From the Source: Kentucky Bourbon

5 beautiful brown spirits that are proud to call Kentucky their birth place


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From the Source: Kentucky Bourbon The Derby. The Mint Julep. My resounding love for Hot Browns. All of these things and many, many more were birthed in the state of Kentucky, including some of the most sought-after brown spirits on the market today. Bourbon, in its many different forms and figures, is a liquor that originated in the good ol’ US of A, without which, I believe, drinking as we know it would be a lot less interesting.

While whiskey-producers hail from many different states, Kentucky is the origin of some of the best. Having visited whiskey distilleries in Kentucky myself, I can say without the least bit of doubt that not only do the people of Kentucky love to drink bourbon, they are proud of their ownership of this beautiful liquid. Considering that Kentucky is the only state lucky enough to boast an entire trail dedicated to the production of Bourbon, I’d say there’s really nowhere else that even comes close in comparison. Read on for the top 5 bourbons that proudly call Kentucky home.

Bourbon Barrel image via Shutterstock

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: number13
    1289904 30

    This article is nonsense. Five Best Bourbons? You mean the five brands that are willing to pay for afvertising, don't you? All of the bourbons mentioned are good, enjoyable bourbons...Not one of them is amongst the Five best Bourbons. Maker's Mark? Are you serious. Very disappointed in this kind of article. If you want subscribers to take you seriously, then you need to be serious about your product integrity.

    May 21, 2013 at 3:00 PM

  • Snooth User: Bret Lewis
    553604 160

    I agree with the first comment on here. Every article I've read on Snooth/The Spirit recently has seemed more of a cheap advertising trick than a serious discussion of the wine/spirit or other product. It's the reason I'm reading fewer and fewer articles, and am becoming much more likely to just delete the emails I receive without opening them.

    May 21, 2013 at 3:13 PM

  • Snooth User: ltshaw711
    514450 22

    Have to admit, I was expecting to see Buffalo Trace mentioned. Perhaps in the upcoming, more complete, version of this article.

    May 21, 2013 at 4:45 PM

  • Snooth User: RobertT
    829835 11

    Ha Haaaa. Please, this is not even close the the best Bourbons from Kentucky. What a joke. Have you ever heard of Eagle Rare 18?

    May 21, 2013 at 5:24 PM

  • Snooth User: director1
    722725 15

    No mention of Pappy VanWinkle, are you serious?

    May 21, 2013 at 6:08 PM

  • No mention of Buffalo Trace, or Bulliet? While all of the bourbons you rated are top sellers, there is not one small batch listed... shall we just assume you wrote this article after happy hour at Fridays?

    May 21, 2013 at 6:29 PM

  • Snooth User: Marcelline
    1025262 19

    Yeah, even I am not a big bourbon drinker
    but I was pretty sure there is no way these
    could be the best. Disappointed.

    May 21, 2013 at 7:56 PM

  • Snooth User: sparsons
    517202 16

    Agree with the comments. In fairness to the Four Roses people, their Single Barrel and Small Batch expressions are pretty good. But agree about lack of mention of Van Winkle. Also, no mention of some of the Jefferson's Reserve. And Black Maple Hill is a treasure that I hate to mention, since it's becoming hard to find.

    May 21, 2013 at 8:16 PM

  • I was mostly fascinated by the list...although I do consider Maker's to be one of the best bourbons out there. I try everything on a fairly regular basis due to my job. Not really impressed with Trace (why all the hype?) Eagle Rare...meh. Bulleit? Decent. What sucks for me is that Bourbon is the new lift kit...all the dorks are flocking to it.

    May 21, 2013 at 11:23 PM

  • Snooth User: ustinbi
    852642 9

    Disappointing that this article is an apparent shill for high-profile distillers willing to pay for a good plug. Credibility is completely gone with this one article.

    May 22, 2013 at 1:21 PM

  • Snooth User: Sara Kay
    Hand of Snooth
    1073521 1,420

    Perhaps now is the time to clear the air about this article. It seems a lot of people assume that just because the brands that I mentioned in this top 5 are big name brands, we are somehow participating in a 'pay for play' method of journalism. That, my friends, could not be farther from the truth.

    If you take a look around this website, you'll notice no advertising from any of these brands. Any Maker's Mark ads? Nope. Four Roses? No sir. We don't participate in pay-for-play editorial, and we never will. So to assume that, while it may seem legitimate, is inaccurate.

