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The Best Bourbons To Drink Right Now, According To Drizly’s 2020 Sales

It’s a long and, hopefully, fun road to finding the best bourbon. There are just so many bottles of good whiskey out there. Add in that craft whiskey is creating new bottles of bourbon constantly and the iconic distilleries and blenders are putting out new releases monthly … none of us will ever get to all.

So even the endeavor of finding the best bourbon is a bit of a non-starter. There’s just so dang much.

To help us in our longstanding lovefest with bourbon whiskey, we’re looking at the top 20 bourbon brands folks have actually been buying via online delivery service Drizly.com since the pandemic started. We asked the brand to give us their bourbon brand sales from the 13th of March 2020 to the present day — basically since the day the stay-at-home ordered went nationwide. To add a little nuance to this list (Drizly just named the brands, not the expressions), we’re calling out an entry point bottle for each distiller in the top 20 and offering our tasting notes.

20. Jefferson’s Bourbon

Castle Brands

Entry Bottle: Jefferson’s Very Small Batch

ABV: 41.2%

Average Price: $40

The Whiskey:

Jefferson’s makes some interesting whiskey — partially their own-make and some sourced from independent distilleries around Kentucky. Their Very Small Batch is a blend of four contract distilled whiskeys that are aged eight to 12 years and then blended by Jefferson’s.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a lightness up top with lines of vanilla next to lemon oils plus a hint of wet brown sugar. The taste counterpoints that lemon with buttered popcorn and a note of spicy toffee. There’s a very mild wisp of ripe peaches-and-cream on the end as the spice and toffee fade away fairly quickly.

Bottom Line:

This is a good entry point into the wider and more interesting finishes Jefferson’s makes (like their aged-at-sea bourbon). Still, this is a quality expression to mix up some cocktails or highballs.

19. High West

High West

Entry Bottle: High West American Prairie Bourbon Whiskey

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $38

The Whiskey:

Utah’s High West is a tiny mountain distillery that operates as a world-class blender of sourced juice mixed with some of their own-make. This expression is a marrying of at least three whiskeys from varying sources (like MGP of Indiana and Four Roses) of two to 13-year-old bourbons with both low and high rye mash bills.

Tasting Notes:

This is a very subtle starter, with mild hints of vanilla and caramel and a little bit of green apple skin soaked in cinnamon juice. There’s a sweet caramel kettle corn on the palate that’s joined by honey smoothness and a touch of orange and chocolate (especially when water is introduced). The end is fruity, full of caramel, and hits back on that vanilla on a fairly quick fade.

Bottom Line:

Buying this bottle actually supports the wilds of America’s backcountry, with a cut of profits going to the American Prairie Reserve in Montana. The actual drink is a very solid cocktail base otherwise and, we’d argue, a suitable sipper over some rocks.

18. Michter’s

Michters

Entry Bottle: Michter’s US*1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon

ABV: 45.7%

Average Price: $47

The Whiskey:

Michter’s is a revival brand that has relied on Willett’s Kentucky Bourbon Distillers but now is operating their own distillery and laying down their own barrels. Their entry-point bourbon is a sour mash, small-batched, award-winning master class in bourbon.

The juice is a blend of 24 or fewer barrels of up to eight-year-old bourbons.

Tasting Notes:

This smells, tastes, and feels classic — with an opening of rich bourbon vanilla beans next to almost creamy caramel with a nice dose of cellared oak. The taste veers into sweet stone fruits with a touch more creaminess leading into the vanilla as mild spice peaks in. The end is slow, oaky, creamy, fruity, and has a touch of smoked popcorn when you add a little water.

Bottom Line:

This is a good bourbon to use as a baseline when you start getting into the good stuff. It’s approachable, sippable, and very mixable into your favorite whiskey cocktail.

17. Eagle Rare

Sazerac Company

Entry Bottle: Eagle Rare 10

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $40

The Whiskey:

Eagle Rare 10 is a marriage of at least ten-year-old Buffalo Trace whiskeys. Each barrel is hand-selected to bring in classic bourbon flavors that also feel deeply rooted and unique to the brand.

Tasting Notes:

This one opens boldly with orange rind and maple syrup next to touches of honey, worn leather, and toffee. The oak char and vanilla kick in, giving it a classic old-leather-chair-in-a-smoky-library vibe as hints of mint lead back towards the toffee. When you add a little water, there’s a dark chocolate bar with almonds that arrives.

The finish is short but sweet in all the right ways.

Bottom Line:

This is a great sipper if you can find it and at this price. Make sure to get some water in the glass to really let it bloom and then take your time with it.

