The 10 Best Bourbons You Can Buy in 2022

What else we tested



James Brains/Insider


I tasted more than 80 bourbons for this guide, and several are suitable alternatives if you can’t find our picks online or in the store.

What else we recommend and why:

Buffalo Trace brands: Buffalo Trace makes some of the best bourbons in the world, including Pappy Van Winkle, Eagle Rare, Weller, EH Taylor, Stagg Jr., Blanton’s, and more. Unfortunately, demand has made these bourbons difficult to find in stores (and some, like Pappy, nearly impossible). So, we didn’t include them in our guide, but if you find one of the above brands on shelves in a liquor store at a reasonable price, I encourage you to pick it up and try it.

Jack Daniels: I tested Jack Daniel’s 10 Year and Bonded for this guide. I loved the 10-year. It was light on the tongue, smoky and sweet.  Unfortunately, you can no longer find it in stores. The Bonded is an excellent option worth trying. It isn’t as complex as the 10-year, but it’s still a good sipper.

Balcones Texas Pot Still: This has a unique flavor profile. The distiller describes a nose of “oiled glove” and palate of “leather,” which doesn’t sound appealing, yet I was drawn to it. If you want a truly one-of-a-kind, complex bourbon, this is the one.

Four Roses: I toured the Four Roses Distillery and tried its four main bourbons: Four Roses, Small Batch, Single Barrel, and Small Batch Select. My favorite was the Small Batch Select, with its many layers of flavors, including oak, chocolate, and campfire. However, it’s pricey.

Bulleit 10 Year: This rye bourbon is an excellent option for cocktails or on its own. I liked the balance of charred oak and vanilla and the medium smoky finish.

Woodford Reserve: I appreciated the ensemble of flavors in this one: coconut and oak with hints of caramel and chocolate. The nose matched the palate, and the finish was lingering and smooth.

Widow Jane 10 Year: Blended in New York from bourbons distilled in Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee, Widow Jane has a distinct, rich flavor profile. When you sip it, this pricey bourbon coats your tongue with a cherry and maple sweetness plus almond notes. The charred oak comes out in a long, mild finish.

Grand Traverse: I first liked this high-rye Michigan bourbon, but its strong corn flavor started to wear on me. It reminds me of sitting around on a hot summer day, shucking corn, while an apple pie bakes. The finish was long and smooth. If you want a truly unique bourbon, give this a try.

Jim Beam: I liked cooking with Jim Beam. It’s inexpensive, yet it imparts a distinct bourbon flavor to pies, glazes, candied bacon, and more. Jim Beam Black was my favorite of the three expressions I tried, but the flavor was pretty basic. Still, it finished third in our taste test. 

Larceny Barrel Proof: If you can’t find Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, pick up Larceny Barrel Proof. It’s the same distiller and mash bill and tastes great. It’s strong and sweet and gives you a long, warm “Kentucky hug” finish.

Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond: This new 7-year BIB bourbon seems to be flying off the shelves. I enjoyed the ensemble of flavors. Vanilla, caramel, and honey come through the light nose and palate. While the sweetness dominates, charred oak is also present. The finish is long and smooth.

Uncle Nearest 1884: This small-batch Tennessee whiskey has notes of apple, vanilla, and maple on the nose. The mouthfeel is incredibly dry, as if it evaporates on the tongue. It also brings a lot of spice to the palate, suggesting it could be suitable for cocktails.

Castle & Key: The Castle & Key bourbon didn’t make our guide because you can’t find it anywhere. The distillery didn’t even have samples when I visited. The brand sent me samples, and I thought the bourbon was a good sipper. The flavor reminded me of sticky toffee pudding. Castle & Key is relatively new and will likely have more barrels reach maturity soon.

FEW: Distilled in Illinois, FEW is a sweet bourbon with an intense maple nose and vanilla tasting notes. The finish was short and mellow. I’d want something more complex at this price point, but this is a good option for drinkers who want a smooth, straightforward bourbon.

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