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Sourced Bourbon Whiskeys That We Absolutely Love

To some whiskey drinkers, the word “sourced” is a little bit taboo. Die-hards like to know that their favorite whiskey was distilled, aged, and bottled at the brand’s distillery and nowhere else. Tell them that the grain was grown on-site and they just might lose it.

But not every operation can afford to be fully grain-to-glass from the outset. Or at all. So you end up with plenty of great whiskey expressions that come sourced from other distilleries, often from a seemingly random state (like Indiana … a lot of it is made in Indiana, folks). And to us, that’s just fine.

If it’s good, who cares?

A little primer on sourcing here:

Sourced whiskey has a few different meanings.

The first is “contract distillation” — when a blender or new brand without a distillery or warehouse has its juice distilled and aged by a larger distillery. The whiskey is typically finished (blended or rested in a finishing barrel) by the company that will eventually label it. Those bottles then go out under the blender or new distiller’s label, along with the information as to what that blender did to make it special — think Belle Meade, Barrell Bourbon, or Pinhook.

This is also what happens when a new brand opens a distillery but is waiting for their juice to actually mature. Uncle Nearest did exactly that before their first homemade expressions were ready.

Another take on sourced whiskey is when a brand buys multiple ready-to-go barrels from big distilleries, blends them, pastes a label on them (perhaps resting or proofing them), and sells that. The new incarnation of Kentucky Owl is a good example of this.

And then there are other labels that blend their own make (the whiskey they actually distill and age) with whiskey they source. WhistlePig, Bulleit, and Angel’s Envy are the first three that come to mind in that category.

Confused and annoyed yet?

We get it. Primer done.

The bourbon whiskeys listen below are bottles we love, even though they are involved in sourcing on some level or another. Some of them are well-known brands and others are upstarts. We hope you’ll give them a try — both to better understand the endless ways bourbon can come to fruition and because they’re tasty.

If you do, you’re sure to stop thinking of “sourced” as some kind of whiskey curse.

Widow Jane The Vaults 2020

Widow Jane

ABV: 49.5%

Average Price: $400

The Story:

It might seem like this limited-edition bourbon doesn’t really belong on this list. It’s by far the most expensive whiskey featured and one that many people will never get a chance to try. That doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a blend of at least 15-year-old bourbons from Kentucky that are put together in New York.

That ability to highlight multiple aged bourbons in one dram is certainly an upside to sourcing. And this is certainly one of the best independent bottles you can buy.

Tasting Notes:

This highly complex whiskey begins with a nose of toasted oak, sweet mint, creamy vanilla, and rich leather. The palate swirls with hints of buttery caramel, candied orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sweet chocolate. The finish is long, filled with warming heat, and ends with flavors of dried cherries and caramelized sugar.

Bottom Line:

This is a truly special, hard-to-find bottle. It’s long-aged, nuanced, and should be treated as such. Keep this bad boy for a special occasion.

James E. Pepper 1776 Bourbon

James E. Pepper

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $33.99

The Story:

To say that James E. Pepper 1776 Bourbon (source from MGP Indiana) is bold is a true understatement. It’s 100 proof, non-chill filtered, and has a super high rye content — 38 percent.

It’s also very tasty and has won numerous awards and gained countless fans. With good reason.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find hints of sweet honey, charred oak, and subtle cinnamon spice. The first sip is full of creamy vanilla, buttery caramel, rich toffee, charred oak, and subtly peppery rye. The finish is medium in length, warming, and ends with a nice mix of chocolate and more pepper.

Bottom Line:

This is a well-made whiskey. So it shouldn’t be taken as a negative when we say that it’s best suited for a classic old fashioned or whiskey sour. There’s no shame in mixing, folks!

Savage & Cook The Burning Chair

Savage & Cooke

ABV: 44%

Average Price: $58

The Story:

This is a blend of bourbons from Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee. Each bourbon is a minimum of four years old. Once blended, the bourbon is aged for a minimum of four years in new, charred, American oak barrels before finishing in Cabernet wine barrels.

Tasting Notes:

At first sniff, you’ll find hints of charred oak, sweet caramel, and creamy vanilla. The palate is filled with flavors of spicy cinnamon, toasted marshmallows, molasses, and caramelized sugar. The finish is long, warming, and ends with hints of maple syrup and subtle cinnamon.

Bottom Line:

This whiskey took a lot of time to get to your glass. Take your time sipping it while you stream your favorite Netflix show or stare blankly out the window like David Puddy.

Old Elk Straight Bourbon

Old Elk

ABV: 44%

Average Price: $47.99

The Story:

Old Elk’s own make comes from a proprietary proofing process that, instead of taking a few days like most whiskey, takes weeks. They call it “slow cut” and it’s designed to make the whiskey extra smooth. This expression also features way more malted barley than traditional bourbons (though most of the stock still comes from MGP).

