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10 Best Bourbon Brands for Vanilla Extract (2022 Updated)

Last Updated on November 15, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Vanilla beans are expensive, so if you plan to make homemade vanilla extract, you can use any alcohol with at least 40% ABV. 

Bourbon can make amazing vanilla extract because it has rich caramel notes and vanilla essence. 

But don’t just use any bourbon. Today, we’ll show you the best bourbons for vanilla extract. Read on.  

Top 10 Bourbons For A DIY Vanilla Extract 

10. Very Old Barton Bottled in Bond

man holding Barton's Very Old Bourbon Bottled In Bond

Average Price: Roughly $12.99 (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 50%

Why We Like It:

Very Old Barton Bottled-In-Bond bourbon can be a great option for your DIY vanilla extract because it has a rich aroma of vanilla and chewy leather. 

Very Old Barton is bottled at 50 ABV and aged for a minimum of four years in a government-bonded warehouse. 

Aside from the rich caramel and vanilla notes, the Very Old Barton features tannins, fruits, rye, and baking notes. 

9. Evan Williams Bonded

close up shot of Evan Williams Bottled in Bond Bourbon Whiskey bottle label

Average Price: Roughly $23.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 50%

Why We Like It:

Evan Williams is another Bottled-in-Bond bourbon you can use for your homemade bourbon vanilla extract. 

While it is a budget-friendly bourbon, It meets the requirements for BiB bourbons to ensure its premium taste [1].

The bright gold juice has nice vanilla, caramel, barley, and oak notes. On top of the vanilla flavor profile, it has amazing citrus and black pepper aroma and taste. 

8. W. L. Weller 12-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Wheated Bourbon Whiskey 

Weller 12 Year Bourbon Whiskey Bottle on top of a table

Average Price: Roughly $249.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 45%

Why We Like It:

W.L. Weller 12-Year-Old bourbon can be an expensive option for bourbon vanilla extract, but it offers a smooth, balanced and deep flavor profile suitable for your extract. 

Infusing vanilla beans with W.L. Weller wheated bourbon offers a well-rounded and luxurious flavor profile. 

W.L Weller uses the wheated bourbon mash bill of Buffalo Trace, which is reputed to be more smooth, sweet, and crowd-pleasing, thanks to its wheat content [2]. 

7. Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon

Bottle of Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon

Average Price: Roughly $23.99 (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 50%

Why We Like It:

Old Grand-Dad Bonded bourbon has a rich aroma and taste of vanilla, spice, and citrus fruit that lead into corn, peppery, and smoky oak flavors. 

We like its mild sweetness, medium softness, and finish that leaves a kick and spice. 

The aroma and taste of vanilla, caramel, rye spices, and honey are evident, which makes the best bourbon for vanilla extract. 

6. Wild Turkey 101

Wild Turkey 101 KY Straight Bourbon Whiskey Bottle

Average Price: Roughly $33.98 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 50.5%

Why We Like It:

Wild Turkey 101 is a notable bourbon brand known for producing traditional bourbons. 

Every bottle of Wild Turkey 101 is aged for at least five years in the deepest alligator char oak barrels to ensure the bourbon’s rich and bold flavor profile. 

The hint of vanilla, oak, caramel, cinnamon, and baking spice are evident in the aroma and taste of the bourbon. 

5. Henry McKenna (10-Year) Bottled-in-Bond Single Barrel

Close up Shot of Henry McKenna 10 year Bourbon Bottle in Bond Bottle

Average Price: Roughly $69.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 50%

Why We Like It:

Henry McKenna is a ten-year Bottled-in-Bond bourbon and one of the bourbon whiskey loved by many because of its well-balanced flavor profile. 

Aside from drinking it, you can use it for cooking and for making bourbon vanilla extract.

This warm golden amber bourbon has rich vanilla, oak, caramel, and light herbaceous notes.

4. Old Weller Antique Bourbon Whiskey

Old Weller Antique Bourbon Whiskey with glass and bottle

Average Price: Roughly $138.99 (Drizly) 

Alcohol Content: 53.5%

Why We Like It:

Old Weller Antique is a full-bodied wheated bourbon with a balanced palate. It has unusual sweet and floral notes paired with vanilla. 

It can be a nice option if you plan to make vanilla extract because it has well-balanced notes of sweet fruits, sharp, spicy tones, cinnamon, and strong vanilla undertones. 

“Extracts made with higher quality alcohol have less of a harsh edge”

– Jenni Field, Pastry Chef. 

3. Bulleit Bourbon

hand holding Bulleit Bourbon bottle

Average Price: Roughly $32.99 (Drizly) 

Alcohol Content: 45%

Why We Like It:

Bulleit bourbon has a unique blend of corn, rye, and malt barley, and since it features high rye content, it has a spicy and bold character with distinct smoothness. 

If you want to elevate your vanilla extract and add some gentle spiciness, Bulleit bourbon will not disappoint you. 

Aside from its rich vanilla and rye notes, it comes with tones of oak, nutmeg, and maple with a long, dry finish.

2. The Evan Williams Realtree Outdoorsman Edition

The Evan Williams Realtree Outdoorsman Edition with glass and ice cube on top of a table

Average Price: Roughly $12.99 

Alcohol Content: 43%

Why We Like It:

The Evan Williams Realtree Outdoorsman Edition is a limited offering of Evan Williams Black Bourbon featuring the official Realtree EDGE Camouflage. 

The bourbon whiskey is full of character and aged longer than required by Federal law. We like the light aroma of mint, oak, brown sugar, caramel, and deep vanilla. 

1. Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Buffalo Trace KY Straight Bourbon Whiskey on top of a wooden table

Average Price: Roughly $34.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 45%

Why We Like It:

Buffalo Trace bourbon is our best bourbon for vanilla extract because of its non-GMO ingredients and medium price point. 

We like the complex aroma of mint, molasses, and vanilla of the bourbon whiskey. It has a pleasantly sweet taste with rich spice notes and brown sugar. 

FAQs

What type of bourbon is best for vanilla extract?

The type of bourbon best for vanilla extract is wheated bourbon.

It has a softer and sweeter flavor profile, ideal for vanilla extract, plus it is more consistent in sweetness and taste. 

Is bourbon or vodka better for vanilla extract?

Vodka is better for vanilla extract because it is cleaner and lighter.

However, bourbon can be a great option for vanilla extract because of its consistent flavor from the mash bill and aging process. 

Is bourbon good for making vanilla extract?

Yes, bourbon is good for making vanilla extract. It gives an essential depth of flavor to make good vanilla, plus it can be a nice option because of its cheaper price point. 

Key Takeaways 

With the price of vanilla continuously fluctuating, it is cost-efficient to make your vanilla extract. 

Bourbon is highly recommended for vanilla extract because the regulation of bourbon production ensures the level of consistency and sweetness of your extract. 

Old Weller, Bulleit Bourbon, and Old Grand Dad are some of the best options for bourbon vanilla extract, but we’ll go for Buffalo Trace. 

Buffalo Trace will bring out the sweetness of the vanilla and will not overpower its aroma. Also, it will elevate and enhance the flavor profile of your vanilla extract. 

References:

  1. https://www.gearpatrol.com/food/drinks/a36466533/what-is-bottled-in-bond/ 
  2. https://www.pastemagazine.com/drink/whiskey/buffalo-trace-bourbon-rye-buying-guide-prices-brands-value/#buffalo-trace-mash-bill-1-bourbons 

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