The options are endless when you’re looking for the best bottle of Bourbon.
You’ll find plenty of top-shelf options, one more expensive than the next. But what you won’t find a guide to really help you break down and understand which brand of Bourbon you never knew you wanted.
This is that guide.
Bourbon might not be your first choice for an on-the-rocks sipper.
But on this list, you’ll find absolutely divine flavors, and you will learn to enjoy Bourbon like you never have before.
And of course, if you prefer a nice cocktail instead, our recommendations will work brilliantly with all your favorite mixes.
Below, you’ll find our list of the top brands in the world and a buyer’s guide to Bourbon as well as answers to how it’s made and what types are there.
Finally, we’ll round off this article with tips on how to drink and really enjoy Bourbon as well as the key tasting notes and vocabulary you’ll need to become a true aficionado.
The 31 Best Bourbon Brands you can buy
Before introducing the 31 best Bourbon brands you can buy, here’s a quick table to break down the top 5 Bourbons by category.
|2||Michter’s||Best High-End Option|
|3||Blade and Bow||Best Value|
|4||Four Roses Bourbon||Best for Brand Prestige|
|5||Angel’s Envy||Most Easy To Drink|
Now we list the best 31 brands of Bourbon you must check out:
Blanton’s is a popular brand of Bourbon whiskey manufactured and marketed by the Sazerac company and is currently owned by Age International Inc. Despite not having complete ownership of Blanton’s brand, Sazerac company has the total rights to distill the bourbon.
The brand offers bourbon with 93 Proof, 80 Proof, and 103 Proof, resulting in three different exclusive bourbons. The brand earlier was launched under the guidance of Elmer T. Lee as the first-ever modern bourbon. Yet, to date, the popularity makes it one of its own kind.
Blanton’s was initially marketed as the single-barrel Bourbon under the guidance of their master distiller. However, a typical Blanton’s single barrel is 6 to 8 years old and aged in the warehouse H at the Buffalo Trace.
In the current days, Blanton’s Bourbon whisky is one of the expensive bourbons available in the market. This is because of the luxury brand tag that they have gotten from the experts of Bourbon. Plus, it is also hard to find Blanton’s Bourbon because of the high demand in the market that outpaces the supply. The standard bottle size, 750 ml of Blanton’s single barrel, costs $65, and it tastes like creamy Vanilla with citrus and oak notes with a tint of butterscotch and caramel.
Mesmerizing, isn’t it?
This brand has a different story for sure!
I.W Harper is one of the only ten distilleries that were allowed to produce Bourbon. In fact, they had received a license that allowed them to produce Bourbon for medical purposes. However, a few years later, after the prohibition of making Bourbon ended, the owners, the Bernheim brothers, sold the company to Schenley Distilling Corporation in 1937.
Even so, today I. W. Harper is one of the significant bourbon whiskies available in the market. This bourbon whiskey is a 15-year-old that gives you the magical taste of raisin, oak, spice, vanilla, and caramel. It is a smooth 86 proof bourbon whiskey that serves you the best neat sip of your evening.
Surprisingly, the brand also offers a bourbon whiskey that comes with the tint of vanilla and caramel and melts velvety wooden bursts and spice. And a subtle note of fruits.
No wonder it is one of the best premium bourbon whiskies around the world.
Hirsch was named after the businessman Adolph Hirsch. During the 1970s, Adolph had commissioned a 400-barreled batch of bourbon from the Michter’s Distillery. However, this distillery does not exist anymore. The bourbon was not released and aged till the distillery faced bankruptcy. You can say the bourbon aged till 1989 and was later owned by Gordon Hue. The bourbon was eventually labeled as A.H. Hirsch Reserve, and the ownership was then passed to Preiss Imports, known as Hotaling & Co.
The company, however, started from the best-aged bourbon to selling whiskey bottles in the current generation. Hirsch offers a single-barrel, selected bourbon whiskey aged six years, made with 72% corn, 15% Barley malt, and 13% rye with an ABV of 62.5%.
