8 Best Bourbon Brands in the World

8 Best Bourbon Brands in the World

The growing popularity of bourbon in the U.S., can be gauged by the fact that sales in the domestic market have risen by around 40% over the last five years. This Tastessence article lists out the bourbon brands responsible for the growth, and those that have managed to pour sheer delight in glasses around the world.
Tastessence Staff
Did You Know?

Every year, in America, June 14 is celebrated as National Bourbon Day, in honor of its much-loved native spirit―bourbon. Also, September is known as National Bourbon Heritage Month.

The dictionary defines bourbon whiskey as whiskey distilled from a mash of corn and malt and rye, and aged in charred oak barrels. Ask any bourbon connoisseur and he will define it as a drink that adds more sunshine to your day. Well, technically speaking, bourbon is an American whiskey which is required to be aged in oak barrels at least for two years.

The history of bourbon can be traced back to late 1700s, to the Kentucky farmers, who first came up with the idea of making whiskey out of corn and other grains, instead of simply letting them go waste. They shipped their whiskey in oak barrels; however, the transport in those times would take weeks or even months. This waiting, however, was a 'blessing in disguise', as the oakwood gave the whiskey, a unique amber color and a rich, smooth texture. Although the fact remains disputed, Reverend Elijah Craig has been credited as the inventor of Bourbon.

Facts and history apart, today, this Kentucky drink has managed to reach out to the world. And yes, the world has welcomed it with open arms too! So, for all those bourbon lovers out there, here is Buzzle's list of most popular Bourbon Whiskey brands in the world, along with some of their products, and the recent accolades that they have won.

Pappy Van Winkle

Known as the pioneers of the bourbon-making business, the Van Winkle family's tryst with bourbon began in the late 1800s, and still continues. Lately, all the Van Winkle products are manufactured at the Buffalo Trace Distillery. We have put them Number 1 in our list, and here are some of their high premium products. Save yourselves this expensive sip!

Website: Old Rip Van Winkle


Recommended Sips

Pappy Van Winkle's
Family Reserve 15yr
● 2014 Bronze Medal - Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition
● 2014 Gold Medal; Bourbon American Whiskey 8 Years and Over - World Whiskies Awards

Pappy Van Winkle's
Family Reserve 20yr
● 2014 Silver Outstanding Medal - International Wine & Spirits Competition
● 2014 Double Gold Medal - San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Pappy Van Winkle's
Family Reserve 23yr
● 2012 Extraordinary-Ultimate Recommendation - Chairman's Trophy Finalist - Ultimate Spirits Challenge
● 2008 Double Gold Medal - San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Four Roses

The story behind the brand goes something like this, founding distiller Paul Jones, Jr. had taken a fancy for a belle and proposed to her. She agreed to wear a corsage of four roses on her gown at a ball function if her answer to his proposal was affirmative. To depict his love for her, he named his bourbon, 'Four Roses'.

In 1943, a takeover by Seagram resulted into the discontinuation of Four Roses from the American markets, since their priority lied with the European and Asian markets, despite Four Roses being hugely popular. Four Roses was absent from the American markets for almost 40 years, but gained huge popularity in the other markets. However, in 2002, another takeover resulted in Four Roses reentering in the American market and regaining its reputation.

Website: Four Roses

Recommended Sips

Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon
● 2014 Silver Medal San Francisco World Spirits Competition
● 2013 Gold Medal San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon
● 2014 Gold Medal San Francisco World Spirits Competition
● 2013 Silver Medal San Francisco World Spirits Competition
● 2012 World Whiskies Awards; Best American Whiskey Bourbon 7 Years & under

Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon
● 2014 Gold Medal San Francisco World Spirits Competition
● 2013 Gold Medal San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Angel's Envy

Crafted by Master Distiller, Lincoln Henderson, who had mocked that humans got a better share than the angels, since they can taste this bourbon, it was aptly named as Angel's Envy. They are proud to continue the Lincoln Henderson's legacy, whose pursuit for perfection was unmatched. Although Angel's Envy is a fairly recent entrant, it has already achieved the much fame and acclaim.

Website: Angel's Envy

Recommended Sips

Angel's Envy Cask Strength
● "Best Spirit in the World - #1 (tie)." - Spirits Journal June 2013.

Angel's Envy Port Finished Bourbon
● Awarded 98 points : highest rating ever given to a bourbon by Wine Enthusiast

Angel's Envy Rye Whiskey
● Awarded Four Stars and "Highly recommended" by the Spirit Journal

Jim Beam

Seven generations of the Beam family have been in the bourbon business. Claimed to be the world's best bourbon manufacturers, they have a rich past, started by Jacob Beam in 1795, when he sold his first barrel. Since then, there has been no looking back. They even survived the Prohibition period and kept up with the goodwill. Originally named "Old Tub", they changed the name to "Jim Beam" in his honor. Along with Kentucky Original 'Straight Bourbon Whiskey', they have introduced a range of flavors such as maple, honey, cinnamon etc.

