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25 Best Bourbons in the World

In this article, we are going to discuss the 25 best Bourbons in the world. You can skip our detailed analysis of the Bourbon industry in Kentucky, the new Bourbon in the air, and sustainability in the Bourbon industry, and go directly to 10 Best Bourbons in the World

Bourbon – It’s about as American a drink as apple pie is a food. For the popular spirit to earn its name, it must be composed of at least 51% corn, aged in new charred oak barrels, bottled at 80 proof or higher, and – this part is important – produced in the United States.

The country of origin distinction came from a 1964 congressional resolution that declared Bourbon whiskey as ‘a distinctive product of the United States that is unlike other types of alcoholic beverages, whether foreign or domestic’. Ever since, it must be made on American soil in order to legally bear the name ‘Bourbon’.

The Bourbon Industry in Kentucky: 

Although the popularity of Bourbon, America’s only native spirit, has risen and fallen throughout the last 100 years, it is experiencing a resurgence today like never before in history. Major distilleries have been expanding operations at a feverish pace to keep up with demand, and new craft distilleries are popping up all over the United States. Experts and industry insiders agree that this so-called ‘Bourbon Boom’ is here to stay, and whiskey lovers around the world wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Kentucky is the birthplace of Bourbon, crafting 95% of the world’s supply. Only the Bluegrass State has the perfect natural mix of climate, corn, and pure limestone water necessary for producing the world’s greatest Bourbon. 

As we mentioned in our article – 25 Best Bourbon Whiskeys Under $50 –  Bourbon is a $9 billion signature industry in Kentucky that generates more than 22,500 jobs. And if we’re looking at production and consumption, the state receives more than $286 million in tax revenue each year from its signature whiskey. 

Since 2000, Bourbon production has skyrocketed more than 360% thanks, in part, to the premium brands driving the Bourbon boom. Also making history this year, the number of Bourbon barrels aging in Kentucky reached a record 11.4 million – that’s around two barrels per every Kentucky resident.

New Bourbon in the Air: 

Celebrating 15 years of successful partnership, the premiere American whiskey distiller Woodford Reserve – owned by the Brown-Forman Corporation (NYSE:BF-B) – collaborated with Emirates Airline to blend a unique limited-edition Bourbon that was exclusively served on select Emirates flights throughout July. The only airline to launch a personally selected private whiskey blend, Woodford Reserve Emirates Personal Selection was made available for First and Business Class passengers to enjoy in the signature A380 Onboard Lounge, on selected routes across the UK, USA, Australasia, and Southeast Asia.

Each year, Emirates serves over 90,000 miniature bottles of Woodford Reserve to passengers onboard, as well as 6,500 bottles of 75cl Woodford Reserve in the A380 Onboard Lounge.

Woodford Reserve is a super-premium Kentucky Bourbon crafted at the historic Woodford Reserve Distillery, tucked in the heart of thoroughbred country in Versailles, Kentucky. 

The Brown-Forman Corporation (NYSE:BF-B) ranks among the  Largest Alcohol Companies in the World in 2023.

Sustainability in the Bourbon Industry: 

The modern consumer has become increasingly aware of the climate emergency we unfortunately find ourselves in, and actively seeks out sustainable brands, even if it means paying extra. So, as Bourbon makers find themselves in an increasingly competitive market, committing psychologically and economically to reducing their impact on the planet may also be the only means to make their businesses sustainable in the long run.

Diageo plc (NYSE:DEO) announced in 2021 that it has opened its first carbon neutral distillery in Lebanon, KY, for its popular brand Bulleit Bourbon. The 72,000 square-foot facility has the capacity to produce up to 10 million proof gallons per year powered by 100% renewable electricity, and is expected to avoid more than 117,000 metric tons of carbon emissions annually. Bulleit is the first and lead brand being produced at the Lebanon Distillery that supplements existing production at the nearby Bulleit Distilling Co. in Shelbyville, KY, for which the spirits giant invested $115 million in 2017. 

Diageo plc (NYSE:DEO) announced a 10-year sustainability action plan in November 2020 – titled Society 2030: Spirit of Progress – which aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across direct operations and a 20% reduction in water used to produce every drink, while also working with suppliers in order to reduce indirect carbon emissions by 50%.

