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The Unforgettable Flavors Await: Best Tennessee Bourbon 2023!

a banner shot of tennessee bourbon

Last Updated on August 21, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Get ready to embark on a flavorful adventure as we explore the crème de la crème, the pinnacle of the Tennessee whiskey world.

From rich caramel notes to velvety smooth finishes, these exceptional bourbons are set to captivate your palate and leave an indelible mark on your taste buds.

So, let’s raise our glasses and dive into the realm of excellence as we discover the top contenders vying for the prestigious title of the best Tennessee Bourbon 2023.

An Overview: Tennessee Bourbon

Tennessee bourbon is a type of American whiskey that is primarily distilled in Tennessee. It shares many similarities with traditional bourbon, including its mash bill composition of at least 51% corn and aging in new, seared oak barrels. 

However, what sets Tennessee Bourbon apart is the Lincoln County Process. This unique filtration method involves passing the whiskey through charcoal, often made from brown sugar maple syrup, before aging, which imparts additional flavor and smoothness. [1]

16 Best Tennessee Whiskeys to Drink This 2023

Category 1: High-end Tennessee Bourbons

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15-Year-Old

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15-Year-Old is an extremely rare and highly sought-after bourbon in the whiskey industry known for its exceptional quality and complexity. It is crafted with a carefully selected corn, wheat, and malted barley blend.

  • ABV: Varies, typically around 53.5%
  • Average Price: $1,500-$2,000
  • Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
  • Brand: Pappy Van Winkle’s
  • Distillery: Buffalo Trace Distillery
  • Production Methods: Traditional column still distillation.
  • Aging Process: Aged for a minimum of 15 years in new, charred oak barrels.
  • Flavor Profile: Rich and velvety with notes of caramel, dark chocolate, and dried fruits.
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Caramel, vanilla, and oak with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg.
    • Palate: Smooth and indulgent with flavors of toffee, dried cherries, and a touch of leather.
    • Smoothness: Incredibly smooth and well-rounded.
    • Finishing: Long and complex, with lingering notes of oak, spice, and a hint of sweetness.
  • Food Pairings: Dark chocolate truffles, aged cheeses, roasted nuts.
  • Why it’s a Good Choice: Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15-Year-Old is considered one of the finest bourbons in the world, offering a luxurious and unforgettable tasting experience for those fortunate enough to acquire a bottle.

a glass of red bourbon

George T. Stagg

George T. Stagg is one of the best Tennessee whiskey known for its exceptional quality and bold flavor profile. It is portion of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection and is released annually in limited quantities.

  • ABV: Varies, typically high (around 60-70%)
  • Average Price: $450-$600 (annual release)
  • Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
  • Brand: George T. Stagg
  • Distillery: Buffalo Trace Distillery
  • Production Methods: Traditional column still distillation.
  • Aging Process: Varies typically aged for a minimum of 15 years.
  • Flavor Profile: Robust and intense with bold flavors of dark fruit, tobacco, and oak.
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Rich and complex with aromas of dark chocolate, ripe berries, and spice.
    • Palate: Full-bodied and powerful with flavors of black cherries, tobacco, and charred oak.
    • Smoothness: Intense and fiery, with a strong alcohol presence.
    • Finishing: Long and warming, with lingering notes of dark chocolate and tobacco.
  • Food Pairings: Grilled steak, smoked meats, dark chocolate desserts.
  • Why it’s a Good Choice: George T. Stagg is highly sought after by bourbon enthusiasts for its bold flavors and limited annual release. It is known for its exceptional quality and complexity.

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

  • ABV: 45.2%
  • Average Price: $50-$60
  • Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
  • Brand: Woodford Reserve
  • Distillery: Woodford Reserve Distillery (owned by Brown-Forman)
  • Production Methods: Traditional copper pot still distillation.
  • Aging Process: Aged in new, charred oak barrels and finished in heavily toasted and lightly charred barrels for an additional period.
  • Flavor Profile: Rich and full-bodied with flavors of dark chocolate, caramel, and toasted oak.
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Rich aromas of dark chocolate, caramel, and toasted nuts.
    • Palate: Velvety and creamy with flavors of honey, dried fruit, and baking spices.
    • Smoothness: Smooth and well-balanced.
    • Finishing: Long and warming, with notes of dark chocolate, vanilla, and toasted oak.
  • Food Pairings: Grilled steak, caramelized bananas, pecan tart.
  • Why it’s a Good Choice: Woodford Reserve Double Oaked offers a unique flavor profile with its additional barrel finishing, resulting in a rich and indulgent bourbon that is highly regarded by whiskey enthusiasts.

