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Hattiesburg, MS

Trying a new alcohol type can be intimidating as several options are available on the market. Without clear direction from an experienced individual, finding the best choice for your tastes can be challenging. Therefore, our Lincoln Road Package Store staff shares on the blog today the best bourbons for a newbie. That way, you can have a clear idea of available flavors that best suit your tastes when you visit our location at 2800 Lincoln Road, Suite A, in Hattiesburg, MS.

Best Overall: Knob Creek

As a part of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Collection, this 9-year-old Kentucky bourbon is an excellent choice to begin your journey. Although you may notice a bit of oak flavor, it doesn’t mask the corn, vanilla, and fruit notes. Knob Creek works well in a cocktail or served neat.

Best Single Barrel: Four Roses Single Barrel

Four Roses is another Kentucky bourbon boasting spice, cherry, and chocolate notes, and it’s a perfect choice with a long smooth finish for any beginner. Although the notes vary depending on the barrel, Four Roses is a consistently good brand for new bourbon drinkers.

Best Budget: Wild Turkey 101

Wild Turkey is an excellent selection for bourbon with higher proof but at a lower price. Although the ABV is lower in Wild Turkey 101, its heat and complex palate lend to a smooth finish. Known as a classic with multiple expressions, we recommend starting with the 101 and then trying other types.

Best Sipper: Woodford Reserve

You may prefer to sip on your bourbon slowly, and Woodford Reserve is the perfect high-quality sipping bourbon. The sweet and soft palate with a spice hint is soothing for newbies. In addition, the proof level is high enough to bring out the flavors without making it an overly hot experience.

Best Value: Old Forester 100 Proof

The best bang for your buck is Old Forester 100 Proof, so if you decide bourbon isn’t right for you, there’s not a lot of money lost. Oak, spice, and apple notes provide the authentic beverage with excellent flavor, and when you add an ice cube, the flavors develop more.

Best Age Statement: Eagle Rare

Made by the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky, Eagle Rare is a bourbon aged at least ten years and may cost more than other bourbon selections. Eagle Rare is a smooth bourbon that can leave light caramel and toasty notes in your mouth after drinking it but includes orange, honey, and vanilla notes.

Best High Rye: Basil Hayden’s

As another entry from Jim Beam’s Small Batch Collection, Basil Hayden’s boasts higher rye concentrations in the mash bill, giving it a spicy kick that complements its sweet character. Additionally, since it’s 80 proof, the spice isn’t overbearing but smooth and easy to drink. Finally, the highlighted baking spice, vanilla, and butterscotch notes are perfect when you pour Basil Hayden’s on the rocks and garnish with an orange slice.

Best Small Batch: 1792 Small Batch

Although labeled “Small Batch,” there is nothing small about it. Small batch is a term related to the distillery using a smaller barrel batch than other expressions. With caramel, oak, and ripe fig notes, 1792 Small Batch feels like a more expensive selection but at a reasonable price.

Best Wheated: Maker’s 46

Similar to regular Maker’s, Maker’s 46 is a wheated bourbon, instead of rye, with French oak staves added to the barrel for flavor development. Although there are cherry, vanilla, and caramel notes, the French oak adds more baking spice notes such as cinnamon and nutmeg with apple and pear highlights.

Best for Cocktails: Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace gets its structure to stand up in a cocktail because it’s 90 proof but not too boozy and perfect with an ice cube or two. With a high percentage of corn, compared to rye or wheat, in the mash bill, you not only experience the vanilla, orange, and anise notes, but you also enjoy a relative sweetness with a lower spice factor.

Best Barrel Finish: Legent Bourbon

Legent Bourbon is a unique selection as it blends traditional Kentucky bourbon with Japanese techniques with notes of dried fruit, spice, and vanilla. Legent’s tart notes are from the red wine and sherry casks providing a beautiful finish for an Old Fashioned or on the rocks.

Best High Proof: Old Grand-Dad 114

Old Grand-Dad 114 is a fantastic introduction of higher-proof spirits for newbies without breaking the bank. Although Old Grand-Dad 114 is 114 proof, it’s not overwhelming so that you can enjoy the complex flavors of pepper, caramel, and tobacco notes.

Best Craft: Frey Ranch Bourbon

Located on a family farm in Nevada, Frey Ranch is a new craft distillery making grain-to-bottle whiskey. Frey Ranch uses a mash bill with locally grown rye, barley, wheat, and corn, leading to a mature flavor with caramel, vanilla, and brown sugar notes.

Best Bottled in Bond: Heaven Hill 7 Year Old Bottled in Bond

A bottled-in-bond distinction means the bourbon is a minimum of four years old, bottled at 100 proof, and produced by one distillery during one season. For example, Heaven Hill 7 year old bottled in bond gives corn, caramel, and peanut notes but has a higher price tag than other newbie options.

Lincoln Road Package Store

As you can see, there are several options and varieties from which to choose when beginning your bourbon journey. Although these bourbons may be popular, our Lincoln Road staff has their own favorites. Lincoln Road Package Store for help selecting the best bourbon for your tastes. If you have questions, please get in touch with us by calling (601) 268-3677 or emailing


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