As bourbon becomes more popular, the range of choices for what to drink seems to grow every day. But now, it's time for the best-aged bourbons. Aging bourbon for years allows it to become more flavorful and robust.
Generally, there is no aging requirement for bourbon. It will be good if it's appropriately barrelled. The exceptions are straight bourbon with a two-year minimum aging requirement and bottled-in-bond, which must age for four years or more.
Whether you're a beginner or a connoisseur, there's something on this list for everyone. So, read on bourbon fans!
Our Top Picks
Best Rare Bourbon - Michter’s 25 Year Straight Bourbon Whiskey
• A rich combination of vanilla, citrus, and oak
Best Versatile Bourbon- Four Roses Small Batch Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
• Great depth and balance of flavors
Best Sweet Bourbon - Russell's Reserve 10 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
• Bursts of sugar and spice tastes
Age: 10 years
The Bulleit 10 Year Kentucky Bourbon is a one-of-a-kind liquor that has been aged for ten years. Its mash bill consists of 68% corn with 28% coming from rye and 4% malted barley to give it that signature sweet flavor.
This whiskey is an excellent choice for those looking to enjoy the aromas of caramel and vanilla with notes from toast. The depth that comes through adds spice, citrus fruit, cherry as well as butterscotch which helps balance everything out nicely!
With its bold aroma, it also has flavors of spice and wood jumping out at you. Then you'll notice cherry flavors complemented with vanilla and leather before they disappear too quickly into your taste buds, leaving behind an enjoyable yet shallow depth.
2. Jefferson’s Presidential Select 16 Year Twin Oak Bourbon
Age: 16 years
Jefferson's Presidential Select is aged in two casks - 11 years in new American Oak barrels then seasoned with a final 5-year maturation process in charred new oak barrels. It's one of the finest bourbons with a production process that yields an exceptionally smooth yet potent spirit.
The nose starts off on an intense note from the deep caramel, followed by slight vanilla hints. There are also baking spice flavors like cinnamon or cloves mixed in for good measure before drying out into leathery notes covered up here and there by smoky charred oak.
The rich, complex flavors of caramel and vanilla are evident on the palate too. Additional notes include herbaceous oak, dark fruits, and a touch of mintiness that leaves your mouth slightly dry at first taste but then satisfies in all ways possible as it slides down.
Age: 20 years
The company I.W. Harper is one of the oldest bourbon brands in America, with records dating back to 1874 when it was first founded by Isaac Wolfe Bernheim and Bernard Bernheim. They would later go on form their own whiskey distillery under the name "Bernheim."
This expertly crafted straight bourbon is made from the finest whiskeys aged between 4 and 20 years at Stitzel-Weller's warehouse. Its mash bill is composed of 73% corn, 18% rye, and 9% malted barley.
The nose reveals notes of corn, fresh cork, and new oak, which are topped off with a fresh hint of vanilla. On the palate, you'll notice notes that are similar to these aromas in your bourbon glass: cork and vanilla! You'll also recognize honey and elderflowers thriving in each sip.
Age: 4 - 8 years
A true master of their craft, Booker Noe created Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey in 1992. This style is the epitome of refinement and subtlety, and it is inspired by the whiskey pioneer Meredith Basil Hayden Sr.
From the moment you open up a bottle of Basil Hayden's Straight Whiskey, it takes your breath away. The aroma bursts with woody notes and orange zest. Then the midpalate reveals hints of peach sweetness with vanilla bean essence before finishing smooth on light tannins.
The taste of this whiskey is intense. One minute you have the finish lingering on your tongue, then it just vanishes without any warning. However, something new takes over - spice from rye with a fruit smoke oak overtone that delivers an exquisite flavor!
5. Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey
Age: 6 - 8 years
Blanton’s Original Single Barrel is a once-in-a-lifetime bourbon experience. The first barrel of Blanton's was sold to ambassadors and dignitaries, but when it came out commercially in 1984, it opened its doors to the whole world for many to enjoy!
There is a light, zesty fragrance that becomes more intense as you drink. Moreover, hints of honey and vanilla can be smelled along with bubble gum aromas. Suddenly, it melts into orange citrus peel before giving way to barrel char against fresh flowers in full bloom.