16. Old Forester

Brown-Forman

Entry Bottle: Old Forester 100 Proof Signature Bourbon

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $26

The Whiskey:

This line of bourbon from Brown-Forman is a stone-cold classic. Their 100-proof expression is a mid-to-high-rye mash bourbon whiskey that’s made in the same way as their 86 proof. The key difference is after these barrels are blended, they’re barely touched with water, keeping the proof very hearty.

Tasting Notes:

Oak and caramel draw you in on the nose with a nice dose of cherry candy and a hint of coffee bitterness. The palate wallows in a nice dose of vanilla as a spicy apple pie with a buttery crust drives the taste. The oak, apple, and spice really power the dram home with a medium-length fade and plenty of bourbon warmth.

Bottom Line:

This is built as a mixing bourbon. Use it in cocktails or sip it in a nice highball.

15. W.L. Weller

Sazerac Company

Entry Bottle: Weller Special Reserve Bourbon

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $50

The Whiskey:

This expression from Buffalo Trace’s distillery is the “original” wheated bourbon. The wheat helps the bourbon soften a bit. But you’re really paying for all the knowledge and expertise from Buffalo Trace’s distillers, blenders, and nosers which all help make this a very approachable bottle of whiskey.

Tasting Notes:

Caramel creates a foundation on the nose with hints of honey and vanilla. Notes of butterscotch arrive alongside more honey, soft cedar, and a distant echo of florals. The wood and vanilla return and mingle with the honey as the long, warming finish (that classic “Kentucky hug”) takes its time coming and going.

Bottom Line:

The price of this bottle is going to vary pretty wildly. If you do get your hands on one, give it a shot first over ice and then fold it into your cocktail rotation.

14. Elijah Craig

Heaven Hill

Entry Bottle: Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $32

The Whiskey:

Elijah Craig is one of Heaven Hill’s premier brands. The very low rye bourbon (ten percent) is a blend of eight to 12-year-old bourbons from Heaven Hill’s rickhouses, each hand-selected and masterfully blended.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a feel of cedar just after a rain shower alongside echoes of honey. The taste leads to honey-soaked baked apples with spicy cardamom and cinnamon. Finally, that charred oak kicks in, tying the whole drink together.

Bottom Line:

This is another workhorse whiskey. At around $30, you’re getting a quality bourbon that’s pretty old, all things considered. Give it a shot with some water or a rock to get a sense of the juice and then try it in your favorite cocktail.

13. Angel’s Envy

Angels Envy

Entry Bottle: Angel’s Envy Straight Bourbon Finished in Port Wine Barrels

ABV: 43.3%

Average Price: $55

The Whiskey:

Angel’s Envy pulls their bourbon in from various Kentucky distillers. For this expression, they specifically blend six-year-old bourbons in small batches of eight to ten barrels. The juice then spends three to six months ruby port wine casks for a finishing touch.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a classic note of vanilla with maple syrup mingling next to hints of fat nuts and raisins that draws you in. The palate holds onto the vanilla and maple while adding in more of the nuts, dried fruits, and a touch of toasted oak. When you add a little water that oak gets cedary while a dose of dark chocolate arrives. The end lingers a fair amount of time as the nuts and fruit lead back to the maple sweetness.

Bottom Line:

This is a fine sipper with a little water or some ice. Really though, this is best as a killer cocktail base that can stand up to any concoction.

12. Wild Turkey

Campari Group

Entry Bottle: Wild Turkey 101

ABV: 50.5%

Average Price: $25

The Whiskey:

The father and son team of Jimmy and Eddie Russell have brought Wild Turkey to the forefront of quality whiskey and Wild Turkey 101 has become almost synonymous with the brand. The juice has a small dose of rye in the mash bill (13 percent) and spends around six years mellowing in a heavily charred oak barrel. The whiskey is then just touched with that soft Kentucky limestone water to bring it down to a robust 101 proof.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear vanilla edge that leads towards dark wood and a touch of toffee cut with spice. The body of the sip sweetens along with the wood while the vanilla stiffens like a pudding with a touch more of that spice sneaking it, bringing warmth along with it. The sip leans back into the sweeter notes of the wood as it warms you up on the medium-long fade.

Bottom Line:

This is really meant as a mixing whiskey. So, give it a shot in your next cocktail. You can also drink it on the rocks or in a highball if that’s your jam.