Tasting Notes:

This dram features aromas of spicy cinnamon, subtle maple syrup, and toasted marshmallows. On the palate, you’ll find hints of toasted pecans, charred oak, sweet chocolate, and creamy caramel. The finish is long, mellow, and ends with a nice flourish of brown sugar.

Bottom Line:

You might not have ever heard of Old Elk, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a try. The whiskey world is full of unknowns waiting to be discovered and this stylistic outlier is certainly one of them.

Belle Meade Single Barrel

Nelson

ABV: 52.3%

Average Price: $99.99

The Story:

In the few short years since it was made available, this whiskey has gained a cult following as well as numerous awards. It’s a high-rye, uncut, never chill-filtered cask strength whiskey that was aged for 12 years in new, charred American oak barrels.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll be treated to hints of orange peels, maple syrup, charred oak, and sweet vanilla. The first sip yields molasses, subtly spicy rye, dried cherries, buttery caramel, and subtle pepper. The finish is long, mellow, and ends with a nice hint of spicy cinnamon.

Bottom Line:

This is a classic Tennesse bourbon (from Indiana). The folks at Nelson’s Greenbrier (a distillery, blendery, and warehouse) have given us a classic sipper here, full of textbook bourbon flavor notes.

Redemption Straight Bourbon

Redemption

ABV: 42%

Average Price: $27.69

The Story:

There might not be a better bargain bourbon than Redemption. Sure, the brand is more known for its rye whiskey (both sourced from MGP in Indiana), but you definitely shouldn’t sleep on this high corn, sweet, smooth, highly mixable whiskey.

Tasting Notes:

Up front, you’ll find aromas of caramel corn, toasted vanilla beans, sweet cinnamon, and toasted oak. The first sip is loaded with sweet cream, treacle, brown sugar, and subtle spicy pepper. The finish is long, warming, and lands with a final wave of cracked black pepper.

Bottom Line:

If you want a whiskey that works just as well as a mixer as a sipper, look no further than Redemption. This highly rated bourbon is perfect for your favorite cocktails and easy to enjoy on a single rock.

High West Prairie Bourbon

High West

ABV: 46%

Price: $34.99

The Story:

High West is one of the most highly regarded micro-distilleries that also uses sourced whiskey from MGP. It’s award-winning Prairie Bourbon is a blend of straight bourbons that are aged between two and thirteen years in new, charred, oak barrels.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’re going to get hints of caramel apples, butter cookies, and subtle cinnamon. The palate is all about the charred oak, clover honey, butterscotch, and creamy vanilla. The finish is long, full of warming heat, and ends with a final flourish of buttery caramel.

Bottom Line:

When it comes to sourced blends, it’s hard to beat High West Prairie Bourbon. It’s mellow, light, and highly complex.

Smooth Ambler Old Scout

Smooth Ambler

ABV: 49.5%

Average Price: $41.49

The Story:

One of the most sought-after sourced bourbons, Smooth Ambler Old Scout is a high rye bourbon sourced from MGP in Indiana. Once it makes its way to West Virginia, it’s blended together in small, hand-picked batches.

This one is famously bold, unfiltered, and high proof.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with hints of dried cherries, sweet vanilla, and spicy, peppery rye on the nose. The palate features rich leather, sweet caramel, spicy cinnamon, and a nice kick of cracked black pepper. The finish is long, warm, and ends with a nice spicy pepper kick.

Bottom Line:

If you’re a fan of high-rye bourbons, don’t let the idea that this is a sourced bourbon stop you from slowly sipping it with a single ice cube.

Jefferson’s Ocean Bourbon

Jefferson

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $73.99

The Story:

What began as an experiment has become one of the most sought-after, partially sourced bourbons on the shelf (25 percent is their own make from recently purchased Kentucky Artisan Distillery and 75 percent is from other, unnamed distilleries). The brand experimented with six and seven-year-old barrels by placing them on a research vessel every year as it sails around the world. Each expression crosses the equator four times, visits five continents, and stops in more than 30 ports along the way.

While the story is unique, the whiskey is more than just a gimmick.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find aromas of creamy vanilla, subtle cinnamon, and charred oak. The palate highlights salted caramel, sweet cocoa, dried fruits, and baking spices. As you near the end, you’ll get soft, warm spice and a nice brown sugar salute.

Bottom Line:

Regardless of whether you’re going to drink it while singing shanties, you should still be able to appreciate the craft and creativity that went into making this unique whiskey.

