Crisp apples, cool evenings, and the crunch of leaves underfoot mean that Fall is harkening, and Winter will be upon us all too quickly. Before we rush through and miss one of my favorite seasons, it’s time to slow down and enjoy fine bourbon with friends and family. Here are five bourbons to consider adding to your favorite lineup!
Four Roses Small Batch Select is one of the new kids on the block, coming to market in the Spring of 2019. Master Distiller Brett Elliott blends multiple bourbons, containing multiple mash bills and yeast strains to provide a symphony of flavors. There are caramel-cinnamon notes as well as vanilla and oak that cascade into a long, flavorful finish. Bottled at 104 proof and non-chill filtered, you’ll find this fruit-forward bourbon perfect for pairing with the flavors of the season without the burn from a higher proof.
Aged in some of the highest and hottest floors of Brown-Forman’s rick houses, this bourbon ages fast, but goes down slow. Made from a blend of barrels aged 4-6 years, you’ll find a dark, viscous liquid in glass with strong notes of vanilla, caramel and wood char, as well as notes of baking spices reminiscent of Fall pies and pumpkin pastries. What follows is a creamy, silky sensation with more vanilla, caramel and a rush of cinnamon spice. At $55, this is towards the upper end of our list, but the big, bold bottle produces an upscale taste for any tailgate.
Big and bold, sporting a blend of 6, 8, and 12-year-old bourbons, Wild Turkey Rare Breed epitomizes a flavorful Fall bourbon. Most of Wild Turkey’s products are made from a single mash bill – 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley – Rare Breed is no exception. Dark and rich to the eye, with a warm vanilla nose, this higher proof (108) bourbon is smooth with more vanilla and fruit notes on the palate, followed by a long, warm finish. Whether you’re carrying “that turkey bourbon” on a Fall hunt or sitting around the campfire in an Adirondack chair, this bourbon rarely disappoints.
Knob Creek 100 9-Year
In 2016, the age-statement disappeared from Knob Creek’s signature product. Four long years later, it’s back and is as good as ever. I wasn’t surprised that this bourbon came out on top of large field of contenders on a blind tasting by expert taster Fred Minnick. While there are traditional notes of the Jim Beam profile, this is a big-tasting, hearty and flavorful bourbon, with an exceptionally long afterglow finish. Easily found on shelves at around $35, this is a great one for sipping as you watch the leaves fall.
Readily available at around $18, this may be one of the best everyday bourbons, regardless of the season. Add to a great tasting bourbon, this Evan Williams rendition carries the added distinction of Bottled-in-Bond, indicating that it is a product of a single distillation season, by one distiller, at a single distillery, stored in a federally bonded warehouse under US government supervision for at least 4 years, and bottled at 100 proof. You’ll find this easy sipper exceptionally smooth, with loads of sweetness layered with vanilla and caramel. The spicier notes are of brown sugar, candied fruit and warm spice cake – ideal for cooler weather and watching Fall colors burst on the scene.
Before you think I can’t count – there are 6 spirits listed here – I did say “Here are five bourbons …” TinCup is technically an American Whiskey – not a bourbon. But with the crisp fall temperatures, campfires, and the color changes of the Aspens in the Rocky Mountains, it’s hard to not want to reach for this spirit. Made from a blend of MGP whiskeys and finished with a splash of malt whiskey (hence why it’s not a bourbon) and a second splash of Rocky Mountain water, it’s hard to not think of Fall in Colorado, with the aspens aglow, as you enjoy this whiskey. With traditional bourbon flavors of vanilla and oak, married with campfire smoke on the nose and the graininess of malt whiskey, this is a great addition to any Fall event.