While there’s certainly something to be said for smoky, oaky, spicy bourbons, the sweeter varieties can be just as nuanced and delicious. Any bourbon lover knows that any well-stocked bar has a plethora of golden-brown goodness with plenty of options to drink neat, on the rocks, or stir into your favorite cocktail. While flavored bourbons certainly have their place, these sweet bourbons keep the traditional robust flavors with more layered honey, decadent toffee or caramel, rich vanilla, or warm, dessert-reminiscent spices.
Even better, they can be just as sophisticated as your peaty, fiery bourbons, just with a little less burn. Expect all the flavor and a sweeter finish and edge when you indulge in a honeyed version of your favorite drink. If you haven’t given sweeter bourbons a proper shot, it’s time to take your home bar to the next level with one, or more, of these top-notch, masterfully-executed best sweet bourbons.
Jefferson’s Reserve Very Old Small Batch
Jefferson’s Reserve Very Old Small Batch is a honey-heavy nod to traditional bourbon, with plenty of caramel and toffee running throughout every sip. You’ll also get a lot of sweet, autumnal spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, plus a rustic tobacco finish that keeps it from being overly sweet. It’s a well-blended masterpiece that soaks up all of the cask flavors for a bold, but accessible flavor combination that works well all on its own or in your favorite drink.
According to Drink Hacker, this 90-proof heavyweight is a beautiful balance of oaky and leather flavors with sweetness, reminiscent of toasty brown sugar and baked goods. There’s also a fair amount of vanilla in there, offsetting the stronger, woodier flavors expertly and leaving you with a sugar-tinged finish that’s delightfully sweet without veering into cloying territory. Jefferson’s Reserve Very Old Small Batch is a good bourbon for novices, but aficionados will appreciate it, too.
Rabbit Hole Dareringer
With its sleek design and mulberry-colored label, Rabbit Hole Dareringer makes a bold statement on your home bar, but the chic presentation is only one of the many things that it brings to the table. According to Rabbit Hole’s website, this bourbon benefits from a playful balance of dried fruits, vanilla, and almond, with a luxe sherry nose and cherry and caramel flavors in every sip. The raisins and currents play well with the vanilla, lending a richer backbone to the bourbon and keeping it from being too on-the-nose sweet.
It finishes dry and crisp, with no lingering mouthfeel, and the start-to-finish experience is heavily praised on Flaviar. Enthusiastic bourbon lovers love its interplay of woodiness and fruit, and the light touch of sherry is an added benefit. Although there are plenty of different flavors going on, none of them are lost in the shuffle, and you’ll enjoy each distinct note.
Blanton’s Single Barrel
Buffalo Trace Distillery’s Blanton’s Single Barrel is a highly limited sweet treat that any bourbon-lover would be lucky to get their hands on (via Whiskey Raiders). This limited-edition blend packs a satisfying and delicious punch thanks to an interplay of honey and vanilla, shot through with mild corn flavor and plenty of caramel. You’ll find nutmeg and spice as well, giving the bourbon the air of a chic dessert with a silken finish and plenty of character.
Although Blanton’s Bourbon comes with a relatively high price tag thanks to the meager supply, says Whiskey Raiders, this liquid gold is worth the investment. Toeing the line between sweetness and woodiness, it’s a true tour de force in a bottle. Do yourself a favor and savor each sip slowly, ice cold and neat, rather than mixing it into your cocktail. That way you can appreciate every single drop.
EH Taylor, Jr. Small Batch
EH Taylor Jr. Small Batch is a golden-hued bourbon with an interesting flavor profile. While many bourbons rely on the twin flavors of caramel and vanilla, this one takes a slightly different route with great effect. Expect plenty of luscious butterscotch right off the bat, paired with the slight spice of licorice and just a tiny touch of pepper to tie things together nicely. There’s also caramel corn, tobacco, and even the faintest hint of leather on the back end.
According to Forbes, EH Taylor Jr. Small Batch is a gem with seemingly discordant, but harmonious flavor. Savvy sippers might be able to get a minty taste, and there’s a bit of rye in there too for spiciness and body. Although it’s technically a sweet bourbon, it’s far from overpowering. Instead, bourbon drinkers will relish the unexpected flavor combinations, enjoyed straight or on chilled whiskey rocks.
