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15 Best Bourbons on the Rocks Reviewed (2022 Updated)

Last Updated on June 27, 2022 by Lydia Martin

One of the best ways to enjoy bourbon whiskey is drinking it on the rocks. It is believed that ice tends to enhance the flavor profile of bourbons.

If you have a soft spot for drinking bourbons with ice, here are the best bourbons on the rocks that you should not miss out on.  

Top 15 Bourbons To Serve on the Rocks

1. Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve

ABV: 60%

Average Price: Around $50 

Flavor Profile: 

Knob Creek has complex and deep-tasting vanilla, oak, and nuts notes. It is one of the best bottles of bourbon to sip on the rocks because it has a long and full finish with robust caramel notes and a slightly smoky aroma. 

How It Tastes With Ice: 

The whiskey benefits from the touch of ice because it opens up the woody and barky nature of the bourbon. It has a light, well-rounded vanilla, but the chocolate-covered cherry notes are very noticeable. 

2. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

ABV: 64% – 70 % (Varies)

Average Price: Around $75

Flavor Profile:  

Elijah Craig is a Kentucky Straight bourbon with rich tasting notes of butterscotch, classic vanilla, cinnamon spice, and black pepper. 

How It Tastes With Ice: 

Elijah Craig is a high-proof whiskey, making it one of the best bourbons to drink on the rocks. The caramel and vanilla notes are more pronounced with few drops of water, and the oakiness will be a little mustier. 

3. Old Grand-Dad 114

Old Grand-Dad 114

ABV: 57%

Average Price: Around $30

Flavor Profile: 

It is earthy, nutty, dry, and spicy, so it is ideal for consuming with ice. The creamy vanilla meets the rye spiciness of the bourbon, plus it dominates the toffee sweetness and caramel notes of the whiskey. In addition to this, it has a nice layer of flavors that slowly lingers as it cools. 

How It Tastes With Ice: 

It is a classic “on the rocks” whiskey any bourbon lover will love to have. The ice helps open up the aroma and tasting notes of the bourbon and brings out smoothness, unlike room-temperature bottles of bourbon. Moreso, this whiskey has a touch of cherry, classic vanilla nature, and mild spice. 

4. Wild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel Proof

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel Proof

ABV: 56.4% 

Average Price: Around $50

Flavor Profile: 

Wild Turkey Rare Breed is bottled straight from oak barrels, and it contains rye grain so expect that every shot is warm, spicy, and has smoky-tasting notes. As we open a bottle of Wild Turkey, the rich and balanced aroma of honey, caramel, and vanilla linger on the nose. 

How It Tastes With Ice: 

Wild Turkey is one of the best bourbons to drink on the rocks or sip neat because it unpacks the candied fruits, nuts, dark spices, and molasses maltiness of the whiskey. It has a subtle touch of woody bitterness, but the baking spice makes the bourbon more enjoyable to drink. 

5. Henry McKenna 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon

Henry McKenna 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon

ABV: 50%

Average Price: Around $32

Flavor Profile: 

Henry McKenna 10-Year is a high-proof bourbon and one of the oldest bottled-in-bond bourbon available. It has a wonderful aroma of caramel, oak, vanilla, and lightly herbaceous. Moreso, it has tasting notes of sharp spices, honey, and smooth oak with a long finish. 

How It Tastes With Ice: 

Henry McKenna shares the same grain mash as other whiskeys of Heaven Hill (78% corn, 10% rye, 12% malted barley), so it has slight sweetness even if it has a high ABV. The ice tones down the fire and allows other bourbon flavors to shine. 

6. Stagg, Jr.

Stagg, Jr.

ABV: 63.2% to 67.2% (Varies)

Average Price: Around $90

Flavor Profile: 

Stagg, Jr. by Buffalo Trace Distillery is uncut and unfiltered Kentucky straight bourbon that boasts bold and robust character you cannot find in other whiskeys. It has a sweet and rich sugar palate. The dark chocolate balances the bold spiciness. 

How It Tastes With Ice: 

If you have tasted an old-school pecan pie with a buttery crust, add ice to it, and that’s what Stagg, Jr. tastes like. The cherry lingers around but is so refreshing and compliments well with the spice tones that are soft but slightly bitter. 

7. Barrell Dovetail

Barrell Dovetail

ABV: 61.15% to 62.5% (Varies)

Average Price: Around $90 

Flavor Profile: 

Barrell Dovetail is one of the best bourbon whiskeys with an elegant and sweet signature of Pineau des Charentes, rose jelly, and chestnut honey notes. It is darker and spicier than the nose, but it is more complex and savory. Because it is bottled at high ABV, it has a long yet subtle black pepper spiciness and tobacco notes. 

How It Tastes With Ice: 

The dark bark spices and woody bitterness are notable when consumed with ice, but it gets both chewy and spicy as it melts down. It has a rounded taste of sweetness to spiciness because of the cask strength, but it does not lose depth of character even when iced. 

8. Eagle Rare 10

Eagle Rare 10

ABV: 45%

Average Price: Around $40

Flavor Profile: 

Eagle Rare 10 is masterfully crafted and aged for a minimum of ten years to create a rare great breed of bourbon. Every bottle has bold, oaky and dry flavors with rich cocoa and candied almonds notes. It has a dry and lingering finish of sweet toffee and marzipan. 

How It Tastes With Ice: 

While most bourbon lovers love consuming Eagle Rare 10 neat, it is one of the best bourbons to drink on the rocks because ice helps whiskey open its flavors. The nuttiness from the cellar improves and becomes more creamy and toffy. Also, it has hints of dried florals and subtle honey notes.

