Attention bourbon enthusiasts! Get ready to satisfy your palate with a selection of exceptional bourbons that are making waves in the industry. From the revival of bottled-in-bond bourbons to unique finishes in Port and Japanese Mizunara oak barrels, these spirits are sure to impress even the most discerning whiskey lovers. Join us as we explore the flavors, craftsmanship, and stories behind these standout bottles. Whether you're a fan of traditional Kentucky limestone or interested in experiencing the expertise of distilleries outside the usual suspects, this article will take you on a journey through some of the best bourbons on the market. So sit back, relax, and prepare to indulge in the world of fine bourbon.

Ben Holladay Bottled in Bond Straight Bourbon

The bourbon industry has recently begun to publicly acknowledge that Midwest Grain Products produces excellent whiskeys. For many, Kentucky limestone is seen as the only option, but that doesn't mean you can't have both limestone and quality bourbon in one bottle. For 167 years, Holladay Distillery in Missouri has proven its expertise in corn distillation and sits on top of limestone springs.

This year, the bottled-in-bond straight bourbon is making a strong comeback, showcasing experience and confidence. It requires no alterations after being removed from the cask, and the same holds true when it reaches your glass. If you usually drink whiskey and cola, the reviews suggest that this bottle is perfect as is, as it captures the essence of your favorite soda without needing to mix it. While it is slightly pricier than other high-quality bottled-in-bond bourbons, ranging from $50 and up, it still falls within the norm and justifies its price point upon the first sip. This is due to its use of a mash bill that predates the Civil War.

Booker's 2023-01: Charlie's Batch

Charlie's Batch derives its name from Charlie Hutchens, a woodworker who designed and crafted the wooden boxes that house each highly anticipated Booker's release. The first release of this year lives up to the hype and hope surrounding the brand. This small-batch bourbon is famously strong, with a robust aroma that still manages to deliver the sweet scent of clover and white nectarine. It smells more like a wine than a straight bourbon. Surprisingly, despite its high proof of 126.6, it has a smooth and thin texture, with legs that run about a centimeter apart.

As with all Booker's releases, it packs a punch and reveals two types of burn: one from the punchy bourbon itself and another from the delightful combination of caramel, chocolate, and oak flavors. It is also unexpected that just a drop or two of water can mellow the heat, especially considering its high alcohol content. This bourbon provides a milder experience that uncovers a strong and beloved base. While it is best enjoyed neat due to its chewy finish, when consumed with care, it offers a truly unique experience.

Castle & Key Small Batch Traditional Bourbon 2023 Batch 1

Similar to other distilleries in the bourbon industry, Castle & Key has finally acknowledged that Midwest Grain Products produces exceptional whiskeys. However, too many still believe that Kentucky limestone is the only way to go. Nonetheless, Castle & Key has been distilling corn and utilizing its expertise for 167 years in Missouri's Holladay Distillery, which is situated above limestone springs.

The bottled-in-bond straight bourbon is making a strong comeback this year, showcasing its experience and confidence. It does not require any alterations after being removed from the cask, and the same holds true when it reaches your glass. If you typically prefer whiskey and cola, the reviews suggest that this is the bottle for you, as it captures the essence of your favorite soda without any need for mixing. While it is slightly more expensive than other high-quality bottled-in-bond bourbons, priced at $50 and up, it still falls within the standard range and justifies its price point with its exceptional taste. This is due to its use of a mash bill that predates the Civil War.

Cedar Ridge Port Cask Finished Bourbon

Cedar Ridge, Iowa's first distillery since Prohibition, may not make waves, but it has been winning awards and gaining popularity. Cedar Ridge is unique in that it specializes in both whiskey and wine production, boasting its own vineyard and winery. The distillery's multiple rounds of fermentation, distillation, and aging create something truly special, and it is one of the few producers that can perform a barrel exchange program with itself. This is why Cedar Ridge offers a wide range of whiskey products, including bourbon, rye, and American single malt, aged in various types of barrels, such as Port and sherry.

