Liquor Laboratory

ll logo white
ll logo white

15 Best Bourbon With Vanilla Notes: Ranked (2024 Updated)

Bourbon With Vanilla Notes

Bourbon should not contain flavoring agents, but the aging in charred oak barrels gives the spirit its unique vanilla character that many bourbon enthusiasts crave. 

Bourbons have different flavor profiles, and some are made with more pronounced vanilla notes. 

Here are the best bourbons with vanilla notes that burst in aroma and taste. Read on. 

Top 15 Bourbon with Vanilla Notes 

15. Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon

ngel's Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon bottle and a box

Average Price: Roughly $54.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 43.3%

Why We Like It:

Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight bourbon is reddish amber bourbon whiskey finished in port wine barrels for an additional distinct flavor profile. 

On the nose and the palate, it has a pronounced aroma and taste of vanilla and caramel.

It has gained a fandom for its complex flavor profile suited for avid fans of dessert-like whiskeys

We enjoyed drinking it on the rocks as there’s a clean and lingering sweetness with some of Madeira that fades slowly. 

14. Wild Turkey Rare Breed

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bottle on top of a table

Average Price: Roughly $54.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 56.4%

Why We Like It:

Wild Turkey Rare Breed is a hand-selected small-batch bourbon whiskey with a rich aroma and taste of vanilla. 

It is a barrel-proof bourbon, so there’s no water added to dilute the alcohol, flavor, and tasting notes from the barrel aging. 

The unique marriage of 6,8, and 12-year-old bourbon barrels gives a remarkably smooth and sweet flavor. 

13. Maker’s Mark 46 

Maker's Mark 46 Bottle on top of a barrel

Average Price: Roughly $65.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 47%

Why We Like It:

Maker’s Mark is known for their bourbon whiskey that boasts softness, mellowness, and sweetness, thanks to its red winter wheat and the amazing aging process. 

The Maker’s Mark was crafted using Bill Samuels, Jr.’s taste vision and ten seared French oak staves before the bourbon reached maturity. 

This amazing aging process results in an easy-to-sip whiskey with rich vanilla and caramel. And baking spices that will greet your nose and palate. 

12. Rebel Bourbon

3 bottles of Rebel Bourbon

Average Price: Roughly $17.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40%

Why We Like It:

If you prefer a budget-friendly bourbon with vanilla notes, Rebel bourbon will not disappoint you. 

We consumed the bourbon neat and on the rocks, and every sip was packed with a smooth body and full flavor from the whiskey. 

The award-winning bourbon whiskey will greet you with vanilla, butter, and honey aroma and taste. Then, traces of warm spice and raisins will spice things up a notch. 

11. Noble Oak Double Oak Bourbon

man holding Noble Oak Double Oak Bourbon bottle

Average Price: Roughly $37.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 45%

Why We Like It:

Noble Oak Double Oak is an award-winning bourbon finished in sherry oak for an amazing golden chestnut hue and rich flavor. 

The aging process of the bourbon gives character and an improved tasting profile to the spirit [1]. Noble Oak Double Oak gives out rich vanilla, warm spice, and dried fruit aroma and taste. 

We like the lingering flavors of cherry and wood, along with some honey and caramel aroma and finish. 

10. Noah’s Mill Small Batch Bourbon

Bottle of Noah's Mill Small Batch Bourbon

Average Price: Roughly $60.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 57.15%

Why We Like It:

Noah’s Mill Small Batch is one of the market’s richest and lush whiskeys. It has a rich aroma of floral, walnuts, prunes, and vanilla notes. 

The palate has a nice balance of baking spices and lingering vanilla and caramel notes.

It is a high-proof Willet whiskey but tirelessly blends well for a sweet, mellow, and distinct flavor profile. 

Snag bottles of this vanilla bomb bourbon before it becomes attainable, as bourbon aficionados know about Noah’s Mill. 

9. Wild Turkey 101

Bottle of Wild Turkey 101

Average Price: Roughly $33.98 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 50.5%

Why We Like It:

Another bourbon from Wild Turkey made it to our list of the best bourbon with vanilla notes, and this bourbon boasts a rich character thanks to its aging in deepest alligator char oak barrels. 

