Mention Kentucky, and two things come to mind: bourbon, and the Derby (you know the one). Both are linked by the Bluegrass State’s limestone-filtered water. Iron-free and rich in calcium and magnesium, it helps give Kentucky bourbon its individuality and influences the nutrient-rich grasses that strengthen the bones of Kentucky’s celebrated thoroughbreds. On the first Saturday of May, some of the best of these three-year-olds will compete in what has been called “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports,” as that’s about the time it takes these spirited steeds to traverse the 1¼-mile Churchill Downs oval. (And there’s still time to get there, especially if you charter one of these private jets to the race.)
That’s also about the time it takes to down a mint julep, the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby. Although the best juleps are made with the best bourbons, many feel it’s a sin to augment America’s native spirit with mint leaves and simple syrup. Sometimes it is more rewarding to sip these aged elixirs neat or with nothing more than a splash of distilled water or a single ice cube. But no matter how you enjoy them, these five new bourbons are winners.