5 Most Underrated Bourbons/Whiskies

The Most Underrated Bourbons/Whiskies

What if some of the best bourbons and whiskies are the ones that go unnoticed? The bourbon that never receives the attention or accolades but tastes just as good as the special releases. A few weeks ago I read a post about most underrated bourbons (sorry, I don’t remember where but if someone comments the article I’ll cite it here) so I thought I would give you my list of underrated bourbons or whiskies. This isn’t an “under-valued” list but rather great tasting bourbons that, for whatever reason, don’t receive the attention of some of their counter parts. Also, this is my opinion. Feel free to agree or disagree.

Talking underrated bourbons can be dangerous. Look at W.L. Weller 12 and Elmer T. Lee. A couple of years ago they were underrated but now you can’t find them or they have increased price tag. There will also be people that say “I’ve been drinking XYZ bourbon for years. It’s not underrated”. While that may be true to you I’m looking at the bourbon-sphere as a whole.

First – Private Barrels







Most distilleries have cut back on their private barrel programs but some of my favorites are from Four Roses, Smooth Ambler and Buffalo Trace. Not all private barrels are created equally but I’ve yet to have a private barrel bottle that isn’t above average

Second – Old Granddad 114

ogd 114






Whether it’s the price, packaging or something else OGD 114 seems to only get mentioned when talking about cheap alternatives to good bourbon. OGD 114 needs some respect!

Third – High West Whiskies

high west lineup







High West was one of the first to source from MGP and was also one of the first in the new trend of Distilling Non-Distiller Producers (DNDP – distilleries that source whiskey while waiting on their own juice to mature or to supplement their own whiskey) but has become forsaken in the last few years with the exception of their Midwinters Night Dram. You can’t buy a bad bottle of High West (unless you’re like me and hate peated or smoked whiskies you can avoid their Campfire Whiskey) but yet it never receives a lot of attention from the major whiskey publications.

Fourth – Larceny

Larceny 1






With wheated bourbons riding a tidal wave named Pappy, Larceny flies under the radar. It’s probably a mixture of under-valued and underrated but Larceny is excellent bourbon for close to $25. Next time you have a blind tasting throw Larceny in to the mix and see the results.  I started doing this on the advice of a friend (check out more of Ronbourbondy’s wisdom on Instagram) and have been surprised at the bottles I’ve picked Larceny over blind.

Fifth – Michter’s Toasted Barrel

Michter's Toasted Barrel Finish 1








The Michter’s brands has had it’s ups and downs. Sure, being name “Distiller of the Year” when you source your whiskey and releasing an Non-Age-Stated whiskey in the 4 figures (currently $3k at some stores) will create some controversy among Bourbonr’s. However, they consistently put out a good product and I really enjoyed this years Toasted Barrel release. It’s the same price as their regular bourbon, can be found on store shelves and it taste great. That’s the trifecta of underrated bourbon qualities.


Bonus: Jefferson’s Presidential 21 Year Rye

Jefferson’s Presidential 17 and 18 are bourbon legends. Yet, there’s not a whole lot of talk about the JPS 21 rye or bourbon. Ultra aged ryes are scarce and can easily become over oaked. The JPS 21 rye is very good and can still be found on store shelves in some areas.

What other underrated bourbons would you add to the list?




    I have a bottle of Jefferson Davis 15 year old small batch. I’ve had it for 15 years will it still be great? Never opened.

    Yep- Bourbon stays at a stasis point after it is bottled. Unlike wine (and even beer), it’s not “active,” nor does it increase in strength or complexity once bottled. Enjoy it!!

    Please edit this and take OGD114 out so people won’t buy it up it’s one of my favorites. Also David Nicholson 1843 and Fighting Cock.

    Larceny has been in my decanter since I first tried it. And a few of us would like to keep that a secret, thank you very much.

    Amen on JPS 21yr rye! We did a group tasting against the VWFRR and the JPS was a clear winner. Most people would think that’s a crazy thought but this rye is one of the best I’ve ever tasted and still sitting on the shelf in a lot of stores.

    Blake – Where can JPS 21-year-old Rye still be found? I finished my bottle months ago and I’d definitely be willing to spend the coin to pick up another. Just haven’t found one.

    I’ll throw a couple more into the mix. For rye, the standard Sazerac–or baby Saz as some folks call it–is really fantastic. Likewise, Rittenhouse Bonded is great. For bourbon, Henry McKenna is just amazing, Eagle Rare is a consistently pleasant pour, and even the standard Buffalo Trace is a great value bourbon.

    Henry Mckenna 10yr SB is the best bourbon for the price ($25). It is better then the Weller 12 and easy to find. Better get it while you still can.

    I just read an article on Very Old Barton at Sour Mash Manifesto a few days ago and the comments were pretty interesting. It’s an older article but worth the read. I am often at fault of paying more and expecting a better bourbon, which isn’t always the case.

