Best Bourbons of the 21st century

Here are the best ones you need to stash away.

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1. Heaven’s Door Bootleg Series Vol III

 

It’s a transcendent whiskey you’ll want to savour again and again. Bottled at cask strength after being stored for 13 years in barrel, with a little finishing in Vino de Naranja Casks, this just-released dram offers whiffs of peach and buttered popcorn, tops the palate with delightful cream soda, candied orange and animal cracker notes, and brings it home with some pepper and lemon zest. The Bootleg Series Vol III comes in handmade ceramic bottles emblazoned with one of Dylan’s classic paintings, Sunday Afternoon.

 

2. Rabbit Hole Cavehill

 

The four-grain wheated whiskey from the grand Louisville distillery’s core range is made in small batches and has a big flavor. There’s caramel, sweet corn, toasted grain and orange up front, followed by mint, ginger, black pepper and a dollop of maple syrup. It’s a bourbon that more than ably anchors a sour or an Old Fashioned, and makes for a solo sipper also. It finishes with a pleasant touch of vanilla and cinnamon.

 

3. Booker’s Batch 2021-04 Noe Strangers Batch

 

In 2021 the brand launched our separate batches, and the 124.4-proof “Noe Strangers”—selected by Booker’s son and Beam’s seventh-generation master distiller Fred Noe—is the clear excellence. Aged 6 years, 6 months, and 12 days (in new white oak barrels, of course), it offers vanilla and brown sugar on the nose, with plenty of sweetness on the palate and is indeed a classic. The initial heat is palpable, yet not overwhelming. Mouthfeel is delightfully creamy, the finish is long and warm. This robust, full-bodied whiskey is best enjoyed with a little drops of room temperature water to take some of the bite out of the beast.