Bourbon might sound simple when you state the word. We all know what a bourbon is. However, the bourbon market is quite expansive and complex. In fact, it can be downright overwhelming when you are looking for bourbon and go into a liquor store.
One of the first things that you need to know is that not all whiskey is bourbon. It is important that you use an actual bourbon when you are making an old fashioned. The drink is not meant to be made with just any old whiskey.
What is important to note is that the origina2l recipe for old fashioned calls for a spicy rye whiskey. Today most mixologists and drinkers alike will actually agree with us that you want a bourbon not a rye whiskey for your old fashioned. There are some great bourbons out there that you are sure to love. My personal favorite and the recommendation that I give is for Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon. This is a spirit that is not only going to offer what you are looking for but is going to elevate your drink.
What is the Difference Between Bourbon and Whiskey?
The first thing to remember is that all bourbon is whiskey but not all whiskey is bourbon. So, whiskey is a liquor that comes from fermented grain mash. Whiskeys can be made from wheat, barley, corn, or rye. They are all aged in wooden barrels. There are whiskeys that are made all over the world. You can find Irish whiskey, Scotch whiskey, and American whiskey. Bourbon is the most popular form of American whiskey. However, it is not the only type of American whiskey.
Bourbon must be produced in the United States of America. Bourbon is made from fifty-one percent corn. Bourbon is then stored in new oak barrels that have been charred. Finally, the liquor enters the barrel at 125 proof and is aged to no more than 160 proof. With whiskey, there is no percentage of specific types of grain.
There is also no need for barrels to only be made from oak. Also, the barrels for whiskey do not need to be charred. With whiskey, the liquor can be aged to up to 190 proof.
A Few Things to Consider When Choosing a Bourbon
There are some things that you should know about bourbon before you go on your journey of trying to find the perfect bourbon for an old fashioned. Bourbon has to be aged at least two years. There are some options that are aged longer. One thing is to consider what type of cocktail you are going to make or if you are going to simply sip on your bourbon.
If you are someone who likes to sip on bourbon, you should consider checking out a few things. One of these is to always consider first the types of notes and flavors that you enjoy from a bourbon. This is so that you do not have to worry about not enjoying the bourbon that you are sipping.
Some bourbons definitely have more spiciness with stronger flavors of pepper, while others are sweeter and feature stronger hints of caramel and vanilla. Now if you are going to be making cocktails, whether it be the Old Fashioned, a Mint Julep, Bourbon and Sprite, a Manhattan, or something completely unique, you will want to choose the flavor profile that is going to best marry or pair with the cocktail flavors that you are trying to achieve. By thinking about these things up front, you are sure to find the perfect bourbon for your needs.
How to Make an Old Fashioned Cocktail?
An old fashioned is a very popular bourbon cocktail. It is a cocktail that could potentially be made from a spicy rye whiskey as well, but today bourbon is preferred. Keep in mind that the bourbon that you choose can drastically change the flavor profile with an Old Fashioned. In my list of the top bourbons for an Old Fashioned, I add some tasting note comments for you.
There are a few different recipes out there for an Old Fashioned. Some use lemons or oranges instead of cherry as the garnish. Some use simple syrup instead of raw sugar. They all use bitters, but some use flavored bitters. This is the basic Old Fashioned recipe that is classic and it is a good place to start. It is the one that will help you to identify if you are looking for something else.
Old Fashioned Recipe
- 1 ½ parts bourbon
- 3 dashes of bitters
- Pinch of raw sugar
- Cherry to garnish
- Step 1 – In a rocks glass, muddle together the bitters and the sugar.
- Step 2 – Add ice into the glass, then pour the bourbon over the top.
- Step 3 – Next stir gently.
- Step 4 – Use the cherry to garnish the drink.
- Step 5 – Sip and enjoy.
The Top 5 Best Bourbons for an Old Fashioned
Of course, we have our own favorite types of bourbon for old fashioned. We wanted to share our top choices with you.
Bulleit Straight Bourbon
Bulleit Straight Bourbon is a new bourbon on the market. In fact, the company was first conceptualized in 2015 but didn’t come to fruition until after the owner had traveled the globe to see if people were interested in the bourbon that he had created. This bourbon is distilled in Kentucky and has been made from only the highest quality ingredients.