The first thing that hits your mouth is sweetness, with light and airy flavors of caramel honey. Underneath those enjoyable ingredients lies some leather undertones as well as light spice from rye which bubbles to the top for a lasting appeal.
Age: 8 - 12 years
Elijah Craig Small Batch proudly carries on the tradition of a man who is credited as being responsible for bourbon's first aging inside charred oak barrels. This whiskey promptly took home not one but two San Francisco World Spirits Competition Double Gold medals!
The praise was well deserved as this expression has maintained an amazingly high quality that is typical for what we've come to expect from these types of competitions.
The fragrance and taste of this bourbon are delightfully complex. You'll find notes of vanilla bean, sweet fruit, and fresh mint mixed in on the nose for an additional layer of complexity. The palate is both smooth and warmly woody at the same time, with a light spiciness that rounds it out.
Age: Minimum of 4 years
The taste of Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style Bourbon is rich and delicate that will have you coming back for more. It has the versatility to be enjoyed either for sipping or mixed in cocktails, as its high proof and robust taste make sure it shines in any drink you put together.
In terms of smell, it gives an impression of a chocolate banana split. A rich and powerful aroma fills the room as its fruit, burnt brown sugar with hints of cocoa, make up for it in delightfulness. It's hard to believe the aroma is coming from a small bottle!
This whiskey has the richness of barrel char and dark chocolate with some smokiness for good measure. There’s also an underlying nuttiness that you can't quite put your finger on but is very much present in this drink! Its sweetness is also reminiscent of caramel and creme brulee.
8. Pappy Van Winkle 25 Decanter
Age: 25 years
The Pappy Van Winkle 25 Decanter is a luxurious, rare find. During spring and fall of 1989, this truly unique bourbon was distilled with an age that makes it one-of-a-kind. With a whopping 25 years in oak barrels, it has not only become more delicious but also smoother than ever before!
You might expect there would be more oak flavor from something aged for such a long time but what really stands out are those sweet sugars. These give off an excellent balance between tartness and sweetness as well as the complexity of flavors that give great mouthfeel and nose sensations.
Aside from the liquor itself, you'll also like the presentation of this bourbon. It is stored in a decanter created by Glencairn Crystal Studio that is inclusive of silver and glass stoppers. And these items are housed in an amazing wooden box crafted by Heritage Handcrafted.
Not all whiskey has this much dedication and detail, so it's no wonder why Pappy Van Winkle is among the best and most expensive bourbons of all time.
Age: 10 years
Widow Jane 10-Year-Old Bourbon is a perfect marriage between straight bourbons from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana. It has a rich, creamy nose that offers vanilla and patisserie cream with toasted oak spices. There are also hints of chocolate for additional depth.
The blend of flavors starts sweet, with raisins and plums. As you take another sip, the taste becomes more complex as there are hints of cashew nuts together with molasses.
Additionally, the flavors are encased by notes from Sandalwood as well as a cocoa powder mixed together with spices like cinnamon.
10. Black Maple Hill 16-Year-Old Small Batch Bourbon
Age: 16 years
Black Maple Hill is a new and growing brand from San Carlos in the heart of California. Contrary to what most people think, Black Maple Hill is actually an operation, not a real place. It is the brainchild of Paul Joseph, who buys whiskey from Willett Kentucky bourbon distillers, makes blends, and then labels it "Black Maple."
This great bourbon is a complex and engaging experience. The initial nose offers up big citrus flavors with hints of honeyed sweetness that fade fast on the palate. But they're replaced by oak spice as well as some other pleasant notes like nutmeg or allspice.
This is a delight to the taste buds with its lush, oily creaminess in both aroma and mouthfeel. As you drink down this bourbon, your senses will be tantalized by nougat, hints of honey, brown sugar, and marzipan that are irresistible on every sip; finishing chewy yet still succulent!
11. Michter's US1 Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey
Age: Approximately 8 years
You can't go wrong with a little Michter’s US1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon to savor the taste of Kentucky in your mouth. Its exclusive mash bill features only top-quality American produce, then ages until it reaches perfection. This spirit has flavors reflective of the Bluegrass State - nuanced and earthy!
