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The 20 Best Bourbons Over $100 Ranked [Updated 2021]

Last updated Mar 20, 2021

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by Matty Sims

Glencairn Whiskey Glass

Many will shake their heads and sigh over the best bourbons over $100 category — because most of these are unicorns for your average bourbon drinker. I’m going to include some no brainers like the Pappy Van Winkle bourbons, but you can’t have a complete list and especially not one with the best bourbons over $100 without those no brainers.

These rare bourbons are assumed in this category precisely because they’re universally hard to find bourbons and the best top-shelf whiskeys money can buy. Without further ado, these are the top bourbon brands over $100.

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The Best Bourbons Over $100

Best Bourbons Over $100

These are the rockstars of the bourbon community. They’ve got groupies. They divide bourbon groups into factions, and, in most cases, they are hard to find. But if you’re lucky, you find one close to retail and have your socks knocked off. These are the best bourbons over $100. As with the best bourbons under $100 category, many of these are single barrels or annual releases where flavor, proof, and other details may vary.

#1 – Pappy Van Winkle 15-Year-Old Wheated Bourbon

Pappy Van Winkle 15-Year-Old
Fair Price:$119 (under $300)
Availability: Highly Allocated
Distillery: Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery
Address: 113 Great Buffalo Trace, Frankfort, KY 40601
Website: oldripvanwinkle.com
Review: Pappy Van Winkle 15YO Wheated Bourbon
Hunting Notes: Pappy 15-Year-Old is known as one of the smoothest sipping bourbons. I can confirm. Smooth as butter. Unless you have a close relationship with a store owner, just get lucky, or win a bourbon lottery, chances are you’re not seeing Pappy Van Winkle at retail. But the hunt is half the fun. Beware of counterfeits even at stores. Pappy is one of the expensive bourbon brands on the secondary market which has emboldened counterfeiting.

Awards:

  • 2019 Gold Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2019 Best Bourbon, 11-15 Years – Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible
  • 2016 Overall Winner, Best Age Statement Bourbon – World Whiskies Awards
  • 2014 Bronze Medal – Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2014 Gold Medal; Bourbon American Whiskey 8 Years and Over – World Whiskies Awards
  • 2013 Double Gold Medal; Best Small Batch Bourbon; Best Bourbon – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2013 Liquid Gold Award – Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible
  • 2011 Double Gold Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2011 Excellent-Strong Recommendation – Ultimate Spirits Challenge
  • 2011 Gold Medal – Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2011 Gold Medal – International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2010 Gold Medal – Best of Show – Best Whiskey – Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2006 Gold Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2006 Silver Medal – Best in Class – International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2005 Double Gold Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2005 Silver Medal – International Spirits Challenge
  • 2004 Silver Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2004 Silver Medal – International Spirits Challenge
  • 2003 Gold Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2002 Award of Excellence – American Tasting Institute
  • 2001 Silver Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2000 Silver Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition

#2 – Pappy Van Winkle 20-Year-Old Wheated Bourbon

Pappy Van Winkle 20-Year-Old Review
Fair Price: $149 (under $400)
Availability: Highly Allocated
Distillery: Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery
Address: 113 Great Buffalo Trace, Frankfort, KY 40601
Website: oldripvanwinkle.com
Review: Pappy Van Winkle 20YO Wheated Bourbon
Hunting Notes: The Pappy bourbons are definitely the rockstars of the best bourbons over $100 category. They played a major role in the bourbon boom with Anthony Bourdain in 2012 proclaiming, “If God made Bourbon, this is what he’d make.” Chef Sean Brock stocked his mega-popular Husk restaurant with an entire barrel of Pappy bourbon. So the rockstar chef boom bolstered the bourbon boom. However, the rubicon was crossed in 1997, when the prestigious Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago scored a bottle of Pappy 20-year-old bourbon 99 out of 100.

