Henry Mckenna Single Barrel
While this next bottle may be bourbon, it has its roots in Irish whiskey. The name comes from the Irish immigrant, Henry McKenna, who adapted his family’s traditional whiskey recipe to work with grains grown in Kentucky .
Henry McKenna Single Barrel is Bottled-in-Bond, which means that the bottle meets strict mandates on aging and bottling. This dictates that the bottle’s contents must have been aged for a minimum of four years, was bottled at exactly 100 proof, and was created by just one distiller at one distillery, in one season. Finally, Bottled-in-Bond bourbons must have been prepared in a bonded warehouse .
While this designation alone doesn’t make this bourbon all that unique, the awards it’s won, and its affordable price, definitely do. Henry McKenna Single Barrel was named the Best Single Barrel Bourbon up to 10 years in the SF World Spirits Competition in 2021 and 2019. It was also named the Best in Show Whiskey and Best Bourbon at the same competition in 2019.
What Separates Bourbon From Other Whiskies
All bourbons are whisky, but not all whiskeys are bourbon. Hows that for an explanation?
Need more? Here it is:
- Bourbon can be produced anywhere in the U.S., provided it meets the criteria. However, 95% of bourbon comes from Kentucky, and 100% of the best bourbons are Kentucky-made.
- Bourbon is made using a mash bill that is at least 51% corn . The mash must be distilled at under 160 proof , must not contain any additives, and must be stored in charred new oak barrels at under 125 proof .
- To be labeled straight bourbon, it must be aged in barrels for at least two years. Though there is no aging requirement for bourbons, any bourbon aged for less than four years must declare it on the label.
- Bourbon must be aged for at least three years for it to be recognized as a whiskey in the European Union.
- Bottled bourbon must be at least 80 proof .
Pretty clear definitions of what separates the bourbon-making process from other whiskies.
The real question, though, is why should you drink bourbon instead of Scotch, Canadian whisky, Irish whisky, or any other of the many whiskies on the market?
Makers Mark Private Select Barrel Pick $75
Confession: Im not a huge fan of Makers , but this? Its got spice for days and a lovely lingering finish. This is a thoughtful bourbon you want to sit and sip and ponder.
Another barrel pick from Old Town Liquors, this 111.2-proof spirit was fine-tuned by adding seared finishing staves theyre the narrow oak pieces that make up the barrels to the bourbon for a second aging. These staves have distinct flavor profiles, with 1,001 possible combinations, and Old Town opted for three seared French cuvée and seven roasted French mocha staves. The result is definitely not your mothers Makers Mark.
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Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co Single Barrel Rye Whiskey
120 N 10th St, Louisville kentuckypeerless.com/
Kentucky Peerless Single Barrel Rye Whiskey and Single Barrel Bourbon generally yield about 180-200 bottles. When these bottles are gone, they’re then replaced by another single-barrel product of a different name based on the flavor profile. The barrel names are colorful and based on the natural flavors in the bourbon. Some recent names include Autumn Orchard, Grapefruit Spritz, Barrel-Aged Boulevardier, Beekeeper and Farmer’s Market. The distillery also has a rye whiskey that is finished in an absinthe barrel , which is exclusively sold at the distillery.
Sweetens Cove 2021 Tennessee Bourbon
In case you were unaware, the Sweetens Cove name is an homage to an almost mythical 9-hole golf course in Tennessees Sequatchie Valley, where players normally knock back a shot of whiskey before their first swing.
Last year Sweetens Cove launched with a highly lauded 100-barrel stash of exquisite 13-year old bourbon expertly blended by Kentuckys first female Master Distiller since Prohibition, Marianne Eaves .
For the 2021 edition Eaves blends 4-, 6- and 16-year juice for what shes dubbing the Pappy Van Winkle of Tennessee, as they expand Sweetens Coves reach from just Georgia and Tennessee to a handful of other states.
Allegedly Eaves sampled more than 260 barrels to trim down to three different ages sourced from different locations, and blended them to craft a bourbon with notes of graham crackers, honey and brown sugar. $225 / 56.9% ABV
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The Best Traditional American Bourbons And Whiskeys Of 2021
Toast 2022 with a pour from one of these incredible American whiskeys.
But its not just all about revolutionary flavor profiles, unique mash bills and evolutions in barrel aging how about simple bourbons and straight whiskies? Theres no reason to ignore the basic foundation of American distilling traditions, is there.
So here below for our final chapter in this years best new American whiskies weve collected our favorite bottles in the world of classic whiskies and bourbons from widely available small batch wonders to aged browns fetching ten-times their SRPs, these are the best traditional whiskies of 2021.
Best Kentucky Bourbons Of All Time Ranked
The state of Kentucky knows bourbon: it’s home to 95 percent of the world’s bourbon production . While there are just 20 working bourbon distilleries throughout the state today, they produce more than 200 different brands of bourbon in total, some of which feature dozens of individual selections .
