A Costco membership is a must for spirit enthusiasts hoping to find great bourbon at unparalleled prices. While it may not be the first place that comes to mind for elusive bottles, it really is possible that Costco has something special on its shelves. Costco's unique business model allows it to secure many exclusive batches and limited releases. While this can be great for bourbon lovers, many of these bottles are quickly snapped up. That's why we want to highlight some wonderfully rare bourbons found recently in Costco warehouses.
We're taking a look at when and where they're found, and why you should grab a bottle whenever you have a chance. With our vast bourbon experience, we're able to showcase exactly what makes these whiskeys stand out. Some of these bottles are genuinely rare, whereas others can usually be acquired online or at specialty retailers, but at eye-wateringly high prices. This all-encompassing approach makes all of the bottles in this list a great find. By the end, you'll see why Costco is a go-to destination, not only for those seeking a diverse array of whiskeys, but also for those who enjoy the excitement of discovering rare bourbon.
Read more: The 27 Best Bourbon Brands, Ranked
George T. Stagg
George T. Stagg stands as one of the most revered bottles in the world of bourbon. Found in the Malibu Costco in October 2023, it's known for its exceptional quality and rich history. Forming a part of the Buffalo Trace Distillery's fabled Antique Collection, this uncut and unfiltered bourbon has a robust flavor and high proof. Because of this high proof, this bourbon generally needs a few drops of water to open it up, lest the drinker be overwhelmed by the alcohol content. Once that's done, you'll get a wide variety of incredible tasting notes.
Dark chocolate and toffee are the most dominant flavors you'll get on the palate. These are complemented by leather and tobacco, while sweeter dried fruits and caramel notes balance it out. It may be an intense whiskey, but it offers velvety smoothness and a long finish that is helped by its extended aging of at least 15 years. You can't pass up the opportunity if you ever find this bottle in Costco. It will allow an enthusiast the chance to add this prized bourbon to their collection without hurting their wallet too much.
Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel
Coming from Heaven Hill Distillery, Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel is initially made the same way as the brand's Small Batch whiskey. However, it is then finished in custom toasted barrels that impart a unique flavor profile. This combination means you'll be greeted by a medley of rich, warm notes when you try this bourbon. The process enhances the classical bourbon flavors of vanilla and caramel to create a delightful sweetness that combines perfectly with more earthy notes.
Those notes come in the form of a mix of baking spices and subtle smokiness. This level of sophistication makes it a uniquely well-rounded gem among bourbon lovers. The Toasted Barrel was found in Palm Beach Gardens in October 2023 and is a lucky purchase for anyone wise enough to buy it. For those newer to bourbon, this expression showcases how unique barrel treatments can elevate a classic whiskey to new heights.
High West Midwinter Night's Dram
We'll admit we're cheating a little with this one, as it's not strictly a bourbon. However, any enthusiast will know why it deserves to be on this list. A blend of straight rye whiskey, Midwinter Night's Dram is a spirit perfect for those cold winter nights. While it can be enjoyed any time of the year, its rye content makes this an extremely warm whiskey with a huge abundance of character. What helps to make it even more special is that it's finished in French oak port barrels, further adding to its complex flavor profile.
When you first taste this whiskey, you'll be unsurprisingly met by a symphony of warm spices. But behind those spices is an interesting mix of dried fruit, subtle sweetness, and a hint of mulled wine from the port casks. The mouthfeel is deliciously smooth, and the finish is long to add depth to the whole tasting experience. It has been spotted in several Costco stores over the years, but recently, it was found in Clermont, Florida, in December 2023. If you ever cast your eyes on this whiskey in any of Costco's warehouses, make sure you don't walk past it.
Barrell Bourbon New Year 2024
One of the most special spirits to happen upon in any Costco is a limited edition bourbon. Found in Redding, California, Barrell Bourbon New Year 2024 is a great example. The brand is known for its commitment to crafting unique and high-quality bourbons through its meticulous blending process. Each release is a small batch, allowing collectors to compare one bottle to the last. While not a whiskey maker, the company does boast expertise in sourcing diverse barrels from various distilleries to create expressions with distinct profiles.
The 2024 release is no exception. The palate is quite dark, and its many common bourbon-tasting notes, such as toffee, are incredibly rich. You also get influences of chocolate, orchard fruits, and oak. Cinnamon and ginger give it plenty of warmth and make it a whiskey unlike any other. The company has a few limited-release whiskeys, and its New Year range can be particularly hard to find once the initial sales are completed. If you want to sample Barrell Bourbon at Costco, you may need to wait until its 2025 release.
