In May of 1964, Congress passed a resolution that declared bourbon as “a distinctive product of the United States.” However, long before that, people where enjoying this liquid spirit from country-line bars to big city lounges. For the past 50 years its ceremoniously unique blends of rye, corn, wheat, and barley have offered us all some very unique tastes. And while there are some very good bottles and some very good prices … let’s be clear … not all bourbons are created equally.
Which one to choose? Here are the best bourbons:
1. Jim Beam BLACK ($20)
For the price you get exactly what you pay for … something that is bold, yet complex, that’s a full eight-years-old. That time spent in the barrel allowed it to get rid of the kerosene aftertaste, darken a bit, and turn into a creamy body that is thick and mellow.
2. Four Roses Small Batch ($29)
With this bourbon you get exactly what you pay for: an offering that has been made from mixing the contents of Four Roses select barrels. And for that– it’s one of the best. It’s strong, smoky, and goes down with a hint of caramel charm.
3. Woodford Reserve ($30)
A spicy, leathery bourbon that’s very sippable and strong enough to make your old-fashioned not taste watered down.
4. Maker’s Mark Cask Strength Bourbon Whiskey ($33)
A bourbon is distinguished, quite fiery, and surprisingly strong. It starts off like an Atomic FireBall and mellows into a warm piece of apple pie. You can even taste the woodiness on top of the vanilla.
5. Blanton’s Original Single Barrel ($47)
Let it be known this is one fantastic bourbon. It is one of the smoothest bourbons on the market, with a hint of peppery spice to make sipping that much more interesting.
6. Medley Brothers’ Old Medley 12 ($50)
A bourbon that tastes older than it is, it has a It has a unique pecan quality about it, that really complements the vanilla and caramel. And for its price, it’s one of the best values on the market.
7. Widow Jane Kentucky Bourbon (7-year) ($65)
Probably the best bourbon distilled outside of Kentucky (it’s made in Brooklyn from limestone mineral water — the same place from where they got the limestone for the Empire State Building). It’s unfiltered, dark, and has a light ether glow.
8. George T. Stagg (17-YEAR) ($75)
It is intensely gritty and minty, yet surprisingly fresh for its age. And at 143 proof, you’re basically getting two bottles for the price once you water it down to a respectable sipping proof.
9. Elijah Craig (18- year) ($77)
At eighteen years, it’s been sitting in barrels longer than most bourbon you’ll find. This gives it a uniquely smoky, woody flavor.
10. Black Maple Hill (16-year) ($125)
Delicate, but not weak, its taste is sophisticated and mature with slight implications of citrus and honey. While there is a faint hint of burn, it is much less smoky than many older types of bourbon. And remarkably, at 95 proof, it can be enjoyed neat by at any time.