Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Lydia Martin
As a bourbon enthusiast, I’ve tasted my fair share of bourbon over the years. From the smooth and sweet to the bold and spicy, I’ve come to appreciate the wide range of flavors that this iconic American spirit can offer.
But which brands are indeed the best? Join me as I take a journey through the best bourbon brands, exploring their unique flavors and histories along the way. Who knows, you just might learn your new favorite bourbon!
The Top Bourbon Brands
Woodford Reserve is an award-winning Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey that is widely regarded as one of the best on the market because of its unique flavor profile, high quality, and exceptional craftsmanship.
Here’s why you should consider adding Woodford Reserve to your whiskey collection:
- Location: Woodford Reserve is made in Versailles, Kentucky, which is regarded as the heart of the bourbon country. The distillery is located on a picturesque property and offers tours and tastings for visitors.
- Age: Woodford Reserve is aged for at least six years in charred oak barrels, giving the bourbon a rich, complex flavor profile. The aging process allows the bourbon to take on notes of vanilla, caramel, and toasted oak.
- Mash Bill: Woodford Reserve’s mash bill is 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley. This high percentage of corn gives the bourbon a sweet flavor, while the rye adds spice and the malted barley adds depth.
- Proof: Woodford Reserve is bottled at 90.4 proof, which is a bit higher than some other bourbons. The higher proof gives the bourbon a bit more kick and complexity, making it suitable for sipping neat or on the rocks.
- Brand Reputation: Woodford Reserve has a strong reputation for quality and craftsmanship. The brand is well-respected among whiskey enthusiasts and has won countless awards and accolades over the years.
- Price: Woodford Reserve is a premium bourbon, but it is still reasonably priced compared to some other high-end brands. A bottle of Woodford Reserve typically costs between $35-$45, making it a great value for the quality.
- Tasting Notes: Woodford Reserve has a rich and complex flavor profile featuring vanilla, caramel, and toasted oak notes. It is smooth and easy to drink, with a balanced sweetness and spiciness, making it versatile for sipping or mixing cocktails.
Bulleit Bourbon is a brand that has made a name for itself in the bourbon world . Here are some of the reasons why it is considered one of the best bourbon whiskeys:
- Location: Bulleit Bourbon is produced in Kentucky, which is known as the bourbon capital of the world. The brand has access to the best quality corn, rye, and barley from the surrounding farms, which is an important factor in creating high-quality bourbon.
- Age: Bulleit Bourbon is aged for a minimum of 6 years, which is longer than the industry standard of 4 years. This longer aging process allows the bourbon to develop more complex flavors and a smoother finish.
- Mash Bill: Bulleit Bourbon uses a high-rye mash bill with approximately 30% rye content. This gives the bourbon a spicy, bold flavor profile that differentiates it from other bourbons, thus deemed “best rye whiskey.”
- Proof: Bulleit Bourbon is bottled at a higher proof than many other bourbons, at 90 proof. This higher proof enhances the flavors and aromas of the bourbon, making it a favorite among bourbon enthusiasts.
- Brand Reputation: Bulleit Bourbon has a strong reputation for quality and consistency. The brand has won many awards for its bourbon, including the Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
- Price: Bulleit Bourbon is priced in the mid-range for bourbon, with a 750ml bottle costing between $25 and $35 in most markets. This makes it an accessible choice for bourbon lovers who want a high-quality bourbon without breaking the bank.
- Tasting Notes: Bulleit Bourbon has a rich amber color and a bold aroma with vanilla, oak, and spices notes. It has a smooth and well-rounded flavor on the palate with hints of caramel, toffee, and fruit, followed by a long and spicy finish.
Four Roses is a well-respected bourbon brand that has garnered a strong following among whiskey enthusiasts for its distinct flavor and high-quality products.
Here are some of the reasons why Four Roses have become one of the most highly-regarded bourbon brands in the industry today:
- Location: Four Roses is in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, known as the heart of the bourbon industry.
- Age: Four Roses bourbon is aged for a minimum of five years, which allows the flavors to develop and mature over time.
- Mash Bill: Four Roses uses a unique mash bill consisting of 75% corn, 20% rye, and 5% malted barley, which gives the bourbon a distinctive flavor profile.
- Proof: Four Roses offers a range of bourbons with varying proofs, from the lower proof Four Roses Yellow Label to the higher proof Four Roses Single Barrel.
- Brand Reputation: Four Roses has a long-standing reputation for producing high-quality bourbon, which has earned the brand numerous awards and accolades over the years.
- Price: Four Roses bourbon is priced depending on the expression. The Four Roses Bourbon Yellow Label typically costs around $20-$25, while the Four Roses Single Barrel can cost between $40-$50. The Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch can be more expensive, costing upwards of $100.
