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Bartenders Name The One Bourbon That They Could Drink Forever

The premise of this story is flawed. You don’t have to drink one bourbon forever. In fact, the bourbon world is literally overflowing with options. If you enjoy wheated bourbons, we can list a dozen for you to try at a moment’s notice. Are spicy, higher-rye bourbons your jam? There are countless expressions on the market. Looking for a sweet, high corn option? Your local liquor store surely has a few.

In fact, you could probably drink a new bourbon expression every day of your life, if you had the means.

But as humans, we like hypotheticals. So what if — in this sea of amazing, high-quality, nuanced bourbons — you could only select one bottle to drink until the end of your days? What would you pick? Would you go for a hard-to-find unicorn? A steady bargain sipper? How about a craft bourbon? It isn’t an easy series of questions for bourbon drinkers to answer.

Luckily, a few of our drinks industry pals were willing to try. We asked a handful of our favorite bartenders to tell us the one bourbon they’d drink for the rest of their days and their answers didn’t disappoint. Check out all of their bourbon picks below and click on the prices if you want to try them too.

Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Bourbon Posts Of 2021

Michter’s Toasted Barrel

Michter

Joan Percival, bartender at Proof Whiskey Bar in Omaha, Nebraska

ABV: 45.7%

Average Price: $125

Why This Bourbon?

Michter’s Toasted Barrel is such a pleasure to drink, I’d have no problem being married to it forever. It’s easy to drink, but not boring. It’s got all the characteristics you want in a good bourbon: vanilla, oak, and a touch of cinnamon, but it also has an unexpected marshmallow-like butterscotch note, with a long warm finish.

Basil Hayden’s

Jim Beam

Christopher Rodriguez, lead bartender at Lucy Bar at the Bardessono Hotel in Yountville, California

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $45

Why This Bourbon?

If I could choose one bourbon to drink for the rest of my life, I would choose Basil Hayden’s. It has so much versatility because it can be an ingredient in a cocktail, or it can be enjoyed on its own. It is extremely smooth and, at first, has a little kick to it but at the end of each sip, there is an almost caramel-like finish that completes it.

Michter’s 10-Year

Michter

Eric Heinel, certified sommelier and beverage director for David Burke in New York City

ABV: 47.2%

Average Price: $199

Why This Bourbon?

This is actually a very easy answer for me. My pick is Michter’s 10 Year. This is a bottle that is quickly becoming more expensive every day — so buy it up now, if you can. Even at $200, this bourbon over-delivers on flavor and structure. A true sipping bourbon meant to be enjoyed neat or with one large ice cube. This bourbon is on the heavier side with a maple syrup-like mouthfeel, the sweetness is very well balanced and makes for an incredibly smooth experience.

Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace

Hayden Miller, head bartender of Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $33

Why This Bourbon?

Buffalo Trace is an incredible stand-by that is becoming harder to find with good reason. There are killer notes of vanilla and subtle oak to remind you where it came from.

Old Grand-Dad Bonded

Jim Beam

Robert Kidd, head bartender at Le Cavalier in Wilmington, Delaware

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $15

Why This Bourbon?

The high rye mash bill and the extra proof make for an excellent bourbon. It’s a bourbon that you don’t have to worry about getting lost in your cocktail. A lot of people think to use soft wheat bourbon in their cocktail to make it “smooth”.

Smooth is terrible. Smooth is boring. Give me a complex cocktail that makes me taste everything that went in the glass.

Laws Four Grain

Laws

Joshua Duncan, beverage manager at Adrift Tiki Bar in Denver, Colorado

ABV: 47.5%

Average Price: $60

Why This Bourbon?

I would absolutely pick Laws Bourbon time after time. I love Laws because they don’t take shortcuts, and it shows in their end product. Their Four Grain Straight Bourbon is a blend of corn, barley, wheat, and rye, which are locally grown in Colorado and carefully blended into a delicious and unique bourbon. The added grains add a layer of depth and complexity to this bourbon that you won’t find from other more traditional Kentucky or Tennessee Bourbons.

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel

Elmer T. Lee

Jessica King, master mixologist at Brother Wolf in Knoxville, Tennessee

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $119

Why This Bourbon?

My desert island bourbon bottle is hands down, Elmer T. Lee. Although it’s been a while since I’ve gotten to drink any, due to allocation, Elmer T. was my well whiskey at Peter Kern Library some years ago. And I would have to convince people to try it, which is hilarious to think of now. With a slightly higher rye content, it’s soft vanilla honey to start and finishes with a crack of black pepper and tobacco. It’s great for mixing too, I made many a cocktail with it.

I would drink it all the time if I could get my hands on a bottle.

Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15

Pappy Van Winkle

Emily Lawson, bartender and owner of Foxhole Public House in Bentonville, Arkansas

ABV: 53.5%

Average Price: $1,500

Why This Bourbon?

If I could curl up with a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve Bourbon 15 Year Old for the rest of my life, all will be right with the world. It’s full of classic-aged bourbon flavors like nutmeg, stewed cherry, and tobacco.

Weller 12

Weller

Stephen George, director of outlets and bartender at 20 | Twenty Grill in Carlsbad, California

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $200

Why This Bourbon?

If I’m only allowed one bourbon for the rest of my life, I’m going to get greedy and go with the Weller 12-year Bourbon. Very tough to get your hands on right now, but the “Reserve” and “Antique 107” also over-deliver. The sweeter profile of the wheat does add a distinct layer of complexity to go with the depth of flavor that you can only get from the 12 years of aging in barrel.

Baker’s 7-Year

Baker

Evan Hosaka, lead bartender of The Dorsey at The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas

ABV: 53.5%

Average Price: $60

Why This Bourbon?

Baker’s Single Barrel from the Jim Beam small batch collection is bottled at 107 proof, with a minimum of seven years of aging. It’s great neat but also really nice on the rocks. Because it is a single barrel, there will always be different nuances and flavors that change from barrel to barrel, allowing a different drinking experience through the rest of your life.

Blanton’s Single Barrel

Blanton

Darron Foy, bartender at The Flatiron Room in New York City

ABV: 46.5%

Average Price: $110

Why This Bourbon?

I’m a big fan of Blanton’s Single Barrel bourbon. ‘The world’s first single barrel bourbon offers premium flavor with a higher rye content to boot, my favorite kind of Bourbon. I could happily sip this spice-laden bourbon all day every day. Vanilla, nutmeg, and baking spice with that kick of rye.

Maker’s Mark

Maker

Rachel Stidham, bartender at Paul’s Landing in St. Petersburg, Florida

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $30

Why This Bourbon?

I would choose Maker’s Mark, hands down. It’s smooth and easy to sip straight, whether neat or on the rocks. It has sweet yet bold flavors of vanilla and caramel with hints of oak and spice, and is also super versatile, making it the perfect whiskey for a cocktail.

Henry McKenna Bottled in Bond

Henry McKenna

Jeremy Williams, head mixologist at MDRD atop the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids, Michigan

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $65

Why This Bourbon?

It would be Henry McKenna Bottled in Bond from Heaven Hill. It’s such a solid example of the “bottled in bond” style — all of the bourbon flavors we know and love turned up to eleven. At 100 proof, this delivers a long, complex finish when enjoyed neat.


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

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