Why I Chose Bulleit Straight Bourbon
Bulleit Straight Bourbon offers a unique and interesting taste for those who are interested in being able to enjoy a great old fashioned. This bourbon will help to ensure that you have an old fashioned that has a lot of spicy flavors as it is loaded with both black pepper and ginger. One of the things that make Bulleit Bourbon unique is that it is made with a high rye mashbill. This means that it has more of the pepper flavors of a traditional rye whiskey along with the smooth and mellow flavors of vanilla and caramel corn that come with a bourbon.
The Main Features of Bulleit Straight Bourbon
One of the main features of Bulleit Straight Bourbon is that it offers you some distinct and unique flavors. In addition, it has a mouth coating and creamy feeling that you are going to enjoy. These things are going to allow you to have a unique experience. Another great feature is that the bourbon is typically found at most bars so if you fall in love, you can get your favorite drink everywhere.
What Does Bulleit Straight Bourbon Cost?
Bulleit Straight Bourbon costs around $29 per bottle. This means that it is moderately priced bourbon.
Where Can You Find Bulleit Straight Bourbon?
Bulleit Straight Bourbon’s website has a great tool that you can check out here. This tool will allow you to type in your zip code and find the nearest retailer of Bulleit Straight Bourbon to you.
Four Roses has a very unique process in procuring their bourbon. They actually have five different proprietary yeast varieties that they use in their process. They handcraft their bourbons with two different mashbills as well. Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon uses three different grains: rye, corn, and malted barley. The two different mashbills have different bills. The first has 75% corn, 20% rye, and 5% malted barley. The second has 60% corn, 35% rye, and 5% malted barley.
Why I Chose Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon
I chose Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon for a number of reasons. This is the entry level bourbon from the brand. This is delicious and allows you to be able to enjoy a good bourbon for a reasonable amount of money as it is not an expensive choice. I feel like this is the brand’s choice that is the most delicious. The bourbon has really delicious notes that are floral and fruity.
The Main Features of Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon
One of the things that you should note is that how you are garnishing the old fashioned can change based on the bourbon that you choose. The delicious flavors of the bourbon are enhanced with a citrus or edible flower garnish that is going to boost those flavors. This is one of the most delicious choices for being able to enjoy as a go to.
What Does Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon Cost?
Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon costs just $18. It is one of the most affordable high-quality bourbons that you can find. While some might argue that you cannot get a high-quality bourbon for under $20 a bottle.
Where Can You Find Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon?
Four Roses has a nice section on their website that offers you what you need to know where to buy. This link even allows you to pick out the exact style of bourbon that you are looking for and then directs you to the retailers near you that carry it.
Jim Beam is one of the most well-known brands in the entire United States and even possibly the best known American whiskey throughout the world. Jim Beam has branded the Old Grand-Dad brand to procure additional bourbons under their brand name. One of the things that is unique about Jim Beam is that the brand is a family-owned company that has been in operation for more than two hundred years and over seven generations.
Why I Chose Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon
There are many reasons that I chose to put Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon on this list. This bourbon is another one that has a nice flavor of pepper. This will add to your old fashioned in a unique way. This bourbon has a deliciously woodsy flavor and is both sour and sweet. This helps you to get a unique character and depth to your cocktail.
The Main Features of Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon
If you want to have an extra rich old fashioned with the Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon you can add orange bitters instead of the original bitters. This will develop all of the unique flavors that you have probably been noticing in this bourbon. It will really help you to bring out the heat and richness of the pepper and the woodsiness as well.
What Does Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon Cost?
Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon costs $22. It is a delicious choice for the money and while it is not a cheap bourbon, it is also not an expensive bourbon.
Where Can You Find Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon?
While the Jim Beam website has a link to where you can buy their products, here, they do not offer a full list of products at this time. If you are in the United States, this really will not be that hard of a bottle of bourbon to find as it is a common brand and carried in many places. If you are located outside of the United States, then you might struggle some with trying to find this bourbon. However, by looking at online retailers, you will likely to be able to pick up a bottle.
Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon is unique in that it has a deep and old flavor that has a unique sweetness. This bourbon is handcrafted. Reviews for the bourbon are really good and even those who are professionals seem to recommend this one. It is just a delicious blend of something different that you are sure to love.
Why I Chose Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon
One of the things that I personally love about Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon is that it is smooth. In fact, Knob Creek seems to offer a bourbon that is smoother than what you are used to. When you use Knob Creek to make your old fashioned, it makes it feel more elegant and gives it the flavor profile of a sophisticated and special cocktail. This makes Knob Creek one of the best choices if you really want to impress friends and/or family.
The Main Features of Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon
The flavor profile of Knob Creek offers so many things. There is the natural flavors and woodsy hints that you only find in the best bourbons. In addition to that, the flavors include hints of vanilla, honey, toasted almond, and allspice. It is a bourbon that is going to sit on the palate and taste different than you might expect. It has a nice bite and solid backbone as it is a 100 proof spirit.
What Does Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Cost?
A bottle of Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon costs $29. While this is the most expensive choice on our list, it is the one bourbon that you will feel the splurge is worth it and makes the drink far superior to what others use.
Where Can You Find Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon?
The locator that is featured on the Knob Creek website offers you a little bit more than some of the others. It does not just give you the names and addresses of the places that have Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon available. You can check it out here
One of the things that you first should know about Jim Beam Bonded Bourbon is that it is known as the nation’s favorite bourbon because it has won so many tasting events, etc. It is ranked really high and for good reason. The company has been producing bourbon for over two hundred years and in that time, they have grown and advanced their company and their bourbon.
Why I Chose Jim Beam Bonded Bourbon
Jim Beam Bonded Bourbon is a personal favorite of mine as well. It was a close number two pick for me because of its heavy and booze forward flavors. It really does intensify the flavors of our old fashioned which is a second reason that this one made the list here.
Features of Jim Beam Bonded Bourbon
Jim Beam’s bonded bourbon has some features that have probably helped it along its journey to becoming a popular and favorite choice. It has a nice flavor of charred oak. In addition, there are some unique hints of flavor with this bourbon. You get the distinct flavor of white pepper, caramel corn, and sarsaparilla. This combination of flavors might not sound delicious when you are reading this, but trust us, if you have not had Jim Beam Bonded Bourbon before, you need to make sure that you stop and pick up a bottle today.
What Does Jim Beam Bonded Bourbon Cost?
Jim Beam Bonded Bourbon costs $22 a bottle. It is a more moderately priced bourbon. You will find it to be a good value for the money as the flavor profile is uniquely it’s own.
Where Can You Find Jim Beam Bonded Bourbon?
Jim Beam Bonded Bourbon is easy to find. Since it is the most popular bourbon in America, there is no liquor store, gas station, or grocery store that carries liquor that does not have this bottle. However, if you want to be certain that the liquor store in your neighborhood does indeed carry it, you can check out their website locator here. They actually allow you to locate a bottle based on your choice so you are not just going to get the brand when you find a place, but the bottle that you want.
What is the Best Bourbon Whiskey?
There are not many drinks that are primarily popular in America. One of those unique drinks is bourbon whiskey. The rest of the world has even recognized that the bourbons that are in the United States are far superior to anything anywhere else in the world. Most of the best bourbons are made in Kentucky. While there are some companies producing bourbons in other states, these are all still using the methods that were developed in Kentucky and part of what made Kentucky known for bourbon around the world.
So, I will share my personal top ten bourbon whiskeys.
Top Ten Best Bourbon Whiskey
- Heaven Hill Green Label– It is a very cheap bourbon whiskey. This bourbon is a Kentucky thing and gives residents there a chance to drink for less. This bourbon is inexpensive but does not taste inexpensive. It is a delicious bourbon to sip or mix into cocktails.
- John E. Fitzgerald Larceny – It is another bourbon that is not going to break the bank. This one is moderately priced and is a small batch bourbon. It has a full flavor profile which makes it a great choice for all of your bourbon drinking needs.
- Watershed Bourbon – One of the things that Watershed is known for is that they bottled an Old Fashioned. While you might not always want to have old fashioned, this allows you to have the option without having to take the time to create the cocktail. This bourbon is where the price point is going to start bordering on expensive.
