Bourbon is a subtype of whiskey which is known as the harsher version of the spirit. It is, nevertheless, a delicacy and an exquisite drink.
However, not everybody likes bourbon because it tends to be more aggressive than whiskey. Still, bourbon has its own fan body that simply adores that harshness and the expressive burn.
Nevertheless, harsh isn’t everything bourbon is, as there is a lot more about it. It can be playful, flavorful, aromatic, and overall very delicious.
Those who like bourbon are usually experienced whiskey drinkers who are ready to take the game to the next level, so the harsher, the better.
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Top 20 Highest-Proof Bourbons
A high-proof bourbon means a strong bourbon. Most bourbons are 80 proof, meaning that they contain 40% of alcohol.
Usually, the way you determine the proof of a bourbon is by doubling the alcohol percentage.
The higher the proof, the stronger the bourbon. A strong bourbon also means a harsh bourbon, so when having a high-proof bourbon, be ready to cringe for quite a bit.
Still, if this is your thing, in this article, I will give you a list of the 20 highest-proof bourbons you can enjoy.
20. Larceny Barrel Proof
With an alcohol proof of 61.9, this is a gentle bourbon and the best one to start this list with.
Made by Heaven Hill, Larceny Barrel Proof is one of its high-proof bourbons. This bourbon is made three times a year, in January, May, and September, and is therefore considered a special release. It is exceptionally smooth and very delicious.
This bourbon starts with slight vanilla aromas, which transpire all the way through the sip. It goes on to become more complex mid-palate with vanilla and smoke notes and finishes smoothly but still assertively.
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19. Four Roses Single Barrel
With 100 proof, this is definitely a bourbon you want to take seriously. Even though the Four Roses line has made a name as being one of the gentlest bourbons, this edition doesn’t fall under that category.
On the nose, it exhibits balanced aromas of vanilla, spices, chocolate, and toffee which are a nice little preview of what’s about to come next.
The beginning and the middle consist of the same tasting notes, with the beginning being more delicate and subtle.
You can feel tart fruit, morello cherries, cocoa, and vanilla, which prepare you nicely for the grand finale, which is the finish of the sip. Tasting like oak and butterscotch, the finish is smooth and surprisingly flavorful.
18. Wild Turkey Rare Breed
A rare breed indeed, this bourbon is the perfect combination of strong and subtle. Even though it is 112 alcohol-proof with 54% of alcohol, it is exquisitely delicious and complex.
On the nose, you can feel distinct notes of raspberry, citrus, marmalade, and ginger, which is more than enough to tickle your curiosity to see what else this bourbon has to offer. Mid-palate, it shows notes of grape, clove, and brown bread.
The finish is exceptionally smooth, with tones of caramel and pine resin.
17. Laphroaig Ten-Year-Old Cask Strength
This 114.6-proof bourbon is a by-the-book spirit for classic bourbon lovers. Starting with the traditional vanilla notes on the nose, continuing with vanilla and butterscotch-tasting notes mid-palate, and ending with a smooth and smoky finish, it is definitely a harsh bourbon and most certainly not for everyone.
Assertive and robust, it is a good-quality bourbon, but it definitely isn’t for beginners, as you need a specific education and experience to be able to appreciate it, and even then, you might find it a little over the limit.
16. Clyde May’s 12-Year Alabama Style Cask Strength Whiskey
This is a limited edition, high-proof bourbon with an exceptionally seductive aroma and a very delicious palate. Considering that it is 120 proof, there is nothing light about it, but nevertheless, it balances the harshness with a lot of flavors and its full body.
Vanilla, dried fruit, toffee, and caramel are the tasting notes you will feel mid-palate, followed by a smooth and flavorful finish. Even though this is a strong bourbon, chances are you will be able to handle it even if you are a beginner.
15. Knob Creek Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey
This bourbon is another one with 120 alcohol proof, but it simply has to be on this list as it is an institution in the bourbon department.
Knob Creek is a must when it comes to bourbon, and this expression is a classic and a timeless spirit.
Even though it isn’t as creative as some on this list, it honors the bourbon-making tradition by following the rules to the letter.
Starting with the classic aromas of vanilla and citrus, continuing to the oak and vanilla notes mid-palate, and ending with a smooth but strong finish, this bourbon is a genuine depiction of the bourbon tradition.
14. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon
With an alcohol proof of 121, this bourbon is a strong one and not to be taken lightly. If you aren’t that experienced so as to discover and analyzing the tasting notes this bourbon includes, you would describe it as merciless.
Despite harshness being its most expressive feature, it also exhibits noticeable notes of vanilla and citrus, wrapped in smokiness, finishing smoothly with a strong burn.
13. George T. Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
With 116 proof, this is one of the best-tasting bourbons, which is surprising since it is really strong. It has a balanced profile combining fudge brownies, chocolates, and molasses balanced with vanilla, spearmint, and tobacco.
The finish is very smooth, as it is expected since this spirit ages for 15 years in charred oak barrels.
12. Kings County Distillery Barrel Strength Bourbon
With proof ranging from 116 to 128, this strong bourbon is velvety smooth, balanced, and surprisingly flavorful. Aged for nine years, it is slightly oaky and spicy, which play excellently together in creating the overall savory and sweet profile of this spirit.
As you would expect, the finish is smooth, and what is particularly interesting, it transitions from savory to sweet, with the aftertaste being completely sweet.
11. Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Bourbon Whiskey
With an alcohol proof of 120.7, this bourbon is very pleasant to drink, even though it is a bit more on the stronger side. It is sweet and savory and slightly sour, with a playful palate and a smooth and clear finish.
