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Mellow Bourbons To Sip Neat This Fall, Picked By Bartenders

There’s a reason you’re willing to pay higher prices for long-matured bourbons and it’s not because you believe they’ll be the perfect base for an old fashioned or whiskey sour. No, you buy pricey bourbon whiskeys because you plan on enjoying them neat (or at the very least on the rocks) without any other flavors muddling things.

While we enjoy a hand-crafted bourbon cocktail, we’d rather enjoy our aged Weller, Larceny, or Angel’s Envy without the addition of bitters, shrubs, tinctures, and other ingredients. No need to dress them up.

Since the end of the summer and the beginning of fall is prime whiskey sipping time, we’ve made it our goal to help you find the smoothest sipping bourbons on the market. Expressions with no rough edges to savor as the weather turns. To do this, we once again turned to the bar professionals — asking fifteen bartenders for their favorite bourbons to drink neat this time of year.

Check out their picks below.

Laws Special Finish Series 4 Grain

Laws

Hailey Landers, bartender at Multnomah Whisk(e)y Library in Portland, Oregon

ABV: 47.5%
Average Price: $75

Why This Bottle?

Laws Special Finish Series Four Grain Straight Bourbon Finished in Cognac Casks. This bourbon is a bourbon lover’s chocolate-covered cherry blossom that is washed gently down by a crisp, floral spice wave, right into the back of the throat with lingering vanilla, baking spice, woody raisin finish.

Straight it is a bomb of lush dark ripe fruits and southern comfort pie spices all wrapped in sugar and oak. Cut with water or ice, as I like it, it is an addictive candy with childlike temptation. Always easy to drink and always leaving you wanting one more to compliment the one you just had.

Widow Jane 10

Widow Jane

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

ABV: 45.5%
Average Price: $75

Why This Bottle?

Widow Jane 10 Year. Proofed down with water from Rosendale, New York not ten minutes from where we’re located. It’s made from a blend of only five barrels per batch so each variant will be a little different.

The most recent one we enjoyed reminded us of bitter almond, spearmint, some minerality from the water too.

Angel’s Envy

Angel

Pascal Pinault, director of restaurants and bars at The Confidante in Miami

ABV: 43.3%
Average Price: $55

Why This Bottle?

My choice is without hesitation Angel’s Envy finished in port wine barrels, giving you notes of vanilla, maple syrup, ripe fruit, and a hint of Madeira at the end of the sip. It’s hard to beat this sipper for the price.

Wild Turkey 101

Wild Turkey

Ryan Anderson, complex director of beverage at Ace Hotel in New Orleans

ABV: 50.5%
Average Price: $25

Why This Bottle?

This summer and any summer I will always reach for Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon as a great sipper. Wild Turkey is not only one of the oldest distilleries in Kentucky, but also one of the best. Creating old-style authentic Bourbon year in and year out.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to branch out once in a while to find a new spirit from a younger distiller. But most times I reach straight for the classics.

Woodinville

Woodinville

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

ABV: 45%
Average Price: $42

Why This Bottle?

The most mellow sipping bourbon this summer will be the Woodinville Straight. The taste of chocolate, caramel, vanilla, and orange blossom makes this bourbon great to sip on its own on the rocks or in a perfect old fashioned.

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

Woodford Reserve

David Nasser, bartender at the New Orleans Marriott

ABV: 45.2%
Average Price: $58

Why This Bottle?

When it comes to smooth sipping bourbons, I like Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. The unique barreling process creates a beautifully mellow bourbon with hints of fruit, vanilla, and spices.

Basil Hayden’s

Basil Hayden

Myles Holdsworth, director of food and beverage at The Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $45

Why This Bottle?

I really enjoy sipping rye whiskeys, so for me, I like bourbons with a higher percentage of rye in the mash bill. Basil Hayden’s is always a great choice and won’t break the bank. It’s sweet, mellow, filled with butterscotch, but has the spicy, peppery kick I enjoy.

