Officially named in the 1880s, the Old Fashioned was an homage to simpler cocktails that had been replaced with a new fad of complex and exotic cocktails by the 1860s. The Old Fashioned consists of a four-ingredient mixture of water whiskey, a sugar cube, and Angostura bitters.
It remains one of the most popular and foundational cocktails, appearing on every menu and mixologist’s repertoire. A drink as simple as an Old Fashioned is only as good as the quality of its ingredients.
Thus, I’ve compiled a list of the best whiskey for old fashioned to explore below.
Best Whiskeys for Old Fashioned
Buffalo Trace Bourbon
Buffalo Trace is a 200-year-old bourbon distillery on the banks of the Kentucky River, with a buffalo logo representing its pioneering spirit. Buffalo Trace bourbon uses a blend of corn, rye, and barley malt aged in oak barrels to create a robust and flavorful bourbon.
Buffalo Trace bourbon has a palate of vanilla, candied fruit, and toffee flavors with a smooth finish.
Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey
Founded in 1888 in a historic distillery on Slat River in Kentucky, Four Roses Bourbon offers 10 different small-batch bourbon varieties. The single-barrel bourbon whiskey has won countless awards, including the most recent bronze medal World Whiskies Award.
It has a rich, full-body taste and texture from start to finish, with tasting notes of dried spice, pear, and cocoa on the nose and ripe plum and cherries on the palate.
Elijah Craig Barrel-Proof
Elijah Craig is a Kentucky bourbon distillery founded in 1986 and named for a famous preacher, businessman, and educator who’s credited with inventing Kentucky bourbon in 1789.
Elijah Craig prizes their barrel-proof bourbon as being the purest spirit, coming directly from the barrel without the standard chill filtering. I noticed butterscotch and spicy black pepper flavor with a complex and long finish.
Eagle Rare 10 Year
Founded in 1975 by master distiller Charles Beam, Eagle Rare is now a subsidiary of the Buffalo Trace brand.
A five-time winner of the double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Eagle Rare 10 Year is the pride and joy of the Eagle Rare line. It has a rich taste of oak, almonds, and dark cocoa with a dry finish.
Maker's Mark 46
Known nationwide for its trademark bottles, hand-dipped in red wax, Maker’s Mark has been making award-winning Kentucky Bourbon from their Loretto distillery since 1953.
Maker’s Mark 46 is aged in French oak, instilling notes of vanilla, caramel, and backing spice. It is silky, smooth, and a little sweet. I love to sip it neat, but it tastes even better in an Old Fashioned.
Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey
True to its name Old Overholt is the oldest whiskey brand in the nation, founded in 1810 in West Overton Pennsylvania. Old Overholt Straight Rye whiskey is a 3-year aged whiskey that, unlike most young whiskeys, has a mild and smooth taste.
It offers strong sweet scents with a delicate palate containing subtle hints of cinnamon, orange, and leather.
Woodford Reserve Wheat Whiskey
Woodford Reserve was founded in 1812. The distillery still operates in its original building which is now a registered historical landmark. Woodford Reserve’s wheat whiskey has a blend of over 50% wheat blended with lesser proportions of rye, corn, and malt.
It stands out with a unique fruity and floral flavor with notes of mint, cocoa, and toasted coconut and a long apple-flavor finish.
Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey
Bulleit Frontier Whiskey is a burgeoning brand out of Kentucky with 35 years of family ownership. Their whiskeys stand out due to a high rye ratio that gives the whiskey a robust and spicy taste.
The Bulleit Bourbon recipe comes from a 150-year-old family recipe. It has earthy and spicy notes of oak, maple, and nutmeg with a dry finish.
Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Founded by corn farmer and European settler Jacob Beam in 1795, Jim Beam was originally called Old Jake Beam. Over 225 years later, Jim Beam is synonymous with Kentucky bourbon and American tradition.
Jim Beam is a four-year-aged bourbon using the original Beam family recipe. It has a smooth and sophisticated taste with a medium body and flavors of caramel and vanilla.
Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey
Hudson Baby bourbon is a rare New York native distillery and the first to legally produce grain alcohol after Prohibition ended. Hudson Baby is unlike any bourbon on my list, distilled using 100% corn bourbon that undergoes a minimal aging process.
If you like a strong alcoholic taste, Hudson Baby Bourbon whiskey is for you. It has notes of coffee and apples.
Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond
Evan Williams has been a Kentucky whiskey distillery since 1783 and is Kentucky’s first distillery. Their Bottled-in-Bond bourbon is a 100-proof bourbon that has won the coveted Double Gold Award from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
It has a complex palate that goes from bright and citrusy to warm vanilla, to spicy black pepper.
Knob Creek 12 Year
Distinguishing its brand by a very long aging process, Knob Creek employs seventh-generation master distillers and is a pioneer of the small-batch movement. They age all their varieties a minimum of 9 years.
Its long aging process makes it the smoothest and classiest bourbon on my list and tastes wonderful neat or in an Old Fashioned.
Rittenhouse Straight Rye
Rittenhouse is a Pennsylvanian distillery, named for the iconic Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. Their straight rye is a 100-proof whiskey aged in white oak for four years.
It has an interesting flavor profile that starts with notes of licorice and dill, followed by a malty bread and earthy oak palate.
A New Orleans native, the Sazerac company has over 400 years of history, originating as a cognac-producing family in France that crossed the ocean, began distilling whiskey, and founded the famous Sazerac cocktail in the early 19th century.
No rye is more distinct than Sazerac, with a strong licorice flavor tampered by delicate notes of spice and citrus.
WhistlePig Rye 10 Year
A Canadian distillery, WhistlePig is the newest brand on the scene, founded in 2007 on an old dairy farm. They’re committed to innovation and creativity with their unique whisky blends.
WhistlePig 10 year rye is small-batch rye with a robust aroma of allspice, anise, and orange peel. The palate is sweet with caramel, vanilla, and mint flavors.
When you’re in the mood for an Old Fashioned, not just any whiskey will do. My list of the best whiskey for Old Fashioned contains a myriad of brands whose flavors and textures will help make a show-stopping cocktail.
Let me know which whiskey brand you thought makes the best Old Fashioned in the comments below.
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