For the Novice Bourbon Drinker

You have to start somewhere, so why not start with bourbons that are easy to find and that highlight the subtle differences between proof, mash bill and style. This lineup is a great starting point on your journey to becoming a Bourbon Badass!

From left to right:

Maker’s Mark is one of the most recognizable bourbons, with its square bottle and distinctive red wax seal. The bourbon itself is 90 proof and is 70 percent corn, 16 percent wheat, and 14 percent malted barley.

Bulleit Bourbon is one of my personal favorites. When I go out and want to opt for something familiar, Bulleit on the rocks is my go-to bourbon.

Basil Hayden’s is produced by Jim Beam and is the perfect bourbon for starting your bourbon journey. At only 80 proof, it has a smooth start and finish.

1792 Small Batch is made in Bardstown by the Barton 1792 distillery using the same mash bill—75 percent corn, 15 percent rye, and 10 percent barley—as the Very Old Barton brand, which is probably why I like it so much.

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon, at 90.4 proof, is considered an everyday bourbon by many. It is incredibly versatile, working well in cocktails, savory and sweet dishes, on the rocks, and neat.

*From Linda Ruffenach’s upcoming book, How to Be a Bourbon Badass.