Are you looking for the best Texas Bourbons to complement your Texas barbecue? Bourbon is considered by many to be the best spirit to pair with the smoky flavors of low and slow meats. The hint of sweetness makes it all the better. These are my picks for the best Texas Bourbons.
I’m sure that you will find something on this list to love. The truth is that all of these bourbons are great. However, I have arranged this list by my personal preference, but you will find that most experts agree. Some Texas bourbons are widely distributed, while others have less availability outside the state. I suggest contacting them directly for shipping information. A collection of these spirits will make you an expert on all things Texas Bourbon.
A majority of Texan bourbons come from small distillers. Many are new, experimental, and enthusiastic about their product. This collaborative community is working hard to put Texas Bourbon on the map. And they have had no trouble taking top prizes worldwide, showing great promise in distilling.
What is Bourbon?
Bourbon is a style of whiskey made primarily from corn. It is a uniquely American Whiskey and is the most popular exported spirit. To be considered Bourbon, barrel-aged whiskey must be derived from at least 51% corn and be made in the United States. Some Bourbons are 100% corn, while most come from a blend of grains. If a Bourbon has a significant wheat component, it is called a “wheated” bourbon. Kentucky is considered the heart of Bourbon Country (visit Bourbon County, Kentucky). This has led to the false assumption that all Bourbon must come from that state.
In addition to being made primarily from corn, Bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels. Also, it can’t contain any colorings or additives. To be known as straight Bourbon, it must be aged in a barrel for at least two years. You will see Bourbons that are aged for less time. Bourbon can not be distilled to more than 160 proof. It can only be aged to 125 proof. And it must be bottled at more than 80 proof. Any Bourbon that lists a proof of less than 80 is a flavored spirit.
Why Texas Bourbon?
Texas is hot. You can’t dispute it. The heat accelerates the bourbon aging process once placed into barrels, giving it a serious bite. When whiskey is aging, the ambient temperature causes the barrels to breathe. As the temperature climbs, the alcohol expands, pressing out through the wood. As it cools, the flavors of the oak barrels pull into the spirit. This process slows in cooler climates, but the Texas heat intensifies the flavor. It is the reason why Texas whiskey and Bourbon only age a few years.
Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon
Born in a welding shop under a bridge in Waco, Texas, Balcones has consistently produced some of the best Texas Bourbons and Whiskeys. They have several great products, but their Pot Still Bourbon is delicious and affordable. Bottled at 92-proof, Balcones balances that spicy Texas whiskey bite with a sweet and rich molasses flavor. I recommend their Blue Corn Bourbon, which is certainly worth the investment.
Garrison Brothers Small Batch Bourbon
A true Texas success, Garrison Brothers is Texas’ first legal distillery and the first to produce bourbon outside Kentucky. You can taste the heritage in their small-batch bourbon. At 94-proof, this is a classic bourbon with a smooth taste. Now, Garrison Brothers is a more premium brand, and while one of the most expensive Bourbons on this list, the Small Batch is one of their more affordable bottles. You will, however, love the classic Bourbon Flavors.
Ironroot Harbinger Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Waco’s Ironroot isn’t for everyone. It is a serious Texas Bourbon. I can promise you that you won’t forget what this Bourbon tastes like. This spicy Texas whiskey is one of my favorites when I want to know I had a drink. Bottled at 115-Proof, Harbinger is aptly named. While powerful, you can easily pick out the sweet, fruity flavors. If you are ready for a powerful blast of flavor, get yourself a bottle of Ironroot Harbinger.
TX Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Out of Fort Worth, Firestone & Roberston Distilling has challenged what a Texas Bourbon can be. This four-year-aged straight Bourbon is smooth and sophisticated. TX is also reasonably priced. The 90-proof bottling point is part of what makes this work. It’s a little lower than most, so the bite is tamed. It makes TX Bourbon a great sipping Bourbon you’ll want to keep on hand.
Ranger Creek .36 Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey
San Antonio’s Ranger Creek is both a brewery and a distillery or, as they call it, a Brewstillery, with Ranger Creek .36 as their flagship whiskey. This straight bourbon is rich in color and flavor and a perfect sipping Bourbon. Bottled at 96-proof, it balanced bite with smoothness. It is a sweet Bourbon with just a hint of pepper. I recommend keeping this one on hand since it is delicious straight or in cocktails.
Still Austin The Musician Straight Bourbon
Austin-based Still Austin Whiskey Company is a local legend. They produce several great spirits, including an excellent Rye. The Musician is their biggest hit and the one you will most likely find in stores. At 98-proof, this bourbon has a bite, but unlike many Texas Bourbons, it also has a mellow and rich flavor. With its vanilla and fruity flavor and deep oak molasses, this tasty bourbon is perfect for a nice, relaxing drink.
Treaty Oak Ghost Hill Bourbon
Based in Dripping Springs, a stone’s throw from downtown Austin, Treaty Oak has consistently been one of the region’s best Bourbon makers. Named for the range where this whiskey is produced, Ghost Hill has been flying off the shelves for years now. It has also been gathering award after award. Bottles at 95-proof, Ghost Hill is 57% corn and is a “wheated” Bourbon. It has a sweet finish with notes of cherry and a very present caramel. Try their more affordable Day Drinker as well.
Yellow Rose Outlaw
Houston’s Yellow Rose Distilling makes another classic style of Bourbon. Even in the Texas Heat, you’ll enjoy the smooth flavor from 100% corn mash. This 92-proof whiskey has strong vanilla and caramel flavors, with the right amount of black pepper to make it interesting. You will love the sweetness of this Bourbon. It is the kind of drink you can enjoy at any time. I keep a bottle handy for a little barbecue inspiration.
Milam & Greene Triple Cask Bourbon
Master distiller Marlene Holmes combines Bourbon produced in Blanco, Texas, with those from Kentucky and Tennessee to produce this superior blended Whiskey. Bottled at 94 proof, this is a smooth, sipping Bourbon that is delicious served straight or mixed. While only partially of Texas distillation, Milam & Greene makes a fantastic Bourbon.
Devils River Barrel Strength Bourbon
San Antonio’s Devils River Bourbon has all the kick that 117 proof can give you. This high-rye bourbon has a strong flavor with a sweet honey finish. Based in downtown San Antonio, visiting this distillery is an adventure all on its own. This bourbon is barrel (or cask) strength, so go slow, but I promise you will love all the deep flavors.
Try These Bourbons with Our Favorite Recipes!
We enjoy a nip of Bourbon with many of the dishes we create. But we also love to infuse Bourbon flavor into our cooking. Try these recipes that incorporate Bourbon right in the ingredients.