Awards:

  • Scored 99 (“superlative”) from the Beverage Testing Institute in 1997
  • 2018 Double Gold Medal, Best Bourbon, Best Small Batch Bourbon – New York International Spirits Competition
  • 2018 Bronze Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2016 Gold Medal, Best Age Statement Bourbon – World Whiskies Awards
  • 2015 Chairman’s Trophy; “Tried & True” – 98 points – Ultimate Spirits Challenge
  • 2015 Winner, Best Bourbon – Age Statement – World Whiskies Awards
  • 2014 Silver Outstanding Medal – International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2014 Double Gold Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2013 Silver Outstanding Medal – International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2013 Bronze Medal – Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2013 Extraordinary-Ultimate Recommendation – Chairman’s Trophy Finalist – Ultimate Spirits Challenge
  • 2012 Gold Medal – Best in Category – Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2012 Silver Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2011 Extraordinary-Ultimate Recommendation – Chairman’s Trophy Finalist – Ultimate Spirits Challenge
  • 2011 Gold Medal – Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2011 Silver Medal – International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2011 Silver Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2010 Excellent-Strong Recommendation – Ultimate Spirits Challenge
  • 2010 Gold Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2010 Silver Medal – International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2010 Bronze Medal – Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2009 Silver Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2009 Silver Medal – International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2008 Double Gold Medal – Best Bourbon – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2008 Gold Medal – Best in Class – International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2008 Gold Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2008 Gold Medal – Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2008 Silver Medal – Best in Class – International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2008 Bronze Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2007 Bronze Medal – International Wine & Spirits Competition

#3 – William Larue Weller Uncut, Unfiltered Wheated Bourbon

William Larue Weller Review

Fair Price: $99 (under $200)
Availability: Highly Allocated
Distillery: Buffalo Trace Distillery
Address: 113 Great Buffalo Trace, Frankfort, KY 40601
Website: buffalotracedistillery.com
Review: William Larue Weller Barrel Proof Wheated Bourbon
Hunting Notes: William Larue Weller is my personal favorite of the BTAC releases. It pairs the sweet notes wheater fans love with big, bold flavors that come from a high proof bourbon. I’ve never had a WLW that wasn’t great.

Awards:

  • 2019 Gold Medal – Los Angeles International Spirits Competition
  • 2019 Silver Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • “5 Stars – Highest Recommendation” – F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal, December 2018
  • 2019 World Whisky of the Year – Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible
  • 2019 Bourbon of the Year – Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible
  • 2019 Finest Bourbon, No Age Statement, Multiple Barrels- Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible
  • 2018 Double Gold Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2017 Double Gold Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • “5 Stars – Highest Recommendation” – F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal, December 2016
  • 2017 Bourbon of the Year (2015 Release) – Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible

#4 – Michter’s 20-Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Michter's 20-Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Fair Price: $700
Availability: Highly Allocated
Distillery: Michter’s Distillery
Address: 801 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202
Website: michters.com/20-year-kentucky-straight-bourbon
Review: Michter’s 20-Year-Old Coming Soon
Hunting Notes: When it comes to premium bourbon aged over 20 years, the big names are Pappy and Michter’s. If you’ve got $700 ready to drop on bourbon, Michter’s 20-Year-Old might be your huckleberry.

Awards:

  • Best Bourbons of Century, 2012 by Fred Minnick

#5 – King of Kentucky Bourbon

King of Kentucky Bourbon 2020 Release Batch 3

Fair Price: $250 (under $400)
Availability: Highly Allocated
Distillery: Brown-Forman Distillery
Address: 402 Maclean Ave., Louisville, KY 40209
Website: brown-forman.com
Review: King of Kentucky Single Barrel Bourbon Coming Soon
Hunting Notes: Currently, King of Kentucky is only available in Kentucky, Ohio, and Illinois. In 2020, KoK yielded 2,000 bottles (26% yield out of the barrel). May the odds be ever in your favor as you search for one of the best rare bourbons.

Awards:

  • 2019 “American Whiskey of the Year” by Fred Minnick

#6 – Wild Turkey Master’s Keep

Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Bottled in Bond 17-Year Review

Fair Price: $175 (under $200)
Availability: Available with Hunting
Distillery: Wild Turkey Distillery
Address: 417 Versailles Rd, Lawrenceburg, KY 40342
Website: wildturkeybourbon.com
Reviews:

Hunting Notes: Wild Turkey’s Master Keep is one of the Best Experimental Whiskey Annual Release — blends, bottled in bond, sherry finish, to name a few. Wild Turkey Master’s Keep is undervalued by bourbon nerds, so keep this between us, so it doesn’t become hard to find.

