You read that correctly. This roundup is all about the best bourbons not from Kentucky.
Kentucky is so famous for its bourbon, some drinkers mistakenly believe it’s the only state the spirit can be produced in. While about 95 percent of all bourbon is made in the Bluegrass State, there’s no rule (much to the chagrin of bourbon purists) that the spirit can’t be made anywhere else in the U.S., providing it follows protocol.
The recipe must comprise 51 percent corn mash; it must be aged in new, charred oak barrels; and it has to be distilled to no more than 160 proof, along with a few other inviolable rules. Otherwise, as far as inspired bourbon-making goes, any state can have at it—and they do, with increasingly superb results.
Myriad award-winning, flavorful bourbons worth discovering and sipping are coming out of New York, Washington, Wyoming, Colorado, and more. These non-Kentucky bourbons will help you branch far beyond the traditional bourbon trail.
10 Best Bourbons Not From Kentucky
1. Widow Jane 10-Year Bourbon
Where it’s made: New York
No beyond-Kentucky bourbon list is complete without Widow Jane 10. The New York-based brand’s flagship expression is a blend of sourced bourbons that are at least 10 years old. This non-chill, filtered bourbon is made in small batches and proofed using Widow Jane’s proprietary mineral water from nearby Rosendale Mines—adding a minerality to the already present notes of dried cherries, caramel, maple candy, and orange zest.
[$70; drizly.com]Get it
2. John J. Bowman Single Barrel Bourbon
Where it’s made: Virginia
When we think of fine southern bourbons that aren’t in Kentucky, we might naturally glance south to Tennessee. While that state is cranking out some great juice, turning your attention east rewardingly leads to Virginia’s John J. Bowman Single Barrel Bourbon. This 100 proof single barrel bourbon (which pays homage to founder Abraham S. Bowman’s great, great uncle) is known for its rich, robust flavor profile—featuring buttery caramel, toffee, dried fruits, and a gentle, nutty flavor.
[$39.99; totalwine.com]Get it
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