11. Blanton’s

Sazerac Company

Entry Bottle: Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon

ABV: 46.5%

Average Price: $100

The Whiskey:

Blanton’s bourbon is taken from the best cuts off the stills. The hot juice then goes into barrels and is stored in Buffalo Trace’s famed warehouse H. Single barrels are hand-selected to represent the deep flavors of bourbon according to Master Distiller Elmer T. Lee’s guidance in the last century. The results are just touched with water to bring them down to proof and then bottled as is.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a bold caramel depth that gives way to Christmas spices that lean towards nutmeg and clove. Hints of vanilla sneak in with a honeyed sweetness alongside wisps of oak, leather, and more of those spices. There’s a balance to the velvet texture that helps the slow fade warm you up with all those spices, vanilla, and a final note of dried corn.

Bottom Line:

This is built as a sipper. Add a little water or a rock, let it bloom, and then take your time enjoying this one.

10. Knob Creek

Beam Suntory

Entry Bottle: Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $35

The Whiskey:

Jim Beam’s entry-level Knob Creek Bourbon blends bourbons from that have aged up to nine years in heavily charred barrels. The barrels are hand-selected for their flavor profile and married. Then they’re slightly cut with limestone water to bring the proof down a bit to 50 percent.

Tasting Notes:

The dram starts with a sense of buttery toast and echoes of rye spice. That rye leads to charred oak and maple syrup essence that mellows into hints of apple orchards. The oak, spice, and fruit bring about a long finish with plenty of warmth.

Bottom Line:

This will be a little hot to sip neat. Add a little water or ice to really open it up. Alternatively, this works nicely as a highball or cocktail base.

Regardless of how you use it, paying under $50 for a nine-year-old bourbon whiskey is a steal.

9. Buffalo Trace

Sazerac Company

Entry Bottle: Buffalo Trace Bourbon

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $32

The Whiskey:

This bottle was made to celebrate Buffalo Trace’s rebranding. The expression was devised by whiskey-making legend Elmer T. Lee as a sort of swan song. The juice is a straightforward bourbon that’s crafted to be affordable and drinkable however you like to drink it.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear sense of bourbon vanilla with a molasses sweetness on the nose. The taste sometimes has a sour edge that leads towards butter toffee, cinnamon sticks, light oak, and red berries. The end is short and sweet and touches back on the oak, vanilla, and cinnamon sticks.

Bottom Line:

The price point makes this a very accessible bottle to have on hand for pretty much any application from a neat sip at the end of the day or a longer cocktail-making-session over the weekend.

8. Evan Williams

Heaven Hill

Entry Bottle: Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $17

The Whiskey:

Heaven Hill’s Evan Williams is a bar-back standard. Their most accessible expression, in our humble opinion, is their Bottled-in-Bond, or white label (they have a cheaper expression but we can’t recommend it with quite as much enthusiasm). The juice is standard Evan Williams that’s barreled in a federally overseen warehouse. Then after those barrels are blended, the juice is just brought down to 100 proof, allowing a bit more of that Heaven Hill craft to shine in the bottle.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear note of dry cornmeal supported by caramel, creamy vanilla, and oak. The body of the sip holds onto the corn as hints of black pepper counter dusty wood and a hint at spicy and chewy tobacco. The end is short, slightly spicy, and shows off that corn once again.

Bottom Line:

This is a true blue mixing bourbon that also works as a tasty shooter as a beer back.

7. Four Roses

Kirin Brewing

Entry Bottle: Four Roses Small Batch

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $38

The Whiskey:

Four Roses stand out by having ten different bourbons they make from two mash bills (one high rye, one low rye) and five unique yeast strains for fermentation. Their Small Batch expression combines four of these bourbons in the blend: A low rye with “slight spice” and “rich fruit” yeasts and a high rye mash with the same yeasts.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a sweet woodiness that feels like cherry or apple next to a rush of dark yet sweet berries and a hint of cinnamon-forward spices. The taste holds onto the berries while the woodiness gets a little vine-y with a good dose of caramel underneath it all.

The end builds and silkens as the red berries become jammy as the spice and sweet wood fade out slowly.

Bottom Line:

This is a great bottle at a great price point. It’s also applicable to however you want to drink it: On the rocks, neat with a little water, in a cocktail, or as a highball.

6. Basil Hayden’s

Beam Suntory

Entry Bottle: Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $45

The Whiskey:

Jim Beam’s Basil Hayden’s is an outlier from the rest of the brand’s high-end labels. It uses a high rye bill that they also use from Old Grand-Dad (28 percent rye). This expression is also small-batched and proofed all the down to 40 percent across the board, making it an incredibly accessible sip of bourbon.

Tasting Notes:

Touches of oak mingle with subtle vanilla and caramel with very distant hints of bright dried fruits on the end. The taste holds onto those flavors while amping up the sweetness of the dried fruit and adding a touch of leather and oak with a hint of peppery spice. The end embraces the lightness of the dried fruit as it fades out at an even pace.