With its light and pleasant nose, it offers a straightforward experience. This bourbon has new oak notes with sweet grains of corn mixed among some hints of raisins. Then it gives way to an alluring yet subtle sweetness on your tongue.
A creative and enticing palate awaits with the sweet, mouthwatering taste of this bourbon. The initial sip is quickly followed by notes of honeycomb over a hint of vanilla and sweet corn that linger on your tongue for a few minutes after each drink.
12. William Larue Weller 12 year
Age: 12 years
The name of this bourbon is an homage to the man who revolutionized "wheated bourbon" - William Larue Weller. This substitutes rye for wheat in their mash bill. It has been said that this results in a smooth and supple whiskey with spicy notes - perfect for autumn parties!
The nose of this bourbon has a classic, well-crafted scent that includes rich vanilla and sweet caramel notes with robust oak. There's also just enough red fruit sweetness to keep it interesting for those who love their spirits straight up or on the rocks!
The first impression on the palate is a thick buttery viscosity that holds rich oak notes that are the perfect balance between young and old. It warms on your tongue with sweet caramel, thick vanilla flavors that highlight individual features.
Age: Approximately 6 years
Maker's Mark Cask Strength does a better job of balancing the spice and sweetness than other whiskeys that can sometimes have an overwhelming spiciness or cloying sweet taste. It also has more depth in comparison.
The nose of this liquor is quite surprising. It has a lot more alcohol burn than you'd expect, but the smell underneath seems to dissipate after a few days of open-air exposure. Through smelling it yourself, you can still pick out faint hints like cinnamon sticks, cherries, and vanilla.
The deep, rich flavors will have you feeling like a king with its full-bodied mouthfeel that coats your tongue in caramel and toastiness after every sip! Notes of allspice add even more spice factor while molasses and dark fruits provide sweetness throughout this drink.
14. Booker’s Bourbon
Age: 6 - 8 years
Booker’s bourbon is a powerful drink that you can taste right away. At first, there's an upfront alcohol burn with nutty and floral notes in the background to keep it company before fading off into oak barrel depths for good measure.
The bourbon tastes sweet, mainly with hints of vanilla and raisin. You can also get a warm sensation in your mouth quickly as the heat from this spirit travels around it instantly. As you continue sipping, you can also taste aged wood and leather in every corner.
Age: 9 years
The first whiff of Knob Creek Small Batch whiskey is like being enveloped in a thick blanket of caramel and vanilla with just enough oakiness to keep things interesting. The proof works its magic well, hiding away behind those classic scents that will make you want another glass.
The flavors on the palate are a lighter, sweeter bunch than those found in your nose. The flavor profile of sweet vanilla, light oak, and creme brulee come across as one-dimensional with hints of caramel.
However, this isn't as strong as other similar products, so it can definitely pass as bourbon for beginners.
16. Eagle Rare 10 Year
Age: 10 years
The nose of Eagle Rare is so subtle that you’ll barely notice it. But once your taste buds start sampling the 10-year-old barrel-aged whiskey, you'll experience hints that pack a punch.
Upfront, citrus flavors meet scents like orange peel against toasted marshmallows for an altogether delightful experience.
Distinctive yet simple, the flavor of this bourbon is a surprise. It’s not overbearing or complex in any way; rather it comes out with honey, new oak, toasted brown sugar, as well as slight hints of white pepper. While there isn't much depth to this drink, it is still one of the best bourbons with a great value!
Age: 4 - 6 years
The aromatic bouquet of Angel's Envy whiskey is enticing and inviting. With notes that include caramel, praline, raisin, and vanilla, this elegant bourbon has a balance throughout its flavor profile to satisfy even your most sophisticated tastes buds!
It starts off rich, warm, and smooth in your mouth before flavors of vanilla, maple syrup, dark chocolate and hints of oak intermingle to deliver one sip after another. It also has an earthy flavor, and finish, which rounds out the other flavors.
This is another excellent whiskey for those who love their whiskey straight up or on the rocks!
