20 Best Bourbons for An Old Fashioned - InvestingChannel

20 Best Bourbons for An Old Fashioned

In this article, we are going to discuss the 20 best Bourbons for an Old Fashioned. You can skip our detailed analysis of the Bourbon industry in Kentucky, the new positive development for Bourbon distillers, and the recent acquisitions in the Bourbon industry, and go directly to 5 Best Bourbons for An Old Fashioned

The craft cocktail boom of the last decade has brought back into popularity a number of quintessential classics, but no single drink has fully reentered the public eye quite like the good ol’ Old Fashioned. The American crowd-pleasing concoction was crowned the No. 1 Best-Selling Cocktail by Drinks International in 1920, with nearly 35% of participating bars naming it their most ordered drink, and three-quarters placing it in their top 10. There are even establishments that don’t just have an Old Fashioned, but pages of Old Fashioneds, and drinking Bourbon has become cool again. 

The Bourbon Industry in Kentucky: 

Although the popularity of Bourbon, America’s only native spirit, has risen and fallen throughout the past 100 years, it is experiencing a resurgence today like never before in history. Major distilleries have been expanding operations at a feverish pace to keep up with demand, and new craft distilleries are popping up all over the United States. Experts and industry insiders agree that this so-called ‘Bourbon Boom’ is here to stay, and whiskey lovers around the world wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Kentucky is the birthplace of Bourbon, crafting 95% of the world’s supply. Only the Bluegrass State has the perfect natural mix of climate, corn, and pure limestone water necessary for producing the world’s greatest Bourbon. 

As we mentioned in our article – 15 Best Inexpensive Bourbons Under $30 that Don’t Taste Cheap –  Bourbon is a $9 billion signature industry in Kentucky that generates more than 22,500 jobs. And if we’re looking at production and consumption, the state receives more than $286 million in tax revenue each year from its signature whiskey. 

Since 2000, Bourbon production has skyrocketed more than 360% thanks, in part, to the premium brands driving the Bourbon boom. Also making history this year, the number of Bourbon barrels aging in Kentucky reached a record 11.4 million – that’s around two barrels per every Kentucky resident.

Good News for Bourbon Distillers: 

The Kentucky legislature has voted earlier this year to completely phase out the barrel tax, marking a big relief to the Bluegrass State’s booming Bourbon industry. The barrel tax is a property tax on whiskey aging in rick houses. The state rate is small at just 5 cents per $100 in value, but for an industry that is rapidly growing and counties that have hundreds of barrels of Bourbon aging in warehouses, that amount adds up. It’s a tax that distillers say might slow the future growth of the industry and threaten to chip away at the state’s status as the Bourbon industry epicenter. The phaseout would begin in 2026 and be completed by 2039. 

However, the industry’s victory has come at a potential cost –  leaders from some of the top Bourbon-producing counties argue that the barrel tax phase out will take away an important source of revenue for local governments. Over 25 counties in Kentucky stand to lose an estimated $30 million in annual revenue that goes to fund county libraries, schools, and emergency services from property taxes generated on the value of barrels of aging spirits. A fiscal note included in the bill shows that local governments could potentially lose more than $232 million in tax revenue by 2039. 

Recent Acquisitions in the Bourbon Industry: 

In August, the brewing giant Molson Coors Beverage Company (NYSE:TAP) made its first spirits acquisition with the purchase of Bourbon and rye whiskey producer Blue Run Spirits. The Chicago-based brewer said that the deal marked another step in its ‘evolution’ into a total beverage company. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. 

The addition of Blue Run expands the Blue Moon maker’s footprint in spirits as it seeks to premiumise its portfolio. Furthermore, Molson Coors Beverage Company (NYSE:TAP) has established Coors Spirits Co. to house its existing spirits business, which includes Five Trail Blended American Whiskey, Barmen 1873 Bourbon, and ‘future innovation’. 

The Molson Coors Beverage Company (NYSE:TAP) ranks among the Largest Alcohol Companies in the World in 2023.

Similarly, MGP Ingredients, Inc. (NASDAQ:MGPI) announced in June that it had acquired Penelope Bourbon in a deal worth $215.8 million, including incentives. The acquisition will add to the Indiana-based company’s extensive portfolio of award-winning Bourbon, whiskey and coarse rye, giving it control over one of the most recognizable new brands in the industry. Penelope Bourbon will continue to operate independently from MGP and will maintain its existing team, structure, and production standards. This ensures that the brand’s iconic products can still be enjoyed by whiskey enthusiasts around the world.

