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12 Best Smoky Bourbon Bottles Tasted & Ranked (2024)

Best Smoky Bourbon 

Last Updated on March 16, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Peated flavors? Smoky feel? Not only can you find such in Scotch as there are smoky American spirits that deliver that vibe, too. 

Since we don’t want you to run out of bottles to try, we took the time to list down all the best smoky bourbons we’ve tried that’ll surely question your loyalty to Scotch. 

Read on.  

Top 12 Smoky Bourbons To Try 

12. Warbringer Mesquite Smoked Southwest Bourbon

Hand Holding Bottle of Warbringer Mesquite Smoked Southwest Bourbon

Average Price: roughly $65/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 49% ABV 

Why We Like It: Made with rye, and mesquite roasted corn, this smoky spirit from Warbringer gives a heavy oak and smoke flavor.

This is the first bottle we’ve tried from this brand, and we like the experience. 

The caramel, spice, and fruit notes linger on the palate with a smoky yet smooth finish. This is an exciting brand, so we look forward to trying again soon.  

11. Hard Truth Sipes’ Barrel Smoked Bourbon

Bottle of Hard Truth Sipes' Barrel Smoked Bourbon

Average Price: roughly $60/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 45% ABV 

Why We Like It: This 4-Year-Old bourbon whisky is made with hardwood-smoked barrels, which blends premium bourbons–bottled and non-chill filtered. 

It has the right suitable complexity, and we really enjoy it over ice.

It’s also a good sipper, but we suggest adding a few drops of water to tone down the heat. It’s a bit challenging, but it satisfies. 

10. Knob Creek Smoked Maple Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

2 Bottles of Knob Creek Smoked Maple

Average Price: roughly $39.99/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 45% ABV

Why We Like It: Want a full-bodied drink? We recommend Knob Creek’s Smoked Maple. The rich caramel and vanilla notes complement the smokiness of this spirit. 

It welcomes with a smoke maple and hickory wood scent, with some earthy grain hints.

On the finish, it’s slightly sweet but more oaky and smoky—but satisfyingly smooth.    

9. Basil Hayden Subtle Smoke Bourbon Whiskey

Close UP Shot of Basil Hayden Subtle Smoke Bourbon Whiskey Bottle

Average Price: roughly $49.99/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV

Why We Like It: Compared with other smoked bourbons in this list, this has the least intensity, but it packs flavors and notes that’ll keep you sipping for more.

It’s soft and approachable, which suits beginners’ palates. 

It has the standard ABV, so it’s not as complex as other robust bottles. This is a good starter bottle to explore smoky and peaty whiskies. 

8. Tim Smith Southern Reserve Wood-Fired Bourbon Whiskey

Tim Smith Southern Reserve Wood-Fired Bourbon Whiskey Bottle on a Table

Average Price: roughly $30/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 45% ABV

Why We Like It: For those looking for a bit more rye and smoky rather than sweet and smoky, Tim Smith Reserve Wood-Fired can be a good choice. 

There’s complexity and rich flavors, plus the 90-proof alcohol. Despite the bold character, it’s not harsh and overwhelming.

There’s still a very little sweet hint in the background, which balances the overall flavor profile. 

7. Sonoma Cherrywood Smoked Bourbon Whiskey

Average Price: roughly $44.99/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 46% ABV 

Why We Like It: If you like roasted root vegetables, red snapper, and cheesecake, then Sonama Cherrywood Smoke Bourbon is the perfect pairing. 

We like the sweet and light flavors, with the vanilla and brown sugars dominating the profile. But on this finish, the smoky character begins with a hint of oak. 

6. Skunk Brothers Smoke Jumper Peated Bourbon

Bottle of Skunk Brothers Smoke Jumper Peated Bourbon

Average Price: roughly $39.95/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 45% ABV

Why We Like It: This unique blend of sweet and smoky bourbon used a grain bill from the local Washington corn, white wheat, and malted barley before adding a bit of rye and peated malt.

It has the right proof, flavor profile, and character. The sweetness isn’t off to the smoky notes in this spirit.