    I’ll definitely have to try Johnny Drum Private Stock now. Because, I freaking love Old Weller Antique AND maybe even more, Fighting Cock.

    a real go to drink–in a slightly different direction–lest we not forget, bourbon was distilled and named to honor one of that house–Xanth is a 76 proof cognac aged in french white oak with a touch of pear for those who prefer the kick without the bite. and they could use the support these days

    OGD114 is great! Happy most folks don’t know about it! But really, bang for the buck in my opinion the most under rated bourbon is Even Williams Black Lable.

    I stopped at the Garrison Brother distillery in Texas, even got to dip a bottle in the wax similar to the tour at makers mark. They have a cool operation and they do make very tasty whiskey but it is super expensive. I’ve seen it on shelves in Arizona, California and Massachusetts now. Always over 80 bucks for their entry level bottle. I think for the price you can buy two and three bottles of these underrated bottles and be just as happy or more happy.

    Fighting Cock should be absolutely on this list. Who underrated Jefferson 21 year rye? If you put a rye on the list it should be Rittenhouse Rye.

    Jim Beam double black 8 years is one of the best underratet bouobons. Hard to find here in Sweden.

    Have a good 2015 all bourbon lovers…

    Ooh…larceny, not that good. The rest are not really underrated bourbons…overpriced maybe. How about an article on the best cheap bourbons? For $11, and always on stock, go Barton.

    I actually debated about ER 17. Hard to consider it underrated with the amount of attention BTAC. I would say it’s the most underrated of the BTAC line

    I am not sure about underrated bourbons….but 2 bourbons I have always (well since they were released) bought and are always in stock is Bookers and Angels Envy. Granted they are not that cheap, but readily available and better than most “limited releases” that all the new bourbon collectors go crazy for.

    Yeah, Angels Envy, people either like it or really dont like it. There are PLENTY of great bourbons out there you can find everyday for a “decent” price. To me, there are only a few limited release bourbons that can’t really be matched by stuff you can get everyday.

    Old Charter 10 year and Old Fitz BIB if you can find them. Heard these are now used for upper-tier bourbons. Can you blame them? Ka-Ching!

    What would you expect a 10 year old single barrel bourbon to cost and taste like? Evan Williams fills this under rated bourbon category with a great taste at around $28. Never hear any mention of Ezra B either but my gift bottle from Christmas will be replaced this week when I get out of my dry KY county.

    Waller Antique 107, Elijah Craig 12 and another vote for Larceny (since they stopped making Very Special Old Fitz 12 yr). I actually think Bulleit 95 Rye is a great drive no maker although I am not that fond of their bourbon.

    Ditto on the McKenna. Single barrel, aged 10 years, 100 proof, bottled-in-bond, smooth, can be had (in Kansas City, Mo.) for under $30 … only bad news is that it appears to be all bought up. There’s always next year, however.

    If you want to know the most underpriced bourbon, it is Virginia Gentleman for all who live in Virginia. It is $6.80 a pint at ABC, and it is not that bad. You could question whether it is Boubon because the taste is so different. But if you drink it without thinking of other Bourbons, it is actually good. My favorite Bourbon is Bookers, but I can still enjoy the Gentleman.

    Evan Williams Single Barrel for me, it’s my go-to bourbon and I still haven’t found anything that beats it’s value ($23-$30).

    I’ve tried to like this… mainly because of it’s price point. Still, I’m not impressed. Many love it, so it just must be me…

    I’d definitely throw 1792 in there, but I want to to stay a secret. So I’m glad you didn’t. The Bowman line also always gets overlooked. John Bowman single barrel is always fantastic.

    Okay, so my perspective is gonna be slightly different: I live in the UK, so coming by most of these bourbons can prove difficult. Also bear in mind a certain premium will have been added due to import duties and shipping costs.
    But……(and in UK £ currency) I agree the standard Buffalo Trace is a nice pour at £20. Eagle Rare comes in at a reasonable £35 for a great product. But my favourite for quality versus value is bog-standard Four Roses Small Batch. Nothing anywhere nearly as good at £26, just my opinion though….

    Henry McKenna 10 year Bonded – super smooth and a good price.
    W.L. Weller 12 year is awesome. Hard to find, they produce limited amount.

    As I own three of these, I must agree with the selections! Now how about going the other way and go for a post on Over-rated Bourbons? I throw in my vote with Angel’s Envy Cask Strength. Regular AE, fine stuff, Cask Strength? $300 and for me, nearly undrinkable.

    Sadly, it is no longer showing an age statement on the bottle….it is now a blended expression of different aged bourbons. *Sigh*…

    First, sorry for responding to the post to you privately Blake. My cellular cut off all the feedback from the original post anyway.

