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If I had a dollar for every time someone asks me what my top 10 bourbons are, I’d be a rich man.

It’s difficult to really answer that because I like lots of different bourbons for lots of different reasons.  Depending on my mood, I may prefer a different flavor at a different time.  But I’m not afraid to name-drop, so I thought I’d take a stab at a few lists.  Naturally, I reserve the right to alter this, update it, and completely switch it around whenever I see fit, for any reason, or wherever whim takes me!

Also bear in mind that I don’t claim to have tried every bourbon ever released, nor do I claim that I can particularly remember some of the ones I’ve sampled.  Bourbon has that effect on a brain, you know.

But here goes:

The Official “Modern Thirst Bourbon Lists

Top 10 Bourbons Overall:

This category is pretty straightforward.  I’ve tasted a lot of bourbons over the years, and though I may not own bottles of all of them today, or haven’t had them recently enough to write a full review, these are the 10 bourbons that stand out in my mind as bottles I’d give my left foot to have again (or have more of):

  1. George T Stagg (2009)
  2. Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch 125th Anniversary (2013)
  3. William Larue Weller (2013)
  4. Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year (2004 bottling)
  5. Willett Family Estate 10 year (Store Selection)
  6. 2014 Four Roses Limited Edition Single Barrel
  7. Parker’s Heritage 7th edition, Promise of Hope
  8. Pappy Van Winkle 15 year (2004 bottling)
  9. Evan Williams Barrel Proof (Gift Shop Only)
  10. Four Roses Private Selection OESF (Store Selection)


 Top Barrel Strength Bourbons:

Ahh….now we’re getting into some fun territory.  My personal favorites: the bourbons they suck from the barrel and pour straight into bottles with no water added.  I’m leaving out some store selections and private barrel selections here, because they aren’t necessarily available.  But if you find them, Willet’s Family Estate selections are usually fantastic, and Four Roses Barrel Strength private selections are outstanding.

  1. Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch 125th Anniversary (2013)
  2. George T. Stagg (2009 especially)
  3. William Larue Weller 2013
  4. Four Roses Single Barrel Limited Edition (any year )
  5. Stagg Jr.
  6. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof
  7. Colonel E. H. Taylor Barrel Proof
  8. Evan Williams Barrel Proof (Gift Shop Only)
  9. Angel’s Envy Barrel Proof
  10. Bookers


Special note: Knob Creek Single Barrel and Evan Williams Barrel Proof (Gift Shop Only) are both sometimes referred to as barrel proof. In reality, they are basically “Styled” as barrel proof, but both would be on this list otherwise.


Top 5 “Available Today” Bourbons:

It’s all fine and dandy to list all these bourbons few people will ever find or get the opportunity to purchase.  So what about the casual shopper and drinker?  This list contains bourbons that typically can be picked up in a well-stocked bourbon section of a big box liquor store.  So if I was out of town and away from my own bourbon collection, this is a list of what I might look for in a liquor store to get me through a week of vacation:

  1. Booker’s
  2. Blanton’s
  3. Knob Creek Single Barrel
  4. Elijah Craig
  5. Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage
  6. Four Roses Single Barrel


Best 5 Bourbon Values (great drinks under $35 a bottle):

This is fairly self-explanatory, but this if for those who don’t want to sell a kidney to purchase a bottle of bourbon.

  1. Knob Creek Single Barrel
  2. Henry McKenna Single Barrel 10 Year
  3. Four Roses Single Barrel
  4. Eagle Rare
  5. Elijah Craig Small Batch 12 year


Top “Wheated” Bourbons:

With the recent “Pappy” craze, I’d be remiss to not mention my favorite “wheaters.”  These bourbons, like Pappy, use wheat as the secondary mash grains in their mash bills.

  1. William LaRue Weller (2013)
  2. Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year (Stitzel-Weller era)
  3. Jefferson’s Presidential Select 18 Year (early Batches)
  4. Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year (S-W Era)
  5. Rip Van Winkle 12 Year Lot B
  6. Makers Mark Cask Strength
  7. Weller 12 Year
  8. Old Fitzgerald 12 Year
  9. Larceny
  10. Old Weller Antique


Top “semi-accessible” Wheated Bourbons:

Furthering the thought from above, the Pappy craze has also led to a huge shortage in good wheated bourbons.  These are bourbons that can at least occasionally be found on many bourbon shelves in major liquor stores:

  1. W.L. Weller 12 Year (seasonal, can be difficult to locate at times)
  2. Old Fitzgerald 12 year (seasonal, can be mildly difficult to locate at times)
  3. Larceny
  4. Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond
  5. Maker’s 46
  6. Old Weller Antique
  7. W.L. Weller Special Reserve

Top “Bottled-in-Bond” Bourbons:

To some, the idea of “bottled-in-bond” strikes a chord.  For me, I just like the idea of 100 proof.  Regardless, there’s a definite market for BiB bourbons, and here’s my list (It’s a short list…there aren’t a ton of BiB Bourbons these days, but I’ll add to it as I taste more):

  1. Colonel E. H. Taylor Small batch
  2. Henry McKenna Single Barrel 10 year
  3. Colonel E. H. Taylor Single Barrel
  4. Evan Williams White Label (TIE)
  5. Heaven Hill 6 Year (TIE)
  6. Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond
  7. Very Old Barton Bottled-in-Bond
  8. Old Grand Dad Bottled-in-Bond


Top Rye/Other Whiskeys:

  1. 2014 Parker’s Heritage Collection Wheat Whiskey
  2. Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye (Any Year)
  3. Cask Strength Smooth Ambler Rye
  4. Sazerac 18 year (any year)
  5. Thomas H. Handy (Any year)
  6. Rittenhouse Bottled-in-Bond
  7. Willett Family Estate 4-Year
  8. Bernheim Wheat Whiskey
  9. Angel’s Envy Rye
  10. Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 year Rye Whiskey


Feel free to add comments with your own lists or your thoughts on mine!