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I can’t get enough of these 8 high-proof bourbon bottles

The best way to warm up

Bourbon in a glass in a hand
Clay Banks / Unsplash

Winter is here. This means that the days are getting shorter, the nights are growing colder, and eventually, you’re going to need something to warm you up. And while layering your clothing and wearing a warm jacket and winter hat is always a good idea, it’s hard to beat the appeal of warming whiskey (even if the warming sensation won’t help keep you warm at all) on a frozen winter day, especially high-proof bourbon.

For those unaware, a majority of bourbon is bottled at 80 proof. This means it’s 40% alcohol by volume. You won’t be surprised to learn that 80 proof is not high proof. The term is used to describe whiskeys with a higher alcohol content, usually more than 100 proof. That’s a pretty good cutoff because you’ll often find barrel-strength and cask-strength bourbons in the 110 to 120 range.

If you’re looking to stock your home bar cart or liquor cabinet with a few high-proof bourbons this winter, we’ve got you covered. We did the work (drinking) for you and created a list of eight of the most warming, flavorful, high-proof bourbons on the market. Grab a few bottles and feel that cask-strength warmth from now until the spring thaw.

Still Austin Cask Strength
Still Austin

Still Austin Cask Strength

This award-winning cask-strength bourbon begins with a mash bill of 70% white corn, 25% rye, and 5% malted barley. Bottled at a potent 118 proof, this high-rye bourbon begins with a nose of cinnamon sugar, dried fruits, vanilla, and oak. The palate is a mix of candied pecans, brown sugar, vanilla, toffee, dried apricots, and peppery rye. The finish is warming and pleasantly spicy. Enjoy it neat with a few drops of water to open it up.

Weller Full Proof
Buffalo Trace

W.L. Weller Full Proof

When it comes to well-respected bourbon brands, it’s difficult to beat the name recognition of Weller. Some of its expressions are extremely difficult to find. Weller Full Proof, while not available everywhere, is a little easier to find in the wild than some of the others. While corn-based (like all bourbon), Weller is known for its use of wheat (instead of rye or barley) as its secondary grain. This 114-proof expression, in particular, is known for its soft, mellow body and notes of oaky wood, vanilla beans, dried cherries, toffee, and chocolate fudge.

Old Ezra 7 Year Barrel Strength
Old Ezra

Old Ezra 7-Year Barrel Strength

Made with a mash bill of corn, rye, and barley, this award-winning whiskey was matured for at least seven years in new, charred American white oak barrels. Instead of being proofed down by adding water after the aging process, it’s bottled at a barrel strength of 117 proof. The result is a complex, sippable, high-proof bourbon with notes of cinnamon, caramelized sugar, charred oak, vanilla beans, and a hint of sweet, warming butterscotch at the very end. It’s the perfect slow-sipping whiskey for a cold winter night.

Elijah Craig Barrel Strength
Elijah Craig

Elijah Craig Barrel Strength

Legend says that Elijah Craig, a former Baptist minister, invented bourbon when he decided to age his corn whiskey in charred oak barrels. Whether that story is true or not, Craig still has a line of whiskeys named after him. One of the best in the range is Elijah Craig Barrel Strength. This non-chill filtered cask-strength whiskey is released three times per year. The most recent batch is 124.2 proof and was matured for 11 years and 5 months in charred oak barrels, resulting in a full-flavored bold sipper with a nose of fresh leather, peppery rye, and sweet toffee and a palate of vanilla, butterscotch, oak, and cracked black pepper.

Maker's Mark Cask Strength
Maker's Mark

Maker’s Mark Cask Strength

There are few bourbon names as well known as Maker’s Mark. Its classic straight bourbon is one of the true bargains of the whiskey world. But if you want to heighten your experience with this iconic brand, you’ll grab a bottle of its Maker’s Mark Cask Strength. Bottled between 108 and 114, depending on the batch, this popular expression is known for its nose of oak, vanilla beans, and butterscotch. Sipping it reveals notes of sticky toffee, dried fruits, charred wood, vanilla, and just a hint of peppery rye spice.

Old Hamer Cask Strength
Old Hamer

Old Hamer Cask Strength

To say this is a high-corn bourbon is an absolute understatement. The mash bill is made up of 99% corn and only 1% malted barley. It’s matured for at least three years in new charred 53-gallon American oak barrels. This cask-strength bourbon is bottled between 115 and 120 proof, depending on the batch. Even with that high alcohol content, it’s known for its sweet and surprisingly mellow flavor profile consisting of dried cherries, maple candy, marshmallows, toasted vanilla beans, butterscotch, and charred oak.

Old Grand-Dad 114
Jim Beam

Old Grand-Dad 114

One of the most popular brands from Jim Beam’s “Olds” series, Old Grand-Dad 114 has a mash bill of 63% corn, 27% rye, and 10% malted barley. Sitting at a robust 114 proof, this favorite of drinkers and bartenders alike is known for its nose of cinnamon candy, butterscotch, vanilla, and cracked black pepper. Drinking it reveals notes of dried fruits, toffee, vanilla, and spicy, peppery rye. It’s bold, spicy, and well suited for slow sipping on a cold night.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed
Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey Rare Breed

When it comes to bargain bourbons, it’s difficult to beat the price-to-quality ratio of Wild Turkey. Its Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon is one of the most beloved bottles on the market. But if you’re looking for something with a little more alcohol content, opt for Wild Turkey Rare Breed. This blend of 6, 8, and 12-year-old bourbons is bottled at 112.8 proof. On the nose, you’ll find scents of honey, candied almonds, and cracked black pepper. The palate is a mix of nutty sweetness, vanilla, and wintry spices.

Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
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