High-end, sipping bourbon has surged in popularity in recent years. As America's true and tried traditional spirit, bourbon is a manifestation of years of craftsmanship, care, and dedication to cultivate a spirit that allows families and friends to cherish endless nights. Since 2019, the number of brands that produce a bourbon whiskey has risen more than 5-fold to over 1,000 different bottles and stories alike. The rise up and to the right of the best sipping bourbons has been accepted well by American consumers, with sales of super-premium bourbon ($50 or more) growing by 135% in the past 5 years. With all that growth, it warrants the question: what makes these sipping bourbons so great? We could go on and on here, but generally speaking, the best sipping bourbons have a rounded, pleasant mouthfeel while offering an array of flavors that are imparted to the liquid thanks to aging for 5-10 years. The result is a beautiful spirit with notes of vanilla, charred oak, cinnamon, and other flavors that differ by the brand. Now that we know all about this new, emerging category of premium bourbon, let's dive in to the best bang for your buck in this tasty vertical.
8 Best Sipping Bourbons of 2022:
Incubated in the globally renowned Willett Distillery, Noah's Mill is, undisputedly, the best sipping bourbon available on the market, especially when we consider that its price point in just below $50. It's a small batch and somewhat rare offering (though in 2022, it has become more widely available to the masses) that follows in the footsteps of Kentucky Bourbon pioneers, who developed a habit of distilling extra corn into a bourbon batch. While Noah's Mill has no age statement on the bottle, it is labeled as a straight bourbon. All straight bourbons are aged for a minimum of 2 years, and in this case, 4 years. Once you get past adoring the remarkable amber hue of the bourbon, you'll sense eye-opening notes of cinnamon, allspice, and vanilla on the nose. The bourbon itself offers a finish filled with honey, dark spices, caramel, and toasted vanilla.
Angel's Envy distillery carries 200 years of bourbon heritage, that, when combined with an innovative master distillery, Lincoln Henderson, creates the best sipping bourbon unparalleled to others. Not only is Angel's Envy Bourbon aged for a longer period of 4 to 6 years, but is further finished in Port Wine Barrels for 3 to 6 months. Each batch's conditioning is uniquely guided by an expert at the distillery, from conditioning to the blend and finally curating small batches of approximately 10 barrels each. Throughout the aging period, the bourbon looses approximately 5% of the liquid each year, also known as the angel's share, in Kentucky. More importantly, this leads the distillery to saying that what's left after the 6 years of aging is nothing but the best. On the nose, you'll find notes of vanilla, maple syrup, and raisins that open up to ripe fruit, toasted oak, and chocolate on the palate.
The staple of the Widow Jane Distillery, its 10 Year expression is made from the finest blend of bourbon at its native distillery in Brooklyn, NY. Most importantly, the final bourbon is NCF (non-chill filtered) and proofed with the legendary, refined water form the mineral dense caves of Rosendale, New York. While bourbon production in a state outside of Kentucky may seem out of step, trust us, the Widow Jane 10 Year makes you believe otherwise. We thought of it as one of our best sipping bourbons due to its remarkable intensity and complexity — on the nose, it is fresh with hues of vanilla, cinnamon, and cream transitioning to a palate rich with maple, cherry, and charred oak.
Also mentioned in our 6 Best Bourbons Under $100, Blade & Bow is a gem of a bottles that pays tribute to the renowned Sitzell-Weller Distillery, known for its releases of the Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon pre-2008. Today, Blade & Bow still contains remnants of Sitzell-Weller whiskey. By leveraging a novel solera system aging process, they blend bits of the older stock with new, younger whiskies to create one fantastic sipping bourbon. Around the neck of each Blade & Bow bottle, you'll find a key that contains a number, between 1 and 5. Each number is a representation of one of the steps of crafting great bourbon: grains, yeast, fermentation, distillation, and again. Today, it's every Blade & Bow enthusiast's dream to collect all 5 keys to gain access to a special program offered by the distillery.
Founded in our nation's capital, Joseph Magnus is another example of a non-Kentucky-based distillery that creates fantastic product. While Joseph Magnus does not explicitly reveal where its bourbon comes from, it's commonly thought to be Indian MGP whiskey that is then finished in the following casks: Oloroso Sherry, Pedro Jimenez Sherry, and Cognac. By lightly finishing the whiskey within each cask, a beautiful sipping bourbon is curated that is slightly sweet with dark fruit notes thanks to the Sherry Casks, and filled with a dry fruit and nutty feel imparted by the Cognac Casks. The layers of flavor seamlessly separate on the palate, creating more of an experience on the rocks than just a simple bourbon that is mixed into a cocktail.
If there's one brand that comes to mind when someone mentions bourbon, it's undoubtedly Woodford. On nearly every package store shelf and on-premise bar or club, no mater how large or how small, Woodford is somewhat of a legend in the space. Trust us on this one — don't go for a regular Woodford Straight Bourbon; instead, spend the $10-$15 more and get this phenomenal Double Oaked expression. It's produced by taking a straight bourbon at the distillery and allowing in to mature in freshly charred white oak barrels for another year. The flavor imparted by the second segment of aging is visibly present on the palate of candied nuts, deep charred oak, toasted vanilla, and slightly-burnt caramel. It's one of the best sipping bourbons in our book, especially when you factor in the consistent pedigree of quality from the Woodford Distillery.
Coming it at 100-proof, Knob Creek 12 is a special expression that the distillery puts out, that is adored by a spectrum of bourbon connoisseurs. At a relatively low proof for a 10+ year bourbon, it serves as an apt reminder that a whiskey does not need to be bottled at an absurd, high octane barrel proof to be 'good' bourbon. Having been aged in white American Oak casks, it gives off bold overtones with dark fruit, cinnamon, vanilla, and other rye spices. Sticking to an authentic, pre-prohibition style, the double digit age statement allows oak to shine through in the finish, creating an all-around more complex and deeper sip. If we were to have to choose one sipping bourbon to start off the night right, it would be Knob Creek 12.
Morphing the story of friendship, Brother's Bond Bourbon is the result of the brotherly bond that developed between Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley, when they were actors in the show, "Vampire Dairies". The bourbon itself has a mash bill with 22% rye, adding a spicier mouthfeel and putting it in the 'high-rye' category. As a four-grain straight whiskey, it contains a blend of 3 mash bills to ultimately produce a spirit that is soft on the palate, with nutty, fruit-forward, and caramel notes throughout. Thanks for the friends' pre-existing fame, Brother's Bond sold through 50,000 cases within its first 4 months of launching, making it one of the best selling sipping bourbons on the market.