9. Larceny Barrel Proof

Larceny Barrel Proof

ABV: 57.4 % (Varies)

Average Price: Around $70 

Flavor Profile: 

Larceny by Heaven Hill is a wheated bourbon bottled in its purest form. It tastes like baking spice with generously dusted cinnamon, vanilla, and savory fruits because it contains wheat on its mash bill instead of rye.

How It Tastes With Ice: 

The cherry and cedar notes of Larceny pop immediately on the rocks, and the oak and tobacco notes will heighten towards a woodier aspect. It is a little bolder than other hand-selected barrels and leaves you with little cedar and vanilla at the end. 

10. Wilderness Trail Small Batch Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon

Wilderness Trail Small Batch Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon

ABV: 50%

Average Price: Around $50

Flavor Profile: 

Wilderness Trail small-batch uses a high ratio of wheat in replacement for the high rye mash bill in bourbon. Enjoy the luxurious flavors of the wheated bourbon with hints of white pepper, mild tobacco, and wet brown sugar.  

How It Tastes With Ice: 

The whiskey becomes more exciting and sharper when consumed with ice. It is not spicy per se, but it holds a white pepper vibe and leans more toward the citrus flavors. 

11. Four Roses Single Barrel

Four Roses Single Barrel

ABV: 50% 

Average Price: Around $46

Flavor Profile: 

Four Roses use high rye mash bill giving the whiskey a classic spiciness that you cannot taste in any corn-forward bourbon and price point. It is bottled straight and has a high cask strength, ready for a chunk of ice. 

How It Tastes With Ice: 

Four Roses is a top-shelf bourbon that is best to enjoy on the rocks because it helps open up the bourbon flavors. You will taste cherry and plum notes with a long yet smooth finish. 

12. Evan Williams Single Barrel

Evan Williams Single Barrel

ABV: 43.3%

Average Price: Around $30

Flavor Profile: 

Evan Williams is one of the bourbon brands you can trust if you want a great-tasting bourbon on the rocks. It is made from the same distillery as Heaven Hill. Its rich honey, oak, and vanilla flavors complement well with ice and cocktail like Mint Julep. 

How It Tastes With Ice: 

Evan Williams is smooth and has fruit and citrus notes, but the ice will draw out the fruitiness even more. 

13. Balcones Texas Blue Corn Bourbon

Balcones Texas Blue Corn Bourbon

ABV: 63.5 % (Varies)

Average Price: Around $58

Flavor Profile: 

Balcones have a warm flavor with a touch of honey, buttery, and savory lard. It has a rich midpalate with end touches of corn and nutmeg.  

How It Tastes With Ice: 

Balcones Texas is becoming more savory, sweeter, and grainy when consumed on the rocks. The whiskey is full-bodied and has a long finish, and ice can tone it a bit to be an enjoyable drink. 

14. Buffalo Trace 

Buffalo Trace 

ABV: 45%

Average Price: Around $28

Flavor Profile: 

Sharing the same distillery as Eagle Rare and Stagg, Jr., Buffalo Trace has a remarkable flavor aided with grain forward scents. Buffalo Trace has enough intensity and character that makes the alcohol enjoyable to drink on the rocks.  

How It Tastes With Ice: 

Ice makes the whiskey draw out its fresh orange zest aroma and sweetness. It is a steal on both price point and quality, but Buffalo Trace on the rocks is the easiest and most enjoyable way. 

15. Bulleit Cask Strength

Bulleit Cask Strength

ABV: 60% – 62.5%

Average Price: Around $50

Flavor Profile: 

Bulleit Cask Strength is not your ordinary bourbon because it is one of the bourbons with a high ABV. It has an oak aroma and gentle spiciness with a long and dry finish. 

How It Tastes With Ice: 

When consumed on the rocks, the nutty flavors, cherry, oak, maple syrup-like, and baking spice of Bulleit shows off. It has a long and lasting finish making it the perfect bourbon on the rocks. 

FAQs 

Is bourbon better neat or on the rocks?

Bourbon is better neat than on the rocks. Water is indeed whiskey’s friend [1] because it helps suppress the spiciness of the bourbon but not all the time. Ice can make the bourbon easy to drink, but consuming it neatly allows you to taste the bourbon’s quality. 

Is bourbon on the rocks ideal for beginners?

Yes, bourbon on the rocks is ideal for beginners. Ice may help expand bourbon flavors and help beginners pick up different flavor notes. Take a small sip of bourbon, roll it around your mouth, and enjoy. 

Key Takeaways

For the best bourbon on the rocks, we recommend Knob Creek. It’s a great place to start for anyone interested in this category. You’ll enjoy the oak notes on the palate, along with the classic caramel and vanilla flavors.

Bourbon is a versatile distilled spirit that you can enjoy neat, on the rocks, or in cocktails. Ice may dilute some of its strongest flavors, but it helps open up the different flavor profiles of the alcohol. Consuming bourbon on the rocks can make your drinking experience more enjoyable, especially as a beginner.   

What’s the best bourbon whiskey on the rocks for you? Let us know by commenting below! 

Reference:

  1. https://www.pastemagazine.com/drink/whiskey-/ask-the-expert-is-it-wrong-to-add-water-to-whisky/

2 thoughts on “15 Best Bourbons on the Rocks Reviewed (2022 Updated)”

  1. You know some folks don’t care for a high proof bourbon, what’s wrong with a 40 that taste great and you enjoy rather than having the back of your head knocked off and you man up and lie about how good it is. Basil Hayden being a good example.

    Reply

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