Hirsch currently distills all of its bourbon whiskey in Pennsylvania and is labeled in Kentucky. It is a personal favorite to tons of original bourbon lovers, especially those who have mastered bourbon drinking. Despite its heavy-costing, it has expanded its market value.
Woodford Reserve is a premium Kentucky straight Bourbon whiskey brand that produces small batches of bourbon in Woodford County, Kentucky. This brand is manufactured by Brown Forman and has an ABV of 45.20%.
Woodford Reserve Bourbon whiskey is distilled with a mixture of copper pot still. Surprisingly, this premium distillery was built in 1865 and had an architectural style of the late Victorian and mid 19th century revivals along with late 1928 century revivals. Formerly known as Old Oscar Pepper distillery and Labrot and Graham Distillery, the Woodford reserve distillery e is situated 8 miles away from the town of Versailles in the North Central part of Kentucky.
However, in the current days, the brand has won the best performance medals between 2005-13. The brand depends on five valuable flavors sources: water, fermentation distillation, maturation, and grain. As of the grain recipe, Woodford Reserve uses 72% Corn, 10% Malted Barley and 18% Rye. Thanks to this, the world can experience one of the most flavourful Bourbons on the planet.
Heaven’s door is an exclusive Bourbon whiskey brand by none other than the famous poet, painter, musician, sculptor, and writer Bob Dylan. One can say the brand is just new Canvas for this multi-talented person to showcase his art. And yes! All of the bottles come with Bob Dylan’s art on the label.
Heaven’s door offers you a collection of handcrafted American Bourbon whiskey that comes with a perfect blend of stories, art, and great taste. However, even though the brand is a collaborative partnership between Bob Dylan and Spirits Investment Partnership, Bob Dylan produces one of the best bourbon whiskeys near downtown Nashville. The straight Bourbon is aged and distilled in Tennessee, and it is a non-chill filtered Bourbon whiskey that preserves to mature the flavors time after time. Thanks to this, drinkers can experience smooth vanilla, and baking spice notes over toasted oak layered Bourbon. Overall, the heavens door Bourbon is an excellent whiskey with great intensity, flavor, and a lot of art and craft.
Bookers is a small batch of Bourbon whiskey produced by Jim beam distillery in Kentucky. This distillery is owned by Beam Suntory, which is a subsidiary of Osaka, Japan.
Even though bookers produce small-batch bourbons, they offer the highest alcohol content that has aged between 6 to 8 years and bottled without filtering. In fact, it also has a natural proof of 121 to 130.6. The brand was first introduced in 1988 and began bottling personally selected bourbons from barrels produced by Jim Beam’s grandson Booker Noe. However, Booker typically gifted the straight from the barrel Bourbon bottles to his family and close friends only. At the same time, he launched his selections under the name of the brand to the public in 1988. This is probably why it is said that the Bourbon was in the neighborhood, without being sold officially during the introductory years.
To date, the brand has released roundtable selected Bourbon whiskey aged between 7 to 6 years along with limited editions that aged tenAt the same time, years and three months in barrels.
Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon is a Kentucky-based Bourbon whiskey completely distilled and blended in the US by the famous manufacturer castle brands owned by Pernod Richard. This brand was initially introduced in 1997 and had an ABV of 40%.
Jefferson has used experimental blindings and aging techniques that have played a vital role in the development of alcohol. For example, one of such aging techniques includes aging Bourbon in a sea where the waves affect the production. Thanks to the experiments, we have exclusive and some of the best alcohol variations, including Jefferson’s Small Batch, Jefferson’s Rye, Jefferson’s Collaboration, and Jefferson’s Presidential.
Jefferson’s also offers bourbon barrels of 6 to 7 years loaded on ships, which later sail in the ocean for at least six months to produce bourbon of great taste in an instance. Side by side he has also collaborated with a chef, Edward Lee, in Louisville to produce a blended Bourbon that goes best with food.
