Life

The Best Bourbons For Every Stage Of Your 4th Of July Party


Getty Image

Picking a single, definitive alcohol to serve at a party is a power move. It dials in the festivities to a specific mood and vibe. With the 4th of July coming up and multiple parties on your horizon (because it falls on a Thursday, Friday is off, and you only live once), we think bourbon is the right spirit to serve.

Bourbon is one of the most “American” spirits there is. It takes tried and true whiskey making methods from the British Isles and blends those techniques with American ingredients like corn and American oak. Throw in some rye, barely, and a few years of aging and you have a great sip of booze.

Since bourbon is about as American as it gets when it comes to whiskey, we thought we’d throw down a gauntlet of great bottles. These are the expressions to get you through a tasting over the course of a 4th of July party. These bourbons tell a story, move through the different styles around America, and will leave you and your guests ready to be wowed by the time the fireworks start to pop.

Welcome To The Party Bottle — Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Basil Hayden’s Bourbon is the perfect ice breaker. This is a lush whiskey all around. It’s refined enough to put a smile of the aficionado’s faces and mild enough to draw in the weariest whiskey neophyte.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear rye peppery element up front sitting alongside blooming summer flowers. The sweetness ebbs towards a wet brown sugar that’s cut by a dry old library leatheriness. Lush honey and more spicy rye pepper come in on the end with soothing warmth.

Buy a bottle here for $35.99

The Conversation Starter — Balcones Texas Blue Corn Bourbon

Yes, bourbon can come from places outside of Kentucky. In fact, bourbon can be fermented, distilled, and barreled in any of the 50 United States (as long as it adheres to a few guidelines around alcohol volume and barreling practices). Case in point, one of the most interesting bourbons being bottled right now is in Waco, Texas at the Balcones Distillery. The use of local blue corn makes this one of the most unique pours to have at a party.

Tasting Notes:

This is a big sip of whiskey, keeping in line with everything else in Texas. The earthiness of the blue corn is fully present. The sip leans into a slight smokiness next to a crème brûlée crackling sweet creaminess. There’s a real sense of the oak with a nice dose of heady vanilla. The finish here has a sweet blue corn burn with a slightly spicy edge leading to a semi-dry finish.

Buy a bottle here for $69.99

Pre-Meal Snacks — Heaven’s Door Tennessee Bourbon

This is where the party starts kicking up a bit and the music starts to flow. Heaven’s Door is Bob Dylan’s whiskey and the perfect sip to have while everyone is getting a little looser and ready to eat. Plus, it’s Bob-freakin’-Dylan’s whiskey. That’s sure to carry on the conversation until the food comes off the grill.

Tasting Notes:

At first glance, this whiskey offers a lot of sweetness. There’s a vanilla edge that leans more into a pudding. Then there’s a candied apple and maple syrup note. That’s then immediately pulled back by balancing notes of cedar bark, nutmeg, clove, and dry grape. Finally, the familiar notes of oaky vanilla and peppery spice warmth arrive to tie it all together.

Buy a bottle here for $47.99

Food Time — Sonoma Cherrywood Smoked Bourbon

There’s a good chance that you’ll be grilling, barbecuing, or smoking something on the 4th of July. That means you should pair that delicious food with something a little smoky. Sonoma County Distillery’s Cherrywood Smoked Bourbon is a solid pairing here. The bourbon is made from a mash bill of corn, rye, and 13 percent cherrywood smoked barley from Wyoming.

Tasting Notes:

Sour cherry and charcoal smoke greet you first. Notes of vanilla and allspice are present alongside orange zest, toasted oak, fatty nuts, and peppery rye. Finally, the allspice returns with the vanilla and a hint more of smoke on the warm finish.

Buy a bottle here for $44.99

Water Break

Please drink water throughout the day and night.

Time To Party — Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Look, people are going to be full of food and booze and probably ready to dance off some of those calories. It’s time to break out the cheaper stuff and start taking shots with cans of light beer … or just shots. Enter a rock solid-yet-affordable bourbon like Evan Williams. The price is right for people to drink as much as they want and the taste gets the job done.

Tasting Notes:

Caramel apples are front-and-center. Hints of corn, clove, and black pepper lead to raisin sweetness and fatty walnuts. Oaky vanilla arrives next along with clear peppery rye spice and a warming combination of cinnamon and orange zest. This is a complex sip of whiskey for this price point.

Buy a bottle here for $10.99

Fireworks — Michter’s 10 Year Bourbon

Okay, the crowd is probably thinning. The sun has set. The grill should be loaded with hot dogs for late night snacking. Other inebriates are likely in the mix. The fireworks are about to go off and you need that one iconic sip to end the night on. Michter’s 10 Year Bourbon is a great bottle to break out and really dive into with friends as you watch the show and listen to those sad songs that tell you the night is nearing its end.

Tasting Notes:

This is a classic example of bourbon in a bottle. The notes of oaky vanilla, dried fruit, and pepper are accompanied by a slight tobacco edge with whispers of an old library no one has entered for the better part of a century. This is an easy-drinking sip that’ll go down well with a subtle spicy/sweet burn, reminding you that you’re still drinking bourbon.

Buy a bottle here for $124.99

×