Best Bourbon – Audio

It’s a new year, so we’re ready for a new lineup of the best bourbons in the market. While the “best” bourbon will come down to personal preferences and dozens of other factors, our list can help steer you toward universally enjoyed bourbon.

What is the Best Bourbon?

The best bourbon can vary depending on personal taste preferences, availability, and the latest releases from distilleries. Some popular options in recent years have included brands like Pappy Van Winkle, Blanton’s, Four Roses Limited Edition releases, and Buffalo Trace Antique Collection bottles. 

Charles Goodnight Bourbon bottle with tasting notes.
Best Bourbon on the Market – What is the Best Bourbon

According to the 2024 London Spirits Competition, the best straight bourbon of the year is the Charles Goodnight Bourbon, produced by Foley Family Wines. 

However, the “best” bourbon can be pretty subjective and may differ based on individual preferences for flavor profiles, age, and rarity. It’s always best to explore different options and attend tastings or consult reviews from trusted sources to find what suits your palate best.

What Are the Five Best Bourbons?

While the best bourbon is the Charles Goodnight Bourbon, these five bottles claim the top spot for best bourbons worldwide.

Infographic of top bourbon brands 2024 with tasting notes.
Best Bourbon on the Market – What Are the Five Best Bourbons

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve

This highly sought-after bourbon is renowned for its rich flavor profile, complexity, and rarity. Collectors and bourbon aficionados coveted bottles from the Pappy Van Winkle range, particularly the 15, 20, and 23-year-old expressions.

William Larue Weller

Part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, William Larue Weller is a wheated bourbon known for its full-bodied flavor, smoothness, and high proof. It consistently receives top ratings from whiskey enthusiasts.

George T. Stagg

Another Buffalo Trace Antique Collection release, George T. Stagg is a powerhouse bourbon known for its bold flavors, high alcohol content, and complexity. It’s often considered one of the finest barrel-proof bourbons available.

Four Roses Limited Edition

Four Roses releases a limited edition small-batch bourbon each year that showcases the distillery’s skillful blending techniques. These releases typically receive high praise for their balance, depth of flavor, and complexity.

Blanton’s Single Barrel

Blanton’s is credited with popularizing the concept of single-barrel bourbon, and its flagship bottling remains a favorite among bourbon enthusiasts. Blanton’s is a staple in many whiskey collections because it is known for its smoothness, balanced flavor profile, and iconic horse-shaped stopper.

What is the Most Popular Bourbon?

The top-rated and most popular bourbon in 2024 is Heaven Hill Heritage Collection 18-Year-Old. Because of how long it’s aged, this bourbon develops complex flavors and aromas, namely caramels, vanillas, oaks, and spices. 

It is remarkably smooth, as the long aging process creates a velvety texture and seamless integration of flavors. Like most long-aged bourbons, this Heaven’s Hill variant is limited and sought-after by collectors.

What is the Best-Selling Bourbon?

Drinks International said Maker’s Mark was the best-selling bourbon in 2023. While Maker’s Mark’s revenue and sales data aren’t publicly available, it doesn’t surprise us that their products continue to reign supreme in the bourbon market. 

Maker’s Mark has maintained a reputation for consistently producing high-quality bourbon. The brand adheres to traditional production methods and a distinctive wheat mash bill, creating a smooth and flavorful whiskey that appeals to a broad range of palates.

In addition, Maker’s Mark appeals to seasoned whiskey enthusiasts and newcomers alike thanks to its approachable flavor profile. Finally, it’s widely available in markets worldwide, making it highly accessible to consumers.

What is the Best Bourbon Under $50?

Buffalo Trace Bourbon remains the best bourbon under $50. This famous bourbon is known for its smoothness, versatility, and balanced flavor profile, featuring caramel, vanilla, and oak notes. It’s often considered one of the best values in bourbon under $50.

What is the Best Luxury Bourbon?

Michter’s 10-year Bourbon is a highly regarded expression from Michter’s Distillery, known for its exceptional quality and craftsmanship. Depending on where you shop, a bottle of this luxury bourbon costs between $150 and $180. 

What is the Best Bourbon for Mixing?

While professionals typically prefer bourbon neat, casual drinkers might be interested in mixing them with drinks like soda, ginger ale, or juice. Bourbons with balanced flavor profiles and versatility are best for mixing into cocktails. These options include the following.

Guide to top mixing bourbons with flavor profiles.
Best Bourbon on the Market – What is the Best Bourbon for Mixing

Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Buffalo Trace is a versatile bourbon with a smooth and approachable flavor profile, making it well-suited for a wide range of cocktails. Its notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak complement various mixers and ingredients, making it a popular choice for classics like the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and Whiskey Sour.

