10 Best 80-Proof Bourbon Brands To Try (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on October 25, 2023 by Lydia Martin

For bourbon beginners, low-proof spirits are enough to satisfy their palates. 

Bourbon with the standard proof is gentle enough to be enjoyed if you’re not yet accustomed to the complexities of the different expressions. 

If you enjoy the classic 40% ABV bourbon expressions, this roundup is tailored to your needs.  Discover the best 80-proof bourbon you need to try. 

Top 10 80-Proof Bourbons You Need To Try

10. Dragon’s Milk Beer Barrel Bourbon

Dragon's Milk Beer on Top of a Barrel

Average Price: around $44.99/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: This bourbon expression is very promising. You can expect a distinct flavor profile with a decent short finish. 

Regardless, it tastes great in an Old-Fashioned, especially if you’re after some chocolate note.

In fact, this is New Holland’s entry into the world of stout barrel-aged whiskey

Its juice is crafted from a high proportion of barley. After maturation, the whiskey is re-barreled in the company’s Dragon’s Milk Stout barrels. 

9. Benchmark Old. No. 8

Bottle of Benchmark Old. No. 8

Average Price: around $9.99/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: This is one of the straight bourbon standards, made from the Buffalo Trace Mash no. 1, with very low rye. 

After the barrels have been vatted, the whiskey is proofed down to 80 proof. So, the Benchmark Old No. 8 tastes well with ginger ale/beer and coke. 

You’ll love this affordable bourbon [1] expression if you want something for sipping neat or straight. 

8. New Holland Beer Barrel Bourbon 

hand holding New Holland Beer Barrel Bourbon Bottle  with glass

Average Price: around $35/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: This New Holland Beer Barrel bourbon can be your go-to drink as it’s smooth and easy to drink.

You can taste the beer barrel flavors in this drink, which is not too heavy.

This bourbon is carefully crafted with caramel and sweet notes complemented by its robust and refreshing beer flavor. 

The soothing vanilla, oak hints, and caramel aromas are followed by the roasted yet sweet taste on the palate.

The finish is smoky reminiscent of a charred oak cask – so this is a must-try.  

7. Old Fitzgerald Bourbon 80 Proof

Old Fitzgerald Bourbon 80 Proof Bottle on top of wooden table

Average Price: around $12/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: You’ll love this classic wheated bourbon with a nose that features baked apple and vanilla custard with hints of oak spice and toffee. 

The palate has a nice balance of sweet and savory flavors and a smooth finish.

If you’re not a proof-chaser, this is a decent choice. This is a very gentle bourbon with very good flavors. 

6. Henry Mckenna Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Henry McKenna 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon Bottle Label

Average Price: around $15 /1L (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: Henry McKenna’s bourbon blend is far from being a bad whiskey, as it offers a gentle flavor profile with a relaxing nose and satisfying finish.

The aroma is light with hints of caramel corn and citrus, followed by a dash of vanilla and a bit of wood spice. 

The flavor profile is smooth and creamy, with hints of baking spices and oak, leading to a clean and light finish.  

5. Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 

Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey bottle and glass

Average Price: around $15.99/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: There is no doubt that many whiskey fans consider Jim Beam Kentucky straight bourbon to be a core part of their selection.

It’s flavorful and has a legitimate heritage. At a very reasonable price, this bourbon is really a must-have.

This is a medium-bodied spirit with sweet and slightly spicy notes with hints of cinnamon, candied apple, a bit of spice, and vanilla.

Its medium-length finish has bold flavors of oak and pepper spice. 

4. Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Close up Shot of Basil Hayden's Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Bottle

Average Price: around $59/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: This bourbon expression is a great blend of citrus and sweet caramel notes that will definitely leave you wanting more.

This medium-bodied alcohol features charred oak with a combination of sweet brown sugar, dried fruit, and black pepper.

Then, it finishes with a pleasantly charred oak flavor.

Its gentleness is a perfect company to enjoy a great night. It’s rightfully aged to be smooth yet spicy, with a rich and bold character. 

3. Old Grand Dad Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

hand holding Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon bottle

Average Price: around $25.99/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: This expression’s high rye content gives a spicy kick to the palate. It’s a traditional style bourbon – not for faint-hearted drinkers.

This bourbon gets infused with brown sugar, cinnamon, and rye heat, with an aroma of orange zest.

The taste is firm yet fruity, with the bold rye character competing with flavors.

On the finish, it gives lots of red hot cinnamon hints that are very long. This is one of the more potent-tasting bourbons out there.

2. Four Roses Yellow Label

Botlle of Four Roses Yellow Label

Average Price: around $19.95/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: Four Roses Yellow Label is a budget-friendly bourbon ideal for making cocktails. Its subtle flavor and low proof make it a good choice for sipping.

This is a great bourbon; the combo of pineapple, herbal licorice, and caraway seed adds depth to this drink.

The flavors come together nicely, making this expression our second favorite. 

Yellow Label has this herbal, tropical, and bright character that fills a certain “need” that other bourbon expressions can’t. It deserves a place in every cellar. 

1. Jim Beam White Label – Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 

Jim Beam White Label - Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 

Average Price: around $18/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: Jim Beam White Label expression is a subtle and elegant blend of bourbon [1] with the finest ingredients. 

“I would enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell.”

– Barack Obama, 44th US President

It has a sweet aroma with hints of vanilla and hay and a touch of cereal sweetness. On the palate, it has notes of crème anglaise, spice, and pepper, with some notes of burnt oak. 

It is distinguished not because it is different from other whiskey types [2] but because it’s an all-in-one drink – from a company known for its rich American heritage and unique blends of spirits.


How strong is 80-proof bourbon?

80-proof bourbon is the standard alcohol level requirement. While some brands go higher proof, others stick to the traditional 40% ABV. 

This alcohol content can be strong that can intoxicate a person in one shot, but some drinkers just stick to this standard level. 

Can an 80-proof bourbon get you drunk?

Yes, one 1.5 oz shot of an 80-proof bourbon can intoxicate an average-sized individual [3], especially if the drinker’s alcohol tolerance is low. 

Are 80-proof bourbons smooth and easy to sip?

80-proof bourbons can be smooth and easy to sip because of their standard alcohol content.

But not all 80-proofs can be smooth; at times, character and flavor profile contributes to the smoothness and easiness of a spirit. 

Final Thoughts

Though all these bourbons are equally 80-proof, no two bottles are alike. Each expression carries its own identity and character. 

From the Dragon’s Milk Beer Barrel bourbon down to our favorite spirit on this list – Jim Beam White Label, all are worth sipping at any time and anywhere. 

Depending on your taste buds, there’s surely one bottle that will stand out. If you haven’t tried any of these bourbon whiskeys [4], now is your time to start.   



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here or feel free to give Lydia a tip.

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