Bourbon is one of the most popular spirits in the world right now, and I’m not upset about it. Used to be, if you drank bourbon it was because you couldn’t afford anything else. Nowadays, the bourbon industry is booming, while blended whiskies are what the bums are drinking.
As a student at Whiskey University, I have learned quite a bit about bourbon and its versatility. I never try to tell people what they should or shouldn’t taste, as everyone’s palate is different. You will, however, notice a trend in that I prefer sweeter bourbons that are aged uniquely or for long periods.
Maybe later on, I will let you in on some hidden gems in the rye world, but for now these will have a higher corn mashbill.
I’ve put together a list of the 5 best bourbons that you’ve probably not tried, but can get a 750 mL bottle for less than $80. We’ll start with my personal favorite bourbon in the world.
Jefferson’s Ocean ($79.99)
Jefferson’s Ocean is a unique bourbon as you’ll find. Particularly because of the way it is aged in the finish barrel. Trey Zoeller, founder of Jefferson’s, thought it would be a good idea to take bourbon to sea. For six months, the barrels will toss with the waves and soak up much of the sea salt and experience several different temperatures, which allows it to fluctuate faster. Every bottle tastes different, but be sure to decanter this one and let it breathe before drinking.
Calumet Bourbon ($49.99)
This is a bourbon many will tell you is just simply average. The positive thing is that only experts regard it that way. Your normal everyday Jim Beam or Maker’s Mark drinker will be impressed by this inexpensive gem. Named for the famous thoroughbred farm in Kentucky, this bourbon is going to be one of your new favorites. You’ll get more of a burn when you drink this, but the taste on the tongue is sweet.
Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel ($64.99)
As all single barrels, this bourbon has a much higher alcohol content that the others. Usually around 110 proof, the smoothness of this one is unexpected. Now, again – it’s a single barrel – which means every bottle is going to taste a little different. These, however, are individually accepted by Wild Turkey’s master distillers to ensure quality.
Woodford Double Oaked ($49.99)
I really like the oak taste in bourbon, so this one is another one of my favorites. Woodford Reserve is one of the most popular rocks drinks at the bar, and this is just an added bonus. You won’t spend too much money, AND you get a really flavorful bourbon. The oak and vanilla are prevalent to me, and that’s why I will not hesitate to spend a little extra on this premium bourbon.
Angel’s Envy ($59.99)
Talk about unique. I saved this one for the bottom because it’s worth the wait. Aged normally as bourbon is required, Angel’s Envy has one final unique quality – it’s finished in port barrels. That gives the normal oak and vanilla flavor a little bit of fruitiness to it, and it’s perfect. If you’re a fan of Woodford Reserve or enjoy the Gentleman Jack of Jack Daniel’s, you’ll be pleased to know the creator of those is the same man – Lincoln Henderson – who created this masterpiece.