George Dickel Barrel Select

George Dickel Barrel Select is a Tennessee whiskey known for its smoothness and complexity. It is crafted using a unique charcoal mellowing process and is hand-selected from individual barrels to create a rich and flavorful expression.

  • ABV: 43%
  • Average Price: $40-$50
  • Type: Tennessee Whiskey
  • Brand: George Dickel
  • Distillery: George Dickel Distillery
  • Production Methods: Charcoal mellowing filtration.
  • Aging Process: Aged for an undisclosed period in new, charred oak barrels.
  • Flavor Profile: Balanced with notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak.
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Caramel, vanilla, and oak with hints of baking spices.
    • Palate: Smooth and creamy with flavors of caramel, toasted oak, and a touch of spice.
    • Smoothness: Very smooth and approachable.
    • Finishing: Medium finish with lingering notes of oak and spice.
  • Food Pairings: Barbecue ribs, grilled corn, pecan pie.
  • Why it’s a Good Choice: George Dickel Barrel Select offers a well-rounded and enjoyable Tennessee whiskey experience. Its smoothness and balanced flavor profile make it a popular choice among whiskey enthusiasts.

a glass of bourbon whiskey on the rocks with lemon peel on the side

Category 2: Mid-range Tennessee Bourbons

George Dickel No. 12

George Dickel No. 12 is a Tennessee whiskey known for its smooth and mellow character. It is crafted with a high corn mash bill and charcoal filtration, similar to the Lincoln County Process used in the production of Tennessee whiskies.

  • ABV: 45%
  • Average Price: $25-$30
  • Type: Tennessee Whiskey
  • Brand: George Dickel
  • Distillery: Cascade Hollow Distilling Co.
  • Production Methods: Charcoal mellowing filtration, similar to the Lincoln County Process.
  • Aging Process: Aged for a minimum of 8 years in new, charred oak barrels.
  • Flavor Profile: Rich and sweet with notes of caramel, vanilla, and toasted oak.
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Caramel, vanilla, and toasted oak with a hint of spice.
    • Palate: Smooth and approachable with flavors of caramel, butterscotch, and a touch of fruitiness.
    • Smoothness: Smooth and well-balanced.
    • Finishing: Medium-length finish with lingering notes of caramel and oak.
  • Food Pairings: Grilled meats, barbecue, caramel desserts.
  • Why it’s a Good Choice: George Dickel No. 12 offers a great balance of flavors and a smooth drinking experience at an affordable price point.

Cove Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey

Cove Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey is a small-batch bourbon known for its craftsmanship and quality. It is made using a high-quality mash bill and traditional distillation methods, resulting in a flavorful and well-rounded bourbon.

  • ABV: 46%
  • Average Price: $50-$60
  • Type: Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey
  • Brand: Cove
  • Distillery: Cove Distillery
  • Production Methods: Traditional column still distillation.
  • Aging Process: Aged for a minimum of 4 years in new, charred oak barrels.
  • Flavor Profile: Smooth and complex with notes of caramel, vanilla, and spice.
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Caramel, vanilla, and baking spices with a hint of oak.
    • Palate: Smooth and full-bodied with flavors of caramel, toasted oak, and a touch of cinnamon.
    • Smoothness: Very smooth and well-balanced.
    • Finishing: Medium-long finish with lingering notes of oak and spice.
  • Food Pairings: Grilled steak, sweet potato casserole, apple pie.
  • Why it’s a Good Choice: Cove Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey offers a high-quality and enjoyable bourbon experience. Its attention to detail in production and intricate flavor profile makes it a great choice for bourbon enthusiasts.

Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey

Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey is a small-batch whiskey crafted with a focus on traditional distilling methods and a dedication to quality. It offers a smooth and flavorful drinking experience with a nod to historical Tennessee whiskey production.

