Americans have proven that no hardship can keep them from their beloved native spirit, bourbon. As VinePair reported last September, sales of off-premise bourbon reached $1.34 billion in revenue only eight months into 2020 — a staggering 30 percent increase from the previous year.
And the bourbon industry isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. To help highlight new releases worth a splurge, VinePair asked experts for the bourbons that have recently earned a place on their bars and in their hearts. Keep reading for some newly released treasures, plus a few classics that should be on every bourbon connoisseur’s radar.
The Best New Bourbons Recommended by Bartenders
- Spirit Works Bourbon
- Pinhook High Proof Bohemian Bourbon
- Ezra Brooks 99 Proof
- Belle Meade Bourbon
- Jeptha Creed Straight 4-Grain Bourbon
- Angel’s Envy Cellar Collection
- Larceny Barrel Strength
- Booker’s Bourbon
- W.L. Weller 12 Year
- Kings County Distillery’s Peated Bourbon
- Woodinville Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- Bardstown Fusion Series #4
Keep reading for details about all of the recommended drinks!
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“Spirit Works Bourbon. Spirit Works is here in Sebastopol at The Barlow. They are local, source quality ingredients, it’s made by wonderful people, and it tastes great. We use it in Dealer’s Choice cocktails like an Old Fashioned, Manhattan, or Whiskey Sour to show off the quality and flavor. It can be enjoyed neat or with a little ice as well.” —Sam Levy, Fern Bar at The Barlow, Sebastopol, Calif.
“Pinhook High Proof Bohemian Bourbon is a great new overproof Kentucky bourbon that isn’t crazy expensive. The whiskey has a lot of pleasant citrus notes on the nose and a sweet caramel finish on the palate. Because of the high ABV, it comes through really well in cocktails and makes a great Whiskey Sour.” —Tom Garvin, Beverage Director, Tribeca’s Kitchen, NYC
“I enjoy using higher-proof bourbon for mixing in stirred cocktails. The Ezra Brooks 99 plays well with various ingredients while still allowing the bold flavors of the bourbon to play center stage. The spicy rye bourbon mash bill and charcoal filtration give it a bit more depth and a slight smokiness that I enjoy in making an Old Fashioned.” —Justin Wilson, Director of Outlets, SAAM Lounge in SLS Brickell, Miami
“I love Belle Meade; it’s an old brand that has recently made a resurgence. They really took the time to source a good whiskey that matches their storied history. Their Cask Strength Bourbon has a little heat and a good mouthfeel. Drink it neat.” —Marc Figueiras, Bartender, Dullboy, Jersey City, N.J.
“I really like Jeptha Creed Straight 4-Grain Bourbon, a very tasty high-proof bourbon with a lot of character and flavor. Their story is also awesome. Female master distiller Joyce Nethery and her husband Bruce [manage] the farm where they grow their heirloom corn.” —Luis Hernandez, Owner, Cocktail Illustrators Consulting, Brooklyn
“Sadly, we don’t have any new bourbons on our back bar. However, the new Angel’s Envy Cellar Collection [finished in] tawny port wine barrels is definitely something I would love to get my hands on.” —David Roth, Beverage Director, KOJO, Sarasota, Fla.
“The newest bourbon to earn a spot on my back bar would have to be Larceny Barrel Strength. A beautiful wheated bourbon from Heaven Hill hitting over 120-proof and aged between 6 and 8 years, this is definitely a pleasant sipping whiskey. I like my bourbon strong and delicious, and this hits all the notes; nice butterscotch and caramel with just a bit of spice and heat so you know you’re drinking a barrel-strength bourbon.” —Dimitrios Zahariadis, Beverage Director, Viron Rondo Osteria, Cheshire, Conn.
“While not necessarily new, Booker’s Bourbon has made the difference for some bars I managed and bartended at along my career.” —Pedro Fernandez, Head Bartender, Amali, NYC
“W.L. Weller 12 Year: I love wheated bourbons in general — when done properly — and this is one of the classics. It’s creamy [and] sweet, with toffee and burnt cream.” —Vince Miezejewski, Bartender, The Archer, Jersey City, N.J.
“The best new bourbon to join our back bar is Kings County Distillery’s Peated Bourbon. Its lightly smoky flavor adds depth to classic cocktails (or poured neat) without overpowering them like a Scotch might. Plus, the old medicine bottle aesthetic shows off their history as the oldest distillery in New York with such a vintage charm.” —Brenna Gay, Bartender, Bradford House, Oklahoma City
“Woodinville Straight Bourbon Whiskey: A blend of corn, rye, and malted barley make for a complex sip. Plenty of notes of vanilla, cinnamon, and walnut. The standout smoothness comes from the unique process the barrels undergo, being left out in the elements before charring takes place.” —Gary Wallach, Food & Beverage Director, Arlo SoHo, NYC
“My new bourbon at our bar is called Bardstown Fusion Series #4. This bourbon shows the fusion between 13-year-old sourced bourbons. It has notes of baking spices like cinnamon, a touch of smoke, and apricot and blackberry on the nose. It has a beautiful finish, with a touch of rich maple. Also, Bardstown Bourbon’s back label has the breakdown of the percentages of the blend, origin, age, and mash bill.” —Juan Fernandez, Food & Beverage Manager/Head Sommelier, The Ballantyne, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Charlotte, N.C.