#7 – Blade and Bow 22-Year-Old

Blade and Bow 22-Year Bourbon (2019)

Fair Price: $450
Availability: Allocated
Distillery: Stitzel-Weller Distillery/Diageo
Address: 3860 Fitzgerald Rd, Shively, KY 40216
Website: bladeandbowwhiskey.com
Review: Blade and Blow 22YO Bourbon
Hunting Notes: Blade and Bow 22-Year-Old Bourbon used to be the best value aged limited edition bourbon at $150 but as the bourbon market continues to explode the price has as well. BB22 is now $450. It’s still a delicious, old bourbon but the price tag might give you pause since it’s now one of the most expensive bourbons on the over $100 bourbon list.

Awards:

  • “Best Straight Bourbon”: DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL at the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition

#8 – Michter’s 25-Year-Old Single Barrel

Michter's 25 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Fair Price: $800
Availability: Highly Allocated
Distillery: Michter’s Distillery
Address: 801 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202
Website: michters.com/25-year-kentucky-straight-bourbon
Review: Michter’s 25-Year-Old Single Barrel Coming Soon
Hunting Notes: Michter’s 25-year-old single barrel is the unicorn of unicorns. Partly because of its limited availability but also the Fair Price is significantly higher than Pappy’s premium aged bourbons. Your average bourbon drinker may not have the capital to drop $800 on a bourbon.

#9 – George T. Stagg (BTAC)

George T. Stagg Uncut, Unfiltered Bourbon Review

Fair Price: $99 (under $200)
Availability: Highly Allocated
Distillery: Buffalo Trace Distillery
Address: 113 Great Buffalo Trace, Frankfort, KY 40601
Website: buffalotracedistillery.com
Review: George T. Stagg Barrel Proof Bourbon
Hunting Notes: BTAC offers some of the best top-shelf bourbons available, and George T. Stagg is a favorite because bourbon nerds chase high proof bourbons and GTS’s bold high proof flavors rarely disappoint.

Awards:

  • 2019 Gold Medal – Los Angeles International Spirits Competition
  • 2019 Chairman’s Trophy – 98 points – Ultimate Spirits Challenge
  • 2019 Gold Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • “5 Stars – Highest Recommendation” – F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal, December 2018
  • 2018 Gold Medal – Los Angeles International Spirits Competition
  • 2018 Double Gold Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2018 Trophy Finalist – 95 points – Ultimate Spirits Challenge
  • 2018 Best American Whisky No Age Statement (Multiple Barrels) – Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible
  • 2017 Double Gold Medal – New York World Wine & Spirits Competition
  • “5 Stars – Highest Recommendation” – F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal, December 2016

#10 – Pappy Van Winkle 23-Year-Old

Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 23 Year Review

Fair Price: $299 (under $600)
Availability: Highly Allocated
Distillery: Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery
Address: 113 Great Buffalo Trace, Frankfort, KY 40601
Website: oldripvanwinkle.com
Review: Pappy Van Winkle 23-Year-Old
Hunting Notes: Pappy 23-Year-Old is roundly considered one of the best-aged bourbons in the best bourbons over $100 category. Pappy 23-year-old’s price, which may have seemed high a decade ago, is reasonable for a premium aged bourbon.

Awards:

  • “Spirit of the Year” for 2010 by Wine & Spirits magazine
  • 2012 Extraordinary-Ultimate Recommendation – Chairman’s Trophy Finalist – Ultimate Spirits Challenge
  • 2008 Double Gold Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2008 Gold Medal – Best in Class – International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2008 Gold Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2008 Silver Medal – Best in Class – International Wine & Spirits Competition

#11 – Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch

Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch 2015 Review

Fair Price: $150 (under $250)
Availability: Allocated
Distillery: Four Roses Distillery
Address: 1224 Bonds Mill Rd, Lawrenceburg, KY 40342
Website: fourrosesbourbon.com
Review: Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch
Hunting Notes: The Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition is a personal favorite and the annual releases rarely disappoint. Most years they will release the first wave at the distillery. Four Roses stans have been known to camp out.

