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18 Rare Bourbons You Won’t Find Just Anywhere

If you’re a fan of bourbon whiskey, then you know that the rarest bourbons out in the world are some of the best you could ever dream of getting your hands on.

Scotch whiskey bottle, glass and old wooden barrel

These kinds of bourbons aren’t made frequently by distillers, are hard to come by at your local liquor store, or run a pretty hefty price when you look them up online. 

Rare bourbon exists because distillers believe in the pursuit of excellence. When they do something as extraordinary as creating a batch of perfect bourbon, it’s worth making a fuss.

Check out our selection of the rarest bourbons!

Old Rip Van Winkle 25-Year-Old Bourbon

If you’ve never heard of Old Rip Van Winkle’s 25-Year-Old Bourbon, you might be surprised to learn that this particular bottle of rare bourbon runs for thousands of dollars. 

Why is this bourbon so expensive and so hard to find? Well, it comes from one of the most famous whiskey names in all of Kentucky.

Whiskey from the Old Rip Van Winkle brand is highly coveted worldwide. 

The folks at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, produce the whiskey. It claims to be the oldest distillery in the United States.

Whatever the case, this 25-year-old bourbon has a unique flavor thanks to Old Rip Van Winkle using wheat instead of rye.

Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Finished in Madeira Casks

Angel’s Envy is a highly-regarded Kentucky straight bourbon, no matter what bottle you find.

But this limited edition bourbon finished in Madeira casks is rare for a reason. 

You’ll notice a fruit-forward flavor with hints of brown sugar and almonds.

The lingering after-effect is a flawless combination of almond and hazelnut. Never mix a rare bourbon; I recommend sipping it neat with someone you know will love it as much as you. 

Angel’s Envy was born as a father-son business venture. Today, they excel at producing some of the world’s best whiskey.

Situated in the heart of Kentucky’s whiskey belt, I can’t tell you enough how excellent this bourbon is.

It’s ideal for anyone looking for a whiskey that perfectly balances its rich flavors.

A.H. Hirsch Reserve 1974 16-Year-Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Coming from the geniuses at Hotaling & Co., Hirsch Whiskey is produced as a small-batch bourbon initiative that stands head and shoulders above many other brands.  

The A.H. Hirsch Reserve 1974 bourbon results from an adventurous entrepreneur purchasing barrels of aging bourbon from a closing distillery.

While many bourbon enthusiasts consider this 16-year-old bourbon to be the best you would ever taste, it’s tough to get your hands on because it was never produced in bulk.

See also  Our Favorite Bourbon Whiskeys to Drink

But that’s one of the things I love about this whiskey. It’s not a gimmick, it’s actual art taking the best form possible: whiskey. 

Milam & Greene The Castle Hill Series 13-Year-Old Bourbon

You’ll be happy to hear that, of all the rare bourbons discussed on this list, you can quickly get your hands on a bottle of the excellent Milam & Greene bourbon from The Castle Hill Series. 

Milam & Greene sold out of their first batch of this delightfully flavorful bourbon.

The second batch came in clutch, ensuring many could enjoy this masterpiece. 

You’ll notice an exciting blend of caramel, cinnamon, and cherry, along with pleasant tobacco notes and a long finish. 

I recommend trying this bourbon whiskey on a cold winter night while curled up by a fire with a book or your special person. 

Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve Straight Bourbon

Old Rip Van Winkle makes another appearance on this list because they have some of the best mash bills for Kentucky Straight Bourbon. 

Pappy Van Winkle is a name you’ve likely heard a time or two, and that should be no surprise.

The Family Reserve Straight Bourbon is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before, and I highly recommend getting your hands on a bottle while you can.

The finish on this bourbon is long and lingering, letting you really savor this flagship label. I loved the coffee notes and the distinct cigar box influence. 

Distilled at Buffalo Trace Distillery along with all the other Old Rip Van Winkle whiskeys, you won’t regret snatching up a bottle of this reserve. 

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon

I have a soft spot for Old Forester because it’s a great bourbon for sipping neat, on the rocks, or mixing with your favorite cocktails.

No matter the occasion, Old Forester can get the job done.

The Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is an outstanding elevation of a standard bourbon to something slightly above perfection.

Its coffee and chocolate finish only add to its irresistible richness. 

Birthday Bourbon is a limited edition release that sees new iterations every year, marking the birthday of Old Forester’s founder. 

The company has been delighting bourbon lovers since 1870, and every new bottle is a chance to experience something divine. 

Parker’s Heritage Collection 1996 Cask Strength Small Batch Straight Bourbon

Heaven Hill Distillery has been creating Parker’s Heritage Collection bourbon for years.

It honors master distiller Parker Beam, a legend in the world of bourbon-making.  

The 1996 Cask Strength Small Batch Straight Bourbon was one of the finest limited-edition releases the distillery ever created.

Heaven Hill released its 10th edition of the Parker’s Heritage Collection in 2016.

This complex bourbon has notes of cherries, cedarwood, and dusty leather.

It comes across as thick and full, with subtle hints of mint. With a warm, lasting finish, every sip of this bourbon is a joy to taste. 

Orphan Barrel Whoop & Holer 28-Year-Old American

Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company finds its home in Tennessee and specializes in bringing fine, rare, forgotten whiskey back into the limelight of the whiskey world. 

Whoop & Holer 28-Year-Old American is a fine example of the work that Orphan Barrel does to create limited-edition whiskey that tastes unlike any even an experienced whiskey drinker might have had. 

See also  Top 11 Bourbon Brands For Beginners

Orphan Barrel Whoop & Holler is a bourbon you don’t share with others. Sure, you want to, but keep it to yourself because it makes you want to enjoy every last drop.

It’s rich, complete, and almost chewy in texture. The long finish makes this the perfect bourbon for sipping. 

Buffalo Trace Double Eagle Very Rare Bourbon

Buffalo Trace’s Double Eagle Very Rare is another bourbon from the famed Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Of all the rarest bourbons we’ve discussed, this one is more accessible than others. 

The thing that makes Double Eagle Very Rare Bourbon unique is the maturing process.

It lives in barrels twice as long as the standard Eagle Rare bourbon.

Buffalo Trace has kept producing bourbon through thick and thin, even surviving the trials of Prohibition by assuring the public their whiskey had medicinal purposes. 

There’s no wrong way to enjoy Double Eagle Very Rare. Just don’t waste it in a cocktail; sip it in its purest form for maximum enjoyment. 

William Heavenhill 13-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

William Heavenhill made corn whiskey in the 19th Century for the people of Bardstown, Kentucky.

The spring he used inspired the birth of the Heaven Hill Distillery after Prohibition.

Released by the Heaven Hill Distillery, William Heavenhill is a tribute to the man who started it all. 

William Heavenhill 13-year-old Kentucky Straight is a limited edition take on Heaven Hill’s collection of small-batch whiskeys. 

This bourbon is accessible to anyone who likes good whiskey. You don’t have to be a snob to appreciate the unique flavor notes and the rich, lingering finish.

However, you might become a snob after you start drinking this stuff.

John E Fitzgerald Very Special Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Old Fitzgerald, or, more precisely, John E Fitzgerald Very Special Reserve, is the product of Heaven Hill Distillery.

They once again came to the rescue of old barreled bourbon up for sale as a distillery closed in the late 1990s. The result was a great whiskey made from 12 barrels of Stitzel Weller whiskey. 

The bourbon housed in those precious barrels was 20 years old by the time Heaven Hill harvested and bottled it.

It became an award-winning bourbon, the envy of specialty whiskey distillers everywhere.

Heaven Hill’s unique reserve whiskey has a full body and a surprisingly light palate.

It won’t overwhelm you if you’re beginning your whiskey journey, but it will undoubtedly get you started on the adventure of a lifetime. 

Michter’s Limited Release 25-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Michter’s is one of my favorite bourbons. It’s easy and enjoyable to drink on its own, great for making cocktails, and highly affordable for high-quality bourbon. 

Michter’s limited-release 25-Year-Old bourbon is a special treat for anyone who appreciates top-notch bourbon that’s been aging to perfection for decades. 

The whiskey has a complex flavor profile and an enjoyable mouthfeel. It’s definitely a bourbon to enjoy on its own, although you might drop an ice cube or two in to cool it down. 