    Second, I’ve met few bourbons that I just don’t like besides all the infused, finished in something non bourbon barrels, and Town Branch 🙂

    With all that said, there’s a number of really quality bourbons out there that fall into different price ranges before you get into specialty bourbons and > $100.

    $10 – $15 – Rebel Yell, Heaven Hill 6 Year Old 100 Proof (white label/green text), Evan Williams Black Label (favorite for mixing for others instead of Jack and Coke) . Even though it’s been discontinued, several stores in WV still sell the Ancient Ancient Age (triple A) 10 and 10 Star in 750ml glass and 1.75L plastic–when it’s gone, it’s gone! I stock up and barter around with those for some of my specialty bourbons in KY 🙂

    $20 < $30 – Elijah Craig 12, Evan Williams Single Barrel 10 Year Old, Weller 12 (coming out in a 1L bottle this month), Weller Antique 107, Wild Turkey 101

    When you talk about underrated specialty bourbons (those that come in a case of 6 that are either for store owners and their friends, lottery drawings, or lucky devils 🙂 everyone knows about the Old Rip Van Winkle 10, 12, 13 Rye; Pappy 15, 20, 23, and usually at least the George T. Stagg from the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC), but the rest of that collection is excellent as well William LaRue Weller, Eagle Rare 17–was a 19 year old this year, Sazerac Rye, and Thomas H. Handy Rye. However, you rarely hear of the Parker's Heritage Collection. This year it was a delicious 13 year old wheat bourbon, last year it was the Promise of Hope, etc.. However, for the past ~8 years, Parker Beam has released an annual small allotment of his personal choice and mix. I've had 4 of them and everyone has been incredible, but they are really tough to get! Pappy and BTAC were easier to get this year IMHO. The Four Roses 2014 Limited Edition Single Barrel 57.1 and 54.5 proof were also incredible, as were the 7 year and 8 year old bottles of Willett Straight Rye Whiskey (Rare Release) 114.8 proof. 4 year was rather common on the shelf, but the 7 and 8 came out literally 2 weeks apart in my home town and were behind the counter as specialty.

    The Orphan Barrel line this year was good with my preference 1. Lost Prophet, 2. Rhetoric, and 3. Barterhouse–I missed out on the Old Blowhard so I can't comment on that one. Wild Turkey's 60th Diamond was also very good as was the Single and Barrel proof versions from Colonel E. H. Taylor.

    P.S. I had several different Private Barrels this year which I think is less common in certain parts of the US and therefore less understood. A store owner friend of mine bought about 20 barrels this year and the process worked where he and several others spent the day with Eddie Russell tasting a lot of barrels and grading them. Once choices were marked for favorites, notes were compared against Eddie's notes and matching barrel numbers were selected for a local store. It was then bottled and had a specialty label stamped on top of the original label with a cute store icon stating it was "bottled just for that store and (sometimes at a higher than normal proof–can still be negotiated when you buy the whole barrel, but not always!). I had an Angel's Envy from one store that rocked my world at a higher proof and a Knob Creek that was some of their highest proof I've ever seen that was a definite (better) difference from the typical shelf bought norm, so I'm glad you posted about private barrels.

    I don’t hear a lot about George Dickle Barrel Select. It is reasonably priced and is the go-to bourbon for me and my neat/one cube friends. Very smooth!

    Actually, it is. So is Jack Daniels. They just choose not to call it a bourbon but they could, as it meets all the regulatory requirements for bourbon.

    I founded the Bourbon Society in Colleton River Plantation, Hilton Head , SC. and currently vacationing in Vail Co. I received as a gift 10th Mountain Whiskey and found it to be very nice. I am a big Pappy fan and enjoy the 20 year old and recently talked to Julian Van Winkle who likes the 15 as his daily drinker. I think that the Jefferson 18 ranks at the top of my list as well. Thanks Blake for the Blog and being a part of your organization.

    OGD may be one that I grow to appreciate, because I have not really enjoyed the first few drinks out of it. However, JPS rye is on point. I got one as a gift and was actually a bit disapointed that it wasn’t a bourbon, but that all changed when I tried it. So, so good.

    I can’t agree more strongly with the store select barrels. Some of the best bourbons I’ve ever had–at any price–we store selections. And the upside is that if you find one you like, you can buy a case and know it will all taste the same. I’ve got some high-rye Four Roses cask strength that’s 121 proof and almost 11 years old and it’s the best Four Roses I’ve ever tasted, and at less than $50/bottle. Absolute bargain. As good–or better–than most of the BTAC or Pappy I’ve ever had.

    OGD114 would also make my list. I’m tempted to stock a few extra bottles. It disappears quickly every fall/winter in my house. It’s solid drank straight, but it also makes the most extraordinary spiked eggnog and spiked cider you can have.

