May 8, 2021
Bourbon is arguably the most iconic of the many popular American whiskey styles, though Tennessee whiskey gives it a run for its money. Made primarily with corn (bourbon mash, by law, has to contain at least 51% corn) and aged in charred oak barrels, bourbon is sweeter than many other whiskey styles (especially Scotch), though it’s not without its savory elements.
Looking to stock up on the best bourbon you can buy? We’ve collected eight great picks available for quick delivery right to your door.
Best bourbon for an old fashioned
Flavor profile: Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is exceptionally sweet, featuring notes of caramel, vanilla and toffee.
Why we like it: Despite its low price, Buffalo Trace bourbon has garnered acclaim throughout the whiskey community for its smooth, sweet flavor, which is effortlessly enjoyable whether you’re drinking it neat or mixing up an old fashioned. That same flavor makes it an especially good bourbon for beginners.
How to drink: Sip it neat to experience its authentic flavor, or mix it into your favorite whiskey cocktail.
Best bourbons under $50
Flavor profile: This small-batch straight bourbon delivers a smooth, fruity, caramel flavor when it first touches the tongue, then finishes with a pepper-esque spiciness, adding a bit of complexity.
Why we like it: The multiple-award-winning E.H. Taylor, Jr. Small-Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon serves up a full, complex flavor at an impressively low price point.
How to drink: This bourbon is delicious neat, though it’s another great pick for bourbon-based cocktails.
Flavor profile: Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon 9-Year balances clear notes of vanilla and caramel with a distinct oakiness. It finishes with a warm spice that contrasts well with its sweeter characteristics.
Why we like it: A small-batch classic, this 9-year-old bourbon is known for its versatility and the value it delivers for its price. It’s often considered both a liquor cabinet must-have and another great bourbon for beginners.
How to drink: Pour a glass and sip neat, or whip up a cocktail.
Best bourbons under $100
Flavor profile: The sharp contrast between its light nose (which features soft notes of vanilla) and its full-bodied, fruity flavor makes this high-rye bourbon a touch more interesting than many similar options.
Why we like it: This Four Roses small-batch bourbon has been winning awards since 2008, and it’s clear why. Its complex flavor is a big win for the price point, which makes it a wise option if you’re ready to move on from more beginner-friendly selections.
How to drink: Four Roses recommends you drink this bourbon straight up (shaken or stirred with ice, but poured without it) or on the rocks.
Flavor profile: Wild Turkey’s Rare Breed Bourbon is big on vanilla and butterscotch notes. It’s tinged with orange and tobacco, which rounds out the bourbon’s palate well before giving way to a smooth finish with a touch of spice on the tail end.
Why we like it: Another award winner, Wild Turkey is a high-proof bourbon that masks its ABV quite well through its smooth, light flavors.
How to drink: Drink it on the rocks, or pour it and let it sit for a few minutes before sipping. This bourbon also works well in spiked eggnog for a festive pick-me-up.
Flavor profile: Woodford Reserve Double Oaked is made by aging the distillery’s Distiller’s Select bourbon in a second barrel that’s “deeply toasted before a light charring.” Surprisingly, however, its oaky notes remain subtle, and the extra aging instead highlights the bourbon’s rich vanilla and fruity flavors.
Why we like it: If you’re after something that’s sweet and approachable, yet more refined than bottom-shelf bourbon brands, it doesn’t get much better than Woodford Reserve Double Oaked.
How to drink: Enjoy this sipper neat.
Flavor profile: Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon features prominent caramel notes with a touch of orange and rye spice. Through the finish, it remains slightly spicy, with notes of brown sugar and a lingering oakiness.
Why we like it: Aside from the fact that it’s shockingly high-quality for its price, Blanton’s is a piece of whiskey history—it’s the first single barrel bourbon ever sold commercially, and it deserves every ounce of the hype.
How to drink: Try it neat, on the rocks or with a few drops of water.
Flavor profile: Booker’s releases several small batches of bourbon per year, and each batch showcases its own unique flavor profile. You can generally expect a sugary-sweet palate accompanied by notes of vanilla and wood.
Why we like it: Booker’s is a barrel-proof (used interchangeably with “barrel-strength” or “cask-strength”) bourbon, which means it’s diluted minimally in order to keep the bottle’s proof (128.5, in this case) as close to that of the barrel as possible. This makes it a lot stronger than many bourbons, and it’s a bit more challenging (in the fun way) than many lower-proof picks as a result.
How to drink: Add a splash of water if you’re wary of this bourbon’s high proof. Drink it neat if you’re not.