Counting nearly 110,000 subscribers strong, Reddit’s /r/bourbon community is among the largest bourbon discussion platforms on the internet. From the most soughtafter bourbons in the world to Wild Turkey 101, the majority of the board’s discussion swirls around user-submitted bottle reviews. In a thread asking for the forum’s highest-rated bourbons ever, /u/zSolaris delivered. According to Redditor reviews, these are the five best bourbons you can drink (check out the full list here).
1. George T. Stagg (2012)
Average Score: 95.36 out of 100
The King of online bourbon discussion. George T. Stagg releases annually with Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection. Its hallmarks are extraordinarily high-proof points and more flavor depth than virtually anything available. The 2012 release is a 16-year-old, 142 nuclear bomb of a bourbon. There is a near-zero percent chance at finding a release from 7 years ago on shelves, but you could perhaps trade bottles or drop well over $1,000 for it.
2. George T. Stagg (2014)
Average Score: 93.75 out of 100
The 2014 George T. Stagg drop only slightly differed from the 2012 release. Its proof dropped to 138 and it’s about 5 months younger whisky (still technically a 16-year-old whiskey, though). To get a better idea just how dominant George T. Stagg is, click “Show More” on the bottle’s awards dropdown. For those who want in, this is another wallet-emptying bottle. Just about the only way to try it are at well-stocked bars or less-than-legal secondary market sources.
3. William Larue Weller (2013)
Average Score: 93.45 out of 100
William Larue Weller is the only member of the Antique Collection to rival Stagg’s rating and award recognition. It’s 136 proof, barrel strength bourbon that’s matured for a dozen years, but that’s not the root of the hype. William Larue Weller, like all bottles of Weller, shares the wheated mashbill (recipe) of the Van Winkle Collection, meaning drinking this particularly Weller is a bit like drinking barrel proof Pappy. Even without pages of “Best” awards this Weller would be pricey. But it’s got both. Prices fluctuate through the year, but spending near $1,000 for a bottle isn’t uncommon. Better off finding a good bar.
4. High West A Midwinter Night’s Dram
Average Score: 92.64 out of 100
The only non-Buffalo Trace bourbon in the top five is not what you’d expect. High West is large craft distillery in Utah that produces a number of off-the-wall whiskeys (Example: a blend of bourbon, rye and peated scotch). A Midwinters Night’s Dram is a combination of young and old very-high-rye whiskeys that are finished in French oak port barrels. Released annually, this bottle is its most exclusive drop of the year, but it’s not on the level of exclusivity as the other four bottles on this list. Bottles typically run around $90 to $100.
5. William Larue Weller (2014)
Average Score: 91.45 out of 100
The 2014 William Larue Weller hit shelves at a higher proof than the 2013 release, but most reviews report it didn’t increase the burn. Like previous Wellers and Staggs on this list, it won’t be easy to pry bottles from owners, but whiskey bars should offer a glimmer of hope. If not, seek out lowel level wheated bourbon options like Weller 12-Year-Old or Maker’s Mark Cask Strength.