Choosing the best bourbon for old fashioned is a never-ending journey and not as simple as you think it is. Searching for the highest quality, buying it, and finally making a chewy and delicious old-fashioned—yeah, a lot of work, Right?
When the bourbon, bitters, sugar, and cherries play together in your mouth, the outcome this smooth, creamy, and long-lasting. But now the question arises, which one should we go for?
From Knob Creek to Buffalo Trace—there are never-ending choices when you are searching for the best one. So, here in this article, you will know about the best bourbon for old fashioned, how to prepare it, and some interesting facts you need to know before taking a sip of it.
How Can I Make An Old Fashioned Cocktail
An old-fashioned is a popular classy cocktail that you can try with rye whiskey to make it a little spicy. But nowadays, bourbon is preferred more for preparing this cocktail.
If you are a history buff, you will know a cocktail is nothing but a mixture of water, spirits, sugar, and bitters—captured the heart of drinkers 200 years ago. And in terms of the best bourbon for old-fashioned, it checks all the marks with bourbon, sugar, water, and aromatic bitters.
When you choose a bourbon for the old-fashioned, it will dramatically change the taste profile. Maybe more seasoned and sweetened.
Here, in this list of the best bourbon for old fashioned, I have included some tasting notes that will help you select the right one according to your preference.
Old fashioned Recipe
You will find different types of recipes for making an old-fashioned cocktail. You can use oranges or lemons instead of cherries and can go with simple syrup instead of sugar.
Here, I will share a standard old-fashioned recipe that is ideal to start with.
- 2 to 4 ounces bourbon
- 1 to 2 tbsp plain water
- Pinch of sugar
- Ice cube
- 2 to 3 dashes of bitters
- Orange peel for garnishing
- In a rocks glass, add raw sugar, bitters, and plain water. And gently stir the sugar until it is dissolved.
- Next, fill the glass with ice cubes, and add bourbon on the top. Now combine the mixture properly.
- Use a burned orange peel to garnish your drink. Now, take a sip and enjoy.
The Top 13 Best Bourbon For Old Fashioned
When you are looking for the best bourbon for old fashioned, there are plenty of options to go for. But, now we need to decide on the right one.
All the bourbons are listed below are top quality and easily available—most importantly will satisfy your search for the best bourbon for old-fashioned.
1. Buffalo Trace
When it is about the best bourbon for old fashioned—this vino is my top pick—the finest ingredients and its refined aging process that comes with a deep and complex flavour make it the most desirable ones.
Buffalo Trace is made by America’s oldest distillery, dating back more than 200 years. This vino got everything that you find in an affordable and high-quality bourbon.
This bourbon is a true masterpiece because it’s a ‘deep amber whiskey’ that gives your tastebuds bold combinations of mint, vanilla, and molasses—sounds like the best bourbon for old-fashioned, Right? And not to mention its finishing notes of brown sugar, oak, toffee, dark fruit, and spice—undoubtedly welcoming twist for an old-fashioned.
ABV: 45% | Notes: Oak, Molasses, Mint | Avg price: $30
2. Maker’s Mark
Maker’s Mark bourbon is an ideal whiskey when you are in the mood for a classy cocktail. Neither bitter nor sharp, it is the best bourbon for old fashioned. And also budget-friendly.
This full-bodied bourbon contains red winter wheat instead of the usual rye. It’s aged by taste, not by time, as each barrel is rotated by hand. Maker’s Mark has a signature taste, just like you will get in your Jack Daniel’s.
It gives you an inviting aroma of honey and fruit with the rich touch of caramels that finishes with a light sweetness of vanilla, molasses, woody oak, and spices—leaving you to want more.
Maker’s Mark will be the perfect choice for an old-fashioned cocktail, or if you sip it out straight from the bottle.
ABV: 45% | Notes: Honey, Caramel, Vanilla | Avg price: $30
3. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
It is a popular one among all comprises of more than 200 flavours—from sweet aromatics and spices to bold grain and vanilla and dried fruit and floral notes—undoubtedly the best bourbon for old fashioned.
When you take a sip of this smooth and subtle drink, your taste buds will feel a rich sensation of dried fruits, tobacco, and vanilla with the hints of mint, oranges, and cocoa. The taste of Woodford Reserve comes with a rich, chewy, and smooth flavour with complex notes of cinnamon, caramel, citrus, toffee, chocolate, and spices. Mmm, delicious.
When Woodford Reserve’s get mixed in an old fashioned, it seamlessly blends the orange peel oils and aromatic spices with the finishing notes of honey.
This smooth and creamy bourbon is not for the drinkers who like their old fashioned with a kick but a perfect one who wants their vino creamy and light.
