12 Best High-End Bourbon Brands

Abbey Miller
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by Abbey Miller

Knowing the best high-end bourbon brands is challenging, as there are many factors to consider. For instance, price, smoothness, and flavor all go into deciding which high-end bourbon is the best. In addition, aging is another quality that is very important when considering which high-end bourbon would meet your preferences and suit your palate.

The number of high-end bourbon brands you can choose from is virtually limitless. Thus, deciding which brands are excellent can be jarring whether you are new to bourbon or an experienced whiskey connoisseur.

12 Best High-End Bourbon Brands

There are often many opinions on which bourbon brands are the best. But you shouldn’t let that intimidate you into choosing something you may not be comfortable with. Luckily, we have come up with an objective review of 12 of the best high-end bourbon brands in the world.

Our List of the Top 12 High-End Bourbon Brands

The increase in the size of the bourbon industry has seen the emergence of newer brands that now compete against the old for the top spot. Here are the 12 best high-end bourbon brands in the world currently:

  1. Russell’s Reserve
  2. Henry McKenna
  3. Four Roses
  4. Woodford Reserve
  5. Buffalo Trace
  6. Knob Creek
  7. Wild Turkey
  8. Maker’s Mark
  9. Elijah Craig
  10. Old Forester
  11. Booker’s
  12. Michter’s

1. Russell’s Reserve

Russell’s Reserve 10-Year Bourbon

Initially released in 1998, Russell’s Reserve was created to honor the work of legendary distiller Jimmy Russell. Russell’s Reserve belongs to the Wild Turkey line and has become a popular choice for high-end bourbon lovers due to its complex flavors and exquisite finish. Russell’s Reserve is usually aged for at least ten years before hitting the market.

Russell’s Reserve is 90-proof and 57% ABV, which isn’t ideal for cocktails. But it is the best bourbon to drink straight due to its delicious finish. Your taste buds will likely detect spices such as nutmeg and a hint of sweet caramel. In addition, Russell’s Reserve is an excellent choice because it is easily accessible, and you can use it as an alternative to other high-end bourbons.

2. Henry McKenna

Henry McKenna

Produced in Heaven Hill, Kentucky, Henry McKenna is a great bourbon for drinkers with a diversified palate. Henry McKenna has won numerous awards, including a ‘Best in Show’ award at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The brand has grown in popularity and value, and a bottle currently retails at about $90.

Henry McKenna has a 50% ABV at 100 proof, and the main notes you should expect to taste include vanilla and honey. A bottle of Henry McKenna is usually aged for ten years before hitting the market. Thus, it may be hard to find, but it’s worth it, and the price is not that high for a high-end bourbon.

3. Four Roses

Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon

Four Roses is the best high-end bourbon based on affordability alone. A bottle of Four Roses retails for about $50, making it one of the most accessible bourbons in the market. The brand is excellent for making cocktails and sipping. You will get maple syrup and cocoa notes when you first try it out.

With a history dating back to the 1800s, Four Roses has a reputation for producing smooth, high-quality bourbon. The ABV is 50% at 100 proof, and a bottle usually gets aged for about 6-8 years before getting released to the market. As a result, Four Roses are the ideal brand for you if you are looking for high-end bourbon that is consistently good year after year.

4. Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Introduced in the mid-1990s, Woodford Reserve has become a popular bourbon in bars and restaurants around the United States. Woodford Reserve is usually at around 90 to 120 proof with 43% ABV. A shot of Woodford Reserve is generally $2.5, while a bottle retails for $45. But the price may be higher depending on aging and the specific line of Woodford Reserve you like.

Woodford Reserve has notes of fruit and vanilla but is a bit spicy. The brand also offers a double-oaked limited edition bourbon which gets aged a second time. Choose Woodford Reserve if you are looking for a high-end bourbon that is expertly matured and slightly outside the box.

5. Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Buffalo Trace has over 200 hundred years of history and is produced by a distillery named the best in the world. A bottle of Buffalo Trace has 45% ABV at 90 proof, and the retail price of one bottle is $47 but can be higher depending on the years it has aged.

Buffalo Trace works well with different components when making a cocktail. Plus, it’s strong enough and has individual taste notes to make it ideal for sipping. Buffalo Trace also offers antique bourbon collectors a chance to get their hands on this high-end brand at a higher cost.

6. Knob Creek

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Bourbon

Considered the best bourbon for sipping, Knob Creek has a spice-filled flavor that makes it great for neat drinking. Unfortunately, a 12-year bottle of Knob Creek is a bit rare and a bit expensive. But it’s worth the price and hassle of getting it.