Age: At least 6 years
When you first take a whiff of the Hillrock Solera Aged Bourbon Whiskey, your nostrils are greeted with aromas that are both light and sweet. It smells like dark fruit like raisin or fig, mixed in with rye spice. If you observe closely, you'll also notice some delightful floral hints.
This spirit is indeed a characterful, old-world masterpiece. The flavors are inviting aromas of vanilla and almond with subtle hints of honeydew melon on the palate. It's both full-bodied yet delicate in its presentation at once.
19. 1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Age: 8 - 8.5 years
1792 Full Proof smells like you've been dipped in a barrel of dry oak and caramel with just enough vanilla and caramel to make everything smell sweet. The bourbon scent is quickly forgotten, but the drinkability leaves a lot to be desired.
Some may find it too hot for their tastes, especially since a lot is going on in terms of spice flavors, from sweet corn to raisins. But eventually, these all come together nicely thanks to the syrup-soaked dried cherries as well as additional vanilla to complement everything.
Age: At least 8 years
The Buffalo Trace Kentucky Bourbon is an instantly likable and pleasant bourbon tasting experience with notes of caramel, honey, orange vanilla. The nose balances these flavors well while also providing an underlying layer of oak woodiness that complements the drink immensely.
This mellow and sweet whiskey boasts hints of brown sugar and vanilla on its palate. Some might find the sweetness too much for their taste but surely several people will still enjoy this smooth spirit that has some oak and rye spice to round out all those flavors in your mouth!
21. Henry Mckenna Single Barrel
Age: 10 years
The aroma of a traditional barrel is present in a bottle of Henry Mckenna, with notes of caramel and vanilla. Behind this, you can smell seasoned oak as alcohol blends in the background to stand its ground against all other aromas as one might expect from a high-proof bourbon.
On the palate, vanilla flavor stands out with hints of oak in the background from start to finish. But it is balanced by rye qualities that deliver an interesting pop of burnt brown sugar on your tongue as well as caramel tones which provide good contrast.
22. Michter’s 25 Year Straight Bourbon Whiskey - Best Rare
Age: 25 years
The Michter’s 25 Year Straight Bourbon Whiskey gives a flavorful and deep taste in your mouth. This artfully crafted bourbon is produced from an exclusive mash bill which is aged for a lengthy 25-year duration. Only exclusive charred American white oak barrels are used for the maturation.
The flavor begins gently but quickly builds in complexity as you go through each layer of flavors. First comes wood essence from the long aging process. Then they give way to something richer and sweeter like pecan pie bars, buttered toast, and vanilla cake that is glazed with sugar.
A feeling of warmth and happiness floods over you as the spice from Michter's 25 Year Straight Bourbon Whiskey lingers on. The spice starts immediately, but it clings onto your tongue for quite some time before finally fading away into honey sweetness at the end of each sip.
23. Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Age: 7 - 10 years
Evan Williams Single Barrel Kentucky Bourbon is a renowned whiskey, and for good reason. The nose offers up sweet caramel with vanilla to contrast the oakiness from seasoned wood in this traditional array of aromas that may be light yet surprisingly satisfying as well!
This smooth and rich whiskey has hints of cinnamon toast crunch on the palate with caramel flavors and pepper that make for an incredibly enjoyable taste experience in every sip. It is also a fantastic gift idea to a loved one or an addition to your best bar cart.
24. Blade and Bow 22-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Age: 22 years
When drinking this limited edition bourbon, you will appreciate the dedication and skill of the famed Stitzel-Weller distillery. Straight from the distillery, this exclusive and annually released bourbon is intricately aged for more than two decades before it hits bottles.
The nose on this liquor is captivating. The smoky flavor of the alcohol mixed with notes of torched sugar and apples baked in honey and spices add great depth that is satisfying to taste. Then a touch of caramelized oak gives it all some extra complexity without being too sweet.
Age: Minimum of 6 years
Heaven's Door Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a smooth and sweet drink made by acclaimed artist Bob Dylan. This is an excellent option when you're in the mood for something extra, with its more robust flavors.
Its intense aromas of orange marmalade, caramel, and strawberry nougat make this bourbon sure to please the most discerning palate. On the mouth, rich caramel and buttered biscuit flavors are perfectly balanced by a touch of cherry and vanilla sweetness.
