The Best Whiskey for an Old Fashioned

Cocktails can’t get much easier to make than an Old Fashioned. Since it only contains three ingredients — bourbon, bitters, and sugar — the deliciousness of the drink depends on the type of whiskey you use. Sure, you can add other ingredients or garnishes, but we’re talking about the basics here. You could use a super expensive bourbon, but at the higher price points, do you really want to detract (even slightly) from the whiskey by drinking it any way other than neat (if you do, more power to you)?

But on the other hand, you don’t want to go too cheap. Cheap whiskey, while it may be easier on your wallet, will definitely not be easier on your gut. That’s where this list comes in. To make a good Old Fashioned, you need a good whiskey that isn’t too expensive nor is it too cheap.

Below, you’ll find our picks for the best whiskeys for an Old Fashioned that won’t break the bank.

Belle Meade Bourbon
belle meade bourbon best bourbon 2018
Dan Baker/The Manual

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 The Manual Spirit Awards 2018.

Buffalo Trace
Buffalo Trace

At roughly $25 a bottle, Buffalo Trace 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. 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
Ancient Ancient Age

The more potent brother of Ancient Age – 90 proof instead of 80 proof – Ancient Ancient Age packs a little bit more of a bunch, and still around $20. A perfect whiskey to add a bit more punch and spice. Ancient Age is one of two excellent budget bourbons produced by Buffalo Trace, this one leaning heavier on rye for a little added kick.

Wild Turkey 101
Wild Turkey 101

To add a boozy punch turn to the old stand-by, Wild Turkey 101. Aged in barrels with a deep char, the bourbon is full of vanilla and caramel. Wild Turkey’s full line of whiskies are a solid choice for an Old Fashioned, including Wild Turkey 101 Rye.

Jim Beam Black
jim beam black

While the regular Jim Beam makes a damn good Old Fashioned, our pick is for Jim Beam Black. Aged longer than the original, Jim Beam Black is has a smoother profile that is sweet and full of good char characteristics.

Maker’s Mark
Maker’s Mark

When Maker’s Mark was 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.

Article originally published by Pat Evans on Jun 26, 2017. Last updated by Sam Slaughter on September 5, 2018.

Food & Drink

5 Best Smokers and Smoker Grill Combos to Enhance Your Meats

There is no better feeling than having the boys over for a mean rack of smoked ribs or chicken in your own backyard.
Fashion & Style

Billy Reid Goes the Extra Mile to Make Menswear in America

The made-in-America approach has benefits for the consumer, both in matters of style and substance.

Beards, Booze, and Bacon: The Spirit Awards 2018 Episode

For this week's episode of The Manual podcast, we discuss our brand-new series: the Spirit Awards. Cheers!
Food & Drink

Jim Beam Reveals Limited-Edition Repeal Batch Bourbon

Prohibition has been over for almost 85 years. Jim Beam is celebrating that fact with the brand's new Repeal Batch bourbon.