#12 – Eagle Rare 17-Year-Old Bourbon (BTAC)

Eagle Rare 17-Year-Old Bourbon

Fair Price: $99 (under $400)
Availability: Highly Allocated
Distillery: Buffalo Trace Distillery
Address: 113 Great Buffalo Trace, Frankfort, KY 40601
Website: buffalotracedistillery.com
Review: Eagle Rare 17 YO Bourbon
Hunting Notes: Eagle Rare 17-year-old is kind of an enigma. Just like with the Pappy Van Winkle collection. You need to be prepared for failure unless you are willing to pay way over Fair Price. The yields are lower than either GTS or WLW, so the secondary is off the charts, but it’s also hit and miss in terms of delivery. Some years are phenomenal (2019 in my opinion), and others are just good but not great. Don’t get my wrong I’d be happy to drink this every year but if I had a choice I’d choose WLW first.

Awards:

  • 2020 Double Gold Medal; “Best Small Batch Bourbon 11 Years and Older” – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2019 – 92 points – Ultimate Spirits Competition
  • 2019 Silver Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • “4 Stars – Highly Recommended” – F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal, December 2018
  • 2018 Bronze Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2017 Silver Medal – International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • “3 Stars – Recommended” – F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal, December 2016
  • 2016 Best Bourbon, 10-17 Years (Multiple Barrels) – Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible
  • 2015 Silver Outstanding Medal – International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2014 Gold Medal – International Wine & Spirits Competition

#13 – Old Forester Birthday Bourbon

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2019 Review

Fair Price: $150 (under $250)
Availability: Allocated
Distillery: Old Forester Distillery
Address: 119 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202
Website: oldforester.com
Review: Old Forester Birthday Bourbon
Hunting Notes: Birthday Bourbon is the big play Wide Receiver out of the Limited Releases on this list. When it’s good it’s rrreeeaallll good, but I’ve also had some that were just good, not great. They, like Four Roses, release the first wave at the distillery, so if you’re ready to camp out you may have a shot.

Awards:

  • San Francisco World Spirits Competition: “best bourbon” award 2012, “double gold medal” award 2003 and 2012, “gold medal” award 2006 and 2007, “silver medal” award 2005.
  • Rating in 90+ Percentile—Best Whiskies indicated by Proof66.com
  • “Best bourbon aged under 10 years” in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2006
    Rated 91 on a 100-point scale (“Outstanding! One of the best for its style. Distinctive.”) by John Hansell of Malt Advocate Magazine in 2010
  • Named an “American Whiskey of the Year” at Malt Advocate WhiskyFest New York 2007

#14 – Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond Decanter

Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond 14 Year (Fall 2020)

Fair Price: $90 plus ($150 to $200 depending on age)
Availability: Available with Hunting
Distillery: Heaven Hill Distillery
Address: 1064 Loretto Rd, Bardstown, KY 40004
Website: heavenhilldistillery.com
Review: Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond
Hunting Notes: Comparatively, I’ve had the best luck finding Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond Decanter regularly. Heaven Hill offers three releases — one in the spring, one in the fall, and one distillery only. The Spring is a green label. The Fall is a black label. The Distillery Only is a red label. My favorites have typically been in the Fall, but there’s nothing scientific about that.

#15 – Willett Family Estate Bourbon

Willett Family Estate Bourbon 11-Years-Old Review

Fair Price: from $149
Availability: Available with Hunting
Distillery: Willett Distillery, also known as Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd.
Address: 1869 Loretto Rd, Bardstown, KY 40004
Website: kentuckybourbonwhiskey.com
Review: Willett Family Estate Bourbon
Hunting Notes: Willett Family Estate Bourbon has a cult following. The age varies but the quality never does.

#16 – Barrell Craft Spirits 15-Year-Old Bourbon

Barrell Craft Spirits 15 Year Old Bourbon (2018) Review

Fair Price: $250
Availability: Readily Available
Distillery: Barrell Craft Spirits
Address: Lousiville, KY
Website: barrellbourbon.com/bcsbourbon
Review: Barrell Craft Spirits 15-Year-Old Bourbon
Hunting Notes: Barrell Craft Spirits Bourbon 15-Year-Old is the only limited edition bourbon on this list labeled as readily available. In my experience, even if it’s not distributed in your state, you can find it online.

