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10 Best Bourbons for Mint Julep Recipe (2024 Updated)

Best Bourbons for Mint Julep recipe

Last Updated on March 13, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Horses. Bourbon. Mint Julep. These three words are the best words associated with the Kentucky Derby. If you are missing out on this year’s Kentucky Derby, you should at least get the best bourbon for Mint Julep and have it around all year round!  

Top 10 Best Bourbon For Mint Julep Cocktails 

1. Four Roses Single Barrel

Four Roses Single Barrel, Best Bourbon For Mint Julep

Four Roses Single Barrel is one of the top bourbons you can try if you plan to make your own milt julep cocktail. The single barrel is a high rye bourbon, so it has a rich flavor and little spiciness that works great as base liquor for Mint Julep cocktails. 

At 100 proof, Four Roses Single Barrel has notes of pear, chocolate, toffee, and oak. It incredibly goes well with the added sugar syrup, ice, and mint leaves. 

2. Knob Creek 100 Proof

Knob Creek 100 Proof

Knob Creek Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey has sweet oaky and nutty notes that get better when used as a base for classic cocktails. The 100-proof bourbon has subtle fruity sweetness and spice that will be a solid base spirit for a good Mint Julep cocktail. 

You don’t need an expensive bottle of bourbon to make Mint Juleps because the Knob Creek is both affordable and great tasting.

3. Larceny Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Larceny Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Larceny Kentucky bourbon by Heaven Hill Distillery is a wheated bourbon with 92 proof, and one of the best ways to enjoy it is by turning it into your own Mint Julep. The spice lead caramel, butterscotch, and honey of Larceny are everything you need for your cocktail drink. 

4. Maker’s Mark Cask Strength

Maker’s Mark Cask Strength

If you are a bourbon lover, you surely know and love the rich taste of Maker’s Mark. The wheated bourbon has a strong flavor that you might want to try for your Mint Juleps. It has a strong flavor, but it does not overpower other flavors on your taste buds; plus, it can withstand ice melt.

5. Michter’s US-1 Limited Release Barrel Strength Bourbon

Michter’s US-1 Limited Release Barrel Strength

While Mitcher’s US-1 Limited Release Barrel Strength Bourbon is great to consume neat or on the rocks, it is a versatile spirit and can be a great base for your cocktail. It has rich flavors of candied fruits, vanilla, and oak notes that will add depth to the official drink of the derby. 

6. New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

New Riff

New Riff bourbon whiskey is the distillery’s core expression, and it is a savory and bold bourbon that mixes great in any cocktail. The vanilla notes and rich butterscotch match the sugar in the julep, and we recommend using more crushed ice for this cocktail. 

Unlike other whiskeys, it has a strong taste, but it tastes great for cocktails. 

7. Old Forester Signature 100 Proof

Old Forester Signature 100 Proof

Another delicious bourbon you can try for your Mint Julep is the Old Forester with 100 proof. George Garvin Brown pioneered the first bottle of whiskey, and it has a great flavor profile that may fit your personal preference for cocktails. 

In addition, the whiskey has unique flavors that you will need to create a good-tasting cocktail. It is strong and bold, but it comes with maple syrup, oak, and sweet apple notes that balance out the flavor. 

8. Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon

Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon

Old Grand Bourbon is made from high rye mash bill, but it is considered one of the best bourbons because of its intensity. It is a medium-bodied bourbon at 100 proof, so there are many cocktail drinks you can try with Old Grand.

The cinnamon pops upfront the baking spices and dark fruit, but it tastes good when mixed with simple syrup, shaved ice, and fresh mint.

9. Wild Turkey 101

Wild Turkey 101

Next on the list of best bourbon for Mint Julep is the Wild Turkey 101. The bourbon has a lot of character that will surely spice up your cocktails. It has a high ABV, but it compliments well with the mint and sugar and does not dominate the minty flavors of the drink. 

In addition, it is one of the tastiest whiskey and the cheapest brand you can find on our list. It has a punch like Buffalo Trace, and it will put spring on your step even in just one sip. 

10. Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve

Last but not least is the Woodford Reserve, the signature bourbon used at the Kentucky Derby. It has a strong flavor profile with delicious caramel, toasted oak, complex citrus, and spice notes that mixes well with the cocktail drink without being overpowering.


Classic Mint Julep Cocktail Recipe 

Classic Mint Julep Cocktail Recipe

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Total Time: 3 minutes


  • 2 ½ oz bourbon 
  • 4 to 5 mint sprigs (leaves only)
  • ½ oz simple syrup or 2 sugar cubes
  • Mint sprig for garnish
  • Crushed ice


In a julep cup, muddle mint with sugar or simple syrup until it the aroma and oil of the mint release. Add the bourbon to the muddled mint, fill the glass with crushed ice and stir well until it becomes frosty. Top the drink with mint sprigs, then serve it with a straw. 

Serving: 1

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Aside from bourbon, what other spirit can you use in Mint Julep?

Aside from bourbon, you can use rum, sweet brandy, or cognac for a Mint Julep. Since bourbon is naturally sweet because of its corn content [1], it would be ideal to choose a slightly sweet spirit but with a kick. 

