There’s much to love about the world’s great Japanese, Scotch and Irish whiskey distilleries. But when it comes to innovation, the wily bourbons produced in the United States have been leading the way for years.
In Kentucky and beyond, purveyors of America’s native spirit have refused to let the excellence of their existing products stand in the way of coming up with new ones. And over the last decade and a half, a plenitude of incredible new whiskey with a mash of at least 51 percent corn and aged in charred new oak barrels—the house rules for a whiskey to be called a bourbon—has come to market, some from brand-new producers, others new expressions from venerated houses. Here are some of the best 12 bourbons released in the past 20 years.