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The Eleven Best Non-Chilled Filtered Bourbons, According To Bartenders

If you’re new to whiskey, you might not know the term “non-chill filtered.” Widely popular in single malt Scotch, the term is also closely associated with high-proof bourbon. You see, when whiskey is dumped from the barrel, it doesn’t necessarily look the way you imagine a perfect bottle of whiskey looks. There’s sediment, esters, and other things that might make it look slightly murky or hazy, especially when cooled.

Chill-filtration simply lowers the temperature of the whiskey slightly below freezing to make the extra sediment meld together into larger clumps. It’s then filtered to trap the extra compounds and sediment and stop them from making their way into your bottle. Most non-chill filtered whiskeys are higher proof (usually past 46 percent or 92 proof). This doesn’t sound so bad, right? Well, to many drinkers it is.

Avid whiskey drinkers look for bourbons that are non-chill filtered because, while the process removes any hazy sediment and esters, it also removes things that actually make the whiskey taste good. Chill-filtration removes good flavors as well and compounds that might give it a creamy, mellow mouthfeel or that note of, say, dark nougat you’re craving.

Bartenders, like many drinkers, enjoy whiskey the way it should be, cloudiness, sediment, whatever. If it tastes good, they’ll drink it. They were kind enough to tell us some of their favorite non-chill filtered whiskeys they drink. Check them all out below and click on the prices if any of them sound good to you.

Frey Ranch Straight Bourbon

Frey Ranch

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

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $56

Why This Whiskey?

Frey Ranch is non-chill filtered, 90 proof bourbon from Nevada. Earthy, woodsy, and leathery notes come through on this slow-grown four-grain bourbon with vanilla, caramel, and cedar lingering on the finish.

Blanton’s Single Barrel

Blanton

David Ortiz, corporate beverage manager at Rocco’s Tacos in Orlando

ABV: 46.5%

Average Price: $109

Why This Whiskey?

My favorite non-chilled single barrel bourbon is Blanton’s produced at the Buffalo Trace Distillery. It’s sweet, oaky, and filled with caramel and candied orange peel flavors.

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

Elijah Craig

Anton Kinloch, owner of Fuchsia Tiki in New Paltz, New York

ABV: 60-68%

Average Price: $79.99

Why This Whiskey?

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is hands down one of our favorite non-chill filtered bourbons (and one of my favorites overall). Stone fruit on the nose, caramel, and burnt orange on the palate. This bourbon gives your tongue a hug that lingers. It’s best with a little water to open it up.

Weller Full Proof

Buffalo Trace

Ryan Mish, bar manager at The Graceful Ordinary in Chicago

ABV: 57%

Average Price: $449

Why This Whiskey?

Weller Full Proof is a fine example. Aromas of vanilla, cinnamon, wood from the barrel, and flavors of exotic fruits, spice, and cask notes come together to round everything into a wonderful drinking experience.

George T. Stagg

Buffalo Trace

Federico Doldi, beverage director of Gansevoort Meatpacking in New York City

ABV: 60-65%

Average Price: $550

Why This Whiskey?

So, the best non-chill filtered bourbon is definitely George T. Stagg (from the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection). It has toffee sweetness and dark chocolate with hints of vanilla, notes of tobacco, dark berries with a bit of coffee. It’s perfect with a nice cigar.

Four Roses Small Batch Select

Four Roses

Brian McDonough, food and beverage manager at The Tides Inn in Irvington, Virginia

ABV: 52%

Average Price: $60

Why This Whiskey?

Four Roses Small Batch Select is my favorite non-chill filtered bourbon. Perhaps it is my love for wine that takes me to non-chill filtered bourbons. By non-chill filtering the bourbon, you leave all the tannins and other particulates that come naturally from making bourbon. This is much like having a non-filtered wine. It is somewhat more natural and allows the wine — or bourbon in this case — to be more of a living thing, with depths of flavor from the production process that you do not get when it’s filtered. While this is a higher-rye mash, you still get a bright red berry flavor to go with the spices that you expect from the rye in the whiskey.

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel

Wild Turkey

Ryan Pines, beverage director at Ukiah in Asheville, North Carolina

ABV: 55%

Average Price: $60

Why This Whiskey?

You don’t hear non-chill filter as much in the bourbon world as you do in the Scotch world. However, if I had to choose a bourbon that was non-chill filtered, I would have to go with Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel. I really love non-chill filtered whiskeys because you really get a sense of all the fatty acids and lipids that come from new oak barrels that make bourbon taste so smooth and unique.

Booker’s

Jim Beam

Jeff Bell, bartender at PDT in New York City

ABV: 60-65%

Average Price: $90

Why This Whiskey?

Booker’s is an iconic brand that people may know. It’s bottled at barrel proof, so its ABVs are always high, usually in the low 60 percent. Try this one with a little water to cool it down because right out of the bottle it is a bit hot. It also makes an outstanding mint julep.

Filibuster Single Estate

Filibuster

Deke Dunne, master mixologist from Allegory DC in Washington, DC

ABV: 55-60%

Average Price: $50

Why This Whiskey?

The bourbon that I am currently most into is Filibuster’s Single Estate Straight Bourbon out of Virginia. There’s a lot of love about this bourbon and Filibuster in general. When developing their whiskey, they try to make the entire process as natural as possible, and that includes using a non-chill filtered method. All of their grain for the mash bill comes from a single farm, hence the name single estate, which has the perfect coverage to create a combination of both ample sun and shade for the grain. They then distill the grains as naturally as possible. Once they are done with distillation, they age the bourbon in both American and French oak casks.

Now, this bourbon comes in at a fairly high proof, but it sips like a 90-proof whiskey. It has a silky-smooth body, the benefit from being non-chill filtered, and has a deep, complex profile of cake, baking spices, orange peels, and delicious caramel. You can really tell the craftsmanship in every sip.

This bourbon only runs around $50 currently, but drinks like a $100 whiskey. Definitely my new current favorite non-chill filtered bourbon.

Town Branch Single Barrel

Town Branch

Sharfiq Cosby, bartender at Revival 1869 in Clayton, North Carolina

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $49.99

Why This Whiskey?

Non-chill filtered bourbons have that extra kick in flavor and texture. It’s almost like cooking bacon in a cast iron then cooking eggs or veggies with that fat for that extra deliciousness. Currently, my go-to for non-chill filtered bourbon is Town Branch Bourbon. What I love about Town Branch is the mouthfeel and the legs of the bourbon, you can usually tell a non-chill by those two alone. The mouthfeel is somewhat oily, silky, and a bit savory in flavor (rye spice, rosemary, oregano, etc.) which makes for a great sipper and a pretty cool fortifier in a cocktail, so the spirit doesn’t get lost. Proof and ice are also to be considered, Town Branch is 90 proof so a small 1-inch clear cube for this one is enough to open up and taste those wonderful flavors of a non-chill filtered bourbon, delicious.

Writer’s Pick: Baker’s 7-Year-Old

Jim Beam

ABV: 53.5%

Average Price: $60

Why This Whiskey?

While Booker’s gets most of the press when it comes to Jim Beam’s small batch collection, my favorite is actually Baker’s. Its 7-year-old version is reasonably priced, sits at a potent 107 proof, is non-chill filtered, and filled with notes of dried fruits, butterscotch, vanilla beans, and a subtle spice that works well neat or on the rocks.


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