ABV: 45.2% | Notes: Chocolate, Citrus, Cinnamon | Avg price: $40
4. Four Roses Single Barrel
How about having high rye content in your bourbon, with herbal, spice, and fruity notes? Does not it sound like the best bourbon for old-fashioned?
Yes, with 100 proof makeup, this bourbon will rock your world if you have it straight or in the old-fashioned, aged seven to nine years.
This complex, full-bodied, and surprisingly delicate whiskey consists of the notes of pear, dried spice, cocoa, vanilla, and maple syrup. And it leads to mouthfeel flavours of ripe plum and cherries finished with smooth and delicately long touch—a perfect one for bourbon lovers.
ABV: 50% | Notes: Cocoa, Vanilla, Dried spice | Avg price: $30
5. Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey
A spicy high-rye bourbon pioneered by Augustus Bulleit 150 years ago. It is a liquid gift if you are up for the old-fashioned. It comes with the unique amalgamation of corn, rye, and barley malt paired fantastically with Kentucky limestone-filtered water and yeast.
The uniqueness of this bourbon presents in its flavour—the sweetness of maple, vanilla, caramel corn, and gentle spiciness of black pepper and ginger makes it the best bourbon for old fashioned.
Although people like to have it with sugar cubes, bitters, orange peels, and cherries—this vino is a perfect standalone if you treat your tastebuds with its natural flavours.
ABV: 45% | Notes: Caramel corn, Vanilla, Black pepper | Avg price: $30
6. Elijah Craig Small Batch
It is a bourbon that stands toe-to-toe with the other ones. This budget-friendly bourbon gives your mouth a satisfying bold note of spice, smoke, and nutmeg that delightfully blends with fresh mint, vanilla bean, and sweet fruit.
The finish is sweet, long, and a bit toasty—do you need more?
Like the Woodford Reserve, Elijah Craig Small Batch is sweet and light that beautifully works with an old-fashioned cocktail. Not to mention its silky, smooth flavour that seamlessly goes down and tastes heavenly on its own.
So, if you get the chance with this vino, I highly recommend you to make a cocktail with it—the best bourbon for old-fashioned.
ABV: 47% | Notes: Vanilla, Sweet fruit, Nutmeg | Avg price: $35
7. Larceny Small Batch
If you are looking for wheat bourbon, Larceny Small Batch should be on your list. Yes, this bourbon contains wheat instead of rye. And the results—attractive bright new copper colour, featuring butterscotch notes and leading to a buttery caramel and honeyed palate.
This vino tastes delicious neat, cocktail, or on the rocks. There are plenty of bourbons to choose but if you venture to a pub, speakeasy, or store—Larceny Small Batch is a must-try with the old-fashioned.
Voted as “whiskey of the year” in 2020 by Whiskey Advocate, it comes with a high level of wheat that gives you a long, gentle, and savoury finish—an impressive alternative to some renowned vino and one of the best bourbon for old-fashioned.
ABV: 46% | Notes: Honey, Butterscotch, Caramel | Avg price: $25
8. Knob Creek 9-Year
Do you know what brings the intense flavour in a bourbon? The older the batch, the better it would be. And in terms of Knob Creek, its 9-year aging brings extra flavour and sweetness from the wood and makes it a full-bodied, fruity flavoured bourbon with hints of grain and grass.
This small-batch bourbon is 100 proof and comfortable for any home bar and pub. Affordable and bold in flavour—will give you a robust oaky taste complemented with layered caramel and smooth vanilla.
It works fantastic for an old-fashioned when its oaky aroma mixes beautifully with aromatic bitters, orange, and cherries with a touch of leather that imparts a long-lasting muskiness—no doubt the best bourbon for old fashioned.
ABV: 50% | Notes: Oak, Vanilla, Caramel | Avg price: $38
9. Old Forester 100
This bourbon will give you all the reason to order and take a sip of it—considered the best bourbon for old-fashioned. And the reasons—handpicked from the selected barrel, budget-friendly, and a complex whiskey with bold and robust flavour.
A bartender’s favourite, this vino will treat your tastebuds with intense notes of chocolate, coffee, and butterscotch with a hint of licorice. It blends mellifluously with the old-fashioned tastes features sweet fruits and some spices like nutmeg, clove, and toasted oak.
ABV: 50% | Notes: Chocolate, Coffee, Butterscotch | Avg price: $30
10. Wild Turkey 101
Wild turkey might rock your world straight from the bottle, but it can absolutely taste delightful with an old-fashioned. This bourbon has been around for the past 60 years, using the same preparing process to give you a mouthfeel delicacy.
