Western Legends

Michter’s 25 Year–Old Single Barrel Rye

Although the historic Michter’s distillery has changed locations and ownership since its founding in 1753, it still produces one of the best and most authentic renditions of America’s first spirit—according to legend, the stuff that helped keep Washington’s Continental Army on the march. It is easy to see why: This rye is bottled at 117.3 proof. Adding a splash of branch (distilled) water or a clump of snow would be in order. Only 150 bottles were released this year. ($400)

Michter’s 25 Year–Old Single Barrel Bourbon

Another rarity from Michter’s, this 108.6-proof version of America’s native spirit is brimming with lemon, vanilla, and sweet cherry, veiled with a gentle smokiness that belies the spirit’s high proof. ($380)

Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky

Only 3,300 bottles are produced each year, and most are quickly snatched up by eager collectors. However, the real reward lies not in hoarding but in drinking this whiskey, thick with caramel and vanilla and so smooth it makes one question its 95.6 proof. The image of the cigar-smoking “Pappy” Van Winkle on the label is inspiration to enjoy this libation with a La Gloria Cubana Serie R or an Arturo Fuente Don Carlos robusto. ($230)

Sazerac 18 Year Old Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey

Unlike the rough and rowdy rye whiskeys of the old West, long years in charred-oak barrels have tamed this deep reddish-amber spirit with gentle hints of honey, citrus, and spicy oak—perfect straight, on the rocks, or in a Manhattan. ($70)

George T. Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 

Uncut, unfiltered, straight from the barrel, this 143-proof powerhouse is brimming with honey and chocolate-covered cherry—just the pour for cattle kings and railroad barons. Add an ice cube and relax with it in front of the fireplace. You can also use it to flambé that porterhouse steak. ($70)

Parker’s Heritage Collection 10 Year Old Wheated Bourbon

This is the fourth edition of Parker’s Heritage Collection, an annual, limited-edition offering of some of the prime barrels selected by Heaven Hill master distiller Parker Beam. This non-chill-filtered bourbon substitutes Kentucky winter wheat for rye in the traditional corn-and-malted-barley recipe, yielding a softer caramel-and-smoke finish with less spice and a cask strength of 127.8 proof. Only 4,800 bottles were produced. ($80)

Rittenhouse Very Rare 25 Year Old Straight Rye Whisky

Made with rye from the northern United States and Canada—where colder climates reduce the need for herbicides to kill weeds such as wild onions—and using a thicker mash that flows through the column stills more slowly and picks up more flavors, this rare rye whiskey aged in charred-oak barrels from 1984. A portion was bottled at 21 years, another batch at 23. In 2009, at 25 years and 100 proof, the last 38 barrels were finally put into just 3,000 bottles, each bursting with chocolate, toffee, cherry, and citrus, with a long, smooth finish. ($190)

Rock Hill Farms Single Barrel Bourbon 

There is something intriguing about a 100-proof, richly textured bourbon that seems much too modestly priced for its quality. Plus, it comes in its own equestrian-themed decanter, a tribute to the Thoroughbred farms of Kentucky. Flavors of leather, marzipan, and subtle oak abound in this clandestine treasure. ($50)

Hirsch Selection 22 Year Old Rye 

Not to be confused with a similarly named Canadian product, this Kentucky straight rye whiskey was distilled in 1983 at Bardstown, then, after being transferred to another facility, aged even longer in 10- and 15-year-old oak barrels. It was finally bottled at 93 proof. Reminiscent of cedar logs and wet hay, it is a rye whiskey to dwell upon and contemplate the salvation of the world. ($170)

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