What is Allocated Bourbon? | Tips To Find Allocated Bottles

Allocated bourbon is a selection of bourbon that is limited in quantity, and typically jacked up in price! But it is so much more than that. To bourbon hunters, allocated bourbon is the goal. It’s the reason for the hunt. It’s the “rare” bottles that create a buzz amongst the bourbon community. The distribution of these particular bottles is extremely limited and only enhances the feeling of exclusivity when you finally get your hands on a bottle! 

What Is Allocated Bourbon Really?

Allocated bourbon is that unicorn of a bottle that you set out for each time you embark on a bourbon hunt. 

Allocated bourbon is the bottles that they don’t always have out on display. You may actually have to nut up and ask if they have any or when their shipments are. 

Allocated bourbon is the stuff behind the glass case that is priced to point of embarrassment. 

Allocated bourbon is the juice you show off to your boys but when it comes time to sample your sphincter tightens up on the pour. 

Allocated bourbon is the stuff you hide from your wife when you get home from the liquor store because you don’t want to have to sweat it out under the interrogation lights. 

Allocated bourbon is the bottle of booze that you pay well over MSRP just to say you got a bottle. 

Allocated bourbon is those bottles that your friends are jealous of. 

Allocated bourbon is the special occasion pour. 

Allocated bourbon is the entire reason for bourbon hunting. 

Allocated bourbon is the reason you befriend liquor store owners. 

Allocated bourbon is your white whale. 

allocated bourbon illustration

Why Do Certain Bourbons Get So Much Hype?

Let’s face it. Some allocated bourbons are just Cah-Cah! 

They are over-hyped due to the name on the bottle instead of the juice that’s inside!

We have fallen victim many times to the hype train of certain bottles. The problem is that when you get into bourbon, you hear how good certain bottles are. Then you look at prices and see that you could send your kid to school for a semester for the price of some of these bottles. 

But are they really worth it?

More on that later…

But right now, let’s tackle the mystery surrounding why certain bottles get so much hype. 

A lot of it is the name, as we mentioned. But a lot of other factors go into a bourbon all of a sudden riding the hype train. 

Do you remember when John Wick came out? Do you remember his pain killer of choice?

It was a bottle of Blanton’s Bourbon. 

Now, don’t get me wrong…Blanton’s is very good bourbon. 

But after that movie, it got so popular that you couldn’t find it anywhere. And if you did you were going to pay 10x MSRP. 

So a lot of times, you want to think about why certain allocated bourbons are so popular. And then match that with whether or not you think it is worth the price they are charging. 

top-shelf allocated bourbon bottles

Allocated Bourbon Price: Are They Worth It?

So the elephant in the room. Is Allocated bourbon worth the price tag?

I know you’re going to hate this answer, but…it depends. 

As I said before, Jonny, ODV, and I have been duped into many a bottle in the past. 

Were we pissed?


But when we talk about it afterward…after all the dust settles and our level of irritation that we wasted a crapload of money on a bottle that tastes like CAh-Cah…we realize that we would probably do it again given the chance. 

Hear me out…

And Jonny has said this many a time…

A bottle is only worth what you’re willing to pay. 

It’s the same thing as your wife wanting a new car. The jalopy in the back of the dealership is going the get you there the same as the Mercedes G-Class, but what does your wife want?

Now (in most cases) we are not talking about the same amount of cheese here. 

But still…I think the point remains. Or maybe it’s just me with the jalopy/Mercedes issues…

But I digress! 

I am embarrassed to say that we have paid 10x MSRP for bottles. But at the time, we couldn’t get them otherwise. 

So if your only choice is to pony up and pay out the yin-yang for a bottle that you really want, then that might be your only option. 

In our opinion, some bottles are absolutely worth what we paid. And we have paid it again in some cases. 

We have three bottles of Stagg Jr that we overpaid for. 

One bottle of Penelope Rio was significantly cheaper than the next one we got. 

We got our Elmer T Lee at a bourbon lottery and paid a substantial amount for it. 

These are just a couple of our examples. But we are firm believers in the fact that allocated bourbon is worth whatever you are willing to pay for it. 

And don’t worry about the naysayers that give you shit for overpaying. Those are the same people that would be the very first to line up with their glencairns to sample your “overpriced” allocated bottle. 

allocated bourbon

Ok, But How Can You Find Allocated Bourbon?

This is where the rubber meets the road. 


Now some folks are able to just waltz into a liquor store and have a unicorn of a bottle of bourbon be sitting right there ripe for the picking. 

But that is not common. 

And it also depends on where you live. 

We are in Upstate NY and we get slim pickings up here. 

Now unless you’re the luckiest POS I’ve ever met and you just get a bottle to fall in your lap, you’re going to have to embark on a proper bourbon hunt!

