Good bourbon is everywhere these days. But even with the ubiquity of bourbon on the shelf in 2023, you still need a little guidance to find the best bourbon. It’s no secret that there’s way more average and even bad bourbon on the shelf than true gems. Still, there’s great bourbon on the shelf right now and we’re here to help you find it.
One good way to figure out which brands actually make the good stuff is to see what the people are actually buying. To that end, I’m listing the best-selling bourbons of 2022 on Drizly below. But I’m not just providing you with a list and sending you shopping for whiskey. I’m also adding which bottle — or “expression” — I think you should buy from these top-selling bourbon brands with my own professional tasting notes. That way, when you have a hankering for a bottle of bourbon, you’ll be a little more informed about which to buy.
Take a look at those tasting notes below and find a bottle that speaks to you. Then click that price link and see if it’s available in your neck of the woods. Let’s dive in!
Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Bourbon Posts Of The Last Six Months
20. Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. — Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. Small Batch Bottled In Bond
Average Price: $88
Buffalo Trace’s Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. Small Batch is an entry point to the other 12 expressions released under the E.H. Taylor, Jr. label. The whiskey is a blend of barrels that meet the exact right flavor profiles Buffalo Trace’s blenders are looking for in a classic bottled-in-bond bourbon for Taylor.
Nose: The nose opens with a lush and creamy grit vibe with spicy cinnamon and clove next to pecans, maple syrup, singed cherry bark, and old lawn furniture with dead leaves strewn about.
Palate: The taste hits on a buttery toffee vibe with a dark and old leatheriness next to dark chocolate tobacco, dried ancho chili peppers, and more of that sharp woody cinnamon with a whisper of salted black licorice lurking in the background.
Finish: The end has a sense of salted caramel and cinnamon candy next to malted vanilla ice cream, huckleberry pie, and dark cherry tobacco rolled into an old leather pouch.
This is a great place to start. This bottle is a little harder to find. It’s allocated and only a select few retailers actually get it but it’s clearly not impossible to buy since it’s on a top 20 best-selling list. It’s also a very good classic bourbon. This is the stuff you can pour and sip slowly or mix into a killer cocktail.
19. Widow Jane — Widow Jane The Vaults Aged 14 Years 2022 Release
Average Price: $273
This sourced New York whiskey is made from 14 to 19-year-old barrels from Tennessee and Indiana. Those barrels were sent out to Brooklyn and blended and then re-barreled into Missouri Ozark casks that were air-seasoned for three years before they were coopered and charred. Finally, the whiskey was blended in a small batch and bottled as-is without filtering but was cut with limestone mineral water from the Rosendale Mines in New York.
Nose: There’s a mild sense of graininess on the nose with a hint of vanilla wafer honey sandwiches with mild winter spices — woody cinnamon, allspice, star anise — next to a hint of sweet tobacco layers of cherry and apple pie filling.
Palate: The palate has a very Tennessee vibe with soft bran muffins next to vanilla wafers layered with nougat and cinnamon with a hint of root beer cut with cherry syrup.
Finish: The end has a mild chocolate milk powder feel next to old oak, worn leather, and root beer-laced tobacco leaves.
This is a very limited edition run of great bourbon from a brand that really knows how to make something special. This particular release is perfect for slow sipping on a lazy afternoon. It’s a solid-tasting bourbon that’ll always reveal more depth with more nosing and tasting, especially when you start to add a little water.
18. Michter’s — Michter’s Single Barrel 10-Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Average Price: $218
Michter’s is currently distilling and aging its own whiskey, but this is still sourced. The actual barrels sourced for these single barrel expressions tend to be at least ten years old with some rumored to be closer to 15 years old (depending on the barrel’s quality, naturally). Either way, the whiskey goes through Michter’s bespoke filtration process before a touch of Kentucky’s iconic soft limestone water is added, bringing the bourbon down to a very crushable 94.4 proof.
Nose: The nose opens with subtle notes of softwood and worn leather next to light touches of dark berries, orange oils, egg nog spice, and slight toffee sweetness.
Palate: The palate starts off equally soft with something more akin to maple syrup sweetness which then leads into a rush of berry brambles. The mid-palate hits on a bit of dark spice, vanilla tobacco, and dark cacao espresso bitterness.
Finish: The finish leans into a dry-yet-almost-sweet oak with a touch of an almond shell and dry grass coming in at the very end.
