6 Best Bourbons for Making Mint Juleps

best whiskies for making mint juleps

The 144th running of the Kentucky Derby is coming up and it’s time to prepare. You’ve already got your seersucker suit and your hat, and you’ve also already purchased your pewter cup (and the mint and the sugar, but let’s be real, as long as the mint is fresh who really cares all that much about these two things). All that’s left? The key ingredient to any half-way decent mint julep, of course: bourbon!

While simple to make, a mint julep’s quality comes down to the quality of the whiskey. In this drink, there’s not a lot you (or anything) can do to mask a terrible spirit and still have a potent and palatable potable. For any good mint julep, you need good bourbon, plain and simple.

To help steer you in the right direction, we’ve put together a list of the best bourbons you should be using in your mint juleps this year. As you’ll notice, all of these bourbons come in at least 100-proof, or 50 percent ABV. This helps the bourbon stand up to the melting crushed ice over the course of the drink. A lower-proof bourbon will work, but it’ll taste watered down.

Four Roses Single Barrel
Four-Roses-Single-Barrel

One of the best in the Four Roses line (at least we think so), Single Barrel is a high rye content (35 percent) bourbon that comes in at 100-proof and explodes with flavor right from the outset. In a julep, this translates to a sustained honey and oak flavor that goes incredibly well with the sweetness added by sugar syrup.

Sip it

Knob Creek 100 Proof
Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Whiskey 100 Proof

Nutty on the nose with a sweet oaky body, Knob Creek 100 Proof is a prime example of what good can come at 100 proof. The slight fruity sweetness on the front and back end of the palate pair perfectly with the mint in the julep. These flavors only get better as the Julep melts a little bit.

Sip it

Wild Turkey 101
Wild-Turkey-101

The flagship Wild Turkey bourbon, 101 has the body and character that is perfect on its own or in a variety of drinks (the mint julep, obviously, included). Vanilla and oak flavors contribute a nice mix to the mint and sugar, leaving you with an all-around delicious beverage.

Sip it

Maker’s Mark Cask Strength
Maker’s-Mark-Cask-Strength

The Maker’s Mark you know and love, but at cask strength. A full-bodied wheated whisk(e)y, the molasses and dark fruit flavors that come out hold their own, even through dilution from ice. If you’re looking for a stronger bourbon, this is one to check out for your juleps.

Sip it

Woodford Reserve
Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby 2018 bottle

This wouldn’t be a mint julep bourbon list without the official bourbon of Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby takes place. Woodford Reserve is crafted by master distiller Chris Morris to work with a wide variety of flavors, mint included. You can read more about the creation of their special edition bottle for 2018 here.

Sip it

Old Forester Signature 100 Proof
Old Forester Signature 100 Proof

Another standard when it comes to delicious bourbons, Old Forester’s story goes to 1870 when George Garvin Brown made the brand’s first bottled bourbon (older even than the Kentuck Derby). The 100 Proof expression has coffee and chocolate on the nose, followed by sweet apple and toasted oak on the palate. For those that don’t want to make their own mint julep, Old Forester also puts out a premixed variety, which comes in at 60 proof.

Sip it

Need a refresher on how to make a mint julep? Here’s the classic recipe.

Last updated September 5, 2018, to include details of The Manual Spirit Awards 2018.

Grooming

Lose the Liquid with the Best-Smelling Solid Colognes

Rub a finger into the pot, dab some of the cologne on pulse points (like the wrist and neck), and enjoy
Fashion & Style

Dive In Feet First With the Best Rubber Boots for Men

Fortify your feet with a pair of the best rubber boots and shoes. Our picks are both sensible and stylish.
Fashion & Style

Make Western Wear Work for You with The Best Men’s Denim Shirts

Grab one now for the perfect piece to wear as summer turns to fall and temperatures oscillate.
Fashion & Style

5 Best Basketball Sneakers on Sale Now From NBA Superstars

With the newest NBA season starting in just a few weeks, you can expect to see a blitz of last year's best basketball sneakers getting price cuts.