Widow Jane Decadence
As the name suggests, Widow Jane Decadence is a heady, dessert-forward draught heavily infused with all sorts of bakery flavors like brown sugar, rich shortbread, and sugar-coated nuts. There is also a fair amount of cinnamon and vanilla in there, plus a bit of oak to round things off and a pleasant root beer-adjacent bite. The dominant flavor is maple syrup, though, running richly throughout the bourbon and lending it a luxe flavor and mouthfeel.
Widow Jane Decadence is a great bourbon to enjoy neat, or drizzled atop some premium vanilla ice cream. As The Whiskey Wash notes, the combination of flavors hints at popular desserts like apple pie and baklava, so creamy ice cream is the perfect foil for this liquor. If you prefer your bourbon sans ice cream, drink Widow Jane Decadence straight up next to a roaring fire amongst friends to maximize your experience.
Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon
According to Elijah Craig’s website, this small batch beauty is an award-winning gem that spawned several different bourbon iterations from the same distillery. Spicy and sweet, it’s easily accessible for newer bourbon drinkers, yet layered enough to appeal to bourbon aficionados. With a deep, copper penny-colored body and a light smoky nose offset with mint and fruit, Elijah Craig’s Small Batch combines standard flavor combos of vanilla and oak with bright wildflowers, creamy marzipan, and fresh honey.
It’s a woody, spicy drink with a strong honeyed and vanilla backbone that finishes gently without any lingering burn. Drinkers will notice a pleasant, toasty taste and touches of caramel at the end of the sip. According to Liquor, apple and banana notes are running throughout as well. It’s balanced, and not overly cloying, a versatile bourbon that works well on its own or in an Old Fashioned.
Double Oaked Woodford Reserve
Double Oaked Woodford Reserve is a richly-hued, deep sweet bourbon with lots of subtle toasty notes. Expect stone fruits, decadent caramel, and hints of chocolate and oak throughout your sip, plus a rich hazelnut and vanilla base shot through with spice. Although it’s certainly a sweet bourbon, Double Oaked Woodford Reserve isn’t over the top. Instead, it’s the last word in sophistication, getting its flavor profile from a double-barreled distillation process that lends plenty of oakiness to the sweet bourbon (via Woodford Reserve).
According to The Whisky Study, you can pick up on fire-charred marshmallows and popcorn if you pay attention, as well as strong, dark chocolate. There’s also a lot of cherry action going on, plus a peppery bite to bring it together. This is one bottle that deserves to be in pride of place on your home bar. You’ll find it endlessly useful in chic cocktails, or enjoyed straight up.
Redemption High Rye Bourbon
The idea of a sweet rye bourbon might seem like a contradiction in terms, but Redemption Whiskey pulls it off beautifully by pairing robust rye spice with creamy vanilla and a few well-placed cherry notes to give you a drink that’s a little spicy, a little sweet, and all supremely sippable. Redemption Barrel Proof 9-Year Bourbon is a slightly woody and minty nod to more in-your-face rye bourbons, but you’ll still get plenty of dessert action going on, so it’s suitable for bourbon novices and useful on a home bar.
According to The Whiskey Wash, this bright copper-hued elixir has a nice interplay of sugar, vanilla, and oak, and a lovely mouthfeel. Although you’ll certainly notice the texture, it’s not cloying or too much on the palate. Instead, each sip is like a little smidge of late fall on your tongue; warm, golden, and utterly delicious.
Belle Meade Honey Bourbon
Honey-forward, delightfully decadent Belle Meade Bourbon Honey Cask is a dessert-like drink that manages to remain natural-tasting despite its sweetness. If you love sweeter liquors, but dislike the artificial flavorings of many flavored whiskeys and bourbons, get your hands on this one. According to Belle Meade Bourbon’s website, the bourbon is spiked with tons of locally-sourced honey, giving it a unique flavor and regional significance.
In addition to the gorgeous waves of honeyed flavor, smart drinkers will be able to get some flowery notes, a bit of cinnamon, and plenty of rich caramel and vanilla working through the mix. Bright orange rounds off the sip for a balanced, and beautiful taste. According to Breaking Bourbon, you’ll get the honeyed aroma of this bourbon in the nose, then more honey as each sip progresses. While robust, it’s never too much, a testament to Belle Meade’s craftsmanship and skill.