Laws whiskey house is originally a whiskey brand that strives to offer the market one of the best tasting Bourbon variations. They offer Four Grain straight Bourbon, Four Grain Straight Bonded Bourbon, and Four Grain Straight Cask Bourbon.
This brand depends on their family-owned farms, the Ohnmacht’s near Colorado’s eastern plains and Cody’s in San Luis Valley, to cultivate grains to distill whiskey, bourbon, and rye.
However, the brand creates the best-blended bourbons that come with some of the best flavors available in the market, thanks to their fruity and floral undertone bourbons.
Four Roses is a great bourbon whiskey, first introduced in 1888 and currently manufactured by Kirin Brewery Company. The distillery of Red roses was built in 1910 in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. And, it is listed under the national register of historical places, special thanks to the Spanish mission-style architecture. However, the bottling and aging operations take place in Cox’s Creek, Kentucky.
Four Roses Bourbon brand offers 40% ABV four roses Bourbon, 50% single barrel, 52% small batch select, 45% small batch. In fact, this distillery company distills ten separate Bourbon barrels using five yeast strains and to mash recipes. Amongst which bottles like Four Roses Supreme Premium 86 Proof that is sold in Japan, Four Roses Small Batch Select 104 Proof aged for six years and non-chill filtered that is sold in the US, and Four Roses Black 80 Proof that is sold in Japan, are some of the regularly produced bottles of this company.
Four Roses have certainly been one of the popular choices in terms of taste, which is why they have won several awards categorized under the world’s best Bourbon and the best Kentucky Bourbon.
Bib & Tucker
Bib & Tucker is a brand new Bourbon brand owned by the 3 Badge Beverage Corporation, and they introduced the Bourbon, today known as Bib and Tucker, in 2014. Plus this fine bottle of Bourbon comes all the way from Columbia, Tennessee. However, the bottle contains a six-year-old sourced Bourbon which was apparently produced by 35 Maple Street Spirits originally.
A bottle of Bib and Tucker is available at $55, and it is pretty much worth the cost. It has a great flavor, sweet taste and is very elegant to drink.
Angel’s envy is a collaboration between a father and the son, which was then continued by the grandchild. However, currently, this Bourbon brand is produced by Bacardi limited, by Louisville Distilling Company.
Starting from a small family brand to one of the famous and successful Bourbon companies in the world, Angel’s Envy has undoubtedly created the best-handcrafted spirits that keep getting better. In fact, flavors Lincoln Henderson, the legendary master distiller, spent his lifetime crafting the best spirits, and Angel’s Envy came to be one of the masterpieces.
Angel’s Envy is a Kentucky straight Bourbon aged between 4 to 6 years stored in American white oak barrels. Flush it goes through double maturation in order to achieve the best final finishing of the Bourbon.
Longbranch is a Bourbon series introduced by the Wild Turkey distillery situated in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Wild Turkey, on the other hand, was established in 1942. However, the master recipe of Longbranch was created by James Ripy and John Ripy, aka the Irish Brothers, in 1869.
Longbranch was, however, released in early 2018, and it was a collaboration between master distiller Eddie Russell and Matthew McConaughey. It is an 8-year-old bourbon that is refined with oak charcoal and Texas mesquite with an ABV of 43%. The bourbon leaves the aroma of cherries, orange peel, vanilla, nutty caramel, and charred oak.
Fistful of Bourbon
Fistful of Bourbon is a Scotland-based bourbon company-owned and publicly released by William Grant and sons. This company produces five straight bourbons that are sourced from undisclosed sources. Even so, the owners own other notable distilleries, including Balvenie and Glenfiddich.
Fistful of Bourbon surprisingly is 100% straight blend American Bourbon whiskey that leaves five distinct flavors of the night make butter toffee, cinnamon, floral, soft spices, and licorice. Plus, you can taste a 50 ml of Fistful of Bourbon only for $2.99.
Blade and Bow
Initially produced by the iconic Stitzel distillery in Louisville, Kentucky, Blade and Bow were released by Diego in 2014.