It features high rye content that carries a pleasant bite, and we enjoyed drinking the bourbon neat and on the rocks. We tried it in Old Fashioned, and it also shines well. 

Wild Turkey 101 has a rich, bold signature of Wild Turkey spice, and the vanilla and caramel notes are evident in every sip. 

8. Larceny Small Batch Bourbon

Larceny Small Batch Bourbon Bottle with 2 glasses

Average Price: Roughly $29.58

Alcohol Content: 46%

Why We Like It:

Larceny Small Batch has been racking up golden awards for years because of its nuanced and exceptional flavor.

It is smooth and soft because it uses wheat instead of rye as the secondary grain. 

Larceny has a bright new copper color, and its rich toffee, brown sugar, freshly baked bread, butterscotch, and vanilla notes are notable and well-loved. 

It has a sweet, savory, and long finish with caramel, butterscotch, and vanilla notes. 

7. Hudson Bright Lights Big Bourbon

Hudson Bright Lights Big Bourbon with glass drink and a lemon

Average Price: Roughly $50 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 46%

Why We Like It:

Hudson Bright Lights Big Bourbon never shies away from the spotlight as it is a bold, grain-forward bourbon that delivers a great flavor profile and utmost versatility. 

It is made from 95% corn and 5% malted barley, and after aging in new charred oak barrels for at least three years, it is fully packed with rich vanilla and salted caramel aroma and taste. 

Our first sip contains creamy vanilla, caramel corn, dried cherries, and nutty sweetness. It ends well with warming butterscotch, brown sugar, and charred oak. 

6. Henry McKenna Single Barrel

Henry McKenna 10 Year BiB Single Barrel Bottle

Average Price: Roughly $69.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 50%

Why We Like It:

Henry McKenna Single Barrel is a Bottled-in-Bond bourbon [2], and it has been resting through 40 Kentucky seasons before bottling at 100 proof. 

Bourbon enthusiasts will agree that it has a perfect balance of flavor profiles and versatile tasting notes.

Henry McKenna is a great choice if you want a high-proof liquor with a vanilla bomb.

The first sip has nice oak, vanilla beans, and floral and fruity notes. We like the buttery caramel, rich malts, and creamy vanilla it boasts from start to finish.

5. Garrison Brothers Small Batch Texas Bourbon

Garrison Brothers Small Batch Texas Bourbon with glass drink, ice and  orange peel

MSRP: $79.99 (Official Website)

Average Price: Roughly $86.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 

Why We Like It:

Garrison Brothers Small Batch Texas is an award-winning small-batch bourbon with overflowing gourmet-grade and finest ingredients. 

It is made from sweet mash bill, and thanks to its aging in barrels under heat-forged in the Texas sun, it yields a richer, darker, and fuller bourbon. 

The leather, buttery toffee, spicy cinnamon, and dried orange peel greet us on our first sip. The finish is reminiscent of vanilla-toasted almonds and sugar cookies.

4. Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Buffalo Trace Bourbon Bottle on top of a wooden table

Average Price: Roughly $34.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 45%

Why We Like It:

Buffalo Trace Bourbon is a flagship bourbon, and this deep amber whiskey has a rich aroma of vanilla, molasses, and mint. 

The crowd-favorite bourbon features a vanilla bomb on the nose and palate, spice, oak, dark fruit, anise, and toffee notes. 

You can consume it neat and on the rocks, and it can elevate your bourbon cocktail because of its rich and great flavor profile. 

“One of the world’s great whiskies” 

– Jim Murray, Writer, and Whisky Critic

3. Booker’s Bourbon Whiskey

Booker's 2020-02 Bottle

Average Price: Roughly $99.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 63.25%

Why We Like It:

Booker’s bourbon whiskey is a rare, unfiltered, uncut bottled bourbon that focuses on the sweet spot of the whiskey. It is well-aged for the most intense flavor of the whiskey. 

The Booker’s Bourbon whiskey features high alcohol content, and this deep amber bourbon has nice complex flavors of vanilla, oak, and nuts.

During our taste test, we appreciated more of its flavor when we consumed it neat and on the rocks because it has a robust vanilla and caramel taste.

