High-Quality Bourbons You Won't Need a Secret Password to Get
By Laura Fagan Published May 2023
If you’ve ever searched for a high-quality bourbon to gift the bourbon buff in your life, or maybe for yourself, then you know it can be like Indiana Jones searching for the lost ark. Highly allocated brands like Pappy, Blanton’s and Weller are treasured in the bourbon hunter community and, yes, are extremely difficult to get your hands on.
Make no mistake, these prized labels are well worth the effort to acquire, but you don’t need a black belt in bourbon hunting to find other fantastic, high-end juice that any bourbon drinker would raise a glass to. In fact, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits stocks a phenomenal selection of premium bourbons that are both delicious and ready to grab off the shelf, no secret handshake required.
Here are 9 of our top recommendations readily available on our shelves that will earn you serious gift-giving cred.
If you're on the hunt for a high-end bourbon that's both readily available and packed with flavor, Blue Note Crossroads Straight Bourbon Whiskey is worthy of your attention. This Memphis-distilled, 100 proof bourbon has a decadent nose which leads into flavors of vanilla and brown sugar with just a hint of spice and burnt raisins on the back. It is rested in toasted French oak casks for a smooth and sophisticated taste. And we’re not the only Crossroads fans, this bourbon was a double gold medalist at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC) along with being awarded gold by the American Spirits Council of Tasters in 2022.
Juke Joint is another straight bourbon in the Blue Note portfolio that has captured high praise, bringing back its own double gold medal from San Francisco (2022), received a 93-point rating from Wine Enthusiast and a number of other awards to the B.R. Distilling Company. This 93-proof bourbon boasts a mash bill of 70% corn, 21% rye and 9% malted barley. On the nose, you'll detect sweet corn, allspice and oak, while the body is velvety smooth with layers of vanilla, apricot and pear. The finish is crisp and complex with allspice fading into oak, pear and more subtle vanilla. Blue Note Juke Joint is a great pick for any bourbon lover seeking a premium taste experience.
If you're a fan of Buffalo Trace, we recommend giving Walking Stick Single Barrel Bourbon a taste. This bourbon has a similar taste profile to the elusive Buffalo Trace and is smooth and structured with a delicious aroma of cherry blossom, honeysuckle, vanilla and spice followed by a palate of butter toffee, caramel and cinnamon. This golden goodness has a subtle smokiness that is complemented by just the right amount of heat. For the price and quality, this is a fantastic everyday sipping bourbon.
Maker’s Mark Bourbon ABC Private Select Blend
Next on our list is a trio of Maker’s Mark expressions exclusive to ABC Fine Wine & Spirits. Our team members had the privilege of working with Maker’s Mark in a special barrel program to carefully select a combination of 10 oak finishing staves from five flavor profiles to create an exclusive, high-end select bourbon. Across the state, you can find the Northern, Central and Southern Florida expressions in select stores. Make sure to check the label to find the regionally unique blending profile and, of course, enjoy!
Northern Florida - The nose is honey and molasses. On the palate, it’s spice and rich vanilla with chocolate and almond on the finish.
Central Florida - Nutmeg and hazelnut on entry. Bright oak and cherry on the palate with notes of dried fruit and caramel on the finish.
Southern Florida - Aroma is maple and roasted tobacco. Palate is rich with chocolate and brown sugar with a long and savory finish.
Looking for a sip with a great story and stellar taste? Horse Solider Signature Small Batch Bourbon delivers on both fronts. This award-winning bourbon boasts an aroma of butterscotch, ginger, and cherries, leading to notes of creamy toffee, dark stone fruits, vanilla, oak and cola. But what makes Horse Soldier truly special is its origin story. Named after the brave founders who rode on horseback into Northern Afghanistan after the 9/11 attack, this bourbon is a heartfelt tribute to the service and resilience displayed following the attacks on the World Trade Center. Each bottle is also molded with steel recovered from the World Trade Center, donated by The New York Port Authority. With Horse Solider, you can enjoy an exceptional bourbon and also support a team of heroes with every pour.
Horse Soldier's traditional straight bourbon is another legend in the brand’s portfolio. A double gold medal winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (2019), this small batch bourbon is aged between two and four years and expresses with aromas of sweet corn, toffee and apple. You can expect decadent flavors of caramel, vanilla, honey, custard and a hint of spicy oak.
This cask strength selection from Horse Solider shares a similar tasting profile to its Signature Small Batch, but folds in delicate floral notes. Having earned two silver medals in 2019 from the New York International Wine and Spirits Competition (93 points) and the International Wine and Spirits Competition (92 points), this full-bodied, wheated bourbon offers a fantastic drinking experience.
Next on our list is a Sourced & Certified option that is copper-distilled and delectable. Wheel Horse Bourbon Whiskey earned an impressive 94 points from Whiskey Advocate and was ranked among the top 20 whiskies of the year in 2021. On the nose, you'll get an eclectic mix of root beer spice, candied pineapple, walnuts and clementine. The palate brings forward notes of butter pecan ice cream, cinnamon toast, maple syrup and vanilla custard. But the finish is where this bourbon truly shines with a delicious, syrupy sweetness that lingers on the tongue. In short, this 101-proof bourbon is a winner.
Our final high-end bourbon is distilled using a unique winemaker's approach to whiskey production. Pinhook breaks away from the typical American whiskey blending process of maintaining a consistent flavor and proof over time, instead opting for vintage releases that reflect the natural variations of mature barrels influenced by the ingredients, oak and storage conditions of that particular year. The resulting bourbon is sophisticated with a nose of apricot, butterscotch and graham cracker which transitions to flavors of coffee, candied cinnamon, roasted peanuts and crème brûlée. This bourbon is an excellent addition to any collection as each vintage presents slight variations in flavor that capture the distinct qualities of its barrel.
We know what you're thinking – high-end AND easy to find? I’ll believe it when I see it. Well, take a trip to your local ABC Fine Wine & Spirits and see for yourself.