What are the most expensive bourbons in the world?
Bourbon whiskey has a reputation for being a drink to satisfy the working class, while its cousin, Scotch, was touted as a higher-end drink for the wealthy.
However, this distinction has been changing throughout the years and today there are many bourbons that only the most wealthy enthusiasts can afford.
These definitely aren’t your typical bourbons and you’re only going to want to crack them open for extremely important occasions.
The Most Expensive Bourbons in the World
If you’re looking for the smoothest top-shelf bourbons in the world, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve rounded up the priciest bottles that you definitely won’t find at your local liquor store.
Here’s our list of the 10 most expensive bourbons in the world:
10. Willett Family Estate Bottled Single-Barrel 21 Year Old – $8,607
The Willett family estate is well-known among bourbon whiskey enthusiasts, and the Willett distillery has been in operation since 1936.
This 21-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey is highly sought-after by collectors since it is released sporadically in small batches, usually of 100 bottles or less.
There is never a set date when it will be released, so you really need to watch the estate closely for updates.
Those who have been lucky enough to sample this whiskey say that it has a lot of complexity and unusual depth that is difficult to describe, but definitely worth the price.
You certainly can’t go wrong with anything from the Willett distillery, but you might need to sell your collection of the most expensive matchbox cars in the world in order to afford it.
9. Willett Family Estate Bottled Single-Barrel 24 Year Old – $9,999
Speaking of expensive bourbon from the Willett family estate, this 24-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey is even more expensive and hard to come by.
Like the previous whiskey listed above, bottles of this single-barrel bourbon are sporadically released, and the time between releases varies because different barrels are used each time.
Because of this aging process, every bottle is unique and every release will have a different taste from the last.
To get a bottle of this bourbon for yourself, you’ll need to be exceptionally lucky and in the right place at the right time.
For example, in 2015, only 95 bottles were produced and sold at the distillery’s gift shop, so if you weren’t there to get one, you were out of luck.
8. Michter’s 25-Year-Old Single Barrel – $10,459
Michter’s has one of the richest histories in the bourbon business and bottles of this 25-year-old single barrel bourbon whiskey are one that a lot of collectors scramble to acquire.
As another seldomly released bourbon, you will need to beat out other collectors and pay a pretty penny in order to grab one for yourself.
However, if you do manage to get one, you can expect a bourbon that has a mild orange and bold vanilla taste with undertones of the wood from the barrels used to age it.
This bourbon’s unique flavor comes in part from the rare aging process that the distillery uses.
Called heat cycling, this process consists of raising and lowering the warehouse temperature, which causes the bourbon to contract to absorb more flavor.
Not a lot of other distilleries use this process, which is another reason why a bottle of this bourbon will set you back so much.
7. Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash – $13,227
In 2019, Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash was released and collectors rushed to get a bottle for themselves.
Created by Dan McKee in collaboration with the Master of Maturation, Andrea Wilson, this sour mash bourbon was meant to mark his first release as a Master Distiller, and it certainly lived up to the hype.
Together, the pair chose two Kentucky straight bourbons and four Kentucky straight rye whiskies, all aged between 10 and 30 years, to create this special blend, of which only 277 bottles were made.
Each edition was hand bottled and labeled with 18-carat gold lettering, which definitely bolstered the price and gave this bourbon a luxury appearance.
Although it retailed for $5,000, today you’ll be fortunate to find it for anything less than $13,000, that is if you can find it at all.
However, if you do manage to track one down and pay for it, you can expect a bourbon with savory notes of chocolate truffles and honeycomb with a finish of caramel and cherries.
Now, if only we could afford to sip this bourbon while chilling on the deck of one of the most expensive yachts in the world, we’d really be living the dream.
6. Colonel EH Taylor Warehouse C Tornado Survivor – $13,918
Created at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, this Kentucky bourbon whiskey isn’t just known for its smooth flavor but for its fascinating backstory, from which it gets its name.
In 2006, a tornado tore through central Kentucky where the Buffalo Trace distillery is located, and devastated the warehouse where this bourbon was aging.
With the roof torn off, the barrels were exposed to the elements for the entire summer while the warehouse was being repaired.
Although these barrels were thought to be ruined, the distillery kept them around and years later decided to taste the contents.
Surprisingly, the exposure to the summer sun and weather had actually given the bourbon a wholly unique flavor that was exceptionally rich.
Instead of letting this distinctive batch go to waste, they decided to bottle it under the moniker “Warehouse C Tornado Survivor”.
While we’re certainly glad this bourbon didn’t get thrown out, it definitely comes with a price tag that only someone who owns one of the most expensive private jets in the world can afford comfortably.
5. Old Rip Van Winkle Handmade Family Reserve 16 Year Old – $14,999
Bottled in 1990, this bourbon came from the Van Winkle’s family reserve and received an extremely limited release.
Although the family continued to release limited quantities throughout the 90s, it did eventually run out in the 2000s leading to this bourbon becoming incredibly rare.
