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The Best Bottles Of Bourbon Whiskey Between $150-$200

Picking the perfect bottle of expensive bourbon is no easy task. Especially for the relative newcomer. Understanding the differences between high-end bourbon expressions can be tough and demands an elevated palate. After all, you can get a very solid bourbon for $50 and a flat-out great bottle for $75 — so why pay more?

At the end of the day, that decision comes down to four words: nuance, age, refinement, and (we know folks hate this one) scarcity. But there’s some wheat to separate from the chaff, too — with a lot of bourbons priced this high simply because of hype. It’s an expensive journey to embark on at this level and still ultimately comes down to what you enjoy.

To help you navigate the high end of our “Bourbon and Every Price Point” project, we’re profiling ten bottles between $150 and $200 that we love and feel eager to vouch for. These probably aren’t everyday drams. They’re more likely the bottles you buy for a celebration (though maybe you celebrate once a week — we’re not your accountant). Check them all out below!

Buffalo Trace Kosher

Sazerac Company

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $150

The Whiskey:

Buffalo Trace Kosher provides a truly kosher spirit that also fully delivers on the palate. The juice is made from the same wheated bourbon recipe as Buffalo Trace’s Weller and Pappy lines. The difference is that the mash is loaded from fully cleaned stills and pipes into kosher barrels (that means the barrels were specially made and purchased under the watchful eye of a rabbi from the Chicago Rabbinical Council).

The whiskey then ages for seven years at Buffalo Trace before blending, proofing, and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a familiar note of Red Hots and vanilla cream on the nose, with a hint of semi-dried florals. The palate mellows out the cinnamon towards a woody and dry bark as the florals deepen towards summer wildflowers as a touch of plums and berries arrive, adding sweetness and brightness. The end holds onto that dry bark, as a hint of anise pops late with a slight vanilla cream tobacco touching off the medium-length fade.

Bottom Line:

This is a yearly release that drops just before Passover. The MSRP is much lower on this one ($40) but expect to find it for at least double that locally in Kentucky and much more the further you get from Buffalo Trace’s warehouses and that Passover drop date. All of that being said, this is a great specialty whiskey that stands up to any bottle in this price range.

Cream of Kentucky 11.5 Year Old

J.W. Rutledge Distillery

ABV: 51%

Average Price: $160

The Whiskey:

This whiskey is part of the bespoke sourced line from bourbon legend Jim Rutledge. Rutledge spent 21 years as the head distiller over at Four Roses, building the worldwide renown that the brand is now known for today. Rutledge is currently sourcing the best barrels he can find to create this throwback brand of whiskey — whose labels used be to painted by Norman Rockwell back in the day.

Tasting Notes:

You feel the deep bourbon heritage from the nose through the finish as classic notes of oily vanilla husks, soft cedar, and rich toffee draw you in. The taste holds onto the toffee and vanilla but also veers into sweet cherry with a rush of spice, which is almost like a Cherry Dr. Pepper in the best possible way. A note of bitterness comes in late via a dark chocolate vibe (especially with a drop or two of water) while the silken sip quickly (almost too quickly) fades, leaving you with warm and woody spices.

Bottom Line:

This is actually priced at $150 MSRP, so the hype machine hasn’t taken over the pricing … yet. Still, this is a classic bourbon that hits iconic notes from the style, making it a good bottle to really dial in those flavors on your palate. For us, the fade is a bit fast on the finish but, for some, that’s exactly what they want.

Knob Creek 2001

Beam Suntory

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $160

The Whiskey:

This bourbon is all about heritage. Back in 2001, Fred Noe took the reigns of Jim Beam from his legendary father, Booker Noe. As part of that transition, Booker Noe warehoused a final group of barrels for his son to finish and release to celebrate his ascendence to Master Distiller. The juice was aged for 14 long years and then released in three distinct batches (we’re reviewing the first batch), all at 100 proof.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a subtle nod to Jim Beam’s cherry up top that’s more like a Haribo Cherry gummi with a hint of cinnamon cutting through the sweetness next to doses of creamy vanilla, rich toffee, and dry cedar boxes. The palate amps up the spice with notes of black pepper and powdery cinnamon as the cherry veers into dark red and ripe territory next to a slight tobacco chewiness and buzz on the tongue. That tobacco chew dries out near the finish, leading back to the cedar and vanilla as the sip slowly fades.

