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11 Best Bourbons for Old Fashioned

by Jim Passantino March 06, 2023 8 min read

11 Best Bourbons for Old Fashioned

Bourbon, the sweet nectar of the South, is a smooth and sultry whiskey that has been captivating palates for centuries. But when it comes to crafting the perfect Old Fashioned, not all bourbons are created equal.

From the bold and spicy to the smooth and silky, the art of mixology demands a particular kind of bourbon, one that complements and enhances the other ingredients, creating a symphony of flavors that dance on your tongue.

So, if you're on a quest for the ultimate old fashioned experience, look no further. We've scoured the land to bring you the 11 best bourbons for old fashioned, each with its own unique blend of aromas, textures, and tastes.

Get ready to embark on a journey of sensory delights as we unveil the finest bourbons that will leave you in a state of whiskey-induced bliss.

What Is Bourbon?

A Golden Elixir of American Heritage, Craftsmanship, and Tradition

It is a spirit that transcends time and place, evoking images of rolling hills, oak barrels, and the sweet scent of corn. But what exactly is bourbon?

In the simplest terms, bourbon is a type of whiskey that is made predominantly from corn and aged in new charred oak barrels. These two factors differentiate it from the other whiskey types like Scotch and Irish Whiskey

But to truly understand the allure of this beloved spirit, one must delve deeper into its history and production process.

From the hills of Kentucky to the distilleries of Tennessee, bourbon has been a staple of American culture for centuries. Its roots can be traced back to the late 18th century, when settlers in the American frontier began fermenting and distilling surplus corn in order to create a palatable and profitable product.

But what sets bourbon apart from other whiskeys is its strict regulations and production standards. By law, bourbon must be made in the United States, contain at least 51% corn, and be aged in new, charred oak barrels for a minimum of two years. These regulations ensure that every sip of bourbon is imbued with the rich, complex flavors and aromas that have become synonymous with the spirit.

But bourbon is more than just a drink. It's a symbol of American ingenuity, craftsmanship, and tradition. From the farmers who grow the corn to the skilled distillers who craft each batch, every step of the bourbon-making process is a testament to the hard work and dedication of those who have come before us.

So, the next time you raise a glass of bourbon, take a moment to appreciate the history and tradition that goes into every sip. For in that glass lies not just a spirit, but a piece of American heritage.

What Makes a Good Old Fashioned

What elevates a good Old Fashioned from a simple cocktail to a transcendent experience? Is it the perfectly balanced combination of sweet and bitter notes? The expertly muddled fruit? The smoothness of the whiskey and the chill of the ice?

For true connoisseurs, it's all of the above and more. The mark of a truly exceptional Old Fashioned is in the details, from the choice of bitters to the quality of the ice. It's about crafting a drink that is not just delicious, but an experience unto itself.

The best are with care, skill, and making drinks that transport you to another time and place, where the clink of ice in a glass and the aroma of a perfectly mixed drink are all you need to feel truly alive. 

Whether you're sipping one in a dimly lit speakeasy or enjoying it on a sunny patio, a good Old Fashioned is a drink that transcends time and place. It's a drink that reminds us of the pleasures of simplicity, of taking the time to savor the small things in life.

So, when you order your next one or make a trendier Smoked Old Fashioned, take a moment to appreciate the artistry that goes into each and every one. And remember, it's not just a drink—it's an experience.

(1) Bulleit Bourbon

Bulleit Bourbon — the go-to drink for many cocktail enthusiasts — is a top pick when it comes to crafting timeless cocktails such as the old fashioned. Hailing from the heart of Kentucky, this straight bourbon whiskey boasts a rich, high-rye mash bill that gives it a fiery, tongue-tingling flair.

To achieve its smooth, bold taste, it's carefully matured for no less than six years in charred American oak casks, which infuse its deep amber hue with fragrant notes of oak, velvety vanilla, and buttery caramel. On the taste buds, Bulleit Bourbon tantalizes with a luscious, well-rounded profile, capped off with a satisfyingly warm and spicy finish that is sure to leave you wanting more.

(2) Maker's Mark Bourbon

If you're looking for a classic bourbon to elevate your old fashioned game, Maker's Mark Bourbon is a must-try. Known for its iconic red wax seal, this small-batch bourbon is made from a mash bill of corn, malted barley, and red winter wheat, giving it a smooth, creamy taste that's perfect for cocktails.

Its deep amber color and sweet, vanilla scent set the stage for a full-bodied flavor profile that's both spicy and sweet.

(3) Woodford Reserve Bourbon

If you're looking for a whiskey that's the bee's knees, look no further than Woodford Reserve Bourbon. This Kentucky-made tipple has been the talk of the town, thanks to its award-winning flavor profile that will have any bourbon aficionado swooning.

The mash bill's got a corn-heavy kick that'll make you wanna holler, while the notes of oak, caramel, and vanilla add a velvety smoothness to the taste. The texture is both soft and silky, making it the perfect choice for an old fashioned that is light, fruity, and oh-so-satisfying.

(4) Elijah Craig Bourbon

When it comes to small-batch whiskey, Elijah Craig is a true standout, boasting a minimum 12-year aging process that brings out the full depth and complexity of its flavors. With its deep amber hue and enticingly sweet aroma, this bourbon is a true feast for the senses. Take a sip and you'll be met with a rich, full-bodied taste that's expertly balanced with hints of caramel, vanilla, and oak.