- Jefferson’s Ocean Aged at Sea – It is a bourbon that is very exclusive and select. It is a very expensive bourbon with a bottle costing you around $90. It is the most prized bourbon in the world. The way that the barrels are aged is that they are put on a ship and then sent to more than thirty ports around the world, not one time but four times.
- Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon – Another moderately priced bourbon, Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon is not just delicious but it offers you the ability to enjoy a delicious and flavor-forward cocktail or it can be a great choice when you are just looking for something to sip.
- Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20 Year – Now if money is not an issue for you and you can afford to drop $900 on a bottle of liquor, then you will want to give Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20 Year a chance. This bourbon is often considered to be the finest in the entire world. It has a delicious mouthwatering finish that is going to last you for a very long time.
- A.H. Hirsch Reserve – The bottle of A.H. Hirsch Reserve is exclusive, rare, and hard to find. That also means that you are going to have to pay in order to have the honor of having this bourbon on the shelf. A bottle will cost you more than $1000. The flavor tends to be a bit drier than most bourbon but it is balanced in a way that other bourbons might not make the cut.
- Bulleit Barrel Strength – Bulleit Barrel Strength is known for its complexity. Like all of the bourbons on this list, it is great for sipping and mixing. You will find that the complexity of this bourbon often adds depths of flavor and new flavor profiles to drinks which makes it a great choice if you would like to offer something unique. It is a more expensive bottle at $55 but it is not a bottle that is only reserved for an elitist crowd.
- Still House Black Bourbon – The first thing that you will notice about Stillhouse Black Bourbon is not the flavor but how it is packaged. The bourbon comes to you in an oil can. This is just to be in line with their theme, don’t worry the bourbon is actually good. It is a cheaper option that offers a nice coffee finish which adds a layer of sweetness to the bourbon.
- Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon – Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon comes in a uniquely elegant bottle. This bourbon is a perfect one to keep on the back of any bar as it is a good option that while expensive, it is not going to break the bank. It has a lot of delicious caramel and vanilla flavor notes. The bottle is also so nice looking that it is not an eyesore if you are looking for bourbon to keep out on a shelf.
While you might question while all of the bourbons that we recommended did not make our top ten list, just because we loved a bourbon does not mean that it would make a great old fashioned. Some bourbons are just meant to be sipped and enjoyed relaxing at night.
What are the Best Drinks to Make with Bourbon?
Do you want to sit back and enjoy sipping on bourbon all summer long? Are you looking for a way to enjoy your favorite bourbon as a fancy cocktail? Look no further. We are going to share some of the most delicious bourbon cocktails with you. If you are considering drinking bourbon in the summertime, you are probably picturing sitting on one of the stereotypical wrap porches on a home in the south. You might even hear a southern drawl.
Let’s be honest, there is nothing that you probably love more during your summers than relaxing. It’s natural that you want to kick back and enjoy life when you are working or moving around a lot in the heat. Relaxing means staying cool and being able to enjoy the world around you, even if only for a few minutes at the end of the day.
Top 12 Bourbon Drinks
1. Old Fashioned – As per the name, we believe the best cocktail of the summer to be the old fashioned. . A delicious blend of raw sugar, bourbon, and bitters to make you really appreciate the notes of your bourbon that get highlighted when combined in this way.
2. Bacon Bourbon Cocktail – Let’s face it, there are few things that people in the south love more than bourbon and bacon. So it is only natural that a mixologist somewhere decided to combine bacon and bourbon in a cocktail.
3. Jalapeno Bourbon Punch – A Jalapeno Bourbon Punch is just what it sounds like. This drink combines the flavors of fruit punch, orange juice, and pineapple juice, bourbon and all poured over a muddled jalapeno slice or two and simple sugar.
4. Whiskey Sour – A whiskey sour is another simple and delicious drink. This one combines your favorite bourbon with sour mix. Do keep in mind that either creating your own sour mix or shelling out the money to buy a high-quality one is important.