Yellowstone Limited 2023 Edition
Yellowstone Limited 2023 Edition is another wonderful limited edition whiskey. Each yearly expression is uniquely made, and the quirk for the 2023 release is that the bourbon was finished in Tokaji casks. This is a highly uncommon way to finish bourbon, as Tokaji is a white dessert wine that originates in Hungary. Crafted by Limestone Branch Distillery, this finish makes the bourbon stand out from the crowd and is well received by anyone lucky enough to grab a bottle.
The wine influence isn't too apparent on the palate, as you get a little pepper to give it a robust flavor along with plenty of the sweetness you expect from a quality bourbon. Its more nuanced notes include dried fruits and oranges. The finish is wonderfully warm, which does a great job of showcasing this brilliant limited-edition whiskey. As with the Barrell Bourbon, it's now hard to find this in anything other than secondary markets, but one lucky Costco customer found it in Avondale, Arizona in December 2023.
Knob Creek 12-Year
We debated whether or not to include this whiskey, as it's not exceptionally rare, but can be difficult to find. When you also consider Costco's low prices, though, it adds up to a great buy at any warehouse. One customer recently spotted it in Woodinville, Washington, in January 2024. For those who love the classic Knob Creek 9-year, this is an impressive step up in quality. At 100-proof, this small batch bourbon has a robust character along with a beautiful aroma.
Upon tasting, you can tell this is a well-matured spirit. It highlights the expected caramel and vanilla flavors but builds on that sweetness with layers of oak, toffee, and nuttiness. Once you've picked out the nuanced flavors, you'll enjoy its warm and lingering finish. It's one of the more affordable bourbons on this list, and if you've never had it before, it's highly recommended. Its extended time in the barrel imparts a depth of flavor that will appeal to any discerning whiskey enthusiast.
Henry McKenna Single Barrel
Henry McKenna Single Barrel can be hard to acquire at times, but is not super rare. However, it deserves its place on this list as it's almost impossible to find at Costco prices. If you don't have the Henry McKenna Single Barrel in your home bar, then it's a must-buy if you find it. One customer did just that in Tucson, Arizona, back in December 2023. There is no doubt this is one of the best single-barrel bourbons out there, which also has the distinction of having both an impressive age statement at 10 years as well as being bottled-in-bond.
Produced by Heaven Hill Distillery, this expression has earned its place among the elite in the world of whiskey. The tasting experience of Henry McKenna Single Barrel is a journey through layers of flavor. Following its lovely nose, you'll enjoy a palate with the robust sweetness of toffee and honey. There is also an array of fruits along with oak and spice, which continue to the glorious finish. Winner of the "Best in Show, Whiskey" title at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, this is an expression you need to tick off your list.
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac
This is another expression from the legendary Buffalo Trace Distillery that is known for its exceptional quality and distinctive character. As with Midwinter Night's Dram, this is a rye whiskey, but it's one you need to know about. Notably, this whiskey is exceptionally hard to find, unless you're prepared to pay ridiculous prices. One lucky man found it in a Louisville store in January 2024. He paid a little over $100 for the bottle, but in many places it sells for at least five times that amount -- sometimes much more.
Why is this whiskey so revered? Named after a New Orleans bartender, it is both scarce and has a stunning depth of flavor. You're initially introduced with vibrant aromas, including cinnamon and a touch of citrus. The palate has a wide range of flavors, and everyone who samples this whiskey will go through their own tasting journey. The most dominant notes are those of pepper, caramel, and dried fruits. With the high proof, you can add a little water to expand those flavors further. Its scarcity means this rye expression is often overpriced, but that won't happen if you're lucky enough to find it at a Costco.
Van Winkle 12-Year Special Reserve
Here, we feature another special brand -- any bottle of Van Winkle is a great find. It has an impressive level of craftsmanship with unparalleled taste. Coming from the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, this spirit's 12-year aging gives it impressive complexity. After enjoying its great nose, you'll get a harmonious blend of sweetness and spice on the palate. The most intriguing tasting notes are those of toasted oak, nuts, and spices. When they interplay with the classic bourbon flavors, you get one incredible whiskey.
With a proof of just over 90, the spirit has a gentle warmth that's never overpowering. A bottle was found in the North Seattle Costco back in 2023, but it was a very lucky acquisition. These bottles are only made in very small quantities, and stock numbers are usually very low if any store has them. It's that scarcity that adds to its appeal, as many bourbon enthusiasts can struggle to get a bottle of Van Winkle anywhere, let alone at a Costco.
Baker's 7-Year Single Barrel
Aside from its famous line of Jim Beam expressions, the James B. Beam Distilling Co. is also responsible for many other great bourbon brands. One of them is Baker's. This 7-year has a beautiful aroma, including a range of baking spices and fruits hinting at its warmth and depth. While every batch of Baker's is slightly different from the next, they all have a few tasting notes in common.
