Perhaps the world’s most famous bourbon, Jim Beam, is often referred to as “the people’s bourbon”. It’s made in the same Kentucky distillery since 1795 and has consistently been a staple in American whiskey bottles and on shelves throughout the world ever since. But what if it’s not?

Bourbon is one of the most popular types of whiskey in the world. It is a spirit that many people are familiar with, but it is not the only whiskey option. For those who have been curious about the “other” whiskies that are out there, this post will offer a look into some lesser known whiskies that are delicious and a great value.

The Bourbon industry in the United States is massive and efficient. They have a huge amount of money and experience to make sure that the spirit they produce is of the highest quality. Unfortunately, this means that some of the best Bourbons in the world may not be the ones coming out of Kentucky. There are a few American Bourbon companies that make quality spirits that cost much more than the ones from Kentucky, but are still worth the money.

It is a common misconception that bourbon must be made in Kentucky to be called bourbon. But of all the regulations governing the production of this drink, distillation in Kentucky is not one of them.

The bourbon must be distilled in the United States, contain 51% corn in the mash, mature in new charred oak barrels, distilled at a temperature not exceeding 160 degrees and bottled at a temperature of 80 degrees or higher. The corn mash gives the whiskey a richer and sweeter flavor, making it drinkable, but also suitable for cocktails. Although the vast majority of bourbon is made in Kentucky, excellent varieties can be found throughout the United States.

From Texas to Kansas and even an Indiana bourbon made with water from the Pacific Ocean are among our favorites.

18 Street Distillery Spirit Thief Selection Bourbon; $100, 95 points. Complex flavors include dried figs, dried cherries and vanilla. The palate opens with spice and black fruit, similar to that of Port or Sherry PX. The addition of water makes it a rich fruit cake, filled with raisins, dried cherries and candied orange peel, topped with nutmeg and cinnamon. Each sip warms you to the core. Single route no. 17-0037. -Cara Newman

Bourbon Remus Repeal Reserve Series IV; $85, 93 points. A blend of two high alcohol bourbons distilled in 2008. This annual issue celebrates the abolition of reclamation. The aroma is reminiscent of dried figs and dates, but also of the richness of caramel. The palate reflects these darker tones, with butterscotch, clove and spice, leading to a spicy tingle of cayenne pepper and ginger on the tip of the tongue. The final impression is dry and spicy, with a satisfying hint of vanilla. -K.N.

Sipes’ Straight Bourbon Whiskey; $50, 93 points. This is a four year old bourbon aged in rum barrels. Overall, this is a relatively dry drink that opens with notes of oak, dusty cocoa and leather and builds to a big spicy finish, a swirl of ginger and nutmeg. -K.N.

 

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Milam & Greene The Castle Hill Series Bourbon; $130, 91 points. This is a 13 year old bourbon made from a batch of only 20 barrels. It takes a minute for the caramel flavor to open up and the medicinal note to disappear. The flavor is similar, but switches to cocoa powder and cloves when water is added, and then to espresso and unsweetened chocolate with an emphasis on spiciness. -K.N.

Rod & Hammer’s SLO Stills Bourbon; $40, 91 points. This is a particularly light and mellow version of bourbon. The liquid is distilled in Indiana, aged for two years and diluted with water from the Pacific to add some California flavor. Note honey notes and bright flavors reminiscent of roasted pineapple, dried apricot and cut grass. The dry, slightly syrupy taste reveals golden raisins, dried apricots and a touch of caramel that fades to clove and bright lemon peel on the finish. -K.N.

Broken Top Bourbon; $40, 90 points. Look for the sweet scents of dried apricot, cedarwood and honey. Ginger, honey and lemon peel are part of the aroma. When water is added, a delicate note of chamomile appears. Overall, it looks like chamomile tea with honey and lemon, with a slight hint of ginger at the end. Use it by adding it to hot drinks. -K.N.

We recommend it:

Glencairn whisky glass with wide bowl (set of 4)

Gunnar’s Wheated Bourbon; $30, 90 points. A Wheat State wine has a pleasant vanilla aroma and a sweet taste. The addition of water turns the caramel and oak into soft caramel and crème brûlée sprinkled with ground black pepper. Best buy. -K.N.

Bourbon Paddleford Creek; $23, 90 points. The scents of vanilla and oak light the way. The palate opens with oak and a fleeting sweetness of cherry. There will be more vanilla and cookie dough when water is added. The finish is roasted with cloves and nutmeg. Best buy.

Published on 25. June 2021Bourbon is a drink that can only be enjoyed in small amounts, so it’s no surprise that many of the most popular whiskeys are from the southern states of the U.S. Like many other things, things are not always as they seem, as bourbon drinkers learn. One thing that might surprise people is that not all bourbon is made in Kentucky. In fact, all bourbon must be at least 51% corn, while most of the rest of the United States meets the minimum requirements by using wheat.. Read more about best kentucky bourbon 2020 and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

What bourbons are not made in Kentucky?

Kentucky is arguably the most famous state for its bourbons, with its prized brands including Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, and Knob Creek leading the way. But not every bourbon from the state is made in Kentucky. To find the top bourbons to drink outside of Kentucky (and many of them have been made in other states), we’ve scoured the country for the best bourbons that don’t come from Kentucky. Bourbon has been called the “poor man’s wine” and for good reason. In fact, the majority of bourbon made in the U.S. is made outside the state. Bourbon is a very widely-praised style of whiskey that is meant to be aged for a minimum of four years in charred new oak barrels.

What is the best quality bourbon?

Bourbon is the official spirit of the Kentucky Derby, and it’s a favorite of many a Kentucky resident. But some of the state’s most acclaimed whiskeys, ones that earn top ratings and rank among the most expensive, are made outside the state, in other states. Bourbon is an integral part of the American cultural landscape. It is the only spirit in the US that is distilled from a grain (corn) rather than a fruit (whiskey). It is also the only spirit that can be produced without aging in oak barrels. The result is a smoother taste and a lighter color than a whiskey produced in a more traditional manner. Bourbon also has a longer shelf life than whiskey.

What are top shelf bourbons?

The average bottle of Bourbon comes from a secret recipe of wheat, corn, barley, rye, and a handful of other ingredients. It takes many people to produce a bottle of Bourbon, including the farmers who grow the corn, barley, and rye, all of the people who pick the corn, and all of the people who crush the grains and create the mash, which is then distilled into a Bourbon. Bourbon is a distilled spirit that is derived from whisky. However, the definition varies across the world, allowing many countries to produce bourbon. In the US, the laws governing bourbon production are strict, and only applies to whiskey distilled in Kentucky. However, some of the best bourbons in the world are not made in Kentucky, and may surprise you.

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