    Buffalo Trace wins points in my book as well for value–at the DC Costco, it’s ~$33/1.75L, which prices it near the bottom shelf, making it cheap enough for an every day mixer, but tasty enough for a sipper.

    Best rye to drink straight for my money is the baby Sazerac if you can find it in stock. Jefferson Rye was a favorite while it was still available… hoping for another release. $30 for a 10 year 100% rye (essentially the poor man’s Whistle Pig) was a good deal while it lasted.

    And one more vote for McKenna 10y BIB and the EWSB — neither is amazing every year, but some years they are stellar, and I’ve never had a year where it wasn’t worth the ~$25. Two of the most consistent “no-regret” bottles on the shelf.

    The one other value on my watch list is for store bottlings of the Bernheim Wheat. So far, I haven’t seen a cask strength bottling of the Bernheim, but I’m sure there is one out there or on the way. And when it hits, an affordable, cask strength wheat could be a huge win.

    This years Parker’s Heritage collection is a cask strength Bernheim except it’s 13 years instead of 7. As you’d expect it’s very good.

    My local store had a sample bottle for their barrel selection that was the normal 7-8yr Bernheim at barrel strength. I had a chance to try it. It was excellent. Right on par with the Parkers Heritage from this year -with a little less complexity. Unfortunately, the distiller is unwilling to sell him the barrel at barrel strength. They will only do their regular proofing with it.

    Larceny is great, but I liked it better when it was Old Fitz 1849 or VS Old Fitz. For solid bottles under $30, I would agree with those who pointed out Old Charter (10 year is great but hard to find now, 101 is good too), Evan Williams Single, Four Roses SB, Weller 12 Yr or Antique, and Johnny Drum Private Stock. Underrated bottles that are easily accessible, I would point to McKenna 10 Yr and Willett Rye 4 Yr. I also think Elmer T Lee is solid, but they’ve raised the price on it in recent years.

    Our family has always enjoyed getting the Virgin Borboun when we travel through NC. A very nice 101 proof for under $25.

    Shame because I have none of these on my shelves in VT or NH. They don’t get here at all. We see standard JPS 4 year? some times and small batch but NAS only. We don’t get the others. really a bummer.

    A great drinking bourbon for the money that I’ve yet to see here is the Medley Bros. Revival. 102 proof at less than $25 I think it is a really solid drinker….. I also must say that the store selected barrels are the way to go. In my store right now I have
    Four Roses 100 proof OBSV(7th selection)
    Four Roses Barrel proof 9yr 5mos. 122.4 OESQ,
    Four Roses Barrel Proof 9 yr, 11 mos. 118.8 OBSK,
    Jefferson Reserve Single Barrel (4th selection)
    Jefferson Ocean 3rd Voyage
    1792 Ridgemont Reserve (5th selection)
    Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Single Barrel (1st selection)
    Evan Williams 2004 Vintage Single Barrel
    Eagle Rare 10 yr. Single Barrel
    Buffalo Trace Single Barrel(6th selection)
    and have on the way: Whistlepig 10yr, Old Scout, and Hopefully a Weller 107 soon….

    These are always above regular shelf quality(of course I am biased as I pick the barrels for our store) and I have great customers who can’t wait to see what we bring in next….

    As many others have mentioned the Weller 107 & Eagle Rare 10 are underrated bourbons..Definetly enjoy both of those for the price. Luckily I was able to snatch up nearly a case of the 107 recently!

    This is a great list, and I couldn’t agree more with Larceny being on it. I also did a blind taste test with Larceny & I found I liked it better than most bourbons I have that cost twice as much.

    Honestly, this list is bizarre. Private bottlings can only be called underrated because their existence isn’t widely known, and they aren’t available more than locally in any case. High West is very well known among whiskey enthusiasts. Michter’s and Jefferson’s get TONS of press. You can make a case only for Larceny and Old Grandad.

    I’ve recently picked up a bottle of Old Bardstown for under $30 here in NYC, and I have to say I’m very impressed! What are y’all’s thoughts? Also, have you ever tried Charred Oak(Wisconsin)? I picked it up for about $55. Loving it.

    Cabin Still is underrated. It tastes similar to Maker’s Mark for a fraction of the cost. If you like Makers Mark, then try Cabin Still.

    I LOVE MY OGD 114!….an absolute *POWERHOUSE*…can’t make a proper ‘mint julep’ without it! All the crushed ice used to make a julep would drown out a lower proof bourbon, but not my old pal OGD 114! When I don’t feel like whippin’ up a cocktail with it, I freely pour myself a dram (or 2)…NO ICE! NO DROPS OF WATER!….straight up…oooohweeee, that’s good stuff! Ssshhhh…..

    Evan Williams bonded 100 proof – awesome bourbon and only $14.
    Better than Elijah Craig SB and most small batch bourbons.
    Rich, deep and flavorful. All of the Heaven Hill bonded bourbons cannot be beat.

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