SouthernSun SMID Cap Strategy initiated a position in MGP Ingredients, Inc. (NASDAQ:MGPI) in April this year, and made the following comments in its Q2 investment letter

“In June of 2023, MGPI announced the acquisition of Penelope Bourbon, adding a popular, growing Bourbon brand to the portfolio. This transaction is the first tangible example of how we believe management will leverage its national distribution platform and existing distillation capacity to bring other brands into the fold. We expect acquisitions like this one to be a key element of the future value creation opportunity.”

MGP Ingredients, Inc. (NASDAQ:MGPI) is one of the Best Alcohol Stocks to Own According to Hedge Funds

With that said, here are the Best Bourbons to Make an Old Fashioned

20 Best Bourbons for An Old Fashioned


To collect data for this article, we referred to a number of sources, such as Liquor, VinePair, Men’s Journal, Reddit threads etc., looking for the Best Bourbon Whiskeys for the Old Fashioned. We picked whiskeys that appeared at least thrice in these sources, assigned them a score based on their number of appearances, and ranked them accordingly. When two Bourbons had the same score, we ranked them based on their ratings on Drizly

20. Early Times Bottled-in-Bond 

Insider Monkey Score: 3

Early Times Bottled-in-Bond is crafted with pure water, a mash bill composed of 79% corn, 11% rye, and 10% malted barley, fermented with a proprietary yeast strain, and carefully distilled.

During the turbulent 1940s, Early Times proudly introduced Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon to the satisfaction of the heroic, hard-working men and women of that era. And in the decade that followed, the brand became America’s top-selling Bourbon.

The Brown-Forman corporation sold off the Early Times brand to the Sazerac Company three years ago. 

19. Maker’s Mark 46 

Insider Monkey Score: 3

Originally released in 2010, Maker’s Mark 46 starts off as standard Maker’s Mark, which is a wheated Bourbon made in batches of less than 1,000 gallons. Then, ten heavily seared French oak staves are placed in just-emptied standard Maker’s Mark barrels, which are then refilled and returned to the warehouses to finish aging for an undisclosed amount of time (estimated to be 2-3 additional months).

Owned by Beam Suntory, the Maker’s Mark Distillery is the sixth-largest Bourbon distillery in the world. Located in Loretto, KY, the distillery produces 16 brands, labels, and variations of Bourbon.

Maker’s Mark 46 is placed among the Truly Extraordinary Whiskeys Under $75

18. Basil Hayden Kentucky Straight 

Insider Monkey Score: 3

Crafted in 1992 by Booker Noe as part of the Small Batch collection, Basil Hayden introduced a more subtle side of Bourbon compared to its counterparts. Owned by Beam Suntory, Basil Hayden is produced at the Jim Beam distillery in Clermont, KY.

Basil Hayden is one of the Best Selling Whiskey Brands in the US

17. Knob Creek 12 Year Old Kentucky Straight

Insider Monkey Score: 3

Knob Creek is a Kentucky straight Bourbon whiskey owned by Beam Suntory and produced at the Jim Beam distillery in Clermont. In 2020, Beam Suntory released Knob Creek 12 Year Bourbon, a brand new addition to the Knob Creek lineup of ryes and Bourbons. 

Bottled at 100 proof with a robust 50% ABV, this full bodied whiskey is a driving force in the Ultra-Premium Bourbon category.

16. 1792 Small Batch 

Insider Monkey Score: 4

1792 is the year that Kentucky became a state, and the bottling of this special Bourbon commemorates that date. At 93.7 proof and with a bold yet smooth flavor profile, 1792 Small Batch is sure to be enjoyed neat, on-the-rocks, or in your favorite classic Bourbon cocktail.

1792 is a premium Bourbon owned by the Sazerac Company, a global beverage alcohol giant that took over the brand and its distillery in 2009. 

The 1792 Small Batch is considered one of the Very Best Bourbons for an Old Fashioned.  

15. Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond 

Insider Monkey Score: 4

Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond is aged under government supervision and meeting the exact requirements for a Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon. It has all the kick you expect, but is still one of the Smoothest Bourbons for an Old Fashioned

Even Williams is owned by the family-owned Heaven Hill Distillery. 

