Like every product ever sold, bourbon depends on packaging. Great bourbon deserves great packaging. Of course, what defines a great bottle of bourbon is just as subjective as the bourbon itself. I like an iconic bottle of bourbon that brings forth an air of confidence that the product inside is going to be good. If that is properly balanced with a bottle that looks cool, then you’ve got the ingredients for a great bottle. Now all that remains is to fill it with great bourbon. With that in mind, I present my Top Ten Bourbon Bottle Designs. (Note: I have not reviewed all these bourbons, nor I have I even tried all these bourbons. I am judging primarily on the packaging.)
10. Maker’s Mark – The wax-dipped top of Maker’s Mark is probably the most iconic symbol in the bourbon world. However, the rest of the bottle leaves something to be desired. Nevertheless, any whiskey drinker recognizes the red wax as Maker’s Mark.
9. Buffalo Trace – The epic bison on the front makes for an epic packaging. It also makes for an awesome logo for Buffalo Trace Distillery.
8. Old Forester Birthday Bourbon – I believe that Old Forester is one of the best value bourbons you can find. However, Brown-Forman also produces the Birthday Bourbon, a higher-end version of Old Forester. It comes in an old-fashioned decanter-style bottle that exudes class.
7. Rock Hill Farms – This single barrel bourbon comes in a sleek, square bottle with horses and forest landscapes decorating the bottle. It is a bottle design that could inspire some fine bourbon-induced poetry.
6. Angel’s Envy – The Angel’s Envy looks divine, with its angel wings and massive size. It seems to tower over almost everything else on the shelf at the liquor store.
5. Willett Pot Still Reserve Single Barrel – Speaking of tall bottles, there are few bottles taller than the decanter-style of Willett Pot Still Reserve. It just looks awesome. You can’t buy a bottle and not feel on top of the world.
4. Eagle Rare 10 yr. Single Barrel – This bottle is just plain epic. It is tall and elegant, but the eagle on the front and the jagged edged label also makes it seem bold and rugged.
3. Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve (15 yr., 20 yr., 23 yr.) – All three of these bottlings are recognizable by the picture of Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle, Sr. on the front of the bottle. He is puffing on a big cigar (and most likely drinking some good bourbon). There are few things more iconic than a bourbon legend like Pappy.
2. Woodford Reserve – I love the simplicity of this bottle. To me, Woodford Reserve’s bottle design says, “The bourbon contained herein is a great bourbon; it needs no embellishment.”
1. Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection (George T. Stagg, William Larue Weller, and Eagle Rare 17 yr.) – These three bourbons are consistently among the contenders for bourbon of the year, and there bottle designs are indicative of the quality. The bottles are tall and powerful. There are no fancy designs on the bottles, allowing you to see the perfect color of the whiskey. Even more so than Woodford Reserve, the Antique Collection’s bottle designs say, “No frills needed, this is great whiskey.” And judging from the only one I’ve tried (William Larue Weller), the bottles don’t lie.
These are my favorite bottle designs (I’ve included pictures below), what are yours? Leave me a comment, and let me know if I missed any.