Top 10 Best Bourbon Whiskey Picks to Enjoy and Impress
Written by Emma C | Updated Feb 2023
If you’re a bourbon fan and want to build up or refresh your home bar, you’ve come to the right place. With so many bottle options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to even the most seasoned pros when choosing the best bourbon whiskey. But don’t worry – we’re here to help with our top 10 bourbon picks that taste great and will easily impress your guests. We’ll also give you a quick rundown on all things bourbon since it’s always nice to know a thing or two about what you’re drinking and serving. And now, the reason you're here:
Taster's Club Top 10 Best Bourbon Whiskeys
1. Henry McKenna Single Barrel
This high-proof, Kentucky Straight Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon was aged 10 years and named for Henry McKenna, the Irish immigrant who adapted his family's whiskey recipe to work with the grains he found in Kentucky.
Henry McKenna is one of the longest aged Bottled-in-Bond whiskeys available today, resting in the barrel through 40 Kentucky seasons. Critics agree that this is a perfectly balanced Bourbon.
2. Noah's Mill Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
This small batch, Kentucky straight bourbon from Noah's Mill is one of the lushest, richest whiskeys on the market. On the nose, you’ll get walnuts, prunes, and floral notes. The palate mimics the nose with walnuts, prunes, and spices, intertwined with lavender and balanced with the perfect amount of acid, that leads you down a path of lingering burnt caramel.
3. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
To sip Barrel Proof is to experience the best bourbon whiskey in its purest form: uncut, straight from the barrel, and without chill filtering. Each bottle is hand-labeled with its unique proof and batch number, but the nose, taste, and finish here are pure Elijah Craig.
4. Frey Ranch Straight Bourbon Whiskey
The Frey Ranch journey starts with the love of growing grains in a sustainable way on the ranch – over 2,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada Watershed. The distillers can feel generations before them each time they step onto the land.They've tilled the soil, planted the seed, and grown the grains specifically for making a bourbon unlike any other – born from 165 years of family farming tradition, every single aspect of this whiskey was crafted on Frey Ranch.
5. Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
You’ll want to savor the taste of this premium Single Barrel again and again. It’s complex, full-bodied, 100 proof, and surprisingly smooth with a delicate, long finish that’s unbelievably mellow. Drink straight up or on the rocks.
6. Knob Creek 12 Year Bourbon Whiskey
One of the four in Jim Beam’s Small Batch Bourbon Collection, Knob Creek Small Batch Bourbon brings a dynamic, rich, and creamy nose of vanilla, caramel, toasted oak, and baking. You’ll taste a bit of leather with rich oak and white pepper, along with some sweet vanilla and marshmallow. The complex spirit finishes long with lingering, spicy, dry flavors of tobacco leaf, black pepper, oak, and leather.
7. Maker's Mark Cask Strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
This is Maker's Mark Bourbon in its purest form. Bottled at barrel proof and nonchill filtered, Maker's Mark Cask Strength ranges from 108 to 114 proof depending on the barrels. Surprisingly smooth, this bourbon retains the signature, front-of-the-palate flavors of Maker's Mark while amping up the vanilla and rich oak notes.
8. Russell's Reserve 10 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
This bottle from Russell's Reserve carries the aroma of cinnamon raisin bread, sweet vanilla, and honey. Tasting notes include orange, cloves, and oak, which are complemented by subtle undertones of maple and caramel. Finally, you'll enjoy a slightly warming finish with a well-balanced complexity.
9. Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
In 1920, Prohibition began prohibiting the production, transport, and sale of alcohol. However, Old Forester was one of six distilleries to receive a permit to continue selling Old Forester for medicinal purposes.
Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style, presented at 115 proof, is a small batch of barrels representing a barrel sample that would have been batched at the beginning of Prohibition, resulting in a woodsy, warm bourbon.
10. Buffalo Trace - Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey
For over 200 years, Buffalo Trace has been defined by a dedication to one craft: making fine bourbon whiskey. By honoring tradition and embracing change, the distillery has earned its place of leadership among the legendary spirits makers of the world.
This deep amber bourbon whiskey has a complex aroma of vanilla, mint, and molasses. Pleasantly sweet to the taste, it has notes of brown sugar and spice that give way to oak, toffee, dark fruit, and anise. The spirit finishes deep, long, and smooth.
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FAQs: Best bourbon frequently asked questions
What is bourbon?
Bourbon is a type of whiskey exclusively made in the US. Originating from and being majority-produced in Kentucky, it’s the most popular American whiskey, especially in the south.This type of whiskey is usually sweeter than other whiskeys and comes with flavors like charred spice and vanilla. And, you’ll find several types of bourbon, like corn, rye, wheated, straight, and blended.
How is bourbon made?
Bourbon is a mixture of grain, water, and yeast. Specifically, it contains 51% or more corn and some combination of rye, wheat, and/or barley. Many popular bourbons are 65-80% corn.
The spirit is distilled to 160 proof max with up to 62.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) as it sits to mature for at least two years, then no more than 40% ABV once bottled. This is done in new, charred oak barrels, which are very potent and what give the distinct, deep golden hue, smoky vanilla aroma, and unique, sweet flavor to the final product. Then, at the end of distillation, water (and only water) is added to achieve the desired proof.
What is the history of bourbon?
Dating back to the 1700s, Bourbon is named after its birthplace: Bourbon County, Kentucky. The drink rose to popularity by the 1860s and was shipped via the Mississippi River to New Orleans’ Bourbon Street – the most historic street in the heart of the city’s French Quarter.
Today, the most authentic bourbon still comes from Bourbon County distilleries, and most distilleries outside Kentucky won’t call their product “bourbon” to honor the centuries-old tradition. That said, bourbon can legally be made anywhere in the US.
With these amazing bourbon picks to choose from whenever the mood strikes or you have guests coming by, you really can't go wrong. Even better, take it to the next level with a Taster's Club Bourbon subscription, where we take care of all the picking and you simply sit back, relax, and enjoy.