Bourbon feels intrinsically connected to Kentucky. 95 percent of the juice on the market is made there. But bourbon does not have to come from Kentucky. When it comes to rules about location, the only one that matters is that it’s made in the U.S. And with bourbon booming, barriers to entry decreasing, and craft distillers thriving, that “95 percent” number is starting to drop, as bourbon distillers pop up nationwide.
Since bourbon can technically be made anywhere in the U.S., we think bourbon produced from Seattle to St. Petersburg deserves a place in the broader spirits conversation. And thanks to the folks at Drizly, we know what that place is… at least sales-wise. We asked the online alcohol delivery service for the 10 most purchased bourbons that aren’t from Kentucky, then we tasted them and ranked them.
Check the results below!
10) Hudson Bright Lights, Big Bourbon (New York)
Average Price: $44
Recently, Hudson Whiskey rebranded itself with new expression names and bottle designs. But the product remains the same high-quality whiskey as before. Its award-winning Bright Lights, Big Bourbon is made with a mash bill of 95 percent New York-grown corn and five percent malted barley. It’s aged in new, charred American oak barrels resulting in a mellow, very sweet, corn-centric bourbon whiskey.
The nose is fairly straightforward and simple. There is sweet corn, vanilla beans, and wood char. The palate is a little more complex with notes of caramel corn, dried cherries, sweet corn, caramel, and a gentle, nutty sweetness throughout. It all ends with a warming, sweet finish.
This isn’t the most exciting whiskey in the world. But if you love almost 100 percent corn-based bourbon, you’ll love this sweet, mellow, easy-sipping whiskey.
Drizly Sales Rank: 4
9) High West American Prairie Bourbon (Utah)
Average Price: $50
When drinkers think of whiskey, few imagine Utah. But High West has been continuously cranking out award-winning whiskey since its inception in 2007. Its flagship whiskey is its High West American Prairie Bourbon (sourced mainly from MGP in Indiana). Named for the American Prairie Reserve, it’s a blend of straight bourbons that have been aged for a minimum of two years.
On the nose, you’ll find aromas of butterscotch, slight cinnamon sugar, vanilla beans, and a nice dose of wood char. On the palate this dram reveals caramel corn, candy apples, clover honey, toffee, and slight peppery rye paired with dried cherries at the very end.
This is a blend of whiskeys. The first is from Indiana’s MGP and the other isn’t disclosed. One is high-rye and the other isn’t. The result is a masterfully blended bourbon.
Drizly Sales Rank: 1
8) Balcones Texas Pot Still (Texas)
Average Price: $30
Balcones is one of the leaders in the Texas whiskey revolution. Its award-winning Texas Pot Still Bourbon is made using (you guessed it) pot still distillation before aging in new, charred American oak casks for at least two years. Even at a young age, it’s nuanced, rich, and memorable.
Complex aromas of rich oaky wood char, caramel corn, toasted marshmallows, and candy apples greet you first. This is followed by flavors of fresh leather, toasted vanilla beans, manuka honey, and a nice nutty, slightly spicy finish.
When it comes to price to value ratio, it’s pretty difficult to beat Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon. It’s surprisingly complex for such a young whiskey.
Drizly Sales Rank: 7
7) Redemption Straight Bourbon (Indiana)
Average Price: $30
Many drinkers know all about Redemption Rye as well as the brand’s High-Rye Bourbon. But both of these whiskeys might be a little too spicy for some. For these folks, Redemption also makes a straight bourbon that still has a rye content of 21 percent, but is much more mellow and, I believe, well-rounded than the others.
On the nose, you’ll find aromas of butterscotch candy, woody oak, vanilla beans, and a nice, slight peppery spice throughout. The sip delivers hints of buttery caramel, holiday spices, slight cinnamon, sweet cream, and more, gentle cracked black pepper to round everything out nicely.
While this is definitely a spicier bourbon than most, it’s a welcome respite from the sweet heat of some of Redemption’s other expressions.
Drizly Sales Rank: 6
6) Breckenridge Bourbon (Colorado)
Average Price: $45
Breckenridge, Colorado is well-known for its ski resort, and you might assume a distillery (and brewery) carrying the holiday-centric town would be more flash than substance. But you’d be wrong. Breckenridge Bourbon is one of the most popular non-Kentucky bourbons on the market. This award-winning high-rye bourbon is matured for at least three years in new, charred American oak barrels before being blended to create a sweet sipper to enjoy on a mountain or in your backyard.
