Taster’s Club Best Bourbon Whiskey Picks to Enjoy in 2023
Written by Emma C | Updated Feb 2023
Bourbon has made a huge comeback as one of the most popular spirits in the country. With countless brands and expressions hitting shelves, it can be overwhelming to navigate through all the different labels and bottles. There are tried and true expressions from Kentucky but also some noteworthy newcomers from around the US worth trying. To help you decide on your next bottle we have tasted through many great bourbons (although we can’t try them all) to bring you our top picks for the best bourbon whiskey picks in 2023 based on style, flavor, and value, all available in our bottle shop. Enjoy shopping for old favorites or exploring something new.
Best Bourbon Whiskey Recommendations in Our Bottle Shop for 2023
Best Small Batch Bourbon
E.H. Taylor Jr. Small Batch
This small batch bourbon is a true sipping bourbon that honors the uncompromising legacy of bourbon’s founding father, Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. Made by hand, it has been aged inside century-old warehouses constructed by E.H. Taylor, Jr. Barrels are evaluated and selected to create a perfect blend of distinctive character that is like no other.
2023 Double Gold San Francisco World Spirits Competition Winner
Region: Kentucky | Notes: Caramel Corn, Butterscotch, Licorice, Spice | ABV: 50%
Wilderness Trail Small Batch Bottled in Bond
Wilderness Trail’s Small Batch Bourbon mash bill consists of 64% corn, 24% rye, and 12% malted barley using the maker’s own yeast strains. With herbaceous, minty, and spicy notes, it’s incredibly balanced and smooth enough to be had alone or added as a delicious kick to your favorite mixed drink.
Region: Kentucky | Notes: Herb, Mint, Spice | ABV: 50%
Clyde May's Straight Bourbon
This award-winning straight bourbon from Clyde Mays is aged for 4 to 5 years in new 53-gallon oak barrels and non-chill filtered. You’ll get dried orchard fruits on the nose and spice on the palate. A full and smooth choice, it’s best either on the rocks or in a Manhattan.
Region: Alabama | Notes: Dried Fruit, Spice | ABV: 46%
The Clover Straight Bourbon
The Clover’s Straight Bourbon whiskey offers subtle aromas of oak and spice with a taste of deep caramel, vanilla, and a hint of citrus orange. This leads to a lovely, soft, lingering finish of caramel, vanilla, and light oak.
Region: Indiana | Notes: Oak, Spice, Caramel, Vanilla | ABV: 46%
Best Cask Strength Bourbon
Breckenridge 105 is its blended bourbon Whiskey with a twist, bottled at a gripping 105 proof in a deep, burnt orange hue. This bottle gives you a chance to experience what the distillers taste as they blend: a wild ride through rich, dark caramel and toasted almonds, burnt Baker’s chocolate, and dried orange peel, with a lingering finish of vanilla and spice.
Region: Colorado | Notes: Caramel, Almond, Chocolate, Orange Peel | ABV: 52.5%
Brother’s Bond Cask Strength
This limited release of the original cask strength expression showcases Brother’s Bond Bourbon in its undiluted form, unfiltered and uncut at 115.8 proof. It’s influenced only by the barrel’s qualities, the passing of time, and the artful blending of three distinct mash bills to create a four-grain straight bourbon original cask strength whiskey.
Region: Indiana | Notes: Cinnamon, Rye, Oak, Leather, Honey | ABV: 57.9%
Best Single Barrel Bourbon
Blanton’s Single Barrel
From the time Albert Bacon Blanton became president of Blanton’s in 1921 until his retirement in 1952, his distillery became the largest distillery of its day. Colonel Blanton created his very special and limited supply of bourbon – his private reserve – handpicked and stored in what now is known as the famous Warehouse H. Today, the Colonel’s legacy lives on. Introduced in 1984, Blanton’s namesake bourbon was the first ever Single Barrel Bourbon sold commercially.
