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20 Best Bourbons for an Old Fashioned Cocktail (2022)

Last Updated on June 26, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Old Fashioned cocktails never go out of style. Some add cherries and other fancy fruits to make it taste better. However, we think you only need the best bourbons to bring this delicious drink a notch higher. 

To help you out, here are the best bourbons for Old Fashioned, along with why we picked them.

Top 20 Bourbons for Old Fashioned Cocktails

1. Old Forester 100

Old Forester 100

Old Forester 100 is from Old Forester Distillery, which holds an important role in American bourbon history. It is the first bourbon in the US sold in sealed bottles. It is also the longest continuously distilled in operation. 

It has strong and bold flavors that fit Old Fashioned cocktails. It has an interesting blend of fruits and baking spices with just the right caramel. It makes a good base for an Old Fashioned cocktail. Each 750ml bottle of this brand is roughly $25. 

2. Four Roses Small Batch

Four Roses Small Batch

Four Roses Small Batch is from Four Roses Distillery, established in 1888. It has a long history of distilling. Their products are acknowledged and awarded by multiple competition bodies and are known to be among the best bourbons on the market. World Whiskies Award gave Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey the silver award for 2022. 

Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon has a peppery spice taste with almond notes, dark chocolate, almond, and vanilla. These flavors are perfectly mixed with cola or as an Old Fashioned ingredient. A 750 ml Four Roses bottle is roughly $38.

3. Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Buffalo Trace Bourbon is made by one of the oldest distillers in the US. It remained a family-owned business over the years. This particular variant has strong flavors when drank neat. 

Buffalo Trace Bourbon has a pleasantly sweet flavor that is not overpowering with dark fruit notes. It has a very pleasant scent. It is medium-bodied and smooth but with bold flavors. Even when mixed in cocktails, you will still enjoy the mellow finish and the slight alcohol bite. Every 750 ml bottle of Buffalo Trace is roughly $34.

4. Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Jim Beam Distillery is known for its flavorful whiskeys and spirits. Bourbon lovers are familiar with the bottles they produce and they continue to provide the market with award-winning spirits. Jim Beam is one of the favorites of bourbon drinkers because of its varying flavors. 

It has a well-balanced mash bill with raw corn kernels, oats, and cornbread notes. Mid-palate has oak, vanilla, and raisins. It can be drunk neat, with ice or water, but it is also perfect with cola or in an Old Fashioned mix. A 750ml bottle is roughly $18.

5. Maker’s Mark

Maker's Mark

Maker’s Mark distillery has been around since 1805, but the more modern form emerged in 1953. Maker’s Mark is one of the best bourbon brands recognized by international awarding bodies such as the International Spirits Challenge. 

It has big fruit flavors with notes of spiced honey, toasty oak, and hazelnut. Maker’s Mark has a sweet finish with dry oak spice and butterscotch. It is great for an Old Fashioned mix. Each 750ml bottle of Maker’s Mark is priced at around $30.

6. Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

This bourbon hails from Buffalo Trace Distillery. It is one of their “Antique Collections.” It had ten years of barrel time and has developed a full-bodied flavor of candied almonds, orange peel, honey, and oak. 

The flavor of dry oak and baking spice goes to the finish and lingers for a bit. The lively taste of this piece is great for Old Fashioned mixes though it is a bit costly for that purpose. A 750ml bottle is priced at around $63.

7. Old Grand-Dad Bonded

Old Grand-Dad Bonded

Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon is a high-rye bourbon produced by Jim Beam Distillery. This bottle is a creation of Master Distiller Raymond B. Hayden for his grandfather Meredith Basil Hayden, Sr., who was known as the “Father of High Rye Bourbon.” 

It has a rye forward mash bill. The tasting notes range from vanilla to oak with a surprising flavor of baking spices, cinnamon rolls, and freshly baked bread. It is an awesome addition to the Old Fashioned recipe. Each 750 ml bottle is roughly $24. This bottle is one of the best bourbons for Old Fashioned because of its taste and price. 

8. Knob Creek 12 Bourbon

Knob Creek 12 Bourbon

Knob Creek 12 Bourbon is another product of Jim Beam Distillery with 50% ABV and a bold flavor. It has acquired multiple recognitions from international award-giving bodies. 