It has a long and lingering finish with a slight smokiness. 

2. 1792 Full Proof 

Close Up Shot 1792 Full Proof Bottle

Average Price: Roughly $58.25 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 62.5%

Why We Like It:

1792 Full Proof has been long acknowledged for its rich and distinguished flavor profile.

The bourbon whiskey underwent a distinct production process to ensure premium quality.

1792 Full Proof bourbon has a strong and bold flavor, but it boasts an incredibly balanced sweet vanilla, spice, and notes of caramel aroma and taste. 

1. Woodford Reserve Double Oaked 

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bottle and a box

Average Price: Roughly $52.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 45.2%

Why We Like It:

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked is an innovative approach to traditional bourbon to create a colorful and rich flavor of bourbon whiskey. 

The bourbons are uniquely matured in separate charred oak barrels for additional sweet oak and soft character. 

The bourbon is filled with notes of vanilla, caramel, oak, and honey. The finish is full of warmth and ends with vanilla, caramel, and baking spice. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is there a vanilla-flavored bourbon?

Yes, there is a vanilla-flavored bourbon, but it is not labeled as a bourbon but a flavored whiskey.
Jim Beam Vanilla combines Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean and bourbon whiskey. 
It has a perfect balance of full-bodied vanilla and hints of oak that complement the deep caramel notes of bourbon whiskey. 

What is the best bourbon for vanilla extract?

Buffalo Trace is the best bourbon for vanilla extract. It has a medium price point, uses non-GMO [3] ingredients, and features an average alcohol content. 

How Can I Identify Bourbon with Vanilla Notes?

Bourbon with vanilla notes often exhibits aromas and flavors of vanilla on the nose and palate. You may detect hints of vanilla bean, vanilla extract, or vanilla custard, along with other complementary flavors like caramel, toffee, or butterscotch.

What Causes Bourbon to Develop Vanilla Notes?

Vanilla notes in bourbon can develop during the aging process, primarily through interactions with the charred oak barrels used for maturation. Compounds called vanillin and lignin within the oak wood contribute to the release of vanilla-like flavors into the bourbon over time.

Are There Specific Bourbon Brands Known for Their Prominent Vanilla Notes?

Some bourbon brands are known for their prominent vanilla notes, such as Buffalo Trace, Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, and Four Roses. These brands often produce bourbons with complex flavor profiles that include distinct vanilla characteristics.

Can I Enhance Vanilla Notes in Bourbon When Enjoying It Neat or in Cocktails?

Yes, you can enhance vanilla notes in bourbon when enjoying it neat or in cocktails by selecting bourbons known for their vanilla-forward profiles. Additionally, serving bourbon at the appropriate temperature and using complementary mixers or garnishes can accentuate its vanilla flavors.

What Food Pairings Complement Bourbon with Vanilla Notes?

Food pairings that complement bourbon with vanilla notes include desserts like crème brûlée, vanilla ice cream, or bread pudding with vanilla sauce. Savory dishes with caramelized or roasted flavors, such as grilled meats or glazed vegetables, can also enhance the bourbon’s vanilla characteristics.

Are There Different Types of Vanilla Notes in Bourbon?

Yes, there are different types of vanilla notes that can be found in bourbon, each contributing to the spirit’s flavor profile in unique ways. Some common types of vanilla notes in bourbon include:

Sweet Vanilla: Sweet vanilla notes are often reminiscent of vanilla bean or vanilla extract, imparting a rich, creamy sweetness to the bourbon. These notes are typically prominent in bourbons aged in new charred oak barrels, where they develop over time through the aging process.

Spicy Vanilla: Spicy vanilla notes are characterized by a subtle warmth and complexity, often accompanied by hints of baking spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves. These notes can add depth and dimension to the bourbon’s flavor profile, creating a well-rounded and flavorful spirit.

Earthy Vanilla: Earthy vanilla notes are more subtle and nuanced, with hints of wood, tobacco, or leather complementing the bourbon’s sweet and spicy flavors. These notes are often found in older, well-aged bourbons that have spent extended periods maturing in oak barrels.

