Who doesn’t love some allocated bottles? It is so nice to just stumble upon an awesome bottle people clamor over on the internet, but at what price? These days most stores tend to know what they have on hand when it comes to bourbon, so it is getting harder and harder to find allocated bottles without busting the bank. That is, unless you live in an ABC state which regulates the pricing and distribution.
I used to be one of those people myself. I was off every other Friday, closed at work every Wednesday, and pretty much had the truck schedule memorized for every store I shopped at. I spent too much money, wasted too much time, and came up empty handed more often than not. Doing this style of hunting almost always means your are going to buy something you do not need or impulse buy because you see something.
Here are some of my favorite bottles to buy that are; A: not allocated, B: priced very very well, and C: may be new to you!
Wild Turkey Rare Breed
This is a blend of 6, 8, and 12 year old bourbon! This juice comes in at 116.8 proof currently and packs quite the punch! Rare Breed is uncut, meaning no water added to the batches, so you get the flavor as if it is being thieved right from the barrel. If you were to pour a glass of Rare Breed, you would taste tobacco, citrus, peanuts, charred oak, and delicious toasted caramel! What makes Rare Breed even better is it carries a great price, ranging from $40 up to $55 in some places, it is something that should not be slept on.
Heaven Hill 6 Year (green label)
This is one of those few “bottom shelf” bottles I always have to have on hand. I mean, how can you beat a 6 year age stated, 90 proof, $13 (in my area) bottle of bourbon? You can’t! Rumor has it, Heaven Hill will be getting rid of this particular expression at the start of the year. This bottle noses of peanut butter pie, sweet vanilla cream, and hard caramel candy with a taste profile that matches note for note! The sad part about this bottle, it is Kentucky only. So if you make a trip through the bluegrass state, be on the lookout!
Nulu Bourbon Whiskey
Okay, so this one snuck up on me. I didn’t expect to add in a small craft distillery who sources MGP juice to my list. That changed after I purchased two stores picks from my local Total Wine. I love transparency. When a brand will just up admit they are sourcing, who they are sourcing from, and what age of whiskey they are sourcing - they get my respect. What really drug me in was finding out that Prohibition Craft Spirits created the Nulu brand to showcase what great barrels are out there. They buy great barrels, they blend great barrels, and they offer amazing barrels for picks. With notes ranging from maple syrup, molasses, and pancakes, to churros, fried ice cream, and mole - you cannot beat the flavors coming out of their blends!
Anything Jim Beam
Let me start by clarifying that I am a total Beam fan boy. This is 100% in here because I am biased, but I don’t care! People snob Jim Beam products because they assume everything is as bad as white label. Listen boys and girls - they make so much good juice! Knob Creek, Old Grand Dad, Basil Hayden’s (don’t get me started), and Old Overholt to name a few brands. Each brand has multiple expressions, which means there is something for everyone.
You would have to literally hate whiskey to not find something in the Beam lineup you cannot enjoy. Beam prices their brands perfectly, they usually offer up plenty of those items, and they all taste fantastic. Do yourself a favor and look into the regular Beam lineup itself, which has expressions ranging from - Double Oak, Distiller’s Cut, Bonded, Repeal Batch, Devil’s Cut, Beam Black, and Single Barrel. Each of those are amazing products and are an especially better value!
Now, I am not talking about a $200 Weller Full Proof store pick. I am talking about a Maker’s Private Select, Knob Creek, Russell’s Reserve, etc. Set yourself a pricing limit and try to find something in that range to fit your needs. If you find a store that does amazing picks, support them! It could always benefit you in the end as a loyal customer, but you are also buying something truly unique and one of a kind.
Each store pick of the single barrel variety will be unique and no two barrels are alike. So find a brand you like, see what other stores have to offer when it comes to store picks.
Buy local craft distilleries
Support the home team or the away team - just as long as you’re supporting craft. Some whiskey drinkers will snob craft distilleries because they view them as “not up to par”. This is not true! I love supporting the small guys and finding out what makes every brand unique. Tour your local craft distilleries, reach out to craft distilleries on social media, and seek out something new. The big brands do not necessarily need more money or customers, but the small guys betting their life savings do. Every brand started somewhere and everyone deserves their fair chance!
New Riff is craft, so they fall into the category above. Yet, they are a craft distillery doing it right. New Riff will not release anything less than 4 years old, minimum of 100 proof, non chill filtered, and have a former head brewer as their head distiller. You may wonder why that matters, but New Riff wanted someone who knew their yeast and who better than someone who brewed beer? With limited recipes including pleated backset sour mash, malted oats, chocolate malt, and balboa rye grain - it is awesome to see a distillery taking so many risk early one and succeeding.
A new type of whiskey
So maybe you’ve tried every bourbon brand out there and you’re bored? Why not try a new style of whiskey in general? There are a few more types of whiskey with many many more brands in those categories.
Rye whiskey is usually the first type of non bourbon whiskey consumers reach for. Rye whiskey can be vastly different than bourbon, but it is close enough that it feels safe.
Want something a little different than rye? Reach for American whiskey. This can be a blend of bourbon and rye, which is fairly common, aged in a used bourbon barrel, or a completely different mashbill altogether. It is always nice to try the American whiskey variant of your favorite brand, as most people tend to sip anything not labeled “Bourbon” because they assume it is inferior.
Maybe you like single malt? American single malt is essentially scotch, but not. Single malt Scotch whiskey has to be aged in Scotland. Different regions of Scotland use different techniques in distilling, aging, and finishing. If you want to try something a little more close to home, reach for American single malt. The aging process of single malt in Scotland versus American is widely different. American single malt sees more heat, typically, than scotch, which means you get more barrel at a younger age.
Then there is always Irish whisky. Irish whisky also has its own unique requirements, similar to that of scotch. Just be sure to never get them confused or you may offend someone.
Set a Budget
The most important thing here is to set a budget. Want to buy a $50 bottle? Look for something in that range and try it. Could you be burned and possibly waste $50, yes, but the same could be said for paying $400 for a Willett Purple foil on facebook too. Branch out, try new things, and best of all - tell everyone how amazing other whiskey is!
Want more suggestions? Feel free to reach out to me on Instagram @mydailybourbon