What states have the best bourbon?

Answered by James Smith

As a sommelier and brewer, I have had the opportunity to taste and experience a wide range of bourbons from different regions across the United States. While there are many states that produce exceptional bourbons, two states consistently stand out as the best: Kentucky and .

Kentucky, often referred to as the “ Capital of the World,” has a long and storied history of production. The state's unique climate and limestone-rich sources create the perfect conditions for producing high-quality bourbon. Kentucky bourbons are known for their rich and full-bodied flavors, with notes of caramel, vanilla, oak, and sometimes a hint of spice. The craftsmanship and attention to detail that goes into each bottle of Kentucky bourbon is truly remarkable.

Having visited numerous distilleries in Kentucky, I can attest to the passion and dedication that distillers in this state have for their craft. From the traditional copper pot stills to the aging process in charred oak , every step of the bourbon-making process is carefully executed to create a superior product. The distilleries in Kentucky are not just factories producing whiskey; they are historical landmarks and cultural icons that have shaped the bourbon industry for generations.

Tennessee, while not as widely recognized as Kentucky, is also home to some exceptional bourbons. The state's unique charcoal filtering process, known as the Lincoln County Process, sets Tennessee bourbon apart. This method involves filtering the whiskey through charcoal made from sugar maple trees before it is aged in barrels. The charcoal filtering helps to remove impurities and adds a distinct smoothness and mellowness to the final product.

One of the most well-known Tennessee bourbon brands is Jack Daniel's. While some purists may argue that Jack Daniel's is not a true bourbon due to its charcoal filtering process, it is still a beloved and iconic American whiskey. The flavors of Tennessee bourbons can vary, but they often have a smooth and slightly sweet profile, with notes of caramel, honey, and toasted oak.

In my personal experience, I have found that Kentucky and Tennessee bourbons offer a wide range of options to suit every palate. Whether you prefer a bold and robust bourbon or a smoother and more mellow expression, you can find it in these two states. The craftsmanship, history, and dedication to quality in both Kentucky and Tennessee make them the top contenders for producing the best bourbons in the country.

While there are many states that produce excellent bourbons, Kentucky and Tennessee consistently stand out as the premier whiskey-distilling regions. The rich history, unique production techniques, and dedication to quality in these states contribute to the exceptional flavors found in their bourbons. Whether you are a bourbon enthusiast or a casual whiskey drinker, I highly recommend exploring the offerings from Kentucky and Tennessee to truly experience the best that American bourbon has to offer.