Bourbon is an American whiskey made predominantly of corn. It is a distilled and barrel-age drink, available in all of the US but primarily associated with the US south- Kentucky, to be more precise.
Bourbon has a deep honey-brown color and a velvety taste, creating a nice burning sensation when you drink it. It is traditionally known as a drink meant to be drunk neat, and while it works that way amazingly, Bourbon can also be used for cocktails.
Not all types of Bourbon and Bourbon brands are suitable for just any cocktail, but once you learn which is used for what, you will definitely have some fun. So what are the best Bourbons for cocktails?
The key to a good cocktail bourbon is selecting a type of bourbon that allows mixing with other flavors, whereby the mixing doesn’t diminish the flavor of the ingredients, nor does it decrease the quality of the bourbon.
Bourbon cocktails are a genuine delicacy; the Manhattan cocktail, Whiskey Sour, Eggnog, and many others are made with bourbon. Luckily, these delicious and refreshing drinks aren’t reserved only for a night out, as you can make them in the comfort of your own home if you have the right information.
Top 20 Bourbon for Mixing Cocktails
Therefore, in the following article, I will discuss which bourbons mix well, and I will also discuss some of their characteristics so that you can make the most out of your bourbon cocktail experience.
1. Blanton’s Original Single Barrel Bourbon
This high-quality Bourbon is often referred to as “Liquid gold.” With its honey-like color and shades of brown and golden dispersed throughout the bottle, this is definitely good quality and affordable product costing $65 per bottle.
Its taste is somewhere between nutmeg and spices, with a whiff of vanilla and strong caramel and corn flavor, and it is most certainly intended for smooth and slow sipping offering you utmost enjoyment. The corn flavor is most intense upon swallowing, while the vanilla, nutmeg, and spices are most noticeable in the mouth.
Due to this combination of vanilla, corn, nutmeg, and spices, this bourbon is very favorable for fruity cocktails containing lemon, pineapple, peach, and mandarin juice, mixed with vermouth.
2. Old Grand-Dad Kentucky Straight Bourbon
This bourbon is an excellent solution if you are on a budget costing about $25. Perfectly affordable and offering great value for the price, this bourbon has definitely found its place on this list based on pure merit. It tastes stronger and more intense, with an expressive caramel and spice flavor. Since it is a mixture of rye and corn, it has a noticeable grainy flavor which intensifies with swallowing.
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This bourbon is excellent for strong-tasting and fiery cocktails, most often containing tabasco or pepper sauce for extra spiciness and soda for the bubbles. It also mixes well with peach liquor and orange juice. It leaves a nice cinnamon sweetness as an aftertaste and is definitely worth a try, at the very least.
3. Four Roses Al Young
This special blend of bourbon is very limited and hard to find, and pretty expensive, too, costing about $2.500 per bottle. It is affordable, though it is more on the steeper end; however, it is hard to find as the production batches are pretty limited. It is produced in small quantities and is wiped out the moment it is released to the market.
It tastes like honey and candy mixed with caramel, which is why it is in such high demand. This bourbon’s flavor is unique and hard to compare, so if you find a bottle, snatch it without thinking about it.
It mixes well with Aperol, fresh lemon juice, soda, ginger syrup, cinnamon, and orange juice. It goes great in fruity cocktails, especially those containing citrus fruit.
4. Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Angel’s envy indeed! Made in smaller batches but widely available on the market for about $100, this bourbon seduces you with its toffee and maple strings intertwined with a candied orange peel. Initially, it lures you with the chocolaty and caramel sensation from the toffee and maple whiffs, and it then continues with a citrus-fresh burn creating an experience you will want to relive with each sip.
It goes excellent with citrus juices mixed with creamy ingredients and bitter cocktail addition. This bourbon is maybe the most versatile on this list in terms of the cocktail possibilities it offers.
5. Wild Turkey Spiced Bourbon
In spite of the name, this top-rated flavored bourbon has nothing to do with turkey flavor, but it is spiced. It has expressive allspice and vanilla ice cream taste, as well as cinnamon and cloves. It is smooth and drinkable with a wide spectrum of use and is predominantly paired with dry desserts.
This bourbon is often called “young bourbon” as it is especially popular among the young adults who appreciate its affordability and rightfully so as it costs $30 per bottle.
Cocktail-wise, it is in pairs with sweet and bitter syrups and citrus fruit juices.
6. Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
This bourbon is characterized by having almost no burn, which makes it suitable for many types of cocktails, but it is also extremely pleasant to have it neat. It has an abundance of flavors, starting with charred oak flavor, accompanied by sweet brown sugar, dry fruit, and black pepper. Another attractive feature of this bourbon is its price, $42.
It has a smooth finish with the charred oak and dry fruit flavors lingering after you swallow it. It goes with Demerara Syrup and orange juice but also with other caramel-flavored syrups and citrus fruits.
7. Stagg JR Barrel Proof Straight Bourbon Whiskey
If you like your bourbon intense, hot, and with a nice burn, this one is for you. Flavored like dark berries, intertwined with vanilla, burnt sugar, and a slight tobacco whiff, this is the bourbon for the brave ones. If you are trying it for the first time, you will either love it or hate it, as it is edgy and definitely not for everyone.
Even though expensive or cheap is a somewhat personal opinion, this bourbon is not the cheapest, costing about $370 per bottle.
The strong mixture of flavors transfers itself to the cocktails, too; therefore, this type of bourbon isn’t the most versatile in terms of mixing. However, it mixes excellently with caramel-flavored and berry-flavored syrups and chocolate toppings.
8. Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon 15-Year Reserve
Referred to as “the finest” among the bourbon experts, this bourbon is very rare and as expensive as over $2000 per bottle. Some would say that mixing this bourbon is pure crime robbing it of its natural beauty, but a cocktail made with it is a genuinely exquisite experience.
It ages 15 years, during which it stays untouched by human hands and unbothered. This process makes it taste leathery, extremely oaky, and has complex fruity flavors. It is overall sweet with a flavor mix of vanilla and caramel corn.
You can mix it with simple syrup and orange zest. In addition, you can use bitters to counter the flavor and other citrus flavors besides orange.
9. Bulleit Straight Bourbon Frontier Whiskey
A very available and affordable choice, about $30 per bottle, this bourbon is definitely an excellent base for a cocktail. The notes of orange, spices and vanilla make it very versatile and offer a number of mixing possibilities. The spiciness and sweetness are extraordinarily well balanced in this bourbon, making it a suitable choice to use in cocktails.
It goes exceptionally well with cocktail bitters to add some edginess to the drink, citrus flavors, and caramel.
10. Woodford Reserve
Known for its wonders in the Manhattan cocktail, this bourbon has much more to offer. It is sweet and spicy at the same time, without either of the two overburdening and dominating the flavor. It mixes amazingly well with vermouth and cocktail bitters.
To make things even better, this bourbon is widely available and won’t cost you an arm or leg, as you can find it for about $35 per bottle.
11. Buffalo Trace Bourbon
With notes of caramel and spice, this bourbon is definitely a very delicious option to sip neat but also mix in a cocktail. It is affordable, at under $30 per bottle, and is ideal for mixing with honey, lemon, and sugar, accentuating the caramel and spice flavors while adding a new dimension and creating an entirely new drink.
12. Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey
Tasting like honey, orange, and butterscotch, this bourbon has made a name as the perfect fit for the Christmas beverage- Eggnog. Its complexity of expressive flavors pairs excellently with creamy and mild-tasting ingredients, such as cream and eggs, which is why it goes so well in Eggnog.
Affordable and available, costing $45, this bourbon is definitely an excellent choice for the holiday season. In addition to Eggnog, you can make other similar cocktails using this bourbon and also mix it with orange zest, nutmeg, and other spices.
13. Russell’s Reserve 10-Year Bourbon Whiskey
Famous for its use with cocktail sours, this bourbon tastes sweet and strong and is best described as flavorful and complex. Many would argue that using this bourbon combined with cocktail sours diminishes its flavor and quality, but the facts state that it is absolutely the best choice for this combination.
Costing around $40, this bourbon is an excellent choice for cocktails.
The Whiskey Sour cocktail uses this very bourbon for a reason. The complexity of flavors accentuates the other flavorings added to the cocktail, especially the sour-tasting ones, creating an absolute explosion of tastes.
14. Early Times Bottled in Bond
This Kentucky-style bourbon is known for being crafted with pure water and fermented with proprietary yeast, meaning that the recipe cannot be repeated nor plagiarized, making this bourbon an original and unique drink.
It has a strong rye note that coats your mouth and a short, dry finish that will definitely leave you wanting more. As smooth and as velvety as it is, it can still be considered non-restrictive in terms of mixing, as it doesn’t have any dominant flavors. Still, it is recognizable for its richness and charred oak whiff as it matures for four years in oak barrels.
