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The 5 Best Bourbons That You Need to Try ASAP

Of the many homegrown things to come out of this country, bourbon is among the best. It joins the lofty ranks of jazz, Cajun food, Tex-Mex, and more. In essence, it is domestic whiskey. That means a brown liquor made mostly of corn (at least 51%, technically). Kentucky has become famous for the stuff, with its own trail and tourist economy built around bourbon. People go there in the same way people visit Napa for Cabernet Sauvignon and Oregon for Pinot Noir. And while Kentucky is still arguably the American king when it comes to bourbon, great options are coming from all over the place, like Texas, New York, and California.

As you look to enter the bourbon field or fine-tune your collection, look to these five remarkable bourbons to see just how good the spirit can be.

Old Fitzgerald 14-Year

Old Fitzgerald 14-Year Bourbon
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If you want to be blown away by bourbon, this is a great way to start. Sure, it serves as a great spine to classic cocktails like a Manhattan or Old Fashioned, but frankly, Old Fitzgerald deserves to be served neat. Sip it slowly and enjoy the depth at play. It simply goes and goes and goes, weaving in and out of intriguing flavors like butterscotch, maple, fresh pear, wild honey, and toasted vanilla.

Templeton 6-Year

Templeton 6-Year Rye
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This distillery makes great bourbon of various ages. The six-year may be the most approachable of the bunch, a nice mix of spicy rye, barrel char, and pleasant fruit characteristics. There’s a roundness that accompanies the lively, peppery notes from the predominately rye mash bill. If rye is your style of bourbon, go neat. It you prefer a bit more sweetness, hit it with a drop of demerara simple syrup or even some bitters to offset the spice.

Woodford Reserve Double Barrel

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked
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What do we really want in a good bourbon? Richness and layer upon layer of flavor, ideally with some complementary notes brought on by a good barrel aging regimen. This one from Woodford Reserve does all of the above. Because the barrels receive just a light char, there’s plenty of nuance retained and the overall texture of the bourbon is soft, supple, and lasting. Enjoy flavors of hazelnut, caramel apple, marzipan, and black cherries.

Sonoma Bourbon

Sonoma Bourbon Whiskey
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Out of wine-crazy Sonoma, this outfit is helping define what’s being called California-style bourbon. It’s fruity and balanced, showing undercurrents of espresso and toffee brittle. It’s predominately made from corn but the balance is made up of a bit of malted barley and wheat, which combine to add some nuance and delicacy.

Milam & Greene

Milam & Greene Bourbon
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Hailing from Texas, where fellow labels like Balcones and Garrison Brothers are whipping up some fine bourbon, Milam & Grene is doing much the same. It’s a flavorful spirit that comes in a bulbous bottle, just bursting with tasty traits. This blend of straight bourbons is creamy and inviting, with an even mix of floral and spice notes. We love it in a Boulevardier as much as we enjoy it with just a big ice cube for company.

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
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