The “best bottle of bourbon” is a tough call to make. Bourbon is intensely personal. Our palates develop and evolve over our lifetimes, so naturally, the bottles we reach for change too. Still, there are a few high-end bottles of bourbon that transcend personal taste — demanding respect as the ultimate expressions of the spirit. Products that showcase craftsmanship of a higher order.
Great bourbon is a mix of corn-fueled distillate aged in new American charred oak for at least two years. There are other designations, too — with regards to the ABV the whiskey needs to be distilled, barreled, and bottled at — but that’s a little too micro for our purposes here. What really matters is the nuance of the mash bill (recipe) and the mastery of unique barreling and, often, blending.
The ten bottles of bourbon below are all expressions we deem worthy of their hefty price tags. We’re making a cut off at $50 per bottle on the low-end to give us a place to start. From there, we’re looking at the flavors, textures, and sips we keep coming back to, regardless of cost. Let us know your favorite bottle of the good stuff is in the comments.
BULLEIT BOURBON 10 YEAR
Story: Bulleit Frontier Bourbon has been dominating the mainstream American whiskey movement for a while now. They’re best known for their entry-level bourbons and ryes — each of which gets the job done. They’re also known for a fairly unique mash bill. Their bourbon is 68 percent corn, 28 percent rye, and four percent malted barley. This helps the brand stand out with its rye-driven spiciness.
Tasting Notes: The rye content gives Bulleit bourbon a clear spicy edge that brings a nice depth to the sip. Their Ten Year expression has a subtly to it. There are clear classic notes of oaky vanilla up front. Hints of maple syrup earthiness, clove and nutmeg spiciness, and baked apple tart/sweetness fill out the body. The finish is a sweet alcohol burn that never overwhelms.