Website: Jim Beam

Recommended Sips

Jim Beam Straight Bourbon
● 2014 Double Gold Medal :San Francisco World Spirits Competition
● RATED 92 by the Beverage Testing Institute in 2014.
● Beverage Testing Institute GOLD MEDAL WINNER - 2014

Jim Beam Devil's Cut
● 2013 International Wine & Spirit Competition Gold Medal Winner
● 2014 Gold Medal : San Francisco World Spirits Competition
● 2013 Double Gold Medal : San Francisco World Spirits Competition
● Beverage Testing Institute Gold Medal Winner - 2013

Jim Beam Signature Craft :
(12 year old ultra-premium spirit)
● 2013 Gold Medal San Francisco World Spirits Competition
● 2013 Gold Medal International Wine & Spirit Competition
● 2013 Gold Medal LA International Spirits

Blanton's

Blanton's is acclaimed as the world's first single-barrel bourbon sold commercially, it has maintained its tradition of handcrafted bourbon. Even today, the custom of careful selection from the center of Warehouse H is continued, and we can say, only the lucky few go into 'Blanton's Buffalo Trace Distillery. Well, they ensure that you relish the finest sip!

Website: Blanton's

Recommended Sips

Blanton's Straight from the Barrel
● 2012 Double Gold San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Blanton's Original Single Barrel
● 2014 Double Gold San Francisco World Spirits Competition
● 2013 Double Gold San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Blanton's Gold Edition
● 2013 Double Gold San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Elijah Craig

History mentions Rev. Elijah Craig, as the person who invented bourbon. Manufactured by the Heaven Hill Distilleries, this bourbon brand is a tribute to his work. It is produced both in small batch and single barrel bottling.

Website: Heaven Hill

Recommended Sips

Elijah Craig 21 year old Single Barrel
● Named "American Whiskey of the Year" in 2011 by Whisky Advocate Magazine.

Elijah Craig Small Batch Straight Bourbon 12 Year Old Barrel Proof
● 2014 Gold Medal San Francisco World Spirits Competition
● 2013 Double Gold Medal San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Widow Jane

The Cacao Prieto Distillery claims that Rosandale Limestone Mine in New York has rocks that contain richer minerals than those found in Kentucky. With the death of the owner of the mine, it became famous after his wife's name―widow Jane Mine. Unlike other brands, which are mostly found in Kentucky, this one is a New Yorker!

Website: Widow Jane

Recommended Sips

Widow Jane 7 yr Straight Bourbon Whiskey
● 2013 Double Gold Medal San Francisco World Spirits Competition
● GQ's Favorite bourbon for National Bourbon Day

Bloody Buthcher High Rye Bourbon

Wapsie Valley"Single Expression" Bourbon  

Old Forester

Refusing to compromise on the quality of his bourbon and to ensure they were not diluted, founder distiller George Garvin Brown decided to sell them in sealed bottles. He also signed on them a personal guarantee of its quality. This is how the 'Old Forester' came to be known as the world's first ever bottled bourbon. Their bottles, even today, bear his signature. It was also sold during the Prohibition period for medicinal purposes.
The history behind the brand name is not known, although some claim that the founder had named it after Dr.William Forrestor, a loyal customer.

Website: Old Forester

Recommended Sips

Old Forester Classic 86 Proof Bourbon
● 2014 Gold Medal :San Francisco World Spirits Competition
● 2013 Double Gold Medal :San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Old Forester Signature Bourbon
● 2014 Silver Medal :San Francisco World Spirits Competition
● 2013 Silver Medal :San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon
● 2014 Silver Medal :San Francisco World Spirits Competition
● "Top 50 spirits of 2012" - Wine Enthusiast

Other Famous Bourbons
● Col. E. H. Taylor Single Bourbon Barrel
● Woodford Reserve
● Maker's Mark Bourbon Barrel
● Wild Turkey
● Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
● Booker's Bourbon
● Balcones
● Lexington
● Dark Horse Reserve
● Glenfiddich Age of Discovery Bourbon Cask
● Parker's Heritage Collection
● 1792 Ridgemont Reserve

If you want your rendezvous with whiskey to be extra special, try out these world famous brands. Yet, no one can tell you which one is the best, not even the judges or the awards! Let the bourbon seep into veins, and do what it should do―give you sheer delight! Plan one of your exotic evenings with a bottle of bourbon, or you could simply have a fun trip with your family/friends, by visiting one of the distilleries! Come and join the world of bourbon lovers... for there lies in every barrel, a bourbon waiting to be savored!