17 Best Bourbons For Mint Julep

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Mint Julep is a fruity, alcoholic drink made mainly of Bourbon mixed with water, sugar, and fresh mint and topped with shaved or crushed ice. It looks and tastes exactly like a mocktail, but has the alcoholic content of Bourbon – making it a refreshing and delicious drink for both summer days and nights.

It originated and is mainly a drink related to Southern United American states and is mainly promoted by the Kentucky Derby. Since Bourbon is the main ingredient, it is essential that you select the best kind. 

The best Bourbon for Mint Julep include – Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon, Knob Creek 100 Proof, Four Roses Single Barrel, Larceny Kentucky Straight Bourbon, and many more. 

We bring you this article about several drinks that will be the best Bourbon for Mint Julep made at home.

More: 20 Best Cooking Bourbons You Should Try

Best Bourbon For Mint Julep

Finding the perfect whiskey for a Mint Julep may be challenging, and perfecting this genuine Kentucky Derby flavor might feel like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. 

However, this list will have you covered with the best sweet Bourbons of all price ranges so that you can have that energizing mint flavor regardless of budget. Without further adieu, let’s get right into it. 

1. Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon


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Old Grand Bourbon has a high rye mash bill, yet because of its intensity, it is regarded as one of the best Bourbons. Old Grand is a medium-bodied Bourbon with 100 proof, so you can use it in a variety of cocktail cocktails.

When combined with simple syrup, shaved ice, and fresh mint, the cinnamon complements the baking spices and dark fruit well.

2. Knob Creek 100 Proof


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The sweet, oaky, and nutty flavors of Knob Creek Kentucky straight Bourbon whiskey are enhanced when used as the base for traditional cocktails. A nice Mint Julep cocktail can be made using the 100-proof Bourbon’s mild fruity sweetness and spice.

Making Mint Juleps does not require an expensive bottle of Bourbon, and Knob Creek proves it as it is both budget-friendly and delicious in Mint Juleps or straight. 

3. Four Roses Single Barrel


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Four Roses Single Barrel is one of the best Bourbons to try if you want to build your Mint Julep cocktail.  The high rye content of the single barrel Bourbon gives it a rich flavor and mild spiciness that makes it a fantastic choice as the base spirit for Mint Julep cocktails.

What gives the 100-Proof Four Roses Single Barrel its unique taste apart from the sweetened alcohol is the included pears, chocolate, toffee, and oak flavors. So many additional flavors, yet the Bourbon blends remarkably well with the mint leaves, ice, and sugar syrup that have been added.

4. Larceny Kentucky Straight Bourbon


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One of the best ways to savor Heaven Hill Distillery’s Larceny Kentucky Bourbon, also known as the Master of Malts, is a wheat Bourbon with 92 Proof, which is perfect to make your Mint Julep. You can make any cocktail you want with Larceny’s spice and the tasty additional flavors of caramel, butterscotch, and honey.

You will also love the oaky tinge of flavor due to the time it has been aged for refining the liquor. It is also decent for sipping straight, but due to its sweetness, it is best used for the cocktail. 

5. Maker’s Mark Cask Strength


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If you enjoy Bourbon, you undoubtedly know and adore Maker’s Mark’s robust flavor. The label has been in the industry since 1958 and it prides itself on the long process it takes to make it extremely fine liquor. Depending on the barrel your bottle is coming from, Cask Strength goes from ranges of 108 – 114. 

This particular variant – Cask Strength, has a powerful flavor of wheat in Bourbon that will be a unique addition to your Mint Juleps. Even though it has a powerful flavor, it does not drown out other flavors on your tongue, and it can survive ice melt, amplifying the rich flavors of vanilla and rich oak instead. 

6. Woodford Double Oaked


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Woodford Double Oaked is a variant of the original Bourbon of the Mint Julep, so there is no way that this brand will not work with the cocktail. What makes this variant special is the time it takes to mature the beverage – 6 years in the first barrel, and then shifted to another for one more year to age the drink even more. 

A little bit over 90 proof, the Double Oaked Bourbon does not have a high proof, but it still adds depth and flavor to the drink. This Bourbon also has lesser alcoholic content than some of the other options on this list, so mixing this in your Mint Julep can make you a fresh drink to sip on during the day. 

7. Michter’s US-1 Limited Release Barrel Strength Bourbon


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In addition to being delicious neat or on the rocks, Mitcher’s US-1 Limited Release Barrel Strength Bourbon is a versatile spirit that makes a terrific base for cocktails. Its deep flavors of candied fruits, vanilla, and wood undertones give the Mint Juleps beverage more complexity and uniquely sweet flavors.

Despite having a high ABV, it glides across the tongue very smoothly. The rye spice flavors gradually emerge throughout, complemented by notes of apricot cherry, demerara sugar, orange, and caramel toffee to complete the flavor profile. Add this to your Mint Julep for an enhanced tinge of baking spice to your drink.

