If you are new to this series, we discuss different whiskeys that you can use to help make your home bar the number one destination of all your friends and family. Some of these will be by price point, some by proof point, and others by types. These won’t be the end all be all whiskeys in these categories, but they should help you find something to add to your ever-growing collection.
In a previous installment, we talked about some fantastic whiskeys in the $20 – $40 range that you can pick up anywhere to help you start your home bar. This week we are going into what I like to call, “the sweet spot” of whiskey. All the bottles in this article you should be able to find at your local liquor store or any online retailer fairly easy and all in the $40 – $60 price range.
In my opinion, the $40 – $60 price point is where things start to get exciting in the ever expanding world of whiskey. You can start to find amazing offerings from craft distilleries as well as heritage brands, lower proof whiskeys with a lot more flavors, higher proof whiskeys with complexity, and all with a price tag that won’t send you into sticker shock.
I know a lot of you will be able to name a lot of other bottles that you like in this category, and I would love for you to put them in the comments. So grab a seat and a little smoke and oak, and lets get into this list.
Chattanooga Whiskey – Cask 111
111 proof – $44.99 SRP
You knew it had to happen. I had to add a Chattanooga product to at least one of my bar build lists. To me, Cask 111 is the best regular production whiskey that Chattanooga offers.
In their own words: “Cask 111 is the unfiltered, cask-forward expression of our signature Tennessee High Malt recipe. Distilled from a single fermentation, each 6-10 barrel lot has been hand-selected by our distilling team to highlight the subtle nuances between each batch of this distinctly full-bodied and robust whiskey. By omitting the filtration process, our whiskey retains every bit of character captured from its long maturation. Each bottle occasionally captures a small amount of barrel sediment.”
On the nose I get Carmel, malt, and chocolate and the palate brings me notes of chocolate, cherries, honey and a slight sweet tea. The finish is long, warming, and satisfying. If a Bourbon can leave you with a Kentucky hug, This Chattanooga Whiskey will leave you with a nice Tennessee Snuggle. If you are looking for something different for your home bar, this bottle of malty goodness may be what you need. Currently Chattanooga Whiskey is available in your favorite retail stores, restaurants, and bars across Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Louisiana, and Illinois. You can apso purchase it from online retailers such as Seelbachs.
A great runner-up at this price point would be: Russell’s Reserve 10yr ($40.99)
Bottled at 90 proof and aged for at least ten years, Russell’s 10 is a great addition to any bar.
If you are looking for a good cigar to pair with Chattanooga Cask 111, let me recommend: Olmec Maduro
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked
90.4 proof – $48.99 SRP
Waffles, syrup, and vanilla ice cream on the nose. Coffee, chocolate, oak, and vanilla on the palate. If you are looking for a bourbon that is sweet, gentle, and easy on the wallet, look no further, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked is a must have bottle for your bar. Owned by Brown Forman, Woodford is known for their iconic triple copper pot stills that can been seen on most of the merchandise and is also able to be seen if you tour their distillery. The name Double Oaked comes from the process of taking their bourbon from its original barrels and putting it into a second barrel for almost a year to get its signature double oaked flavor. Woodford Double Oaked is available in every state but sometimes harder to find in smaller markets. With some looking around I’m sure you will be able to find it.
A great runner-up at this price point would be: Bulleit 10 Yr Bourbon Whiskey ($47.99)
Another great bottle that’s aged at least 10 years and bottled at 91.2 proof. This choice is wildly different than Woodford. This option gives you lots of vanilla, baking spice, cinnamon toast, less sweet and more spice.
