Best Bourbon for Old Fashioned

What is the best Bourbon for an old fashioned? The question seems simple enough. But it isn’t as straightforward as you might think. A few questions come to mind when I get this question from friends: Do you prefer bourbon or Rye? What type of flavor profiles do you enjoy? High proof or low proof? What whiskey do you have available to you? Ultimately this is a subjective list, but here is what I generally reach for depending on my mood. 
A few notes and recommendations for old fashioneds. 

  • Use a large ice cube/sphere to control dilution as much as possible. 
  • ONLY use Luxardo cherries. NEVER use the red ones.
  • Garnish with a flamed orange peel.

Value Bourbons. You should be able to pick these up at any store that sells liquor (whenever they’re open).


  • Wild Turkey 101 – The value this bourbon provides is arguably second to none. It has a great flavor where you can drink it by itself, but it also has the proof behind it where it doesn’t get lost when you mix it. 
  • Makers Mark – A lower proof wheated bourbon option might be better for someone who isn’t necessarily a bourbon aficionado or someone who is just getting into whiskey. Expect a softer, smoother drinking experience with any wheated bourbon including some of Maker’s Marks higher proof options like Maker’s 101.

High End Bourbon. These are options that will hit your wallet a little harder or will be more difficult to find. Some people will say these should only be enjoyed neat. I’ll just say that all good ingredients make a good end product and everyone should drink what they like how they like. That being said, I would personally reserve these for special occasions or weekends where they can be enjoyed without having to worry about work the next day.

  • Larceny or Elijah Craig Barrel Proof: These are limited release bourbons that will vary in proof and flavor but I’ve found that these high proof hitters are great when you’re looking for something special in an old fashioned. Oftentimes, these are 120+ barrel proof bourbons so there is a high concentration of flavor you wouldn’t normally find. 
  • Weller Antique 107 and E.H. Taylor Small Batch: These two Buffalo Trace offerings are highly sought after. Again, the 100 and 107 proof bourbons are right in what I would consider the sweet spot of the proof a classic bourbon old fashioned should be. These would be my primary mixers assuming they were available at MSRP, but unless you are a liquor store owner (or married to one), these will be hard to come by.

Honorable Mentions: Here are a few other bourbons that deserve to be mentioned.


  • Larceny
  • Elijah Craig
  • Buffalo Trace
  • Old Forester 100
  • Smoke Wagon
  • Michters Bourbon/American