Easy Upsells of Your Favorite Bourbon
Let's face it - we all get into a rut at some time or another. If you're looking to mix things up a bit, and perhaps expand your palate, here are some other bourbons to try from your favorite distiller that won't leave your pocketbook crying "Uncle".
If you love Jim Beam
Jim Beam White Label may have been made for the quintessential bourbon-and-coke, but if you'd like to try one of the best everyday bourbons from the Beam lineup, grab a bottle of Knob Creek Small Batch. Sharing a mash bill with the flagship Jim Beam product (75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley), the resulting product is allowed to age a full 9 years. For about $36, you'll be treated to a vanilla and brown sugar bomb with subtle oak and spice.
If low-proof Basil Hayden is your favorite pour, consider checking out Old Grand Dad Bottled-in-Bond. This product shares the same mash bill as its pricier sibling - 63% corn, 27% rye, and 10% malted barley. While Basil Hayden is a very easy sipper, albeit at a low 80-proof, if you're looking for some bourbon-alpha (i.e. bang/proof for your buck), consider upgrading to this Hayden sibling and be treated to notes of vanilla, caramel, and baking spice, along with the sweetness of corn fritters drizzled in maple syrup.
If you love Woodford Reserve
I confess that Woodford Reserve is one of my favorite distilleries to visit and one of my favorite bourbons to enjoy. And while I love their traditional Distiller's Select expression, if I'm willing to splurge, then Woodford Reserve Double Oaked or its cousin Old Forester 1910 are my crushes. Both of these take their respective flagship bourbons (72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley) and then further age them for another year in a deeply toasted and lightly charred barrel. The result is rich and velvety, with loads of caramel, dark cocoa, and marzipan.
If you love Evan Williams
The Evan Williams brand is part of the outstanding lineup at family-owned Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. For a bargain-shelf bourbon, this is an outstanding everyday pour. While many instinctively reach for its close cousin Elijah Craig, another bourbon-alpha selection is Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond coming in sub-$20. With a mash bill of 78% corn, 10% rye, and 12% malted barley, this tends towards the sweeter-end of the spectrum, but is smooth and well-balanced with the sweet and savory of vanilla, caramel, black pepper and oak char. I'll continue to state that this is probably one of the most underrated bourbons on the market, and if reviewers continue to sound its accolades, it may disappear like its cousin Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond.
If you love Wild Turkey
I confess that in my early bourbon days, Wild Turkey didn't always strike my palate. Over time, as my palate has grown and expanded, I appreciate it as a great tasting, versatile whiskey. While I love their under-appreciated Russell's Reserve 10-Year, Creative Director Matthew McConaughey's Longbranch is my new best friend. Starting with traditional Wild Turkey bourbon, the finished product is filtered through American White Oak charcoal and a second time with Texas Mesquite charcoal, imparting a smooth, sweet, and slightly smoky bourbon. Produced from the same mash bills as other Wild Turkey bourbons (75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley), and priced around $35, this bourbon is very approachable.
If you love Maker's Mark
At a recent bourbon tasting event I led, our wheated bourbon selection was Maker's 46. While many love the flagship Maker's Mark brand, easily identified with its iconic red wax-dipped tops, many pass up its more sophisticated sibling Maker's 46. Starting with the traditional Maker’s mash bill of 70% corn, 14% malted barley, and 16% soft red winter wheat that has been aged 6-7 years, French Oak staves are added to the mature barrels and allowed to age a few more months. Bottled a few proof points higher than the flagship brand, the resulting spirit brings vanilla, oak, and cherries front and center in desert-like fashion, reminding me of a warm cherry pie with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.