Bottom Line:

This hard-to-find bottle is one of those expressions that is very clear on its taste and feel. It’s classic bourbon that feels like it gets better with every sip you take. The other two batches will hit varying levels of choco-bitterness and vanilla pudding depths alongside those standard cherry/vanilla/toffee/woody notes, but Batch 1 really does feel like the most refined and classic bourbon of the three.

Kentucky Owl Confiscated

SPI Group

ABV: 48.2%

Average Price: $175

The Whiskey:

Kentucky Owl is another resurrection brand by Master Blender Dixon Dedman, the great-great-grandson of the shingle’s original founder. Yes, this is sourced juice from an undisclosed distillery in Kentucky, meaning we don’t know a whole lot of what’s in the bottle, but that leaves the family story and the taste of the whiskey as our only touchstones. And on those two levels, this expression excels.

Tasting Notes:

The sip draws you in with a slight rye note of anise and maybe even licorice next to old cellar oak, vanilla cream, and a touch of ripe cherry. The taste warms on the tongue with dark spices, more of that old oak, and a touch of raw leather. The end is long and touches back on those spices, building a real buzzing on your senses, and hitting back towards that oak and leather, with just a hint of cherry tobacco.

Bottom Line:

This is another bottle that’s going to vary pretty wildly in prices. We’ve seen it for hundreds of dollars at places like Costco on the West Coast. Is it worth the $125 MSRP? It’s absolutely interesting and much sought after.

Still… we’d say it’s more of a palate-expanding stepping stone to high-end bourbon than the mountaintop.

Bardstown The Prisoner

Bardstown Bourbon Company

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $180

The Whiskey:

Bardstown is one of the premier blenderies of American whiskey. This special release from 2020 takes sourced nine-year-old Tennessee bourbon and finishes the juice in red wine barrels from California’s Prisoner Wine Company for 18 months. The bourbon is then cut with that soft Tennessee water and bottled at 100 proof.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a sense of blackberries, blueberries, and black cherries swimming in thin vanilla and honey cream with a hint of eggnog spices lurking in the background. The sip dries out a bit with a dark vinous edge, leading towards a spicy cherry pie with a crumbly and buttery crust dusted in brown sugar. The end dries out even more with a slight pine panel woodiness and a final whisper of those berries and eggnog spices on a slow fade.

Bottom Line:

We’re big fans of Bardstown around here. So it should come as no surprise that we’d recommend tracking down one of these very limited release bottles. This bottle really feels like you’re getting every cent of that $125 MSRP, with the refinement and beauty of the whiskey in the bottle.

Garrison Brothers Balmorhea

Garrison Brothers

ABV: 57.5%

Average Price: $185

The Whiskey:

This much-lauded Texas bourbon is the highwater mark of what great whiskey from Texas can be. The juice is aged in Ozark oak for four years and then finished in oak from Minnesota for another year, all under that blazing West Texas sunshine. The bourbon is then small-batched, proofed with Texas spring water, and bottled at a healthy 115 proof.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with a real sense of a corn-syrup-laced pecan pie next to hazelnut bespeckled cinnamon rolls and creamy milk chocolate. That chocolate drives the taste towards a mint-chocolate ice cream vibe (heavy on the chocolate part) with small dashes of holiday spices, hard toffee candies, worn leather, and a flourish of cedar boxes full of dried tobacco leaves. The end circles back around to all that sweet and chocolatey creaminess with a final slice of pecan pie on a slow fade.

Bottom Line:

This is one of those bottles that just … delivers. Yes, it wins all the major awards and comes with a ton of hype. But, goddamnit, it’s f*cking delicious. It’s so tasty and truly easy-drinking that we wish it was affordable enough to be an everyday dram.

Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Revival

Campari Group

ABV: 58.5%

Average Price: $185

The Whiskey:

The Master’s Keep series is the mountaintop of Wild Turkey and, we’d argue, great Kentucky bourbon in general. The juice is a nod to Jimmy Russell releasing a sherry-cask finished bourbon back in 2000 (yes, sherry cask finishing has been around that long in bourbon). The ripple that makes this bottle special is that those sherry barrels are barrels that held sherry for 20 years.

That’s an extremely rare barrel in a world where sherry rarely ages more than three-ish years.

