A 100 proof whisky means the alcohol contained in the bottle is 50%. There are a range of quality whiskies available that contain more than this benchmark.
To get alcoholic beverages to 100 proof or greater in American whisky, scotch, or Irish whiskey (note the spelling!) this generally means there has been less dilution of the liquid before it’s bottle, which is termed as cask strength or barrel proof.
Another method for the bottling of bourbon is called bond, where by law the bourbon is made in one distillation season, aged for at least four years in a federally bonded and supervised warehouse, and bottled at 100 proof exactly.
The following collections of best 100 proof whiskies (or greater abv) showcases a versatile range of top quality expressions. You’ll find American whiskies – rye, bourbon, and wheated – single malt, and even a top drawer Irish whiskey to explore.
1. Redemption 10 Year Old High Rye Bourbon Barrel Proof
The two founders of Redemption were passionate about bringing rye spirit back dominance, and despite forays into other expressions, it remains the cornerstone of their quality whiskies, including this high proof bourbon.
The 10-Year-Old High Rye Bourbon has a mash bill of 60% Corn, 36% Rye and 4% malted Barley that results in a beautiful colored spirit; dark gold with flecks of crimson that shows the balance between sweetness and spice you’ll find in its flavor.
Its hints of toffee, honey and roasted nut give way to the taste of star anise and lemongrass. While bottled at 114.8 proof its smoothness on the palate surprises throughout.
2. The Irishman Vintage Cask Strength Irish Whiskey
The Irishman Vintage Cask Strength is one of Ireland’s most exclusive whiskeys, with a price tag to match!
It’s distilled three times then carefully aged in American Oak Casks and bottled at 110 proof.
Each year master distiller Bernard Walsh selects a handful of casks to make this the benchmark Irish Whiskey, which tastes of smooth, creamy walnut and stone fruits, with a smattering of nutmeg and fig.
The Irishman Vintage Cask Strength is a limited quantity premium product, with just 1,500 bottles produced for the US market in 2020. Each bottle is uniquely numbered and signed. Presented in an elegant wooden case, with a personalized & dated certificate.
3. Wild Turkey Rare Breed
This is a top-class Wild Turkey; a fully authentic barrel proof whiskey at 58.4% ABV without the bells and whistles of some other expressions.
Barrel proof describes a whiskey that has not been substantially diluted after its storage inside the cask for maturation.
Wild Turkey Rare Breed is uncut with water, which creates a strong, bold Kentucky bourbon with tones of sweet tobacco and a taste of orange and mint.
Its smooth taste belies its strength and is perfect for small sipping.
4. Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Knob Creek Bourbon is named after the boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln.
A bottle of Knob Creek is aged nine years to draw more flavor and sugar from the charred oak barrel, which helps provided a full-bodied, fruity flavor with hints of grass and grain.
It’s 100-proof, which is considered the honest age of bourbons made a century ago. The Beam family makes this spirit with extra char on white oak barrels for a bigger flavor.
Knob Creek is a full, flavorsome bourbon smooth enough to sip neat or to mix into a classic old fashioned.
5. New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is bottled in bond without chill filtration.
The mash bill of non-GMO grains is 65% corn,30% rye, and 5% malted barley, representing a ‘new riff’ on traditional Kentucky whiskey.
New Riff is a deep amber color, with a nose of butterscotch and fresh oak from 4 years spent in 53-gallon toasted and charred oak barrels. It tastes of sweet vanilla and cinnamon, clove, and berry spices before finishing with red fruit flavors and pepper.
New Riff is great for the Kentucky whiskey drinker looking for an outstanding and more individual tasting bourbon.
6. Pinhook 2020 High Proof Bourbon Bohemian Bourbon
A total of 100 barrels were blended and proofed by Sean Josephs, Pinhook’s co-founder and master taster to create this bourbon.
This High Proof Bourbon, distilled at Castle and Key, features a mash bill of 75% corn, 15% rye, and 10% malted barley, which creates a golden hay colored liquid. It’s young and brash having been aged for 34 months.
Pinhook Bohemian carries a citrus nose balanced against the taste of rye and peppercorns. The high alcohol content and spice flavors create a fiery finish, which dies down to traces of caramel and fruit on the tongue.
This bourbon will ideally suit the sipping whiskey enthusiast who likes an initial kick in the pants before the spirit settles down a bit, but not entirely.
7. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon
Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon is matured in No. 4 “alligator” char American White Oak barrels handpicked by father and son Master Distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russel.
Russel’s Reserve features creamy toffee and vanilla taste.
Individually bottled at 110 proof and non-chill filtered to guarantee maximum flavor, this is a bourbon that’s meant to be savored by experienced whiskey enthusiasts.
