What’s not to love about the quintessential American whiskey? Bourbon is an enduring favorite, a spirit that survived the years of Prohibition; survived the decades when most drinkers opted for Cosmos and Cuervo over classic whiskey; and has recently exploded in popularity, to such an extent that many distillers can’t keep up with the demand.  We all associate bourbon with Kentucky, but it’s a common misconception that all bourbon is from Kentucky. Not so. While there are many requirements for true bourbon—like that it must be made from at least 50 percent corn, and aged in charred new American oak barrels—it can be made anywhere in America.  All bourbons share a certain character, the comforting scent of vanilla and caramel and wood, the pleasant heft of an aged spirit. But moving beyond that, they’re all over the map: some are distinctly sweet, others have a bit of spice; some are so smooth they drink like a cocktail, others so powerful they’ll send a shiver down your spine.  While there are dozens of bourbons we could recommend, here are twelve to know and to drink—from low-end to high, well-known to a little less so. —Carey Jones

Food & Wine

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