Apparently, 22 year old bottles of the core Blade and Bow were left with some of the last alcohol liquids produced before the distillery permanently closed back in 1992. And, the distillery first opened in 1935, to be precise. However, the Bourbon had gained quite a popularity, which made it tough for the experts to find the Blade and Bow Bourbon. However, currently one can purchase the 750 ml of blade and bow Bourbon bottle at $216.
Cooper’s Craft Bourbon is Kentucky-based straight Bourbon whiskey owned by Brown Forman.
This Bourbon whiskey is one of the lightest, with gentle touched Bourbons you will come across. The process of distilling one of the best bourbons in the world started in 1945. The distilling technique is highly crafted and passed down from one generation to another by the master Cooper. The original cooper’s craft Bourbon is 82.2 proof, while the Cooper’s Craft Barrel Reserve is 100 proof. Both of these products are high-end Bourbon options and are remarkably smooth and velvety in texture as well as taste.
Bright Lights is a straight Bourbon brand owned by William Grant and sons. It is a golden color 92 proof straight Bourbon crafted by Hudson Whiskey. In addition, the brand offers three years old Bourbon distilled from the Tuthilltown spirits distillery for a ‘youthful sip.’
The company uses 5% malted Barley and 95% corn for its bourbon distillation. In fact, bright lights big Bourbon is the relaunched version of Baby Bourbon. The current recipe is distilled from New York corn, aged in charred American oak barrels, giving the bourbon a rich taste of vanilla and light salted caramel.
Widow Jane, originally a distillery, was founded in 2012 and was owned by Cacao Preito. He is also the same person, Daniel Perito Preston, whose company produces various distilled whiskey in-house and sourced.
This Bourbon company offers bourbons proofed from the legendary Rosendale Mines of New York. This means all Widow Jane bourbons are proofed with pure limestone water. In fact, the brand got its name from one of the mines in the Rosendale mines. Widow Jane is a great brand that costs around $70 for 10-year-old Widow Jane bourbon.
Brad Beckerman originally founded stillhouse or Stillhouse Spirits; however, years later, Bacardi invested in the firm and later on became a parent organization of the company.
Stillhouse produces six clear whiskies, including mint chip, spiced Cherry, coconut Apple crisp, peach tea, and the original. However the stillhouse black Bourbon gives off the aromatic notes of roasted beans, and the smoothness of caramel perfectly balances the taste of the Bourbon. It comes in a 100% stainless steel can, mixed with ⅕ part of Stillhouse Black Bourbon and three parts of Cola.
Maker’s Mark is a popular Bourbon whiskey company that was first introduced in 1958. It is basically a small batch of Bourbon whiskey that is produced by Beam Suntory in Loretto, Kentucky. The Bourbon has an ABV of 45%.
The brand uses only red winter wheat along with malted barley and corn. The distillation occurs in a historic distillery built-in 1889. A typical Maker’s Mark is aged for at least six years and is only bottled when the brand tasters confirm that it’s perfectly ready to be served. Three varieties were marketed, including the original bottle with 45% ABV, Maker’s, 49 a flavored bourbon with French Oak staves charred in white oak barrel, and Mint Julep released seasonally.
The brand is overall a solid Bourbon enthusiastic brand that has won several medals at various worldwide competitions.
The Hold Up
The Hold up is a Kentucky straight Bourbon whiskey that has gained quite a popularity thanks to the dozen years old age. The brand is owned by Michael Lahalih and John Pals, who were college friends and now successful entrepreneurs. The Bourbons are 12 years old and are available in the market at $125.
The taste of the bourbon is sweet, fruity, floral, and seasoned to perfection. Clearly, it is worth the cost.
Knob Creek is an American brand that offers straight bourbon produced by Beam Suntory. This bourbon whiskey was first introduced in 1992 and is 100 Proof with an ABV of 50.00%. Knob Creek comes in rectangle-shaped bottles with a wax-sealed top, and twist-on cap. The flavor of this bourbon is sweet, woody, and very fruity.
