What is the best bourbon for making vanilla extract at home?
Top-10 Bourbon for Extract Making
In our other Top-10 posts, we have explored the best vodkas, the best rums, and best whiskeys for making vanilla extract. Now let's explore bourbons! 
While we are constantly experimenting with Bourbons in extract making, the list above is our current top-10 favorite list, with our most favorite as #1 and our least favorite as #10, but all of them work just fine. Bourbons are all American and have their own defining characteristics different than whiskey, which is why they say, "All bourbon is whiskey but not all whiskey is bourbon." 
There is a great offer right now at Cask Cartel for 24-bourbon/whiskey sampler where you can try 24 different bourbons to zero in on your personal favorite. We recommend Cask Cartel for their variety, low prices and fantastic customer service. bourbon advent
Check back often as we will update this list from time to time as we conduct more experiments. Click any of the links below to learn more about each spirit and to be directed to our recommended source for the best deal. Happy extracting!!
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  1. Woodford Reserve - This has been our favorite bourbon (perhaps our favorite overall spirit) for years. It boasts more than 200 sweet and spicy flavor notes that brings extracts to life, especially Mexican, Indonesian, African and Madagascar vanilla beans. (In most cases, we recommend buying from Cask Cartel for the lowest price, largest variety, best service and delivery to your home in states where it is available.)Woodford
  2. Forty Nine Mile - From a small craft distiller in San Francisco, comes one of the most special bourbons we have sampled. And offered at a very reasonable price, for a bourbon this nice. Rich, creamy and surrounded with notes of vanilla, caramel and even nougat with a hint of citrus spice. The team at San Francisco distilling was kind enough to offer all VanillaPura customers 15% off their first purchase with promo code: VANILLAPURA. You won't be disappointed in this beautiful bourbon. The bottle makes for a beautiful vanilla extract bottle as well.Forty Nine Mile Bourbon for Vanilla Extract Making
  3. Buffalo Trace - A beautiful smooth bourbon with hints of brown sugar vanilla...yes, vanilla. That makes it a perfect vanilla extract medium, if bourbon is your spirit of choice. Buffalo trace
  4. Makers Mark - Made with a soft red winter wheat instead the usual rye used by most bourbon makers, Makers Mark is soft, smooth and sweet with undertones of caramel for a great extract-making experience. Makers mark
  5. Elijah Craig - Another beautiful bourbon with honey taste, but this bourbon also has undertones of marzipan and wildflowers. Married with a dark, earthy vanilla bean (like Ugandan or Sumatra Indonesian) this bourbon will produce and extract that is beautiful, sweet and unique. Elijah craig bourbon
  6. Angel's Envy - What happens when you store a bourbon in a cask that was used to make port in Portugal? You get a bourbon with characteristic sweet and smokey notes, but also hints of raisins, bitter chocolate and maple syrup, and what a beautiful vanilla extract it makes. Angels envy for extract
  7. 1792 - This beautiful bourbon boasts a colorful flavor profile that is smokey, sweet vanilla oak, apples, a hint of mint and coffee. It makes one of the sweetest mocha extracts that is lovely and worth the try. 1792 bourbon
  8. Breckenridge - This is a newer bourbon that we had to try, given our home in a state the neighbors Colorado, and we were rewarded. It's a beautiful high rye bourbon with notes of cacao, butterscotch, apples, honey and orange and it makes a beautiful vanilla extract with nearly all V. planifolia species from any origin. brekenridge bourbon
  9. Woodford Reserve Double Oak - What happens when you store bourbon a second time after it's fully matured? A beautiful bourbon experience with hints of caramel, hazelnut, apple and spice. It's no surprise that two Woodford Reserve bourbons made our top-10 list. woodford reserve double oak
  10. Bulleit - Bold and spicy with a hint of nutmeg, this is a beautiful bourbon that sits right in our #10 spot, but still worth look for your next extract at a pretty reasonable price. bulleit bourbon
  11. Jefferson Ocean Aged at Sea - Right outside of our top-10, but still worth a look. We haven't tried this bourbon ourselves, but it was recommended by one of our very respected extract making cohorts, Bruce. He found it smooth and very well rounded in his extract, and given our respect for Bruce's extracting experience and knowledge, we added it to this list and it may move up once we get a chance to try it. It's flavor profile of caramel, brown sugar, cinnamon and sea salt are very intriguing to us. A little more expensive, but we've learned time and again that going to the top shelf with bourbon and whiskey is often worth it.jefferson ocean bourbon
  12. Jim Beam - One of America's top bourbons and certainly worthy of a great extract. A spicy, vanilla backdrop against a predictable bourbon sweetness with smokey oak undertones. A good bourbon, but outside of the top-10 on our list. jim beam bourbon

Learn more tips and tricks about extract making by visiting our DIY Extract Guide Center

Here's a video on our favorite bourbons all the way back in October of 2021. We have since tried many new bourbons, so our top-10 list has evolved.