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Expensive Bourbons That Might Just Be Worth The Splurge

We write about bourbon so often that it’s hard to keep in mind that late fall and winter are much more “bourbon season” than spring or summer. Those sweet corn, rich vanilla, baking spice, and charred oak flavors neat, on the rocks, or mixed into cocktails make a hell of a lot of sense with the holidays coming on. It’s also getting chilly and the famed “Kentucky hug” — the warming finish so common with good bourbons — is a welcome houseguest.

We’re never shy about shouting out affordable bottles of bourbon. It’s a category where you can get a hell of a lot of quality for around $30. At $50, you get into some quality sippers. But if you’re willing, able, and interested enough to splurge, you can have a truly distinct experience.

Today, we’re looking at bourbons in the $100-300 range. Yes, we know that’s a lot. But we also know there are also far more frivolous things that people spend far more money on. Obviously, we recognize these bottles aren’t going to be an everyday purchase for most folks, but if you decide to drop the coin these picks will help amplify your next special occasion in a big way. We all deserve those sorts of treats from time to time.

Check out our picks for eight expensive bourbons that are worth the price tag, below. Note that many of them started in the $50-80 range and the prices were driven up by the aftermarket — so part of what you’re paying for is the ability to say, “I tasted that!”

Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond 9-Year

ABV: 50%

The Story:

If you’re a fan of whiskey, there’s a pretty good chance you like to make the most out of your money by drinking a high proof whiskey. Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond is 100 proof and even comes in a decanter bottle that’s inspired by the original 1950’s diamond decanter.

Tasting Notes:

The first nosing brings forth hints of charred oak, subtle cinnamon, and brown sugar. The first sip carries those notes forward along with mellow wheat and rich, sweet corn flavors. The finish is long, warming, and ends with a pleasing hint of cinnamon.

Bottom Line:

A whiskey this balanced and flavorful is most suited for slow sipping over a single ice cube.

Price: $299.99

Weller Antique 107

ABV: 53.5%

The Story:

Weller is known for its high wheat bourbons. Named after William Larue Weller, the addition of a large amount of wheat makes all of Weller’s whiskeys (including Antique 107) mellow, sweet, smooth, and… soft on the palate. That’s a recipe for easy sipping.

This offering is bottled at 107 proof, but you wouldn’t know it as it carries none of the harsh, alcohol heat you’d expect from such a high proof whiskey. Antique 107 is full of flavor, sublimely mellow, and well-balanced.

Tasting Notes:

After a nosing, you’ll be met with spicy cinnamon, toasted oak, and sweet cream. The first sip draws out hints of dried fruits, charred oak, and brown sugar. The finish is long, warming, and filled with a nice combination of cinnamon, oak, and caramel.

Bottom Line:

Weller Antique 107 works well in a cocktail due to its high alcohol content, but (for that price) deserves to be enjoyed neat or on the rocks.

Price: $129.99

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel

ABV: 45%

The Story:

Elmer T. Lee was a master distiller at Buffalo Trace. He’s most well-known for launching Blanton’s, back in the early ’80s. This bourbon was made to honor the iconic figure. It’s made from hand-selected barrels, is well-balanced, and has won some huge awards — which is what turned this bottle from $50 value pick to $300 splurge.

Tasting Notes:

Nosing brings scents of spice, clover honey, leather, and vanilla. The first delivers sweet cream, Christmas baking spices, toasted oak, bright orange, and rich caramel. That oak, orange, and leather is present on the dry finish, too.

Bottom Line:

Pay tribute to Elmer T. Lee by drinking his bourbon surrounded by friends, neat or on the rocks.

Price: $299.99

Michter’s 10 Year

ABV: 47.2%

The Story:

Over the past decade, Michter’s has made a name for itself in the whiskey world. This award-winning, highly lauded bourbon is aged for ten years in fire-charred American oak casks. The result is 94.4 proof bourbon that’s won countless awards for quality and continues to get rave reviews today.

