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Bartenders Declare The Best 10-Year-Old Bourbons Based On Flavor Alone

When it comes to bourbon whiskey, there are a few ground rules. We know all about the fact that in order to be called a bourbon, the whiskey must be made of a mash bill of at least 51 percent corn and follow a few other proof-related rules. It also must be produced in the U.S. (although it doesn’t have to be made in Kentucky). And then there’s the time that the bourbon spends aging.

To be called “straight bourbon,” the whiskey must be aged for at least two years. The vast majority of standard bourbons on the shelf — the Jim Beam’s, Old Foresters, Four Roses, etc. — tend to be aged between four and six years old by design. Longer than that will yield more caramel, vanilla, dried fruits, spices, and oaky flavors — derived from the barrel itself. But bourbon can also get to the point that it’s “too oaky” or “too aged,” which is why some believe that ten years is the true sweet spot.

For many distilleries, ten-year-old expressions are the crown jewel — as coveted as they are flavorful. To find some of these gems, we asked a few well-known bartenders to tell us their picks for the best ten-year-old bourbons. They didn’t disappoint with their answers.

Bulleit 10

Bulleit 10
Bulleit

Daniel Yang, lead bartender at Electra Cocktail Club in Las Vegas

ABV: 45.6%

Average Price: $47

Why This Bourbon?

If you’re searching for the best bang for your buck bourbon, then look no further than Bulleit 10 Year (found at around $45 where available). When compared to some of the other options for ten-year bourbons, Bulleit offers a wonderful course of vanilla, spice, and oak forward flavors while not breaking your bank.

Michter’s 10

Michter’s 10
Michter

James MacInnes, liquor boss at Klaw in Miami

ABV: 47.2%

Average Price: $208

Why This Bourbon?

It’s hard to really label one bottle as “the best” expression of a particular category. Bourbon whiskey has been booming over the last couple of years and it’s led to a competitive market full of options to choose from. Personally, though I tend to gravitate to Michter’s 10-year Kentucky Straight Bourbon. This bottle boasts a slightly higher ABV at 47.2 percent which allows the spirit to truly shine.

Boasting the caramel, honey, and charred oak flavor profiles a true bourbon drinker looks for this bottle is sure to never disappoint.

Basil Hayden 10

Basil Hayden 10
Jim Beam

Subhash Sankar, head mixologist at Alaia Belize in San Pedro Town, Belize

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $89

Why This Bourbon?

This high rye bourbon is a great mix of sweetness and heat. It has the caramel sweetness and vanilla essence, that drinkers expect from bourbon, but the high rye content gives it an added kick of peppery spice.

Eagle Rare 10

Eagle Rare 10
Eagle Rare

Christopher Devern, lead bartender at Red Owl Tavern in Philadelphia

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $35

Why This Bourbon?

For $29.99 in Philadelphia right now, Eagle Rare packs some amazing flavors at an approachable price. There are tons of oak, as expected from a ten-year bourbon, along with rich notes of spices and cacao. It can be a tough find but when I do get a bottle for the Tavern, it flies off the shelf.

At home, it’s a special bottle I try to savor.

Henry McKenna 10 Year Bottled in Bond

Henry McKenna 10 Year Bottled in Bond
Heaven Hill

John “Fitzy” Fitzpatrick, spiritual advisor at Warren American Whiskey Kitchen in Delray, Florida

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $70

Why This Bourbon?

That’s an easy one for me. Henry McKenna 10 Year Bottled in Bond from Heaven Hill immediately comes to mind. The amped-up vanilla, caramel, cinnamon, and toffee belie the 100 proof. It drinks much bigger, richer, and is not outrageously priced. This bottle will still pop up on store shelves occasionally which is almost a miracle these days.

This is just a consistently great all-around sipper. Love it.

Widow Jane 10

Widow Jane 10
Widow Jane

Ally O’Keefe, bartender at The Bower in New Orleans

ABV: 45.5%

Average Price: $80

Why This Bourbon?

Widow Jane 10 is my go-to ten-year-old. It has a lovely balance of pepper spice and sweetness, with flavors of hazelnut, toffee, sugar cookie, and clove. It’s an excellent sipper for the price.

Russell’s Reserve 10

Russell’s Reserve 10
Wild Turkey

Alejandro Mendoza, restaurant and bar manager at Hotel SLO in San Luis Obispo, California

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $47

Why This Bourbon?

If we are going off taste to value, then I have to go with Russell’s Reserve 10 Year hands down This is a base spirit that is easy to play within cocktails, but can hold its own when compared to Eagle Rare (its closest competitor for a 10-year-old whiskey). And, it’s way easier to come by.

I love the taste you get from this one with warm rich spiced vanilla and bottled at 90 Proof, so it’s a very approachable, easy-drinking bourbon.

Writer’s Pick: Redemption 10 Year Barrel Proof High Rye Bourbon

Redemption 10 Year Barrel Proof High Rye Bourbon
Redemption

ABV: 57.2%

Average Price: $100

Why This Bourbon?

The long name should key you in on how complex this potent, 114.4-proof award-winning whiskey is. This high rye bourbon is known for its slightly spicy, peppery flavor that is complemented by notes of butterscotch, sweet honey, candied nuts, and rich, oaky wood.

Writer’s Pick: Rebel 10

Rebel 10
Rebel

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $95

Why This Bourbon?

This robust, bold 100-proof bourbon was aged for a decade in charred, American oak casks. The result is a memorable wheated whiskey with hints of toffee, vanilla beans, candied orange peels, and complex oak. It works just as well as the base of your favorite cocktail as a warming sipper.

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