This is a classic bourbon whiskey. It’s luscious and delectable. This is the bourbon you get when you want to wow someone on the palate (and by having a rarer bottle of bourbon).
17. Old Forester — Old Forester 1897 Bottled in Bond
Average Price: $56
Old Forester 1897 Bottled-in-Bond is the brand’s throwback bottle that celebrates the 1897 act that brought the world bottled-in-bond whisky. The whiskey in the bottle is a mid-rye bourbon mash that’s aged, proofed, and bottled in accordance with the bonded laws and regulations.
Nose: This drips with caramel on the nose — the kind that’s a bit tacky and chewy — alongside a touch of orange blossom and maybe a vanilla latte.
Palate: That vanilla and bitter espresso bean note carry on through the palate as a bowl of red and stone fruits soak in a bowl of brandy with plenty of cinnamon sticks and allspice berries thrown in too.
Finish: The finish marries all those notes while leaning heavily into the caramel sweetness as it fades away at a good clip.
This is a great workhorse, old-school bourbon. It works as a sipper on the rocks and as a killer cocktail base. This one makes a mean old fashioned.
16. Eagle Rare — Eagle Rare 10
Average Price: $50
This might be one of the most beloved (and still accessible) bottles from Buffalo Trace. This juice is made from their very low rye mash bill. The whiskey is then matured for at least ten years in various parts of the warehouse. The final mix comes down to barrels that hit just the right notes to make them “Eagle Rare.” Finally, this one is proofed down to a fairly low 90 proof.
Nose: There’s a lot happening on the nose here, with worn leather mingling with dried orange, fresh sage, butter toffee, and cellared oak.
Palate: The taste turns towards marzipan covered in dark chocolate with a touch of honey and a sprinkling of dark spices.
Finish: The finish isn’t too long and touches back on that marzipan, toffee, and oak while ending short and sweet.
This is the perfect house pour bourbon to have on your home bar. Yes, it’s a Sazerac product so it’s fairly allocated but you can still find it for a decent price in most markets. If you do find it at MSRP, just get a case. It’s perfect on its own or in cocktails.
15. Jefferson’s — Jefferson’s Ocean Aged At Sea Wheated Bourbon Voyage 25
Average Price: $88
This expression is Jefferson’s sourced wheated bourbon from Indiana. The barrels were loaded onto an Ocearch vessel in Savannah, Georgia, and then sailed through the Caribbean, Panama Canal, around the Pacific, into the Indian Ocean, and back along the Pacific Coast, through the Panama Canal again, and back to Savannah — all that rocking around the ocean means more extraction of sugars into the spirit. Once the barrels were back in Kentucky, they were vatted, proofed, and bottled in very small batches.
Nose: There’s a thin, proofed vibe on the nose with fresh honey, mulled wine spices, dark sugars, burnt orange, and a hint of white pepper peeking in.
Palate: The palate leans into woody cinnamon bark next to ripe orchard fruits wrapped in old tobacco and stacked with old porch wicker.
Finish: The end leans into the orchard fruit and wood more than the spice with a hint of salted caramel next to pear skins and apple tobacco.
This is a good conversation starter bourbon. No whiskey brand has a story like this. Moreover, the whiskey in the bottle is actually pretty goddamn tasty, especially over some rocks or a raw oyster.
14. W.L. Weller — William Larue Weller Bourbon BTAC 2022
Distilled back in the spring of 2010, this whiskey was made with a mix of Kentucky corn and wheat, and barley from North Dakota with that Kentucky limestone water. The distillate was filled into new white oak from Independent Stave from Missouri with a #4 char level (55 seconds) and stored in warehouses C, K, and N on floors 2, 3, and 4 for 12 long years. During that time, 64% of the whiskey was lost to hungry angels. Those barrels were then batched and this whiskey was bottled as-is.
Nose: The nose on this one is surprisingly sweet with a big slice of coconut cream pie (with a lard crust) next to your grandma’s butterscotch candies straight from an old leather handbag that’s held menthol cigarettes for decades and maybe some old Mon Cheri bonbons.
Palate: The palate opens with a lush eggnog full of nutmeg, allspice, and vanilla that leads to a white pound cake with a hint of poppy seed next to old leather tobacco pouches with a hot cinnamon spiciness on the mid-palate with light cedar woodiness.
Finish: The end layers that white cake into the tobacco while packing it all into an old leather handbag with whispers of mint chocolate chip, Halloween-sized Mounds bars, and old lawn furniture that’s been left out too many seasons.