- Tasting Notes: Four Roses bourbons are known for their complex and nuanced flavor profiles, with notes of fruit, spice, and caramel. The Four Roses Single Barrel, in particular, is highly regarded for its rich, full-bodied flavor and long, smooth finish.
Knob Creek is a highly respected bourbon brand with a rich history that dates back to the late 18th century.
It’s known for its bold, full-bodied flavor and smooth finish, making it a favorite among bourbon enthusiasts.
Here are some of the factors that contribute to Knob Creek’s reputation as one of the best bourbon brands on the market:
- Location: Knob Creek is produced in Kentucky, the heartland of bourbon production, and is known for using high-quality ingredients sourced from local farmers.
- Age: Knob Creek is aged for a minimum of nine years, which is longer than most bourbons, giving it a richer, more complex flavor profile.
- Mash Bill: Knob Creek’s mash bill is made up primarily of corn, with a significant amount of rye, giving it a spicy kick and a smooth finish.
- Proof: Knob Creek is bottled at a higher proof (usually around 100) than most bourbons, which contributes to its bold flavor profile.
- Brand Reputation: Knob Creek is part of the Jim Beam family of bourbons, which has a long-standing reputation for producing high-quality spirits.
- Price: Knob Creek bourbons range from around $30 for the standard Knob Creek 9-Year Old Bourbon to about $150 for limited edition releases like the Knob Creek 25th Anniversary Bourbon.
- Tasting Notes: Knob Creek has a deep amber color and a complex flavor profile, with hint of vanilla, oak, and caramel. It has a smooth, long finish and pairs well with a variety of foods.
Buffalo Trace is a Kentucky-based distillery that has been producing bourbon for over 200 years.
The brand has gained a reputation as one of the best in the industry due to several factors:
- Location: Buffalo Trace is located in Frankfort, Kentucky, in the heart of Bourbon country. The distillery has a long history in the region, dating back to the late 1700s.
- Age: Buffalo Trace offers a range of bourbons of varying ages, including their flagship Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon, aged 8-9 years on average. Their higher-end offerings, such as Eagle Rare and George T. Stagg, can be aged for up to 17 years.
- Mash Bill: Buffalo Trace uses a high-rye mash bill for most of their bourbons, giving them a spicy, robust flavor profile. They also experiment with different mash bills, such as their Wheated Mash Bill, used in their popular Weller and Pappy Van Winkle bourbons.
- Proof: Buffalo Trace bourbons are generally bottled at a higher proof than other brands, ranging from 90 proof for Buffalo Trace to 128 proof for George T. Stagg.
- Brand Reputation: Buffalo Trace has earned a reputation as one of the best bourbon brands due to their consistently high-quality offerings, commitment to experimentation and innovation, and long-standing history in the bourbon industry.
- Price: Buffalo Trace offers a wide range of bourbons at varying price points, making their products accessible to a broad range of consumers. Their flagship Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon typically retails for around $30-35, while their higher-end offerings, such as Pappy Van Winkle, can sell for several thousand dollars per bottle.
- Tasting notes: Buffalo Trace bourbons are known for their smoothness, complexity, and balance of flavors. The flagship Buffalo Trace bourbon has notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak, while the Eagle Rare 10 Year has a richer, nuttier flavor with notes of toffee and leather. The highly rated George T. Stagg bourbon is a bold and intense expression with dark chocolate, espresso, and black cherry flavors.
Elijah Craig is a highly respected bourbon brand known for its rich history, traditional production methods, and exceptional taste.
The brand’s commitment to quality and craftsmanship has earned it a dedicated following among whiskey enthusiasts.
Here are some of the reasons why Elijah Craig is considered one of the best bourbon brands:
- Location: Elijah Craig is distilled in Bardstown, Kentucky, which is known as the Bourbon Capital of the World. The brand is deeply rooted in bourbon culture and history, adding to its credibility and reputation.
- Age: Elijah Craig Bourbons are aged for at least 8 years, with some of their premium offerings aged for up to 18 years. This extended aging process contributes to a rich, intricate flavor profile that sets it apart from other brands.
- Mash Bill: Elijah Craig uses a traditional mash bill consisting of corn, rye, and malted barley, which is similar to the recipe used by many of the best bourbon brands in the market today.
- Proof: Elijah Craig bourbons are bottled at a higher proof than most, ranging from 94 to 130 proof. This higher alcohol content provides a more intense flavor profile and a more robust mouthfeel.
- Brand Reputation: Elijah Craig is widely respected by bourbon enthusiasts and has won numerous awards and accolades over the years. The brand is known for its quality and consistency, which has earned it a loyal following.
- Price: Elijah Craig is a mid-range bourbon, with prices typically ranging from $25 to $50 per bottle. This makes it accessible to a wide range of consumers while still maintaining a level of quality.
