When you first embark on the journey to explore whiskey, you might feel overwhelmed at the numerous options available to you.
Luckily, there are go-to bourbon whiskey brands that are ideal for both novice drinkers and for those who want to learn to appreciate the art of distillery without breaking the bank.
There are hundreds of brands of bourbon whiskey out there, so to make a full list of bourbon whiskey brands would be impossible. Instead, narrowing them down to a collective list of common, pleasing brands is easiest.
One thing to note is that for a bourbon to be a bourbon whiskey, it must have a 51% minimum corn mash, contain barley, and have a third grain that will vary depending on the brand. The flavoring grain, which is the third various grain, is one that can help determine the overall flavor of that whiskey.
Bourbons Will Taste Different from All Categories
No matter how the bourbon is made, all bourbons taste different from one another. That is what is great about trying each brand out there. If you were to purchase traditional bourbons that had a similar grain mash ratio, you would still find that each has their spices, floral notes, and fruity flavors. It comes down to how long they are aged, the distillery used, and the oaks cask that store the bourbon.
A Detailed List of Common Bourbon Whiskey for the New Whiskey Drinker
- Woodford Reserve
Woodford Reserve is a premium small batch brand of Kentucky bourbon whiskey. They use a combination of still spirits and spirits from another location in Kentucky. Every bottle released by Woodford Reserve is given a particular batch number and bottle number. Most of these whiskeys have 45.2% alcohol, so they are easy to enjoy.
- Baker’s Bourbon
Baker’s Bourbons are aged for seven years, and they are 107-proof, so they are quite strong. The brand is named after Baker Beam, who is the nephew of Jim Beam.
All Baker’s Bourbons are made in Kentucky, and they are traditional Kentucky bourbon whiskeys. Baker’s, however, is part of the Jim Beam line of small batch whiskey; therefore, they are unique and always enjoyable.
- Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey bourbons have been around since 1869, but they only started using the name “Wild Turkey” in 1940. This brand of bourbon, regardless of the year, is ideal straight, on the rocks, and in cocktails. It can also be served with club soda or a splash of water. Popular options from Wild Turkey include:
- Wild Turkey 101
- Wild Turkey 101 Rye
- Wild Turkey American Honey
- Wild Turkey Bourbon Pet
- Maker’s Mark
This is another small batch bourbon whiskey that is made by Beam Suntory. It is sold in a square bottle that is sealed with red wax, making them easy to spot at your local liquor store. The bottles are all 90-proof and quite strong, but they are still easy to sip as a novice.
Maker’s Mark contains a higher wheat content than other bourbons, and the Maker’s 46 is best for those new to bourbon whiskeys.
- Eagle Rare Bourbon
Eagle Rare is a high rye content bourbon that is 101-proof in their 10-year-old version, but this was difficult to find. However, it is ideal if you want to taste the flavors ofrye and corn and get the smokiness of a real Kentucky bourbon.
- Jim Beam
Jim Beam is by far one of the most famous Kentucky bourbons available today. They have an extensive list of bourbon products, but the best for novices include:
- Jim Beam 7-Year
- Jim Beam Black
- Jim Beam Rye
- Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- Jim Beam Signature Craft Bourbon Whiskey Finished with Rare Spanish Brandy