A small mouthful of a drink” is a sip in formal terms. To be considered a great sipping bourbon, the spirit must be something special on the palate, not just one note. It must be complex and resonate throughout the sip. The build-up from the smell, taste and lingering finish should complement each other.

Let’s face it, not everyone can explain a bourbon taste profile. Personally, I can usually taste the spices and the fruits, but other notes like leather and tobacco escape me. And that’s okay…

Too many bourbon lovers are reluctant to describe what they are tasting in their sip, because of the “Bourbon Snobs.” Remember, your palate is yours and yours alone. Do not allow anyone to tell you what you should be tasting, enjoy the sip all on your own.

I am not here to break the bank, I know I cannot afford the unicorn bourbons, so I thought I would put together a list of my top five sipping bourbons, ones that I drink and are available every day.

Top Five:

5. Basil Hayden Kentucky Straight Bourbon:

  • The bourbon has a lower proof at 80 (40% ABV) that gives no Kentucky Hug or burn, just a smooth sipping whiskey that I found to have hints of orange and spices on the front end and cherry on the finish, which completed my experience.

4. Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon:

  • From the start, I liked this whiskey. At 100 proof (50% ABV) this bourbon falls in nicely for sipping. The aroma gave off a peppery spicy smell, which worried me it would taste hot, but I was surprised when the swallow went down smooth with very little burn. I tasted caramel, with a hint of cinnamon. The finish had notes of pepper and rye.

3. Michter’s US 1 Straight Bourbon:

  • A laid-back bourbon that delivers on both quality and price. At 91.4 (45.7 ABV) there is not one overwhelming flavor; hints of citrus and cinnamon linger on the tongue at the start, but at the finish, I tasted licorice and pepper that achieved what I was wanting.

2. Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Kentucky Straight Bourbon:

  • As stated the Double Oak starts with strong notes of oak but releases into a candied pecan aroma. At 90.4 proof (45.2 ABV) it will not overpower you with a burn, but you will know that it’s bourbon. The dark chocolate color is a precursor to the taste. Brown sugar, chocolate and vanilla explode in your mouth while pairing perfectly with earthly undertones. It finishes with a dessert feel that lingers into the next sip.

1. Eagle Rare 10-Year-Old:

  • Let me start by saying that I live close to the Buffalo Trace Distillery, so as long I get to my local dispensary early enough, I can usually buy a bottle. I know some of you do not have that luxury. Eagle is 90 proof (45% ABV) and with a nose that radiates sweetness and smoke smell; the taste does not disappoint. A creamy butterscotch tone with a deep cherry undertone. The sip finishes with dry spice, with a Crème Brulee touch. This bourbon is my definition of a sipping spirit.

Click here to sign up for The Bourbon Flight Newsletter.