Our superlative list includes special and limited-release bourbons, along with some unique expressions for whiskey drinkers craving variety.
When it comes to purchasing the best bourbons, some drinkers are totally content buying the same bottles they love over and over again—and they’ll likely be happy with the results. But while you’ll find many of the same expressions sitting on the shelves of your local liquor store or listed on your favorite online retailer each and every time you look, the whiskey world is always shifting and changing, and new expressions are always being released.
This brings us to one important question: What makes a great bourbon in 2023? Paul Hletko, founder and Master Distiller at FEW Spirits in Evanston, IL, has a pretty good idea.
For Hletko, the hallmark of a great bourbon is a balance of flavors. “I like some spicier bourbons, but it needs to have balance—fruitiness, sweetness, or something other than just corn and oak,” he says.
While there’s no one particular trend guiding distillers or bourbon drinkers, most of us are craving some variety.
Related: The 25 Best Whiskey Bottles to Buy for Whiskey Lovers in 2023
“This is especially true with whiskey drinkers,” says Hletko.
And while the big names are continuing to crank out noteworthy, award-winning expressions, craft bourbons are on an upswing as drinkers seek out bold new expressions.
“Now that smaller grain-to-glass distillers are releasing incredible whiskeys, more and more people are looking past legacy distillers and engaging with smaller brands that make their own whiskeys—and make them really well,” adds Hletko.
While we’re only three months into 2023, many great limited release, seasonal release, special release, annually released, and new, exciting expressions have already hit the shelves. Even better, with nine months left of 2023 and each and every one filled with high-quality, nuanced bourbon releases, there are plenty more exceptional new discoveries to come. Keep scrolling to see some of the best new bourbons out there and others we can’t wait to soon try.