If it stays on this path of sustainability, Bourbon can be at the heart of the blueprint to protect Kentucky’s unique environment, while also continuing to be a modern, competitive, and successful industry that produces some of the world’s best whiskeys

Diageo plc (NYSE:DEO) is placed among the Best Alcohol Stocks to Own According to Hedge Funds

With that said, here are the Best Bourbons in 2023

25 Best Bourbons in the World
25 Best Bourbons in the World

Pixabay/Public Domain

Methodology: 

To collect data for this article, we referred to a number of sources, such as Liquor, VinePair, Men’s Journal, Reddit etc., looking for the Best Bourbon Whiskeys. We picked Bourbons that appeared at least thrice in these sources, assigned them a score based on their number of appearances, and ranked them accordingly.

When two Bourbons had the same score, we ranked them based on their ratings on Drizly

25. Michter’s US★1 Toasted Barrel

Insider Monkey Score: 3

Introduced in 2014, this groundbreaking whiskey expression is made by taking Michter’s US★1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon and then aging it for an additional period in a second custom made barrel. This second barrel is assembled from 18-month air-dried wood and then toasted but not charred. 

Michter’s only became a brand in the 1990s but is now, despite deliberately keeping stocks low and releases in small batches, the fourth-fastest rising brand in the Bourbon market. Recently, a bottle of Michter’s 20-Year-Old Bourbon went for $27,500 at auction.

The Michter’s US★1 Toasted Barrel is counted among the Best Bourbons in America

24. Old Forester 86 Proof 

Insider Monkey Score: 3

Created in 1870, Old Forester is the only Bourbon continuously distilled and marketed by the founding family before, during, and after Prohibition. At 86 proof, Old Forester delivers a genuine Bourbon experience, with rich, full flavor, and a smooth character that is ideal for sipping neat, on the rocks, with a splash of water, or in a classic cocktail.

The Old Forester 86 Proof Bourbon sits among the Best Whiskeys Under $30

23. Blanton’s Single Barrel

Insider Monkey Score: 3

Introduced in 1984, Albert Bacon Blanton’s namesake Bourbon was the first ever Single Barrel Bourbon sold commercially. Distilled at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, KY, this whiskey is produced and marketed by the Sazerac Company.

Blanton ranks among the Best Selling Whiskey Brands in the US

22. Woodford Reserve Double Oaked 

Insider Monkey Score: 3

An innovative approach to the twice-barreled Bourbon creates the rich and colorful flavor of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. During the first aging process, the Bourbon is matured in new charred oak barrels. It is then transferred to a second barrel that has been heavily toasted and lightly charred, which imparts additional flavors of caramel, vanilla, and toasted oak.

Woodford Reserve is a product of the Brown-Forman Corporation (NYSE:BF-B). 

21. W. L. Weller 12 Year Old 

Insider Monkey Score: 4

Named after the early whiskey pioneer in Kentucky, William Larue Weller, this twelve year old whiskey is aged far longer than most wheated Bourbons. This offering is a smooth, easy-going, and balanced Bourbon with a beautiful deep bronze color.

Produced at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, KY, the W. L. Weller brand has been owned by the Sazerac Company since 1999. The Frankfort facility is the oldest continuously operating distillery in America, and even became a National Historic Landmark in 2013.

20. Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Bourbon Finished in Port Wine Barrels 

Insider Monkey Score: 4

Angel’s Envy Cask Strength is unlike any Bourbon you’ve ever tried. Each year’s release is distinctly unique and is pulled from the most remarkable barrels in the distillery’s rickhouse. Only a handful of barrels are deemed exceptional enough to undergo the extensive Ruby Port cask finishing for this 124.5 proof Louisville, Kentucky-produced Top-Shelf Bourbon.

Last year, the Kentucky-based craft distiller unveiled its completed $8.2 million Brand Home expansion at 500 E. Main St. in Louisville. The expansion, which adds 13,000 square feet to the facility, will allow Angel’s Envy to welcome an additional 64,000 visitors each year, doubling annual guest capacity.

19. Evan Williams Single Barrel 

Insider Monkey Score: 4

Evan Williams Single Barrel is the only vintage dated single barrel Bourbon on the market. Similar to the way vintage wines are selected, the company’s distillers hand-select individual barrels that meet the specifications they've established. Then each bottle is marked with the vintage date it was put into oak, along with the year it was bottled, and the exact barrel number of the single barrel that the Bourbon was drawn from. At around $33 a bottle, the Evan Williams Single Barrel is one of the Best Bourbons for the Money

The Even Williams brand is owned by the family-owned Heaven Hill Distillery. 

