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14 Barrel-Proof Whiskeys That Deliver Bold Flavor

14 Barrel-Proof Whiskeys That Deliver Bold Flavor

June 15, 2021 –––––– Zak Kostro, , , ,

For big, bold flavor, one needs to look no further than barrel-proof whisky—especially American whiskey. Some of distillers' best bourbon and rye come straight out of the barrel, and they pack a punch, given that in hot, dry climates, proof rises over time thanks to barrels losing water at a faster rate than alcohol.

At higher proofs, flavors are concentrated, and bottling at barrel proof more or less showcases the whiskey's recipe and the distiller's intent. The following bourbons (and one rye) range in proof from 53.89% ABV to a whopping 68.35% ABV, and they all scored 90 points or more with our tasting panel.

The best barrel-proof bourbons to try right now



Barrell Cask-Strength bourbon (Batch 23)

92 points, 53.89%, $90
Caramel, baked marshmallow, dark cherry, and candied peanuts




maker's mark cask strengthMaker's Mark Cask Strength Kentucky straight bourbon (Batch 19-01)

92 points, 54.4%, $40
Chocolate, almonds, shortbread, and tobacco




Belle Meade Cask Strength Reserve
(Batch No. 5)

92 points, 56.8%, $70
Cinnamon Red Hots, grape soda, chocolate-covered caramels, and roasted corn


W.L. Weller Full Proof Kentucky straight bourbon

93 points, 57%, $50
Blackberry compote, tiramisu, and milk chocolate *while this is not barrel-proof, it is a high-proof bourbon




Four Gate Split Stave by Kelvin Cask-Finished bourbon

91 points, 57.8%, $175
Oak-forward, with dark cherry, black tea, and licorice




Wild Turkey Rare Breed Kentucky straight bourbon

90 points, 58.4%, $45
Hints of caramel apples, pumpkin pie, and roasted pecans




Old Ezra 7 year old Barrel-Strength Kentucky straight bourbon

94 points, 58.5%, $50
Cinnamon, roasted pecan, melted caramel, and macaroons


Knob Creek Cask-Strength rye

94 points, 59.8%, $70
Tropical fruits, citrus oil, peach nectar, cinnamon, and peppery spice




Angel's Envy Cask-Strength Port Barrel-Finished bourbon (2019 Release)

93 points, 61.2%, $200
Nutty grain set off by dark fruit and pecan pie




Larceny Barrel-Proof Kentucky straight bourbon (Batch A120)

93 points, 61.6%, $50
Spiced chocolate, toasted almonds, cinnamon, pepper, and well-integrated oak


1792 Full Proof
Kentucky straight bourbon

92 points, 62.5%, $45
Nougat and chewy toffee mixed with ripe orchard fruit *while not barrel-proof, this is a high-proof bourbon



Booker's 2019-04 “Beaten Biscuits” Kentucky straight bourbon

92 points, 63.05%, $80
Orange Creamsicle, pepper, dried oranges, and cigar wrapper


Stagg Jr. Barrel Proof Kentucky straight bourbon (13th Edition)

94 points, 64.2%, $50
Blueberry and blackberry balanced with burnt sugar and pipe tobacco


Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight (Batch C920) bottle.Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Kentucky straight bourbon (Batch A120)

94 points, 68.3%, $60
Generous oak, dense sweetness, and bold spices, including allspice, pepper, and clove