Despite Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve now being distilled in Buffalo Trace using the old recipe, the older bottles have become hard to find and will most likely become impossible to buy in the near future.
Because of this, bourbon enthusiasts won’t want to pass up an opportunity to grab a bottle if the opportunity presents itself, especially if they have the money on hand to do so.
This expensive bourbon has all but become a collector’s item and if you do manage to get a bottle, you’ll definitely want to crack it open only on very special occasions.
4. Double Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon 20 Year Old- $20,400
Packaged in a luxurious-looking silver box and held in a crystal bottle, Eagle Rare bourbon is, as the name suggests, very rare.
When it first debuted in a 2019 limited release, this straight bourbon was warmly received by enthusiasts, and since then only 400 more bottles have been released, each with their own labels of authenticity.
Matured for 20 years at the Buffalo Trace distillery, this bourbon is 101 proof and pairs well with some of the most expensive food you can buy, but we’d recommend only drinking it in small quantities.
Due to this bourbon’s rarity and extremely high price tag, it is certainly more geared towards collectors who want to show it off, rather than those who want to drink it.
If you can manage to track down a bottle, you’re going to be paying a high premium to acquire it, possibly even more than $20,000 depending on the secondary market source.
3. The Last Drop Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon – $18,320
In 2008, The Last Drop was founded by James Espy and Tom Jago, who made it their life’s work to create the best spirits in the world.
Taking our number three spot is the Last Drop Buffalo Trace Kentucky straight bourbon which comes from the same distillery that many others on this list hail from, including the Tornado Survivor.
Despite having changed hands many times throughout history, the Buffalo Trace Distillery is the oldest distillery in continuous operation, and it has been making history for 200 years, winning awards and producing the best bourbon.
However, when it came under new ownership in 1992, a grand discovery was made.
In the corner of one of the warehouses sat a few barrels of bourbon, one of which ended up in the possession of The Last Drop.
This bourbon, originally distilled in 1980, had aged to acquire a deep amber hue while its barrel sat undisturbed.
Since only one barrel of this whiskey was given to The Last Drop, you can imagine that the release was incredibly limited, which is what makes a single bottle so expensive.
Unless you’re one of the richest rockstars in the world, you’re unlikely to ever get to sample this uniquely aged bourbon.
2. Colonel EH Taylor Old Fashioned Sour Mash – $24,719
Colonel EH Taylor was well-known for his sour mash bourbon in the mid to late nineteenth century and he was the first master distiller to use climate-controlled aging.
However, it wasn’t until 2002 that the Buffalo Trace Distillery began making bourbon using the Colonel’s special sour mash technique.
The result was a sour mash named after the man himself and it came as a very limited release.
Because so little was produced, finding a bottle of this Old Fashioned Sour Mash is incredibly difficult, but they do sometimes pop up for sale, and if you’re lucky enough — and wealthy enough — you can still find them.
A taste of this rich bourbon is going to cost you nearly $25,000, which may make you never want to crack it open and instead keep it on your shelf as something to show off and brag about.
1. Old Rip Van Winkle 25 Year Old – $33,438
The pinnacle of expensive bottles, the Old Rip Van Winkle 25-year-old straight bourbon whiskey is the most expensive bourbon and one that every collector would love to have in their collections.
This is the oldest bourbon to be released by Pappy Van Winkle’s family, and it filled only 11 barrels when it was distilled in 1989.
Only 710 hand-cut decanters of this bourbon were released, each carefully packed in specially crafted wood boxes that contained staves from the original barrels.
To make Rip Van Winkle bourbon even more official are the certificates of authenticity that each bottle came featured with, signed by Pappy Van Winkle’s grandson.
Despite its original retail price ‘only’ being $1,800 back in 2017 when it was released, due to how quickly it sold out, this bourbon’s price soared with buyers desperate to own a bottle for themselves at any cost.
Today, while you can still find bottles of this special bourbon, it is going to cost you at least $33,438, and potentially more, as they continue to become increasingly hard to come by.
Although this bottle isn’t as expensive as some of the most alcoholic drinks in the world, for bourbon collectors it is the holy grail and absolutely worth the steep price tag that it comes with.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the most expensive bourbons!
Which one of these bourbons would you want to try most? We’d definitely want to sample the 25-year-old Rip Van Winkle, but only if someone else is buying it!
Here’s a quick recap of the 10 most expensive bourbons in the world:
- Old Rip Van Winkle 25 Year Old – $33,438
- Colonel EH Taylor Old Fashioned Sour Mash – $24,719
- The Last Drop Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon – $18,320
- Double Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon 20 Year Old- $20,400
- Old Rip Van Winkle Handmade Family Reserve 16 Year Old – $14,999
- Colonel EH Taylor Warehouse C Tornado Survivor – $13,918
- Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash – $13,227
- Michter’s 25-Year-Old Single Barrel – $10,459
- Willett Family Estate Bottled Single-Barrel 24-year-Old – $9,999
- Willett Family Estate Bottled Single-Barrel 21 Year Old – $8,607