Tasting Notes:

Aromas of toffee, brown sugar, and cloves fill your nostrils on the nosing. The first sip delivers cinnamon-sugar, maple syrup, creamy caramel, and rich vanilla. The finish is medium in length, pleasingly warm, and ends with a nice hint of velvety, slightly smoky, caramelized sugar.

Bottom Line:

Michter’s 10 should be enjoyed on the rocks and savored slowly — to let it open up throughout the experience.

Price: $129.99

Old Bones Reserve Bourbon

ABV: 55%

The Story:

If you’ve never heard of Old Bones, you’re missing out. Distilled by the well-known MGP distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana before being bottled in Bardstown, Kentucky, this high-rye bourbon is made using a mash bill of 55% corn, 40% rye, and 5% barley before being aged for ten years in new, charred oak barrels.

Tasting Notes:

This whiskey deserves a good nosing before taking a sip. Expect to be met with hints of smoked wood, dried fruits, and winter baking spices. The first sip is filled with subtle pepper, sweet caramel, and brown sugar. The finish is long, intensely warm, and ends with a final kick of spice.

Bottom Line

A smooth sipping whiskey, Old Bones Reserve is well-suited as a chilly fall evening warmer.

Price: $119

Widow Jane ‘The Vaults’

ABV: 49.5%

The Story:

If you can find a bottle of ‘The Vaults’ you’re in for a truly unique flavor experience. This is a blend of bourbons in which the youngest is 14 years. The barrels used to age this whiskey were air seasoned in the elements for 8 years before the bourbon was added to it.

Tasting Notes:

You’ll be pleased that you nosed this bourbon before drinking it. The aromas is of the barrelhouse itself. It’s sweet, dusty, and warm — with hints of vanilla, dried cherries, and cinnamon. The first sip brings strong mint, charred oak, sweet cream, dark chocolate, and sweet vanilla flavors. The finish is medium-length, warm, and ends with a final kiss of sweet toffee.

Bottom Line:

If you pay for a bottle of this truly special whiskey, you’re going to want to save it for a special occasion and sip it with friends and family.

Price: $199

Booker’s

ABV: 65.3%

The Story:

Booker’s isn’t crazy expensive. But it’s also not cheap. This unfiltered and uncut bourbon that’s part of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Collection can easily be found in the $100 range. It’s well worth the price — with its surprisingly smooth, very warming aspects.

Tasting Notes:

You might assume that whiskey with such a high proof would be harsh, but this one isn’t. The first aromas are those of charred oak, dried fruits, and cooking spices. The first sip yields sweet vanilla, cocoa, leather, and brown sugar flavors. It’s that vanilla that powers the mellow finish, with wisps of honey, to boot.

Bottom Line:

In this list of expensive bourbons, Booker’s is a true bargain at around $100 ($70 if you’re rally lucky). Buy a bottle or two and sip it to warm up as the fall nights grow ever colder. This one might even be affordable enough to mix a strong cocktail with.

Price: $100

Jefferson’s Ocean Aged Cask Strength

ABV: 56%

The Story:

When Jefferson’s Ocean Aged Bourbon first showed up on the market, the whole “aging barrels at sea”-thing seemed like a gimmick. Well, I’m here to say, “there’s something to it.” Especially at cask strength. Even without the fact that this whiskey was fully matured and then loaded on a ship to sail around the world, crossing the equator four times, and stopping on five different continents, it’s just a well-rounded whiskey.

Tasting Notes:

The first aromas you’ll notice are those of caramelized sugar, subtle spice, and ocean brine. The first sip delivers hints of salted caramel, sweet cream, toasted wood, brown sugar, and subtle toffee. The finish is long, warming, and ends with a pleasing hit of sea brine mingling with caramel.

Bottom Line:

It’s well suited for sipping neat or on the rocks while you overlook a large body of water… or even a backyard pond.

Price: $109.99

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