Aside from the drink itself, another factor that makes this bourbon a masterpiece is its unique bottles. It is no wonder why this is one of the best whiskey brands by celebrities.
26. Four Roses Small Batch Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey - Best Versatile
Age: 6 years
Four Roses have always been known for their quality bourbon, and with the new Small Batch Select, they are taking it one step further. This is made by hand-picking six different bourbon recipes which have each spent at least six years in oak barrels.
A nose full of sweet vanilla and cinnamon leads to a diverse range that includes cobbler, caramel, creme brulee, and spice. The taste has plenty of depth or substance as it brings forward these delicious notes in perfect harmony.
The flavor profile of this bottle is both subtle and complex. It starts off with a strong blend of spices, which are then balanced by rich summer fruits in the background. The oak comes through loud for its presence on your tongue before being met with vanilla notes.
27. Jefferson’s Ocean: Aged at Sea
Age: 6 - 8 years
This bourbon is an actual labor of love. It is the result of a journey that spans thirty-one ports and four trips around the equator. It all starts with 62 barrels, aged 6-8 years in oak and shipped in a ship where they rock across oceans before reaching their destination!
The nose of this bourbon is all about the rich, sweet, and spicy aromas. There’s brown sugar with hints of cherries in every sniff, followed by smells that are both sharp and oak-infused from aging at sea for many years before being bottled up!
The combination of dark fruits and bourbon spices is present in every sip. The dark fruit flavors and faint saltiness plays against sweet notes. Furthermore, a hint of vanilla helps balance them out just enough for an enjoyable experience that won’t leave your palette too thirsty at the end!
Age: 14 years
For 14 long years, this whisky matures in ex-bourbon American oak casks before it's finished off with new charred oak barrels. This process of aging and finishing is what gives Glenfiddich its signature flavor for decades to come!
The nose is filled with smells of warm, buttery toffee. Hints of graham crackers and marshmallows are detectable alongside rich cocoa nibs that give way near the end for bright bursts. Then a cinnamon spice jar is mixed in along with candied orange peel and fresh citrus zest.
The creamy texture in your mouth will have you feeling like royalty as it flows over each sip and leaves behind just enough spice with hints of toffee lingering. It also provides an instant black coffee kick before moving on to cocoa notes.
Age: 8 years
Jim Beam Black Extra Aged Kentucky Bourbon is a strong, spicy spirit that was originally known as Jim Beam Double Aged. This type of whiskey has been aged for eight years to bring out more complexity and flavor with its heat profile when compared to regular Jim Beam.
The first whiff of this bourbon leaves a sweet impression on your nose. The aroma of alcohol is there, but it fades quickly and gives way to simple basic bourbon aromas like grain with hints of caramel, ripe fruit, and vanilla.
This is a light, but creamy and smooth bourbon. It has flavors of caramelized sugars with oak spice in the background that fade quickly to leave you on your own well-sustained finish. It’s easy drinking for those who want something they can enjoy without being overwhelmed.
30. Russell's Reserve 10 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey - Best Sweet
Age: 10 years
Wild Turkey is one of America's most iconic whiskey makers who released their Russell's Reserve line, honoring the paternal duo Jimmy and Eddie Russell. Russell's Reserve 10 Year is also one of the double gold awardees of the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
The nose is robust and classic, with a fascinating mix of aromas. Strong hints of leather, vanilla, and caramel reveal themselves alongside aged oak flavors that are rich but not overwhelming on your tongue in this 90-proof point bourbon whiskey!
It has a soothing, warming effect on your mouth, with its sweetness leading the way as well as light spices similar to rye. Moreover, it still leaves room for more prominent notes from seasoned oak and tobacco leaves to shine through.
Whether you go for a 2-year old or 25-year old bourbon, it all boils down to your preference. Your choice of age is based on how much flavor and smoothness you want in the drink.
Ultimately, you are guaranteed to have a good time sipping your favorite aged bourbon with your buddies or on your own.
Which aged bourbon are you going to indulge in? We'll be happy to hear you share in the comments below!