Deciding on a great bourbon, much less the best for an Old Fashioned is more complicated than you’d think.
It’s not as easy as simply finding the highest quality bourbon you can, buying it, then using it to make the best Bourbon Old Fashioned ever.
Yes, the quality’s important. But selecting the “best” bourbon means considering many things, like your budget, how practical you want to be, and personal preference.
For example, when you say “the best” do you really mean “the best” or do you just want the most for your money?
If you want “the best,” or a bourbon that’s among the best, why not grab a bottle of WL Weller Full Proof and have at it? But realistically, why would you want to defile such beauty with sugar and bitters…much less ice?
I think it’s best not to offend the whiskey gods and just pass on that idea. Instead, enjoy it neat or on the rocks with a few chilled whiskey stones.
So let’s assume you’re looking for something we can all enjoy. Something practical and right around the corner, like a great single-barrel or small-batch bourbon that’s premium quality, well-priced, and Kentucky-made. Nice, I think that’ll do the trick.
“Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”
The Best Bourbon(s) for an Old Fashioned
A quality spirit is essential here, even more so than many other cocktails.
Yet, with so many bourbons to choose from, where to start? Well, here’s a list of eight amazing bourbons that are all excellent options. They’re both readily available and of high quality.
But most importantly, they’ll take your Old Fashioned game to the next level! If you’re looking for the best bourbon for an Old Fashioned…you’ve come to the right place. Enjoy!
8. Old Grand Dad 114 Proof Bourbon
Old Grand Dad is a stout whiskey that’s not for everyone. But for those that don’t mind a powerful full-bodied bourbon, it’s a liquor cabinet staple. The spirit is a rye-tinged bourbon, so it’s spicier than most. Even still, Old Grand Dad is very smooth for its strength.
As the name suggests, it has a respectable ABV of 57%, perfect for mixing into cocktails. But most importantly, its flavor profile is excellent! Several unique notes combine to form this one-of-a-kind bourbon like caramel, orange blossom, honeysuckle, and cinnamon.
If you’re looking for an unbelievably well-priced bourbon you can be proud of, look no further.
7. Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon
Oh Reverend Craig, thank you kindly. Elijah Craig bourbon is named after a Baptist preacher who lived in Kentucky in the 19th century, widely known as the Father of Bourbon. Keeping with tradition, this whiskey is a truly exceptional bourbon for its price.
Elijah Craig is a strictly maintained small batch, only being bottled from a dumping of 70 barrels or less. As a result, each batch is unique yet consistently sweet and smooth. The hints of vanilla, caramel, and fruit complete Elijah Craig bourbon in stellar fashion.
6. Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve
This 120 proof bourbon is 6th on this list only because of its price. Otherwise, it’d be much higher. It’s among the most expensive whiskey listed, but it’s well worth the mention.
Since each bottle of Knob Creek Single Barrel is (as you might guess) bottled from an individual barrel, each batch varies slightly in both aroma and taste. Nevertheless, this powerful bourbon stands out from the crowd with a gentle nutty finish determined to impress.
5. Maker’s Mark Cask Strength Bourbon
The strength of this bourbon is in its distinct oaky taste. Maker’s Mark is known for its distinct combination of flavors including vanilla, caramel, and spice. This Cask Strength bourbon takes the Maker’s Mark signature taste to a whole new level, rest assured you’ll be satisfied with what it serves.
The smooth feel of this bourbon is a significant improvement over the brand’s basic bourbon despite having a much higher ABV.
Granted, Maker’s offers a Private Barrel Bourbon that’s nicely made. However, it’s expensive and has a quality made for sipping instead of mixing. But, to each is their own. Regardless, Maker’s Mark Cask Strength Bourbon is an excellent choice for an Old Fashioned.
4. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon
A perfectly balanced whiskey with over 200 detectable flavors. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon gets the most out of the Kentucky soil it’s malt and rye derive from. The bourbon offers a sweet combination of fruit, floral, spice, and aromatic notes.
Since 1812 Woodford Reserve has proudly produced some of the best bourbons in Kentucky. Their passion for quality and distinction is uniquely displayed in their Kentucky Straight. So if you’re looking for uncompromising quality, this is your bourbon.
3. Buffalo Trace Bourbon
Buffalo Trace Bourbon is made at the most award-winning distillery in the world. The whiskey has everything you could ask for in a high-quality affordable bourbon: the finest ingredients and a refined aging process combined to form a rugged spirit with deep and complex aromas.
In doing so, Buffalo Trace has delivered a true masterpiece. The bourbon’s well suited in an Old Fashioned because of its unique combination of flavors including vanilla, mint, molasses, toffee, dark fruit, and anise.
This top-tier spirit is an absolute must-try bourbon. You won’t regret it.
2. Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight
Basil Hayden’s is a stand alone bourbon, enjoy it neat, on the rocks, or triumphantly in an Old Fashioned. It’s a bourbon sparked with rye, so yes, it’s spicy. But the rich aromatic notes of honey, peppermint, and citrus envelope the senses, welcoming your taste buds like an old companion.
Rarely does such a unique combination of quality and craft manifest itself in a way you’re left wondering; why haven’t I experienced this before? Basil Hayden’s is a single small batch bourbon patiently aged and bottled at 80 proof. However, don’t mistake its proof as a sign of a mild temperament. No, this bourbon is bold and savory.
At first sip, you’ll be curious who was asleep at the wheel when it was priced. Few, other rye-laced bourbons can compare to Basil Hayden’s quality at this price point. So, if you’re looking for an amazing addition to your Old Fashioned recipe, this is a must-try spirit. Really, what’s stopping you?
1. Bulleit Bourbon
The combination of exceptional quality and value makes Bulleit Bourbon a step above the rest. This bourbon is made from the highest quality ingredients available and aged to perfection.
Its unique blend of rye, corn, and barley malt offers a complex flavor like no other. All while the pure Kentucky limestone-filtered water provides unadulterated authenticity.
Bulleit Bourbon is the essence of what a high-quality bourbon whiskey should be: bold in character, perfectly balanced, and made with passion.
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