Liquor Laboratory

What Bourbons Should I Have at My Bar? Top Selections (2024)

What Bourbons Should I Have at My Bar

Bourbon is known for its rich flavors and versatility in cocktails. But with so many bourbons in the liquor store, you’ve probably asked yourself, “What bourbons should I have at my bar?

That’s where we come in. Today, we’ll share the best bourbons that will keep your home bar alive. Trust us, these bottles are tried and tasted, and all of them are bartenders recommended.

Top 10 Bourbon Bottles To Complete Your Home Bar

1. Blanton’s Gold Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Bottle of Blanton's Gold Edition

Average Price: Around $348/750ml (Wine-Searcher)

Alcohol Content: 51.5% ABV

Nose: Honey, citrus, vanilla notes

Palate: Spices, oak, caramel notes

Star Rating: ★★★★★

Why We Like It: This Gold Edition is a pinnacle of bourbon craftsmanship. It provides a luxurious, full-bodied experience with a perfect balance of sweetness and spice.

“The gift of bourbon does not end with the libation.” ― Edward Lee, Chef & Writer 

We find it a distinctive horse stopper, and it’s the first bourbon pioneering single-barrel aging, making it a collector’s dream and a must-have at any bar.

2. Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon

Bottle of Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon on a Table

Average Price: Around $159/750ml (Wine-Searcher)

Alcohol Content: 46.5% ABV

Nose: Citrus, honey, vanilla

Palate: Caramel, spices, dark chocolate

Star Rating: ★★★★★

Why We Like It: Each bottle of Blanton’s Single Barrel bourbon is unique, showcasing the distinct characteristics of a single-barreled expression.

It’s a good upgrade if you’re used to the budget-friendly Evan Williams Single-Barrel or the bottom-shelf Evan Williams Black Label, which we prefer over Four Roses Single-Barrel.

Besides, it’s a good bourbon with a unique mash bill, suitable for cocktails like Mint Julep [1].

3. Old Rip Van Winkle 10-Year

Close Up Image of Old Rip Van Winkle 10-Year

Average Price: Around $69.99/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 53.5% ABV

Nose: Vanilla, toffee, cherries

Palate: Oak, caramel, cinnamon

Star Rating: ★★★★☆

Why We Like It: This aged beauty is bottled as close to barrel proof, so expect a rich and velvety profile. We like how the flavor lingers, perfect for sipping neat.

If you want an upgrade from your usual high-proof Wild Turkey 101 or Knob Creek Whiskey, try this rare find providing complexity and depth, making it a cherished addition to any bourbon collection.

4. Old Forester 1920 Prohibition-Style Whiskey 

Man Holding Bottle of Old Forester 1920 Prohibition-Style Whiskey 

Average Price: Around $57.99/750ml (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 57.5% ABV

Nose: Dried fruits, caramel, spices

Palate: Bold, oak, cinnamon

Star Rating: ★★★★☆

Why We Like It: If the Old Forester 1910 expression is too bold for your palate due to the use of deeply charred oak barrels, try the Old Forester 1920.

This whiskey has bold flavors, but there’s balance, perfect for sipping neat.

5. Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon

Bottle of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon On a Table

Average Price: Around $51.99/750ml (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 45.2% ABV

Nose: Dark choco, vanilla, caramel

Palate: Toasted oak, spices

Star Rating: ★★★★☆

Why We Like It: Woodford Reserve Double Oaked takes bourbon [2] to another level with its unique double-barrel aging process in oak barrels.

This gives a rich and robust flavor profile perfect for slow sipping and savoring the complex layers of taste.

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6. Eagle Rare 10-Year

Bottles of Eagle Rare 10-Year

Average Price: Around $42.99/750ml (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 45% ABV

Nose: Honey, apple, oak

Palate: Toffee, vanilla, baking spice

Star Rating: ★★★★☆

Why We Like It: This 10-year bourbon whiskey from the Buffalo Trace Distillery is well-crafted and stands out for its approachable character.

It’s a great introduction to aged bourbons, providing a taste of the rich and complex flavors that come with time in oak barrels.