- Tasting Notes: Elijah Craig bourbons have a rich, full-bodied flavor with hint of vanilla, caramel, and toasted oak. Some of their premium offerings also have hints of dark fruit and chocolate, making them a unique and enjoyable sipping experience.
Jim Beam is one of the best bourbon brands due to a variety of factors, including its long history, unique production methods, and wide range of products.
Here is a list of justifications why Jim Beam is considered one of the best bourbon brands:
- Location: Jim Beam is produced by the Beam Suntory company in Clermont, Kentucky, which is in the heart of Bourbon country.
- Age: Jim Beam produces a wide range of bourbons for various ages. The most common is Jim Beam White Label, which is aged for four years. They also offer more aged varieties such as Jim Beam Black Label (aged for 8 years) and Jim Beam Single Barrel (aged for 9 years).
- Mash Bill: Jim Beam’s mash bill contains at least 51% corn, with the remaining grains being rye and barley. This mash bill creates a sweet, spicy, and balanced bourbon.
- Proof: Jim Beam produces bourbons at various proofs, ranging from 80 proof for Jim Beam White Label to 130 proofs for Jim Beam Devil’s Cut.
- Brand Reputation: Jim Beam has a long history dating back to 1795 and has become a household name in the bourbon industry. Its products have won many awards and accolades over the years, and its signature white-label bourbon is one of the most popular bourbons in the world.
- Price: Jim Beam offers a wide range of bourbons at different price points. Jim Beam White Label is one of the most modest bourbons on the market, with a price range of $12-$15 for a 750ml bottle. Their higher-end offerings, such as Jim Beam Single Barrel and Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut, can range from $35-$50.
- Tasting Notes: Jim Beam White Label has a classic bourbon flavor with vanilla, oak, and caramel notes. Jim Beam Black Label has a richer, more complex flavor with vanilla, caramel, and spice notes. Jim Beam Single Barrel has a more pronounced oak flavor with notes of vanilla, caramel, and a hint of smoke.
Basil Hayden is a well-known craft whiskey that is appreciated by bourbon enthusiasts and casual drinkers alike.
Here are the reasons why Basil Hayden is one of the best bourbon brands:
- Location: Basil Hayden’s is distilled at the Jim Beam Distiller in Clermont, Kentucky. The distillery has been operating for over 200 years and is a trusted name in the bourbon industry.
- Age: Basil Hayden’s is known for its unique aging process. The bourbon is aged for 8 years, which is longer than most bourbons in its price range, giving it a rich, smooth flavor.
- Mash Bill: Basil Hayden uses a unique mash bill high in the rye, giving it a spicy and peppery taste. The mash bill is composed of 63% corn, 27% rye, and 10% malted barley.
- Proof: Basil Hayden’s bourbon is bottled at 80 proof, which is lower than most bourbons. This lower proof level allows the flavors of the bourbon to shine through without being overshadowed by the alcohol burn.
- Brand Reputation: Basil Hayden’s has a strong reputation for producing high-quality bourbons that are rich in flavor and smooth in texture. The brand has won several awards over the years, including the Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
- Price: Basil Hayden’s is priced higher than many other bourbons, with a price range of $40 to $60. However, the unique aging process and high rye mash bill make it a worthwhile investment for bourbon enthusiasts.
- Tasting Notes: Basil Hayden’s distinctive flavor profile sets it apart from other bourbons. It has a spicy and peppery aroma with caramel, vanilla, and oak notes. It has a smooth and velvety texture on the palate, with flavors of toasted oak, vanilla, and a hint of honey.
Blanton’s is a premium bourbon brand known for its unique bottle shape and quality, making it one of the best bourbon brands available.
Here are some key factors that contribute to its popularity:
- Location: Blanton’s is produced in the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. The distillery is known for its high-quality bourbons and has won many awards for its products.
- Age: Blanton’s bourbons are aged for at least six years, and some of its limited edition releases are aged for up to 23 years. The aging process gives the bourbon its distinct flavors and aromas.
- Mash Bill: Blanton’s uses a unique mash bill of corn, rye, and malted barley, which contributes to its flavor profile. The mash bill is a closely guarded secret, which adds to the brand’s mystique.
- Proof: Blanton’s bourbons are bottled at a relatively high proof, ranging from 80 to 131 proof. This gives the bourbon a bold and complex flavor profile that is highly preferred by bourbon enthusiasts.
- Brand reputation: Blanton’s has a reputation for producing high-quality bourbons that are highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts. Its limited edition releases, such as the Blanton’s Straight From The Barrel and the Blanton’s Gold Edition, are highly coveted and can command high prices on the secondary market.
- Price range: The standard Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon is priced at around $60 to $70 per bottle, while the limited edition releases can range from $100 to several thousand dollars, contingent on the rarity and age.
