Sunday, July 7, 2024

Who Makes The Best Bourbon Whiskey

Double Eagle Very Rare Bourbon

How to Make the Best Whiskey Sour (2 ways!)

Courtesy of Buffalo Trace

The ornate crystal decanter is something to behold, but its whats inside the bottle that makes this rare offering from the Buffalo Trace Distillery so special. The 20-year-old bourbon is matured twice as long as the standard Eagle Rare, and even after two decades, what emerged from the barrel is a surprisingly smooth and balanced 90-proof spirit. Hints of vanilla, toasted oak and caramel lead to a finish marked by tobacco and leather notes. Only 299 of these bottles were produced, so be prepared to pay top dollar on the secondary market. And be sure to insist on the individually numbered letter of authenticity included with each bottle sold.

Very Old Fitzgerald 8 Year Old

Distilled in the early 1950s and bottled in the late 1950s to early 1960s, this bottle may be the hardest one to find on this list simply due to its date of origin. Bottled at 50% ABV, I recently saw this for an astronomical price of £4,000 on The Whisky Exchange, which wasn’t even the highest price I’ve seen on it. This is a must-have for any true American bourbon diehard collector.

Nate Ganapathi is on Instagram at @singlemaltdaily.

Parkers Heritage Collection Cask Strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

This whiskey was created in tribute to Heaven Hills longtime master distiller, Parker Beam. Beam himself personally selected the barrels that were used for the Heritage Collection Cask Strengths first edition, released in 2007. Beam, who passed away in January 2017, endeavored to make classic Kentucky bourbon. Theres no better example of stellar old-school hooch than this. Its full-bodied, brimming with dried fruit flavor and possessing ample oak and tannins. Originally priced at $80, a bottle can now go for several thousand dollars on the secondary market.

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A Detailed Rundown Of Our Favorite Bourbons Ryes Wheaters And Tennessee Whiskeys Ideal For Celebrating The Usa

Whiskey is not an American invention, but the best domestic iterations certainly have their own fanciful backstories and flavor profiles . Without spending too much time on a history lesson though we suggest quickly familiarizing yourself with the Whiskey Rebellion, Nearest Green and the Bottled-in-Bond Act we simply wanted to profile 50 American whiskeys we appreciate on this, our Independence Day weekend.

As with any list, there are omissions . We didnt have room for everything we like and Im positive we outright forgot a few. And one of the most popular whiskey brands were still not quite sure how to discuss. Then youve got our criteria for inclusion, which was admittedly pretty loose many of these hail from a few select distilleries and the larger brands they supply, but others are tiny and regional. And even though we went with 50 for thematic reasons, we did not include a whiskey from each state .

Still, we consider this a good overview of where American whiskey started, where it is today and where were headed with a drink in hand.

Michters 20 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon


When it comes to barrel aging, Michters master distiller Dan McKee and master of maturation Andrea Wilson consider 17 to 20 years to be the fork in the road point at which when certain barrels can achieve an extraordinary level of quality. The barrels McKee and Wilson selected for the 2019 edition of Michters 20 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon were indeed something special, as the whiskey is nothing short of, well, masterful. This complex spirit is possessed of an array of cascading flavors including black cherry, honeysuckle and pecans. At 114.2 proof, it is not for those with tender tastes. This bourbons got brawn, yet its no brute. Yes its potency grabs your attention, but its composure is what leaves a lasting impression.

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Michter’s 25 Year Rye

Michter’s seems to be finally hitting its stride as one of the most valuable whiskey brands in the world. After numerous appearances on the TV show Billions, as well as selling a cask of its coveted 10-year-old bourbon at a COVID-19 charity auction for an astronomical $210,000, the brand is starting to be viewed by collectors in a similar light as Macallan. Don’t believe me? A bottle of this delectable juice from 2014 just sold for $22,000 in California.

How Bourbon Is Made

Ill write this in laymans terms as, to be honest, I dont properly understand the process myself so I dont want to get too technical and write a load of inaccurate nonsense.

I reserve that for the rest of the website but I simply wont allow it here.

All types of whiskey/whiskey are made by the fermentation of different grains .

The predominant ingredient determines the type of whiskey it is.

The process is as follows:

  • The main ingredient for bourbon is corn and other grains are used in varying quantities. This mixture of grains is known as the mash bill.
  • The grains are then cooked to form the mash.
  • This is then mixed with set-back . This is known as Sour Mash and is a unique element in American whiskey.
  • The mash is then fermented to produce a transparent spirit .
  • The spirit is finally added to new charred oak barrels for the aging process. The barrel aging process is what gives bourbon both its color and most of its flavor.
  • FACT: To be called a bourbon the whiskey must be produced in the USA. It does not need to produced in Kentucky . Approximately 95% of bourbon is produced in Kentucky however.

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    Bourbons You Should Buy Before They Become Way More Expensive

    The bottles of whiskey experts think are going to balloon in value over time.

    Dusties old bottles of whiskey that havent been in production for years but still taste delicious are cool as hell. Look into them yourself and youll quickly see why. Old whiskey lasts forever in an unopened bottle, and lots of the old stuff before the Bourbon Boom really was delicious. Here is a history lesson in your mouth, that usually cost half what the good stuff does today . Once the last bottle of a discontinued whiskey is drunk, its gone.