See also  Top 11 Bourbon Brands For Beginners

What I love most about this limited-release bourbon is the exciting combination of molasses, chocolate, and a detailed holiday spice profile. 

2017 Four Roses Al Young 50th Anniversary Bourbon

This specialty bourbon comes from the world-famous Four Roses Distillery. Four Roses has been in almost constant production since the late 1880s. 

The distillery has gone under many names, but the Four Roses legacy has been a critical part of its history since the very beginning.

This brand is known for soft, smooth, mellow flavors that blend perfectly for an effortlessly unique taste with every sip. 

The 2017 Four Roses Al Young 50th Anniversary bourbon is no exception. Enjoying this on a warm summer evening will make your experience all the more pleasurable. 

Redemption 36-Year-Old Bourbon

Redemption 36 is a 97.6-proof bourbon that’s been aged for exactly 36 years in some of the best bourbon barrels you can find. 

The limited-edition release has several defining features, including a penny embedded in the wood stopper from the year the bourbon was distilled. 

Redemption 36 has a stunning aroma and a smooth palate. The lingering finish leaves notes of cherry and citrus.

If you can get your hands on one of these precious bottles, enjoy it slowly and with your favorite people around you.

Jefferson’s 18-Year-Old Presidential Select

Jefferson’s Bourbon started as a father-son business venture.

One of them a bourbon historian and the other simply an enthusiast; the pair set off to innovate the world of bourbon. 

The 18-Year-Old Presidential Select is an ode to the namesake and to anyone who loves good, refreshing, bright bourbon made almost exclusively with rye. 

Jefferson’s Bourbon is constantly trying new things to set its bourbon apart. One of the unique features that Jefferson’s Bourbon brings to the world of whiskey is aging their bourbon at sea.

You’ll enjoy Jefferson’s 18-Year-Old Presidential Select if you like whiskey that has a distinct flavor, is easy to sip on, and leaves a pleasantly warm finish long after the last drop. 

George T. Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

By now, you probably understand that Buffalo Trace Distillery does good work, making delicious bourbon at every turn. 

The limited editions and specialty releases are no exception. You can check out George T. Stagg if you need confirmation.

This barrel-proof bourbon ages almost 50 years before going into the bottles. 

Buffalo Trace is all about history. They named this exceptional bourbon for the man who launched their distillery in the mid-1800s. 

I highly recommend enjoying this specialty bourbon on its own. If you prefer ice in your bourbon, add a splash of water instead so you don’t risk watering it down. 

Michter’s 20 Bourbon

Michter’s makes another appearance with Michter’s 20 Bourbon, a limited production release selected by the master distiller. 

The folks at Michter’s always check their long aging barrels after the 17-mark.

That’s when the whiskey starts to get good. It has all the personality you would expect from a rare bourbon. 

Michter’s is usually a great bourbon to drink with ice or a splash of water.

However, I recommend you drink this one neat. Soak up every bit of the rich, smoky flavor and the long, lingering finish. 

Russell’s Reserve 1998 Bourbon

Last but not least, we have Russell’s Reserve 1998 Bourbon. It comes from the Wild Turkey Distillery, released in small batches at a high proof and aged at least 10 years. 

Russell’s Reserve 1998 is one of the smallest small-batch releases Wild Turkey has produced, with only a couple thousand bottles in circulation.

It has an elegant feel, a complex flavor profile, and seemingly infinite depth.

Notice the almost exotic notes that make it unlike any other Wild Turkey experience. 

You’ll enjoy drinking this one, and it is that simple.  


Leave a Reply
  1. Re: the Jefferson Presidential Select 18yr
    Your write up included the statement “good, refreshing, bright bourbon made almost exclusively with rye”. The Presidential Select was a “wheater” (I believe it was from Stitzel Weller stock…and as that supply was exhausted, I remember reading that future releases would have eye in the mash bill. I honestly don’t remember seeing the Presidential Series available after that; but that certainly doesn’t mean a version including rye didn’t happen.

    *I’m pretty sure the label mentions the wheat – I can’t tell from the picture in your article; but I can look at a bottle in the morning to confirm.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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