Five of the best bourbons available in the UK

America’s native spirit is the perfect autumnal warmer – delicious neat or as part of a whiskey cocktail

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1. Never Say Die (Bourbon Barrel Strength)

Never Say Die (Bourbon Barrel Strength)

Born in the US, but matured in Britain, this premium bourbon is inspired by the legendary racehorse of the same name, who was born on co-founder Pat Madden’s family farm in Kentucky. The distinctive bottle draws on the colours worn by jockey Lester Piggott when he rode Never Say Die to victory in 1954 in front of a 250,000-strong crowd that included Queen Elizabeth and Winston Churchill.

The whiskey is distilled in Kentucky, then ocean-aged on a six-week trip across the Atlantic, then finally matured in barrels in the Derbyshire peaks, resulting in a unique flavour: lively spice and citrus notes which melt into vanilla, leather and caramel, with a lasting smooth finish.

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2. Howler Head

Howler Head

Howler Head, a super-premium spirit with a unique natural banana flavouring, launched in the UK this autumn. The tipple is crafted at the Green River Distilling Co in Owensboro, Kentucky, using proprietary yeast, the finest grains and mineral-rich water filtered through Kentucky limestone.

The spirit is distilled in a 100-year-old Vendome all-copper column still, then aged for two years in American white oak barrels in traditional wood rick houses. Finally, the whiskey is blended with banana flavour, which provides a subtle sweet kick on the finish. Howler Head can be enjoyed as a shot, with a beer or as a component of a whiskey cocktail.


3. Kings County Bourbon

Kings County Bourbon

This New York bourbon hails from King’s County distillery – New York City’s oldest (and largest) operating whiskey distillery, and the first since prohibition. It is made with a mash-bill of 80% New York organic corn from the Finger Lakes and English Golden Promise barley, then matured in virgin American charred oak barrels for anywhere between three and six years.

Kings Country Bourbon features prominent notes of caramel and vanilla, as well as undertones of dark berries. “Give this whiskey a proper nosing and you’ll find scents of maraschino cherries, vanilla beans, freshly-brewed coffee, and toffee,” said whiskey expert Christopher Osburn on the popular culture website Uproxx. “It ends with a warming, final kick of cinnamon sugar and caramel.”


4. Bourbon Bourbon Candy Cane

Bourbon Bourbon Candy Cane

Ever wondered what it would be like to combine bourbon biscuits with bourbon whiskey? Well now, thanks to the UK-made Bourbon Bourbon, you can actually try this heavenly combination. Add candy cane to the equation and you have a sweet festive tipple made from Kentucky bourbon, dark chocolate, vanilla, peppermint, actual bourbon biscuits and real candy canes.

Bourbon Bourbon Candy Cane can be sipped neat or used in a Christmassy cocktail, making this spirit perfect for an end-of-year party. “Absolutely delicious in an old-fashioned,” said a reviewer on Master of Malt. “Was worried that this might be cloying but the sugar is in check and the flavours blend perfectly.”


5. Small Batch Select

Four Roses – Small Batch Select

Four Roses, the 133-year-old Kentucky-based bourbon distillery, has just launched Small Batch Select – the first permanent addition to the brand’s collection in the UK in 13 years. Small Batch Select is comprised of a blend of six different recipes all aged between six and seven years. It features notes of raspberry, clove and nutmeg on the nose, then bright apricot, vanilla and oak on the palate, with the finish evoking spearmint and a touch of cinnamon.

Small Batch Select can be drank neat or worked into cocktails like a Mint Julep or a Manhattan.


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