Remus Repeal Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey Series IV

Remus Bourbon

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $59.99

The Story:

A ton of bourbon brands sources their whiskey from MGP of Indiana. Remus Repeal not only sources its whiskey from the distillery, but it’s also one of its flagship brands, making it… not exactly sourced. One of the coolest things about this whiskey is that it’s released every year and each batch is slightly different. This offering was made using two different mash bills, the first which is 77 percent of the blend and has 21 percent rye. The second part of the blend has 36 percent rye.

Tasting Notes:

Starts with a nose of dried cherries, cracked black pepper, and the must and aromas of a barrelhouse. The palate offers up sweet treacle, spicy cinnamon, creamy vanilla, and subtle pepper. The finish is long, full of heat, and ends with candied orange peels and charred oak.

Bottom Line:

This is a limited-edition bourbon that’s only released once per year. We suggest buying a bottle from last year and comparing it with this year’s offering. At the very least, you get to enjoy two glasses of whiskey.

Bulleit

Bulleit

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $21.99

The Story:

One of the most well-known bourbon brands, Bulleit is known for its high-rye content (around 28 percent of the total mash bills). It’s 90 proof and aged for six years in new, charred American oak barrels. Owned by Diageo, the brand has a history of sourcing from Four Roses but now is making their own juice while still complementing their juice with sourced stuff (from an undisclosed distillery or distilleries).

Tasting Notes:

With a sniff or two, you’re going to note hints of charred oak, spicy rye, sweet vanilla, and subtle smoke. Spice arrives on the palate and is complemented by hints of buttery caramel, clover honey, and toasted marshmallows. The finish ends with a final stroke of peppery spice.

Bottom Line:

This bourbon is way cheaper than its quality dictates. It’s well suited for sipping, but might just be the best mixing bourbon at its price point.

Angel’s Envy Port Wine Finished

angel

ABV: 43.3%

Average Price: $43.99

The Story:

Angel’s Envy is one of the most highly awarded bourbons on the market. Its flagship bourbon is made by hand-selecting barrels (from MGP in Indiana and now mixed with Bacardi’s Louisville Distilling Company’s own make) between eight and 12-years-old to be blended and finished in port wine barrels.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is all about dried cherries, charred oak, and sweet honey. The sip delivers hints of nutty sweetness, creamy caramel, candied orange peels, and sticky toffee. The finish is long, filled with pleasing heat, and closes with brown sugar and sweet berries.

Bottom Line:

Angel’s Envy is a special bourbon. After you enjoy the port wine finished variety, move on to the rum cask. You won’t be sorry.

Fistful of Bourbon

Fistful of Bourbon

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $23.49

The Story:

This is a very aptly named bourbon. It’s a literal fistful of bourbons. Made up of a blend of five straight American bourbons, this well-regarded whiskey was created by William Grant & Son’s Master Blender Kelsey McKechnie with a blended Scotch whisky ideal applied to Kentucky bourbon.

Tasting Notes:

Hints of subtle spicy pepper, butter cookies, and sweet cinnamon define the nose. As you sip, you’ll notice hints of caramelized sugar, sweet cream, baking spices, nutmeg, and licorice. This dram has a nice long end, highlighted with a final kick of peppery warmth.

Bottom Line:

Appreciate this award-winning blended bourbon for what it is: A clean, smooth sipper that’s cheap enough to mix with.

Pinhook Bohemian High Proof Bourbon

Pinhook

ABV: 57.5%

Average Price: $47.49

The Story:

First released last spring, this sourced and high proof whiskey is the first bourbon to be distilled at Castle & Key Distillery (formerly Old Taylor) in almost four decades. The bourbon was created by Sean Josephs, who came from the world of wine and applies that eye (and nose) to whiskey. This expression is made from small batching 100 barrels of juice that were aged for 34 months.

Tasting Notes:

Hints of buttercream, candied orange peels, and charred oak are present on the nose. Creamy caramel, pecans, sweet chocolate, and dried fruits define the sip. Pleasing heat and a hint of sweet treacle are the main features on the long-ish end.

Bottom Line:

This is a special bourbon. It’s high proof, bold, and works well as a base for your favorite cocktail.

Old Soul Bourbon

Cathead

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $44.49

The Story:

Old Soul is a great example of a distillery sourcing whiskey to complete a blend. The distillery (Cathead) makes its own high rye bourbon and then blends it with two high-rye bourbons sourced from Indiana’s MGP. The result is a spicy, warming, well-balanced expression.

Tasting Notes:

Your nostrils will fill with the aromas of sweet corn, buttery caramel, and toasted marshmallows. The first sip is full of caramel apples, creamy vanilla, charred oak, and peppery spice. The finish is medium in length, warming, and ends with a final hint of nutty sweetness.

Bottom Line:

You don’t normally think of Mississippi when you think of whiskey, but maybe you should. This blended whiskey is complex, sippable, and stands up to its rivals in the Blue Grass State.

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