Bartenders Name American Whiskeys They Wish More People Knew About

As a whisk(e)y drinker, you could easily spend all of your time sipping on Scotch, Irish whiskey, Canadian whisky, and Japanese whisky (along with expressions from many other nations) and never run out of bottles to tip back. Of course, you’d be missing out on a whole slew of whiskeys. Most notably, American-made bourbons, ryes, and single malts.

But even for lovers of American whiskey, the focus can sometimes be myopic — with big brands dominating the conversation. So we figured the time was right to shout out some American whiskeys that don’t get the due they rightly deserve. To find these gems, we asked a handful of bartenders for their picks. Click the prices to get a bottle for yourself.

Noah’s Mill Bourbon


Inga Tantisalidchai, bartender at OLEA Cellar Craft Cook in Newport Beach, California

ABV: 57.15%
Average Price: $60

Why This Bottle?

Noah’s Mill from the Willet distillery is one of my favorite whiskeys that not too many know about. It’s not your average whiskey you find behind the bar, but it is definitely something add to your home bar.

I love the nutty notes and burnt caramel finish.

Clyde May’s Special Reserve Alabama Style Whiskey

Clyde May

Joan Percival, bartender at Proof Whiskey Bar & Craft Cocktails in Omaha, Nebraska

ABV: 55%
Average Price: $60

Why This Bottle?

Clyde May’s Special Reserve 110 proof is Alabama-style Whiskey, a relatively new category of American whiskey that ages new make with apples in the barrel. It would be wrong to lump this spirit with most other flavored liquors. Since the flavor comes only from the interaction of whiskey, barrel, and apples, the result is extremely subtle and well-integrated. It’s not particularly sweet, but you really get the brightness of apple, both in the nose and on the palate.

There’s nothing else out there like it.

Whiskey Acres Rye

Whiskey Acres

Kristan Arnold, bartender at Elgin Public House in Elgin, Illinois

ABV: 43.5%
Average Price: $47

Why This Bottle?

Whiskey Acres Rye whiskey. This is a straight farm-to-table whiskey. This family grows everything on their own farm and distills and bottles it all right there. This whiskey has a nice bite but is great on the rocks. Support local!

Uncle Nearest 1884 Whiskey

Uncle Nearest

Emily Lawson, bartender and owner of Foxhole Public House in Bentonville, Arkansas

ABV: 46.5%
Average Price: $48

Why This Bottle?

Fawn Weaver’s 1884 Premium Small Batch Uncle Nearest Whiskey needs to be at the top of everyone’s whiskey list this year. I have been following along with this brand since 2017, and love what they are producing. As the head of a woman of color-owned business, Fawn is blazing trails and making incredible sips and I am fully here for it.

Jim Beam Black Bourbon

Jim Beam

Austin Zimmer, bartender at Le Prive in New York City

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $23

Why This Bottle?

Jim Beam Black. it’s a smooth whiskey with classic Bourbon vanilla notes, along with caramel and wood. The real taste experience is very quick, soft and light, and very satisfying. It doesn’t get its due because people don’t spend a long time thinking about Jim Beam.

Redwood Empire Lost Monarch Whiskey

Redwood Empire

Stephen Sylvester, bar manager at Piccalilli in Culver City, California

ABV: 45%
Average Price: $42

Why This Bottle?

A blend of 60% rye and 40% bourbon brings the best of both worlds of sweetness and spice. Redwood Empire does three different whiskeys — one bourbon, one rye, one blend — all named after famous Redwood trees, each including the latitude and longitude of said tree on the bottle.

John Muir inspired labeling and partnering with Trees for the Future to plant a tree for each bottle sold highlights the importance of our forests.

Mellow Corn Whiskey

Heaven Hill

Jeff Rogers, bar director of Jester Concepts in Minneapolis

ABV: 50%
Average Price: $16.99

Why This Bottle?

Heaven Hill’s Mellow Corn, a straight — aged a minimum of two years — corn whiskey that is a staple at whiskey and cocktail bars, but not known by all. It’s often overlooked due to the bourbon craze. It is smooth and light. The sweetness of the corn is balanced with flavors added from barrel aging. The price point is beyond reasonable and the lightness of the whiskey is great for spring and summertime sipping or in cocktails.

Laws San Luis Valley Straight Rye


Doug Fisher, beverage director at Morris American Bar in Washington, DC

ABV: 47.5%
Average Price: $60

Why This Bottle?

Lately, my go-to bottle for a post-shift drink is the San Luis Valley Straight Rye from Laws Whiskey House. It has a lovely bouquet of orange spice, a rich mouthfeel, and a pleasant peppery finish that showcases the 100 percent rye mash bill. Everyone I’ve introduced it to has fallen in love with it and you can understand why.

Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon

Redwood Empire

Justin Frierson, beverage director, and operating partner at Eleven | Eleven in Chicago

ABV: 45%
Average Price: $40

Why This Bottle?

This whiskey has a soft nose of maple and peach. Cinnamon, brown sugar, and apricot are also present, with a subtle white pepper and pumpkin finish. I enjoy selling it because it is complex as are all whiskeys in the Redwood Empire line. It’s also new to almost everyone I taste out on it and they are pleased every time.

Writer’s Picks:

Deerhammer American Single Malt Whiskey


ABV: 46%
Average Price: $54

Why This Bottle?

Made from 100% malted barley, this Scottish-style American single malt is distilled two times in copper pot stills before being aged in new, charred American oak barrels for a minimum of two years. The result is 92 proof whiskey with flavors of brown sugar, vanilla, freshly brewed coffee, and subtle cooking spices.

Straight Edge Bourbon

The Splinter Group Spirits

ABV: 42%
Average Price: $52

Why This Bottle?

This blend of 5, 7, and 8-year-old bourbons sourced from Kentucky and Tennessee is finished in seasoned wine casks from Napa Valley. The result is a rich, mellow sipping whiskey with notes of charred oak, toasted vanilla beans, buttery caramel, and a ton of pleasing fruity flavors.

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