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Rare Bourbons List: 15 Hard-to-Find Spirits (2022 Updated)

Last Updated on November 15, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Bourbon is different from other whiskeys because it has its specific requirements for the production process. While it has its standards, not all bourbons are created equal.  

Here’s the rare bourbons list with bottlings called “unicorns” because it is frequently discussed but rarely seen. Read on to find out.  

15 Rare Bourbons To Look Out For

15. Redemption 36-Year-Old Bourbon

3 bottles of Redemption 36-Year-Old Bourbon on top of table

Average Price: Roughly $41,999.99 (Cask Cartel) 

Alcohol Content: 48.8% 

Why It’s Rare:

Redemption 36-year-old bourbon is one of the most expensive bourbons on the market today.

These bottles have special notes of smoke, anise, cinnamon, and dried orange. 

There are only four barrels of this 36-year-old bourbon, and when divided into bottles, there are only 18 bottles in circulation. 

14. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection: George T. Stagg Bourbon 

George T. Stagg Bottle on a Table

Average Price: Roughly $599 (Drizly) 

Alcohol Content: 58.45% 

Why It’s Rare:

George T. Stagg bourbon is a rare bourbon from Buffalo Trace Distillery, and it is aged for 15 years for a flavorful, intense, and powerful taste. 

George T. Stagg Bourbon is an annual bourbon release from the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.

This rare bourbon has lush sweetness with underlying notes of coffee and spearmint. 

13. 2017 Four Roses Al Young 50th Anniversary Bourbon

Four Roses Al Young 50th Anniversary Bottle with shelves of liqour on the background

Average Price: Roughly $3,999.99 (Cask Cartel) 

Alcohol Content: 53.8% 

Why It’s Rare:

Four Roses Al Young 50th Anniversary bourbon is now available in the secondary market, which makes every bottle expensive and rare. 

The limited edition small batch bourbon is named after Al Young, a member of Four Roses for 52 years, and it is made to honor his dedicated tenure to Four Roses. 

12. Milam & Greene: The Castle Hill Series 13-Year-Old Bourbon

Close up Shot of The Castle Hill Series 13-Year-Old Bourbon Bottle

MSRP: $149.99 

Average Price: Roughly $249.99  

Alcohol Content: 55.5% 

Why It’s Rare:

The Castle Hill Series is on its second release.

This limited edition 13-year-old hand-selected bourbon whiskey is bottled at barrel proof by Master Blender Heather Greene. 

There are 20 vintage barrels for batch 1 and 26 for this 13-year-old bourbon batch 2. It holds the title of one of the oldest bourbons from Milam & Greene.

11. Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Finished in Madeira Casks

Angel's Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Finished in Madeira Casks Bottle and Glass

Average Price: Roughly $699.99 (Cask Cartel) 

Alcohol Content: 50% 

Why It’s Rare:

Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon is finished in Madeira casks for deeper wood notes and complexity.

Angel’s Envy is bottled at 100 proof and is a great addition to a bourbon bar. 

There were 30 varieties of barrels explored to be used to finish Angels’ Envy Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. 

10. Orphan Barrel Whoop & Holler 28-Year-Old American Whiskey

Orphan Barrel Whoop & Holler 28-Year-Old American Whiskey Bottle and a Glass Drink

Average Price: Roughly $249.99 (Drizly) 

Alcohol Content: 42% 

Why It’s Rare:

Orphan Barrel Whoop and Holler is a 28-year-old bourbon whiskey, and it is an elderly bourbon made using a one-time-release mash bill.

As expected on this bottling, it has bitter notes with tons of oak, but it features other sweet notes like very ripe bananas, bubblegum, vanilla, and cinnamon. 

9. Blue Run 14-Year-Old Small Batch Bourbon

Close Up Shot Blue Run 14-Year-Old Small Batch Bourbon Bottle Label

Average Price: Roughly $ 

Alcohol Content: 56.5% 

Why It’s Rare:

Blue Run Small Batch is a distinctive, bold whiskey impeccably crafted and aged to perfection. 

It is sold out on their website, and your chance to score this bottle depends on secondary markets.

8. William Heavenhill 13-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon 

William Heavenhill 13-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Bottle with glass and apple

Average Price: Roughly $799 (Continental Wine & Spirits)  

Alcohol Content: 50% 

Why It’s Rare:

William Heavenhill 13-year-old Kentucky Straight bourbon whiskey is produced by Heaven Hill Distillery.

Based on Caskers, it has the second-largest bourbon inventory in the world. 

It is a limited edition bourbon whiskey, and this release came from 35 barrels only.

It is not as expensive as other bourbons, but it fits nicely on bourbon shelves because of its great taste. 

7. John E Fitzgerald Very Special Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon 

John E Fitzgerald Very Special Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon on top of table

Average Price: Roughly $3999.99 (Bourbon Concierge)

Alcohol Content: 45% 

Why It’s Rare:

John E Fitzgerald Very Special Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon is a rare bourbon, and it was distilled by Stitzel Weller and bottled by Heaven Hill Distillery. 

The bourbon whiskey was aged for 23 years and was migrated in steel tanks in 2013 to avoid over-aging that may affect the tasting notes of the best bourbon. 