However, previously, almost 2016, the brand offered bourbon aged for nine years. Later, it was said that the age statement would be back in future years. Even though the brand first introduced its original back in 1992, almost in recent years of 2016, the brand began to sell its limited edition collection. Apart from that, Knob Creek offers Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve, Knob Creek Rye, and Knob Creek Maple Bourbon.
Evan Williams is a Kentucky straight Bourbon whiskey brand that was first introduced in 1957 and is bottled in Bardstown, Kentucky, under the production of Heaven Hill Company. The brand’s bourbon typically ages for at least 4 years at least and is one of the best-selling whisky brands around the world. It has an ABV of 43% and is 86 PROOF.
The name of the brand came Evan Williams, who was a Welsh Immigrant born in Dale, Pembrokeshire. Evan later settled in Kentucky and began distilling in the year 1783. Today, the distillery is marked as one of the historic places in Kentucky. The brand also offers other popular varieties like Evan Williams Green Label 80 proof, Evan Williams Single Barrel 86 proof, Evan Williams White Label 100 proof, Evan Williams Black Label 86 proof, and Evan Williams 23 year old blue label 107 proof.
George T. Stagg
George T. Stagg is a classic bourbon whiskey that is produced in limited numbers only. It is a Buffalo Trace distillery product, distributed as the ‘’Antique collection’’ series of the distillery. The brand is owned by Sazerac Company and is aged at least 15 years old with 141.41 Proof and 70.70% ABV.
George T. Stagg has won several medals and ranked top for being one of the best bourbon whiskeys in the world. Plus, the brand has released bourbons every year starting from 2002 till 2020.
Wild Turkey is a straight Bourbon whiskey brand that is bottled by Wild Turkey distilling company. This company is also a division of Campari Group in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. The brand was first introduced in 1940, however, in 1891, Thomas Ripy built the old hickory distillery. After Thomas died in 1902, the Ripy family repaired the distillery and began to produce Bourbon once again after the prohibition to produce Bourbon was removed. The family sold their bottle bourbons to various brands, under which Austin Nichols was also one of the wholesalers. Thanks to him, the Bourbon gained quite popularity, and Austin began bottling wild Turkey In 1942.
However, in 1949 the company was bought by Alvin Gould and Robert Gould. But in 1971, Austin purchased the facility and gave it the name ‘Wild Turkey.’ Comparatively, the brand has a large number of bourbons anyone would love to taste. Talking about which, the brand has won several awards, including the Editor’s Choice.
1792, previously also known as Ridgewood Reserve 1792 and 1792 Ridgewood Reserve, is a straight Bourbon whiskey produced by the Sazerac Company. The brand was first introduced in 2002, and the distillery takes place in Bardstown, Kentucky.
It is a small-batch Bourbon brand that is known for its high-end luxury. It has an ABV of 46.85% and 93.7 Proof. Instead of the number on the bottle, the name was given in reference to when Kentucky became an individual state. The small business later became a competitor to other popular bourbon brands like Knob Creek and Woodford Reserve.
Basil Hayden’s is one of the only lightest-bourbon whiskey introduced in 1992 with 40.00% ABV and 80 Proof. The bourbon is manufactured by Beam Suntory and is named after Basil Hayden Sr, who was a master distiller who used large amounts of rye in the mashes.
The bourbon whiskey by this brand is aged for eight years and has a butter-like taste and finish. It is surely one of the best smooth bourbons to exist.
Jim Beam is an American Bourbon whiskey brand produced by Beam Suntory. Ever since its first introduction in 1943 under the name of Jim Beam, the brand has gained quite a popularity. In fact, Jim Beam is one of the best-selling bourbon whiskey brands that has ruled the world till date.
Originally, the brand was introduced in 1799, however, under the name of Old Jake Beam Sour Mash, and later in 1880, under the name of Old Tub. Surprisingly, seven generations of the Beam Family have gotten involved with the production of the bourbon. However, in the end, the name Jim Beam was finalized, influenced by James B. Beam, who again began the business of producing Bourbon after the prohibition ended.
