10. Jim Beam
Let’s begin with a classic brand, Jim Beam. Now I know some people think of Beam as being a budget bourbon, which yes their white label is more of a well whiskey. But Jim Beam has a ton of labels; Basil Hayden, Bakers, Bookers, and my favorite Knob Creek. Beam is almost always well priced, and their Knob Creek store picks can be the absolute best value in all of whiskey.
9. Garrison Bros
Out of Hye, Texas, Garrison Bros uses that Texas heat to their advantage and makes a strong, raw, and deep tasting wheated bourbon. They have a typical core release which is nice, but the true strength of Garrison juice comes in their single barrels and their annual Cowboy Bourbon releases. These bottles typically are around 60%-65% abv and displays the true power of their bourbon the best way possible.
8. Heaven Hill
When talking quality bourbon, you can’t leave out Heaven Hill. Heaven Hill makes a ton of bourbon, second to only to Jim Beam. They also have a great amount of quality labels for both bourbon and rye; Elijah Craig, Pikesville, Rittenhouse Rye, and Evan Williams to name their biggest labels. Very well priced for the quality, especially their Elijah Craig Barrel Proof; 12 year old bourbon at cask strength for around $70. Good luck finding a 12 year age stated bourbon for that price.
Located in my hometown, Woodinville makes a much better bourbon/rye than your normal local craft distillery. Not only do they make a high quality core line product, they are also very experimental. They have oloroso aged bourbon, PX aged bourbon, port aged bourbon, and even a peated cask aged bourbon. Some are better than others, but their releases are always very interesting. As a side note, their 100% cask strength rye is maybe the best rye on the market.
Well lookie here, another Texas distillery. What can I say, I really like Texas juice. Yes, Ironroot is experimental like many other craft distilleries (mostly with their corn mash bills), but what makes their bourbon absolutely sing to me is their robust mouth feel and their deep, juicy fruity notes they extract from the barrel.
5. Wilderness Trail
One of the newer kids on the block, Wilderness Trail is right outside Bardstown, Kentucky and is making bourbons and rye better than almost everyone of their older peers. Their claim to fame; science. Their approach uses as much science and chemistry as anyone out there. Beyond that, Wilderness Trail never chill filters, all offerings are 50% abv and above, and have tons of available single cask floating out there. It is a bit more on the pricey side, but such is the price of quality.
Yes, I just love Texas whiskey, Balcones is a bit more, say, diverse than the previous Texas distilleries listed. In other words, yes they make bourbon and rye, but what I love about them is their single malt. Drenched with that unique Texas flavor, Balcones makes a deep, rich, single malt that is theirs and theirs alone. Balcones also is not afraid of playing around with things, aging in different wine casks, rum casks, even brandy casks. Yet despite all of those finishes, that signature Balcones flavor is still present.
3. Whiskey Del Bac
I cannot mention American Single Malts without mentioning the one from my hometown of Tucson. Del Bac is the US answer to peated scotch. Inundating their malt with mesquite smoke, Del Bac has a smoky and powerful flavor that reminds you having BBQ over an open fire pit. And Del Bac is not shy about piling on that mesquite flavor. This is not a background note, it is THE note that makes you notice you are drinking liquid campfire. Although a small distillery right now, you watch as their name and reputation increases.
2. Wild Turkey
Quite simply the best bourbon for the money out there. Every offering Wild Turkey has is of the highest quality per dollar. Where it is the Rare Breed, rare Breed Rye, and of their Russell’s Reserve bottles, or even just the classic 101, every time I put Wild Turkey in a blind flight against its peers, it wins. And if you don’t believe me, try a single barrel store pick of a Russell’s Reserve; those can be better than many bottles 3x the cost.
What else would be #1 than my home distillery of Westland. I mean we are having our reception there. But also, we own like pretty much every release they have, and that is a lot. Westland loves to experiment, and with their new found money from Remy Martin, Westland pretty much does about as much as you can with a single malt: wine finishes, sherry finishes, peated malts, beer finishes, rum finishes, just to name a few. They play with barley varieties, they have different barley mash bills, and most importantly they bottle with integrity; 46% or above abv, non-chill filtered, and no added color. Ever. With their expanded distribution, Westland is trying to become the primary name in American Single Malt for the world. It is great to live in the same city where all of this is happening.