Smoothness is a perception, rather than a flavor, and basically indicates the amount of burn that you feel when the whiskey goes down. Based on over 75,000 whiskey tasting notes and 250,000 whiskey ratings, these are ten silky-smooth bourbons and American whiskeys that are all easy-drinking and easy to love.
Is “smoothness” something you seek out when searching for bourbon? Are you looking to find something that you can sip on without having to add something to cut the “heat”? Let us know what you think of this selection in the comments and be sure to leave your full tasting review in the Abov App! And if you are looking for even more smooth whiskey, checkout this list of the 10 Best Light & Smooth Whiskeys.
10. Bulleit Bourbon
Starting out our list is the classic Bulleit Bourbon. Bulleit goes the route of a higher rye mashbill and ditches the wheat. But what sets Bulleit apart from other high-rye whiskies on this list is the high corn usage, even for a bourbon, coming in at 68%.
The result is notes of toffee, maple, and oak, with a satiny smooth finish.
9. Jack Daniel's Gentleman Jack
One of the few whiskeys on this list not from Kentucky, Jack Daniel’s is the pride of Tennessee.
While we can argue all day about the merits (or lack there of) of Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, Gentleman Jack is the more refined Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey.
In short, Gentleman Jack undergoes additional charcoal filtration (known as the Lincoln County Process, essential to Tennessee Whiskey) compared to the standard bottling. The result? Amped up smoothness of course!
8. Maker's Mark
Say something bad about the classic Maker’s Mark, we dare you!
In all seriousness, good ol’ Maker’s Mark is a classic for a reason. Many of Maker’s Mark’s newer and more experimental releases are objectively better, with enhanced flavors from unique finishing recipes, but they all start from the same place.
Maker’s Mark is the perfect entry point to discovering smooth, wheated whiskeys. It’s affordable, obtainable, smooth, and delicious!
7. W.L. Weller Special Reserve
No smooth bourbon list would be complete without Weller, and number 7 on the Top 10 list of smoothest bourbons is the W.L. Weller Special Reserve. Don’t let the fancy naming fool you, this the no age statement (and slightly more accessible) little brother of the Weller 12 Year Old. which we’ll see later on
Weller SR offers all the smooth, wheaty goodness you came to this list for, however you can find the Special Reserve for a fraction of the cost of other Buffalo Trace wheated bourbons…probably.
We’d recommend starting with this bottle and working your experience (and budget) up to the 12 year.
6. Basil Hayden's Artfully Aged
In a departure from the wheated recipes, Basil Hayden’s Artfully Aged (now just Basil Hayden Bourbon) is actually a higher rye mashbill. Interesting, as rye characteristically has a harsher spice and black pepper flavor to it, Basil Hayden’s smoothness is a testament to the blending and aging process which gives this label a unqiue character.
5. Maker's Mark 46
Another Maker’s was bound to show up on this list and Maker’s Mark 46 is heavy on the winter wheat that gives this bourbon its characteristic flavor.
What makes the 46 unique is the French Oak stave finishing that this expression gets. The 46 refers to the recipe number of the wood treatment and quantity used for this particular flavor profile, and not the age or ABV of the whiskey. If you enjoy the standard Maker’s Mark, we highly suggest you give this one a try as well!
4. Redemption Wheated Bourbon
In most cases wheated bourbons are smoother then their rye-heavy cousins so it’s no surprise that next on our list of the Top 10 Smoothest Bourbon Whiskeys is Redemption Wheated Bourbon, distilled in Indiana. A blend of 51% corn, 45% winter wheat, and 4% malted barley, this is about as wheated as a bourbon can get!
Consensus from the Abov community is that this one has a pretty muted palate, with a low, caramel sweetness and a warm finish. While this flavor profile may not be ideal for those into the more robust flavors present in some bourbons, it could be perfect for those just starting their bourbon journey.
3. Bernheim Original 7 Year Old
A product of Kentucky’s Heaven Hill Distillery, Bernheim Original 7 Year Old is actually classified as a Wheat Whiskey. Unlike bourbon, which requires the recipe to be at least 51% corn, the Bernheim mash is 51% wheat, with the remainder a blend of corn and malt.
Because of the over abundance of wheat, expect a lot sweet honey and toasted oat notes leading into a light, smooth finish.
Although more common today, particularly from craft distilleries, Bernheim was the first commercially available Wheat Whiskey from the US when it was first released in 2005.
2. W.L. Weller 12 Year Old
Buffalo Trace’s Weller bourbon has grown in popularity and become increasingly harder to find in recent years. In part, this is no doubt due to the sweet flavor and smooth finish associated with Weller’s unique wheated mashbill.
As you’ll see with some of the other entries on this list, substituting wheat for malted barley in the grain mixture before distilling the bourbon is a common way to enhance the sweeter notes of the bourbon.
1. Angel's Envy Bourbon
Indeed, we’re sure the angels certainly are envious of the smooth, sweet flavor of the well renowned Angel’s Envy Bourbon. One of the first major Kentucky distilleries to normalize finishing bourbon (ie moving the whiskey into a different barrel after the initial aging in virgin American Oak to impart additional flavors).
The port finishing that is standard with Angel’s Envy further mellows the bourbon and adds dark fruit notes and additional sweetness, leading to this bourbon being characterized as smooth.
Bourbon is definitely an acquired taste, both for those new to whiskey overall, as well as those who have exclusively enjoyed other styles of whiskey in the past. Either way, bourbon can come across has harsh to the uninitiated. While many of us grow and develop our palates to unearth all of the subtle flavors of a great bourbon, we all started somewhere!
Was one of your first bourbons on the list? Have another smooth bourbon you’ve recommended to new bourbon drinkers before? Leave a comment!