Since it is non-chill filtered, the bourbon whiskey retains more fatty acids and natural esters during the aging process, which culminates in a richer mouthfeel. 

6. Buffalo Trace Double Eagle Very Rare Bourbon

Average Price: Roughly $15,399.99 (Drizly) 

Alcohol Content: 45% 

Why It’s Rare:

Double Eagle Very Rare Bourbon is aged twice as the Eagle Rare (10 years) and comes in a complementary decanter with crystal-carved eagles. 

A few bottles are produced, and all the bottles hitting shelves are individually numbered with a letter of authenticity. 

It is one of the best bourbon whiskeys with a surprisingly balanced flavor after two decades of aging. It has hints of toasted oak, caramel, dark chocolate, and vanilla. 

5. Old Rip Van Winkle 25-Year-Old Bourbon

25 Year Old Rip Van Winkle bottle in a box

Average Price: Roughly $64,999 (Cask Cartel) 

Alcohol Content: 50% 

Why It’s Rare:

Old Rip Van Winkle is a 25-year-old bourbon whiskey from the Van Winkle Family, and there are only 710 decanters distilled from their own distillery. 

Each bottle of Old Rip Van Winkle comes with numbered certificates and wooden boxes made from the staves of barrels where the distillery once stored the whiskey. 

4. A.H. Hirsch Reserve 1974 16-Year-Old Straight Bourbon 

A.H. Hirsch 16 Year Old Bourbon Bottle

Average Price: Roughly $19,999.99 (Bourbon Concierge) 

Alcohol Content: 45.8% 

Why It’s Rare:

A.H. Hirsch Reserve 1974 is a 16-year-old straight bourbon, one of the most sought-after and highest-rated bottling vintage whiskey. 

Because of its rarity, the bourbon is included in the book written by Charles K. Cowdrey, The Best Bourbon You’ll Never Taste. 

There are only 400 barrels for this batch, and Gordon Hue acquired it in 1989 before Julian Van Winkle III bottled it as A.H Hirsch Reserve.

3. Michter’s Limited Release 25-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Michter's Limited Release 25-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon with glass and box

Average Price: Roughly $23,009 (Cask Cartel) 

Alcohol Content: 58.1% 

Why It’s Rare:

Based on Maxim, fewer than 400 bottles of Michter’s Limited Release 25-Year-Old Kentucky Straight bourbon made it one of the rarest and most expensive bourbons today. 

Aside from their small batch and cask strength bourbon, this limited release is well acknowledged by different award-giving bodies like Whisky Advocate. 

2. Old Forester Birthday Bourbon

3 bottles of Old Forester Birthday Bourbon

Average Price: Roughly $1264 (Wine Searcher)

Alcohol Content: 52% 

Why It’s Rare:

Every September 2nd of the year, Old Forester releases their Birthday Bourbon to honor the birthday of their founder, George Garvin Brown. 

The 2021 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon comprises 119 barrels and has matured for 12 years.

The distillery chose the 12-year-old bourbon to be part of this year’s release. 

1. Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Straight Bourbon

bottle of Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve Straight Bourbon

MSRP: $199.99 

Average Price: Roughly $9,999.99 (Cask Cartel) 

Alcohol Content: 45.2% 

Why It’s Rare:

Call it the Pappy Van effect or marketing strategy, but Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Straight Bourbon is the rare bourbon today. 

The Pappy Van Winkle bottlings from the Van Winkle Family are so rare that the secondary market sells the wheated bourbon for skyrocketing prices even though it has its MSRP [1]. 

Aside from the Family Reserve Straight bourbon, the Pappy Van Winkle 23 and Pappy Van Winkle 25 are sought after because of their rarity. 

FAQs 

Where can you buy rare bourbons?

You can buy rare bourbons on secondary markets like collectors and non-official retailers.

They are no longer available in their respective distilleries and are sold for higher prices due to rarity [2]. 

Is collecting rare bourbons a good investment?

Yes, collecting rare bourbons is a good investment. It can be a passive income and gives a great ROI. 

Vintages and limited editions like Parker’s Heritage Collection and Elijah Craig Single Barrel bourbon will be more profitable after ten to twenty years. 

Do rare bourbons appreciate in value?

Yes, rare bourbons appreciate in value. Over the years, the value of rare bourbon has increased because of its availability and demand. 

Bottles like Parker’s Heritage Collection, EH Taylor Jr Warehouse C Tornado Surviving Bourbon, Old Fitzgerald, Elijah Craig, and William Larue Weller get more expensive yearly. 

Final Thoughts

Rare bourbons are hard to find because of their premium quality, limited production, and longer aging.

They get more expensive in secondary markets because of the demand and scarcity. 

Rare bourbon whiskeys can be a good investment because rare bourbon whiskeys appreciate in value, especially when taken care of. 

References:

  1. https://robbreport.com/food-drink/spirits/2022-pappy-van-winkle-bourbon-bufflo-trace-1234756300/ 
  2. https://www.gearpatrol.com/food/drinks/a700726/bourbon-secondary-market-facebook/

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