Fall is the unofficial Oscar season of the bourbon world. Because Bourbon Heritage Month is in September, because bourbon takes the edge off that fading summer pain, and just because they’ve been doing it for years, many distillers release some of their best stuff right as the leaves start falling.
We picked nine great bottles from among the crowd. You may not be able to get your hands on more than a taste of some of these, but we suggest you do that any way you can. They’re all worth the effort.
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Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch 2017
For the blend that became this year’s small batch, Master Distiller Brent Elliott picked two of the low rye recipes from a stable of 10 that Four Roses makes. The result is one of the more unusual bottles of Four Roses from the last few years. It’s mellow and restrained, and a great introduction to the brand for those who are rye wary.
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Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2017
While it’s already a notorious limited release, Old Forester Birthday bourbon got more collectable this year. They released two proof points (95.4 and 96) and sent them to different states. The whiskey is delicious at both strengths, with leather and pepper notes and a dark chocolate backbone.
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George T. Stagg Bourbon 2017
A member of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection of rare releases, George T. Stagg Bourbon 2017 is a monster bottle of whiskey at over 129 proof. The whiskey comes from several warehouses but was all distilled in spring of 2002. Once you add water it’s all espresso, dark chocolate and toffee deliciousness.
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William Larue Weller Bourbon
An unfiltered, uncut release of the same recipe used to make Pappy Van Winkle, William Larue Weller is also a monster proof member of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. At about 128 proof you’ll need water but after that you’re getting a savory sweet bourbon with notes of marshmallow and leather.
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Redemption 10 Year High Rye Bourbon
An MGP-sourced bourbon will get an eye roll from bourbon aficionados, but Redemption has been sourcing quality juice. Their latest release is just a barrel proof version of something we’ve seen before. It’s spicy and sweet, and ends with baking spice notes--a solid profile for sipping.
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2017 Parker’s Heritage Limited Edition 11-Year Single Barrel
When Parker Beam (for whom this bottle is named) made whiskey you knew it was going to be good. In tribute to the late master distiller, Heaven Hill found this high-proof gem of a single barrel for this year’s special release. It’s heavy with spices, oak, and raisin notes and you’ll never want to stop drinking it.
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Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection 2017 Cherry Smoked Barley
Pretty much every bourbon recipe under the sun uses at least 5 percent malted barley for flavoring. Few if any of them would ever dry that malt over cherry wood. Chris Morris did that, though, and the resulting whiskey is a smoky sweet bourbon with almond and fruit notes. It just happens to finish with the flavor of a big, warm, cherry pie.