  • ABV: Varies (typically around 45%)
  • Average Price: $50-$60
  • Type: Tennessee Whiskey
  • Brand: Nelson’s Green Brier
  • Distillery: Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery
  • Production Methods: Traditional column still distillation, charcoal mellowing filtration.
  • Aging Process: Aged for an undisclosed period in new, charred oak barrels.
  • Flavor Profile: Smooth with notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak.
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Caramel, vanilla, and toasted oak with hints of baking spices.
    • Palate: Smooth and well-rounded with flavors of caramel, honey, and a touch of spice.
    • Smoothness: Very smooth and approachable.
    • Finishing: Medium-long finish with lingering notes of oak and spice.
  • Food Pairings: Grilled salmon, roasted vegetables, bread pudding.
  • Why it’s a Good Choice: Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey offers a taste of the traditional Tennessee whiskey style with its commitment to quality and craftsmanship. It provides a smooth and enjoyable drinking experience.

Prichard’s Tennessee Whiskey

Prichard’s Tennessee Whiskey is a small-batch whiskey made with traditional methods and a focus on hand craftsmanship. It is produced in small quantities to ensure quality and attention to detail in every bottle.

  • ABV: 40%
  • Average Price: $40-$50
  • Type: Tennessee Whiskey
  • Brand: Prichard’s
  • Distillery: Prichard’s Distillery
  • Production Methods: Traditional pot still distillation.
  • Aging Process: Aged for an undisclosed period in new, charred oak barrels.
  • Flavor Profile: Smooth with notes of caramel, vanilla, and toasted oak.
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Caramel, vanilla, and toasted oak with hints of honey.
    • Palate: Smooth and rich with flavors of caramel, toasted nuts, and a touch of spice.
    • Smoothness: Very smooth and easy-drinking.
    • Finishing: Medium finish with lingering notes of oak and sweetness.
  • Food Pairings: Barbecue chicken, cornbread, pecan pie.
  • Why it’s a Good Choice: Prichard’s Tennessee Whiskey offers a handcrafted and authentic Tennessee whiskey experience. Its smoothness and well-balanced flavor profile make it a great choice for sipping or mixing in cocktails.

Category 3: Budget-friendly Tennessee Bourbons

Evan Williams Black Label

Evan Williams Black Label is a well-known and affordable Kentucky straight bourbon with a long history dating back to 1783. It offers a smooth and versatile flavor profile, suitable for sipping neat or mixing into cocktails.

  • ABV: 43%
  • Average Price: $15-$20
  • Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
  • Brand: Evan Williams
  • Distillery: Heaven Hill Distillery
  • Production Methods: Traditional column still distillation.
  • Aging Process: Aged for a minimum of 4 years in new, charred oak barrels.
  • Flavor Profile: Balanced with notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak.
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Caramel, vanilla, and a hint of charred oak.
    • Palate: Smooth and approachable with flavors of caramel, toasted oak, and a touch of spice.
    • Smoothness: Smooth and easy-drinking.
    • Finishing: Medium finish with a touch of sweetness and oak.
  • Food Pairings: Grilled meats, cornbread, pecan pie.
  • Why it’s a Good Choice: Evan Williams Black Label provides a reliable and accessible bourbon option with a good balance of flavors, making it suitable for both casual and experienced bourbon drinkers.

Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond

Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond is a Kentucky straight bourbon that adheres to the strict regulations of the Bottled-in-Bond Act. It is known for its quality, consistency, and value, making it a favorite among bourbon enthusiasts.

  • ABV: 50%
  • Average Price: $30-$40
  • Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
  • Brand: Heaven Hill
  • Distillery: Heaven Hill Distillery
  • Production Methods: Traditional column still distillation, adherence to the Bottled-in-Bond Act regulations.
  • Aging Process: Aged for a minimum of 4 years in new, charred oak barrels.
  • Flavor Profile: Rich and flavorful with notes of caramel, vanilla, and spice.
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Caramel, vanilla, and baking spices with a hint of oak.
    • Palate: Full-bodied and robust with flavors of caramel, toasted oak, cinnamon, and a touch of black pepper.
    • Smoothness: Smooth with a bit of bite.
    • Finishing: Medium-long finish with lingering notes of oak and spice.
  • Food Pairings: Barbecue ribs, cornbread, pecan pie.
  • Why it’s a Good Choice: Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond offers a high-quality bourbon experience at an affordable price, making it a popular choice among bourbon enthusiasts and cocktail lovers alike.

