I have always enjoyed bourbon. There’s something unique and comforting about having a glass or two of the ultra-smooth and supple elixir that reigns from Kentucky. I have picked out my favourites here, not only are they outstanding quality but also fantastic value too!

So, what exactly is bourbon you may ask?

Bourbon whiskey must be made from a grain mixture which is at least 51% corn. The fermentation process for this mixture is often started by mixing in some mash from an older already fermenting batch, a process known as sour mash. Much like how Scotch must be made in Scotland, Bourbon can only be labelled as Bourbon if it was made in the United States. While the rules are slightly looser with Bourbon than with Scotch it still has to conform to a few requirements.

The spirit must be distilled to no more than 80% alcohol (160 proof) and be no more than 62.5% when put into casks for aging in new charred oak barrels. Finally, Bourbon has no minimum aging period, but to call your product Straight Bourbon it must be aged for no less than two years (and can have no added colouring, flavour or other spirits added).

Blended bourbon is permitted to contain colouring, flavouring and other spirits, as long as 51% of the mix is straight bourbon. The age on the bottle of blended bourbon must be the age of the youngest whiskey in the mix.

The first two in the running are the incredible BLANTONS Original Barrel and the BLANTONS Gold Edition!

Blantons Original Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey – 70cl 46.5%
Taken from the centre-cut or middle sections of the famous Warehouse H, Blanton’s Original was once designated for ambassadors, dignitaries, and Colonel Blanton’s family and friends. Today, everyone has access to the world’s first single barrel bourbon.

The taste profile is sweet with citrus and oak. A creamy vanilla nose features hints of nuts, caramel, orange and light chocolate. Blanton’s Original set the standard for single barrel bourbons. Best served neat or on the rocks. 46.5% alcohol by volume.

Tasting Notes

Nose: A spicy aroma of Dried Citrus and Orange Peels with a hint of Caramel and Vanilla.
Palate: Full and soft, marked by a mix of Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Orange, and Cloves.
Finish: A muted finish but also well balanced with vanilla, honey and citrus.
Best Served: Straight, on ice, or used in a premium cocktail.

Blantons Gold Edition Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey – 70cl 51.5%

Undoubtedly one of the greatest bourbons around, Blanton’s Gold Edition was created for discerning connoisseurs who appreciate an exceptional bourbon.

Hand-bottled from the best casks at the distillery, this bourbon whisky is profoundly full-flavoured. Best served neat or with a splash of water. Bottled at 51.5% alcohol by volume.

Tasting Notes

Colour: Dark amber.
Nose: An oaky dry nose yet powerful. There is noticeably plenty of fruit although mainly dried with chewy peels and floral notes with a kick of spice. Honey, rye, vanilla and chocolate.
Palate: Fairly complex but enjoyable with top notes and chewy oak. Dark stone fruits, honey, butter, oak, deep spices, peppy and rich.
Finish: A long finish with toffee and apple which develops on pecan and caramel.
Best Served: Straight

Another top favourite of mine is this rich and intense nectar from BAKERS!

Bakers Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – 70cl 53.5%

A powerful Small-Batch Bourbon Whiskey which utilises a special kind of yeast for extra smoothness. Named after the grandnephew of Jim Beam, Baker Beam, this is a well-aged Small-Batch Bourbon which makes use of a special strain of yeast which the Beam family have made use of for over 60 years. Described as rich and intense, this Bourbon makes for the perfect substitute for an after-dinner Cognac.

Tasting Notes

Nose: A full and fruity nose with rich hints of caramel and toffee as warning spices rounds the nose off.
Palate: Nutty with plenty of tangy citrus fruits with more spice and a gentle vanilla, rounded off by char.
Finish: Rounded and of good length – warming with a delicious sweetness with coffee.

Now this is a bourbon definitely worth trying! Silky smooth, complex and a true masterpiece of great Kentucky elixir and such a cool bottle too!

Willets Pot Still Bourbon Whisky – 70cl, 47%

Smartly packaged in an unusual yet smart potstill-shaped bottle, this small batch Willet’s Pot Still Reserve single barrel bourbon is made by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, home of Noah’s Mill, Rowan’s Creek, Johnny Drum & Old Bardstown.

Tasting Notes

Firstly, there is a noticeable floral element with a rich nose of corn, leather, tobacco with just a hint of tobacco. Warm rye and a dab of oak also feature.

A subtle heat and lack of an after-bite on the finish combine to make this Willet Pot Still reserve, one of the smoothest bourbons around.

Smartly packaged in an unusual yet smart potstill-shaped bottle, this small batch Willet’s Pot Still Reserve single barrel bourbon is made by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, home of Noah’s Mill, Rowan’s Creek, Johnny Drum & Old Bardstown.

I hope these great Bourbons have inspired you to try something really special and to appreciate what the true taste of the Wild West has to offer. 🇺🇸