Bottom Line:

This is a great candidate for mixing up cocktails. Though, we’d argue that you can easily sip this one the rocks with zero complaints.

5. Jim Beam

Beam Suntory

Entry Bottle: Jim Beam Black Extra Aged Bourbon

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $22

The Whiskey:

Jim Beam is the best selling bourbon in the world. A great entry point to the iconic brand is their Black Extra Aged expression. The juice used to be their eight-year-old bottle that they took the age statement off. The whiskey in the bottle is a blend of variously aged Jim Beam that’s selected for its depth of flavor before it’s blended, proofed, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

Classic bourbon notes of vanilla and caramel mingle classic Beam notes of cherry candy and corn husks. The palate leans into the cherry while also adding a mild spice with a touch more vanilla, apple, and sweet wood. The sip is very light overall and doesn’t linger, making it very approachable.

Bottom Line:

This is built as a workhorse whiskey that’s both affordable and findable anywhere. It works on the rocks, in a highball, or as a base for any cocktail.

4. Woodford Reserve

Brown-Forman

Entry Bottle: Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

ABV: 45.2%

Average Price: $38

The Whiskey:

Woodford’s bourbon has a slightly high rye content (18 percent) which gives it a unique drinkability and a nice hit of spice. It’s triple distilled in pot and column stills before being mellowed in oak for six to seven years, which is long for an entry-point bourbon.

Tasting Notes:

You’re beckoned in with hints of dark chocolate next to spicy tobacco, dried fruits, bourbon vanilla, and a hint of fresh mint. The taste delivers while adding buttery toffee, more spicy tobacco chew, and marrying of the dark chocolate to orange oils. The end is silken and has a bit more spice as it lingers for just the right amount of time.

Bottom Line:

This tastes like it costs twice as much. It’s a great sipper (with a little water or ice) or mixer.

3. Jack Daniel’s

Brown-Forman

Entry Bottle: Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $25

The Whiskey:

Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 is probably the most iconic and maybe beloved whiskey on this list — though it’s not technically a bourbon. The Tennesse whiskey comes from a very low-rye mash (only eight percent). The distillate then goes through a sugar maple charcoal filtration drop-by-drop through ten vertical feet of those coals. That juice then spends at least four years resting in Jack Daniel’s warehouses before it’s blended, cut with soft Tennessee spring water, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a sense of vanilla wafers next to hints of roasted sweet corn and a touch of fruit. That fruit edges from banana to cherry as the sip touches on young oak with light spicy tobacco. The end is short, creamy, and full of that fruit.

Bottom Line:

Okay, Drizly, we’re on the fence about you adding this to your metrics. Yes, all Tennessee whiskey starts out as bourbon. But once it goes through the Lincoln County Process (a sugar maple charcoal filtration step), it’s hard to still call this stuff just “bourbon.”

All of that aside, it’s also hard to deny the power of a sip of classic Jack Daniel’s. It’s a workhorse whiskey that still goes down almost too easily.

2. Maker’s Mark

Beam Suntory

Entry Bottle: Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $29

The Whisky:

Beam’s Maker’s Mark cuts their mash with red winter wheat, giving it a subtlety that makes this wheated bourbon very drinkable and mixable. The juice is barreled and then rotated through the warehouses before those jostled barrels are married, proofed, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a burst of spice, fruit, and caramel sweetness that lean towards vanilla. The palate has clear bourbon notes of oak char, vanilla, and a slight woody/cinnamon spice that all give way to rich toffee. The sip draws to a close rather quickly with a slight return of the vanilla, fruit, and oak.

Bottom Line:

This is a good bourbon to use as a base for any cocktail — from an old fashioned to a Manhattan to a mint julep. It’s also a decent sipper on the rocks (in a pinch).

1. Bulleit Frontier Whiskey

Diageo

Entry Bottle: Bulleit Bourbon

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $32

The Whiskey:

While most of Bulleit is still sourced, they are getting close to having their own-make in rotation thanks to Diageo converting the iconic Stitzel-Weller distillery into their own production center. This expression is a very high-rye (28 percent) bourbon that spends around six years maturing before it’s blended, proofed, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

This is a classic bourbon with notes of rich vanilla next to caramel corn, mild spice, and oak on the nose. The vanilla gets creamy and the spice zeroes in on cinnamon as a slight tobacco chew arrives with notes of orchard fruits and brown sugar. The end is medium-length with a nice dose of wood, tobacco spice, and caramel corn with a hint more of vanilla.

Bottom Line:

This is built as a workhorse bourbon. You can sip it on the rocks or mix it up. Dealer’s choice.

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