Bartenders Name The Most Overrated Whiskeys On The Market

Calling something overrated is a bit confusing. People tend to immediately see it as a negative. But to become overrated something needs to reach a high level of popularity first. Perhaps it garners this not-so-affectionate title because its price has exceeded its quality or because at one point it was the trendy product that everyone seemed to lust after and now that sheen has faded. Or maybe it just performs worse than the brand’s many acolytes proclaim.

Whatever the case, being highly rated means that, at some point, your product will take some heat. Does this mean it’s automatically trash? Nope. That we should stop buying it altogether? Double nope. Or that you have bad taste if you like something someone else finds overhyped? Triple nope.

Especially in the world of whiskey — where hype from gatekeepers makes brands and being considered overrated can crush them. Sarah Rexwinkle, key bartender for The Grand Marlin in Pensacola, Florida doesn’t like the term at all.

“I personally do not prefer to state any whiskey as ‘overrated’ simply because everyone has a different palate,” she says. “Some choose their favorite based on taste and others find a sense of nostalgia with the classics.”

Not all bartenders are as hesitant as Rexwinkle to call out overrated whiskeys. Not because they’re malicious but because they’re always happy to see less popular brands get shine. We asked a handful of our favorites to tell us the most overrated brands on the market; rather than going scorched earth many of them went a step further and offered up alternates they love.

William Larue Weller Bourbon


Brandon “Habi” Habenstein, bartender at The Kitchen & Bar at Bardstown Bourbon Co. in Bardstown, Kentucky

ABV: 67.25%
Average Price: $800

Wellers are so overrated. Specifically, William Larue Weller. If you can find them at cost, that’s great but when you start having to pony up 3-4 times the MSRP, I suggest moving on.

If you can find a bottle of Larceny Barrel Proof, you should definitely drink that instead. If you can’t, a bottle of Wilderness Trail Single Barrel has 24% Wheat in the mashbill and is delightful.

Bulleit Rye


Jack Tillman, mixologist at Rand Tower Hotel in Minneapolis

ABV: 45%
Average Price: $32

Bulleit Rye. While I appreciate the 95/5 mash bill of Bulleit Rye, it just never hits the way I really want rye to hit, especially at 45%. I truly don’t understand the popularity this rye has achieved when Old Overholt Bonded exists at the same time.

Admittedly original Overholt is somewhat thin, but the bonded version hits all the spice notes you’re looking for in a rye and works perfectly on its own or in a cocktail.

Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year

Buffalo Trace

Kirstin Sabik, mixologist at Sneaky Tiki in Pensacola, Florida

ABV: 53.5%
Average Price: $1500

Pappy Van Winkle. It is overpriced and hard to find. It’s as simple as that. The difficulty finding it and the price you’ll inevitably have to pay aren’t worth the actual whiskey inside.

Crown Royal

Crown Royal

Anastacio Garcia Liley, bartender at Axe and Oak Whiskey House in Colorado Springs, Colorado

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $29

Crown Royal. I will give them credit for the ability to have carved out a space in the flavored spirits world but I think it was a direct effect that the quality of the base spirit became less sought after once smaller local distilleries started popping up with more superior products. And so, I would say what people should drink instead? Those local distilleries in your area.

Support your neighbors, we’re all better off for spreading the wealth.

WhistlePig Piggyback Rye


Aaron Hanson, bartender at Casa Santo Stefano in Tampa, Florida

ABV: 48%
Average Price: $52

WhistlePig Rye. Specifically, Piggyback. I just haven’t been super impressed. It’s not bad but not the hype it’s given. Michter’s American Whiskey would be my substitute.

Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey

Jack Daniel

Christopher Wright, bartender at Don Camillo Tuscan Cuisine in Corinthe, Texas

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $25

In my opinion, the most overrated whiskey is the classic, Jack Daniels Old No.7. While the name is well recognized, and the whiskey is not to be ignored, I recommend picking up a bottle of Tincup whiskey which sits at generally the same price point. Give it a try and you may find a new love.

This is a fair price point yet high-quality liquor for an old-fashioned, a Hot toddy or even to enjoy mixed with Coke.

Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon

Buffalo Trace

Raffaele Dall’Erta, general manager sommelier at Hampton’s Restaurant in Sumter, South Carolina

ABV: 46.5%
Average Price: $110

Blanton’s. I know, I know. I will be looked at like I am insane for saying this. I like Blanton’s bourbon. I think it is tasty. I do not like that they keep trying to make it harder and harder to get. Because of the scarcity, it is now creeping up in price. I am a believer in: it needs to taste better than the price, and now as it is approaching $100 a bottle, I just no longer think it is a fair price for value ratio.

Drink instead: Buffalo Trace. The same company, but at a much reasonable price point.

Maker’s Mark 46 Bourbon


Andres Rairan, lead bartender at The Social Club in Miami

ABV: 47%
Average Price: $40

Maker’s 46. This whiskey is shown as such an amazing upgrade to Makers Mark, but honestly tastes very similar and does not bring out anything new or different in comparison to the original. Save the $14 and get Makers Mark, throw a couple ice cubes, and enjoy the same juice for a cheaper price.

Bulleit Bourbon


Todd Johnston, beverage director and sommelier at Marsh House in Nashville

ABV: 45%
Average Price: $32

Bulleit has gained a lot of recognition and popularity as an easy-to-find whiskey but it is personally not my favorite. I think it lacks a bit of balance compared to others in its price point.

I think Evan Williams BIB drinks a little smoother and is probably even a few bucks cheaper on the shelf.



Jerry Skakun, bartender at Cucina Enoteca in Del Mar, California

ABV: 33%
Average Price: $15

Most definitely Fireball for me. In keeping with the goal of remaining unbiased, I feel as though their brand got their claim to fame in the shot segment, but seldom is it popular after the winter months, due to its sweet and cinnamon notes. There are several other flavored whiskeys out there that would be awesome to drink in the winter months. I personally would buy a bourbon or maybe not-so-prominently-flavored rye and infuse it with maple.

Kentucky Owl Confiscated

Kentucky Owl

Joan Percvival, bartender at Proof Whiskey and Craft Cocktails in Omaha

ABV: 48.2%
Average Price: $140

Something is only overrated if you don’t like it. Real whiskey folk tend to do their research and find what they personally go for. That being said, anything you have to buy on the secondary market at a grossly inflated price is, in my opinion, overrated. If you absolutely need a brand to call over-hyped — Kentucky Owl Confiscated. It’s just nothing special.

Jameson Irish Whiskey


Nathaniel Meyers, mixologist at Sear +Sea in Orlando

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $29.99

I think the most overrated whiskey brand to drink this winter season is Jameson. I don’t think that it is a bad product by any means, but with so many other options to drink, I highly encourage everyone to branch out and try something new.

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