The finish is nothing short of sublime, offering a warm, smooth sensation that lingers with a tantalizing spice that's sure to leave you wanting more. Whether you're a seasoned whiskey enthusiast or simply looking to impress your guests with a top-notch old fashioned, Elijah Craig is the perfect choice for any occasion.

(5) Four Roses Single Barrel

It's easy to see why Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon is a top choice for crafting an old fashioned. With its bold, complex flavor profile, this straight bourbon whiskey is an admirable choice for anyone looking to add a bit of sophistication to their cocktail.

Its golden hue lures you in with its enticing aroma of caramel, honey, and oak, which paves the way for a complex flavor experience. The taste is full-bodied and velvety, with notes of vanilla, spice, and oak that develop on the palate and linger until the smooth, warm finish.

(6) Knob Creek Bourbon

100 proof Knob Creek Bourbon is the real deal, folks. This badass whiskey is aged for a minimum of nine long years, making it full-bodied, complex, and packed with flavor that's downright perfect for sipping or mixing into your favorite cocktail. With a mash bill that's high in rye, this bourbon has a spicy punch that's beautifully balanced by luscious notes of vanilla and caramel.

And let's not forget the smooth, long finish that leaves a pleasant, warming sensation in your throat. In an old fashioned, Knob Creek's bold and spicy notes shine through, while its sweetness and vanilla undertones provide a beautiful balance to the bitterness of the bitters.

(7) Knob Creek 12

Knob Creek 12 is a premium bourbon whiskey that's been aged to perfection for a whopping 12 years, making it a top-notch choice for discerning drinkers who demand nothing but the best.

This liquid gold boasts a full-bodied, high-proof profile that's sure to tantalize even the most experienced bourbon aficionados. Crafted with care and attention in small batches, each sip of Knob Creek 12 offers a complex, multi-layered flavor that's simply unmatched. So, what makes this bourbon so special? For starters, it's aged in charred American oak barrels, giving it a rich, amber hue and a depth of flavor that can't be beat.

On the nose, you'll be hit with a bold bouquet of toasted oak, vanilla, and brown sugar that sets the stage for what's to come. But the real magic happens on the palate, where you'll be greeted with a smooth, velvety texture that's bursting with notes of honey, caramel, and toasted nuts.

(8) Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon

Drawing off 60 years of bourbon-making expertise, Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon is a powerhouse of a whiskey that boasts a robust, full-bodied flavor that's perfectly suited for the bold, spicy notes of an old fashioned. With a mash bill that features a high percentage of rye, this bourbon delivers a spicy kick on the palate that's balanced out by sweet notes of caramel, vanilla, and honey.

Aged for a minimum of six to eight years in newly charred American oak barrels, Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon also packs a woody, oaky punch that gives it a unique complexity and depth of flavor. With a smooth, long finish that lingers on the tongue, this bourbon is a must-try for anyone looking to elevate their old fashioned game.

(9) Old Forester 100

If you're on the hunt for a top-notch bourbon to craft a classic old fashioned, then let me put you onto the Old Forester 100. This here whiskey is as smooth as silk and brimming with flavor, thanks to its carefully crafted mash bill that consists of 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley. The result? A taste that's rich, complex, and never too overpowering in either sweetness or spice. But let's talk aging, shall we?

The Old Forester 100 spends a minimum of four years nestled in barrels that have been charred to absolute perfection. And trust me, the result is nothing short of sublime. With a nose full of notes like caramel, oak, and vanilla, you'll be practically salivating before you even take a sip. And when you do, you'll be met with a medium-bodied flavor that's both fruity and spicy, with a satisfying kick that'll stick with you long after the last drop has disappeared.

(10) Old Grand-Dad Bonded

For over two centuries, Old Grand-Dad Bourbon has been a go-to for American whiskey aficionados, renowned for its bold and daring taste profile. This bonded bourbon, crafted from a high-rye mash bill, is matured for a good four years in charred oak barrels, delivering a rich, full-bodied whiskey with a warm, spicy finish that lingers on the tongue.

Take a sip and experience the explosion of flavors - a delightful blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, backed by a deep, captivating color that's just as seductive as the aroma. With Old Grand-Dad, you know you're getting a whiskey that's packed with character and personality.

But here's the kicker - Old Grand-Dad is not just any bourbon. It's a reliable and versatile choice that can hold its own in any classic cocktail, especially the timeless Old Fashioned. The sweetness of the sugar and the bitterness of the bitters may intimidate some bourbons, but not Old Grand-Dad. Its robust flavor is up for the challenge, creating a cocktail that's guaranteed to satisfy.

(11) Jim Beam Black Bourbon

Jim Beam Black Bourbon is a premium bourbon whiskey that's been aged for at least eight years, giving it a smooth and mellow flavor profile that's perfect for sipping or mixing into a classic cocktail. This rich and full-bodied bourbon has a deep amber color and a complex aroma of oak, vanilla, and caramel.

On the palate, Jim Beam Black delivers a well-balanced and layered taste, with notes of dark chocolate, toasted nuts, and a hint of spice. It finishes with a warm and lingering sensation that leaves a satisfying aftertaste.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this list of the 11 Best Bourbons for old fashioned should give you a better understanding of the exciting world of bourbon. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran of the craft, the right bottle of whiskey can make all the difference when it comes to crafting a truly memorable cocktail.

From the spicy punch of Knob Creek to the smooth and silky taste of Maker's Mark, each of these bourbons has something special to offer, making them essential ingredients in your mixology arsenal. So, the next time you reach for your bottle of bourbon, make sure you choose one of the 11 Best Bourbons for Old Fashioned. Cheers!



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