8. Glengoyne Single Malt Cask Strength
The hand-crafted process, un-chilled filtration and Scotland’s slowest distillation is evident in every glass of this Glengoyne Cask Strength Single Malt scotch.
The drying of barley used in this expression is also different, utilizing warm air drying rather than using peat smoke to create a robust malt with flavor of bananas, digestive biscuits and pepper.
With an ABV of 56.7% Glengoyne Single Malt Cask Strength is recommended for drinking with a few drops of water to bring out the flavors further.
9. Coopers’ Craft Barrel Reserve 100 Proof Bourbon
Coopers’ Craft raises their barrels by hand, then toast and char them to bring out the unique favors of the bourbon by allowing them to sink deeper into the wood.
This sweeter barrel proof bourbon allows the char to nestle nicely against the caramel and citrus notes present, with hints of chocolate and maple present on the palate. There is, as expected, a strong flavor of oak on the finish, and hints of peppery spice.
The Cooper’s craft barrel proof bourbon would suit a whisky drinker with a solid grounding in flavor that wishes to branch out a bit in their bourbon taste range.
10. McKenzie Single Barrel Cask Strength Wheated Bourbon Whiskey
Finger Lakes Distilling is a New York State Farm Distillery, which means that they’re a small distiller making small batch spirit expressions.
The McKenzie Single Barrel Cask Strength is bottled at 4 years and packs a punch at 110.7 proof (55% ABV).
The color is a rich medium burnt orange, with light citrus, caramel and cedar wood flavors on the nose. Flavor wise it’s brash, tiptoeing sweet and savory at once, with a pepper and cinnamon against the drawen out caramel.
If you’re looking for an unusual tasting yet interesting wheated whiskey, then McKenzie Single Barrel Cask Strength Wheated Bourbon Whiskey would be a great bottle for you to add to your collection.
11. Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey
Rittenhouse Rye is a favorite for whiskey drinkers of all stripes. The brand is known for a strong, spicy flavor in their rye whiskey, making it a popular choice for drinking straight or for use with other spirits in a classic cocktail.
Taste wise the Rittenhouse rye is well balanced, with caramel and cinnamon flavors helping contrast the bold rye spice taste against hints of fruit such as apple and pear.
Made at the Heaven Hill Distillery in Kentucky – home of the popular Elijah Craig and Evan Williams straight bourbon brands – it’s distilled in bonded oak for a bigger kick and heavier ABV (50%)
Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whiskey not only tastes as an American Rye whiskey should, it’s light on the wallet as well.
12. Ardbeg Scotch Uigeadail
Ardbeg’s founder established their distillery on the rugged, wild coastal rocks of South Islay. The Uigeadail is named for the loch Uigeadail (pronounced Ooga-dal it is Gaelic for ‘dark and mysterious place’) that Ardbeg source their pure water from.
This Ardberg single malt produces a strong (54% ABV) whisky with notes of smoke, leather, dried fruits and walnut oil, all characteristic of a properly concocted Islay.
Perfect for the Islay lover or conscientious single malt drinker looking for rich flavor, I recommend releasing the smokey peat, sherry and hint of cinnamon with a few drops of still water.
13. Old Forester 1897 Bottled in Bond Bourbon
This 100 proof whisky expression is the second release in the Whiskey Row Series and was specially crafted to honor the U.S. Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897.
After the U.S. Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, to be labeled as Bottled in Bond the whisky must be the product of one distillation season, one distiller and from one distillery.
14. Weller Antique 107 Bourbon
William Larue Weller was the first distiller of wheat whisky, and he once employed Pappy van Winkle before he rose to fame. The W.L. Weller brand was originally crafted by the Stitzel Weller Distillery. Now in the safe hands of Buffalo Trace/Sazerac, Weller Antique 107 is a top drawer wheated bourbon expression.
Old Weller Antique is an attractive dark copper color, aged for 7 years in white oak before being bottled at 107 proof. It offers a potent yet complex taste and bold finish of vanilla, oak, and caramel, while irresistible cinnamon spice and black licorice can be found throughout.
15. Old Grand Dad Bonded Bourbon Whiskey
Old Grand Dad comes from the Hayden family, multi generation distillers of some note who preferred a higher rye content in their bourbon.
Strong and robust with a 50% ABV this old school Kentucky straight bourbon packs a wallop in the glass – you’d pick it out of a blind tasting in a heartbeat.
Old Grand Dad bonded means this bourbon was made in one distillation season, aged for at least four years in a federally bonded and supervised warehouse, and bottled at 100 proof.
The Old Grand Dad bourbon is great for small sipping or mixing into vibrant cocktails and will warm your bones on the coldest days.
This great traditional bond bourbon is for the whiskey lover with a fondness for rye spice flavors.