Top-Flight Tasting: Great American Bourbon

Our Country’s National Spirit, Explored

    To build your whisky knowledge base, you’ll need to first understand the benchmarks. These five bottles truly show the wide range of flavor profiles and styles that fall under the umbrella of bourbon.

    Start with Basil Hayden’s, one of the original “Small Batch” bourbons. Then there’s Old Grand-Dad, with a similar high-rye mashbill to Basil Hayden’s, though more aggressive in how it’s expressed.

    Jim Beam Black Extra-Aged is likewise a great introduction to the category, smooth and full-bodied, with approachable caramel and vanilla notes. Conversely, there is Maker’s Mark®, which uses unique red winter wheat as its flavoring grain. Finally, Knob Creek, also among the original “Small Batch” bourbons, is robust at 100 proof, and can be enjoyed in any and all situations.

Basil Hayden’s® Bourbon
A wonderful introduction to bourbon with its very friendly flavor profile and proof, but connoisseurs love this artfully-aged whiskey as well. A “high-rye” mashbill balanced with notes of vanilla, caramel, and dried fruit, this light yet flavorful whiskey is sure to please any palate.

Maker’s Mark® Bourbon
As smooth as bourbon can possibly be, thanks to the red winter wheat in its recipe, this whisky is sweet yet balanced, emphasizing caramel, vanilla, and fruity essences.

Jim Beam® Black Extra-Aged
Longer maturation in new, charred white oak barrels means a fuller-bodied bourbon with smooth caramel and warm oak notes.

Old Grand-Dad® Bourbon
Medium-bodied, Old Grand-Dad offers some sweet vanilla, but the high-rye bourbon gets cantankerous with its peppery spiciness, displayed by notes of cloves and cinnamon.

Knob Creek® Bourbon
This full-flavored bourbon offers an incredible complexity and versatility. Oaky, spicy, and a bit leathery, a cinnamon zip on the finish makes this great for sipping on ice or building classic cocktails.

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