Weller 12

Buffalo Trace

Christina Ramirez, mixologist at SoBou in New Orleans

ABV: 45%
Average Price: $200

Why This Bottle?

I reach for a twelve-year-old W. L. Weller which is a wheated bourbon making it sweeter and lighter on one’s palate. Flavors when drinking a W. L. Weller includes caramel, dark cherry, nuts, and citrus. I personally love to drink this straight.

Maker’s Mark

Maker

Brandon Parnell, general manager and director of beverage for Flora-Bama in Perdido Key, Florida

ABV: 45%
Average Price: $30

Why This Bottle?

Maker’s Mark is definitely ‘ol trusty in this equation. Red winter wheat drives this delicate but complex taste profile perfect for any occasion. It’s cheap, mellow, and available everywhere.

Larceny Small Batch

Larceny

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

ABV: 46%
Average Price: $28

Why This Bottle?

Larceny Small Batch. Even though it comes in at 92 proof, it drinks like a much lower-proof bourbon. Being a wheat bourbon, it is a more mellow drink than heavier rye mash. The honey and caramel flavors, along with the lightness of the wheat, make this a beautiful sipper. I always have a bottle in the house.

George Dickel 8 Year Old

George Dickel

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

ABV: 45%
Average Price: $30

Why This Bottle?

It’s really hard to limit myself to just one bourbon. However, George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey just launched their new Dickel 8 Year Bourbon and it is absolutely amazing. It lingers on the palate, is very well pronounced in corn caramel, and is not overly done. It’s all the things you look for in a bourbon.

Milam & Greene Castle Hill

Milam & Greene

Sother Teague, beverage director at Overthrow Hospitality in New York City

ABV: 54.25%
Average Price: $169

Why This Bottle?

Milam & Greene is a small producer from Texas putting out some high-quality whiskey that has my attention. They just released their Castle Hill Series bourbon and it’s a fantastic blend of twenty vintage casks of bourbon that we’re each aged at least 13 years. It has a bold drier than typical bourbon structure that’s accented by aromas of almond, and tobacco with hints of spice.

The team there has a lengthy history of working with some of the best liquid available and there coming out of the gate strong with their new projects.

Weller Special Reserve

Buffalo Trace

Jeff Bell, bartender at PDT in New York City

ABV: 45%
Average Price: $55

Why This Bottle?

I’m not sure if mellow is the word I would use to describe this one, but W.L. Weller Special Reserve is one of my all-time favorites for sipping. It’s a wheated bourbon, which is the same style as the super popular Maker’s Mark, but I find Weller to be in a class of its own.

If you can find a bottle, pick one — or two – up.

Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace

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

ABV: 45%
Average Price: $32

Why This Bottle?

When I think of mellow bourbons that are easy-sipping, my mind will always go to Buffalo Trace bourbon. Buffalo Trace bourbon, in my mind, is the ultimate introduction to Kentucky bourbon for people looking to get into whiskey. It comes in at a fairly affordable price point and it is very accessible. One of the reasons I like it so much is that it is a very fresh tasting bourbon that doesn’t feel thin or young. It is aged anywhere between 8-10 years but has light, refreshing notes that are absolutely perfect for the summer. I always get a wonderfully surprising explosion of fresh fruits, especially green apples, that balances beautifully with the more traditional bourbon notes of brown sugar, vanilla, and oak.

Balance is the name of the game for traditional Kentucky bourbons, and Buffalo Trace does it better than most. One of my go-to bourbons, especially this time of year.

Jim Beam Single Barrel

Jim Beam

Johnny Swet, master mixologist and founding partner at JIMMY at Modernhaus SoHo in New York City

ABV: 47.5%
Average Price: $38

Why This Bottle?

I really Enjoy Jim Beam Single Barrel. It’s very smooth over Ice. But mellow enough, with hints of caramel, vanilla, and dried fruits, to be sipped neat.


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