10 Best Bourbon 2021 Options

What is bourbon, exactly? I know your grandfather drank it, it's popular with individuals who wear flannel, and it has something to do with Kentucky. According to the definition, bourbon is an American whiskey that contains at least 51% corn and malted barley, rye, and wheat. The American Bourbon Association further emphasizes that it must be unadulterated and must mature in fresh oak barrels that have been charred. Other characteristics that set bourbon apart from other American spirits like rye whiskey include a distinctive sweetness from the corn. These characteristics also contribute to its distinction from Scotch and other well-known whiskey varieties, including Canadian and Japanese whiskey. Let's take a look at these 10 Best Bourbon 2021 Options!

The Henry Mckenna Single Barrel is our top selection due to its balanced taste profile, affordable pricing, and smooth and structured flavor character.

With its beginnings in Bourbon County, Kentucky, bourbon manufacturing has spread to several places, with bottles coming in various tastes and price ranges. Here are the top bourbons available right now.

Kentucky region; 50% alcohol by volume; notes on flavor: caramel, honey, and vanilla

This Henry Mckenna bourbon from Heaven Hill Distillery earned the title of "Best in Show" in the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and with good cause. This whiskey, matured in oak barrels, is the only extra-aged single-barrel bourbon that is now available and bottled in bond. It has a taste profile that is structured, rich, and silky.

O.P. Rockwell Cocktail Lounge & Music Hall's bar manager and main bartender Xania Woodman described the 10-year-old bourbon as creamy and buttery, "like butterscotch candy," yet with a noticeable bite. Despite its advantages, the cost isn't as high as with some other well-known bourbons. It only shows you, Woodman, that a price that seems outrageous doesn't always translate into true quality.

Maker's Mark Bourbon Whiskey has the best price.

Kentucky; 45% alcohol by volume; butterscotch, cherry, and vanilla flavors

Maker's Mark, once the bourbon category's sweetheart, has mainly been supplanted in the hearts of today's enthusiasts by a bewildering array of cult bottlings and difficult-to-find special releases, but don't write off this contemporary classic just yet. This age-old "wheated bourbon" is excellent. It goes well in any traditional whiskey cocktail since it employs wheat rather than rye as the secondary grain, giving it a sweeter taste profile. The pricing is the most enjoyable part since this bourbon much outperforms its peers in terms of strength. Expect to spend no more than $30 per bottle, which is really affordable for something adaptable, sophisticated, and well-made.

Widow 10-Year Bourbon Widow Jane 10-year-old single barrel Jane is best for sipping.

ABV: 45.5%; region: Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, and New York; flavor notes: cherry, little char, and vanilla

Widow In Brooklyn, New York, Jane carefully selects its top bourbons from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana and mixes them in five-barrel batches. Its team cut that combination with limestone mineral water from the renowned Rosendale Mines in upstate New York to offer something that "had the powerful flavor of New York in each sip." The distillery's famous 10-year-old bourbon has a nutmeg, cream, vanilla, and a hint of cinnamon-infused scent. It also has maple syrup, almond, cherry, and orange on the tongue.

Anthony Vitacca, a renowned bartender from California, calls it "my new favorite sipper and one of the greatest bourbons I have ever tasted, hands down."

The Best Bourbons for $50 or Less

The best bourbon for cocktails is Michter's US1.

Kentucky region | 45.7% ABV | Sweet corn, peach, and white pepper are the flavor notes.

Although Michter's is not the cheapest whiskey available, it is difficult to think of a finer foundation spirit for a special-occasion cocktail mixed with high-quality components than their flagship US1 bourbon. It's been aged between four and six years, so the barrel flavor won't overpower the other components. It's also been bottled at a higher proof, so it can withstand the addition of vermouth, simple syrup, citrus, or any other cocktail ingredient you may be aiming for. Although there are some truly great older expressions available, such as the 10- and 25-year-old bottles, your wallet will thank you if you stay with the US1.

Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon, best under $50

Kentucky-based region, 50% ABV, with notes of cocoa, maple syrup, and stone fruit

Four Roses has been producing since the 1800s, making it one of Kentucky's most renowned and enduring growers. Due to a remarkable mix of power (100 proof) and rich smoothness from aging for 10 years in barrel, its single barrel may be the strongest product in its distinguished array. Ripe stone fruit flavors are followed by aromas of vanilla and maple syrup in the mouth. It has a subtle and lingering finish that is surprisingly nuanced whether it is consumed straight up or on the rocks.

Additional accolades for this bourbon include several gold and double gold medals from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

The best bourbon under $100 is Noah's Mill Small Batch.

Kentucky region | 57.15 percent alcohol by volume | Brûléed sugar, vanilla, allspice

This bourbon bursts with allspice and cinnamon flavors, surrounded by welcoming vanilla, mellow yeast, and a touch of wood. Toasted pecan and brûléed sugar tastes are also present, and they meld with the soft notes of caramel and cream.

One of the best products produced by the Kentucky-based Willett Distillery is Noah's Mill, which was previously matured for 15 years. According to Vitacca, "This excellent whiskey is almost cask-strength at 114.3 percent, yet there's so much taste in this bourbon that you don't know you're drinking on such a high proof spirit." Although there is a burn, it is a nice burn.

A few of the top rye whiskeys

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof has the highest barrel strength.

Kentucky region | ABV: 60-65% | Notes on flavor: Toast, Apple, and Vanilla

The Elijah Craig brand from Heaven Hill distilleries was debuted in 1986 and quickly established itself as a leading figure in the nascent "craft whiskey" movement. It is named after a Baptist preacher who is renowned for founding a whiskey distillery in 1789. Four distinct bourbons are presently available from the company, including McKay's favorite 12-year-old "single barrel" version, which packs a powerful punch. You don't need to pour very much, he adds, adding that it is just exquisite.

