The options are endless when you’re looking for the best bottle of Kentucky Whiskey.
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 Kentucky Whiskey you never knew you wanted.
This is that guide.
Kentucky Whiskey 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 Kentucky Whiskey 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 for the top brands in the world and a buyer’s guide to Kentucky Whiskey 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 Kentucky Whiskey as well as the key tasting notes and vocabulary you’ll need to become a true aficionado.
Best Kentucky Whiskey Brands to Enjoy
Here’s a list of top 5 Kentucky Whiskey brands you can buy:
|1||Elijah Craig||Best Overall|
|2||Evan Williams||Best High-End Option|
|3||Woodford Reserve||Best Value|
|4||Buffalo Trace||Best for Brand Prestige|
|5||Four Roses||Most Easy to Drink|
This is an in-depth explanation of the top Kentucky Whiskey brands, including a list of 15+ brands and a brief description of their company, products, and popularity.
Jefferson’s Reserve is a Kentucky-based Bourbon whiskey brand operating in Louisville, Kentucky. It was established in 1997 and is owned by Pernod Ricard.
Jefferson’s Reserve is a traditional distillery first opened by Trey Zoeller. The specialty of this Kentucky Bourbon whiskey is that they age it at sea. The whiskey is placed in barrels and constantly agitated on its ocean voyages. The extreme climatic conditions and humidity of the sea help to produce a savory and salty Kentucky Bourbon whiskey.
The brand’s collection includes Very Small Batch, Reserve, and Ocean Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey. They also produce several limited-edition bottles, such as the Reserve, Single Barrel, Chefs’ Collaboration, Twin Oak, Rye Cognac Finish, and The Manhattan.
Eagle Rare crafts the perfect Kentucky straight Bourbon whiskey at the Buffalo Trace Distillery. The brand was introduced in 1975. The distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, makes two types of Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey.
Eagle Rare Bourbon whiskey is the only whiskey to win double gold medals five times in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The 10-year-old Kentucky straight Bourbon whiskey has a lovely aroma and a smooth flavor.
The Buffalo Trace antique collection has been awarded plenty of gold medals for its delicate aroma and spicy palate.
Buffalo Trace Distillery has been producing Kentucky Bourbon whiskey for over 200 years. They have been pioneers in crafting the pathway to produce high-quality Bourbon whiskey in America at their oldest distillery in Kentucky.
Buffalo Trace Distillery is an American family-owned distillery in Franklin County, Kentucky. Bourbon whiskey is made using the finest corn, rye, and barley malt, aged in new oak barrels for plenty of years. It has complex notes and a long, smooth finish.
The Town branch is one of the best whiskey brands in Lexington, Kentucky. This is the first distillery in the city built more than a hundred years ago.
The distillery makes the finest Bourbon whiskey using the water under Lexington. Elkhorn Creek, a body of water rich in limestone and minerals, inspired the name of the brand’s town branch.
The brand produces perfect Kentucky straight Bourbon whiskey with a high malt mash that gives the drink sweeter characteristics. It also produces a Single Malt Whiskey and Small-Batch Straight Rye Whiskey.
Old Forester is a whiskey brand in Lewisville, Kentucky. The brand is highly regarded for creating the first bottled Bourbon whiskey in 1870. It was founded by George Garvin Brown in 1846 where the brand is named after Dr. William Forrester.
It is famous for producing high-quality Kentucky bourbon whiskey, including 1870 Original Batch Whiskey, 1897 Bottled-In-Bond Whiskey, 100 Proof, 86 Proof Rye Whiskey, 1910 Old Fine Whiskey, 1920 Prohibition Style Whiskey, 2021 Birthday Bourbon, President’s Choice, Single Barrel, and Single Barrel Rye.
Wild Turkey is one of the popular brands distilled and bottled by the Wild Turkey distilling corporation. This whiskey brand is owned by the Campari group. The
Wild Turkey distillery is in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. They named the Wild Turkey brand after a wild turkey hunting trip where the bourbon was served to a group of friends who loved the drink.
The Wild Turkey Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Collection contains Wild Turkey Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Rye Whiskey, Small Batch, Single Barrel, Rare Breed, and Flavored American Honey Whiskey.
Maker’s Mark is one of the popular whiskey brands that makes handmade Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The first Bourbon whiskey was made by Mark’s family in 1953. They created Bourbon whiskey from a 170-year-old Bourbon recipe.