It has caramelized wood flavors that are almost sticky. However, the flavor has a balanced sweetness that finishes long with hints of caramel, brown sugar, oak, and peanuts. It has a warm, medium body which is perfect for sipping, but it is also a great addition to an Old Fashioned cocktail. These bottles are sold at around $74 per 750 ml and can be an expensive bourbon to mix in an Old Fashioned.

9. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Woodford Reserve Bourbon is by Brown-Forman but distilled in one of the smallest and oldest distilleries in Kentucky, Woodford Reserve Distillery. This bourbon has 42.33% ABV with rich dried fruit flavors, tobacco spice, and faint vanilla notes. An amazing feature of this bourbon is its perfectly-balanced flavors. 

Woodford Reserve Bourbon is probably aged within seven years, but the tasting notes are in harmony, not overlapping the other. This bourbon is great drank neat or mixed in your favorite Old Fashioned cocktail. Each 750ml is around $36.

10. Elijah Craig Small Batch

Elijah Craig Small Batch

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon is one of the popular brands created by Heaven Hill Distillery. It contains 47% ABV and is one of the smoothest in the market. It has rich, rounded flavors with complex citrus, dark chocolate, brown sugar, caramel, and spice notes. 

The flavors of Elijah Craig are not too complex, but it has enough interesting blends with just enough heat to enjoy neat. It also has tamed flavors that work well with Old Fashioned cocktails and other mixes. Each 750 ml is roughly $31.

11. Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon

Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon

Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon is a top-shelf bourbon Gruppo Campari aged in “alligator-charred” barrels. It is a popular brand because of its taste and its cheap price. This bourbon is also acknowledged by multiple award-giving bodies worldwide, such as the International Wine and Spirit Competition. 

The scent of sweet oak and vanilla (1) greets the nose. However, tasting notes offers more balanced favors of cinnamon simple syrup, vanilla, oak, and grain. It has a rich and smooth texture that is great for sipping classic Old Fashioned cocktails. Each bottle is roughly $21 per 750ml.

12. Larceny Small Batch

Larceny Small Batch

Larceny Small Batch bourbon is another brand made by Heaven’s Hill Distillery. It has the classic bourbon flavor with solid fruity notes on the nose but delicious oak flavors on the palate. 

The tasting notes are sweeter with butterscotch, sweet bread, and caramel with slight citrus notes. The flavors are full that are best enjoyed neat or on the rocks. However, this is also a great bourbon for an Old Fashioned classic cocktail. A 750ml bottle is roughly $28.

13. Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey

Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey

Bulleit Straight Bourbon Frontier Whiskey is from Bulleit distillery with 45% ABV. It is another high-rye bourbon that leans more on a spicy note. However, there is a good balance in the flavors. The palate has an unforgettable taste of maple syrup and raisins, and figs, which are also present in the nose. 

The scent also presents a nutty smell of pecan and nutmeg but with hints of fresh oak and pepper.

Bulleit Bourbon whiskey is a good sipping whiskey but is also good as a base mix. These are roughly $30 per 750 ml.

14. Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Basil Hayden's Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon is by Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont. It is a straightforward high-rye bourbon with a spicy finish that is its trademark flavor. It will greet the palate with the taste of rye spice, white pepper, orange peel, sweet caramel, and corn notes. 

The finish is somehow dry, but the refreshing sweetness of cinnamon and vanilla end the dryness. Each 750 ml is roughly $43.

15. Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style Bourbon

Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style Bourbon

Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style Bourbon is another Brown-Forman product with 57.5% ABV. It received the gold award for non-vintage bourbon for 2022 at the World Whiskies Awards. This variant possesses a very rich color that is perfect for its high proof. 

It is one of the best bourbon bottles that has a balanced flavor. It boasts a full flavor of chocolate, cherries, and caramel. You will also taste nutty malt and green peppercorn with a long and smoky toasted marshmallow finish. This bottle fits well in an Old Fashioned recipe. A 750 ml bottle is around $62.

16. Knob Creek Straight Bourbon

Knob Creek Straight Bourbon

Knob Creek Bourbon is another bottle from Beam Suntory and is a top-shelf whiskey with 50% ABV. The high alcohol content serves as the moderator between the sweet and the spicy flavors. To the nose, it will appear spicy with an evident sweet smell. 