Our Experts' Opinion

It is my go-to beverage at work because of its price and adaptability (it can be mixed as well as sipped). I may use it in any bourbon recipe since it is a readily available bourbon. —Xania Woodman, the O.P. Rockwell Cocktail Lounge & Music Hall's bar manager and lead bartender

Wyoming Whiskey Small Batch is the best wheated.

Wyoming region | 44% ABV | Orange, vanilla, and espresso are the flavorings.

More wheat is substituted on the grain bill for more rye in wheated bourbons. In comparison to more well-known brands, the Wyoming Whiskey Small Batch Bourbon offers better value, is powerful at 88 proof, and pairs well with a variety of dishes, including grilled ribs, honey-garlic mushrooms, and even dessert. It has been aged five years in oak barrels and is bursting with creamy vanilla and caramel tastes that are complemented with fragrant nectarine notes.

Hefeweizen beer, wheat bread, etc. are all things that Vitacca has never been a big fan of. Before tasting this, I thought the competition was tough.

The Best Bourbons for Novices, etc.

Best Property: Straight bourbon whiskey from Frey Ranch

Nevada region | 45% ABV | Notes on flavor: Dried banana, cinnamon, and sourdough

In the wine industry, the word "estate" is often used to describe wines produced by the same individual (or family, or company) who planted the grapes. The majority of consumers, however, are unfamiliar with the term "estate spirits," and for the majority of the last century or more, it has been virtually impossible for a person in the US to buy a bottle of whiskey that was (legally) distilled by the same small family business that produced the grains. But now that the farm-to-glass revolution is well underway, estate distilleries all across the country are producing intriguing and complex spirits.

Despite having had a farm in Nevada since 1854—long before it was even a state—the Frey family has just lately started putting aside part of their grain for distillation. Because they grow their own grain, the family has complete control over the manufacturing process. As a result, their distinctive four-grain bourbon, which has a mash bill that includes 66.6% corn, 12% malted barley, 11.4% rye, and 10% wheat, is a study in complexity and terroir. A creamy tongue with flavors of vanilla, cinnamon, and dried banana follows an unusual bouquet that bursts with cherries and sourdough.

Best New Bourbon of the Year: Garrison Brothers Lady Bird

Garrison Brothers is releasing a new bourbon expression called Lady Bird that has been in the making for eight years. Lady Bird Bourbon is infused with Burleson’s Texas Wildflower Honey for eight months after first being aged for four years in new white American oak barrels. It was then matured for an additional three years in French XO Cognac casks, giving it a complex flavor profile that includes the essence of cognac cherries, dried figs, and plums.

Master distiller Donnis Todd describes the bourbon as having a warm and enticing aroma of freshly cut grass and sweet honey, with notes of black cocoa waffle cone and honey wafers. The palate reveals flavors of warm buckwheat pancakes, dark chocolate-covered cherries, and malted milk balls. Lady Bird Bourbon clocks in at 114 proof and is hand-sealed with a “Prairie Purple” wax. For each bottle sold, Garrison Brothers will donate $5 to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to support environmental conservation efforts.

Best Bourbon for the Environment: Redwood Empire Pipe Dream

Area: California/Indiana; Alcohol By Volume: 45% Peanut, vanilla, and apple flavors

Pipe Dream, named after the 14th tallest tree on Earth, is made with a high-corn mash bill, matured for four to twelve years, and released with toasted pecan scents, nuanced tastes, and a pleasing golden colour. Along with its traditional bourbon flavor, you may also enjoy the delightful advantage of protecting the environment since the distillery, in collaboration with Trees for the Future, plants a tree for every bottle of whiskey sold.

Head Distiller Jeff Duckhorn adds, "Both myself and our business's owner Derek Benham were reared with a profound respect of the outdoors. We wanted to respect a feeling of place with our whiskey and embrace our heritage since our distillery is situated right in the Redwood Empire and we love the outdoors.

Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey is the best Kentucky Bourbon.

Region: Kentucky | Alcohol By Volume: 43.3% | Oak, Vanilla, and Cinnamon

The barrel numbers, the time it went into the barrel, and the time it was bottled are all listed on each bottle of this Evan Williams bourbon. This moderately priced single barrel whiskey, which is large, balanced, spicy, and sweet with a honey and citrus backbone, is one of Heaven Hill Distillery's most well recognized whiskeys.

According to Jeff Moses, a spirit business owner from Charleston, "it's simple, tasty, not heavy-handed, and extremely neat." "I like it when I eat it with a meal like a BBQ or rotisserie chicken," the speaker said.

Heaven's Door Tennessee Bourbon is the best whiskey available.

Tennessee, United States | 45% ABV | Pepper, Cinnamon, Honey

Heaven's Door is a renowned brand of chic Tennessee straight, double barrel, and straight rye whiskeys that was developed in collaboration with Bob Dylan. They all distinguish out due to their appearances and their protracted, lingering endings.

The most notable bourbon is the 90-proof Tennessee whiskey, which has a broad, round mouthfeel with powerful butterscotch, cherry, cinnamon, and honey flavors. Eight years in American oak casks give it a lot of spicy character and a smooth, enduring flavor.

Final Conclusion

The Henry McKenna Single Barrel gives the most exceptional presentation of sturdiness, richness, and elegance out of all the highly regarded bourbons on our list. Although the price may have increased somewhat as a result of recent honors and awards, this whiskey is absolutely exceptional. It's been matured for ten years and bottled at 100 percent, and its tastes range from wood to spice to sweet vanilla.

For more bourbon insight check out The Bourbon Society.