The bourbon hunt is absolutely part of the fun. 

It’s when you get away and go look for buried treasure. 

The goal of the bourbon hunt is to find the allocated bottles. And ideally for as close to MSRP as possible. 

Think of it like fishing. You can go and throw a line in the water and catch perch all day. 

And don’t get me wrong. Nothing tastes as succulent as perch caught from a cool, cool lake. 

But wouldn’t you rather throw your bobber in and catch a monster?

That’s the goal of the bourbon hunt. 

To catch that elusive beast that seems to come from legend. 

pouring an allocated bourbon into a whidkey glass with a giant ice cube

Tips On Bourbon Hunting

One of the things you have to realize if you want to get allocated bourbon is that you’re going to have to open your mouth and talk. 

Now I know this is the opposite of what every fella (and lady) reading this is going to want to do. I know you want to just go to the liquor store and mind your own business and get the hell outta there. Believe me, myself and the ODV are right there with you. 

Fortunately we got the Big Guy. 

Jonny is a talker. And he doesn’t mind talking to absolutely anyone. 

Now when it comes to the bourbon hunt, this is a fantastic advantage. He makes friends with every liquor store owner who’s establishments we frequent. 

To the point where they know him more than they know me and he lives 2 hours away! 

It has gotten to the point where some liquor store owners hold bottles specifically for us. 

But it took some time to get there. 

And plenty of Schmoozing from the Big Guy. 

And we also purchase plenty of spirits. So it only makes sense for the owners to recognize that. 

They will most likely be able pick up on the fact that you’re an allocated buyer. 

They know when you’re a spender. And they treat you as such. 

So the biggest thing you want to do is to actually talk to the people that work there. 

Ask if they have any allocated bottles in the back. 

The more educated you sound, the more they will engage. 

This is their life, and they love to talk booze. And if you get some that like to talk bourbon, you might be there a while! 

As I said, we have plenty of stores that know us by name. And that helps us out a lot when it comes to bourbon hunting. 

Another tip is to not get discouraged. 

You are going to miss a helluva lot more than you hit. 

But those hits are so worth it! 

And don’t be afraid to ask if that’s the best price they can give. 

Trust us, its not!

Almost all allocated bourbon is marked up big time. 

Ask if they can do anything on the price. You might be surprised. A lot of times they may be able to go lower if you pay in cash too.

a sampling of allocated bourbon

Allocated Bourbon Brands and Distilleries

Allocated bourbon is a unique and exclusive spirit that is highly coveted by whiskey enthusiasts worldwide. While there are many bourbon brands and distilleries known for their exceptional offerings, only a select few produce allocated bourbon.

Bourbon Brands Producing Allocated Bourbon

Brand NameDistillery LocationNotable Allocated Bourbon
Buffalo TraceFrankfort, KentuckyPappy Van Winkle, George T. Stagg, William Larue Weller
Four RosesLawrenceburg, KentuckyFour Roses Limited Edition Small Batch, Four Roses Limited Edition Single Barrel
Heaven HillBardstown, KentuckyElijah Craig Barrel Proof, William Heavenhill 13 Year
Jim BeamClermont, KentuckyBooker’s Bourbon, Knob Creek 25th Anniversary
Wild TurkeyLawrenceburg, KentuckyRussell’s Reserve, Master’s Keep 17 Year

These distilleries are known for their high-quality bourbons, and their allocated releases are highly sought-after by collectors and enthusiasts. However, it’s important to note that allocated bourbon can be difficult to obtain due to its limited availability.

Other Notable Allocated Bourbon Distilleries

  • Old Forester – Louisville, Kentucky
  • Stagg Jr. – Frankfort, Kentucky
  • Van Winkle – Louisville, Kentucky
  • Weller – Frankfort, Kentucky

These distilleries and brands are just a few examples of the many exceptional allocated bourbon producers out there. Each has their unique spin on the spirit, with distinctive flavors, aromas, and finishes.

Regardless of which brand you choose, allocated bourbon is a fascinating spirit that’s well worth exploring. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a curious enthusiast, the world of allocated bourbon offers a unique and exciting adventure in the world of whiskey.

Frequently Asked Questions About Allocated Bourbon

What makes a bourbon allocated?

Allocated bourbons are the rare bottles that are issued in smaller batches to create a sense of exclusivity. They are often marked way up in price. 

How can I successfully purchase allocated bourbon?

You must master the art of the bourbon hunt in order to successfully purchase allocated bourbon. Driving to different liquor stores and actually asking for allocated bottles. 

What should I look for when selecting an allocated bourbon?

It really depends on you and what you like. If it’s a bottle you haven’t tried. Or if it’s something made by a distiller that you enjoy. It’s really up to you and your taste. But I say try them all! 

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