It contains 75% corn and comes with a taste of sweet vanilla, toffee, and maple syrup. Its aroma consists of oaky notes due to the aging process and finishes with bold cinnamon spice.
The well-rounded, sweet profile with the spicy and savoury notes makes it a winner for the best bourbon for the old-fashioned that it would not disappoint you.
ABV: 50.5% | Notes: Oak, Vanilla, cinnamon | Avg price: $25
11. Eagle Rare 10 Year
Eagle Rare 10-Year is another masterpiece from Buffalo Trace (Distillery)— undoubtedly worth every penny. It is a go-to drink for wine and whiskey enthusiasts—the longer a liquid is processed, the more savoury the taste would be.
It consists of the aromas of toffee with the hints of herbs, honey, orange peel, oak, and leather. Buffalo trace characterized the taste dry, soft, and bold with the finishing notes of very rich cocoa and candied almonds.
Every barrel is discriminately selected to maintain consistency—but with the individual personality. It is a widely loved and simple flavour bourbon, which is sufficient by itself. But it also tastes marvellous if you sweeten it for an old-fashioned—I am sure you would not regret it.
ABV: 45% | Notes: Honey, Cocoa, Almond, Orange | Avg price: $24
12. Four Roses Small Batch
Another one from Four roses, this bourbon is 90 proof and aged for about six to seven years—no doubt the best bourbon for old fashioned. The smooth and perfectly balanced flavour comes with the selection by the master distiller.
For starters, the bourbon has the aromas of rich fruit, mellow spice, and a sweet touch of caramel, butterscotch, and red berries. For the old-fashioned, the oaky flavour of this bourbon is beautifully contrasted with orange zest and crispier bitters—a delicious and enjoyable treat for all the whiskey drinkers out there.
Choosing between Four Roses Small Batch and Four Roses Single barrel depends upon the mood of the drinkers—yet both are perfect for an old-fashioned cocktail.
ABV: 45% | Notes: Oak, Butterscotch, Red berries | Avg price: $35
13. Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
If you are searching for a bourbon that will be affordable yet perfect for an old—fashioned one, Jim Beam should be on your bucket list.
This bourbon has been since 1795 and is considered the World’s No. 1 bourbon claimed by the company’s website. The taste of this bourbon is characterized as sweet, almost fruity, with hints of vanilla and caramel.
And for the aroma, this medium-bodied whiskey consists of spicy notes that pair beautifully with oaky vanilla. Jim beam is inexpensive and a great choice for your classy old-fashioned cocktail.
ABV: 43% | Notes: Oak, Vanilla, Caramel | Avg price: $17
Are Old Fashioned And Manhattan the Same?
The answer is no two cocktails are not the same. A classy old-fashioned is a mixture of bourbon whiskey, sugars, and bitters. While manhattan traditionally consists of rye whiskey, it uses sweet vermouth instead of sugar.
How to Choose the Best Bourbon for Old Fashioned?
In the above section, I mentioned the top bourbon for old-fashioned based upon the price, tasting notes, and quality. And each one is fantastic and works with the classy old-fashioned.
But you also need to know a few things to select the right one for you.
What Type of Whiskey Should I Choose?
For an old-fashioned, you need to choose a whiskey that can hold up the flavours of aromatic bitters, the sweetness of the syrup, and most importantly, the flavours of the fruits. So, you can feel the taste of each ingredient in your cocktail.
One more thing that you need to keep in your mind is you should look for one that is over 90 proof. The classy thing about an old-fashioned is the creamy and melt-in-the-mouth flavour—that you will get in a whiskey that comes with a lush texture.
How Much Should I Spend On The Best Bourbon For Old fashioned?
A more expensive bourbon is equal to older age, flavour profile, production, and higher proof. So, you need to go for the one with a high price tag to get a delightful bourbon.
Because the main difference presents in the richness of the flavour—an expensive one comes with bold notes of oak, vanilla, and caramel that aged longer in charred oak barrels.
How Harsh It Should Be?
Another important factor when you are selecting the best bourbon for old-fashioned is how harsh you want it. When the bourbon is near 100 proof or above, you can have some noticeable amount of bite.
So, if you want to feel the heat while taking a sip of your old-fashioned, make sure you are up for the right one.
Here in this article, I have discussed the things, from the price and taste to the quality of the best bourbon for old fashioned—that you need to know before picking the right one for you.
And if you ask me the best one, I will go with Knob Creek—my favourite for an old fashioned cocktail. So, if you are a fan of bourbon like me, just order an old-fashioned one at a bar or make one sitting at home.
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