If you’ve tried any Skunk Brother’s bourbons before, this is a unique expression.  

5. Smoke Wagon Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey

Hand Holding Bottle of Smoke Wagon Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey

Average Price: roughly $45/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 50% ABV

Why We Like It: This small batch from Smoke Wagon delivers a good balance of spiciness, leading to a satisfying sip.

We’re surprised by this spirit, and we’ll surely buy another bottle.

While some of their expressions are slightly overspiced, this one is well-balanced. It’s not overwhelming, and it’s smooth, actually. 

4. Iron Smoke Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Hand Holding Bottle and a Glass of Iron Smoke Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Average Price: roughly $46.99/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: We actually saw Jim Murray’s review about Iron Smoke and thought we needed to try this bottle. 

“I just love the fact that the apple smoke contains both tannins and apple… And the grains are allowed the freedom to link with the tannins and form a bourbony undertone… superb. Love it!”

— Jim Murray, Author of the Whisky Bible.

And now we agree with Jim about how Iron Smoke incorporates the slightly acidic hint plus the bourbon notes.

It’s well-balanced, smooth, and full-bodied—so don’t miss this one. 

3. Oppidan Smoke + Sea Bourbon

Bottle of Oppidan Smoke + Sea Bourbon

Average Price: roughly $40/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 46% ABV 

Why We Like It: The Oppidan Smoke + Sea blend Solera aged Bourbon and 4-Grain Straight Bourbon, finished in French oak and peated Islay barrels. 

What got us the most in this spirit was the combination of dark fruit, smoke, and the sea-like character within the flavor profile.

From the nose to the finish, it’s salty and peaty yet smooth and satisfying. 

2. Arby’s Smoked Bourbon

Hand Holding Bottle of Arby's Smoked Bourbon

Average Price: roughly $60/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 45% ABV 

Why We Like It: This is an excellent limited offering from Arby’s, and scoring a bottle is hard. But it’s worth the hunting, as it’s one of the unique bottles we’ve tried.

There’s a meaty hint in this spirit– like we’re eating and drinking bbq at once.

The flavor may seem strange, but this is an excellent option for someone looking for a real distinct experience.  

1. Elijah Craig Toasted Bourbon

Elijah Craig Toasted Bourbon Bottle on Top of Table

Average Price: roughly $49.99/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 47% ABV

Why We Like It: One of the most popular smoky bourbons is the Elijah Craig Toasted Bourbon. It’s more intense and flavorful than the Small Batch. 

It’s a 94-proof bourbon, aged in a flash-charmed barrel, so as expected, the rich and sweet flavors linger in this spirit.

This is the best smoked bourbon we’ve tried so far, and it pairs well with barbecue.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What bourbon has a smoky taste?

If you’re seeking a bourbon with a smoky taste, consider brands like Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Its complex flavor profile includes hints of charred oak, which contribute to its smoky undertones.

Additionally, Bulleit Bourbon, known for its high-rye mash bill, offers a subtle smokiness derived from the charred oak barrels in which it’s aged.

Both options provide an intriguing balance of sweetness and smokiness that appeal to bourbon enthusiasts seeking a distinctive flavor experience.

What is the best bourbon to smoke infuse with?

When it comes to infusing bourbon with a smoky flavor, certain brands lend themselves exceptionally well to this process. One standout choice is Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky.

Its smooth and mellow profile serves as an excellent base for infusing with smokiness, enhancing its depth without overpowering its inherent character. Another option is Buffalo Trace Bourbon, appreciated for its versatility and approachable flavor profile, making it a suitable canvas for smoking infusions.

These bourbons provide a solid foundation for experimentation, allowing enthusiasts to craft unique, smoky-infused creations tailored to their preferences.

What whiskey is best smoked?

While bourbon is a popular choice for those seeking a smoky flavor, several whiskies outside the bourbon category also offer excellent smoking potential. Scotch whisky enthusiasts may find peated single malts particularly appealing for their inherently smoky characteristics.

Brands like Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg, renowned for their peat smoke influence, deliver bold and distinct flavors that elevate smoking applications.

