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We Asked 6 Bartenders: What’s the Most Overrated Bourbon? (2024)

There are many reasons why a bourbon fan may find a brand overrated. They may scoff at the hype generated by limited allocations. They may not understand the zealous enthusiasm of rabid enthusiasts. They may feel the price point doesn’t jibe with the quality of the juice. A special technique used to create the brand may strike them as gimmicky, or they may just simply have given an expression a taste and decided, “meh.”

Bartenders usually have especially strong feelings about whether or not a bourbon is worth its salt — or at least its hype. They know what they like, and they know what they don’t like, and they may not be all that bashful about sharing their disdain. With that in mind, we asked six bartenders their opinions on the most overrated bourbon brands on the market.

Of course, the below are just based on personal preference. This is inherently a good thing: The moment bourbon stops being subjective is the same moment it ceases to be interesting.

The most overrated bourbon, according to bartenders:

Pappy Van Winkle
Basil Hayden
W.L. Weller 
Angel’s Envy

“Honestly, this is a little tough because I think a lot of brands fall into this category. However, it has to be the Pappy line. It’s nothing special — just a separate label, basically. In no world is it worth the markup let alone the hassle of securing the allocation.” —Ramsey Musk, beverage director, Accomplice Bar, Los Angeles

“For me, Blanton’s is always going to be one of the most overrated spirit labels out there, even beyond just bourbon. It is undoubtedly a great product, but its price point (particularly on the secondary market) never fails to give me sticker shock, especially when there are so many great bourbon options available at a better value. Also, I’ve found that a certain amount of Blanton’s appeal comes purely from the desire to collect the stoppers — a valiant pursuit, although I would venture that collecting Underberg caps is a far more cost-effective endeavor!” —Carly Lacoste, bar director, The Dog House, New Orleans

“I’m going to say it very loudly and unapologetically: Basil Hayden is the most overrated bourbon on the market, period. Having eight available expressions all at 80 proof (40 percent ABV) is a travesty to bourbon and whiskey in general. I understand they’re trying to hook the casual drinker, but at 40 percent ABV with [every expression]? It’s not about getting drunk off a higher proof; it’s about those having so much character resulting from the higher proof they’re bottled at. Basil Hayden is diet bourbon. At the $35 price point, it’s even more of a head-scratcher that people would waste their money on a watered-down product when there is Buffalo Trace, Elijah Craig, Old Grand-Dad bonded, 1792, and Four Roses Batch at a lower price and a higher return on investment because of the robust juice those bottles contain. Or, I can spend an extra $3 for Woodford Reserve. I’m not coming after Basil Hayden drinkers, but all I am saying is that there are better options with less hype and more to offer.” —Teddy Martinez, bartender, Melrose Umbrella Co., Los Angeles

“Get rid of Pappy forever. I like Buffalo Trace [the distillery producing Pappy’s] just fine. I hate the hype.” —Kate Gerwin, owner, Happy Accidents, Albuquerque, N.M. 

“In a world full of celebrity-driven spirits, the most overrated bourbon is a long list to whittle down. At Reserve 101, we always say it’s our job to sell the first pour, and it’s up to the juice in the bottle to sell the second. Through the lens of secondary marketing pricing, it changes the conversation regarding some very solid pours. That leads me to Weller’s. Although I’m a fan of the Weller lineup, I’ll consider this an overrated purchase. If you can find it priced as intended you won’t be disappointed. Unfortunately, for the common whiskey hunter, you’re going to pay significantly over, and there are some really great producers out there these days that are readily available for half the price and even less heartbreak.” —Sean Fitzmaurice, owner, Reserve 101, Houston

“If one more f**ker asks if we have Angel’s Envy, I’m gonna lose it.” —Daniel Boothe, bartender, Club 616, Santa Ana, Calif.

*Image retrieved from Acker Wines on Instagram

The article We Asked 6 Bartenders: What’s the Most Overrated Bourbon? (2024) appeared first on VinePair.

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