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Top 10 American Bourbons

Written by Top 100 Arena on 2012-06-18
Bourbon whiskey is an American-created variety of the dark liquor, made from a distinctive blend of grains that separate from other whiskeys. Here is a look at the author's top ten selections. Bourbon is a highly subjective liquor, so be sure to try a brand yourself before dismissing it.

10 Wild Turkey

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An affordable and classic bourbon, Wild Turkey has been putting hairs on the chest of young bourbon drinkers long enough to have developed several nicknames. The Ripy family distillery has been in operation since the Antebellum Era in the heart of bourbon country. The brand offers everything from a regular 81.8 proof, a 12 year old 101 proof, and the "Rare Breed" line hits almost 109 proof. Official Site

9 Evan Williams

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Hailing back to the early years of the country, Evan Williams began distilling in the states in 1783, and his name lives on in the Evan Williams brand. The low price of the Black Label makes for a great bargain, and is likely a large reason it has become one of the top selling bourbons. Official Site

8 Jim Beam

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Though the "regular" bourbons carrying the Jim Beam name might be best left as mixers, the wide range of selections means there is something for every budget and every purpose. The brand is marketed as the world's number one bourbon, although this is likely related to being able to purchase 1.75L for around $20. It should be noted that Beam, Inc., the producers of Jim Beam bourbon, also produces two other brands on this list. Official Site

7 Bulleit

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Bulleit bourbon is a spicier and stouter liquor than many others lower on the list, but its harshness is balanced out well by the sweetness of the corn. There is a distinct focus on the rye over the corn, which leads to the cinnamon spice that hits the tongue. The Bulleit distillery is fairly new compared to the old Kentucky vanguard with a founding year of 1987. Still, the bourbon has quickly spread to be a reputable and solid drink. Official Site

6 Pappy Van Winkle

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Unlike liquors such as vodka, great bourbon gains flavor rather than tasting more neutral. The Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 23 is an exquisite bourbon that has to be experienced to understand. The other bourbons sporting the Van Winkle label by Sazerac are great, but this rare and expensive bottle will be sure to impress even long-term bourbon enthusiasts. You can expect to fork over $100 or more for this limited line. Official Site

5 Elijah Craig

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This award-winning bourbon takes its name from one of the alleged creators of the liquor brand. Produced at the Heaven Hill distillery in Louisville along with Evan Williams, the Craig line is aged either 12 or 18 years, and the lengthy time spent in the barrel gives it a mature, woody flavor that lingers for a while. Official Site

4 Woodford Reserve

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You can taste the hints of double oaked flavor in the offering from Woodford Reserve. The charred wood taste compliments the sweetness well, and it hits the tongue and seems to melt quickly into a smooth and slightly bittersweet sensation. The small batch care and personal oversight by the Master Distiller on every barrel shows in the taste, and the price. The distillery in Versailles, Kentucky offers tours all year long, and it even hosts a bourbon academy that fills up months in advance. Official Site

3 Knob Creek

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One of the more potent bourbons on the list, Knob Creek comes in at an impressive 100 proof, and it has the kick to back up the number. All of the kick is in the front though, and it mellows out quickly without need for a chaser, making it a great stand-alone bourbon. A fifth should run over $20, pushing it into a slightly more expensive category, but it is definitely worth every penny. Official Site

2 Jack Daniels

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With one of the most recognizable names in liquor, regardless of type, Jack Daniel's is a common choice for bourbon drinkers around the States. While some might argue that a "Tennessee Whiskey" like Jack is not bourbon, it meets all the requirements of bourbon by law, with one extra step of filtration added afterword. Even though it might not be as great tasting as some of the higher end bourbons, its popularity and price have made it a staple in bars across the globe. Official Site

1 Maker

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In a very distinguishable square bottle with red wax coating, Maker's Mark is a smooth and sweet bourbon with a taste as unique as its packaging. The creators of this fine libation chose to go without the rye common in other bourbons, and they instead added wheat which leads to a more subtle and sweet taste. The taste cannot be replicated with other bourbons, and the sweet flavors make it easy on the tongue. Maker's Mark is a great choice for sipping for those just beginning to enjoy bourbon. Official Site

Your own list is very likely to have a different ordering than this one, and can easily come to include other brands. There is no right or wrong answer to what the best bourbons are; it is all about enjoyment. When becoming acquainted with the various options, be sure to drink responsibly, do not drink and drive, and remember that sampling every brand in one sitting might not be conducive to good liver health.

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