What defines a smooth-tasting bourbon? Usually, smoothness is a drinkable bourbon that does not entail a burning or scratching sensation in the mouth. Here in bourbon country, we just call it a “Kentucky Hug.” The burning sensation is the main reason that newbies quit bourbon altogether.
Bourbon needs to be at least 51% corn, but a higher corn ratio tends to lend itself to a smoother-tasting bourbon. Adding ice to your glass also reduces the burn, but to taste the distiller’s true expression, I do not recommend, ice dilutes the spirit.
Lastly, the higher the alcohol content, the more burn you will feel. Which is simple science.
With that, here are my Top 5 or so smoothest bourbons on the market.
- Frey Ranch Single Barrel Straight Bourbon Whiskey: If you like cherry, this is the bourbon for you. A higher proof at 126, but very easy on the palate. Notes of cherry, honey, and almond round out the spirit.
- Great Jones Bourbon: This small batch bourbon comes from New York and is straightforward. Caramel and vanilla fill the nose and carries on into the throat. A smooth pour that will keep you coming back for more.
- Russell’s Reserve: At 90 proof this bourbon is very clean and crisp. Fruits fill the palate and has very little to no burn. Russell’s reserve has quickly become one of my favorite sipping bourbons.
- Maker’s Mark 46 French Oaked: A wheated bourbon that satisfies your sweet tooth. Brown sugar, caramel, and apple supersede any hint of burn. A top bourbon for beginners or aficionados alike.
- Four Roses Single Barrel: This bourbon will not break the bank but has the complexity of a more expensive bourbon. At 100 proof it is on the higher side, but it does not translate into heat. Hints of apple, pear, and baking spices fill the spirit.
- Knob Creek 9-Year-Old: This beautifully complex bourbon is perfect for all lovers of the spirit. Full-bodied with spice, chocolate, and caramel fill the nose. The finish is superb, that is long and flavorful. The tagline on this brand should be, “Smooth to the last drop.”
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