Awards:

  • Named Best American Whiskey of 2019 by Whiskey Authority Fred Minnick
  • ​​Whisky Advocate rating of 90

#17 – Elijah Craig 18-Year-Old

Elijah Craig 18YO Single Barrel

Fair Price: $150 (less than $200)
Availability: Available with Hunting
Distillery: Heaven Hill Distillery
Address: 1064 Loretto Rd, Bardstown, KY 40004
Website: elijahcraig.com/18-year-old
Review: Elijah Craig 18-Year-Old
Hunting Notes: Elijah Craig 18-Year-Old is a no-brainer buy if you can find it. Thankfully, it’s not as elusive as some of the other limited editions on this list.

Awards:

  • 96 Points, Top 100 Spirits, Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2020
  • Double Gold, San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2019
  • Top 50 Spirits, 98 Points, Wine Enthusiast 2010

#18 – Blanton’s Straight From the Barrel Bourbon

Blanton’s Straight From the Barrel Bourbon Review

Fair Price: $149.99
Availability: Available with Hunting
Distillery: Buffalo Trace Distillery
Address: 113 Great Buffalo Trace, Frankfort, KY 40601
Website: buffalotracedistillery.com
Review: Blanton’s Straight From the Barrel Coming Soon
Hunting Notes: Those in the know have been buying Blanton’s Straight From the Barrel overseas for years but Fall 2020 will be the first year it’s offered as a limited release in the U.S. It’s full-bodied bourbon whiskey at its best.

#19 – Blue Run Bourbon Aged 13 Years

Blue Run Bourbon Aged 13 Years Review

Fair Price: $169.99
Availability: Available with Hunting
Website: bluerunspirits.com
Review: Blue Run Bourbon Review
Hunting Notes: Blue Run Bourbon Aged 13 Years has an appeal that’s been missing up until now. They’ve married great-tasting aged bourbon with a sleek, cutting edge design.

#20 – Old Bone Bourbon Reserve

Old Bones Bourbon 15 Year Reserve Review

Fair Price: $149.99
Availability: Available with Hunting
Distillery: Backbone Bourbon Co.
Address: 845 S. Vineyard Ave., Ontario, CA 91761
Website: backbonebourbon.com
Review: Old Bones Bourbon
Hunting Notes: Each Old Bones Bourbon batch is different. It is their Backbone Bourbon’s age expression ranging from 10 to 15 years (with labels for 17YO bourbons released on the TTB). Batch 1 was sourced from Frankfort, KY, and was 15YO. Most of the following batches have been distilled in Indiana.

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Why trust The Bourbon Bard?

Written by Matty Sims

Matty Sims is a storyteller who loves bourbon. He has been drinking and studying whiskey for over 10 years. He has also been featured on sites like Bourbon Sippers, Explore Whiskey, and Inside Hook, partnered with dozens of distilleries, and reviewed hundreds of whiskeys.
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Comments

9 Comments

  1. Katie G

    I’d say I 99.9% agree with what you have here! A few of these I haven’t tried yet but I’m making sure they’re on my list. The one I don’t care for is Blanton’s SFTB. I agree its worth trying but it just didn’t do it for me.

    Reply
    • Matty Sims

      I actually don’t love original Blanton’s but really enjoyed SFTB. The beauty of having so many good bourbons.

      Reply
  2. BourbonBeard_1

    Very well written article. Your palate is spot on. The one thing that’s missing for me is a good 14-15 year Knob Creek store pick. Once you find a store that has a barrel there’s USUALLY not a limit on bottles. Nice one to stock up on under the radar. Just as good or better than most Booker’s releases and a few bucks cheaper.

    Reply
    • Matty Sims

      I’ve got on there but I agree. Gotta watch the label to check years.

      Reply
  3. Derek parker

    Amazing Job! I have had most of the bourbons on this list. Some I may never try.
    EW SB and BIB are the most underrated bourbons out there.

    Reply
    • Matty Sims

      Agreed. EW BiB is amazing.

      Reply
    • Jesse R Schultz

      Thanks for the new dream list. Might start getting these when the kids move out.

      Reply
  4. Rob Ritter

    Very well done article. Learned a ton!

    Reply

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