Mandatory Staff Picks: The Best Beginner Bourbons

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It should come as no surprise to drinkers that late summer and early fall are the perfect times to crack open a bottle of bourbon. The evenings are beginning to get cooler, the first leaves begin to fall, and the damp, crisp smell of fall is starting to fill the air. Another reason to get reacquainted with bourbon whiskey this month is because September is National Bourbon Heritage Month.

This month-long celebration of America’s “Native Spirit” has been celebrated every September since 2007. That’s when the U.S. Senate declared the first-ever “National Bourbon Heritage Month.”

Before you fill your glass with this sweet, rich whiskey, you need to know a few facts first. To be called a bourbon, the whiskey needs to be made in the U.S. (not just Kentucky), made using no less than a 51 percent corn mash bill, distilled at no more than 160 proof, aged in new, charred oak barrels, added to the barrel at no more than 125, aged for at least two years (any bourbons aged less than 4 years must list the number of months), and has to be at least 80 proof at bottling.

Now that you know the bourbon basics, it’s time to have a drink. Check out our picks for the best bourbons for beginners and get sipping.

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