Bourbon, American in spirit, adheres to a rather rigid definition. First and foremost, it must be made in the United States. Next, it must use at least 51% corn in its grain mixture, age in charred oak chambers (usually barrels), and finally, be bottled at over 80 proof. Making up 2/3rds of U.S. spirit exports, bourbon is a massive industry in the South, and Kentucky, in particular. For two centuries, American distillers in the south have been perfecting the art of distilling bourbons of depth and character. These are the top 5 bourbons today.
Four Roses Bourbon
The floral presentation of the bottle and the reddish hue of the liquor reflect the light, aromatic, candied experience of Four Roses Bourbon. Honey, subtle spice, and pear on the nose are followed by a smooth, crisp bourbon, where fruity notes abound.
Buffalo Trace Distillery is so named for paths carved by ancient buffalo in the American wilderness that helped guide pioneers on their way West. One such path meets with the Kentucky River, the site where Buffalo Trace has been making bourbon and whiskey for over two centuries. Buffalo Trace, the distillery’s flagship spirit is affordable, critically-acclaimed, and complex. Like the muscled buffalo on the bottle would suggest, this is a hardy, dark bourbon, for true connoisseurs.
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked
This bourbon packs flavor with a truly unique distillation process. Woodford Reserve distills Double Oaked in two different charred oak barrels, each with distinct character to make a layered, complex product. Expect vanilla, caramel, creamy hazelnut, and fruity notes in this flavorful bourbon.
Find Woodford Reserve products here.
E.H. Taylor, Jr. Barrel Proof
If you’re looking for a raw, genuine bourbon experience, this is your pick. Taking the spirit right from the barrel at 125 proof, E.H. Taylor, Jr. Barrel Proof kicks you in the teeth with booze and flavor. Look for spice, vanilla, pepper, and lingering rye.
Contact Buffalo Trace to inquire where to buy.
Michter’s US*1 Bourbon
This bourbon truly is small batch, made each year with not more than two dozen hand-selected, charred oak barrels. These barrels often exceed eight-years of age, making the final product nuanced, deep, and top shelf. The bourbon takes on a smokey caramel character on the tongue.