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Bartenders Name No Age Statement Bourbons They Love This Time Of Year

Age statements and bourbon whiskey don’t go hand-in-hand in quite the same way that age statements do with Scotch. That’s not to say that bourbons don’t come with age statements — some of the most beloved ones do. But you’re far more likely to see a bottle of bourbon (or rye) on the shelf with the words “straight,” “small batch,” or “single barrel” on the label than “12-year,” “18-year,” or “20-year.”

Part of that is due to current supply and demand. Iconic age statement expressions like Elijah Craig 12 became Elijah Craig Small Batch so that Heaven Hill could add younger bourbons into the mix to keep up with skyrocketing demand from consumers while maintaining the integrity of what’s in the bottle. Likewise, common straight bourbons are a mix of barrels that range from two to six/eight/ten+ years in a single batch. That, folks, is just the tip of the iceberg, and, in the end, what’s labeled with or without an age comes down to the whim of the producer.

Since there are so many bourbons on shelves without an age statement, we once again turned to the bartenders for a little guidance on which bottles they seek out this time of year. Check out all of their answers below and click on the prices if you want to try them too.

Michter’s US-1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Michter

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

ABV: 45.7%

Average Price: $48

Why This Bourbon?

Michter’s Small Batch bourbon — also known as US-1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon — sets the standard to which I compare other bourbons. It’s the “bourboniest” bourbon. All the classic notes you expect from a quality bourbon: oak, vanilla, cinnamon spice, a hint of leather, with a medium intensity finish.

Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Decades

Wild Turkey

Alex von Pfeiffer, manager at Village Garage Distillery in Bennington, Vermont

ABV: 52%

Average Price: $150

Why This Bourbon?

Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Decades. There is no age statement on this bottle, but master distiller Eddie Russell mingled barrels ranging from 10 to 20 years old in order to strike this balance and complexity. His method displays the potential of combining extremely old stocks into batches with younger barrels to build a great whiskey.

1792 Small Batch

1792

Sue Stia, bartender at TPC Jasna Polana in Princeton, New Jersey

ABV: 46.85%

Average Price: $32

Why This Bourbon?

If I have to pick one specifically, I’d choose Barton 1792’s Small Batch expression. It’s rich, full flavor. It’s smoky with caramel and vanilla. All in all, a great sipper perfect for cool fall weather.

Four Roses Small Batch

Four Roses

Joel Schneider, tasting room manager at SLO Stills in San Luis Obispo, California

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $38

Why This Bourbon?

Four Roses is not afraid to disclose their recipes, down to the yeast, so that means they don’t shy away from showcasing the varieties. A hint of wildflower stem segues into cinnamon graham cracker and leads to a long, well-rounded finish.

Little Book

Jim Beam

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

ABV: 55-65%

Average Price: $100

Why This Bourbon?

The best bourbon that carries no age statement is Little Book. It has a little heat and tastes like the perfect blend of ryes and bourbons. It is a great way to kick off the fall season.

Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve

Nicole Fas, beverage director and bar manager at La Pícara in Santurce, Puerto Rico

ABV: 45.2%

Average Price: $40

Why This Bourbon?

In my opinion, Woodford Reserve Bourbon is a great answer to this question. Their consistency in flavor and quality are beyond great. Woodford Reserve Bourbon is such a well, all-around balanced whiskey. It has sweetness, grain, wood, spice, fruit, and floral notes.

Willett Pot Still

Willett

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

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $60

Why This Bourbon?

There are many great choices here, but I always find myself reaching for Willett Pot Still Bourbon. It’s a very unique bourbon with a great combination of rye and bourbon flavors. Spicy, sweet, and very easy to drink.

Smooth Ambler Contradiction

Smooth Ambler Contradiction
Smooth Ambler

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

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $42

Why This Bourbon?

I’ve been drinking a lot of Smooth Ambler Contradiction since its recent release. It’s a blend of Ambler’s own whiskey as well as nine-year-old whiskey from MGP of Indiana. Smooth Ambler is a growing distillery, and while I’m happy to support them, I also really like what they’re producing.

Contradiction has a bright, dried fruit nose, but a much warmer and drier flavor due to the rye, with a long-lasting finish.

Elijah Craig Small Batch

Elijah Craig

Emily Lawson, bartender and owner of Pink House Alchemy in Fayetteville, Arkansas

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $32

Why This Bourbon?

Often, a bourbon that doesn’t carry an age on its label is blended with some fabulous older bourbons. One that is worth noting is Elijah Craig — specifically its Small Batch expression. It’s creamy, rich, and has all the right notes.

Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace

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

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $33

Why This Bourbon?

I’m going to go with Buffalo Trace Bourbon. I feel that it over-delivers from a bourbon flavor profile, as well as from a cost perspective. This bourbon is definitely a crowd-pleaser, and at a price point that doesn’t make you feel guilty for mixing it in a cocktail.

Frey Ranch

Frey Ranch

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

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $56

Why This Bourbon?

Frey Ranch from Fallon, Nevada brings on great complexities through its four-grain mash bill. Their non-chill filtered 90-proof bourbon consists of winter cereal rye, winter wheat, two-row barley, and corn. Flavors of vanilla, caramels, cedar, and leather make their way on the palate for a great bourbon experience carrying no age statement.

Ezra Brooks 99

Ezra Brooks

Katherine Ball, consumer engagement & mixology director at Black Button Distilling in Rochester, New York

ABV: 49.5%

Average Price: $26

Why This Bourbon?

Ezra Brooks 99 is charcoal mellowed, super approachable, and extra sweet. It’s just truly a well-rounded bourbon. It doesn’t need an age statement to prove to me that it’s great.

Old Forester 1920

Old Forester

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

ABV: 57.5%

Average Price: $35

Why This Bottle?

Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style was made to replicate the Old Forester during the Prohibition. The Volstead act of 1920 kicked off prohibition in America while granting permits to six distilleries in Kentucky to continue distilling for medicinal purposes. They say they are the only bourbon continuously sold by the same company to produce before, during, and after prohibition.

It’s feisty, but well balanced with orange, caramel, and peppercorn present.

Angel’s Envy

Angel

Rachel Stidham, bartender at Paul’s Landing at The Vinoy St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club in St. Petersburg, Florida

ABV: 43.3%

Average Price: $55

Why This Bourbon?

Definitely Angel’s Envy. It’s a really light and smooth bourbon aged in port wine barrels with a sweet finish. It’s great for sipping. Angel’s Envy is the perfect after-dinner choice to really enjoy the smoky undertones and port-esque flavors, like vanilla, maple, and a slight touch of berry jam.

Noah’s Mill

Noah

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

ABV: 57%

Average Price: $60

Why This Bourbon?

Noah’s Mill is a fantastic and underrated bourbon from Willett Distillery in Kentucky. At 114 proof, aromas of walnuts, prunes, and floral notes mimic the flavors of baking spices. The finish leads you down a path of lavender and burnt caramel.


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