Floral Vanilla: Floral vanilla notes are delicate and fragrant, with hints of floral aromas such as jasmine or lavender enhancing the bourbon’s bouquet. These notes can add a touch of elegance and sophistication to the spirit, creating a memorable drinking experience.

These are just a few examples of the different types of vanilla notes that can be found in bourbon, each contributing to the spirit’s overall character and complexity. Depending on the aging process, barrel selection, and distillation techniques used, bourbon producers can create a wide range of flavor profiles that showcase the diversity of vanilla notes in this beloved spirit.

Can Bourbon with Vanilla Notes Be Used in Cocktails?

Absolutely! Bourbon with vanilla notes can be used in a variety of cocktails, adding depth, complexity, and a touch of sweetness to traditional recipes. Some popular cocktails that feature bourbon with vanilla notes include:

Old Fashioned: A classic cocktail made with bourbon, sugar, bitters, and a twist of orange or lemon peel. The addition of bourbon with vanilla notes enhances the cocktail’s sweetness and depth of flavor, creating a sophisticated and timeless drink.

Bourbon Sour: A refreshing cocktail made with bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white (optional). The vanilla notes in the bourbon complement the citrusy acidity of the lemon juice, resulting in a perfectly balanced and flavorful cocktail.

Bourbon Smash: A modern twist on the classic Mint Julep, the Bourbon Smash features bourbon with muddled fresh mint leaves, lemon juice, and simple syrup. The addition of bourbon with vanilla notes adds complexity and depth to this refreshing and aromatic cocktail.

Bourbon Manhattan: A classic cocktail made with bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters, garnished with a cherry. The vanilla notes in the bourbon complement the sweet vermouth, creating a smooth and sophisticated cocktail that’s perfect for sipping.

These are just a few examples of the many cocktails that can be made with bourbon with vanilla notes. Whether you prefer classic recipes or innovative creations, bourbon with vanilla notes adds a deliciously complex and aromatic element to any cocktail, making it a versatile and indispensable spirit for mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts alike.

Who invented tequila?

The invention of tequila, as a specific distilled spirit, is often attributed to the indigenous people of Mexico, particularly those in the Jalisco region. While the exact individual or group who first distilled agave into what we now recognize as tequila remains unknown, it’s believed that the indigenous people, such as the Aztecs or the Tequila Indians, played a significant role in its development. These communities fermented the sap of the agave plant to create a beverage known as pulque. Over time, the process of distillation was introduced, leading to the creation of what we now know as tequila. Today, the production of tequila is regulated by strict standards set by the Mexican government, ensuring that it is made from the blue agave plant and produced in designated regions of Mexico, primarily in Jalisco.

Does Gran Coramino have additives?

It’s important to consult the specific product label or the distillery’s information to determine whether additives are used in Gran Coramino tequila’s production. Generally, premium tequilas like Gran Coramino are made using 100% blue agave and adhere to strict quality standards. However, some tequila producers may choose to add small amounts of additives for flavor or color enhancement. Transparency regarding additives varies among brands, so it’s advisable to research or inquire about specific brands’ production methods and ingredients.

Is Centenario tequila 100% Agave?

Most products from Centenario are indeed made from 100% agave. The brand produces a range of tequilas, including blanco, reposado, and añejo expressions, all of which are crafted with a focus on quality and authenticity. Centenario is known for its commitment to using 100% agave in its tequila production, ensuring a pure and authentic taste that captures the essence of Mexico’s revered spirit. However, as with any spirit, it’s always a good idea to check the label or product information to confirm the specific ingredients and production methods used in each expression.

Final Verdict

Bourbons are not created equal and If you’re looking for the best bourbon with vanilla notes, pick a bottle from the list above.

1792, Garrison Brothers, Henry McKenna, and Buffalo Trace are some bourbons that burst prominent vanilla notes and are not that expensive.

But Woodford Reserve Double Oak caught our hearts because of its vanilla-centric flavor profile that it owes to the vanilla nature of double oak barreling.

References:

  1. The Effects of Aging on Liquor
  2. What Is Bottled-in-Bond Whiskey, and What Does it Mean for Whiskey Today?
  3. From Farm to Fork: Clearing Up the Confusion About Organic and Non-GMO
Lumint ad Side Bar
Flex Ad Side Bar