This is going to be hard to find unless you want to pay a premium. Thems the breaks, folks. If you do find it, you’ll have a bottle to show off that also tastes f*cking amazing.
13. Wild Turkey — Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit Single Barrel
Average Price: $62
Jimmy Russell hand selects eight to nine-year-old barrels from his warehouses for their individual taste and quality. Those barrels are then cut down ever-so-slightly to 101 proof and bottled one at a time with their barrel number and warehouse location right on the bottle.
Nose: The nose draws you in with classic vibes from top to bottom thanks to rich vanilla smoothness, wintry spices, a hint of cedar, and a mix of sour cherry and tart apple with a slight lawn furniture earthiness.
Palate: The palate stays very classic with old boot leather next to dry cedar bark, a layer of rich marzipan cut with orange oils and covered in dark chocolate, and a distant hint of nasturtiums suspended in fresh honey.
Finish: The end finishes with a good hint of spiced cherry tobacco and old leather next to mild nuttiness, bitter chocolate, and soft vanilla cake frosted with cinnamon and cherry.
This is the good stuff that a) could cost way more than it does and b) is still pretty easily findable in most places. Really though, this is top-notch whiskey at a great price. You can drink this stuff neat and always find more depth or you can mix it into one hell of a Manhattan.
12. Elijah Craig — Elijah Craig Barrel Proof
Average Price: $88
This year’s first drop is a 12-year-old whiskey made from Heaven Hill’s classic bourbon mash of 78% corn, 12% malted barley, and a mere 10% rye. Those barrels are masterfully blended into this Barrel Proof expression with no cutting or fussing. This is as-is bourbon from the barrel.
Nose: Caramel draws you in on the nose with a slight sourdough cinnamon roll with pecans, a touch of floral honey, and a soft and woody drug store aftershave with an echo of vanilla candle wax and singed marshmallow.
Palate: The palate rolls through a soft leather and vanilla pie note as cinnamon ice cream leads to spicy oak.
Finish: The mid-palate leans into a sweeter, almost creamy spice (think nutmeg-heavy eggnog) which, in turn, leads to a dry cedar bark next to a dry stewed-apple tobacco leaf folded into an old leather pouch for safekeeping.
I love having a bottle of this around for mixing up hefty cocktails with a kick. It also works perfectly well over a glass full of ice.
11. Knob Creek — Knob Creek 12
Average Price: $74
This is the classic Beam whiskey. The juice is left alone in the Beam warehouses in Clermont, Kentucky, for 12 long years. The barrels are chosen according to a specific taste and mingled to create this aged expression with a drop or two of that soft Kentucky limestone water.
Nose: This opens with clear notes of dark rum-soaked cherry, bitter yet creamy dark chocolate, winter spices, a twinge of a sourdough sugar doughnut, and a hint of menthol.
Palate: The palate leans into a red berry crumble — brown sugar, butter, and spice — with a hint of dried chili flake, salted caramels covered in dark chocolate, and a spicy/sweet note that leads toward a wet cattail stem and soft brandied cherries dipped in silky dark chocolate sauce.
Finish: The very end holds onto that sweetness and layers in a final note of pecan shells and maple candy.
This is the sweet spot for Knob Creek. It’s also a 12-year-old whiskey that you can actually find and afford. Pour it over a rock or two, sit back, and enjoy.
10. Angel’s Envy — Angel’s Envy Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Port Wine Barrels Cask Strength
Average Price: $274
This modern classic is a yearly limited release from the beloved Lousiville distiller. The whiskey is made from a mix of locally sourced barrels that are finished in Ruby Port casks. The best of the best are hand-selected by Angel’s Envy’s team for as-is batching and bottling with only 14,000 odd bottles making out this year.
Nose: This opens with a deep sense of blackberry jam over a Southern biscuit with plenty of brown butter, vanilla sauce, and apple fruit leather with a dash of cinnamon, allspice, and star anise next to a whisper of cherry cream soda and orange-chocolate tobacco packed into a cedar box.
Palate: The palate is soft and supple with a brandy butter vibe next to mince meat pie with powdered sugar icing, meaty dates, black tea, and rich Black Forest cake.
Finish: The end subtly meanders through shaved dark chocolate and stewed cherry, eventually landing on a vanilla-laced tobacco leaf rolled up with apple-cider-soaked cinnamon sticks and old wicker canes.
This cask-strength version of Angel’s Envy is a high water mark for the brand. It’s bold, delicious, and worth tracking down.