Region: Kentucky | Notes: Cedar, Toffee, Vanilla, Dried Fruit | ABV: 40%
Four Roses Single Barrel
This single-barrel bourbon from Four Roses is complex, full-bodied, and surprisingly smooth. You’ll get aromas of oak, caramel, vanilla, fruit, and mint, similar flavors on the palate, plus honey, cinnamon, and clove, followed by a delicate, long, very mellow finish.
Region: Kentucky | Notes: Oak, Caramel, Cinnamon, Vanilla | ABV: 50%
Best Wheated Bourbon
Southern Star Paragon
New to Taster’s Club, this 100-proof wheated bottled-in-bond whiskey has a sweet and complex lineup of floral elements contained in a rich silky texture. Stick around long enough and you can soak up the warm flavors of ripe apple and dried apricot.
Region: North Carolina | Notes: Vanilla, Honey, Walnut | ABV: 46%
Jefferson’s Ocean Wheated
Jefferson’s Ocean Aged at Sea is fully matured for at least four years, then placed in rickhouses on ships to travel the globe which hyper-ages the bourbon. The constant agitation, weather conditions, and sea-salt air impart a flavor like no other. As wheat is a softer grain than rye, it amplifies the flavors intrinsic to ocean voyages, in a way that rye spice just can’t.
Region: Kentucky | Notes: Clove, Pepper, Grain, Caramel | ABV: 45%
Best Bottled in Bond
The 1893 Chicago World’s Fair preceded the US Bottle-in-Bond Act by 4 years in 1897. FEW’s whiskey is bottled under the strict rules of the Act, essentially America’s first consumer protection law and guarantee of quality. The bourbon’s release coincides with the 125th anniversary of the passage of that Act. Bottled at 50% ALC. / VOL distilled in the same season at FEW, and aged a minimum of four years in American oak in a federally bonded warehouse, FEW Bottled in Bond Bourbon features the beloved spice of FEW Straight Bourbon, with cherry, smoked vanilla, oak, and caramel undertones.
Region: Chicago | Notes: Black Pepper, Cherry, Oak, Cinnamon | ABV: 50%
Laws Whiskey House Bottled-in-Bond
This special offering of Laws’ Four Grain is the first bonded bourbon in Colorado history. True to the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897, this bourbon is at least 4 years old, a product of a single season and a single distiller, and has been aged entirely in the maker’s federally-bonded rickhouse.
Region: Colorado | Notes: Black Tea, Orange, Brown Butter, Dates | ABV: 50%
Best Barrel Finished
Rabbit Hole Dareringer
Rabbit Hole’s Dareringer is named after the prominent Louisville individuals who traveled down their own rabbit holes. Crafted in small batches from unique mash bills with unorthodox, specialty grains and distilled without compromise, this Sherry cask-finished Bourbon is elegant, sweet, and charming.
Region: Kentucky | Notes: Caramel, Cherry, Almond, Raisins, Vanilla | ABV: 46.5%
Oak & Eden Wheat & Spire
Oak & Eden breaks tradition in the finishing (or double barrel) process. Instead of putting its fully aged whiskey in a second barrel to add more flavor coming naturally from the wood, they place a spire in the bottle (a spiral-cut piece of oak fashioned from the same species and treatment as barrel oak).
Region: Texas | Notes: Fruit, Vanilla Custard, Spice, Licorice, Oak | ABV: 45%
This Taster's Club list of the best bourbon whiskey picks in 2023 will surely help guide you toward your next favorite bottle. Enjoy shopping from our online store or, for a more curated experience each month, join our Bourbon Club. Each month, we feature bottles from today's new award-winning distilleries and ship them straight to your door.
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.
What is the most popular bourbon on the market?
There are so many popular bourbons around, including expressions like Blanton's, Four Roses, and Jefferson's Ocean Wheated.
What is the smoothest bourbon to drink straight?
If you’re looking for an incredibly smooth bourbon to drink straight, you can’t go wrong with Rabbit Hole Dareringer.
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