What Is Allocated Bourbon?

Allocated bourbon is a term that has been gaining popularity in recent years among whiskey enthusiasts.

bartender pours an allocated bourbon

Essentially, it refers to a bourbon that has been given a limited quantity to sell, making it difficult to obtain. This has led to a frenzy among collectors and fans, with some bottles selling for thousands of dollars on the secondary market.

Bourbon is a type of whiskey that is made primarily from corn and aged in charred oak barrels. It is a uniquely American spirit, with strict regulations governing its production. To be considered bourbon, it must be made in the United States, contain at least 51% corn, and be aged in new, charred oak barrels.

Allocated bourbon is simply a bourbon that is in high demand and short supply, leading to limited distribution and availability. Some of the most sought-after allocated bourbons include Pappy Van Winkle, Blanton’s, and Colonel E.H. Taylor.

While some may question the hype surrounding allocated bourbon, it is clear that it has become a cultural phenomenon in the world of whiskey. Whether it is the allure of owning a rare bottle, the excitement of the hunt, or simply the desire to taste a premium product, allocated bourbon has captured the attention of whiskey lovers across the country.

Understanding Allocated Bourbon

Allocated bourbon is a term used to describe a limited supply of bourbon that is distributed to retailers, bars, and restaurants.


The supply of allocated bourbon is determined by the distilleries, and the allocation is usually based on the market demand. This means that some bourbons are more rare and difficult to find than others.

The allocation of bourbon is determined by the distilleries, and it is based on a number of factors, including the availability of the raw materials, production capacity, and market demand. The distilleries will allocate a certain amount of bourbon to each state, and then the wholesalers will distribute the bourbon to the retailers, bars, and restaurants within that state.

The demand for allocated bourbon is high, and this has led to a secondary market where people buy and sell allocated bourbon at a premium. This has also led to some retailers, bars, and restaurants holding lotteries or raffles to determine who gets to purchase the allocated bourbon.

Some of the most popular allocated bourbons include Pappy Van Winkle, Blanton’s, and Weller. These bourbons are highly sought after, and they can be difficult to find. However, there are many other bourbons that are also considered allocated bourbons, and they can be just as difficult to find.

The Historical Context

Allocated bourbon has a rich history that is deeply intertwined with the history of the United States and American whiskey.

Wiskey on old wooden floors The background is a wooden wall.

One of the most significant events that affected the production and distribution of bourbon was Prohibition, which lasted from 1920 to 1933. During this time, the production, transportation, and sale of alcohol were banned, leading to the closure of many distilleries and the destruction of countless barrels of aging bourbon.

After Prohibition was repealed, the bourbon industry slowly started to recover, but it was not until the 1980s that bourbon began to experience a resurgence in popularity. This renewed interest in bourbon led to a surge in demand, which in turn led to a shortage of aged bourbon.

As a result, some distilleries began to allocate their limited supply of aged bourbon to select retailers, bars, and restaurants. This practice of allocating bourbon has continued to this day and has become increasingly common as the demand for premium bourbon continues to grow.

The history of allocated bourbon is closely tied to the history of American whiskey, which has a long and storied past. American whiskey is made from a fermented mash of grains, typically consisting of corn, rye, wheat, and barley. The mash is then distilled and aged in charred oak barrels, which give the whiskey its distinctive flavor and color.

Over the years, American whiskey has evolved and adapted to changing tastes and trends, but it remains an important part of American culture and history. Today, bourbon is one of the most popular types of American whiskey, and allocated bourbons are highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Key Distilleries and Their Allocated Bourbons

Allocated bourbons are highly sought after, rare, and limited edition bottles that are released by distilleries only once a year.

A bottle of Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey and two glasses with ice and bourbon on a wooden table

These bourbons are so popular that they have created a secondary market where bottles are sold at a premium price. Here are some of the key distilleries and their allocated bourbons:

Buffalo Trace Distillery

Buffalo Trace is one of the most popular distilleries in the world, and their allocated bourbons are highly sought after. The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC) is a yearly release of five limited edition bourbons that includes George T. Stagg, Thomas H. Handy, Sazerac 18-Year-Old, William Larue Weller, and Eagle Rare. These bourbons are highly allocated and are known for their rich flavors and high proof.

Pappy Van Winkle

Pappy Van Winkle is one of the most well-known allocated bourbons in the world. The Van Winkle family has been producing bourbon for over 100 years, and their Pappy Van Winkle line is a highly sought after bourbon. The line includes the 10-year, 12-year, 15-year, 20-year, and 23-year bourbons. These bourbons are known for their rich, complex flavors and are considered some of the best bourbons in the world.


Weller is another popular allocated bourbon that is produced by Buffalo Trace. The Weller line includes the Special Reserve, Antique 107, Full Proof, and C.Y.P.B. These bourbons are known for their smooth, sweet flavors and are highly allocated.

Four Roses

Four Roses is a popular distillery that produces a variety of bourbons, including their allocated bourbons. The Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch is a yearly release that is highly allocated and includes a blend of four of their 10 recipes. The Four Roses Limited Edition Single Barrel is another highly allocated bourbon that is released once a year.


Blanton’s is a highly allocated bourbon that is produced by Buffalo Trace. This bourbon is known for its unique bottle design and rich, complex flavors. Blanton’s is a single barrel bourbon, which means that each bottle is unique and has its own distinct flavor profile.

Other Allocated Bourbons

Other allocated bourbons include E.H. Taylor, Angel’s Envy, Jim Beam, Knob Creek, Elmer T. Lee, Bardstown Bourbon Co, Kentucky Owl, Olde St. Nick, Blue Run, Bardstown Bourbon Company, Seagrass, Dovetail, Blackened x Wes Henderson, and more. These bourbons are highly sought after and are known for their unique flavors and limited availability.

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

Written by Rocco

Rocco is a Florida State University alumnus with years of bartending and hospitality experience. From slinging hundreds of vodka sodas a night in jam-packed college bars to serving carefully crafted cocktails in upscale restaurants, there’s not much he hasn’t done behind a bar. Now, Rocco shares his knowledge and passion for all things alcohol-related here on My Bartender for bibulous readers everywhere to enjoy.

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