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The Best Bourbons For All Occasions
2020-09-16By Kelly Sullivan

The ever-popular brown spirit of America, bourbon is a staple to keep in your liquor cabinet. Whether you want a premium tipple to enjoy neat at the end of an evening, or for something more casual to serve as the base of your Old Fashioned cocktail, we've rounded up some great bourbon's sure to impress.

To guarantee the perfect serve, we pulled together a list of the best whisky glasses and best whisky decanters, which are perfect for your bourbon too. 

What is bourbon?

Bourbon is the American equivalent of whisky. It's a barrel-aged, distilled spirit, typically made from corn, though you do get some rye and other grain varietals. It's also worth noting it is made from new barrels only. Unlike whisky, bourbon can be made anywhere in the United States, whereas whisky has to be from Scotland, to bear the name. 

Old FItzgerald 9 Year Old Bottled-in-Bond

Presented in a 1950's inspired bottle, this Old Fitzgerald is a great bourbon that looks as good as it tastes. This is a collector's favourite that offers a beautiful palate of flavours, from the subtle smoke and pepper, there's cassis, spice and vanilla to bring it nicely into balance. 

£375 from Harvey Nichols

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Good luck trying to get your hands on a bottle of this. It's not hard to see why it sells out so quickly when it tastes so delicious. It may be hard to get hold of a bottle, but it won't be hard getting through it. Wonderfully smooth, with sweet vanilla and toffee, followed by honeyed citrus notes that make it far too easy to enjoy. 

€61 from Maison du Whisky

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Four Roses Elliott's 2016

For a special bottle that only comes out on those special occasions, Four Roses Elliott's Select is the one. It's the first release from the Master Distiller and a short run of just 10,000 bottles. From a nose of dark fruits and rich oak, it carries through to a palate of toasted caramel, vanilla and apricot jam. 

£800 from Master of Malt

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Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon

A great gateway to bourbon, Woodford Reserve is the delightfully affordable and wonderfully versatile bourbon everyone should have in supply. Lovely straight with a cube of ice, or the perfect bourbon for your Old Fashioned cocktail. The creamy texture combined with the flavours of marzipan and coffee (as well as a bit of spice) makes for an easy-to-drink, everyday bourbon.

£35.75 from Master of Malt 

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Kentucky Owl Straight Bourbon

For another household name, Kentucky Owl is a bourbon worth getting your hands on. A robust and complex bourbon with plenty of depth, this Kentucky Owl is like an apple crumble in a glass. Fruity, spiced and with a bit of sweetness it's got a smooth and indulgent mouthfeel. 

£265 from The Whisky Exchange

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Maker's Mark Harvey Nichols Private Select

This exclusive run for Harvey Nichols launched last year as part of the Maker’s Mark single barrel programme. With only 275 bottles up for grabs, stocks are dwindling quickly. You'll enjoy nutty flavours with maple syrup and hearty notes of wood. 

£95 from Harvey Nichols

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Smooth Ambler Contradiction

Similarly to Woodford, this is another reliable bottle bourbon that's versatile to use. Made from a blend of bourbons old and new. It's lovely and inviting on the nose, with honey and caramel drawing you in. The creamy texture reveals flavours of chocolate and brown sugar with a delicate hit of spice. Definitely one for your next Old Fashioned. 

£49.95 from Master of Malt

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Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 23-Year-Old

Some would say we'd left the best to last as Pappy Van Winkle is institutional in the world of Bourbon and it certainly doesn't come cheap. It's one for those really special occasions, where you can savour every drop. The 23 is released sporadically and always snapped up fast, so while we haven't tasted it ourselves (sadly) its reputation precedes it. 

$3,250.00 from Reserve Bar

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