Early Times Bottled-in-Bond
Early Times Bottled in Bond is a cinnamon-colored, caramel corn-flavored sweet bourbon offset with bright citrus and just the lightest honey touch. Expect notes of shortbread, cinnamon, and warm spices spiked throughout. According to Bourbon Culture, this drink is highly reminiscent of high-end baked goods and even has a teeny-tiny whiff of coffee beans to complement the taste. Although it’s mild and understated, there’s no denying that Early Times Bottled in Bond is a powerhouse sweet bourbon, with plenty of unexpected surprises throughout your sip.
As Bourbon Culture notes, there are some very interesting fruits in this drink, like pomegranate and sour cherry. There’s also plenty of chocolate to keep things interesting, and a fair amount of oakiness and nuttiness. The finish is velvety smooth and lingers for a while, leaving the drinker with a nice, but not overpowering mouthfeel. It’s a serviceable bottle and one you can use in virtually any cocktail or shot.
Horse Soldier Signature Small Batch Bourbon
This small batch of bourbon from Horse Soldier Bourbon proves that bold and spicy draughts don’t have the market on complexity. It’s a deeply nuanced, deliciously surprising sweet bourbon with oodles of different flavors throughout every single sip. Plus, it doesn’t rely on the standard sweet palate of vanilla and caramel for its flavor. Instead, Horse Soldier Signature Small Batch Bourbon goes deep, with holiday-reminiscent flavors like butterscotch and spicy ginger. While there is a little bit of vanilla in there to round things off, it’s by far not the star of the show.
Fruity notes include stone fruits and raisins, and there are bright and bold notes of cola running here and there through the sip. According to Total Wine, Horse Soldier Signature Barrel Strength Bourbon even has some cashew and toffee near the back end, shot through with a bit of citrus for contrast. It’s a multi-layered, glorious tribute to bourbon and one you should definitely try if you think sweeter bourbons are one note.
Firestone & Robertson TX Blended Whiskey
Firestone & Robertson TX Blended Whiskey is a nice springtime bourbon with glorious pear and true vanilla bean notes that walks the line between sweet and spicy. If you’re on the fence about investing in sweet bourbon, try this one on for size. It’s not over the top, but you’ll still get a lot of those sugary, fruity notes on the nose and throughout the sip. If there’s one thing that makes Firestone & Robertson TX Blended Whiskey stand out, it’s the consistency. Velvet and buttery, it lingers pleasantly throughout each drink, with strong notes of caramel and vanilla emerging throughout the sip.
Despite its robust viscosity, this whiskey doesn’t linger too long after you swallow it, and there’s virtually no burn to speak of. Instead, you’ll just get a beautiful experience with a nice honeyed finish and a tiny bit of citrus for contrast. According to The Whiskey Wash, there’s also a bit of pecan and cinnamon in there.
Angel’s Envy is a serviceable, solidly good bourbon that any decent home bar needs to be complete. This bourbon is multi-faceted and deliciously fruity, with bright grapey notes, deep raisins, and plenty of apple flavor. You’ll also get a whiff of port wine, thanks to its cask maturation. Angel’s Envy is a standard sweet bourbon with lots of rich vanilla flavor and some maple syrup here and there. According to Whisky Cast, there’s also some cocoa and red wine in the mix, but it’s all nuanced and understated, so the flavors play off each other beautifully.
With a nice, mellow finish and a tasty mouthfeel, Angel’s Envy is the epitome of what a ubiquitously appealing bourbon should be; interesting enough for bourbon connoisseurs to enjoy, while still versatile enough to include in any and all mixed drinks. If you add one sweet bourbon to your bar, make it this one.
Garrison Brother’s Cowboy Bourbon
Garrison Brother’s Cowboy Bourbon doesn’t shy away from the sweetness, and this high-octane booze is unabashedly sugary with a pinch of pepper to offset the sweetness and a satiny, delectable finish that might make you forget just how heavily boozy this 131 bourbon actually is. Garrison Brother’s Cowboy Bourbon is a sipping bourbon, best enjoyed on whiskey rocks or served neat. You’ll pick up loads of molasses and chocolate, plus some rich dates and a bit of brown sugar to round things off. For a robust bourbon, there are also a few surprising notes. Jasmine and banana pop up here and there and work well with the tapestry of other flavors.
According to Maxim, there are hints of plum soda, raspberry chocolate, and cherries, as well as a bit of regional honey. Take your time with this sweet treat; both because of the high proof and the glorious cornucopia of flavors.