Bourbon is a special type of whiskey that originates exclusively in the United States of America. While it has generally been regarded as a more economical, down-home type of whiskey, bourbon is steadily growing in popularity. Due to the recent boom in demand for this unique brand of whiskey, prices for bourbon are on the rise.
How to Drink Bourbon?
General recommendations to appreciate all aspects of a glass of bourbon are as follows:
- Pour one or two ounces into a glass. Observing the hue of bourbon can indicate its age.
- Coat the inside of your glass by swirling the bourbon.
- Allow the smell to rise to your nose. As the alcohol vapor rises, you will detect changes in your bourbon’s nose.
- Taking a small sip, let the bourbon cover your tastebuds for a moment to discover each distinct flavor after the alcohol acclimates to your tongue.
- Swallow the bourbon to experience the unique finishing flavors. Notice the lingering notes and the warmth as your sip concludes.
The 15 Most Expensive Bourbon
We have gathered the top bourbon brands with price tags between 5 and 50 thousand. Straight from authorities like Wine-Searcher and the prestigious Kentucky Distillers’ Association, here is all you need to know about authentic bourbon whiskey.
In order from least to greatest, these are the most expensive bourbons:
15. Old Rip Van Winkle ‘Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve’ 20-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – $5,277
Another increasingly rare release from Julian Winkle Jr.’s collection, this batch of bourbon maintains the good name of his father Pappy Van Winkle.
With lighter notes of fruit and florals, this complex bourbon has the sophistication of a rare edition whiskey at a more moderate price.
14. Parker’s Heritage Collection 3rd Edition Golden Anniversary Bourbon Whiskey – $5,510
As one of the yearly releases of Heaven Hill Distillery, it offers prestige and credibility. This edition of whiskey is as much a collector’s item as it is a beverage.
With notes of fruit and spices, this limited edition batch offers a flavor that won’t be found elsewhere.
13. John E. Fitzgerald Very Special Reserve 20-Year-Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey – $5,768
Those lucky enough to purchase this collector’s bourbon will appreciate a beautifully crafted wooden case that houses the hand-engraved glass crystal bottle of special reserve bourbon.
A sip of this rare whiskey will yield tastes of fig, cocoa, and clove to provide the owner with a pleasant experience from start to finish.
12. Old Fitzgerald Bonded Very Very Old 12 Year Old Bourbon Whiskey – $6,221
You will find this bourbon in a more economical packaging than some other novelty bottles on this list. This bourbon places all the confidence in its taste.
Featuring strong wheat flavors and finishing notes of caramel and vanilla, this whiskey provides a unique take on bourbon.
11. Buffalo Trace Distillery O.F.C. Old Fashioned Copper Bourbon Whiskey – $7,056
This collector’s bottle is only rising in value from the initial release, especially as these editions are harder to come by.
In a bottle of crystal with hand-applied labels and copper lettering, the craftsmanship of the decanter testifies to the authenticity of the bourbon within.
10. W. L. Weller 19-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – $8,144
As a now-discontinued collection, this limited batch of bourbon contains history and richness in the vintage bottle.
Featuring notes of marmalade, toast, and coffee, this rich bourbon provides a pleasant and rich drinking experience.
9. Black Maple Hill 16-Year-Old Premium Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – $8,483
With origins of this small-batch bourbon unclear, this whiskey has become collectible partly due to the intrigue of multiple distilleries and a diverse importer.
Those who can acquire one of these bottles will find a well-balanced bourbon with sweetness and dryness that matches these varied origins.
8. A.H. Hirsch Finest Reserve 20-Year-Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey – $11,658
Part of the intrigue of this bourbon rests in the rich history of its creators.
This reserve is only becoming rarer, with the notes of caramel, oak, and toffee transporting you back to the days of Adolf Hirsch in 1974.
7. Colonel EH Taylor Warehouse C Tornado Survivor – $12,540
Rightfully earning two appearances on this list, the line of Tornado Survivor bourbons from Colonel EH Taylor reflects a shocking story to explain the distinct flavor of this whiskey.
After the distillery suffered through a tornado catastrophe and many barrels were left exposed to heat and humidity, men who tasted these batches discovered a serendipitous flavor resulting from these abnormal conditions. Many have enjoyed the rich and characteristic taste of this bourbon.
6. Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash – $16,775
As the first release of Andrea Wilson as a Master Distiller, this batch of limited-edition whiskey was selected from six barrels. The reserve includes two Kentucky straight bourbons and four Kentucky straight rye whiskies.
Lauded as a bottle of unique flavors including honeycomb, truffles, and cherries, this bourbon earns its place as a valuable collector’s item.
5. Eagle Rare Double Eagle Very Rare 21 Year Old – $17,026
What makes this bourbon stand out from the rest is the beautiful decanter that holds one of only a few hundred portions of this bourbon. Each bottle contains an identifying letter of authenticity, and the sought-after appearance of these bottles solidifies a spot in the most expensive bourbons.
Featuring an eagle atop the pure crystal bottle, this piece provides as much character in the aesthetics as it does in the flavor.
4. Willett Family Estate Bottled Single-Barrel 21 Year Old – $19,499
As the most expensive release from the Willett Family Estate, this bourbon features nostalgia and prestige in every limited-edition bottle. The collectible label on these specially selected bottles generates intrigue in both the presentation and the flavor of this bourbon.
The best part about purchasing a Willett bourbon is the rush of nabbing a limited stock right when it releases. The estate always keeps these details a secret until they are on the market.
3. The Last Drop Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon – $20,961
True to its name, this bourbon is contained in an extremely limited quantity of collector’s bottles. Originally crafted in 1980, these barrels were left behind in the Buffalo Trace Distillery before they were rediscovered in 2000.
The true uniqueness of this bourbon boasts flavors of mint, oak, and fruit to make those that acquire a bottle a very lucky man.
2. Colonel EH Taylor Old Fashioned Sour Mash – $25,962
This award-winning recipe pays tribute to old-fashioned souring methods to honor the lasting legacy of EH Taylor who invented this unique practice.
With prices reflecting both the unparalleled complexity and the rich historical significance, few people will be able to taste this bourbon for themselves. Those that do report that the sweet and woody flavors are worth the price.
1. Old Rip Van Winkle (25 Year Old) – $53,166
The most expensive bourbon in the world, this limited supply was released in 2017 to steadily increase in value since then. With a beautiful decanter and a wooden box made partially of the barrels it was aged in, this whiskey presents itself as beautifully as it tastes.
The experience of this bourbon is described as once-in-a-lifetime, even just to smell the aroma of this ultra-rare bourbon.
These 15 most expensive bourbons provide an entirely sophisticated experience from the artistic bottling to the smoky and complex finish. Anyone that purchases one of these bottles knows they are participating in a rich history with every sip.
We have compiled some answers to common questions related to bourbon:
What is Bourbon Made From?
The regulations regarding authentic bourbon require that it be made from a mash bill that contains at least 51% corn. Bourbon must age in a charred oak barrel and is never distilled beyond 160 proof to preserve the flavors. Each bottle cannot be filled at less than 80 proof and will never contain color, flavor, or spirit additives.
Is Bourbon Gluten-Free?
Pure, distilled bourbon is considered gluten-free. However, it is important to check the label for any flavor additives that may contain gluten.
What is the Difference between Whiskey and Bourbon?
Bourbon is a distinct type of whiskey. This means that all bourbon is whiskey, but many whiskies do not qualify as bourbon.
Is Jack Daniels Bourbon?
Though Jack Daniels is considered bourbon under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the brand itself doesn’t consider itself a straight bourbon due to its unique distilling process.
Where is Bourbon Made?
95% of bourbons are made in Kentucky. But contrary to popular belief, bourbon can be made anywhere inside the US.
What Can You Pair with Bourbon?
Bourbon makes a perfect companion to many fruity, smoky, or spicy flavors since bourbon contains all these same elements.
Can You Drink Bourbon on Keto?
Yes, bourbon and other whiskies are keto-friendly.
How Many Calories are in Bourbon?
According to the USDA, a 1.5 oz shot of 80 proof bourbon contains around 97 calories. However, a higher-proof bourbon will contain more calories. A 100 proof bourbon will jump up to 124 calories per shot.