Additionally, Irish whiskey such as Connemara Peated Single Malt presents a unique alternative, blending traditional Irish whiskey craftsmanship with smoky nuances for a memorable drinking experience. Ultimately, the best-smoked whiskey depends on individual preferences and the desired intensity of smokiness.

What is the No 1 bourbon in the world?

The title of the No. 1 bourbon in the world is a subject of much debate and can vary depending on personal taste, industry awards, and market trends. However, one bourbon consistently regarded highly across these metrics is Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon.

Produced by the Buffalo Trace Distillery, Pappy Van Winkle’s bourbons are highly sought after for their exceptional quality, complexity, and limited availability. With its rich, full-bodied flavor profile and decades-long aging process, Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon has attained legendary status among bourbon aficionados worldwide.

While opinions may differ on the best bourbon, Pappy Van Winkle’s consistently ranks among the most esteemed and coveted offerings in the bourbon world.

Is bourbon smokier than Scotch?

The level of smokiness in bourbon versus Scotch whisky depends on various factors, including production methods, aging processes, and ingredients used, so it’s not accurate to universally declare one as smokier than the other; however, Scotch whisky, particularly those labeled as “peated,” often exhibits a more pronounced smoky flavor due to the traditional practice of drying malted barley over peat fires, whereas bourbon typically gains its flavors from charred oak barrels rather than direct exposure to smoke, resulting in different but equally complex flavor profiles.

Are all bourbons smoky?

No, not all bourbons are inherently smoky; while some bourbons may exhibit subtle smoky notes due to the charring of oak barrels during the aging process, the primary flavors in bourbon often encompass a spectrum of sweetness, spice, and oakiness rather than pronounced smoke, as compared to whiskies specifically crafted with peat-smoked malt, so whether a bourbon is smoky or not depends on factors such as the mash bill, aging conditions, and individual distillation techniques employed by each producer.

Why do people smoke bourbon?

People may choose to smoke bourbon for various reasons, including enhancing its flavor profile, experimenting with mixology, or simply enjoying the unique sensory experience it offers; smoking bourbon can impart additional layers of complexity and depth, complementing its existing characteristics with nuanced smoky notes that appeal to discerning palates, and it can also serve as a creative way to elevate classic bourbon cocktails or craft innovative concoctions that showcase the versatility of this beloved spirit.

Can you smoke straight bourbon?

Yes, you can smoke straight bourbon, although the term “straight” in bourbon classification primarily refers to the absence of added flavorings or coloring agents and denotes a minimum aging period of two years in new charred oak barrels, so while smoking straight bourbon itself doesn’t fundamentally alter its classification, it can impart new flavors and aromas, transforming the drinking experience and allowing enthusiasts to customize their bourbon enjoyment according to personal preferences and taste preferences.

How long should you smoke bourbon?

Smoking bourbon is a process that adds depth and complexity to its flavor profile, but the duration depends on personal preference and the desired intensity of the smoky notes.

Generally, smoking bourbon involves exposing it to smoke from wood chips or other sources for a brief period, typically ranging from 30 minutes to a few hours. However, some enthusiasts may opt for longer smoking times to achieve a more pronounced smokiness.

It’s essential to monitor the process carefully to prevent overpowering the bourbon’s original character with excessive smoke flavor.

Is Laphroaig smoky or peaty?

Laphroaig, a renowned Islay single malt Scotch whisky, is revered for its distinctively bold and robust flavor profile, characterized by both smoky and peaty elements. The smokiness in Laphroaig arises from the traditional method of drying malted barley over peat fires, imparting a rich, smoldering aroma and taste to the whisky.

Additionally, the Islay region’s unique terroir contributes to the whisky’s pronounced peatiness, with its characteristic earthy, medicinal, and maritime notes.

Therefore, Laphroaig can be considered both smoky and peaty, making it a favorite among aficionados seeking intense and complex whisky experiences.

Is Glenfiddich Smokey?