Parker’s Heritage is a collection of exclusive Bourbon whiskey hallmarked by Heaven Hill’s.
Heaven Hill’s is a private distillery owned by an American family. It was founded in 1935 and is based in Bardstown, Kentucky. It offers bourbon with 40% ABV and 80 Proof. In fact, Heaven Hill’s is the top 7 largest alcohol supplier in the US and the second-largest bourbon whiskey holder all around the world. However, along with producing bourbons, the brand also sells other alcohols, including vodka, Cognac, tequila, etc.
William Larue Weller
William Larue Weller is a wheated bourbon brand that was originally created by the Stitzel-Weller Distilling company and was first introduced in 1849. However, by 1999 Sazerac Company bought the brand and began its manufacture.
The brand offers 90 proof and 107 proof alcohol with 45.00% ABV and 53.50% ABV. Currently, the bourbon of this brand is produced in the Buffalo Trace Distillery. Overall, the brand has won hearts, as well as medals for serving the best-tasting bourbon of all time.
Originally introduced in 1753, Michter’s is one of the few bourbon brands that have gotten fine every new decade. It honors a proud historical legacy of founding the first-ever whiskey brand company in America.
The brand offers some of the best single barrel, small-batch straight bourbon whiskeys. Plus, Michter’s is also one of the costliest bourbon brands to exist. The average price of a bougie bottle costs $5,000.
Buffalo Trace is a popular distillery situated in Frankfort, Kentucky. The distillery is owned by Sazerac Company and is known by other names like the Old Fashioned Copper or the George T. Stagg Distillery.
The distillery was built in 1792 in Colonial Revival and Romanesque architectural style. However, the Buffalo Trace bourbon whiskey was introduced in 1999 and is claimed to be one of the oldest distilleries that have been working continuously, generations after generations.
The Beginners Buyers Guide to Bourbon
We have drafted mini beginner’s buyers to guide to bourbon for people with and without experience.
- If you are completely new to drinking a glass of bourbon, we suggest you begin with brands like Knob Creek, Booker’s, Maker’s Mark, and Evan Williams Single Barrel.
- If you have not taken your first sip of bourbon yet, the best thing, to begin with, is to take a small glass of the alcohol and hold it in your mouth for a few moments. Then, you can apply the ‘chewing’ technique, aka rolling the sip around your tongue, to experience the authentic flavor of the bourbon.
- Make sure your bourbon is- made in the US, aged between 5-10 years at least, requires only water as an additional ingredient, and has 51% or more corn.
How is it made
The process of producing bourbon is:
- Determine the mash mill, aka the recipe, with the use of various grains—most of the time, the grains circle between rye, barley, wheat, or corn.
- Once the ingredients are properly collected, a combination of the mixture plays an important role, making sure the fermentable base is created by mixing grains with water and yeast.
- Then comes the fermentation process that requires the makers to store the base mix to ferment fully. During this time, natural alcohol called ethyl alcohol is produced.
- Once the alcohol is produced, the unwanted fermented solids are strained from the liquid.
- After that, the distilling process begins, and later aging and barreling takes place.
- Once done, the distillers test their product with the help of filtered water.
- Last but not least, the bottling of the product happens.
The Old Rip Van Winkle 25 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is the most expensive bottle of bourbon in the world. It costs around $33,438. It is a 25 year old Straight Bourbon Whiskey distilled by the Buffalo Trace Distillery.
Drinking isn’t everything and especially when it comes to drinking bourbon, there are special terms you must need to know. Some are listed below:
- Bourbon: it is a strict law that bourbon must be made from a grain that has at least 51% of corn and is always barreled in new charred oaks.
- Bottling proof: it is to make sure that your bourbon is a qualified bourbon.
- Straight bourbon: this is a legal statement. Typically, a bourbon must be at least two years old; however, it is required to carry an age statement if it is younger. Plus, straight bourbons cannot be flavored or have added colors.
We choose the best bourbon for you based on the following characteristics:
- Age statement
- Bottled in bond
- Main ingredients
- Single barrel
- Strength of the cask