Whiskey shopping can be a game of hide and seek. You enter a liquor store and come face to face with the same bottles of brown wherever you are. But there are the rare chances you find a bottle that's so ubiquitous that you never really give it much thought. If it's still on the shelf, surely it can't be good as that bottle of Pappy you're hunting, right? Screw the hype. Liquor stores are filled with buried treasure. Hell, some are staring at you right in the eye. All it takes is a little push from your friends at Gear Patrol to get you to find the diamond in the rough. So go ahead, and take a shot at one of these underrated shelf sleepers.
Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Barrel Proof
This is not the Old No. 7 you're familiar with. Honestly, some of you probably didn't think Jack Daniel's could come out with something as good as Single Barrel Barrel Proof. Ignore the redundant name, because the juice inside is like the Jack you're used to but turned up to 11.
Early Times Bottled-in-Bond
Bottled-in-bond for no more than $30? You may find Early Times on the bottom shelf, but it's only because everyone's sleeping on it for the over-hyped bourbons undeservingly sitting on the higher rungs.
Heaven Hill 6-Year-Old Green Label
Kentuckians, you folk are a lucky bunch. Heaven Hill 6-Year-Old Green Label is a six-year-old, 90 proof bourbon that, for around $12, is exclusive to Kentucky, and it has a seal of approval from prolific bourbon reviewer Fred Minnick.
David Nicholson Reserve
Warrant has its cherry pie, and if you grab some David Nicholson Reserve, you'll have your own cherry pie in a bottle. The high-rye bourbon (which is very likely to be from Heaven Hill) clocks in at 100 proof and tastes of cherries, nuts and butter — cherry pie, anyone?
Willet Distilling may be behind Noah's Mill, but for many, that's one of the only concrete facts about the mysterious bourbon. The lore of what's in the bottle and where it's from are second to just how damn good the juice inside tastes.
Don't be fooled my Mellow Corn's tacky, gaudy exterior. And certainly don't be put off by that deceptively low price. The predominantly corn-based spirit is a hit among whiskey nerds, and they're probably not very happy that we're sharing the secret of Mellow Corn with all of you.
Hancock's President's Reserve
Blanton's is cool and all, but with greedy resellers marking up bottles for double or triple retail, it's not so cool anymore. Get a practically identical juice from a bottle of Hancock's President's Reserve. At around $50 a bottle (though we're starting to see this get the Blanton's treatment), it's worth picking up if you can find it.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof
Elijah Craig is just as ubiquitous something like Buffalo Trace, but few understand the potential that comes out of the Heaven Hill-owned brand. Its Barrel Proof bourbon drops a handful of times throughout the year, yet its releases never garner the same excitement as other whiskey drops. And blessed it is, because that means more for us and others in the know.