Glenfiddich, a renowned name in the world of Scotch whisky, is primarily known for its signature smoothness and fruity notes rather than pronounced smokiness. Unlike whiskies from Islay, which are famed for their strong peaty and smoky characteristics, Glenfiddich hails from the Speyside region, where distilleries often produce whiskies with a milder, sweeter profile.

While Glenfiddich does offer some expressions with subtle hints of smoke, such as the Experimental Series, these notes are typically secondary to its fruity and floral flavors.

Therefore, compared to heavily peated and smoky whiskies, Glenfiddich is generally considered less smokey, appealing to those who prefer a gentler whisky experience.

What is a very smoky scotch?

For enthusiasts seeking a whisky with intense smokiness, several options within the Scotch whisky landscape stand out. Islay distilleries, renowned for their robust and peaty expressions, offer some of the smokiest Scotch whiskies available.

Brands like Ardbeg, Lagavulin, and Laphroaig are celebrated for their deeply smoky profiles, derived from the peat-rich soil of the region and the traditional practice of drying malted barley over peat fires. These whiskies often exhibit bold, savory, and medicinal flavors, accompanied by a pervasive smokiness that lingers on the palate.

Additionally, some Highland and Island distilleries, such as Talisker from the Isle of Skye, also produce whiskies with notable smoky characteristics, though they may offer a slightly different flavor profile compared to their Islay counterparts. Overall, for those seeking a very smoky Scotch whisky, exploring offerings from Islay distilleries would be a rewarding endeavor.

What whisky has a smoky flavor?

Whisky aficionados seeking a smoky flavor profile often gravitate towards peated Scotch whiskies, renowned for their distinctive smokiness derived from the peat used during the malting process. Brands like Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg are celebrated for their robust, smoky character, captivating enthusiasts with their complex layers of peat smoke, maritime influence, and rich, earthy undertones. These whiskies typically hail from Islay, an island in Scotland famed for its peat-rich soils and traditional peat-cutting practices, which impart a profound smokiness to the barley used in whisky production.

What liquor has a smoky flavor?

While whisky, particularly peated Scotch, is renowned for its smoky allure, other spirits also offer delightful smoky notes, including mezcal and certain types of tequila.

Mezcal, crafted from the agave plant, undergoes a production process that involves roasting the agave hearts (piñas) in underground pits lined with volcanic rocks and charcoal, lending the spirit its signature smoky essence.

Each batch of mezcal reflects the nuances of the agave variety and the specific terroir, resulting in a diverse array of smoky flavors ranging from subtle to intensely bold.

Which liquor is smoky?

One notable liquor celebrated for its smoky profile is mezcal. Originating from Mexico, mezcal distinguishes itself from its cousin, tequila, through its distinctive smokiness, which stems from the traditional production methods involving pit-roasting the agave hearts.

Mezcal enthusiasts savor its smoky character, which harmonizes with earthy, fruity, and floral undertones, creating a captivating sensory experience that reflects the rich cultural heritage and artisanal craftsmanship behind each bottle.

Is Bulleit bourbon smoky?

Bulleit Bourbon, an iconic American whiskey cherished for its high rye content and robust flavor profile, is not typically characterized by a pronounced smokiness. Instead, it is renowned for its bold, spicy character, with notes of vanilla, caramel, and oak imparted by the aging process in charred oak barrels.

While Bulleit Bourbon offers a complex palate and distinctive flavor profile, it generally lacks the smoky nuances found in peated Scotch whiskies or smoky mezcals.

However, individual taste perceptions may vary, and some drinkers might detect subtle smoky undertones influenced by factors such as production techniques and barrel aging, though these are not the dominant flavors associated with Bulleit Bourbon.

Final Verdict: Best Smoky Bourbon

You won’t have to go for Scotch [1] all the time if you’re craving smoky or peaty spirits (unless you really prefer Scotch over everything else). 

American-style spirits also have the smoky vibe signature of Scottish spirits. If you want a temporary shift from the traditional bourbon whiskeys [2], try any bottle in this list. 

To start, we highly recommend the Elijah Craig Toasted Bourbon for its perfection regarding smokiness, sweetness, and smoothness.


  1. Scotch Whisky
  2. Bourbon Whiskey
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