The 7 Best Bourbons For An Old Fashioned

The 7 Best Bourbons For An Old Fashioned

Brief History of the Old Fashioned Cocktail

The Old Fashioned cocktail has a rich history dating back to the 19th century. Its origins can be traced to a simple concoction of whiskey, sugar, water, and bitters, often referred to as the "whiskey cocktail." Over time, bartenders began adding new ingredients and modifying the recipe. However, purists longed for the original, "old-fashioned" version, hence the name.

Importance of Choosing the Right Bourbon for a Perfect Old Fashioned

While the Old Fashioned is a straightforward cocktail, choosing the right bourbon can make a significant difference in taste and enjoyment. The bourbon's flavor profile should complement the cocktail's other ingredients, allowing the drink to achieve a harmonious balance. A well-chosen bourbon can elevate the Old Fashioned to a sublime experience, showcasing the craftsmanship of both the distiller and the bartender. Therefore, selecting the best bourbon is essential for crafting a perfect Old Fashioned.

The 7 Best Bourbons for an Old Fashioned

Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Flavor Profile

Buffalo Trace is a versatile bourbon with a complex flavor profile. It boasts notes of vanilla, toffee, and a hint of spice. Its smooth finish makes it an ideal choice for an Old Fashioned.

Why it Works Well in an Old Fashioned

The richness of Buffalo Trace complements the sweetness of the sugar and the bitterness of the bitters. Its well-rounded taste enhances the overall cocktail, creating a satisfying and balanced Old Fashioned.

Four Roses Single Barrel

Flavor Profile

Four Roses Single Barrel offers a unique blend of flavors with a fruity and spicy character. It features hints of cherry, plum, and cinnamon, which make for a distinctive and memorable Old Fashioned.

Why it Works Well in an Old Fashioned

The bold and robust flavors of Four Roses Single Barrel work in harmony with the other ingredients, adding depth and complexity to the cocktail. The fruitiness of the bourbon accentuates the orange garnish, while its spiciness adds an intriguing twist.

Knob Creek Small Batch Bourbon

Flavor Profile

Knob Creek Small Batch is a full-bodied bourbon with a rich, oaky taste. It offers notes of caramel, brown sugar, and toasted nuts, providing a warm and satisfying base for an Old Fashioned.

Why it Works Well in an Old Fashioned

The bold flavors of Knob Creek Small Batch stand up well to the other components of the cocktail. Its rich, oaky character melds beautifully with the sweetness of the sugar and the sharpness of the bitters, resulting in a smooth and well-balanced Old Fashioned.

Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon

Flavor Profile

Woodford Reserve is a refined bourbon with a smooth and velvety texture. Its flavor profile includes notes of dark chocolate, dried fruit, and a subtle hint of spice, making it a fantastic choice for an Old Fashioned.

Why it Works Well in an Old Fashioned

Woodford Reserve's delicate flavors complement the other ingredients without overpowering them. Its smoothness and complexity enhance the overall cocktail experience, yielding a sophisticated and elegant Old Fashioned.

Maker's Mark 46 French Oaked Bourbon

Flavor Profile

Maker's Mark 46 is a full-flavored bourbon with a distinctive taste. It features rich caramel, vanilla, and toasted oak flavors, along with a touch of baking spices, making it an excellent choice for an Old Fashioned.

Why it Works Well in an Old Fashioned

The bold flavors of Maker's Mark 46 blend seamlessly with the other ingredients, providing a robust and well-rounded Old Fashioned. Its warmth and depth add a touch of luxury to the cocktail, making it a true pleasure to sip.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon

Flavor Profile

Wild Turkey Rare Breed is a high-proof bourbon with a spicy and bold character. It features prominent notes of pepper, cinnamon, and caramel, giving it a distinctive edge that works well in an Old Fashioned.

Why it Works Well in an Old Fashioned

Wild Turkey Rare Breed's assertive flavor profile adds a kick to the Old Fashioned, cutting through the sweetness and providing a sharp contrast to the bitters. The result is a cocktail with a lively and invigorating taste, perfect for those who prefer a bit of spice in their drinks.