These notes include a large vanilla hit, a bold presence of oak, a touch of cinnamon, and nuts. The seven years of aging contribute to a well-rounded complexity, but it tastes even nicer than many of its similarly-aged rivals. The finish is enduring, as you're left with a lingering trail of warmth and sweetness. It's a perfect bourbon for anyone wanting to explore what makes single-barrel bourbons unique. It's also not incredibly rare and quite affordable, so if you have the opportunity to buy it like one Jacksonville consumer recently did in January 2024, you should take it.
Woodford Reserve Sonoma Triple Finish
This beautiful bourbon is a part of Woodford Reserve's impressive Master's Collection. As the name implies, this whiskey has been finished in three different barrels following its initial maturation. They are former bourbon barrels that were used to age red wine, brandy barrels, and Sonoma County Pinot Noir. The result is an extraordinary blend of flavors.
With all those influences, it will be no surprise to learn there are plenty of fruits on the nose, including those of cherries and raspberry. The palate unfolds with a huge amount of flavor. The fruit flavors are still present and are joined by traditional bourbon elements of caramel, toffee, and oak. The Sonoma Triple Finish is one of those expressions where you'll love being able to pick out your own tasting notes. The finish is smooth with a gentle warmth and an interplay of wine-infused nuances. Its average price is nearly $200, but a Florence, Kentucky resident found it for around 60 dollars cheaper back in November 2023.
Little Book Chapter 7
Washington state's taxes can blunt any savings, but one Burlington resident still found this bottle for a great price in November 2023. Little Book is an annual limited edition release by Freddie Noe. He is an eighth-generation distiller of the Jim Beam family and has leaned on his rich history to create many innovative expressions. Each edition of Little Book represents a unique blend of bourbon, and the latest release is Chapter 7.
This version was made with one of the whiskeys used in all of the previous six chapters, as well as a never-before-used liquid. In total, it's a blend of seven whiskeys, four of them being bourbon, two rye, and one malt whiskey. They range from four years of maturation all the way up to 18. The result is a palate that has an intriguing blend of tasting notes. They include the expected sweetness, but also smoky and floral notes to give it plenty of depth. With a lot of family history resting on his shoulders, Freddie Noe certainly knows how to create great bourbon, as the Little Book Chapter 7 proves.
Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition
Woodford Reserve's Sonoma Triple Finish seems like a budget whiskey compared to this expression. Even in the St. Louis store this was found in, this spirit was selling just shy of $1,800 as of November 2023. Part of the expense is due to the bottle. Made of Baccarat crystal, the decanter is a collector's item in itself. The bourbon inside was initially matured in virgin oak barrels, then spent a further three years maturing in XO cognac casks. The bottle and the unique maturation combine to make a whiskey unlike any other.
The nose is delightful with an array of dried fruits, aged oak, and leather. These flavors continue to the palate, where the most distinctive notes are that of dark chocolate, caramel, and dried cherries. With such aging, the mouthfeel is velvety and luxurious, with notable cognac influence. The added cost of the bottle means the Baccarat Edition is not worth the money for the bourbon alone, but it's still an impressive whiskey which celebrates the finer things in life.
Four Roses Small Batch 135th Anniversary
Here we have another bourbon that comes in a beautiful bottle, but thankfully, this one doesn't cost thousands of dollars. In honor of the distillery's 135th anniversary, Four Roses released this fantastic small-batch bourbon. In November 2023, it was found at a Costco in Noblesville, Indiana. Made with barrels aged between 12 and 25 years, it's a sophisticated bourbon and a great find for anyone lucky enough to grab a bottle.
The nose gives you an enticing glimpse of what's inside, with the most unique aromas being that of cinnamon, clove, and oak. Once you taste it, you'll get to enjoy the multiple layers of flavor that go way beyond the traditional notes. A range of berries and orchard fruits are evident, along with a surprising level of rye spice. This version of the Four Roses Small Batch is a compelling whiskey that reflects the rich heritage and expertise of Four Roses.
Booker's Small Batch
The last whiskey that has made our list is also the third one created by the James B. Beam Distilling Co. This particular brand is named after Booker Noe, the renowned master distiller and grandson of Jim Beam. This bourbon is a tribute to his uncompromising dedication to quality and tradition. It was found by one lucky customer in St. Peters, Missouri, in November 2023. One of the best high-proof bourbons you can buy, this is an intense whiskey many enthusiasts adore.
On the palate, you get a bold and full-bodied experience. This is characterized by a symphony of flavors ranging from deep toffee and dark chocolate to robust oak and peppery spice. The powerful expression is not for the faint-hearted, but if you like bourbon, this is sure to capture your senses. The finish is long and warming, perfectly balancing the sweetness and heat. The accessibility of this exceptional bourbon at Costco ensures that enthusiasts can indulge in the intense and authentic Booker's experience without breaking the bank.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.