You know who knows best which bottles to buy? The people who pour and sell drinks—that’s who. We asked dozens of top bartending and spirits industry professionals to tell us which bottles they love and why.
Heads up: The numerical order below is not organized by importance or quality; it’s an alphabetical list, not a ranking. Prices are averages and can vary from state to state.
“An extra charcoal filter takes classic Jack Daniel’s and adds an extra level of smoothness while maintaining a great flavor. Gentleman Jack is a great stocking stuffer for the holidays.”—Travis Sanders, bartender at Pennyroyal in Seattle
“Michter’s rye is always on my backbar. Spicy and dry with subtle fruit notes, it’s equally outstanding sipped neat or on the rocks.”—Max Green, managing partner and senior beverage manager at Blue Quarter and Pure Grey in New York City
“It has a very unique whiskey process—smooth with a unique sourdough quality to it.”—Sanders
“Typically in the low $20s, you can really play around with making a drink and not break the bank. It’s perfect in an Old Fashioned at the hottest new cocktail bar or sipped neat at your favorite dive.”—Green
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“This is a unique label as it’s a blend of straight bourbon, straight rye and light corn whiskey and then finished with oloroso sherry (not aged in sherry casks—sherry is added after distillation). The result is a nutty sweetness and incredible drinkability. It’s like a bottled Old Fashioned. Buy it. Buy it now.”—Sother Teague, beverage director at Amor y Amargo, Blue Quarter, HoneyBee's and Windmill in New York City
“This award-winning bottled-in-bond rye whiskey is at the perfect price tier for use in cocktails.”—Tokiwa Sears, lead bartender at Bar Margot at the Four Seasons hotel in Atlanta
“This rye is spicy, nutty and delicious all around.”—Cari Hah, bar manager at Big Bar in Los Angeles
“This American whiskey is resting in some of Dave Phinney's wine barrels to add extra-soft tannin notes. Phinney is most famous for his wine collection under the name Orin Swift.”—Zachary Helton, bartender at Cork & Cow in Franklin, Tenn.
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“It’s the first whiskey I ever had, learned from my grandfather. It’s sweet like candy.”—Ryan Schaeffer, operational bartender at Four Corners bars in Chicago
“Woodford malt whiskey has great malty sweet characteristic with a surprising heat that’s an asset. Punchy and fun, this is a great sipper.”—Hah