7. Willett Pot Still Reserve 94-Proof

Bottle of Willett Pot Still Reserve 94-Proof

Average Price: Around $49.99/750ml (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 47% ABV

Nose: Caramel, butterscotch, oak

Palate: Molasses, cherries, spices

Star Rating: ★★★★☆

Why We Like It: This isn’t just a must-have for its unique bottle design but for its distinctive flavor profile, perfect for sipping neat.

It’s a small-batch bourbon combining sweet and spicy notes, making it a standout choice for any mini bar.

But if you prefer a higher-proof whiskey, Johnny Drum Private Stock whiskey (50.5% ABV) is a nice alternative from the same distillery.

8. Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Man Drinking Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Average Price: Around $31.99/750ml (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 45% ABV

Nose: Brown sugar, toffee, vanilla

Palate: Caramel, spices, oak

Star Rating: ★★★☆☆

Why We Like It: Buffalo Trace is a favorite bourbon that provides great value for its price. It’s a versatile spirit, which you can sip neat, over ice, or in classic cocktails like Whiskey Sour and Old-Fashioned.

As a flagship bourbon of its distillery, like the Pappy Van Winkle, we like its well-balanced profile. It’s a crowd-pleaser alongside Angel’s Envy, finished in port wine barrels.

9. Maker’s Mark Bourbon

People Drinking Maker's Mark Bourbon

Average Price: Around $29.09/750ml (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 45% ABV

Nose: Vanilla, caramel, fruit

Palate: Honey, spices, oak

Star Rating: ★★★☆☆

Why We Like It: We like Maker’s Mark for its consistency and approachability. If you’re into wheated bourbon, it’s a great choice, providing a smooth and mellow experience.

“Sip, savor, and stock your bar with bourbon’s finest treasures.” – Liquor Laboratory

But if you’re into a high rye mash bill at an affordable price, Old Grand Dad Bonded from Jim Beam is a must-have.

10. Elijah Craig Small Batch Whiskey

Bottle of Elijah Craig Small Batch Whiskey

Average Price: Around $29.09/750ml (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 47% ABV

Nose: Caramel, molasses, oak

Palate: Spices, toffee, butterscotch

Star Rating: ★★★☆☆

Why We Like It: Elijah Craig SB perfectly balances quality and affordability. It’s a smooth-sipping whiskey, among other small batches, with a delightful mix of flavors.

This bottle won’t break the bank and will impress both seasoned bourbon drinkers and bourbon enthusiasts.

Alternatively, you can try Old Grand Dad as a budget-friendly option or Four Roses Small Batch for a softer profile.

Note: The star rating was determined based on a blind test, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. Each product was evaluated on its overall quality, flavor profile, complexity, smoothness, and overall enjoyment.

FAQs Related to What Bourbons Should I Have at My Bar?

What are must-have bourbons for your collection?

Must-have bourbons for your collection should include a mix of well-known classics and unique bottles, like Blanton’s Gold Edition, Buffalo Trace, and Maker’s Mark.

Are bourbons in your home bar a great investment?

Bourbons in your home bar can be a great investment, but it depends on your goals. While some bottled spirits appreciate value over time, the primary purpose of having bourbon in your home bar is to enjoy.

What’s the difference between bourbon and whiskey?

Bourbon is a type of whiskey that must meet specific legal requirements, including being made primarily from corn and aged in new charred oak barrels.

How should I store bourbon at home?

Keep your bourbon bottles upright in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures to maintain their flavor.

Do bourbons improve with age?

While bourbon does age in barrels, it doesn’t mature further once bottled. However, some enthusiasts believe that certain bourbons can benefit from additional bottle aging, while others prefer them fresh.

What’s the best way to drink bourbon?

It depends on personal preference. Many people enjoy sipping bourbon neat or on the rocks to appreciate its flavors fully. Others prefer bourbon in cocktails like Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, or Whiskey Sours.

On A Final Note

In the bourbon world, one bottle stands out as the top must-have for any home bar: Blanton’s Gold Edition straight bourbon for its exceptional quality, distinct flavor profile, and collector’s appeal.

But remember, the best bottle for your bar ultimately depends on your preferences. Explore different styles, ages, and brands to discover the best bourbon that truly resonates with your palate.


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