There is an amazing array of options for the whiskey drinker looking to find the best sipping bourbon.
Kentucky bourbon or Tennessee whiskey, traditional rye spice and wheated, or even an interesting single malt, there’s no shortage of different tastes available to you as you search for your favorite bourbon to drink neat or on the rocks.
Great bourbon distillers and hard charging newcomers feature on the following collection of 10 bourbon brands to try if you’re looking for the smoothest drop.
We hope you enjoy yourself responsibly as you work through the list.
1. 291 Colorado Barrel Proof Single Barrel Whiskey
At 63.5% ABV this single barrel American whiskey will kick you square in the pants, and you’ll be thankful.
Featuring a distinctive bourbon mash bill, the 291 Colorado Single Barrel retains a smooth, rich caramel taste despite being loaded with Old West power.
After distillation in a copper pot still it’s aged in charred white oak barrel and finished with charred aspen staves for that distinctive Colorado flavor.
Sure, you can get the regular proof version, but when a barrel proof American whiskey tastes like this, set it in your glass and enjoy with a couple of ice cubes.
2. Knob Creek Straight Bourbon 12 Year
The maturation process for this extra-long aged Knob Creek 12 Year Old Bourbon Whiskey allowed the bourbon to change in a way that younger whiskies never experience.
All the flavors of oak, caramel and vanilla present within those barrels are concentrated year after year, removing harshness of flavor while still maintaining the unmistakable full-flavor of Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
By selecting the finest grains and finishing in white oak barrels with maximum char, Knob Creek has created a top quality 100 proof bourbon filled with rich flavor and sweetness.
Sip this to your heart’s content, at a price you’ll find is worth a longer session.
3. Peerless Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
This Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey was made from sweet (not the traditional whiskey sour) mash at the Peerless grain-to-bottle distillery.
It is aged for 24 months in new, charred American oak and bottled at cask-strength of 53.8% ABV.
Peerless Straight Rye Whiskey offers the sweet tones of maple, brown sugar and light citrus sweetness, that builds to a finish of light oak amongst the contrasting rye spice.
Peerless rye offers a smooth taste that differs from sour mash bills – it’s a quality sipping Rye to linger over neat, or with a touch of ginger beer to tease out the flavors.
4. Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit
Kentucky Spirit is a 101 proof (50.5% ABV), single barrel bourbon made with the neat bourbon drinker in mind. Each barrel of Kentucky Spirit is hand selected by Master Distiller Jimmy Russell to find the exact individual personalities to make each one unique, yet still indicative of Wild Turkey quality.
This is a fuller bodied Wild Turkey expression, laden with rich vanilla flavors and a hint of sweetness from the layering of almonds, honey, blackberries.
The hint of leather gives way to a long, dark and lingering finish that nestles cozily against your tongue, while warming from the inside out.
5. George Dickel Superior No 12 Tennessee Whisky
The quintessential smooth drinking Tennessee Whisky (Dickel spelled it that way believing it’s as smooth as any scotch) and it comes in 90 proof, the only bottle to have that distinction.
George Dickel Superior No. 12 Tennessee Whisky combines older whiskies selected by Master Distiller John Lunn to create a more assertive flavor while maintaining the smoothest Tennessee whiskey finish.
Superior No. 12 offers the tasting note of rich oak and subtle vanilla that leads to a finish hinting at maple, butter, and smoke, which is a treat for the seasoned whiskey drinker looking for a slightly different mouthfeel.
6. Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon
Elijah Craig Bourbon is named after a Baptist reverend and master distiller known as the Father of Bourbon. Elijah Craig is credited with being the first to age whiskey inside a charred oak barrel, with old wives’ tales suggesting he found the secret by accidently burning his oak casks.
Elijah Craig Small Batch is distilled from a traditional Bourbon mash bill of 78% corn, 10% rye and 12% malted barley and then aged for 8 to 12 years in #3 char new American oak barrels.
Each batch of Elijah Craig is selected from fewer than 100 of the finest barrels at the Heaven Hill Distillery in Louisville.
If a small batch yet cheap bourbon is what you’re looking for, then the good reverend is a great place to start for the smoothest bourbon experience.
7. Breckenridge Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey
The core Bourbons from Breckenridge are all blends based on a high rye mash bill – 56% corn, 38% rye, and 6% malted barley.
When a special oak barrel presents itself, it is set aside for extra aging (up to 10 years) and then hand-bottled at a perfect 46% ABV, then signed and stamped with the details and issued as Breckenridge Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey.
There’s a bit of variance from cask to cask, but that’s part of the joy of it all. The single barrel tasting note features butterscotch, candied orange, sultana raisin, and cacao.
8. Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Basil Hayden may sound like the dude in home room that sat up the front and never said boo, however in the late 1700s he broke the mold and set Kentucky tongues wagging by adding rye grain to bourbon.
Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey contains hints of peppermint, notes of pepper and citrus, with a spicy finish to warm your cockles.
Mild in the pants at just 80 proof, Basil Hayden’s is a great bourbon whiskey for bourbon lovers moving to neat sipping from cocktails or ginger beer.
9. Stranahan Sherry Cask Single Malt Whiskey
Stranahan Sherry Cask Single Malt Whiskey is made in small batches from 100% malted barley and Rocky Mountain water then aged for a minimum of two years in new American white oak barrels.
From there, it is transferred to Spanish Oloroso Sherry barrels that have been aging wine for over 40 years, leaving a depth of flavor soaked into the ancient oak staves that enriches and deepens the thick malt.
The nose features over-ripe cherry, sweet apple, raisins, almonds, leather and fresh-cut hay, while on the palate honey and walnut mesh with brown sugar, before the finish of lingering caramel and the hint of spice.
A unique and flavorful American single malt (that comes in a beautifully sleek bottle made for easy sharing) Stranahan’s is a premium unique whiskey made for the whiskey drinker who prefers relaxed enjoyment.
10. Redemption Wheated Bourbon
Redemption is one of our favorite bourbon brands, and the wheated bourbon is a quality sipping taste that sits a little out of the ordinary.
The high wheat content in the mash bill (45% wheat, 51% corn and 4% malted barley) is rare and helps make Redemption Wheated Bourbon super smooth even at 96 proof.
The nose offers ginger candy, sage, pear and lavender over layers of vanilla and cedar, transitioning to a palate of roasted coffee beans, smoked meat, and hazelnut.