- Tasting notes: Blanton’s bourbons are known for their complex and layered flavors, with notes of caramel, vanilla, oak, and spice. The aroma is often described as rich and sweet, with hints of citrus and honey. The finish is long and smooth, with a slight burn balanced by the bourbon’s sweetness.
W.L. Weller is known as the best wheated bourbon in the industry. The brand is based in Kentucky, the heart of bourbon country, and has been producing bourbon since the 1800s. 
Here are some reasons why W.L. Weller is a highly regarded bourbon brand:
- Location: W.L. Weller is located in Kentucky, which is known as the bourbon capital of the world. The state’s climate and limestone-rich soil create ideal conditions for producing bourbon, and many of the best bourbon brands in the world are based in Kentucky.
- Age: W.L. Weller’s bourbons are aged for a minimum of 7 years, which allows for a deep, complex flavor profile to develop. The brand also offers some limited edition releases that are aged for even longer periods, such as the W.L. Weller 12 Years.
- Mash Bill: W.L. Weller uses a high wheat mash bill, which results in a smoother and sweeter flavor profile. This makes W.L. Weller bourbons more approachable for those who are new to bourbon or prefer a sweeter taste.
- Proof: W.L. Weller bourbons are typically bottled at 90 proof, which strikes a balance between flavor and alcohol content. The brand also offers some higher proof expressions, such as the W.L. Weller Full Proof at 114 proof, for those who prefer a stronger taste.
- Brand Reputation: W.L. Weller has a strong reputation in the bourbon community. Many bourbon enthusiasts regard it as one of the best brands available. The brand has won several awards for its byproducts, and its bourbons are highly sought after by collectors.
- Price Range: W.L. Weller’s bourbons are reasonably priced compared to some other high-end bourbon brands. The standard W.L. Weller Special Reserve can typically be found for around $30, while the W.L. Weller 12 Year and W.L. Weller Full Proof can be found for about $50-$60.
- Tasting Notes: W.L. Weller bourbons have a rich, sweet flavor profile with notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak. The high wheat mash bill gives the bourbons a soft, smooth mouthfeel, and the long aging process adds complexity and depth to the flavor. The bourbons are also known for their balanced finish, with a slight hint of spice and a lingering sweetness.
Angel’s Envy is a premium bourbon brand that is renowned for its unique approach to aging and finishing.
Here’s a detailed answer and list explaining why Angel’s Envy is one of the best bourbon whiskey brands:
- Location: Angel’s Envy is based in Louisville, Kentucky, which is known as the heart of Bourbon country. The brand is proud to be part of the rich tradition of bourbon-making in the region and has access to some of the finest distilling resources in the world.
- Age: The age of Angel’s Envy varies depending on the expression. The flagship Angel’s Envy Bourbon is aged for 4-6 years, while the Angel’s Envy Rye is aged for at least 6 years. The brand also has limited edition releases that are aged for longer periods, such as the Cask Strength and the Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish.
- Mash Bill: Angel’s Envy Bourbon is made from a unique mash bill consisting of 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley. On the other hand, the Angel’s Envy Rye has a grain bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley. The brand’s commitment to quality ingredients and innovative blending techniques set it apart from other bourbon makers.
- Proof: The proof of Angel’s Envy Bourbon is 86.6, while the Angel’s Envy Rye is 100 proof. The brand’s limited edition releases can range from 118.2 proof to 124.6 proof, depending on the expression.
- Brand Reputation: Angel’s Envy has quickly become one of the most sought-after bourbon brands in the world. The brand has received many awards and accolades, including being named “Best Spirit in the World” at the 2013 International Spirits Competition. Its unique approach to aging and finishing has garnered the attention of whiskey enthusiasts and experts alike.
- Price Range: Angel’s Envy’s flagship Bourbon and Rye expressions are priced at around $50-$60, which is in line with other premium bourbon brands. The brand’s limited edition releases, such as the Cask Strength and the Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish, can range from $200 to $300 per bottle.
- Tasting Notes: Angel’s Envy Bourbon has a rich, smooth flavor profile with hint of caramel, vanilla, and oak. The Angel’s Envy Rye is characterized by its spicy, peppery flavor with hints of honey and citrus. The brand’s limited edition releases offer unique flavor profiles, such as the Cask Strength’s bold, smoky notes and the Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish’s rich, fruity flavors.
What is the best bourbon in the market?
One such competition is the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, which is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious spirits competitions in the world. In 2021, the top bourbon awards went to the following:
- Best Small Batch Bourbon: Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon
- Best Single Barrel Bourbon: Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon
- Best Bourbon: 1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon
It’s important to note that the “best” bourbon is subjective and can vary based on personal preference, taste, and other factors. It’s always recommended to try a variety of bourbons and find the one that best suits your own palate.