In 1964, Congress declared bourbon the only native spirit of the United States. But in the past decade, the bourbon industry has exploded. While distillers have done their best to keep up with demand and keep the release calendar full, it's become more difficult to make sense of what's worth drinking. We've sampled bourbons new and old, from every brand in Kentucky, along with the craft upstarts from outside the Bluegrass state. We've visited every distillery, chosen single barrels, and spoken with several Master Distillers — from the industry's senior statesman Jimmy Russell to more recently elevated blending guru Brent Elliot at Four Roses. And now, we're finally ready to recommend the best bourbons in existence.
Last Updated on September 20, 2018.
If you like to have a pour on more than just special occasions, it's safe to assume what you reach for is a little more modest than an allocated bottle that cost hundreds of dollars. The following bourbons are some of the best you can buy without breaking your budget or your patience trying to track them down.
The supply doesn't meet the demand for many bourbon releases, and nowadays that trend goes far beyond the Pappy Van Winkle line. If you're ready to dip your toes into the world of the bourbon secondary market and willing to pay more (sometimes much more) than retail prices, here are a few bottles you should prioritize.
There are tough to find collectible bourbons that are re-released annually, and then there are the bourbon grails that will never be made again. The following are part of that legendary group, and the few that still exist unopened are in a class all by themselves.
Even though over 95% of the bourbon on store shelves today is made in Kentucky, there are several areas of the country making some promising stuff. These bourbons might not be getting the credit they deserve yet but are on their way to standing alongside some of the household names with pride.
If you take the corn in a bourbon mash bill and bring it under 51% while upping the rye to the dominant grain, you get Rye Whiskey. The recipe swap raises the level of spice and takes the sweetness down a notch. Rye was the dominant American spirit all the way up until Prohibition, and is in the midst of a big comeback in the past decade spurred by the craft cocktail culture and continued with excellent releases like these.