The February 2023 release of the Port Cask Finished Bourbon is a testament to Cedar Ridge's expertise. Made with Iowa corn and aged in the brand's premium Estate Port wine casks, this bourbon exhibits a combination of spicy vanilla and numerous stone fruit flavors. It is worth noting that Iowa locals have the opportunity to try the brand's latest release, The QuintEssential™ Special Release: Pete & Sherri, Married – 1st Anniversary, a six-year, peated American single malt aged in sherry barrels, exclusively at the Cedar Ridge distillery.

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A123

Heaven Hill has been consistently successful with recent releases, including Larceny Barrel Proof, Henry McKenna, and Parker's Heritage. Unfortunately, the highly anticipated 2023 release of Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond will not be available until the summer. Luckily, Elijah Craig is here to represent the Bernheim distillery and showcase its exceptional bourbon.

Elijah Craig, one of the first bourbons released in 2023, makes a bold entrance with Batch A123, boasting a high proof of 125.6. However, according to reviews, the high alcohol content complements the whiskey's bold and rich profile, which combines the flavors of protein and peaches with a hint of oak. Despite its punchiness, this bourbon has a surprisingly smooth and mellow texture. A few drops of water can further subdue the heat, resulting in a milder experience that still highlights the bourbon's strong foundation. The rye spice adds the expected kick, but this edition also surprises with its distinct wood and fruity notes. Whether it comes in the form of A123 or the subsequent Batch B523, Elijah Craig offers an unforgettable experience.

Four Gate Majestic Wood Series: Japanese Mizunara Oak

Mizunara oak is often associated with premium whiskeys due to the unique challenges involved in harvesting and utilizing these barrels. However, the distinct flavor imparted by Mizunara oak is not just marketing hype; it truly adds something special to the whiskey. This oak variety provides a rich and sweet undertone, akin to the base layer on a canvas.

The Four Gate Majestic Wood Series: Japanese Mizunara Oak is an exceptional bourbon. Aged for seven years and six months, and finished in Japanese oak barrels, this Kentucky straight bourbon offers a delightful combination of a traditional bourbon profile with the unique influence of Mizunara. The whiskey is available in select locations, making it a highly sought-after bottle. The complex and nuanced flavor profile, featuring notes of toasted malt, caramelized fruit, and exotic spices, is sure to impress whiskey enthusiasts and connoisseurs. Additionally, Four Gate offers a range of other bourbons aged in various barrel types, providing a plethora of options and combinations for whiskey aficionados.

Kentucky Peerless High Rye Bourbon

Kentucky Peerless is still receiving praise for its previous release, the Peerless Double Oak. However, the distillery has recently unveiled its latest creation, Kentucky Peerless High Rye. This bourbon offers a nose filled with seasoned oak, leather, and cedar, followed by a palate that presents a delightful combination of Maillard flavors and smokiness. This variation deviates from Kentucky Peerless' standard small batch straight bourbon mash bill, but it showcases the distillery's ability to produce exceptional whiskeys.

Once you take a sip, you'll experience a wave of spice that lingers throughout the tasting experience. While this spiciness is expected from a rye-based bourbon, you might be surprised by the additional tasting notes that typically accompany more exotic whiskeys. The combination of high rye content and rich flavors makes Kentucky Peerless High Rye a standout option, sure to please even the most discerning whiskey lovers. Due to limited distribution, this particular bourbon may not be available for shipping in certain states.

In conclusion, the world of bourbon is thriving with a diverse range of flavors and styles, each offering a unique experience for whiskey enthusiasts. From Holladay's Bottled in Bond Straight Bourbon to Four Gate's Majestic Wood Series, there's a bourbon to suit every palate. Whether you prefer the classic Kentucky limestone or are open to exploring new possibilities, distilleries like Castle & Key and Cedar Ridge are challenging the status quo and producing exceptional whiskeys. So, why not raise a glass and savor the craftsmanship and rich history that each bottle encapsulates? Cheers to the vibrant and ever-evolving world of bourbon!