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey is a well-known and widely available rye whiskey produced by the famous Jack Daniel’s distillery. It offers a smooth and flavorful rye whiskey experience with the signature character of Jack Daniel.

  • ABV: 45%
  • Average Price: $30-$40
  • Type: Tennessee Rye Whiskey
  • Brand: Jack Daniel’s
  • Distillery: Jack Daniel’s Distillery
  • Production Methods: Traditional column still distillation, charcoal mellowing filtration.
  • Aging Process: Aged for an undisclosed period in new, charred oak barrels.
  • Flavor Profile: Spicy with notes of caramel, vanilla, and toasted oak.
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Caramel, vanilla, and baking spices with a hint of rye spice.
    • Palate: Smooth and spicy with flavors of caramel, toasted oak, and a touch of pepper.
    • Smoothness: Smooth with a noticeable rye spice kick.
    • Finishing: Medium finish with lingering notes of spice and oak.
  • Food Pairings: Grilled sausage, roasted vegetables, gingerbread.
  • Why it’s a Good Choice: Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey provides a familiar and approachable rye whiskey experience from a well-established brand. Its smoothness and spicy flavor profile make it a versatile choice for various occasions. [2]

Rollins Tennessee Whiskey

Rollins Tennessee Whiskey is a small-batch whiskey made with a focus on craftsmanship and quality. It offers a smooth and flavorful drinking experience, showcasing the unique characteristics of Tennessee whiskey.

  • ABV: 40%
  • Average Price: $30-$40
  • Type: Tennessee Whiskey
  • Brand: Rollins
  • Distillery: Rollins Distillery
  • Production Methods: Traditional column still distillation, charcoal mellowing filtration.
  • Aging Process: Aged for an undisclosed period in new, charred oak barrels.
  • Flavor Profile: Smooth with notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak.
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Caramel, vanilla, and toasted oak with hints of honey.
    • Palate: Smooth and mellow with flavors of caramel, toasted nuts, and a touch of spice.
    • Smoothness: Very smooth and approachable.
    • Finishing: Medium finish with lingering notes of oak and sweetness.
  • Food Pairings: Barbecue chicken, cornbread, pecan pie.
  • Why it’s a Good Choice: Rollins Tennessee Whiskey offers a well-crafted and enjoyable Tennessee whiskey experience. Its smoothness and balanced flavor profile make it a great choice for those seeking a classic Tennessee whiskey taste.

Chattanooga Whiskey

Chattanooga Whiskey is a distinguished Tennessee whiskey that embodies the art of craftsmanship and quality. With a focus on tradition and meticulous attention to detail, this small-batch whiskey delivers a smooth and captivating drinking experience, showcasing the unique characteristics that define delicious craft whiskey since then.

  • ABV: 40%
  • Average Price: $30-$40
  • Type: Tennessee Whiskey
  • Brand: Chattanooga
  • Distillery: Chattanooga Whiskey Distillery
  • Production Methods: Traditional column still distillation, sugar maple charcoal mellowing filtration.
  • Aging Process: Aged in new, charred oak barrels for an undisclosed period.
  • Flavor Profile: Smooth with notes of caramel, velvety vanilla, and a subtle embrace of oak.
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: Caramel, vanilla, toasted oak, hints of honey.
    • Palate: Smooth, mellow, caramel, toasted nuts, a touch of spice.
    • Smoothness: Very smooth, approachable.
    • Finishing: Medium finish, lingering oak, and sweetness.
  • Food Pairings: Succulent barbecue chicken, hearty cornbread, pecan pie.
  • Why it’s a Good Choice: Chattanooga Whiskey stands out as an exceptional selection due to its meticulous craftsmanship and balanced flavor profile. Its smoothness and classic Tennessee whiskey taste promise whiskey enthusiasts a memorable and enjoyable experience.

FAQs

What is the most awarded bourbon Tennessee?

The most awarded Tennessee bourbon is George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey. George Dickel has received numerous accolades and awards for its whiskeys, including their various expressions, such as George Dickel No. 8, George Dickel Barrel Select, and George Dickel Bottled in Bond.

References

  1. https://whiskyadvocate.com/lincoln-county-process-tennessee-whiskey/
  2. https://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/tennessee-rye

 

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