Tasting Notes:

You’re beckoned into this sip through a nose full of marzipan, heavy with rose water, next to sultanas, orange oils, wet cedar, and a hint of spicy stewed red cherry. The taste delivers on those promises by amping up the spices into Christmas cake territory while adding in a rich and creamy vanilla pudding and a dash of pineapple and apricot. That apricot dries out while the fade slowly walks you back through those Christmas spices, almond, and stewed cherry.

Bottom Line:

This is the perfect end-of-the-year bottle. One, it’s holds a deep wintry/holiday season vibe to its core. Two, the price is going to range close to $200 (or more), making this a great candidate for a celebratory time of year.

Jefferson’s Presidential Select 16 Year

Castle Brands

ABV: 59.8%

Average Price: $190

The Whiskey:

Jefferson’s is another stellar American whiskey blendery and distillery. This very limited release (only 10,000 bottles were made) is a unique double-barreled whiskey. The juice first spends ten years maturing in new oak, as per bourbon’s rules. Then the whiskey is transferred to a brand new oak barrel for a second maturation of six more years. In the end, the younger notes of the second barreling create a richer sense of “bourbon” in the final product, instead of sherry or port or rum, etc.

It’s a double bourboned bourbon, so to speak.

Tasting Notes:

“Bourbon” is what you’re greeted with as notes of rich and creamy vanilla mingle with buttery toffee, wet oak, caramel-covered pears, and a matrix of holiday spices. The palate really delivers on all of that, while refining nicely as the spices lean into a cinnamon candy and the vanilla turns into a thick custard with a caramel glaze. That sweetness and silkiness impart a velvet mouthfeel that spikes with notes of spice, wet yet buzzy tobacco, and a mild sense of those pears.

Bottom Line:

This bottle feels like a real collector’s item that’ll be hard to keep in the vault since it’s so damn tasty and easy to drink. This dram with a single rock really shines as a great, all-around high-end bourbon that lives up to the price in every way.

Weller Aged 12 Years

Sazerac Group

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $199

The Whiskey:

Weller 12 is lovingly referred to as the “Poorman’s Pappy,” with good reason. Both whiskeys are made by Buffalo Trace with the same wheated bourbon mash bill. Of course, the barrels are treated differently when it comes to where they are stored and why. But we’re still talking about a very similar product at the end of the day.

Once which also tends to be a bit more accessible, at least for now.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with a sense of vanilla pods coming to life in a hot pan next to light orange oil-infused marzipan, a touch of sweet corn, and a whisper of musty oak. The palate holds onto the orange and almond as it dries out towards a cedar box and vanilla tobacco chew with a mild sense of dry spices. The end is long-ish and touches on the wood, orange oils, spice, and nuttiness, leaving you warmed with that classic Kentucky Hug.

Bottom Line:

This is a bottle that gets a decent amount of hype (enough to make it cost far more than its MSRP, but not ridiculously so). For us, it’s an amazing choice for mixing up high-end whiskey cocktails like a fine Manhattan or Sazerac. Of course, it’s a solid sipper too, best with ice, especially when winter comes back around.

Michter’s 10 Year

Michters Distillery

ABV: 47.2%

Average Price: $199

The Whiskey:

The triumph of Michter’s coming to Kentucky (from Pennsylvania) is writ large in this bottle of fine bourbon. The juice is now contract-distilled according to Master Distiller Pam Heilmann and Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson’s precise instructions and watchful eyes (though, they’re distilling their own juice now in Kentucky).

This expression is a ten-year-old single barrel drop that hits the highest marks when talking about what bourbon is and can be.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a maple syrup sweetness with spicy tobacco, creamy vanilla, and burnt toffee next to leathery oak. The taste hints at a charred bitterness (burnt espresso bean?) next to a touch of caramel-meets-fruit that meanders back through that tobacco, leather, vanilla, and maple. The end is soft but surprisingly short while touching on the sweeter notes of maple and vanilla and leaving the spice, tobacco, and oak behind.

Bottom Line:

This really does feel like the ultimate expression of bourbon as a style. There’s a sense that you’re drinking something wholly unique to the American whiskey experience while also getting a sip that stuns in its refinement and excellence as a whiskey in general. While a rock certainly helps this sip along, it’s delicate enough to drink neat and will wow with every sip.

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

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