Finding the best bourbons is a challenge to be enjoyed.
Determining what the best of anything can be subjective. This is especially true with bourbon. There are some venerable names like Elisha Craig, Blanton’s, and Wild Turkey. Plus, there are now over 1800 craft distilleries in the United States. Many of them bottle their own bourbon.
With such a vast selection, a true bourbon lover will want to have more than one favorite. You may wish to have a little sip in the evening, and will probably want something economical yet satisfying to serve as your regular.
Maybe you like to impress visitors or celebrate with something with a little more age that is upscale and pricey. Plus, since we now have all these craft distilleries around, you may be lucky enough to discover a local favorite. Whatever you choose to do in your quest for the best bourbons, this article should provide you with enough information to begin exploring.
If one person’s best bourbon might be someone else’s just okay bourbon, how do we go about finding the best bourbons? The final word on what are the best bourbons will come from you. But, to help you begin, we have poured over reviews and awards to assemble a shortlist for your starting point.
Let’s begin by looking at the everyday bourbons. These are the best bourbons for under $50, some of that much less.
Four Roses Distillery shows up on virtually every list we saw.
Four Roses Yellow:
Notes of cinnamon and baking spices upfront, this spicy on the tongue bourbon with an earthy nose is superb for cocktails. It comes in at 80 proof with an average price of $20 or less.
Four Roses Small-batch
A great sipper, this unique bourbon is a blend of four different recipes from 180 barrels with an apple pie sweetness and notes of cinnamon, citrus, caramel, and vanilla. This 90 proof bourbon averages about $35.
Four Roses Single Barrel
Like their small-batch offering, there are notes of cinnamon and vanilla on the tongue and a creamy mouth-feel. But you will find marshmallow and campfire on the nose, and the two versions have distinctly different flavors. You will pay about $50 for this 100 proof offering.
With a family tree that includes W.L. Weller, George T. Staggs, and Van Winkle, this bourbon can’t help but be included in any list of best bourbons. It is a player no matter how you choose to drink it. There are distinct notes of nutmeg and caramel with hints of apricot and bailed hey with a mouth-feel that pops. This unique bourbon weighs in at 90 proof and is an exceptional purchase in the $35 range.
This wheat offering has coffee, chocolate, dried apricot, and corn on the nose with caramel apple, bread pudding, and pumpkin pie on the tongue. It pairs well with barbecue and comes in at 90 proof for about $45.
Evan Williams Black Label
Unsurprisingly, Evan Williams Black label was on virtually every list we found. That’s because this well-rounded bourbon with a wide range of flavors including vanilla and caramel with flavors like nutmeg and brown sugar on top. An exceptional value, aged over five years at 86 proof, you should find this one for under $20.
Here are a couple of good possibilities for your special occasion favorite.
Blanton’s Original Single Barrel
A classic and favorite of many, credited-with-being-the-first-small-batch bourbon. A satisfying nose of cinnamon, vanilla, caramel, and floral notes gives way to dried apricots, sweet peaches and a bit of molasses and maple syrup on the pallet. This 93 proof delicacy will average around $90.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof
The gift that keeps on giving. Although the recipe is constant, the results will vary by batch. Each batch has a slightly different profile and is coded to designate the date of release.
Each new bottle delivers a unique experience.
A surprisingly smooth bourbon at 133.2 proof, it has intense caramel and vanilla notes, accompanied by apple, cherry, blueberry, and pumpkin pies. This unique bourbon experience is a bargain at around $100.
There you have it. Some of the best bourbons to begin your adventure; enjoy.