14. Larceny Small Batch 

Insider Monkey Score: 4

Discover a taste worth stealing. Made with wheat instead of rye as the secondary grain, this wheated Bourbon delivers a smoother taste that’s hard to resist.

Larceny is the heir to the wheated Bourbons that make up the historic Old Fitzgerald franchise that Heaven Hill acquired in 1999. In fact, it is the somewhat controversial history of John E. Fitzgerald and his eponymous Bourbon brand that provides the story, and name, to Larceny Bourbon.

The Larceny Small Batch Bourbon is a Great Whiskey to Buy for an Old Fashioned

13. Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

Insider Monkey Score: 4

An innovative approach to the twice-barreled Bourbon creates the rich and colorful flavor of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. During the first aging process, the Bourbon is matured in new charred oak barrels. It is then transferred to a second barrel that has been heavily toasted and lightly charred, which imparts additional flavors of caramel, vanilla, and toasted oak.

Woodford Reserve is a product of the Brown-Forman Corporation. 

12. Jim Beam Kentucky Straight

Insider Monkey Score: 4

Distilled with corn, malted barley, time, pride, and passion, there’s a reason why Jim Beam Bourbon is on almost every bar shelf. To get the distinct flavor of Jim Beam, the distillery ages the liquor in charred oak barrels for a minimum of four years. 

With 16.7 million cases sold around the world last year, Jim Beam was among the Most Popular Whiskey Brands in the World. Founded in 1795, the brand has been operated by the same family for seven generations now.

11. Eagle Rare 10 Year Kentucky Straight 

Insider Monkey Score: 5

Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is masterfully crafted and carefully aged for no less than ten years. The rareness of this great breed of Bourbon is evident in its complex aroma, as well as the smooth and lingering taste.

The Eagle Rare brand was acquired by The Sazerac Company in 1989, and is distilled and distributed by the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky. 

10. Old Grand-Dad Bonded 100 Proof

Insider Monkey Score: 6

Old Grand-Dad is one of the oldest and most storied brands, yet it receives little attention from Bourbon enthusiasts or marketing effort from the brand’s current owner, Beam Suntory. This might be simply due to the fact that it is a legacy brand offered at a head-scratching low price point that likely has little room for anything other than simply fulfilling the existing supply chain and keeping existing consumers happy, and potentially drawing them deeper into Beam’s other brands.

9. Bulleit Bourbon

Insider Monkey Score: 7

Bulleit Bourbon is inspired by the whiskey that was pioneered over 150 years ago. Only ingredients of the very highest quality are used. The complexity of Bulleit Bourbon comes from its unique blend of rye, corn, and barley malt, along with special strains of yeast and pure Kentucky limestone-filtered water. 

Seagram acquired Bulleit in 1997 and the brand was subsequently passed down to the spirits giant, Diageo plc. In 2017, Diageo invested $115 million to build the brand new Bulleit distillery on 300 acres in the Louisville suburb of Shelbyville, Kentucky.

8. Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight

Insider Monkey Score: 7

Never bitter or sharp, Maker’s Mark is made with soft red winter wheat instead of the usual rye for a one-of-a-kind, full-flavored Bourbon. To ensure consistency, every barrel is rotated by hand and the Bourbon is aged to taste, not time.

The Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon is one of the Best Whiskeys for an Old Fashioned

7. Four Roses Single Barrel

Insider Monkey Score: 8

For someone who wants a more complex Bourbon experience, Four Roses Single Barrel is a 100-proof whiskey that embodies the uniqueness of an individual barrel which was hand selected by the company’s Master Distiller. 

Four Roses was acquired by the Japanese Kirin Holdings Company in 2002. 

6. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight

Insider Monkey Score: 8

The art of making fine Bourbon first took place on the site of the Woodford Reserve Distillery, a National Historic Landmark, in 1812. The perfectly balanced taste of this Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey comprises more than 200 detectable flavor notes, from bold grain and wood, to sweet aromatics, spice, fruit, and floral notes. Woodford Reserve is a product of the Brown-Forman Corporation.

The Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight is among the Finest Bourbons for an Old Fashioned in our list. 

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Disclosure: None. 20 Best Bourbons for An Old Fashioned is originally published on Insider Monkey.

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