Knob Creek’s color is the first thing you’ll notice when you come across this brand on the shelf. It is darker than most bourbon brands, and the taste notes are bursting with hints of caramel, vanilla, and an intense oak palate. A bottle of Knob Creek has 50% ABV at 100 proof with a price tag ranging from $40 to $50.

7. Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey 101

Very few bourbon brands in the world carry the same weight as Wild Turkey. This high-end bourbon has been around for about six decades and recently made Mathew McConaughey its creative director. Wild Turkey usually gets aged for about six years and is 50.5% ABV at 101 proof.

Wild Turkey is perfectly balanced, blending exquisite smoothness with complex notes that suit experienced bourbon drinkers. A bottle of Wild Turkey 101 goes for about $30. The bite Wild Turkey 101 carries can be overwhelming for beginners, but its smoothness is something to savor.

8. Maker’s Mark

Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky

Maker’s Mark is a modern-day classic that has recently faced increased competition in the high-end bourbon category. But it remains a high-quality brand whose taste notes usually consist of cherry, vanilla, and butterscotch. A 750ml bottle of Maker’s Mark usually goes for $32 with 45% ABV at 101 proof.

Maker’s Mark is a ‘wheated bourbon,’ meaning it uses wheat instead of rye as the secondary grain. Being a wheated bourbon gives Maker’s Mark a sweet flavor, making it ideal for people new to bourbon. Maker’s Mark is also great for cocktails; chances are you have already tried this great bourbon if you frequently try a whiskey cocktail.

9. Elijah Craig

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon

Named after its founder, Elijah Craig is a barrel-strong bourbon that is very versatile and affordable. Elijah Craig gets bottled at about 120 to 140 proof with 47% ABV. Elijah Craig has a sweet and warm finish which is excellent for beginners and inexperienced bourbon drinkers.

Elijah Craig gets aged for about 12 years before hitting the shelves, and the retail price usually varies from $35 to $65. The limited edition of Elijah Craig bourbon is more expensive, costing more than $70. The notes you should expect to taste when trying this bourbon are nutmeg, vanilla, and mint.

10. Old Forester

Old Forester Signature

Old Forester is a bourbon brand that has stood the test of time and maintains its intense flavor and taste. Old Forester has 50% ABV at 100 proof and has numerous whiskey lines in its brand, such as the 1920 Prohibition Style.

Old Forester has gained a reputation for maintaining its taste over different generations so that you can use it as a gift to your old man or grandpa. A bottle of Old Forester sells for about $29 for a 750ml bottle. The spices in an Old Forester can feel overpowering at first, but the smooth flavor contained in this bourbon is sure to win you over.

11. Booker’s Bourbon

Booker’s Bourbon

You can’t fully appreciate high-end bourbon without the inclusion of Booker’s Bourbon. Booker’s is a barrel-proof bourbon with 125 proof with 60% to 65% ABV. In addition, Booker’s Bourbon is one of the few brands offering pure uncut bourbon, which is quite popular in the modern age.

Booker’s bourbon is quite pricey, and a bottle can retail at about $50 to $80 for a 750ml bottle. The price usually increases yearly, but it’s worth it. The high ABV means you can get drunk pretty fast, so consider mixing it with water or making a cocktail with other ingredients.

12. Michter’s Bourbon

Michter’s US-1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Michter’s Bourbon is a high-quality brand that doesn’t even get produced yearly. So, the year it gets released, it’s in great demand. Fortunately, there is a new release of Michter’s bourbon this year. Not getting produced yearly usually means the manufacturer works to get it right.

Michter’s Bourbon is remarkable at 94 proof with 57% ABV. Due to its scarcity, Michter’s 10-year bourbon bottle sells for $1,200. The most recent release has taste notes consisting of caramel, maple syrup, charred oak, and vanilla flavors. Michter’s bourbon is a must-have for bourbon lovers.

Wrap-up

The recent popularity of bourbon has made it one of the most sought-after alcoholic beverages in the world. But what should you look for when selecting high-end bourbon brands? Price, the years it has aged, flavor, and taste notes are all key to deciding which high-end bourbons you should choose. The above list covers all these, so try it out.

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Abbey Miller
Abbey Miller
Abbey grew up in a family with an appreciation for great beers, fine wines, and nuanced Scotch whiskeys. It's no surprise that she studied Hospitality Management and is now a professional working on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip.
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