9. Buffalo Trace — Buffalo Trace Bourbon
Average Price: $35
This is the whiskey that heralded a new era of bourbon in 1999. Famed Master Distiller Elmer T. Lee came out of retirement to create this bourbon to celebrate the renaming of the George T. Stagg distillery to Buffalo Trace when Sazerac bought the joint. The rest, as they say, is history — especially since this has become a touchstone bourbon for the brand.
Nose: Classic notes of vanilla come through next to a dark syrup sweetness, a flourish of fresh mint, and raw leather that veers towards raw steak.
Palate: The palate cuts through the sweeter notes with plenty of spices — like clove and star anise — next to a hint of tart berries underneath it all.
Finish: The end is long, velvety, and really delivers on the vanilla and spice.
This is a great mixing bourbon to have on your bar cart. It’s damn near quintessential as a broad cocktail base. Don’t let that stop you from pouring some over some rocks and enjoying it as a slow sipper. It’s good for that too.
8. Evan Williams — Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch
Average Price: $20
This is Evan William’s small-batch bourbon reissue. The expression is a marriage of 200 barrels of Heaven Hill’s classic bourbon (78% corn, 12% malted barley, and 10% rye). That whiskey is batched and then proofed down to 90 proof (instead of the old 86 proof) and bottled.
Nose: This has a distinct nose that ventures from vanilla-soaked leather to a clear sense of allspice berries and ground clove with a hint of cornbread batter and soft oak.
Palate: There’s a light sense of caramel apples on the palate leading toward Johnnycakes covered in butter and honey with a light nutmeg lurking in the background.
Finish: The finish arrives with a hint of dry reeds that ends up on a vanilla cream with brown spices.
This is the best deal on this list. This whiskey is great for its price point, works as a sipper over some ice, and makes a great cocktail. Wins all around.
7. Blanton’s — Blanton’s Straight From The Barrel
Average Price: $399
Blanton’s is “The Original Single Barrel” bourbon, and this expression is the purest form of that whiskey. The whiskey in this case is from the barrels that need no cutting with water and are perfect as-is, straight from the barrel. All the barrels will come from Warehouse H (where Elmer T. Lee stored his private stash of barrels back in the day) and arrive with varying proofs. The through-line is the excellent taste of that single, unadulterated barrel in each sip.
Nose: The nose is full of very bespoke dark chocolate-covered salted hard caramel toffees encrusted with almonds and pecans — the kind you get from a chocolate shop that imports their goodies from somewhere like Belgium.
Palate: The nutty toffee carries through into the taste as oily vanilla pods mingle with cedar boxes of dried tobacco leaves and a touch of floral honey.
Finish: The end is very long and lingers in your senses, with a hot buzzing that subtly fades through all that sweetness.
Look, if you’re going to spend the time (and money) tracking down some Blanton’s in the U.S., you may as well get a cask-strength version of the famed single-barrel whiskey. Just make sure to pour it over a single rock or with a drop of water to really let it shine in the glass.
6. Four Roses — Four Roses Single Barrel
Average Price: $50
Four Rose’s standard single-barrel expression is an interesting one. This is their “number one” recipe, meaning it’s the high-rye mash bill that’s fermented with a yeast that highlights “delicate fruit.” The whiskey is then bottled at 100 proof, meaning you’re getting a good sense of that single barrel in every bottle.
Nose: Woody maple syrup and cinnamon sticks lead to a hint of pear candy with a vanilla underbelly on the nose.
Palate: The palate lets the pear shine as the spices lean into woody barks and tart berries next to leathery dates and plums with a butteriness tying everything together.
Finish: A spicy tobacco chewiness leads the mid-palate toward a soft fruitiness and a hint of plum pudding at the end with a slight nuttiness and green herbal vibe.
Four Roses Single Barrel is a must-have. It’s so easygoing while still offering a seriously deep flavor profile. This expression is the preeminent slow sipper at a great price point.
5. Basil Hayden — Basil Hayden Red Wine Cask Finish
Average Price: $68
Freddie Noe — Beam’s eighth-generation Master Distiller — created this expression by blending classic Basil Hayden with bourbon partially aged in California red wine casks. The resulting batch is then proofed down and bottled.
Nose: There’s a hint of orange zest on the nose with sour mulled wine spices — star anise, cardamom, cinnamon — next to Cherry Coke and vanilla cake with white frosting.