Knob Creek offers a full peppery taste to the palate with rye and caramel with bold and spicy overtones. It has a delectable warm smoky char finish perfect for an Old Fashioned drink. Each 750 ml bottle is around $55.

17. Four Roses Single Barrel

Four Roses Single Barrel

Four Roses Single Barrel is a special blend that is hand-picked high-rye bourbon whiskey. It was the recipient of the gold award for the non-vintage whiskeys in 2021 at the International Wine and Spirit Competition. It is full-bodied with complex flavors that are very smooth with a long finish. 

The palate has evident floral and fruity essences with malt-rye notes. You will enjoy sipping this treat or mixing in your favorite Old Fashioned classic cocktails. Each bottle of this variant is roughly $48 per 750 ml.

18. Old Grandad 114

Old Grandad 114

Old Grandad 114 is another bourbon whiskey from Beam Suntory. It is a high-rye bourbon with 57% ABV. ODG114, as many calls it, has gained a lot of followers since it was introduced in 1989. It greets the palate with a burst of strong flavors of oak, corn-on-the-cob, cedar pine, and tobacco. 

But the flavor descends into lighter notes of oranges covered in chocolate. It is one of the best bourbon brands for sipping but can also do wonders on your favorite Old Fashioned cocktail and is roughly $30 per 750ml.

19. Russell’s Reserve 10

Russell's Reserve 10

Russell’s Reserve Ten Year Old Bourbon is another release of Wild Turkey in honor of the Master Distillers Jimmy Russell and his son Eddie. It has a warm mahogany hue with 45%ABV. It is made of corn, barley, and rye which is very notable to the nose. 

To the palate, the taste of vanilla and caramel greet the tongue, followed by orange peel and cocoa. It has a grassy undertone with a toasted oak flavor that lingers. This bourbon is ideal for Old Fashioned mixing and is roughly $35 per 750 ml.

20. Wild Turkey Rare Breed

Wild Turkey Rare Breed

Wild Turkey Rare Breed has one of the best flavors. It has high alcohol content at 56.1 % ABV, and it offers a lot of depth and complexity like a classic bourbon. The nose alone has roasted nuts and dark fruit. The flavor is another story. 

It has mint, eucalyptus, herbs, brown sugar, oak, pepper, and toffee. It is mid-bodied but with a luscious, savory finish that is a little hot, especially when drank straight. You can elevate your Old Fashioned mix with this bottle, priced at roughly $63 per 750ml.

Also Read: Is Bourbon or Rye Better For Old-Fashioned?

Classic Old Fashioned Recipe

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 2 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Two ounces bourbon
  • Half teaspoon sugar or one sugar cube or simple syrup
  • Angostura bitters (three dashes) or Orange bitters
  • Water (one teaspoon)

Instructions:

Start by getting your rocks glass ready for the Old Fashioned recipe. Place sugar and bitters in a rocks glass and add water. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Simple syrup will blend in faster. Fill the glass with ice, then pour in the bourbon. Stir. Garnish your Old Fashioned mix with orange peel. 

Serving: 1

FAQs

What bourbon do bars use for Old Fashioned?

Most bars use Four Roses for Old Fashioned because it has the best blend that “makes the cocktail come alive with character.” However, there are other brands with a spicy-sweet flavor that can also elevate the taste of the Old Fashioned recipe. 

Is bourbon better than rye whiskey for Old Fashioned?

Yes, bourbon is better than rye whiskey for Old Fashioned because of its flavor in general. Bourbon whiskey has a lighter spicy note and a more balanced sweetness than rye whiskey. However, both are the best liquors for an Old Fashioned.

Conclusion

The best bourbon for Old Fashioned has to have a good balance of sweet and spicy that is strong enough to elevate the taste of the Old Fashioned cocktail. The bourbons included in this list of best bourbon for Old Fashioned are also great for sipping. 

The best bourbons are enjoyed by bourbon drinkers worldwide who exactly know what they want in their drink. Great bourbons are reliant on their complex flavors. What makes them more appealing is that they are even more flavorful when mixed with other liquid, thus making them a good addition to a classic Old Fashioned. 

Reference:

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308814621028971

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