    This might make you start thinking about what other bottles youre going to miss when theyre gone, or ones that will become prohibitively expensive and stripped from shelves. In the bourbon world, whiskey perceived as good quickly becomes too good. People start making noise about some delicious bottle , and suddenly everybody wants it. Bourbon drinking and fandom rolls on, and every day one new good bottle creeps toward becoming overhyped, overdrank, the market drained dry of it.

    Its enough to make you a little anxious, isnt it? It also makes you wonder what good stuff is out there that you can get now, before the horde buys it all up. We asked a trio of experts which bottles theyre stocking up on before its too late. Here are the bottles youll wish youd bought ten years from now.

    How To Test If A Bourbon Deserves A Place On Your Home Bar

    What Whiskey Makes The BEST Old Fashioned Cocktail?

    Theres only one way to test if a bourbon will be a long-time occupant of your home bar. You have to make cocktails with it. Shocking, I know.

    But there should be a method to your madness.

    The best way to test out bourbons is to be methodical about the bourbons and the cocktails you test them in. Heres what I do:

  • Pick 4 cocktails, ones that you know youll be making regularly. I use an old fashioned, a Manhattan, a whiskey sour, and a boulevardier.
  • Either buy a bottle, trade with someone who doesnt love it, or get a 375ml of the bourbon you want to try. Youll need about 7 to 8 ounces to make those four cocktails.
  • Make one cocktail an evening, or two, and taste test them with the bourbon. I dont suggest all four at once because after two itll be harder to make great cocktails as youll be tipsy. And your palate might be off because youve had two cocktails already.
  • If you love the bourbon in two or three of those cocktails, its a purchase to make for your home bar. If you love all four, better get a few bottles of that bourbon for your home bar.

    Remember: Your palate and preferences are your own. No one else can tell you what whiskey youre going to like, but they may be able to suggest ones you should try. Dont let anyone mansplain your bourbon selection to you.


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    The 17 Best New Bourbon And Whiskeys Of 2021

    The whiskey boom stops for no one. From fresh Booker’s Bourbon to whiskey made by podcasters, these are the best bottles new to 2021.

    Speculators and detractors have written of the dreaded whiskey bubble for close to a decade now. Are we ready to accept that American bourbon, whiskey and rye aren’t going anywhere? Last year, bourbon eclipsed $4 billion in sales, despite huge losses in emerging European markets, thanks to retaliatory tariffs stemming from airplane subsidies. If a trade war and a pandemic can’t stymie the aftershocks of the Bourbon Boom, what can? These are the best new American whiskeys I’ve tried in 2021.

    Best Kentucky Bourbon: Evan Williams Single Barrel

    Region: Kentucky | ABV: 43.3% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Cinnamon, Oak

    Each bottle of this Evan Williams bourbon lists barrel numbers, the date it entered the barrel, and the date of bottling. One of Heaven Hill Distilleryâs most-awarded whiskeys, this reasonably-priced single barrel is big, balanced, spicy and sweet, and enjoys a backbone of honey and citrus.

    âItâs straightforward, flavorful, not heavy-handed, and terrific neat,â says Jeff Moses, a Charleston-based spirits entrepreneur. âI like it best when I have it with a meal like a barbecue or a rotisserie chicken.â

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    Kings County Peated Bourbon 45%


    a peaty choice

    Although Kentucky is undoubtedly the home of bourbon, production of the spirit isnt confined to the county and, perhaps without the pressure to operate along traditional Kentucky lines, many of the new distilleries from elsewhere seem more inclined to do things differently.

    Kings County is a Brooklyn based distillery founded in 2010 that has branched out into new territory, successfully dabbling with a peated bourbon.

    Give it a sniff and it has the instant smell of sweet vanilla familiar to many bourbons, with the peat practically undetectable. Get your taste buds in on the action and that sweetness becomes more subdued, revealing dry leathery flavours and some bitter fruits among the toasted spices.

    This is clearly a very different kind of bourbon, but without reading peat on the label you might be hard pressed to fathom why: instead of the briney smoke associated with Scottish peated whisky, in this instance the peat seems to have provided some depth you normally associate with more aged spirits.

    A very enjoyable departure from the Kentucky norm.

    Kings County Bottled In Bond Straight Bourbon

    Because there

    For the most part, Bottled-In-Bond is a sign of trust between the distiller and the consumer that everything you see before you took place on a single location during one season. A merit-badge if you will, this certification of sorts ensures that youre consuming exactly whats outlined on the bottle. Gimmick-free in this regard, Kings County is just that, aged for four years, bottled at 100 proof, and distilled and aged on-site. So, if purity is your preference for bourbon, theres not a whole lot out there that can match the aesthetics and composition of this particular expression.

    Key Specs

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    Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage Straight Bourbon

    Each year, the Evan Williams master distiller selects barrels for that years vintage bottling, with each bottle marked with the date it was put into barrel, along with the year it was bottled. Naturally, every year, and indeed every barrel, is slightly different but this full-bodied bourbon tends to have flavours of toasty maple, vanilla and chargrilled sweetcorn with roasted almonds, earthy apple and enlivening spice.

