As drinking palates around the world become more refined and economic wealth continues to rise, drinkers are eschewing vodkas, beers and rum for one delicious brown liquor that shows no signs of slowing down -- bourbon.
Bourbon has become a big business in the U.S., accounting for more than $8.5 billion in revenue in the state of Kentucky, where 95% of all bourbon is made, according to the Kentucky Distillers Association.
The liquor, which must be comprised of at least 51% corn, has become a huge source of growth in the state of Kentucky, with several distilleries around the state undergoing multi-year expansion projects just to keep up with demand. Nearly 6.7 million barrels of whiskey have been made in Kentucky, the highest figure since 1974, highlighting demand.
Italian distiller Davide Campari-Milano SpA, which owns Wild Turkey, saw its shares jump the most in eight years when it recently reported first-quarter results, thanks in part to 24% sales growth of its Wild Turkey bourbon, indicating the demand for the liquor.
Unlike several other liquors, there is only one way to make bourbon. The process starts with combining the corn and other wheat and mashing it up until it ferments, then running it through a series of tubs and vats where it eventually becomes "white dog," or effectively moonshine. From there, it's set into charred white oak barrels for a number of years until it becomes bourbon.
Given the demand of the liquor and the continued new uses for it (mint juleps, Manhattans and Moscow mules are just a few), bourbon is likely to remain popular for years to come, be it in the U.S., Japan or other parts of the world that are changing their spirits consumption.
Here are the 10 best bourbons in the U.S. in no particular order, according to TheStreet.
The last name on the list, Eagle Rare is another Buffalo Trace product.
A 10-year bottle is in the middle of the list price range, but spending a decade in the charred oak allows for dark fruit, orange peel and other finishes to aid in the tasting. It's smooth enough to drink straight and get that light spice or sweet finish.