Thanks to the latest whiskey boom, there are always new and exciting bourbons to try. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always mean there are new “good” bourbons to try. A lot of the newer stuff — and, we must admit, much of the “super folksy label that would look great on a barcart” stuff — gets stuck in the “fine” to “ugh” to “hard pass” brackets. Luckily, I’m here to take one for the collective team and weed out those lesser bottles so that you don’t have to waste your hard-earned cash on them.
To do so, I’m conducting a blind taste test of new bourbons that landed on my desk over the past couple of weeks. I pulled in bottles that fit many styles of bourbon from budget small batch bottles to unique mash bills with bespoke corn to limited editions to special finishings. Once I tasted through, I ranked each bottle according to the quality of the flavor profile. It’s as simple as “which one(s) actually tastes good?” and “which one(s) tastes the best?”
Our lineup today is:
- Monk’s Road Fifth District Series Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 6 Years Series 01 Barrel #23 Bottle #169
- Dragon’s Milk Origin Small Batch Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 5 Years
- Off Hours Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- Puncher’s Chance Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- Great Jones Small Batch Straight Bourbon Whiskey Batch no. 001 Bottle no. 91808
- Kirkland Signature Small Batch by Barton 1792 Master Distillers Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Batch no. 1124
- Wyoming Whiskey Small Batch Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 5 Years Limited Edition National Parks No. 2
- Bloody Butcher’s Creed Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 4 Years 9 Months Batch no. 8
Let’s dive in and find you a new, exciting, and fun bourbon to add to your shelf.
Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Bourbon Posts Of The Last Six Months
Part 1: The Tasting
This opens with a hint of woody vanilla next to a hint of sour cherry, a dash of toasted coconut, a light note of leather, and some butter toffee underbelly. The palate leans into cola notes with plenty of clove and nutmeg next to a whisper of oatmeal cookie with sweet spices and plenty of vanilla. The end is lush and sweetens towards a Caro syrup with a bit of stewed apple that’s kind of woody and mildly spicy.
This is a nice place to start. This isn’t a mind-blowing bourbon but it is a pleasant one.
A big chocolate malt note draws you in on the palate first before layers of winter spices, dark caramel malts, a twinge of orange oils, and a mild Vanilla Coke kick in. The taste has an almost Hershey’s Kiss feel to it alongside spiced chocolate powder next to a hint of lemon-lime that turns into a tangerine-laced maltiness (kind of like a tangerine White Claw) with a chocolate wafer in the background. The end holds onto the chocolate maltiness and mild winter spices the longest.
I can’t decide if I love or hate this. I imagine I’ll fall closer to the middle.
There’s a good dose of wet straw and grains on the nose with hints of nutmeg and clove which eventually lead to some apple skins. The palate meanders through vanilla, wicker, fresh mint, and brown sugar with a whisper of dill buried in there somewhere. The end is full of a lot of sweetgrasses, grilled pineapple, and sour cherry with a touch of brown spice.
This was very much “fine.”
This has a slightly tannic nose (think old, red-wine-soaked oak) with woody vanilla, nutmeg, and a lush vibe. The palate mixes up the sweet vanilla with sweet yet sharp spice, some dark chocolate, and a hint of orange zest. The end combines everything into a lush finish that highlights old oak, soft nutmeg, and a soft orange-chocolate vibe with a hint of clove and anise.
This was really nice, but not overly complex. It wasn’t arresting but it was super easy to drink.
The nose opens with a hint of dry cornmeal that leads to soft but worn leather and a throughline of rubber fishing lure (in a good way… I think) with a soft and sweet orchard fruit underneath it all. The palate is light but hits on vanilla cream, toffee, and cinnamon with a dash of white pepper. The end leans into vanilla and spiced tobacco leaves and a twinge of soft peppercorn.
This is a bit all over the place but kind of good and interesting.
Apple and pear open the nose up toward peach taffy with a hint of black licorice ropes, old leather, sweet winter spices, and a whisper of Nutella. The palate lets the vanilla linger while a sweet and mild Red Hot vibe mixes with classic cherry cola, dried sweetgrass, salted caramel candies, and apricot jam on a Southern biscuit with a drop of fresh honey and butter. The end stays pretty classic with a sense of spiced cherry tobacco, rich vanilla, and a few old oak staves.
This is a good pour.
Soft holiday spices mix with orange creamsicle, dry sweetgrass, old boot leather, a dash of dark chocolate powder, and a hint of cedar. The taste feels like you’re on a back porch on a sunny day with rich toffee, cherrywood, and vanilla next to buttery zucchini bread with walnuts and plenty of cinnamon. The end takes on this woody and sweet carrot vibe while lush marzipan brings a nutty sweetness with a hint of Earl Grey and walnut loaf with low notes of soft cedar and warm tobacco.
This is a really good pour.
The nose on his one starts off with a stained deck board vibe that boils down to silver plastic Christmas garlands fresh out of the pack with old woody spices, dry raisins, and savory figs. Earthy vanilla and old porch wicker mingle with Caro Syrup and orange tobacco with a supporting cast of wintry baking spices. The end moves from woody maple syrup toward soft marzipan, a dash of chocolate, and a distant whisper of peppermint candy cane.
This is the most all-around Christmas-y bourbon, and I kind of love it. The nostalgia factor from the flavor profile is off the charts with this one.
