Looking for the best beginner bourbon for yourself, or have a friend who’s ready to be initiated? We’re chilling around the bar right now, reminiscing about our first bottles. (It’s a good time, and we highly recommend this as an activity with your bourbon fam.) Anyway, we wanted to share our thoughts.
Here in Kentucky, bourbon is a rite of passage. It’s your coming-of-age as much as anything else. And it’s not just legendary in our state, or even just the South. It’s America’s spirit. We champion our handcrafted barware here at Prestige, sure. But we also uphold a mission to spread the bourbon gospel. That’s what we plan to do today.
These six picks changed our lives. Forever. (We meant for that to sound super dramatic.) Maybe you’ll adopt one of the selections below as one of your first bourbon experiences. Maybe it’ll be your very first venture altogether. Whatever your experience level, we’re certain there’s something here for you!
Best Beginner Bourbon Memories
Here’s the rundown of our best bourbon memories. They’re listed alphabetically. We’re not trying to rank these. We’ll leave that up to you. These bottles welcomed us onto the bourbon train, and they are in the welcoming business even now.
Ah, we envy you, in some ways. We’re getting all sentimental over here just thinking about our first steps in bourbon. Our baby bottles, if you will. Don’t worry–we’ll stop shedding the tears and start drinking as soon as we’re done here.
A lot of our picks are right in line with an article we did months ago. So we’re featuring some of our favorite bourbon enthusiasts, who referenced many of our own picks. Give these folks a follow on Instagram. They’re always serving up top-notch content. And check them out in our article Bourbon for Beginners for more about these bottles.
Top 5 Beginner Bourbon Picks from the Prestige Crew and Our Enthusiasts
From our sappy bourbon hearts to yours…
1) Basil Hayden’s | $35.99 | Selected by @bourbonbanter
Bourbon Banter usually chooses this one for newbies. They have for a long time. It’s super approachable at 80 proof. But it’s high on the rye side, so you’re still connecting with spice. A couple of us are shaking our heads right now. Yes, yes, and yes.
This bottle isn’t an easy “A.” You have to work at it. And we like that. If you want one of your initial sips of bourbon to be interesting, give Basil Hayden’s a whirl. Check out our Basil Hayden’s Bourbon Review for more info. We’re fond of it, to say the least.
2) Buffalo Trace | $23.99 | Selected by @whiskeymoments
Whiskey Moments keeps the main thing the main thing. We agree: it’s not too expensive, for starters. And it’s a challenging enough pour. You’ll get bold and subtle flavors. It’s a bourbon to learn with. It can teach you a thing or two.
Chicago Bourbon (featured below) even notes that it packs a punch way above its price point. It got them hooked. And it got a few of us here in Louisville hooked, too.
3) Elijah Craig Small Batch | $24.99 | Selected by @steelespeakeasy
Ah, the “father of bourbon.” Elijah will set you on his knee, tell you a story, and then rock you to sleep.
Steele Speakeasy recommends this bottle as one of their starters. They stand by its goodness. They uphold it as an easy sipping whiskey. We’re high-fiving you in spirit, Steele. Y’all check in with these folks if you’re ever in Nashville.
At 94 proof, we recommend this one as a second or third pour. Get your hands on the 80-proofers first. But if you like vanilla and caramel, you’re leaning in the right direction. Mmmm… that oak, too. It’s a solid one. In fact, we’d be lying if we told you we’re not staring at a bottle of it this very minute. We think you’ll truly treasure this one all your life. We sure have.
4) Four Roses Small Batch | $28.99 | Selected by @bourbontraveler
We love Justin, the Bourbon Traveler. We talk to him frequently, and he even contributes to our blog from time to time. We also love his best beginner bourbon pick. In fact, anytime Four Roses is mentioned around here at Prestige, we take a moment and put a hand over our heart. It’s so faithfully delicious.
Justin agrees. Four Roses is a teacher. It dials up that beautiful rye. It’ll kick you in the mouth a little bit. It’ll show you, newbies, what bourbon can do. For this reason, you should definitely snag one of these bottles as you begin your bourbon journey.
Subscribe to our blog and catch Justin when he’s here. And check out his crazy awesome article Best Craft Distilleries.
5) Maker’s Mark | $20.99 | Selected by @chicagobourbon
Chicago Bourbon tells us that Maker’s was their first love. We can’t tell you how many hands went up in our crew when we mentioned this beloved, red-wax-dripping wheater. It’s just a go-to. Even after you’ve made your way into the depths of bourbon, there’s something special and deeply nostalgic about Maker’s Mark. What can we say? It leaves an indelible mark.
Chicago Bourbon notes that it’s great for sipping neat, on the rocks, or in a favorite cocktail. Bottom line? You can’t go wrong with this bottle. Soft, sweet. It’ll love you tender, baby. And it’ll love you forever.
Blind Tasting & Barware for Beginners
Honestly, blind tasting is a great way to get to know what you like. Without the label, you can’t judge a book (or bottle) by its cover. Know what can help with that? Decanters! Ours are handcrafted works of art. And the bourbon goes from the bottle into a unique design that will be with you always.
And our whiskey glasses make quite the statement, too. Have a friend fill up two glasses with bourbon. They shouldn’t tell you what you’re sipping. Enjoy something because you truly enjoy it–not because the bourbon community says you ought to.
Shop with us today. We’ve got products that make great personalized gifts. Your home bar will never be the same. And for every decanter we sell, we plant a tree in its honor. We use quality wood, so we give back in a quality way. It’s our “Buy One Plant One” promise and mission.
Your Best Beginner Bourbon Bet? Get Them All!
As you’re beginning your bourbon journey, we think you definitely need to try them all. And maybe you don’t even have to purchase everything outright. Your generous friends may share. Or just have a pour when you’re out on the town.
But now you know five of our top best beginner bourbon picks. And all of them are around that $20-30.00 price range. Trust us. They’re good investments. Break them out as your daily drinkers and certainly celebrate with them. Make these a part of your personal bourbon tradition ASAP.
Any bourbon veterans out there? We welcome you to leave your best beginner bourbon in the comments below. The Prestige community grows when you contribute. Share a memory about one of your first bottles. We’re reminiscing, and we’d love to hear your stories as well.
You guys are champs. Beginners, we welcome you with open arms. And with our bourbon glasses raised high. You’re going to love America’s spirit. We just know it.
Tag @prestigedecanters in your bourbon adventures on Instagram, folks!