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10 Best 12-Year-Old Bourbon Brands Ranked (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on January 12, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Many distillers claim that the sweet spot for bourbons is around six to eight years, while some believe twelve years is the max. 

12-year-old bourbons are flavorful, bolder, elegant, and well-balanced gems in the bourbon world. 

Get to know more about the best 12-year-old bourbon that deserves a spot on your liquor shelves. 

Top 10 12-Year-Old Bourbons You Need To Try 

10. Van Winkle Special Reserve 12-Year Bourbon

Close up Shot of  Van Winkle Special Reserve 12-Year Bourbon Bottle Label

Average Price: Roughly $1149.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 45.2%

Why We Like It:

Van Winkle Special Reserve 12-year bourbon has a perfect combination of proof and age. 

After maturing in new charred oak barrels for twelve years, it produces a fine bourbon with complex flavor. 

The 12-year-old bourbon will greet you with light aromas of cocoa, dried mango, spiced peach, and dried fruit.

The rich oak, tobacco, and honey flavors dance on the palate with a long finish. 

9. Calumet 12-Year Single Rack Black Bourbon

Bottle of Calumet 12-Year Single Rack Black Bourbon Bottle on wooden table

Average Price: Roughly $99.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 47%

Why We Like It:

Calumet 12-Year Single Rack black bourbon is made from 74% corn, 18% rye, and 8% malted barley, and there are only 19 barrels for this batch size. 

The bourbon whiskey has a glowing golden amber color with a rich aroma of vanilla, caramel, and light spice. 

The bourbon whiskey features elaborate layers of spice, smoky wood, and caramel with a deeply satisfying finish.

8. Bib & Tucker 12-Year-Old Small Batch Bourbon

Bib & Tucker 12-Year-Old Small Batch Bourbon

Average Price: Roughly $104.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 49.5%

Why We Like It:

Bib & Tucker 12-Year-Old is a small batch bourbon whiskey that is patiently aged for a smooth yet complex spirit. Each bottle is non-chill filtered and boasts 99 alcohol proof. 

Bib & Tucker is aged twelve years in the extreme seasonal heat, cold, and humidity of Tennessee hills, resulting in creamier, bolder, and richer tasting notes.

You can expect nice notes of honey, and chestnut, with subtle hints of caramel and vanilla.  

7. Knob Creek 12-Year Bourbon

Bib & Tucker 12-Year-Old Small Batch Bourbon

Average Price: Roughly $73.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 50%

Why We Like It:

Knob Creek 12-Year bourbon is a Pre-Prohibition [1] style bourbon whiskey packed with full proof for a bold and full flavor profile.

The Kentucky bourbon whiskey features 77% corn, 13% rye, and 10% malted barley for bold, brash, and highly memorable tasting notes. 

The bold sipper has rich notes of vanilla beans, caramel, toasted marshmallow, and brown sugar with nice peppery rye at the end. 

6. Widow Jane 12-Year Bourbon

man holding Widow Jane 12-Year Bourbon Bottle

Average Price: Roughly $95 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 49.5%

Why We Like It:

Widow Jane 12-Year bourbon is the bolder and darker side of Widow Jane expressions as it is a private barrel selection from carefully selected casks. 

The high-rye bourbon will greet you with black tea, vanilla, and brown sugar aroma.

We like the burnt sugar and orange peel on the tongue and the oak tannin and caramel corn finish. 

5. Jim Beam Signature Craft 12-Year Bourbon

Old man  Holding Jim Beam 12 years Signature Craft Bottle

Average Price: Roughly $40.49 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 43%

Why We Like It:

Jim Beam Signature Craft 12-Year bourbon is an ultra-premium distilled spirit made to honor tradition while chartering innovations for bourbon distilling.

The bourbon whiskey is well-aged in new charred oak barrels to develop an irresistible flavor profile and character [2]. 

