that leans slightly savory towards melon as a creamed corn with a bit of maple syrup offers up a counterpoint. The taste touches on notes of dark chocolate-covered marzipan as that savory fruit feel dances between rhubarb and fig with dried orange tobacco chew and maybe a whisper of black licorice. The end is shockingly short and reveals an espresso bean bitterness and almost saltiness with a little water in the mix.

Bottom Line:

This is one of those drams that causes you to pause. There’s a lot going on that doesn’t sound like it’ll work on paper. But once you add a littler water, go back and forth on the nose, and really dive in, you’ll find a great goddamn whiskey.


As a Drizly affiliate, Uproxx may receive a commission pursuant to certain items on this list.

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