Cocktails don’t get more classic than the Old Fashioned. With base ingredients of bourbon, bitters, and sugar — and, in most cases, a twist of citrus — the deliciousness of the drink depends entirely on the whiskey you use. Sure, you can dress up a bottle of rotgut with sour mix or whatnot, but here you need a fine spirit.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to spend an arm and leg for a decent bottle of whiskey. Below, you’ll find our picks for the best whiskeys for an Old Fashioned that won’t break the bank but will make a fine drink when stirred together with just the right addition of sweet and bitter.
Balcones Texas Single Malt Whisky
Winner in the American Single Malt Whiskey category of The Manual Spirit Awards, this whiskey from Texas outfit is full and silky smooth, with loads of honey and sweet orange flavors at the beginning and woody smoky notes leading into the finish. While not a bourbon, we feel the smoky notes in this whiskey make for a wonderful Old Fashioned.
Belle Meade Bourbon
Belle Meade Bourbon blends the best caramel, oak, and vanilla flavors of oak aging with the baking spice of a high rye mash bill for a spirit with a backbone that stands up not only in an Old Fashioned but any number of other cocktails as well — which is why it was the winner of Bourbon category in The Manual Spirit Awards 2018.
At roughly $25 a bottle,is the bourbon to have on hand at all times. Regardless of what the bottle implies, we can assure you that there are absolutely no traces of buffalo used in the making of this fine liquor. (In fact, the name refers to an ancient buffalo crossing on the banks of the Kentucky River.) Though it is fantastic on the rocks, it provides an air of sophistication to a cocktail, especially an Old Fashioned. The balanced bourbon offers just enough complexity to keep the cocktail interesting.
Ancient Ancient Age
Wild Turkey 101
To add a boozy punch turn to the old stand-by, we have. Aged in barrels with a deep char, the bourbon is full of vanilla and caramel. Wild Turkey’s full line of whiskeys offers a solid choice for an Old Fashioned, including Wild Turkey 101 Rye.
Jim Beam Black
While the regularmakes a damn good Old Fashioned, our pick is for Jim Beam Black. Aged longer than the original, Jim Beam Black has a smoother profile that is sweet and full of good char characteristics.
Whenwas first introduced in the 1950s, it was a hit because it was easy to drink (thanks in part to the wheat, which imparts a creamy mouthfeel). It continues to be a hit for much the same reason. Maker’s will keep the Old Fashioned as an easy sipper.
Tin Cup Rye
Crafted in the style of rye whiskeys enjoyed by Colorado miners of the 19th Century, bitters and a bit of sugar, this whiskey makes an Old Fashioned that’s a close second to striking gold.even takes its name from a town founded following a gold strike in the fall of 1860. A 95% rye grain bill produces a rich, sweet flavor that has sweet vanilla notes and a smoky finish. Balanced with Angostura and orange
Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon
If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a bottle or even a pour of, savor it. And not just because the stuff is 133.9 proof (in the 2020 release), which is a whopping 66.95% ABV, but because it’s rare and expensive and only comes out every few years. For all that octane, it’s surprisingly tasty, with notes ranging from caramel to coffee to smoky to candy sugar. Use one huge ice cube, and let your drink rest some before first sips, then sip slowly and enjoy.
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