    Available from:

    Best Overall: Henry Mckenna Single Barrel

    Region: Kentucky | ABV: 50% | Tasting Notes: Caramel, Honey, Vanilla

    From Heaven Hill Distillery, this Henry Mckenna bourbon was named “Best in Show” at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and with good reason. Aged in oak barrels, this bourbon is the only extra-aged bottled-in-bond single barrel bourbon for a smooth, high-quality taste.

    Xania Woodman, bar manager and lead bartender at O.P. Rockwell Cocktail Lounge & Music Hall, describes the 10-year-old bourbon as rich, buttery, “like butterscotch candy,” but with an appreciable bite. âIt just goes to show you,â she says, âthat an astronomical price doesn’t necessarily indicate actual quality.â

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    Four Roses Al Young 50th Anniversary

    I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Young at a tasting event in late 2017, and it comes as no surprise to see Four Roses celebrate the former legend’s 50th year at the distillery, which was also commemorated with a book. What started around $100 has been known to fetch as much as $2,000. Having tasted this a few times, I can tell you that it is pure deliciousness.

    Johnny Drum Private Stock Or Old Bardstown Bottled In Bond

    Whisky Discussion: Bourbon vs. Scotch

    Johnny Drum and Old Bardstown Bottled in Bond are both bourbons made by Willett Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. At 101 and 100 proof respectively, they are firmly in my favorite proof category. Johnny Drum has strong elements of cinnamon and baking spices, great caramel and vanilla notes. Its an easy one to sip and it makes killer Manhattans.

    Old Bardstown with its lower price point is a very good bourbon with a nice bite to it that stands up well in whiskey sours and old fashioneds. While not as well-rounded as some of the other bourbons on this list, its always on my bar for initial testing of new cocktail recipes. If a cocktail works out with Old Bardstown, but some of the flavor matches with the base spirit and the cocktail arent quite right, I can use another bourbon from this list to round things out and find a better match.

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    Heaven Hill Old Style Bourbon

    Average Price:$13

    The Whiskey:

    This is Heaven Hills other gateway bourbon. There are no frills involved. This is standard bourbon thats aged for three years before blending, proofing, and bottling.

    Tasting Notes:

    This is light, with a sense of cornmeal next to classic bourbon vanilla and butterscotch. That butterscotch sweetness tends to be the defining point as the corn and vanilla fade. The end has a bit of warm spice that works well with the corn syrup sweetness and vanilla.

    Bottom Line:

    This is one of those bottles that I dismissed for the longest time. Then I tried it in a blind tasting and it popped. Look, its not a life-changing bourbon. Its a really solid mixing bourbon with real nuance for highballs, and thats enough at this price point.

    The 19 Best Bourbons To Drink In 2021

    Everything you ever wanted to know about Americas favorite brown spirit, including, of course, the best bottles you can actually buy.

    Bourbon, the Great American Spirit, is not as simple as one might think. Yes, its definition is writ in but a few sentences on the holy stone of Federal Decree: It must be made in the United States its grain bill must include at least 51 percent corn it must be produced at not more than 80 percent alcohol and stored in charred new oak containers at no more than 62.5 percent . And yes, it is a blue-collar spirit, made by thirsty farmers, for thirsty farmers. But underneath these fundamentals swims a deep sea of factors additional rules and regulations, hype machines and deceptive marketing, false myths and a boom that began in 2008 and is still going strong today that make bourbon more complex than it seems. Sour mash and Bottled-in-Bond, non-distiller-producers and high-ryes. Wheres the thirsty modern man, farmer or otherwise, to begin?

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    Best Barrel Strength: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

    Region: Kentucky | ABV: 60-65% | Tasting Notes: Toast, Apple, Vanilla

    The 12-year-old Elijah Craig is one of McKayâs favorite. âItâs just delicious, and you donât need to pour very much,” he says. Woodman is also a fan, noting, âItâs my go-to at work for its versatility and its affordability.” She adds, “It’s an accessible bourbon that I can use in any bourbon recipe.”

    Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight

    The 8 Best High Proof Bourbon Whiskeys

    Easygoing and approachable, this bottling proves bourbon can have character without being in your face. The aromas start off floral and slightly fruity, followed by sweet candy notes. The palate is robust and offers a well-rounded mix of dried fruit, baking spices, oak, and black pepper notes. Average price: $30.

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    Pappy Van Winkle 25 Decanter

    I know that it comes as no surprise that a PVW bottle would be on anyone’s list, but there is a vast difference between this and other PVW bottles out there, even the 23-year-old. This whiskey was barreled in 1989 and fully aged at the now-closed Stitzel-Weller distillery. This is important to note because as values of bottles go, juice from SW is more valuable than the current product, which is made at Buffalo Trace. The bottle comes in a limited-edition crystal decanter that was numbered out of just 710 bottles, and each number is hand-etched into the bottle. Originally retailing for $1,800, this bottle is on the market for a minimum of $27,000, with some prices as high as $36,000. It’s easily one of the most expensive bourbons out there.

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