Part 2: The Ranking
8. Off Hours Straight Bourbon Whiskey — Taste 3
Average Price: $38
This release from Off Hours Spirits is sourced from MGP of Indiana. The juice is a no-age-statement bourbon from MGP’s standard 75 percent corn, 21 percent rye, and four percent malted barley mash bill. The whiskey spends about four years in the barrel before it is blended and bottled by Off Hours with a good dose of proofing water.
As I mentioned above, this was fine. I never in a million years would have guessed it’s an MGP product though. It tastes very crafty with that wet straw and grainy vibe. Still, this would work fine in a highball.
7. Great Jones Small Batch Straight Bourbon Whiskey Batch no. 001 Bottle no. 91808 — Taste 5
Average Price: $45
This is a grain-to-glass New York craft bourbon. The grains in the mash bill — corn, rye, and malted barley — are all grown locally in New York state. The juice is then left for at least four years to age before it’s blended in small batches, proofed down, and bottled.
This is fine too. I’d say this felt more like a cocktail base than a sipper (for sure). Overall, “fine” is good enough but not good enough to spend too much time seeking out.
6. Dragon’s Milk Origin Small Batch Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 5 Years — Taste 2
Average Price: $50
This whiskey from New Holland Brewing up in Michigan marries craft bourbon with the brewery’s beloved Dragon’s Milk beer. The whiskey in the bottle is made with a high-barley bourbon mash bill. After five years in the barrel, the juice is blended, proofed down, and bottled.
I did like the chocolate malt vibe on this. I can see pairing this with a Dragon’s Milk Stout. Still, that chocolate note was a lot of the flavor profile to the point of almost pushing the whole pour to one-note status.
5. Monk’s Road Fifth District Series Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 6 Years Series 01 Barrel #23 Bottle #169 — Taste 1
Average Price: $125
This whiskey from Log Still Distillery in Kentucky is run by direct descendants of the famed Dant family. The whiskey in the bottle is a single barrel bourbon that aged for six years before proofing and bottling.
This is where we squarely get into the good stuff. This was distinct and flavorful. The only reason it’s this low is that it felt really “classic” but not a whole lot more — which is totally fine if that’s what you’re looking for. Had I known the price tag, I’d probably ranked this lower. $125 is a lot for something just “classic.”
4. Puncher’s Chance Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey — Taste 4
Average Price: $32
This is a celebrity-owned bourbon from UFC’s Bruce Buffer. The juice in the bottle is a blend of four to six-year-old bourbons from Kentucky that are touched with a little proofing water after blending.
This is a really easy-to-drink whiskey that offers a deep and distinct flavor profile. The overall vibe of this is just really good. This was the first whiskey on the panel that I wanted to go back to — still, it’s not quite as deep as the top three.
3. Kirkland Signature Small Batch by Barton 1792 Master Distillers Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Batch no. 1124 — Taste 6
Average Price: $19 (1 liter)
This is the entry point to Costco’s new lineup of Kentucky Bourbons (along with a Bottled-in-Bond and Single Barrel release). The whiskey in the bottle is from Sazerac’s Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown with a mash bill of 74 percent corn, 18 percent rye, and eight percent barley. That juice is left to age for four to five years before blended, proofing, and bottling for Costco.
This was really good with a straightforward but deep flavor profile. If I was taking the price into the ranking (I rank these before I know the label), I’d have ranked it higher thanks to that amazing price tag. This swings way above its price tag.
Quality bourbon for a low price? That’s some serious value, folks.
2. Bloody Butcher’s Creed Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 4 Years 9 Months Batch no. 8 — Taste 8
Average Price: $52
This special edition bourbon from craft distilling darling Jeptha Creed is all about the heritage corn. The mash is 90 percent Bloody Butcher Corn alongside five percent malted rye and five perfect malted barley. The whiskey is left alone for nearly five years before batching, proofing, and bottling.
This was both unique and delicious. It felt new and playful while still offering a foundation of great bourbon underneath it all. Overall, this is a great variation on the theme of bourbon, but might not be for everyone (hence, it’s second and not first).
1. Wyoming Whiskey Small Batch Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 5 Years Limited Edition National Parks No. 2 — Taste 7
Average Price: $83
This bottle celebrates our National Parks with each limited edition release. In this case, the release celebrates Yellowston’s 150th anniversary with part of the proceeds from each bottle sold going to Yellowstone Forever, which helps protect the park. The whiskey in the bottle is a special release from Wyoming grains — 68 percent corn, 20 percent wheat, and 12 percent malted barley — and water. After five years, the barrels are small-batch blended and bottled with a drop of proofing water.
This was the best pour of the day. It was complex, fresh, and deep. It also had a deep nostalgic pull for the winter holidays that felt like stepping into the time machine to my childhood. You just cannot deny that sort of power.
Part 3: Final Thoughts
There were eight quality bourbons on this list and each one had its charms. Eight through five weren’t my cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be yours. Go back and read the tasting notes and make a decision.
Four through one were all stellar bottles you can’t go wrong with. I’d say four and three are the most accessible to the average palate with one and two hitting some big and unique notes that might be appreciated a little further down anyone’s bourbon tasting road. At the very least, buying a bottle of Wyoming’s new National Parks edition will help that park with real money.
Overall, the real winner is that Kirkland Signature Small Batch though. That price and the quality of the booze in the bottle are unassailable. $20 for that one-liter bottle of very good bourbon from a great distillery is the way to go if you can’t find anything else in the top three.