With so many different types of bourbon to choose from, it can be difficult to sort the good from the great and the bad from the worse. Bourbon bottles vary widely in price, too, which further complicates things. As any bourbon aficionado will tell you, cheap bourbon isn’t always synonymous with bad bourbon. And just because an expensive bottle of bourbon breaks the bank, that doesn’t make it great.
Whether you’re looking to expand your bourbon palate or already love this Kentucky beverage and want to find your new favorite, keep reading. We’re bringing you the 16 best Kentucky bourbons of all time, ranked.
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Russells Reserve Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey $85
Whats fun about the barrel picks program at the 21c Museum Hotel is that you can taste order a pour at the bar before you buy the bottle . In fact, that shop may be your best bet for one-stop single-barrel selections.
My top pick? This 110-proof, nearly 10-year-old bourbon with great mouthfeel and a long, cinnamon toasty finish from Russells Reserve. Kind of the grown-up, sophisticated sibling of Wild Turkey, this whole line is intriguing in that they use the same mash bill for every product from the widely available Wild Turkey 81 proof on up through special releases. The difference is all in the aging how long and where the barrel rests as it imparts its goodness into the juice.
Wl Weller Antique 107
Originally, there were three releases in the W.L. Weller line: W.L. Weller Special Reserve, W.L. Weller 12 Year, and W.L. Weller Antique 107 . In 2018 and 2019, two more bourbons joined the list, including W.L. Weller C.Y.P.B. and W.L. Weller Full Proof.
One of the things that makes the line of W.L. Weller bourbons even more special is that they are rumored to be produced using the same mashbill as the popular Old Rip Van Winkle line of bourbons. While secrecy at the distillery has kept the truth under wraps, enthusiasts rave that the flavor profiles and proofs mirror bourbons from the Van Winkle line. If true, then Weller is a more affordable option for those looking for high-end bourbon.
W.L. Weller Antique 107, sometimes known as OWA for “Old Weller Antique,” earns high scores for its profile, which features cinnamon spice and oak with hints of vanilla and caramel. Its finish is described as spicy and oaky .
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Mgp Of Indiana/ross & Squibb Lawrenceburg Indiana
Ross & Squibb Distillery states that it’s been around since 1847, but that’s a slight exaggeration. Situated on a mile-long campus near the Ohio River, the property owned by MGP of Indiana is built where the town’s first distilleries stood beginning in 1847. The property has changed hands several times in the last 175 years, and only starting in the fall of 2021 did it take on the moniker Ross & Squibb Distillery.
MGP has owned the operation since 2013, and it’s best known in the bourbon industry for supplying high-quality bourbons to craft distilleries to blend and sell under their own label. MGP doesn’t share who its clients are due to non-disclosure agreements, but some distilleries readily advertise that they use MGP bourbon. Though master distiller Ian Stirsman wouldn’t give us numbers, he said MGP is one of the four largest bourbon producers in the world.
MGP doesn’t offer public tours, and its campus is not open to the public. Stirsman showed us different parts of the whiskey-making process, from the grain coming off the trucks and the hammer mill breaking the grain down for cooking to the fermenters and the stills. We also got to look around one of the vast warehouses where bourbon barrels are stored to age, called a rickhouse.
The best bourbons and whiskeys
Stirsman’s favorite Ross & Squibb bourbon is the Remus Repeal Reserve Series V. Unfortunately, I didn’t get samples of it before this was published.
Heavens Door Straight Bourbon Whiskey
This whiskey also qualifies as a celebrity brand, with the venerable presence of Bob Dylan as the force behind the concept. He also provides the inspiration for the bottle design, which is a rendition of iron gates he crafted at his metal workshop. Dylan worked with Marc Bushala, one of the founders of Angels Envy, to put the brand together with three core expressions to choose from, including a Tennessee straight bourbon aged for a minimum of six years and sourced from an undisclosed distillery. The mash bill is said to consist of 70 percent corn, with the remaining grains presumably a blend of rye and malt. Theres also a limited-release 10-year-old Tennessee bourbon, which builds on the palate of the original by adding layers of caramel, char and vanilla. The Heavens Door distillery and Center for the Arts is set to open in Nashville this year, where whiskey will be produced and live performances will take place once its safe to do so.
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Bourbons You Can Only Buy In Kentucky
No matter how booming the craft bourbon business is around the country, Kentucky is still king and a place all whiskey lovers need to visit. While youre there for Derby celebrations, visiting the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, or just passing through on business, be sure to bring a suitcase and make a stop at a few Kentucky liquor stores.
The reason they have these tasty, value bottles while the folks in Wisconsin or Florida dont is simple: theres not much of it, and distilleries dont bother shipping when they can sell it all a stones throw from home. Here are some of our favorites that are either sold only in Kentucky, or really only findable in Kentucky, to get you started.
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Four Roses Single Barrel Cask Strength
Price Range: $50-$70
Tasting Notes: Four Roses Single Barrel Cask Strength is a bourbon whiskey with a minimum age of seven years. The brand has high rye mash bill content, and like most bourbons, its tasting notes include caramel, dark chocolate, vanilla, and oak. The whiskey is smooth with a long finish, and it is best enjoyed neat or on the rocks.