8. Wild Turkey 101


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The Wild Turkey 101 is the next best Bourbon for Mint Juleps on the list. The Bourbon has a dense flavor profile and will spice up your drinks. Although it has a high ABV, it blends well with the mint and sugar and does not overpower the drink’s minty characteristics.

It is also the least expensive whiskey on our list and one of the best tasting. It packs a punch similar to Buffalo Trace and will make you feel more energetic after just one sip.

9. New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey


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The distillery’s signature whiskey, New Riff, is a flavorful, robust Bourbon that pairs well with any drink. If you like your Mint Julep sweet, this might be the drink for you as it melts well with the alcohol and gives a light, honeyed and oaked flavor. 

We advise adding extra crushed ice to this cocktail because the creamy butterscotch and vanilla flavors go well with the sugar in the julep. It has a robust taste, unlike other whiskeys, yet it is wonderful to have in cocktails.

10. Rabbit Hole Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Rabbit Hole Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is produced in one of the most recent distilleries in downtown Louisville using a mash bill uncommon for Bourbon –  70% corn, 10% wheat, 10% malted honey barley, and 10% malted barley. 

Hence, you can expect this Bourbon to have a bearably sweet flavor – perfect for those who do not like their cocktails to have a mocktail sweet feel. This combination of grains gives the Bourbon a beautiful honeyed flavor, which nicely highlights the mint in a julep.

11. Woodford Reserve

The Kentucky Derby’s official Bourbon is Woodford Reserve, so you cannot go wrong with this one. It is the original taste of Mint Julep, and if you want the taste of Derby at home, you can go straight for this Bourbon. 

It has a robust flavor profile that blends well with the cocktail drink without being overbearing. With the tinge of exquisite caramel, toasted oak, rich citrus, and spice overtones, it will make you fall in love with the cocktail as it has done for so many racing fans. 

12. Old Forester Signature 100 Proof

Old Forester, a 100-proof Bourbon, is another delectable option for your Mint Julep. The first bottle of whiskey was created by George Garvin Brown, and it has a fantastic flavor profile – a spicy, and robust kind that may go well with those who prefer their alcoholic drinks a little hard.

The beverage also has distinct characteristics that you will need to make a tasty cocktail. It is robust and assertive, with only a tinge of the flavors of maple syrup, oak, and sweet apples that help to balance the flavor.

13. Barton 1792 Full Proof

Barton 1792 Full Proof Bourbon is the award-winning alcohol of the brand. It makes another fantastic julep alternative for its caramel and spice undertones. You can also get slight hints of vanilla, and oak — all of which give your drink a hard and good flavor profile. 

The Bourbon has also been finished up with clove, pepper, and seasoned oak that makes the drink more complex – mixing bitter with the sweet, but not overpowering with one flavor. 

14. Yellowstone Select Bourbon

Yellowstone Select Bourbon is a value-for-money drink for the palate that this whiskey offers. It has a little peppery undertone that blends well with the minty flavors of Julep. It also has strong notes of vanilla fudge that go well with the sugary, sweet beverage.

At $60 per bottle, it is not only affordable but easily available online too. This whiskey even has a slight rye undertone and makes for a terrific addition to your whiskey collection. Your Mint Julep will have a refined taste due to its robust flavor, punch, and excellent quality.

15. Pure Kentucky XO

Those who want spicy and oaky Bourbons might consider Pure Kentucky XO Bourbon. It’s not excessively sweet, and the price is reasonable given the quality it offers – especially because the drink has been specially bottled one at a time. It also accepts water nicely and is advised to add some color to the celebration. 

Considering that this bottle is aged almost 12 years and has proof of 107, it is incredibly inexpensive. Coming from the birthplace of Bourbon, this drink is the best it can get with its lovely blend of natural ingredients and limestone flavors.  

16. Old Bardstown

Old Bardstown is a drink that gradually becomes more herbaceous with each sip due to its rye-bread-like aromas and milder sting. The finish starts sweet with a hint of wood and honey mixed in with the licorice – making it a refreshing Bourbon for Mint Julep. 

You will also get a little alcoholic tingling along with herbal flavors like mint, licorice, honey, lemon, oak tannins, and citrus in the drink. The Old Bardstown is in at 90 proof, which means that it is strong but you will still be able to live through it even if you decide to take a straight shot. 

17. Booker’s Bourbon

When Booker’s became available to the general public in 1992, it quickly gained a cult following due to its potent tastes and sharp, high-proof flavor that comes from the fact that it has not been watered down. Hence, for hard drinkers, the spicy and intense taste with a tinge of maple syrup might become a favorite. 

The intensity of a Bourbon like Booker’s is ideal in a drink like a Mint Julep because the complex and robust flavors stand up well to the high sugar content and herbal notes.

What Kind Of Bourbon Do You Use In A Mint Julep?

Mint Julep is kind of the traditional Bourbon drink – a classic for the alcohol and one of the most popular cocktails as well. Hence, the Bourbon you put into Mint Julep matters, and it is best if you go with the higher-end brands. 

The original drink by Kentucky Derby uses its official Bourbon, Woodford Reserve, so many believe that it is the correct one to go by, but you can use whatever you want in your Mint Julep if you go by the following rule of thumb – the older it is, the better the Bourbon. 