18. Four Roses Single Barrel

Insider Monkey Score: 4

For someone who wants a more complex Bourbon experience, Four Roses Single Barrel is a 100-proof whiskey that embodies the uniqueness of an individual barrel which was hand selected by the company’s Master Distiller. 

17. Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old 

Insider Monkey Score: 5

Legendary Bourbon-makers Jimmy and Eddie Russell used their vast knowledge to craft this 10-year-old classic. Aged in No. 4 alligator char barrels and bottled at 90 proof, this is the Russell’s Reserve Bourbon that started it all. 

In 2009, Wild Turkey – and thus Russell’s Reserve –  was acquired by the Campari Group, one of the largest companies in global spirits. Since the acquisition, Campari has invested over $300 million into expanding Wild Turkey and Russell’s Reserve’s production capacity. 

16. Eagle Rare 10 Year Single Barrel 

Insider Monkey Score: 5

Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is masterfully crafted and carefully aged for no less than ten years. The rareness of this great breed of Bourbon is evident in its complex aroma, as well as the smooth and lingering taste.

The Eagle Rare brand was acquired by The Sazerac Company in 1989, and is also distilled and distributed by the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky. 

The Eagle Rare 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon is placed among the Truly Extraordinary Whiskeys Under $75

15. Elijah Craig Small Batch

Insider Monkey Score: 5

Elijah Craig is credited as the first distiller to age his whiskey in charred oak barrels, earning his place in history as the 'Father of Bourbon.' The charred barrel transformed the clear liquid inside into an intense amber whiskey made rich with the flavors of the wood, which we now recognize as Bourbon. 

Elijah Craig Small Batch is distilled, aged, and bottled in Kentucky from a traditional Bourbon mash bill of 78% corn, 10% rye, and 12% malted barley, and then aged for 8 to 12 years in Level 3 charred oak barrels. 

14. Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight 

Insider Monkey Score: 5

Ancient buffalo carved paths through the wilderness that led American pioneers and explorers to new frontiers. One such trail led to the banks of the Kentucky River where Buffalo Trace Distillery has been making Bourbon whiskey the same way for more than 200 years. Made from the finest corn, rye, and barley malt, this whiskey ages in new oak barrels for years in century old warehouses until the peak of maturity. The Buffalo Trace Distillery was acquired by the Sazerac Company in 1992.

13. Knob Creek 12 Year Old 

Insider Monkey Score: 5

Knob Creek is a Kentucky straight Bourbon whiskey owned by Beam Suntory and produced at the Jim Beam distillery in Clermont. In 2020, Beam Suntory released Knob Creek 12 Year Bourbon, a brand new addition to the Knob Creek lineup of ryes and Bourbons. 

Bottled at 100 proof with a robust 50% ABV, this full bodied whiskey is a driving force in the Ultra-Premium Bourbon category.

12. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight 

Insider Monkey Score: 5

The art of making fine Bourbon first took place on the site of the Woodford Reserve Distillery, a National Historic Landmark, in 1812. The perfectly balanced taste of this Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey comprises more than 200 detectable flavor notes, from bold grain and wood, to sweet aromatics, spice, fruit, and floral notes.

11. Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style

Insider Monkey Score: 6

The Volstead Act of 1920 which initiated Prohibition granted permits to only six distilleries in Kentucky to continue to bottle Bourbon for medicinal purposes. Through one of these permits, Old Forester continued to be produced as medicinal whiskey on Louisville’s famed Whiskey Row. To pay homage to this era, Old Forester presents 1920 Prohibition Style Bourbon at 115 proof to represent the rich flavor profile this Bourbon had nearly 100 years ago.

A truly rare and distinctive occasion took place in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1870. When George Garvin Brown sealed Bourbon in a bottle for the very first time, he did so knowing it would guarantee quality and consistency for Bourbon lovers everywhere. And nearly 150 Years later, the Brown-Forman Corporation still watches over the production of every drop of Old Forester with that same care.

At around $60 a bottle, the Old Forester 1920 is considered one of the Best Bourbons Under $100.

Click to continue reading and see the 10 Best Bourbons in the World

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Disclosure: None. 25 Best Bourbons in the World is originally published on Insider Monkey.