5 Best Sipping Bourbon Under $50 | Best Deal for the Money | What is the Most Expensive Bourbon?
While all bourbons are deemed whiskeys, not all whiskeys are considered bourbons. Bourbon is uniquely American because it is a corn-based whiskey produced in the United States. Scottish whiskey, for example, is known as Scotch, whereas Irish whiskey, such as Jameson, is distinguished by its origins. As a result, bourbon is an American interpretation of a centuries-old beverage.
The U.S. government has strict regulations for bourbon production to be labeled as Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Bourbon is primarily produced in Kentucky and Tennessee, aged in new charred oak barrels and not blended with any other whisk(e)y.
Traditional bourbon is made from about 50 percent corn, with the rest mostly rye and malted barley that is used for fermentation. For some bourbons, wheat is also used for fermentation, which helps make the whiskey smooth on the palate with a touch of sweetness to it.
History of Bourbon
Way back in 1780, American statesman and future President George Washington were already making whiskey. He even included a recipe you could use as a guide to making your own whiskey. In fact, virtually all the Founding Fathers were whiskey producers. Interestingly, George himself made rye instead of bourbon; this was due to the abundance of rye in Pennsylvania back then, compared to corn in Virginia and Maryland, where he lived. The first step taken to rectify this imbalance was the passage of liquor laws in every state that required distillation to produce a minimum number of proof gallons per year. These laws were modified to create a standard for pure whiskey, and today there are two standards, one for straight bourbon and one for straight rye whiskey.
In 1816 the distillers of Louisville, Kentucky, set up the production of ardent spirits (rum) using grains (like corn) from no less than six states: Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. These states grew corn in great quantities because it was so easy to grow. Because of its abundant corn supply, Illinois became the first whiskey-producing state.
In 1817, the distillers of these same six states laid down their first barrels of straight whiskey, which was to be bottled two years later at a proof strength of 80 (today, it is set at 125). In that year, the term “straight bourbon” officially entered the American lexicon. Bourbon distillers were legally allowed to add an unlimited amount of pure cane sugar or any other substance except foreign substances like water, glue, and artificial colorings.
How long should a sipping bourbon
Bourbon must be aged for at least two years and less than four years. During the aging process, bourbon absorbs colors and flavors from the oak barrels it’s been aging in, which adds depth to its overall taste.
But, oak barrels are not cheap to make and are also extremely expensive to store—imagine having all that wood in your closet. Bottling bourbon is, therefore, an easy way to make the whiskey last longer while making it convenient for consumers. Simply stated, bottling is faster and much cheaper than bottling by hand because you’re able to use more barrels at one time.
All bourbon must be bottled at the distillery and cannot be blended with other whiskeys. This means that every bottle has a unique flavor, making it more interesting to consumers who want to try new bourbons.
The United States is currently the only country in the world that makes bourbon. However, some small countries such as Scotland and Ireland have their own kinds of whiskey known as Scotch or Irish whiskey that are legally defined by different standards than bourbon.
What is the most expensive bourbon?
The most expensive bourbon in 2022 is around $65000 per bottle and contains rye instead of wheat.
Rye is common in some bourbons, but not all. It was once used to make bourbon under the name of Old Monongahela, but after Prohibition ended, rye production was prohibited by law until it started being used again in the 1980s.
The only thing that makes a whiskey bourbon is that it’s made in America and aged for at least two years in new charred oak barrels. Of course, not all bourbons are created equal—there are sweet bourbons, bold flavors, and more varieties than you can count. The rest is up to how distillers want to make their whiskey.
1. Michter’s Small Batch US Straight Rye Whiskey
This spirit is crafted from a mash bill of 68% rye, corn 15%, and malted barley. It is aged for at least four years in new American oak barrels between 115-120 proof and bottled at 90 proof. Michter’s use of the #1 char level barrels brings the most sweetness to the taste buds, giving off aromas of freshly baked brownies with melted chocolate.
2. Bulleit Bourbon
This small-batch bourbon is made by the Stitzel-Weller distillery and brings on a unique flavor to the palate. Its rich, spicy, and sweet flavors make every sip unforgettable. The taste of Bulleit Bourbon starts off with heavy oak notes, followed by hints of vanilla, cinnamon, and caramel.?
3. Old Grand-Dad Bottled in Bond 100 Proof Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey
Old Grand-Dad Bottled in Bond is a great independent budget bourbon for sipping or mixing. It hails from the Jim Beam family but contains a unique flavor profile to be considered its own. Sweet, velvety, and flavorful smoothness, Old Grand-Dad is a great intro to the world of good whiskies. The Bottled in Bond designation means that this bourbon hails from one distillery and is aged at least four years. And by law-bound, it cannot be bottled until it has spent at least two years in a federally bonded warehouse.?
4. Wild Turkey 101 Proof Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey
This bourbon brings both smoothness and character to the table. It is most often consumed neat to enjoy its full flavor profile or used in cocktails, most often the Old Fashioned. The Wild Turkey brand has been around since 1865, operating with three generations of Beam family members.