Evan Williams Bourbon

Evan Williams is a budget-friendly bourbon that offers good value for mixing. Its straightforward flavor profile, featuring notes of caramel and oak, makes it a reliable choice for cocktails like the Bourbon Smash, Mint Julep, and Bourbon Buck.

Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon

Wild Turkey 101 is a higher-proof bourbon with a bold and spicy flavor profile that can hold its own in mixed drinks. Its intense caramel, vanilla, and spice flavors add depth and complexity to cocktails like the Kentucky Mule, Old Fashioned, and Bourbon Sour.

What is the Best Strong Bourbon?

Connoisseurs and collectors typically prefer strong or high-proof bourbons, which provide bold textures and fun flavors. Some of the best strong bourbons include the following.

Stagg Jr

Produced by Buffalo Trace Distillery, Stagg Jr. is a barrel-proof bourbon that typically boasts an alcohol by volume (ABV) of around 60-70%. It offers a robust flavor profile with notes of caramel, dark chocolate, and spice, making it a favorite among fans of high-proof bourbon.

Booker’s Bourbon

Booker’s Bourbon is another barrel-proof bourbon released by Jim Beam, typically ranging from 60-65% ABV. Known for its full-bodied flavor profile and deep complexity, Booker’s offers notes of vanilla, caramel, and toasted oak with a long and satisfying finish.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed

Wild Turkey Rare Breed is a blend of high-proof bourbons from Wild Turkey Distillery, often bottled at around 110 proof (55% ABV). This bourbon offers a bold and spicy flavor profile with hints of honey, citrus, and leather, making it a favorite among fans of powerful whiskey.

What is the Best Blended Bourbon?

One widely acclaimed blended bourbon is the Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon. This brand combines high-quality bourbons with different yeast strains and mash bills, resulting in a harmonious blend with layers of flavors carefully selected by the master distiller at Four Roses Distillery.

With caramel, vanilla, spice, and fruit notes, Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon offers a smooth and enjoyable drinking experience that appeals to a wide range of bourbon enthusiasts. Its consistency, craftsmanship, and approachable price point make it a favorite among both newcomers to bourbon and seasoned whiskey connoisseurs alike.

What is Bourbon Made Of?

What bourbon is made from may vary, but it typically contains a mixture of grains known as the mash bill, which is at least 51% corn. The remaining portion of the mash bill consists of other grains, such as rye, barley, or wheat, which contribute to the flavor profile and character of the final whiskey. Distilleries often add rye to impart spicy and robust flavors, while wheat can lend a softer and smoother texture to the bourbon. They use barley sparingly, as it is a source of enzymes for converting starches into fermentable sugars during mashing.

After the grains are combined, they undergo mashing, where they are ground into a coarse powder and mixed with water. This mixture is heated to extract sugars from the grains, creating a sweet liquid known as the “mash.” Yeast is added to the mash, initiating fermentation, which converts into alcohol. Once fermentation occurs, the resulting liquid, known as “distiller’s beer,” is distilled in copper stills to concentrate the alcohol content. The distilled spirit is then aged in charred oak, developing its characteristic flavors, colors, and aromas over time before being bottled as bourbon.

Where is the Best Bourbon Made?

Bourbon is primarily produced in the United States, specifically in Kentucky, known as the heartland of bourbon production. Kentucky’s unique climate and limestone-rich water supply provide optimal conditions for aging bourbon and impart distinctive flavors to the whiskey. Additionally, Kentucky boasts a rich history and tradition of bourbon distillation, with many iconic bourbon brands and historic distilleries calling the state home.

Kentucky silhouette highlighting best bourbon production.
Best Bourbon on the Market – Where is the Best Bourbon Made

While Kentucky holds a special place in bourbon production, other states in the U.S., such as Tennessee, Indiana, and Texas, also produce bourbon. Each region may have its microclimates, water sources, and production methods, leading to variations in flavor profiles and characteristics among bourbons produced outside of Kentucky.

How to Drink Bourbon

If you want to learn how to drink bourbon, you must savor it slowly and mindfully. Start by selecting a high-quality bourbon that suits your taste preferences. Pour a moderate amount into a glass, typically a Glencairn or Old Fashioned glass, to allow the whiskey’s aromas to concentrate. Take a moment to observe the bourbon’s color and clarity, noting any hints of amber or golden hues. Next, gently swirl the glass to release the whiskey’s aromas, bringing the glass to your nose to inhale deeply. Notice the complex bouquet of aromas, which may include caramel, vanilla, oak, spice, and fruit notes.