What Is The Smoothest Bourbon To Sip?

Normally, Bourbon has a malty and toasty flavor, so a smooth Bourbon is quite hard to find. The ones that we select for Mint Julep are the sweet kind that gives the drink its mocktail-ish taste. This too differs from brand to brand – some are just plain sweet and dry while others have a sweet and spicy taste. 

There is no official list as to what the smoothest Bourbon to sip on is, but some of the most beloved ones rated by consumers have been the Kentucky Derby classic, Woodford Reserve, and the Woodford Reserve Double Oak. 

Apart from that, some notable mentions of sweet and smooth Bourbon are Colonel E.H Taylor Jr. Small Batch Bourbon, Elijah Craig Small Batch, Jefferson’s Reserve Very Old, and Four Roses. 

What Is The Most Highly Rated Bourbon?

The highest rated Bourbon depends on the popularity, sales, and reputation of the company of the drink. Hence, the title for the most highly rated Bourbon with the highest sales belongs to Jack Daniel’s. The company not only leads with about 13.4 million sales in the last year but is also quite famous for its aesthetics. 

However, Jack Daniel’s considers itself a Tennessee Whiskey, so if you are overlooking that fact, then Jim Beam is the most highly rated Bourbon in the world. 

Another notable mention that is loved and appraised by Bourbon and alcohol tasting enthusiasts is the Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bourbon which was awarded “Best In Show” by the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition for its extra-aged, single oak-barreled flavor. 

How Much Does A Mint Julep Cost At Churchill Downs? 

A Mint Julep at the famous Churchill Downs on Derby Day, along with a small souvenir glass for you to remember the famous drink by, will cost you $15. There is also another deluxe version of the drink – a $2500 drink in a fancy cup that has the carvings of the twin spires motif of Churchill downs. 

So as you can tell, the drink is quite famous and has garnered a lot of fans. There are only 18 of these $2500 Mint Juleps cups which are gold plated, and another variant of silver plated ones that cost $1000, out of which only 148 were made.

What makes them so special is the horseshoe shape they are crafted in along with a few red rubies used to decorate. 

Best Bourbon Mint Julep Recipe Card

You need not have to go to Churchill Downs just to savor a glass of fresh Mint Julep. If you have a Bourbon brand you prefer or just want to try having this recipe on your own, just follow this simple recipe to make the drink. 

Remember that the best Bourbon  Mint Julep’s taste mainly depends on the brand of Bourbon you get, so the older the drink, the finer the taste. Following are the instructions on how to make tasty Mint Juleps.

Ingredients Needed:

  • Your favorite Bourbon (2 ounces)
  • 8 Mint leaves
  • Simple syrup (¼ ounces)
  • Mint spring (garnish-sized)
  • Angostura bitters (optional garnish)


  • Step 1: Muddle up the mint leaves in the simple syrup and then add them to a glass. There are specific glasses designed especially for Mint Juleps, but if you do not have them, there is no restriction on what you can use. 
  • Step 2: Pour in the Bourbon and then tightly pack the glass using crushed ice. 
  • Step 3: Stir and blend the mixture until the cup is fully frosted on the outside and voila! Your drink is almost done. 
  • Step 4: Lastly, top it up with some crushed ice so that a dome-like shape is formed, and then add a mint sprig or some drops of bitters to top it off. 

NOTE: To make the mint sprig aromatic, before you add it to the drink, slap the sprig on your hand to release oils before you put it on top. 

Related Questions  

What Bourbon Is Served At The Kentucky Derby Mint Juleps?

In the original Mint Julep promoted and endorsed by the Kentucky Derby, the Bourbon Woodford Reserve, a product of the company itself is used to make Mint Juleps. 

Is Drinking Bourbon Good For You?

Like all whiskeys, Bourbon is healthy alcohol. It is great for the heart due to its antioxidant properties and its ability to avert the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries. Experts say it can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. 

What Is The Smoothest Sweetest Bourbon?

Although not officially stated, many reviews on the internet have stated that the classic Woodford Reserve Double Oak is the smoothest and sweetest Bourbon to sip on. 

Is Bourbon Healthier Than Beer?

Yes, although all alcohol in abundance is bad for your health, Bourbon is the healthier choice when compared with beer. It is considered a very good spirit when it comes to calories (only 97 compared to 150 – 200 of beer) and is great for your skin and hair. 

Final Thoughts 

We hope that our list of the best Bourbons for Mint Julep has been helpful to you and you have found the correct alcohol that fits your taste for your cocktail. After all, summer is nothing without a fresh drink of the season, and with any of the Bourbons mentioned above, you really cannot go wrong.

Chad Smith

Meet Chad Smith, a seasoned bartender with a passion for mixology. He's the founder of Tin Roof Drink Community, a blog where he shares expert tips, creative recipes, and fosters a vibrant community of cocktail enthusiasts and aspiring bartenders. Join Chad as he takes you on a flavorful journey through the world of drinks. Cheers!

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