Jim Beam 12 has the right amount of oak and is easy to drink neat, on the rocks, and in cocktails. 

On the nose, you will be welcome with deep vanilla and oak notes. We like the rich and robust caramel, oak, and sweet vanilla-tasting notes on the tongue. 

4. Hickory Hill 12-Year Straight Bourbon

Bottle of Hickory Hill 12 Year Single Barrel

Average Price: Roughly $99.99 (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 45%

Why We Like It:

If you are looking for a bourbon whiskey with spicy yet fruity notes, Hickory Hill 12-Year Straight bourbon is a great option. 

This true small batch bourbon is aged for twelve years in American oak barrels, and the result is complex yet nicely balanced tasting notes. 

The bourbon features notes of dried cherries, allspice, caramel, roasted nuts, chocolate fudge, and vanilla.

It is ideal for slow sipping to bring warmth on cold nights. 

3. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

3 Bottles of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

Average Price: Roughly $87.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 64-70.1 % 

Why We Like It:

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof does not bear an age statement, but every bottle consists of 12-year-old bourbon bottled straight from the barrel. 

This beautiful deep amber bourbon whiskey has a rich aroma of caramel, fruit, and toasted oak notes. 

The caramel, butterscotch, and vanilla are very evident on every sip, and it has a nice layer of flavors that lingers as it cools. 

2. 1792 Aged 12 Years Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Close Up Shot of 1792 Aged 12 Years Bourbon Bottle

Average Price: Roughly $100.79 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 48.3%

Why We Like It:

Aging for twelve years in oak barrels may be a long wait, but this impeccable bourbon whiskey has a satisfying result for maturing for over a decade. 

1792 Aged 12 Years Kentucky straight bourbon boasts rich cocoa and vanilla flavors with a complex, lingering, smoky finish. 

This expression brought home multiple golden awards in international spirits competitions. It has been lauded for its amazing tasting notes and flavor profile.

1. W.L. Weller 12-Year Bourbon

W.L. Weller 12-Year Bourbon Bottle

Average Price: Roughly $250 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 45%

Why We Like It:

Weller 12 is more than just an alternative to Pappy bourbons; it is a highly sought-after and award-winning pour

The wheated bourbon is part of the Weller lineup and is aged longer than some wheated bourbons.

“[Weller 12] high-spirited, lusciously toasty, and animated bouquet that has top-notch Bourbon written all over it; dry, complex, and toasty palate.”

– Paul Pacult, Author & Beverage Consultant 

It offers an easy-going, balanced, and smooth bourbon with deep bronze color. 

As we opened a bottle, the aromas of almond, toasty vanilla, lanolin, and creamed corn welcomed us.

It is moderately sweet and heavily wheated with an intensely smooth finish. 

FAQs 

Is 12-year-old bourbon good?

Yes, 12-year-old bourbon is good. As the bourbons mature inside the barrel, the spirit’s flavor profile and tasting notes are improved. 

Many distilleries believe that 12 years is the maximum sweet spot for bourbons, and when it is aged longer, the taste profile begins to head downhill.

Is a 12-year bourbon smooth to sip?

Yes, a 12-year bourbon is smooth to sip. 

Since 12-year bourbons are well-aged, they boast a well-balanced flavor, rich tasting notes, and bold profile that you will appreciate more when sipped neat. 

Final Thoughts

12-year-old bourbons are aged for more complex flavor and smoother tasting notes. 

1792 bourbon, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, and Hickory Hill are some of the time-honored bourbons that are well-aged for a richer, bolder, and smoother flavor. 

However, not just to join the hype, but the tasting notes of Weller 12-Year Bourbon make it the best 12-year-old bourbon you should not miss. 

It has an easy-drinking taste profile and a remarkable finish that will leave you wanting more. 

References:

  1. https://www.britannica.com/event/Prohibition-United-States-history-1920-1933 
  2. https://www.thespruceeats.com/effect-of-aging-on-liquor-759921 

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