This bourbon is known for its use in the Old Fashioned cocktail, but it fits nicely with other similar-tasting mixes, and costing $20 makes it even more popular.
15. Evan Williams Black Label
Smooth and rich, with expressive vanilla and mint aroma, this bourbon tastes like a combination of caramel, sugar, and oak. This combination of flavor and aromas makes this bourbon perfect for Hot Toddy and other cocktails because it mixes well with many other flavors.
It is incredibly available and affordable, costing $15 per bottle.
This bourbon mixes so great because it contains several flavors within, making it very versatile and easy to combine.
16. Johnny Drum Private Stock
Elegant, versatile, tender, and smooth, this bourbon is most certainly an excellent choice for cocktails. It starts with a sour apple and oak aroma, making you curious to see what else is there. The caramel and vanilla notes make this bourbon sweet and very gentle with the palate. In the end, the smoky char rounds everything up, giving you an elegant finish.
It has a reasonable price too, costing about $40.
Because of its versatility of tastes, this bourbon mixes excellently with a number of different cocktails as it offers countless flavor combinations.
17. Maker’s Mark
This is a bourbon that is a less spicy version of a spicy bourbon if that makes sense. You can still feel its spiciness and get that nice spicy bourbon kick, but you won’t get overwhelmed by it.
Costing around $30, this bourbon offers great value for the price.
In addition to the mild spiciness, this bourbon tastes butterscotch, vanilla, and barley, making it ideal for whiskey sours or any other cocktail you like containing sweet and sour flavors.
18. Benchmark Old No. 8 Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Light yet rich, containing a complex combination of flavors, this bourbon is especially desirable for many kinds of cocktails because it is very affordable and mixes exceptionally well with other flavors.
What makes this bourbon special is the unique earthiness in its taste, which doesn’t appear very often in bourbon territory. It also has a toffee apple whiff, caramel, corn, vanilla notes, and caramel and biscuit flavors. Very affordable, costing $10 per bottle, this bourbon is undoubtedly an excellent choice.
It isn’t bitter but delightfully combines different kinds of sweetness, making this bourbon tender to your palate.
19. Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Aged for four years in an oak barrel, tasting like dark chocolate, vanilla, and toast, no bourbon list would be complete without the good old Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon that uses the same formula for nearly everything 50 years now.
Affordable and available, it costs $20.
This bourbon is perfect for many cocktails as it is rich, flavorful, yet light with a smooth finish.
20. Rebel Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Made of wheat, corn, and malt, this bourbon is known for using the purest Kentucky water. It has a complex flavor that combines a hint of plum spice, butter, honey, and a whiff of raisins. With a long finish leaving a nice gentle burn afterward, this bourbon mixes excellently with various cocktails precisely because it combines so many flavors.
Costing about $10 per bottle, this bourbon is a very wise choice for mixing.
Is Bourbon Good for Cocktails?
Bourbon is definitely a great choice to mix a cocktail with. Considering that there is a vast sea of bourbons, each having its own strengths, you can definitely find the perfect one to match your preference.
Bourbon is a very versatile drink suitable for any season of the year, meaning you can easily make some refreshing, cold summer cocktails, as well as creamy winter delicacies. From Eggnog to Manhattan, you can use bourbon to mix all kinds of cocktails.
The trick is to know which bourbon goes with which ingredients and which flavors, as some types of bourbon are more restrictive than others, so knowing how to combine them is crucial in mixing a tasty bourbon cocktail.
What Is the Most Delicious Bourbon?
First of all, the taste is a very personal thing, so what is delicious for some is bland for others. However, in terms of quality, aging, production process, and taste, one type of bourbon scores highest on all marks.
William Larue Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a high-end bourbon combining refined flavors with a velvety touch and is exceptionally smooth. Gentle and yet spicy, with an oak whiff mashed with an irresistible sweetness, this bourbon will definitely conquer your taste buds with its maple, oak, and nutmeg notes.
It finishes with a long and silky sensation, leaving you with a subtle toffee flavor.
However, it is pretty pricy, costing about $2400 per bottle.
What Whiskey Is Best for Mixing?
Generally, you can mix it with any type of whiskey; just add ice and anything you’d like in your glass and enjoy. However, the best-known whiskeys for mixing are Irish whiskey, smooth rye, and bourbon, as they are not overly smoky or malty.
The versatility of the flavor is the most important and decisive factor in choosing the proper whiskey for mixing. Don’t go with anything that is overly strong, but instead choose options that offer flavor but are adaptable and collaborative.