Palate: The palate is soft yet creamy with a nutty spiced cake vibe next to zucchini bread with a dollop of butter next to tart-dried berries dipped in brandy with a hint of dark cacao in the background.
Finish: The end is pretty short (low-proofed) and finishes with a sense of old oak staves soaked in sour red wine with a dash of burnt orange and dried winter spice rounding things out.
This was the best Basil Hayden release in a while and really delivers a great and fresh flavor profile for the brand. It works really well on the rocks but really shines in things like a Manhattan or New York Sour.
4. Jim Beam — Jim Beam Single Barrel
Buy Here: $39
Jim Beam’s single-barrel bottlings are pulled from single barrels that hit just the right spot of taste, texture, and drinkability, according to the master distillers at Beam. That means this whiskey is pulled from less than 1% of all barrels in Beam’s warehouses, making this an exceptional bottle at a bafflingly affordable price.
Nose: You’re greeted with vanilla pound cake drizzled with salted caramel, mulled wine spices, and a cherry hand pie with powdered sugar icing that’s just touched with dark chocolate and maybe some broom bristles and corn husks.
Palate: The taste leans into floral honey cut with orange oils next to sticky toffee pudding and cherry tobacco packed into an old leather pouch.
Finish: There’s a hint of coconut cream pie next to woody winter spices on the finish with a touch more of that cherry tobacco married to salted dark chocolate all layered with dry sweetgrass and cedar bark.
This is a great whiskey from Jim Beam’s stable. It’s so accessible while still delivering a serious profile. It’s an easy, everyday sipper that makes a fine cocktail.
3. Woodford Reserve — Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon
Average Price: $60
This expression takes the standard bourbon above and gives it a finishing touch. The bourbon is blended and moved into new barrels that have been double-toasted but only lightly charred. The whiskey spends a final nine months resting in those barrels before proofing and bottling.
Nose: There’s a welcoming aroma of marzipan, blackberry, toffee, and fresh honey next to a real sense of pitchy, dry firewood.
Palate: The taste drills down on those notes as the sweet marzipan becomes more choco-hazelnut, the berries become more dried and apple-y, the toffee becomes almost burnt, and the wood softens to a cedar bark.
Finish: A rich spicy and chewy tobacco arrives late as the vanilla gets super creamy and the fruit and honey combine on the slow fade.
Of the mainline from Woodford Reserve, this is the one you want to get. It’s versatile enough to be a day-to-day sipper while also deep enough to be the base for a tasty cocktail.
2. Bulleit — Bulleit Bourbon 10-Year
Average Price: $49
This is classic Bulleit Bourbon that’s aged up to ten years before it’s blended and bottled. These barrels are hand-selected to really amplify and highlight the classic flavors that make Bulleit so damn accessible in the first place.
Nose: There’s a lot going on with butter and spicy stewed apples, maple syrup, Christmas cakes full of nuts and dried fruit, and a hint of savory herbs all pinging through your olfactory.
Palate: The palate brings about smooth and creamy vanilla with plenty of butter toffee, sourdough crust, more X-mas spice, cedar bark, and a hint of dried roses.
Finish: The finish is long, warming, and really embraces the toffee and spice.
Bulleit slipped from the number-one spot on Drizly’s sales list for the first time in years! Still, this 10-year-old expression from the brand remains the best buy. It’s a serious whiskey that has real nuance and depth that shines through over rocks, neat, or in a cocktail.
1. Maker’s Mark — Maker’s Mark Cask Strength
Average Price: $35
This special release from Maker’s Mark is their classic wheated bourbon turned up a few notches. The batch is made from no more than 19 barrels of whiskey. Once batched, that whiskey goes into the barrel at cask strength with no filtering, just pure whiskey-from-the-barrel vibes.
Nose: Burnt caramel candies and lush vanilla lead the nose with hints of dry straw, sour cherry pie, and spiced apple cider with a touch of eggnog lushness.
Palate: The palate has a sense of spicy caramel with a vanilla base that leads to apricot jam, southern biscuits, and a flake of salt with a soft mocha creaminess.
Finish: The end is all about the buzzy tobacco spiciness with a soft vanilla underbelly and a hint of cherry syrup.
Maker’s Mark makes great whisky. That’s best exemplified by their Cask Strength expression. This is the brand at its best and deepest. It’s also a good pour if you’re looking for a nice, easy slow sipper. But I really dig this in Manhattans and Sazeracs — that’s where it truly dazzles.