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Top Three SF Bars to Become a Whiskey Connoisseur

(From Left) Bourbon and Branch, Nihon Whisky Lounge and 12 Year Old Suntory Hakushu

Bourbon and Branch
The whiskey options at this secret-password bar are surprisingly unclassified: Buy it by the straight pour (ask for their special Pappy single-barrel), in one of the pre- selected tasting flights (bourbon, rye, Irish, or Scotch), or in a mixed flight of half-pours of your own choosing. They also make tasty cocktails with the rotating house single-barrel bourbon to boot.
501 Jones St., 415-931-7292, bourbonandbranch.com

Nihon Whisky Lounge
Here you can both try it and buy it: The 400-plus whiskeys (with an emphasis on the stuff made in Japan, like their exclusive 12-year-old Suntory Hakushu) available for drinking sip by sip are also available for bottle purchases that come with on-site storage. Alas, you can’t take it with you.
1779 Folsom St., 415-552-440, nihon-sf.com

Whiskey Thieves
The Tenderloin location keeps the snobs at bay, despite the great selection of reasonably priced American bourbon and other whiskeys. The jukebox and pool table attract a plaid-slathered rock ’n’ roll crowd more likely to order the bourbon shot-and-a-beer special (admittedly a bargain at $7) than a single-malt—but then again, that just leaves more for you.
839 Geary St., no phone