If you are looking for the best bourbon, be sure not to confuse it with one of the other four types of whiskey: Irish, Scotch, Tennessee and Canadian. Each type of whiskey has its own characteristics. making it differ from the other types. The strength of bourbon cannot be more than 160 proof, which is 80 percent alcohol. One of the final ways bourbon is differentiated from the others is how it's aged and stored in charred oak barrels for at least two years. The longer it is aged, the more mellow the flavor.
Maker's Mark bourbon is one of the milder bourbons and one that is good for a newcomer to the world of bourbon. It does not have a strong burn. The vanilla taste is present but not overpowering. It can be consumed straight as a shot or poured over ice to slip slowly as a chilled bourbon. For those that enjoy mixed drinks, Maker's Mark mixes well with cola, though the flavor does become slightly overpowered.
Baker's Bourbon is a good option to start out with if you are looking for more of a sweet than a harsh bourbon. It still has a high alcohol presence at 107 proof, but you aren't going to feel a strong burn as you drink it. This flavor is sweet and almost needs a mixer to tame some of that sweetness. Mixing it with cola will tame down the sweetness a little bit, while still allowing the oak flavor to appear in the background as you drink it. This is a good introductory bourbon and one that goes down smoothly as a shot.
Eagle Rare Single Barrel Bourbon is not as cheap as some of the bargains listed below, but it's worth the extra $10 to 15 per fifth. It's an ideal sipping bourbon. The oak flavor jumps out at you with a smooth hint of vanilla in the finish. There is almost no burn at all in this 90 proof variation of bourbon. Once you have introduced a friend to the bargains, share this with him and he'll see why you have kept this to yourself for so long.
Woodford Reserve is another of the higher priced bourbons that's worth spending the extra money for. Unlike the Eagle Rare Single Barrel Bourbon, this one is heavier on the vanilla flavor and lighter on the oak. The burn of the alcohol in this one seems to be a little less as well, even though the proof level is almost idential to the Eagle Rare Single Barrel Bourbon.
Sometimes when choosing the best bourbon, you need to choose the best one to fit your budget. The Rebel Yell brand is bargain priced at around $13 to $18 per fifth sized bottle. Generally, the cheaper the bourbon, the harsher the taste. The alcohol burn on some cheap bourbons can be almost intolerable, but that's not the case with the Rebel Yell brand. It's not one of the best sipping bourbons, as the oak flavor is very subdued, but if you are looking to get drunk quickly when doing shots or making a mixed drink, it won't hurt your throat or budget.
Old Forrester is one of those bourbons that you just smile when you see it on the shelf. It's like an old friend that has come by to say hello. Bargain priced at under $20 for a fith, this is a bourbon that has more flavor than the 86 proof might guide you to believe. The alcohol flavor and oak from the aging process blend together perfectly in this bourbon. Drink it over ice and you can tase that familiar hint of vanilla. This is one of the better sipping bourbons that is bargain priced.