Can you use all bourbons for Mint Julep?

Yes, you can use all bourbons for Mint Julep, but you need a good Mint Julep to have a good bourbon. There are no restrictions on what bourbon to use for the cocktail drink. However, we highly recommend getting one from this list to surely taste the best. 

What kind of bourbon is best for a mint julep?

For a classic mint julep, it’s recommended to use a high-quality and flavorful bourbon.

Bourbons with a slightly higher proof, around 90 to 100 proof, are often preferred as they can stand up well to the sweetness of the mint and sugar.

Popular choices for mint juleps include bourbons like Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, and Buffalo Trace, as they bring a balance of rich flavors that enhance the overall cocktail experience.

Is Jack Daniels good for a mint julep?

While Jack Daniel’s is a well-known and popular whiskey, it is a Tennessee whiskey rather than a bourbon. Mint juleps traditionally use bourbon rather than Tennessee whiskey.

If you prefer a mint julep made with Jack Daniel’s, you would technically be making a Tennessee version of the cocktail, which could have a slightly different flavor profile.

However, many enthusiasts stick to bourbon for the classic mint julep experience.

What alcohol goes with mint julep?

The classic and traditional alcohol choice for a mint julep is bourbon. The combination of bourbon, fresh mint, sugar, and ice creates a refreshing and iconic cocktail.

However, some variations may use other spirits, such as brandy or rum, for a unique twist on the traditional mint julep.

What is regarded as the best bourbon?

Determining the “best” bourbon is highly subjective, as it depends on individual taste preferences. There are numerous well-regarded bourbons, each known for its unique flavor profile.

Some popular choices among bourbon enthusiasts include Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve, Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve, Maker’s Mark, and Blanton’s, among others.

The best bourbon for someone is the one that aligns with their personal taste preferences.

What is the official bourbon of the mint julep?

The official bourbon of the mint julep is often associated with the Kentucky Derby, and for many years, the official bourbon used in the Derby’s mint julep has been Early Times Kentucky Whisky.

However, individuals are free to choose their preferred bourbon when making a mint julep, and various high-quality bourbons are commonly used in this classic cocktail.

What is the smoothest bourbon to drink neat?

Smoothness in bourbon is subjective and can vary from person to person. Some bourbons often praised for their smoothness include Maker’s Mark, Blanton’s, and Basil Hayden’s.

Smooth bourbons typically have a well-balanced flavor profile with a mellow finish, making them enjoyable to sip neat.

Exploring different brands and expressions allows individuals to find the bourbon that best suits their palate for sipping.

What bourbon does John Wick drink?

In the John Wick film series, the character is often seen drinking a bourbon known as Blanton’s.

Blanton’s is a single-barrel bourbon produced by Buffalo Trace Distillery and is known for its distinctive bottle shape featuring a horse and jockey stopper. The choice of Blanton’s in the films has added to the bourbon’s popularity among enthusiasts and collectors.

Why is the mint julep so expensive? The cost of a mint julep can vary depending on several factors.

The use of high-quality bourbon, fresh ingredients, and elaborate presentation, especially at upscale establishments or events like the Kentucky Derby, can contribute to a higher price.

Additionally, the traditional preparation involves the use of crushed ice, which requires more effort and resources.

The overall experience, atmosphere, and craftsmanship associated with crafting a premium mint julep can justify a higher price tag.

What makes a mint julep so expensive?

Several factors contribute to the higher cost of a mint julep. Firstly, the choice of bourbon can significantly impact the price, especially if a premium or rare bourbon is used.

Fresh and high-quality mint leaves, along with the use of a silver or pewter cup, can add to the expense.

The traditional preparation method, involving muddling the mint and the use of crushed ice, requires more time and effort.

Additionally, if served at an upscale venue or during an event like the Kentucky Derby, the overall presentation and atmosphere can influence the price.

What are the two types of bourbon?

There are no specific “types” of bourbon in the sense of distinct categories, but there are different styles and variations based on factors like mash bill, aging process, and proof.

However, one common classification is straight bourbon and blended bourbon.

Straight bourbon must be aged for a minimum of four years and meet certain criteria, while blended bourbon combines straight bourbons with other spirits or neutral grain spirits.

What type of bourbon is used in an Old Fashioned?

An Old Fashioned typically uses straight bourbon or rye whiskey. The choice between bourbon and rye allows for different flavor profiles in the cocktail.

Bourbon tends to be sweeter and smoother, while rye brings a spicier and more robust character.

The classic Old Fashioned recipe includes sugar, bitters, and a citrus twist along with the chosen whiskey, creating a simple yet flavorful cocktail.

Bottoms Up! 

Not all bourbons are created equal, so if you want the best Mint Julep, you have to find the best bourbon for it. Good thing we managed to compile the best bourbon for a Mint Julep, so prepare your ice crusher and pewter cups to enjoy the refreshing cocktail. 

What’s your favorite bourbon to use for Mint Julep? Please share it with us! 


  1. Ask Adam: Do Sweet Bourbons Have Sugar in Them?

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