This is one of the rarest Bourbon whiskies, as it is made with soft red winter wheat. The flavor of Mark’s Bourbon stood out from the crowd because of its unique taste profile and characteristics.
It produces plenty of Bourbon whiskey, including Maker’s Mark Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey, Cask Strength, Maker’s Mark 46 Private Selection, Wood Finishing Series, and Maker’s Mark 101.
Four Roses are one of the notable whiskey brands that make distinct Bourbon Whiskey in Kentucky. The brand is famous for its 10 Bourbon unique recipes, which make award-winning whiskies worldwide.
Paul Jones junior was the founder of Four Roses. He named the brand after his love symbol, the corsage of four Roses, signifying his passion for his love. Four Roses Bourbon was first produced in the 18th century. It was the best-selling brand in the United States until the 1950s.
The collection includes Four Roses Bourbon, Small Batch, Single Barrel, Small Bag, Select, and Limited-Edition Bourbon Whiskey.
This whiskey brand has a rich history in Kentucky because Craig was known as the father of bourbon. He was one of the greatest distillers in Kentucky who produced super-premium Bourbon whiskey for the first time in the 17th century.
This brand is famous for producing Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey and aging it in American oak casks. The brand’s founder handled the maturation of whiskey in toasted oak barrels for the first time in Kentucky.
Small Batch Rye, Toasted Barrel, Barrel Proof, and An 18-Year-Old are among the Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey collection. The barrel aging period results in a higher proof and richer-tasting Kentucky Bourbon whiskey.
Elmer T. Lee
Blanton’s Bourbon whiskey was launched in 1984 by Elmer. T. Lee. It was one of the first modern bourbon marketed as a single-barrel Bourbon in the United States.
This is a perfectly balanced and rich Kentucky Bourbon whiskey, which is named after the master distiller of Buffalo Trace Distillery. It is an elegant and complex whiskey with plenty of spicy flavors that give the drink a long, warm finish.
Heaven Hill is one of the popular American family distilleries in Bardstown, Kentucky. The distillery operates plenty of whiskey brands in the United States.
In Kentucky, Heaven Hill bottled-in-bond Bourbon whiskey is one of the earliest whiskeys released in 1939. It quickly became Kentucky’s best-selling Bourbon whiskey.
This is a premier whiskey aged for four years and bottled at 100 proof at the Heaven Hill distillery. This has wonderful aromas and subtle rye notes, giving the drink a long, lingering finish.
Booger’s is one of the best Kentucky-based whiskey brands and is operated by a 6th generation master distiller born in Kentucky. Booker was a renowned master distiller who was the first to introduce small-batch bourbon in 1992 in Kentucky.
The brand is famous for producing uncut and unfiltered Bourbon whiskey, matured at the right temperature and humidity to produce the most intense flavors.
Angel’s Envy makes award-winning premium whiskey in Louisville, Kentucky. The brand has over 200 years of tradition in producing Kentucky Bourbon whiskey.
It produces high-quality whiskey by maturing it in hand-selected barrels, adding flavor and complexity. In addition, they produce plenty of whiskey expressions inspired by their master distiller, Lincoln Henderson.
Angel’s Envy whiskey collections include Port Finish, Rum Finish, Cask Strength, Sherry Cask 2019, and Tawny Cask 2020.
Yellowstone is a popular whiskey brand that produces Kentucky straight Bourbon whiskey in the Limestone Branch distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky. The brand is named after Yellowstone National Park in Kentucky.
The distillery was first started in 1880 but was later shut down. However, in 2010, Yellowstone distillery was reinvented where it makes one of the finest whiskies distilled in Kentucky.
The collection includes Yellowstone Select Bourbon, Yellowstone Limited Edition Bourbon, and Minor Case Rye Whiskey.
Woodford Reserve is one of the oldest Kentucky-based whiskey brands that produce straight Bourbon whiskey in Woodford County, Kentucky. The brand is currently owned and operated by the Brown Forman Corporation.
The Woodford Reserve distillery was first founded in 1812. It is famous for producing the world’s finest Bourbon whiskey in a sustainable environment using high-quality ingredients.
Kentucky straight Bourbon whiskey line-up includes the Master’s Collection, Batch Proof, Double-Oaked, Kentucky Derby Bottle, Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Double Malt Whiskey, Rye Whiskey Wheat Whiskey, Distillery Series, and Baccarat Edition.