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Distillery 291 Bad Guy
You could name nearly any of Distillery 291 founder Michael Myers whiskies here, but well go with this years batch of 291 Bad Guy. Only Myers third recipe, 291 Bad Guy is a wheated four-grain bourbon created as an experiment back in 2011 packing a solid Rocky Mountain right hook loaded with flavors.
Credit not only the unique mash but also Meyers habit of throwing Aspen staves into his oak barrels for additional wood notes. For a villain, this Bad Guy gives more than he takes offering a luxurious mouthfeel and washes of caramel and brown sugar. $108 / 57.8% ABV
Blue Run 13 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Blue Run may sound like the name of a winning Kentucky Derby horse, but its one of the industrys newer labels that everyone is searching for, Davis points out. Launched in October 2020, Blue Run has taken this industry by storm with a 13-year release selected by the highly respected master distiller Jim Rutledge. Put this on your radar as a bourbon company to watch!
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Grand Teton Private Stock Straight Corn Whiskey
Founded in 2011 under the looming peaks of the Grand Teton, the eponymous distillery celebrates its 10-year anniversary with the first in their Private Stock series: a Straight Whiskey distilled from 100% local Idaho corn.
Located some 6,500-feet in elevation the Grand Teton distillery also crafts vodka with Idaho potatoes, but for this special release theyve hand-picked only nine barrels from the first whiskey they ever milled and distilled.
Aged now for six-and-a-half years in used American white oak Colters Run bourbon barrels, head distiller John Boczar took their longest-aged spirit, proofed it down to 50% ABV with pure mountain water, and bottled it in hand-numbered glass . $80 / 50% ABV
Best Bourbons You Can Only Get In Kentucky
Last Updated on September 9, 2022 by Lydia Martin
As the name suggests, Kentucky is the only place where you can get your hands on true Kentucky bourbon. In fact, 95% of the worlds bourbon supply comes from Kentucky.
Heres the top list of bourbons you can only get in Kentucky that will not disappoint you.
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The Best Bourbons For Kentucky Derby Seasonand Beyond
From left: Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey Rare Breed, Blue Run bourbon, W.B Saffell, Maker’s Mark 46, … Shenk’s, Old Forester 1910, Michter’s 10-Year Bourbon, Russell’s Reserve 10-Year, Larceny Barrel Proof, Knob Creek 9-Year
Sometime around Easter, my friends questions start to trickle in: Are there any new bourbons this year for the Kentucky Derby? Are there any special limited-release bottles to consider? And my favoriteare there good value buys that I should be thinking about?
In short: Yes, yes, and obviously yes.
And this year is no different. Everyone wants to know what they ought to be drinking while they tune in to watch the 147th Run for the Roses, which is finally pushing through on its traditional date of the first Saturday in May, after the pandemic gave them no choice but to postpone last year’s festivities to Septemberthe first time the highly anticipated event has been deferred since the mid-1940s.
And so to better service these queries without my own personal bias, I reached out to Samara Davis, the founder of Black Bourbon Society, which she started in 2016 as way to elevate the importance of diversity and inclusion in a predominantly white industry by hosting curated informative tastings and educational trips. And shes doing one helluva killer jobbecause shes the real deal.
Samara Davis is the founder of Atlanta-based Black Bourbon Society, which both an educational and … experiential community.
Sweetens Cove Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey
This is a new Tennessee whiskey release that is also a sports celebrity endeavor inspired by drinking on the golf links. Peyton Manning, Andy Roddick and Jim Nantz are all behind the brand and they hired Marianne Eaves, who previously worked for Brown-Forman and Castle & Key, to blend the whiskey. Its a sourced bourbon aged for 13 years and bottled at cask strength of 101.4 proof. This is an expensive bottle, priced at $200, so youre certainly paying a premium here for the names behind it as you can find similar whiskey available for less. But its a deep, rich dram with big flavors on the palate, appropriately oaky given its age. Eaves used just 100 barrels for this release, setting aside four of them as single barrel expressions. Look for a new expression from Sweetens Cove this April, as well as broader distribution and a larger release than the original 14,000-bottle launch.
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Wild Turkey Masters Keep One
The sixth limited-edition release in the Masters Keep series aims to pay tribute to the generational talent and skill in the Russell familys legacy. Together Master Distiller Eddie Russell and his father, the previous MD Jimmy who led the foundational American distillery through the dark 80s that claimed numerous whiskey makers, share over a century of distilling experience.
For this edition they combined mid-aged bourbons which are the latter Russells preference with the complexities that can be found in older bourbons, which are Eddies preference. So Eddie hand-picked a 14-year-old whiskey to blend with younger barrels preferred by Jimmy and then marry them in specially toasted and charred new oak barrels. Finally, they were laid to rest in one of Eddies favorite timber rickhouses.
Every year one of Wild Turkeys most coveted releases, Masters Keep One, keeps the tradition flowing that started in 2015 with the original Masters Keep 17-Year Old. $600 / 50.5% ABV