5 Bourbons for Your Bourbon Lover
Got a family member, friend, co-worker or business associate who is a bourbon lover? Want to give them a gift without spending a grand, a Grant ($50) or a Franklin ($100)?
We've put together a list of 5 outstanding bourbons - all readily available - and all in the $30 - $35 price range. These are perfect holiday gifts that will be appreciated, won't be re-gifted, and will show that you know some fine bourbon. And best of all, they won't break your budget or the bank.
Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select
Intended as a premium bourbon from Brown-Forman, this bourbon begins with a mash bill of 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley. While there’s no age statement on this rectangular square-shouldered bottle, it’s generally thought to be made from barrels that have aged 6-8 years. The nose is a very traditional bourbon with caramel, vanilla, and a well-aged rickhouse. On the palate this remains true to the nose with vanilla and caramel, along with some light chocolate and fruit notes. Delightful on its own or over ice, this also makes a tremendous Old Fashioned. For the full review, click here.
Four Roses Small Batch
Our final NAS (no age statement) bourbon is Four Roses Small Batch, though this is generally thought to be a blend of 6-7 year bourbon from about 250 barrels. A corn-heavy and a high-rye mash bill are introduced to two different yeast strains - one spicy and full-bodied and another that is floral (rose petal), spicy and medium bodied. The result is one of the more unique bourbon expressions in the industry. Extremely smooth and mellow, with a symphony of floral notes, stone fruits, caramel, spice and oak, this is rich and creamy in feel. In addition, who doesn’t like the heart-shaped bottle that expresses your holiday love? See our review here.
Evan Williams Single Barrel
While the Bottled-in-Bond rendition from the Evan Williams lineup is one of my favorite everyday pours, this is the holidays and you may want to splurge a bit beyond the $16 price-point for the simple sipper. Produced by Heaven Hill, this is an 86.6 proof and longer-aged brother of its sibling Evan Williams Black Label. Both versions share a common 78% corn, 10% rye, and 12% malted barley mash bill. Coming in at around 8-9 years in age, the presentation is a lovely, tall, wax-dipped bottle. This is rich and creamy, with a caramel-vanilla bomb as well as some lighter notes of chocolate balanced with berry jam, and spice. There’s a lot to like in this single barrel expression. Be sure to check out our full review.
Knob Creek Small Batch 9-Year
Introduced as one of the first Small Batch premium bourbons from Jim Beam, this takes the traditional Beam mash bill of 77% corn, 13% rye, and 10% malted barley and (once again) allows it to age at least 9 years. The added age adds some layers of flavors and mellows any alcohol burn. Similar to several of our picks, this has traditional characteristics of caramel and vanilla, but adds some maple syrup and fried-dough notes. At 100-proof, this is an extremely versatile bourbon - smooth and layered neat or on the rocks, and able to still be forward in a cocktail. The full review can be found here.
Our final selection for the holidays is one of the newest bourbons from Wild Turkey - Longbranch. This bourbon begins with the traditional Wild Turkey mash bill: 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley. After aging 8 years (recent bottles I’ve spied have a neck tag with an 8-year age statement), the bourbon is twice filtered - once with American White Oak charcoal; a second with Texas Mesquite. The result is a bourbon that is lighter and less woody than traditional Wild Turkey 101, and very creamy with vanilla, baking spices, light citrus, and even a wisp of campfire smoke. At 86-proof, this smooth and easy bourbon is very approachable for those seeking to enter traditional bourbon as well as having enough complexity for seasoned sippers alike. For the full story, read here.