Aromas of freshly brewed coffee, butterscotch candy, wood spice, caramel corn, and a nice kick of peppery rye greet you on the nose. The palate is loaded with flavors like candy apples, dried cherries, raisins, vanilla beans, and more cracked black pepper. The finish is medium in length, filled with warming heat, and ends with a nice combination of caramel and spice.
This is the type of whiskey you blindly give a friend who believes good bourbon only comes from Kentucky. One sip of this complex bourbon and they’ll change their mind.
Drizly Sales Rank: 3
5) Belle Meade Bourbon (Tennessee)
Average Price: $45
Belle Meade is one of the brands that’s destroying the stigma around sourced whiskey. Its flagship expression was sourced from Indiana’s MGP. It has a mash bill of 64 percent corn, 30 percent rye, and six percent malted barley. It’s a hand-selected blend of high-rye bourbons, using only four barrels per batch. Each is matured between six to eight years.
Scents of dried cherries, raisins, toffee, vanilla, and slight spicy rye greet the drinker. This is followed by a mouth full of buttery caramel, candied orange peels, fresh leather, clover honey, and just a hint of spice at the finish.
This is a multi-dimensional whiskey. It’s mellow, sweet, and highly sippable, but has a great spicy kick that only adds to the memorable flavor profile.
Drizly Sales Rank: 8
4) Widow Jane 10-Year (New York)
Average Price: $75
If you’ve never tried Widow Jane, what are you waiting for? Its flagship ten-year-old expression is a blend of straight bourbons (from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana), blended in five-barrel batches. It’s non-chill-filtered and proofed with locally-sourced mineral water. The result is a highly complex sipping whiskey you won’t soon forget.
This whiskey’s nose ticks all the bourbon boxes. There are notes of sweet corn, cinnamon, vanilla beans, and rich oak. The palate swirls with maple candy, dried orange peels, raisins, butterscotch, and candied pecans. The end is warm, sweet, and slightly spicy.
People don’t usually think of New York when they think of high-quality bourbon. But brands like Widow Jane and Hudson are leading the charge.
Drizly Sales Rank: 2
3) Garrison Brothers Small Batch (Texas)
Average Price: $85
While there are now a few well-known distilleries in Texas, none are as well-known as Balcones and Garrison Brothers. The latter’s flagship whiskey is its Small Batch. This small-batch bourbon is made from beginning to end in Hye, Texas. It’s made with a mash bill of locally sourced corn, red winter wheat, and two-row barley.
You’ll be greeted with hints of caramel apples, treacle, charred oak, and vanilla beans on the nose. On the palate, you’ll find flavors of clover honey, sweet corn, dried orange peels, holiday spices, and almond cookies. The finish is a nice combination of cinnamon sugar and dried fruits.
While we have no problem with sourced whiskeys, we do have a lot of respect for those distillers who make their whiskey using only local ingredients.
Drizly Sales Rank: 5
2) Smoke Wagon Small Batch (Nevada)
Average Price: $55
Smoke Wagon (sourced from MGP Indiana) might be unknown to novice bourbon drinkers, but it’s gaining a cult following in the whiskey aficionado world. Its signature expression is its Small Batch. Made from hand-picked high-rye bourbons, this non-chill filtered whiskey is a mixture of young and old whiskeys.
The result is a complex, exciting, mellow sipping bourbon.
On the nose, you’ll find the usual suspects of vanilla beans, wood char, caramel, and slight baking spices. This is definitely not a bad thing. The flavor is highlighted by more wood, toffee, buttercream frosting, and a crescendo of spicy rye.
This is a spicy, peppery bourbon that should appeal just as much to rye whiskey fans as bourbon drinkers who prefer an extra spicy kick.
Drizly Sales Rank: 9
1) Bib & Tucker Small Batch 6 Year (Tennessee)
Average Price: $54
Whiskey drinkers shouldn’t be surprised that the top-ranked whiskey on our list is from nearby whiskey-drenched Tennessee. The Tennessee sourced juice is double-distilled in column stills, non-chill-filtered, and matured for a minimum of six years in new, charred American oak casks. The result is a whiskey known for its smooth, velvety texture and sweet, toasty flavor.
Prior to sipping, you’ll find aromas of tobacco leaves, vanilla beans, wood char, and slight spices. The palate is driven by dried cherries, raisins, vanilla cream, caramelized sugar, sweet corn, and subtle peppery rye. The finish is nutty, sweet, and warming.
This is the kind of whiskey that makes a drinker realize there’s more than one great whiskey coming out of the state that gave us Jack Daniel’s. (In fact, there are many.)
Drizly Rank: 10
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