Evan Williams was the first brand to open the first distillery in 1783 on the banks of the Ohio River in Kentucky. The brand is famous for producing Kentucky straight Bourbon whiskey with rich characteristics.
The brand produces plenty of Bourbon whiskey, including Bottled-In-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 1783 Small Batch Whiskey, and Single-Barrel Vintage. It also produces flavored whiskies such as apple, peach, cherry, fire, and spiced cider.
The Willett family is one of the oldest American families to produce Bourbon whiskey in Kentucky. Thomas Willett found the Willett distillery in 1936. It is in Bardstown, Kentucky.
The grandson of Edward William moved to Nelson County in Kentucky in 1792. The brand produces bourbon and rye whiskey, matured in American oak casks for 2 to 28 years.
Their line-up includes Pot Still Reserve, Family Estate Bottled-In-Bourbon, 4 Year Rye, Old Bardstown Estate Bottled, Pure Kentucky, and Kentucky Vintage.
Why is Kentucky Whiskey So Popular?
Kentucky is famous for producing world-class bourbon whiskeys. 95% of the world’s bourbon whiskey is made in Kentucky. It is recognized because
- The state has limestone-rich water with high pH levels.
- The water is rich in minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which add the perfect taste and quality to the drink.
- Kentucky has the perfect fertile soil for cultivating corn. They make Bourbon whiskey using a mash bill of 51% corn.
- The weather helped in the proper aging of whiskey in American oak barrels. As a result, it produces golden amber-colored whiskey in Kentucky.
The History of Kentucky Whiskey
Kentucky has been the world’s capital for distilling Bourbon whiskey. It was first started in the United States in the 17th century. The family was the first to make Bourbon whiskey at their family distillery in Kentucky.
Later, Evan Williams opened the first commercial distillery in Kentucky, still one of the world’s best Bourbon whiskeys.
The Kentucky county was founded in 1785 and is named after an honorable French royal family. The region was perfect for cultivating corn kernels, and many settlers from Germany, Ireland, and Scotland started producing Bourbon whiskey using corn mash bills.
Finally, in the 18th century, the Beam family II became one of the most renowned families to distill whiskey in Kentucky.
After the Civil War, Pappy Van Winkle Jr. became one of the world-renowned distilleries in Kentucky that produced Bourbon whiskey at the Stitzel distillery.
Slowly, after US prohibition, the Bourbon Distilleries were legally established to produce Kentucky whiskey and ship their bottles to many countries around the world.
The Best Ways to Enjoy Kentucky Whiskey
Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey has rich, complex aromas and flavors. It is best to drink it straight, adding no water or mixtures. You can also add a few ice cubes to enhance the natural flavors in the whiskey.
Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey acts as a great base for making plenty of cocktails like:
Mix ginger beer with Bourbon whiskey, add lime juice and garnish with mint leaves.
Make a colorful cocktail by blending strawberry juice, maple syrup, club soda, fresh strawberries, and Kentucky Bourbon whiskey.
A refreshing cocktail can be made by blending Bourbon whiskey, strawberry juice, lemon juice, and ginger beer.
Make an original Bourbon cocktail by blending whiskey with sugar cubes, lemon juice, orange slices, cherries, and bitters.
You can make a tropical cocktail by blending pineapple juice with Bourbon whiskey, simple syrup, and Champagne and garnishing with mint leaves.
You can spruce up your sweet tea by blending in Bourbon whiskey and garnishing it with fresh lime slices.
Mix Bourbon whiskey with lime juice, fresh mint leaves, simple syrup, and garnish with cucumber slices.
Blend Bourbon whiskey with lime juice, simple syrup, orange juice, and cranberry juice.
Blend Bourbon whiskey with lemon-lime soda and simple syrup to make a zesty cocktail.
Whip up a hot coffee brew, honey, and Bourbon whiskey and top it with whipped cream.
Mix Bourbon whiskey with simple syrup, sparkling wine, and fresh orange juice. Garnish with orange peel if desired.
You can make this popular cocktail by blending Bourbon whiskey with orange bitters, fresh tangerine juice, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Then garnish with an orange peel.
Kentucky Mint Julep
Make a scintillating cocktail by blending fresh mint leaves, crushed ice, and powdered sugar with Bourbon whiskey.
Blend cranberry juice, lemonade, and ice cubes with Bourbon whiskey.
Blend bourbon whiskey with orange juice, orange slices, and grenadine.