5. Mint Bourbon Lemonade – The flavors of mint, bourbon, and lemonade marry perfectly when blended together. Simply muddle some mint leaves in the bottom of a glass, add a shot of bourbon, and fill the glass with lemonade. You will want to either make fresh squeezed lemonade or choose a fresh squeezed lemonade.
6. Apricot and Bourbon Cocktail – Pairing apricot brandy, bourbon, apricot puree, and orange juice is simple. It is a simply delicious cocktail that you will be recreating all summer long.
7. Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade – Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade offers you the taste of the south during summer in your mouth. Blackberries grow in the south and if you happen to live where you can pick your own fresh blackberries, that is going to make this cocktail even better. Muddle your blackberries in the bottom of a glass, add the bourbon, and fill the glass with a fresh squeezed lemonade.
8. Bourbon and Sprite – A simple standard traditional way to drink bourbon is with Sprite. This is a great combination that is not just simple but is truly delicious. You are still able to get all of the powerful flavors of the bourbon and never miss out on any of the delicious flavor profiles. This helps make it the perfect combination as the Sprite is not too much to continue to highlight the natural flavors that are present in the bourbon.
9. Kentucky Sunrise – A Kentucky Sunrise is another classic cocktail that you are sure to love if you are a fan of bourbon. It is made as all sunrises are with a combination of one part liquor, bourbon in this case, and three parts orange juice. You then float a half part of grenadine on top to create the look of a layered sunrise.
10. Lemon Ginger Bourbon Fizz – This is probably my all-time favorite bourbon cocktail personally aside from the old fashioned. This is made simple as well. Just squeeze half of a lemon into a shaker. Add four ounces of bourbon and shake to combine. Pour this into a glass, add in four ounces of chilled club soda, and four ounces of ginger beer. Then simply add ice and garnish with a lemon wedge. Once you try this cocktail, you will not only thank me but you will keep going back for more.
11. Manhattan – A Manhattan is like the Old Fashioned in that it is a delicious classic bourbon cocktail. It is made with bourbon, sweet vermouth, bitters, and cherries.
12. Mint Julep – A Mint Julep is the perfect cocktail to serve in the hot summer sun. One of the things that makes a mint julep unique is that the drink is shaken and then poured over crushed ice. You will muddle your mint leaves with some powdered sugar and water and then add your bourbon and pour over the crushed ice.
With so many delicious cocktail choices to inspire you, you can even make your own signature cocktail that is filled with all of the delicious notes and flavors of your bourbon by highlighting their uniqueness with the right flavor profiles.
FAQs About Bourbon for Old Fashioned
If you have tried Old Fashioned and it is all you can drink, you can switch up a bit the bourbon in it and you will always have the same cocktail and yet with a slighty different ingredients.
No. These two cocktails are not the same, as the Old Fashioned is made with bourbon whiskey, bitters and sugar, whereas the Manhattan contains rye whiskey and sweet vermouth with sugar.
Well, I wouldn’t put the Old Fashioned as only a man drink, but it certainly is ordered among many men due to it’s strong combination of bourbon, bitters and sugar.
Conclusion: Choosing a Great Bourbon for Your Old Fashioned
One of the things that can make or break your Old Fashioned is the bourbon that you choose to use. There are so many bourbons that are available on the market today that you might find yourself becoming overwhelmed at the thought of picking out a bourbon.
Thankfully we took the guesswork out of this for you. We went through and tasted different bourbons both on their own and as they had been mixed with the ingredients to form an Old Fashioned.
These top five bourbons that we picked: Bulleit Straight Bourbon, Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon, Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon, and Jim Beam Bonded Bourbon, all had their own notes that made them perfect for this cocktail.
That being said, my personal favorite was an Old Fashioned that had been made with Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon. This is now how I order the drink when I am out at a bar or how I make the drink when I am sitting at home.
Now some people are not fans of bourbon. For a bourbon lover, I simply cannot understand why someone would not enjoy a delicious glass of bourbon.
However, there are those individuals out there that are not going to love drinking bourbon and most of these prefer a single rye whiskey. If this is you, then make sure to consider trying out your favorite rye whiskey. Since you have read this article, I am guessing that you are interested in creating a delicious bourbon-based Old Fashioned and I am sure if you have not yet tried one that you are going to fall in love when you do.