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10 Smoothest Bourbons For Beginners: Ranked (2022 Updated)

Last Updated on August 1, 2022 by Lydia Martin

With its high proof and potent flavor profile, bourbon can be a bit off-putting and downright upsetting for beginners. Those who are just starting to get into the spirit can benefit from choosing friendly options that won’t be an instant turnoff. 

If you are looking for the smoothest bourbon for beginners, you have come to the right place. Keep on reading to find your next best buddy.

Top 10 Smoothest Bourbons (Beginners Edition) 

10. Eagle Rare 10-Year Bourbon

Eagle Rare 10-Year Bourbon

ABV: 45%  

Average Price: Around $50 

Why We Liked It: Eagle Rare is a great option for beginners. This spirit is delicate yet flavorful, with none of the harshness found in most other brands.

It has a friendly flavor profile made with toffee, orange peel, caramel, leather, and oak notes and a smooth finish. 

9. Maker’s French Oaked 46

Maker’s French Oaked 46 ABV: 47%  

Average Price: Around $42

Why We Liked It: Maker’s Mark 46 is a wheated bourbon with a fluffy, bread-like flavor.

The cool thing about this is that after it’s aged like their flagship label, the juice is dumped and returned to the barrel with French oak staves. 

The French oak gives the Maker’s Mark wheated bourbon some brown sugar, baking spices, and hints of delicate flavors like apple and pear. It’s an interesting and smooth drink, especially for beginners. 

8. Four Roses Bourbon Single Barrel

Four Roses Bourbon Single Barrel

ABV: 50%  

Average Price: Around $70 

Why We Liked It: Four Roses carries one of the most inexpensive single barrel expressions, making it perfect for beginners.

For a single barrel, this one is unexpectedly mild and friendly on the palate, with flavor notes of apple, vanilla, and caramel.

Four Roses bourbon has a spicy finish for the 100 proof but remains pleasantly sweet. 

7. Old Forester 100 Proof 

Old Forester 100 Proof 

ABV: 50%  

Average Price: Around $30

Why We Liked It: Here is another 100-proof bourbon that’s mild and pleasant for beginners.

Old Forester is a high-quality bourbon with flavors of vanilla and spicy rye that morph into soft vanilla and orange peel on the palate. 

This spirit is best drunk on the rocks, so the flavors open up more [1]. 

6. Wild Turkey 101 

Wild Turkey 101 

ABV: 50.5%  

Average Price: Around $25 

Why We Liked It: Wild Turkey is a staple found in most bars and homes of bourbon lovers.

It might be a bit too harsh for the beginner — after all, it boasts of a 101-high-proof — but trust us when we say that the complex flavors in the high rye mash bill back it up. 

Despite its high rye content, it has a balanced sweetness from the vanilla, caramel, and maple syrup, layered with peppermint and cinnamon spice notes.  

5. Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Bourbon 

Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Bourbon 

ABV: 40%  

Average Price: Around $45 

Why We Liked It: Basil Hayden’s is a good beginner bourbon, even if you drink it neat. It is neither too complex nor spicy, but we imagine that bourbon beginners would consider this friendly for their palates.

Basil Hayden’s high rye content gives it a sweet, almost honey-like flavor profile, with a subtle aroma of vanilla, caramel, and maple oak.

Its low price point also allows you to experiment with this drink more in cocktails or drunk neat [2].

4. 1792 Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

1792 Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

ABV: 46.85%  

Average Price: Around $35

Why We Liked It: The 1792 Small Batch is a smooth sipper, whether you’re new to whiskeys or have been at it for years. 

It is warm and buttery on the palate, with a touch of cinnamon spice. The spicy trend continues up until its long, mellow finish. 

3. Evan Williams Single Barrel

Evan Williams Single Barrel

ABV: 43.3%  

Average Price: Around $32 

Why We Liked It: Evan Williams is the second single barrel bourbon that made it to our list. This dram has a decidedly darker flavor profile yet remains pleasantly smooth. 

It has interesting notes of dark, syrupy honey with toasted oak and toasted vanilla buttercream.

It also has a few dried nuts to it, reminiscent of other bottles from Heaven Hill. 

2. Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Buffalo Trace Bourbon

ABV: 45%  

Average Price: Around $35 

Why We Liked It: The flagship Buffalo Trace bottle from the brand’s distillery is probably one of the best whiskeys a beginner should sip on.

Its mash bill is said to be made with at least 80 to 90% corn, so you can only assume that this dram has plenty of sweetness. 

This tastes like a (somewhat sweet) expensive bourbon, rife with classic notes like roasted white oak, cinnamon, and vanilla.

Its 90 proof also gives it personality when mixed in a classic bourbon drink, but having it neat also won’t overpower the beginner’s palate. 

1. Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon 

Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon

ABV: 50%  

Average Price: Around $40 

Why We Liked It: Knob Creek is one of Jim Beam’s premium labels and probably the best to come out from the giant brand.

This Knob Creek brand is often referred to as the standard for robust whiskeys, but beginners shouldn’t feel intimidated by this drink. 

This is a full-bodied dram with rye spice, dark chocolate, and caramel flavors. It has a long, drying finish, rife with creamy vanilla. 

*Average prices are based on Drizly online. Prices may vary in local liquor shops.

FAQs 

Which smooth bourbon for beginners has the least burn? 

Buffalo Trace bourbon has the least burn compared to other whiskeys, making it perfect for beginners. It also has a mild aroma that won’t sting for beginners to appreciate fully. 

Are smooth bourbons best for beginners affordable?

Yes, smooth bourbons best for beginners are affordable! You can get most bourbons featured on our list for less than $100. 

How should beginners drink smooth whiskeys?

Beginners should drink smooth bourbons neat because well-aged drams tend to be heavy on oak and spicy notes. These spirits on our list don’t bank too much on those tasting notes, making them sweet and suitable for the beginner palate. 

In Summary

Undoubtedly, the smoothest, best bourbon for beginners is the Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.  

This premium label from Jim Beam has all the robust properties of a small-batch dram while still being delicate enough for beginners. It is full-bodied, with caramel, dark chocolate, and rye spice flavor notes. Its smooth finish is long and satisfying. 

We imagine it will be best shared between an enthusiast and a friend who’s trying to get into the bourbon journey. 

References: 

  1. https://www.news18.com/news/lifestyle/heres-why-you-should-drink-whiskey-on-the-rocks-4589264.html 
  2. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/whisky-cocktail-recipes

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