    As far as the choices I made for these bourbons, these are the bourbons that I like to drink. I happen to very much enjoy Maker's Mark, and I wasn't paid a dime to visit their distillery, write about them or even drink their product. I think it's well-made and has an incredible history behind it, and I find that the work ethic that goes into making this literally hand-crafted product is not only admirable, it is something that I think speaks volumes about its quality as a liquid. If you don't like the brands that I've discussed here, that is more than fine, it would be silly to agree with every single thing we write here, because the point of our website isn't to tell you what you should like, it's to teach.

    These brands are pieces of liquid history in Kentucky, and whether or not you choose to drink them because they are big brands or commercial brands or just plain old brands that you don't carry in your home is completely your choice. But my integrity as a journalist was in no way tainted by writing this article, and keeping with that theme, I will continue to write content based on my knowledge as a cocktail and spirits writer, as well as an enthusiast.

    May 22, 2013 at 5:44 PM

  • Sara, thank you for a response. I think the people that commented were more frustrated that the brands you enjoy seem to be very common, that can be purchased at any local liquor store (or seem too 'safe' of a choice). As a website that is dedicated to expanding peoples taste and knowledge of beverages, perhaps we were expecting more of an article letting us in on new products we have not seen or tasted. The world of whiskey is just as complex as wine and each distillery having its own signature flavor. While Maker's is a solid product (hence its popularity) most Bourbon drinkers would consider it in the same class as Chardonnay fans look at Kendall Jackson.. a great wine, but pedestrian. Perhaps your readers are challenging you to raise the bar in your own Bourbon enjoyment?

    May 22, 2013 at 6:11 PM

  • Snooth User: Sara Kay
    Hand of Snooth
    1073521 1,420

    @Jameseywamesy- I agree with you. I do drink my fair share of bourbons, the more familiar brands and the more obscure, and I often write articles not just about new brands, but about the less-popular but still absolutely fantastic. However, my angle for this article was to focus on brands that I felt spoke the highest volumes about Kentucky and its heritage as, as far as I'm concerned, the bourbon capital of the world. To me, Maker's and Jim Beam and the like are names that when you hear them, you instantly think Kentucky, and that was my focus for this. But I agree, there are literally dozens of other brands that fit the mold of fantastic Kentucky bourbons, like VanWinkle or Bulleit, and these are brands that I enjoy just as much as the ones I discussed here.

    May 22, 2013 at 6:22 PM

  • Snooth User: ustinbi
    852642 9

    Sara,I, too, appreciate your response, and I take you at your word that you've not impugned your integrity as a journalist and writer. Perhaps the label as "Top Five" was interpreted as a misleading classification. On a more positive note, I was very happy to see the recipe for Bourbon Slush. It's a family tradition of ours that appears every Thanksgiving and Christmas, and occasionally at other times of the year. We use sparkling water instead of still, though. And we always make double the amount of your recipe!

    May 22, 2013 at 8:19 PM

  • Snooth User: louavull
    127943 7

    Late to the fray, but here's my say... Sara, there are no inaccuracies in what you say. As for the naysayers, well (as my father used to say) everybody is entitled to their own stupid opinion. As my family has been living here in KY for some generations, we have some experience with bourbon. At a friend's house tonight he opened his bar for us. Evan Williams 2003, Knob Creek, Four Roses Single Barrel, and Willett. I chose my favorite, Four Roses. There is nothing wrong with the list you presented. Each of those brands are large producers because millions have purchased their products over time, providing the distillers the capital needed for expansion. Their continued success is based on their ability to deliver products that satisfy consumers. Thanks for spreading the good news.

    May 24, 2013 at 6:54 AM

  • Snooth User: voodoo4466
    1267922 22

    I am a somewhat snobby bourbon drinker, sipper, and have been for awile now. None of the Bourbons listed here will be listed in the top 20 rated from any respectable group of drinkers.

    Pappy van Winkles is considered by every major source as simply the best bourbon in the world. The 23 year aged is almost impossible to find except at auction and runs closr to 400.00 a bottle.

    Jefferson Presedential which is also nearly impossible to find has actually beaten the pappys 23 year on two blind taste test in the last few years.

    IMO...the best readily available smooth fine bourbons would be Blantons or Woodford.

    4 Roses does produce one of the most sought after Rye Whiskeys on the market and it is difficult to find. If you can find a bottle and enjoy the classic suzerac coctail circa 1950 i recommend it.

    The Woodford 4 woods limited is an amazing bourbon that is like nothing you have ever tried. As its name implies, the barrels are from 4 different woods. Can be ordered from the web site of Woodford reserve.

    May 25, 2013 at 11:10 PM

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