5. Evan Williams Single Barrel
This bourbon is bottled at 100 proof, meaning that each bottle contains 25% more alcohol than regular Evan Williams (75 proof instead of 52 proof). It has a very clear color and is priced at $30 USD. This bourbon is made by the same distiller as Evan Williams but is bottled in barrel form and tastes much better than the standard Evan Williams.
6. Charred Oak
This whiskey has a very light caramel color with a slight tint of brown. It’s aged in charred oak barrels and only sold online, so you have to order it directly from the distillery. It tastes like a nice wood fire with a hint of vanilla to it. Very good for sipping on its own or for mixing into drinks.
7. Maker’s Mark
This bourbon is aged 13 years and has a light caramel color. It has strong oak flavors, and when sipped, it almost seems like your tongue is burning.
8. Smooth Ambler Old Scout
This whiskey has a very slight amber color that reminds me of the color of crushed snow. It has a nice toasted oak aroma with a very little bite to it. On the rocks, this bourbon tastes like you’re drinking water.
9. Old Forester
This bourbon has a medium amber color, low alcohol content (40%), and is priced at $27 USD. It is a very smooth sipping bourbon that doesn’t burn on the way down.
10. Basil Hayden’s
This bourbon is older than Old Forester and has a light amber color with a bright orange/amber flame color. It has a nice aging flavor, with just the right amount of warming.
Most Smoothest Bourbon Whiskey in 2022
Based on the opinions of over 250,000 whisky enthusiasts, these are ten of the best smooth bourbons and American whiskeys. Oscar Blues 471 is a top-seller favorite, while Wild Turkey Longbranch is considered to be one of the smoothest whiskeys available on the market.
The American whiskey industry has grown substantially over the past few decades and is now one of the largest industries worldwide, earning more money per year than Russia or Saudi Arabia.
The United States is one of the world’s leading whiskey producers, ranking second in the world after Ireland. In 2015, there were an estimated 15 million Americans enjoying a glass or two of whiskey every day.
Almost a quarter of these drinkers were between 25 and 34 years old; men chasing high-quality drinks like Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel or Crown Royal Maple was a bit less common, with just 10%.
Buying the right Whiskey and Evolution of bourbon — Complete Guide
Buying and ordering the right kind of whiskey or bourbon can be hard. You’ll find a lot of factoids out there like, “Whiskey is a distilled liquor made from fermented grain mash.” What is distillation? What does fermentation mean? What even is a grain mash, and why is it a requirement?
Bourbon has been around for years, but the first whiskey distilling operations in the United States were performed by 1714. There’s a lot of legal debate over whether this was actually a creation of George Washington’s or his little brother Lawrence. Whichever side you choose, the fact is Templeton Rye Whiskey was produced that year and has historical significance.
The first batch used grain that had been stored in Lawrence Washington’s cellar at Mount Vernon, awaiting distribution to soldiers as provisions during the time of war. As a result, there have been disputes between Washington heritage groups as well as lawyers over who really deserves credit for what.
Technically, bourbon is whiskey produced in the United States after the federal government prohibited imports of all distilled spirits in 1791. This date coincides with the establishment of the individual states, which led to a need for revenue through taxation and thus an effective means to prevent smuggling.
With this in mind, Kentucky and Tennessee were given a contract that allowed them to produce and distill as much of their own liquor as they could pay for without going into debt. As such, whiskey distilled within these borders became known as straight bourbon whiskey.
Once those two states had established themselves as major producers of straight bourbon whiskey, others followed suit in order to compete with what was seen as the best competition. These later bourbon production states were given an opportunity to develop their own style of bourbon, and thus they developed the bourbon we know today.
The federal government also established a series of regulations in the late 1800s that focused on quality by implementing minimum age requirements, quality of grain and water, and recipe standards.
Thus, there are a handful of variations within the American Bourbon industry in terms of age, color (amber or gold), mash bill (who uses wheat), distillate strength and proof, and bottle shape (bottled-in-bond versus straight), etc. Different companies will label their products as “Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey” or “Bourbon Rye Whiskey,” for example.
The Whiskey Tax
In 1831, the year that the whiskey tax was repealed after a long and bloody government war, bourbon distillers could make liquor free of tax. This led to an explosion in the distillation industry, with many new companies sprouting up around Kentucky. In 1835 there were only two such companies, but just a year later, in 1836, there were more than 23 whiskey distilleries established in Kentucky alone.
By 1860 there were close to 400 bourbon producers. These numbers continued to rise until Prohibition, when many went out of business or switched to making other products like soft drinks and ice cream.
How does whiskey get its name?
The term “bourbon” comes from Bourbon County, Kentucky, on the Kentucky River, which was the original distillation location. Bourbon is also a type of whiskey that has been named after this county, as well as most of Kentucky’s bourbon production sites specialize in bourbon.
The term “straight” or “unblended” is used because at the time of Prohibition in 1920, many distilleries could not produce enough different recipes to meet demand. Instead, they produced just one distinctive whiskey. Thus it remains straight today.