Bulleit Bourbon

Flavor Profile

Bulleit Bourbon is a high-rye bourbon with a spicy and robust flavor. It features notes of vanilla, toffee, and a hint of citrus, offering a unique and well-rounded taste that works wonderfully in an Old Fashioned.

Why it Works Well in an Old Fashioned

The boldness and spice of Bulleit Bourbon pair well with the other ingredients, creating a harmonious and balanced Old Fashioned. Its distinctive character adds an interesting twist to the classic cocktail, making it a popular choice for those seeking a bit of adventure.

How to Make the Perfect Old Fashioned


To make the perfect Old Fashioned, gather the following ingredients:

  • 2 oz of your chosen bourbon
  • 1 sugar cube or 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • An orange or lemon peel for garnish
  • Ice


Use a sturdy rocks glass or an Old Fashioned glass for this classic cocktail. The glass should have a thick base, allowing for muddling the sugar and bitters without the risk of breaking.

Preparation and Garnishing Tips

Follow these steps to create the perfect Old Fashioned:

  1. Place the sugar cube or sugar in the glass and add the bitters.
  2. Use a muddler or the back of a spoon to crush and mix the sugar and bitters until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add a large ice cube or a few smaller ones to the glass.
  4. Pour the bourbon over the ice, and gently stir the cocktail to combine the ingredients.
  5. Express the citrus peel over the glass by holding it over the drink and giving it a good twist to release its oils. Optionally, run the peel along the rim of the glass to add extra aroma.
  6. Discard the citrus peel or drop it into the drink as a garnish, according to your preference.

Enjoy your perfectly crafted Old Fashioned, and remember that practice makes perfect. Experiment with different bourbons and garnishes to find your ideal combination.

Experimenting with Different Bourbons

Benefits of Trying New Bourbons

Experimenting with different bourbons in your Old Fashioned can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. By trying new bourbons, you can discover unique flavor profiles and nuances that may enhance your cocktail. Moreover, experimenting allows you to tailor your Old Fashioned to your personal taste, ensuring the perfect drink every time. Additionally, exploring different bourbons can expand your knowledge and appreciation of this storied spirit, deepening your understanding of its complexities.

Recommendations for New Bourbon Enthusiasts

If you are new to bourbon and eager to explore, here are some recommendations to get you started:

  • Begin with a few of the bourbons featured in our list of the 8 best bourbons for an Old Fashioned. These selections provide a solid foundation for understanding the range of flavors and characteristics bourbon has to offer.
  • Attend bourbon tastings or join a bourbon club to gain exposure to a wider array of options and learn from fellow enthusiasts.
  • Visit distilleries and take guided tours to gain firsthand knowledge of the bourbon-making process and sample different expressions from the source.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for recommendations from bartenders, friends, or fellow bourbon enthusiasts. They can provide valuable insights and suggestions based on their personal experiences.

As you embark on your bourbon journey, remember that the most important aspect is to enjoy the process. Savor each new discovery and let your palate guide you in finding your perfect Old Fashioned.


Recap of the 7 Best Bourbons for an Old Fashioned

In this guide, we explored the 7 best bourbons for crafting the perfect Old Fashioned cocktail. Our selections included Buffalo Trace, Four Roses Single Barrel, Knob Creek Small Batch, Woodford Reserve, Maker's Mark 46, Wild Turkey 101, and Bulleit Bourbon. Each of these bourbons brings its unique flavor profile and character to the classic cocktail, showcasing the versatility and depth of this beloved spirit.

Explore and Enjoy the Perfect Old Fashioned Cocktail

We encourage you to explore the world of bourbon and discover your ideal Old Fashioned combination. By experimenting with different bourbons and honing your cocktail-making skills, you can create a truly personalized and memorable drinking experience. As you embark on your bourbon journey, remember that the process should be enjoyable and enlightening, revealing the subtle nuances and complexities of this storied spirit.

At The Bourbon Central, our mission is to provide expert recommendations and a wide selection of high-quality spirits and wines. We invite you to dive deeper into the world of bourbon and uncover the perfect Old Fashioned for your palate. Cheers to your exploration and enjoyment of this timeless cocktail.