Man demonstrates steps to enjoy bourbon properly.
Best Bourbon on the Market – How to Drink Bourbon

When tasting bourbon, take a small sip and let it coat your entire palate. Allow the whiskey to linger on your tongue, exploring its various flavors and nuances. Note any initial sweetness followed by layers of complexity, including oak, spice, and subtle fruitiness. Feel the whiskey’s texture and mouthfeel, observing its smoothness and viscosity. Finally, swallow slowly, appreciating the lingering finish and aftertaste. Whether enjoyed neat, with a splash of water, or in a classic cocktail, drinking bourbon is a sensory experience best enjoyed with patience, curiosity, and an open mind.

What is the Best Place to Buy Bourbon?

There are many places to buy bourbon. You can choose according to availability, selection, and price. 

Guide to buying bourbon: stores, online, auctions, gifts, bars.
Best Bourbon on the Market – Where is the Best Place to Buy Bourbon

Specialized Liquor Stores

Many liquor stores specialize in whiskey and bourbon, offering various brands, expressions, and limited releases. These stores often hire knowledgeable staff who can provide recommendations and guidance based on your preferences.

Online Retailers

Online retailers provide convenient access to various bourbons, including rare and limited editions. Websites like ReserveBar, Drizly, and Caskers offer extensive selections and deliver straight to your doorstep in many locations.

Bourbon Auctions

Whiskey auctions can be valuable for collectors seeking rare or hard-to-find bourbons. Platforms like Whisky Auctioneer and Bonhams regularly host auctions featuring sought-after bourbons, allowing enthusiasts to bid on unique bottles worldwide.

Distillery Gift Shops

Visiting bourbon distilleries and their on-site gift shops can be an excellent way to purchase bourbon directly from the source. Distillery gift shops often offer exclusive releases, distillery-only bottlings, and unique merchandise that may not be available elsewhere.

Specialty Bourbon Bars and Restaurants

Some upscale bars and restaurants specialize in bourbon and offer extensive whiskey lists featuring rare and hard-to-find bottles. These establishments may also sell bottles for retail purchase, providing an opportunity to explore new bourbons while enjoying a drink.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you drink bourbon neat or with mixers?

Whether you drink bourbon neat or with mixers depends on your preferences. Drinking bourbon straight allows you to appreciate the flavors and aromas fully—it’s an ideal way to enjoy high-quality bourbon. On the other hand, mixing bourbon with other ingredients like water, ice, soda, or juice can complement the bourbon’s flavors and make it more approachable for bourbon rookies.

What is the best bourbon to try for beginners?

Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Bourbon presents an ideal choice for bourbon newcomers seeking an exceptional introductory bottle. This esteemed spirit undergoes maturation in well-seasoned casks with pronounced oak influence. Its flavor profile marries sweetness with subtle oak undertones, as creamy vanilla notes intertwine with delicate hints of citrus.

Regarded as one of the world’s most esteemed bourbons, Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Bourbon is an excellent option for beginners due to its accessible yet nuanced flavor profile. Beyond its foundational tastes, this bourbon boasts nuances of luscious fruitiness that may surprise palates accustomed to traditional bourbons. A high-proof whiskey, it undergoes aging in port and sherry casks, resulting in a well-balanced sweetness that elevates its versatility, complementing everything from desserts like ice cream to beverages such as coffee.

Does bourbon expire?

Bourbon does not expire in the same way that perishable food items do. When stored properly, unopened bottles of bourbon can remain drinkable for many years, if not indefinitely. However, once you open a bottle of bourbon, it may begin to change over time due to exposure to oxygen, fluctuations in temperature, and other environmental factors.

The flavor profile of bourbon may evolve subtly after opening the bottle, with some oxidation occurring over time. While this can lead to changes in taste and aroma, it does not necessarily render the bourbon undrinkable. Many bourbon enthusiasts find that opened bottles can still be enjoyable for months or even years after being opened, especially if stored correctly in a cool, dark place and tightly sealed to minimize exposure to oxygen.

Is bourbon flammable?

Yes, bourbon is flammable. Like all distilled spirits with high alcohol content, bourbon is flammable and can ignite if exposed to an open flame or high heat source. Its high proof (alcohol by volume) makes it highly combustible, and you should always handle it with care around sources of ignition.


Bourbon offers diverse options, each with unique flavors, characteristics, and qualities. Whether you’re a seasoned whiskey enthusiast or new to the bourbon scene, there’s something to suit every palate and occasion. From well-aged classics to innovative small-batch releases, the best bourbons encompass a spectrum of tastes, ranging from smooth and mellow to bold and complex.

Whether sipped neat, on the rocks, or mixed into classic cocktails, bourbon offers a rich and rewarding drinking experience that captivates the senses and brings people together. Ultimately, the best bourbon is the one that resonates most with your individual tastes and preferences, inviting you to savor each sip and celebrate the timeless spirit of America’s native whiskey.