If you are looking for a good cigar to pair with Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, let me recommend: AJ Fernandez New World Cameroon
Penelope Bourbon 4 Grain Barrel Strength
116.6 proof – $54.99 SRP
What happens when a boy meets a girl, then boy marries girl, then boy and girl have a baby girl, and then the boy and best friend decide to start a whiskey company? Well, they name it after the boy’s baby girl and call it Penelope! In the very simplest of terms, and in a extremely small nut shell, that was how Penelope was “born”. In 2018, Mike Paladini and his wife Kerry found out that they were having a baby girl who they would name Penelope. To celebrate all the joys in life, Mike decided to try and create a whiskey that he would eventually name in honor of his daughter. Next, he teamed up with his childhood friend. Danny Polise to help him produce a bourbon that is now sold in over 27 states and 4 counties. In May of 2023, MGP and Penelope announced that MGP, whom they source their whiskey from, will purchase Penelope for $105 million dollars, with a potential earn out of $110.8 million if certain sales goals are met by 2025. Not bad for 2 friends from New Jersey.
According to Penelope, the Barrel Strength expression “is bourbon in its purest form. Penelope Barrel Strength pushes the boundaries of our signature four grain balanced flavor profile. Each batch is blended from three bourbon mash bills aged in new American oak barrels and completely uncut and non chill-filtered. Each barrel was hand selected and blended into a single batch in order to create this unique offering.”
This three-to-four-year aged whisky brings notes of sweet corn, citrus peal, apple, and a slight rye spice on the nose. On the palate you get lots of vanilla, oak, caramel with a slight citrus finish. Although the proof is high, you will find that this bourbon drinks easy. This is a great choice for a good higher proof whiskey that will appeal to a lot of whiskey drinkers.
A great runner-up at this price point would be: Rowan’s Creek Bourbon ($53.99)
A small batch bourbon from the Willett Distiller, Rowans Creek is a blend of bourbons that are aged for 5-15 year and bottled at 100.1 proof. Simple notes of Carmel, vanilla, floral on the nose and the palate and a slightly dry finish.
If you are looking for a good cigar to pair with Penelope Bourbon 4 Grain Barrel Strength, let me recommend: Founders Roosevelt Maduro
Company Distilling Maple Wood Finished Bourbon Whiskey
90 proof – $59.99 SRP
In 2021 Jeff Arnett, the former Master Distiller for Jack Daniels announced that he will be starting a brand-new distillery called Company Distilling. The following year, Company Distilling purchase H. Clark Distilling and adds owner Heath Clark as well as part owner of Old Forge Distillery, Kris Tatum to the list of owners. From there the three men laid out the plans on how to be Tennessee’s next best whiskey. Company’s whiskey is a 3 year old, 90 proof, Tennessee Straight bourbon whiskey that is fully matured in now oak barrels, and then finished with maple wood.
Sipping this whiskey you get rich notes of caramel, apple, and brown sugar. The finish long, sweet, and smooth with a note of vanilla and touch of maple. The first time I had this, the complexity and finish of a 90 proof whiskey had me saying “I need more”. It’s easy sipping, no burn, smooth on the palate, with a great finish, and a wonderful experience, what more could you ask for?
A great runner-up at this price point would be: Wild Turkey Rare Breed ($56.99)
Made at the Wild Turkey Distillers, Rare Breed is a blend of 6,8, and 12 year old small batch bourbons. On the nose I find notes of cherry, vanilla, with a baking spice/cinnamon in the background. The palate brings lots of sweetness. Flavors of caramel, vanilla frosting, cinnamon, and citrus peel. The finish is long and delightful and leaves you with a rye spice and a slight barrel note. As good as this bird is, this is the turkey that bites back.
If you are looking for a good cigar to pair with Company, let me recommend: Cavalier Geneve Prospektor Barberpole
Now you can see why I said this price point is where whiskey can start to get exciting. In this list you have a wide range of options to choose from. A high malt whiskey, a double oaked bourbon, a high proof 4 grain whiskey, a maple finished whiskey, and so many other options that we didn’t even talk about.
As I said when we started this article, there’s a lot of great whiskeys in this price range and I’m sure you have a few that you could add to this list. If so, please put it in the comments below. You know I love conversation and will reply to you. As always, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to read this. Until the next Whiskey Wednesday, if you’re going to enjoy a little smoke & oak just remember, “Life’s too short, enjoy the good stuff…” and do it responsibly!