10. Redemption 7-Year Barrel Proof Straight Rye Whiskey
With an alcohol proof of 122.6, the Redemption bourbon comes in small batches of ten casks at a time. This is a truly unique spirit combining strength and flavor in a perfect way.
It is characteristic of its fruity notes, including ripe peaches and raspberries, intertwined with rye and cashews.
In addition to being fruity, it is also spicy with notes of pepper and allspice which are especially visible in the end. It finishes smoothly with a delicious lingering aftertaste.
9. Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon
Aged for six years and with an alcohol proof of 125, this bourbon is very aromatic, with notes of toasted vanilla, a pinch of red pepper, as well as apple hints to balance the smells.
The palate tastes expressively like toffee, malt, cedar, and sour cherry, finishing smoothly with tines of white chocolate and black pepper.
8. 1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
With an alcohol proof of 125, the 1792 Kentucky Straight Bourbon has a memorable flavor profile. It exhibits notes of fruits, vanilla, cinnamon, orange, and licorice, creating a warm sensation and a truly exquisite overall taste.
The burn is solid but warm, revealing more flavors of vanilla and cinnamon as the spirit slides down the throat.
7. Blanton’s Straight from the Barrel
With an alcohol proof of 128 which can sometimes vary from batch to batch but never by a lot, the tasting notes of this bourbon include honey, vanilla, and tobacco, enriched with citrus, spice, and butter.
Decadently delicious, this bourbon has a smooth and long finish exceeded only by its even more flavorful aftertaste, exhibiting notes of peaches and smooth chocolate, which aren’t that intense in the mid-palate.
6. Highland Park Single Cask Series 2004 Single Cask
This 129-proof bourbon is definitely on the strong side, which slides right under your nose as it is a very delicious, aromatic, and full-bodied spirit.
This is a limited edition bourbon and is often referred to as Scotland’s finest. It ages in ex-sherry bottles developing layers of flavor that unravel from the beginning until the end of the sip.
It is an overall smooth and smooth spirit, ideal to sip slowly, even if you are just starting to discover the high-proof bourbon world.
5. Booker’s Bourbon
Distilled by the Jim Beam distilleries with 127.9 proof, this is a harsh bourbon that takes some time to get used to.
Made in small batches, this bourbon is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, as it does sting, bite, and burn. However, if you can see the beauty in it, you will see that it is refreshing, citrusy, and crisp. The finish is smooth but assertive.
4. Spec’s Cask Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Barrel Proof
With an alcohol proof of 129 is delicate and excellently balanced. It is a contemporary classic, incorporating the traditional bourbon notes while giving out the vibe of the new era. Tasting like toasted oak and vanilla, it is simple, clear, and to the point.
It finishes smoothly, with a lingering aftertaste and a very pleasant burn.
3. Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye
This 127.4-proof Canadian Prairie bourbon is considered to be among the best-tasting ones. It smells dominantly like ethanol which may be very misleading, making you think that you can’t handle it.
However, the reality is quite different, as it is a perfectly balanced spirit, tasting like vanilla and caramel with a smooth finish and a very pleasant burn.
2. Buffalo Trace Stagg Jr.
With a whopping 130 proof, you could definitely use some water for drinking this bourbon with. Even though it is very flavorful and aromatic, it is definitely strong, and you will need something to soften the blow.
It has smelling notes of burnt sugar and orange peel pique with a palate tasting like a combination of leather, clove, dark chocolate, and chilies. The finish is exceptionally long and spicy with notes of honey.
1. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof
With 136 alcohol proof, this is the strongest bourbon on this list. The 136 proof means that the alcohol percentage is 68%, so be extremely careful with this one and make sure you have some water handy.
For each sip of this spirit, have a glass of water, as almost 70% of alcohol is far from a joke.
Once you manage to gather your composure and focus on tasting the drink instead of surviving it, you will notice notes of brown sugar, charred oak, and pastries, as well as vanilla, chilies, and chocolate.
The finish combines notes of caramel and walnuts and is smooth but very assertive.
What’s The Highest Proof For Bourbon?
Most bourbons have 125 alcohol proof or less. Where the alcohol content of spirits is regulated at 40%, the proof is 80.
Nevertheless, even though 125 or lower is the usual proof, bourbon’s proof can go as high as 160 proof, but not over that.
In the barrel, the bourbon’s proof cannot be over 125 as it would make the bourbon taste like vodka. Upon bottling, the proof cannot be less than 80.
What Bourbon Is 140 Proof?
Elijah Craig Barrel is 140.2 proof of bourbon. Despite its strength and harshness, this spirit is deep-flavored, tasting like caramel and just a tiny bit of black pepper and cinnamon. In a word, the finish is unforgettable, with spicy notes and spearmint lingering further.
What Bourbon Is 150 Proof?
The strongest bourbon is Buffalo Trace Stagg Jr., and its alcohol proof is 143.4, so slightly under 150 proof.
Can bourbon be 130 proof?
Yes, it can, and it is Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. This bourbon’s proof is typically 130 or sometimes higher.
Highest Proof Whiskey In The World
The highest-proof whiskey in the world is Bruichladdich X4 Quadrupled whiskey. It is also known as the most alcoholic whiskey in the world. Its alcohol content is jaw-dropping 92%, meaning that its proof is 184.
Highest Proof Whiskey In America
The highest-proof whiskey in the US is Bruichladdich X4 Quadrupled whiskey, which is the highest-proof whiskey in the world.