I have a friend who is new to Bourbon and wants to build his Bourbon collection. He does not know where to start so I am going to write this blog as a guideline for those wanting to build a Bourbon collection.

I am starting by saying this is a collection for drinking, not for flipping bottles. Bourbon is for drinking. I would start the collection by collecting bottles from the “Kentucky Heritage Distilleries” – the distilleries that survived the bad times of the late 20th century. These distilleries and brands to collect are as follows:

  • Brown-Forman: Old Forester 86 and 100 proof Bourbons.
  • Buffalo Trace: Ancient Age 90 proof and Benchmark Bonded Bourbons.
  • Barton 1792: Very old Barton Bottled-in-Bond and 90 proof.
  • Diageo: Bulliett Bourbon, I. W. Harper Bourbon.
  • Four Roses: Four Roses “Yellow Label” 80 proof Bourbon.
  • Heaven Hill: Evan Williams Black Label 86 proof Bourbon, J.T.S. Brown Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon, Larceny Bourbon.
  • Jim Beam: Jim Beam White Label, Old Grand Dad Bottled-in-Bond.
  • Maker’s Mark: Maker’s Mark 90 proof Bourbon
  • Wild Turkey: Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon.

This is a good basic collection of Bourbon. All of the Bourbons are easily obtainable and relatively inexpensive at a cost less than $400.00. Now you need to expand your collection to include some premium Bourbons – single barrel, small batch and extra aged Bourbon.

  • Brown-Forman: Woodford Reserve, Old Forester 1897 Bottled-in-Bond
  • Buffalo Trace: Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Blanton’s Single Barrel, Eagle Rare Small Batch.
  • Barton 1792: 1792 Bottled-in-Bond, 1792 Cask Strength.
  • Diageo: Bulliett Barrel Strength, I. W. Harper 15yo.
  • Four Roses: Four Roses Single Barrel, Four Roses Small Batch.
  • Heaven Hill: Evan Williams Single Barrel, Elijah Craig Small Batch, Henry McKenna 10yo Bottled-in-Bond.
  • Jim Beam: The Small Batch Collection – Booker’s, Knob Creek, Basil Hayden, Baker’s.
  • Maker’s Mark: Maker’s Mark Cask Strength, Maker’s 46.
  • Wild Turkey: Kentucky Spirit Single Barrel, Rare Breed Barrel Proof.

This has given you a very good Bourbon collection and these premium bottles will cost you about $1,500.00. Now you need to expand your collection to include some non-Bourbon American whiskeys.

  • Brown-Forman: Old Forester Rye, Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey
  • Buffalo Trace: Sazerac Rye.
  • Diageo: Bulliett Rye, George Dickel No.12 Tennessee Whisky
  • Heaven Hill: Mellow Corn Corn Whiskey, Pikesville Rye, Rittenhouse Bottled-in-Bond Rye, Bernheim Wheat Whiskey.
  • Jim Beam: Old Overholt Bottled-in-Bond Rye, Jim Beam Rye.
  • Wild Turkey: Wild Turkey 101 Rye.

You now have a basic Bourbon whiskey collection with some interesting other American whiskeys for comparison. These additional whiskeys will cost you about $400.00, making your investment in your collection at about $2,300.00. My next blog will build upon this collection by adding smaller distilleries from Kentucky as well as other states.

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller