Bourbons to Try: See What The Experts Say

Ready for some new bourbons to try? You more than likely have an old “standby,” a bourbon that you faithfully turn to. But maybe it’s time to venture out, explore, and find another delicious choice. Whether you’re a curious newbie or a seasoned aficionado, we’re happy you’re here to browse these bourbon options.

We’ve invited our “Sweet Six” bourbon enthusiasts back. They’ve already helped us with our blog articles - Bourbon for Beginners and The Ultimate Guide to Bourbon. After you check out their advice in those posts, you should definitely follow them on Instagram as well! They’re always passing along information about the best pours, whiskey bars, bourbon cocktails, and so much more.

Fellas welcome back!

James @whiskeymoments

William @chicagobourbon

Justin @bourbontraveler

Landon @chsbourbon

Paul @steelespeakeasy

Zach @brewsandbourbon

Smooth Ambler Old Scout Single Barrel bourbon An Old Scout reminder. [Photo cred: @bourbontraveler]

Our Sweet 6’s Favorites - Bourbons to Try

@whiskeymoments: James says:

“A few of my favorite bourbons are Four Roses, Woodford Reserve, and Jim Beam Devil’s Cut.

@chicagobourbon: William says:

“I tend not to commit to specific bourbon brands or releases, but instead to explore new brands and new releases from established brands. I do have a few mainstays on my home bar that I trust will always be delicious. Newer brands I'm drinking right now include Whiskey Acres Straight Bourbon, Barrell Bourbon, Resilient Bourbon, and Treaty Oak Ghost Hill Bourbon.”

More About William’s Picks...

 Whiskey Acres Straight Bourbon:

“A two-and-a-half-year-old farm distillery, Whiskey Acres grows their own grain, mashes, ferments distills, barrels, ages, and bottles, all on their farm in DeKalb, IL. I like Whiskey Acres for their commitment to authentic farm distilling, their not cutting corners, and their commitment to demonstrating the important role of high-quality grain. Their work is paying off in some of the best craft bourbon currently available.”

Barrell Bourbon:

“An NDP (non-distiller producer), Barrell Bourbon sources barrels from other distillers, then ages and blends the barrels to their own requirements. And they do a fantastic job. They have their own distillery under construction in Louisville, KY. I like Barrell Bourbon because each release is a unique product. No matter your preference, one of their releases should hit the right note for you.”

Resilient Bourbon:

“This one also comes from an NDP. Every bottling is a single-barrel release, meaning they do not blend barrels. Instead, each release is a unique profile you won't find anywhere else. It’s one of the newer brands on the Chicago market, and growing fast due to its excellent single-barrel bourbon releases. I like Resilient Bourbon for their transparency in bottle labeling (showing more details than most brands) and, of course, the excellent bourbon that skews to higher proofs and older age statements.”

Treaty Oak Ghost Hill Bourbon:

“Treaty Oak has been in business since 2006 producing vodka, rum, gin, and whiskey. They've had a sourced bourbon on the market for some time (Red Handed Bourbon) and are currently rolling out their in-house distilled 5-year-old Ghost Hill Bourbon. I visited their Dripping Springs, TX, distillery a few months ago and was impressed by their true destination distillery, welcoming staff, and excellent distilled and sourced bourbons. We are looking forward to welcoming them to Chicago bar and liquor store shelves this month.”

@bourbontraveler: Justin says:

“I could go on and on with this category, and the following list is just of my current favorites. My list seems to be ever-changing. Anything from Boone County and any Old Scout Bourbon (from Smooth Ambler) are certainly for me. I’m also a huge fan of any of the Limited Releases from Four Roses; the Al Young they released last year was fabulous.”

@chsbourbon: Landon says:

“Oh man. This is an impossible question to answer. There are so many legendary pours out there. In general, Willett produces my favorite bourbon on the market. I truly believe they will be the next huge thing in bourbon. I won’t go into any barrels specifically, but their past bottlings have been awesome. They just recently started putting out their own distillate, and it’s amazing. Can't wait to see where it ends up in five to ten years.”

@steelespeakeasy: Paul says:

“All my favorite bourbons are no longer made. I’m personally more of a dusty guy.  I like bourbon that’s been collecting dust and sitting around in a garage or basement or sitting on an old liquor store shelf for decades."

Some of his favorites bourbons are:

  • 1960s-early 1970s: 180-month-old Beam
  • 1970s - 1980s: 8-year-old Austin Nichols Wild Turkey (before Campari took over Wild Turkey)
  • 1950s-1960s: Old Fitzgerald and Cabin Still (both wheated mashbill bourbons)
  • 1970s: Colonel E.H. Taylor (any proof)
  • And he pretty much likes anything from the 1950s and before (any brand).

Paul also states:

“I enjoy 'dusties' in part because of the funky nose and taste that many 'dustis' share, and because there’s something romantic about drinking history in that way.  There’s more weight to it. For new stuff, I am generally a sucker for most things eight to fifteen years old, around 100-110 proof."

If you don't mind, here are some nice takeaways from our chat with Paul:

  • Old Weller Antique single-barrel store picks are his personal favorite. He likes the proof of 107, and the wheated mashbill is perfect.
  • Also, he's a big fan of Blanton’s Gold - part of their UK export line.
  • He is a stereotypical sucker for the limited gift shop releases from Willett Distillery in Bardstown, KY, (at least the ones that are older than ten years).
  • A top-three whiskey for him is actually Old Overholt Rye. The new stuff is $9, and it drinks like a bourbon because it’s so low-proof. Their new 100-proof release is great. And Overholt dusty juice is absolutely fantastic. In fact, he owns twelve bottles of Overholt spanning 100 years of releases, and he "loves them all for different reasons!"
  • Also, he believes the Japanese release of Old Ezra Brooks 15-Year is quite good.
  • Finally, he thinks that Parker’s Heritage 13-Year Wheated Release is fantastic, and he loves that the product line raises money for ALS Research.

Y’all can catch Paul and all the whiskey you can handle at Steele Speakeasy in Nashville. If he doesn’t know the answer (unlikely), then he can point you in the right direction.

@brewsandbourbon: Zach says:

“Bourbons in the six-to-twelve year range seem to be my sweet spot. Every palate is different, but I've found most bourbons start tasting a little too oaky for me at about fifteen years old. For daily drinkers, I really enjoy a lot of the Buffalo Trace Distillery offerings, Blanton's, Eagle Rare, Weller 12, Colonel E.H. Taylor Single Barrel and Elmer T. Lee. For special occasion drinking, I enjoy Van Winkle Special Reserve Lot B 12 Year, Parker's Heritage, Michter's 10-Year bourbon, Blanton's Straight From The Barrel (European import) & George T. Stagg.

Four Roses Bourbon to try The Four Roses bottle gets five stars. [Photo cred: @bourbontraveler]

Best Bourbons to Try for Under $50

@whiskeymoments recommends:

  • Town Branch,
    Woodford Reserve,
    Four Roses,

    Jim Beam Devil’s Cut,
    Gentleman's Jack, 

@chicagobourbon recommends:

  • Buffalo Trace,
    Eagle Rare,
    Four Roses Single Barrel

@bourbontraveler recommends:

  • Heaven Hill 6-Year Bottled in Bond,
    Evan Williams Single Barrel,
    Weller Special Reserve,
    Buffalo Trace,
    Henry Mckenna 10-Year Bottled in Bond,
    Woodford Reserve,
    E.H. Taylor Small Batch,
    Four Roses Single Barrel

@chsbourbon: says:

“Pay attention to the local stores in your market. Single-barrel store picks are the way to go in terms of value."

He went on to explain that "a bunch of different brands lets stores pick their own personal barrel". However, his personal favorites lately have been:

  • Old Weller Antique and
    Maker's Mark Private Select

He affirmed that "those are consistently delicious no matter who picks them."

@steelespeakeasy recommends:

  • Old Ezra Brooks 7, 12, and 15;
    Old Overholt and Old Overholt 100-proof;
    Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond;
    Old Grand Dad 114;
    W.L. Weller 12-Year;
    Old Weller Antique 107;
    Rebel Yell 10-Year;
    J.W. Dant Bottled in Bond;
    Pikesville 6-Year Rye;
    1792 Full Proof;
    Johnny Drum Private Stock;
    Ancient Ancient Age 10 Star;
    OKI 10-year;
    Smooth Ambler Old Scout Single Barrels, nine to eleven years old

@brewsandbourbon recommends:

  • Eagle Rare from Buffalo Trace,
    Evan Williams Single Barrel from Heaven Hill,
    Michter's Unblended American Whiskey, and
    Henry McKenna Single Barrel 10 Year Bottled in Bond from Heaven Hill
Whiskey Gem in Nashville, Tennessee What a whiskey gem in Nashville, Tennessee. [Photo cred: @steelespeakeasy]

Some Lesser-Known Bourbons to Try

 @whiskeymoments  (James) suggests:

  • Town Branch Bourbon

 @chicagobourbon (William) says:

Blanton's Gold and Blanton's Straight From the Barrel are two of my favorite bourbons. Unfortunately, both are export-only, meaning they are distilled in Kentucky but only available for purchase overseas. If you happen to be traveling outside of the USA, keep an eye out for these amazing bottles!”

 @bourbontraveler (Justin) says:

“So this category falls into my sweet spot. I always go out of my way when I road trip around the country to hit up local bars, liquor stores, and distilleries. I’ve found some really interesting stuff all over the country. The best one I’ve tried was a recent find in Detroit called Major Pingree. It is a sourced bourbon, but it is delicious. Another interesting find I’ve come across is a distillery in Salt Lake City called ‘Sugar House,’ putting out their own product. They’re young but still very good.”

Bourbons to Try - Young but still so good Young but still so good. [Photo cred: @bourbontraveler]

Justin also goes on to say:

“Passing through Little Rock, I popped into a little distillery called ‘Rock Town,’ putting out all sorts of delicious whiskey; multiple bourbons and ryes. I picked up one of their four-grain limited release bourbons here.”

Rock Town Bourbon A Little Rock, Arkansas, pour. [Photo cred: @bourbontraveler]

In conclusion, Justin says:

“Lastly, I would like to acknowledge a very small distillery in San Antonio called ‘Alamo Distilling.’ It is a wheated bourbon, but it is currently very young. At the moment, it isn’t getting shipped outside the city. I’m mentioning them because they have the most adorable still I’ve ever seen.”

adorable Alamo Distilling Well, hello, adorable Alamo Distilling! [Photo cred: @bourbontraveler]

Still on the lesser-known bourbons to try, Landon - @chsbourbon - says:

“The Maker’s Mark Private Select program is awesome. People should look into this. All the different staves give a unique flavor. It’s pretty cool if you ask me.”

 @steelespeakeasy (Paul) says: 

Chris Thomas from Made South brought me Revival, a sorghum whiskey from High Wire a couple years ago. I didn’t like it, but it was obscure as heck. The High West folks are more rye-centric, but they try a lot of interesting things without doing it just for the sake of experimentation. I appreciate that."

Paul goes on to call out some BS:

"Honestly, come to think of all the obscure releases I’ve had (that are current releases from the last 3 years), most of them are pretty terrible. Most of them are non-age stated, young juice, or sourced juice that’s the same juice you’d buy from a major line. They’ve either blended or aged them a bit and charged a premium--which is all fine. Make your money. It’s just not for me. An exception to this rule is the Kentucky Owl line. It’s sourced, but Dixon is doing great work with his blends, or whatever he does. The new releases are a little more pricey, though."

But he ends up highlighting a few of his preferences:

"The most obscure ‘recent’ release I’ve had that I love is a Jefferson’s Presidential Select 18-year bourbon which is Stitzel Weller juice. The bottle I have was a gift from a client that got me into collecting about seven years ago. My most obscure dusty is a 1916 Old Fitzgerald Pre-Prohibition bottle that was on the shelf at Jack Rose Saloon in DC.”

 @brewsandbourbon (Zach) says:

“I wouldn't say this bourbon is obscure, but one of my new favorite sipping bourbons may be one that's unknown to the casual bourbon fan.  Michter's recently released a bourbon under the name Bomberger's Declaration. This 108-proof bourbon bears the name of the long-extinct distillery.  Apparently, it uses a different mashbill and yeast strain from the existing Michter's line. Whatever it is, it's delicious!”

Want More Bourbons to Try?

If you’re like us, you can never get your fill of bourbons to try or anything else bourbon-related!  Keep coming back to the blog for more. We’re always trying to pour a healthy dose of tips, tricks, recommendations, guides, destinations, DIY projects, mixology--and the list goes on.

Before you go, swing into our shop and check out our fine line of handcrafted products. Our whiskey decanters and whiskey glasses are top-sellers for a reason! They are really something special to behold.

Do you have any favorites, any under-$50s, or any lesser-known bourbons that weren’t mentioned here? Comment below with your own recommendations, and tell us what we’re missing!