A good bourbon, neat or on the rocks, is a man’s drink. No explanation required. You can keep your Red Bull and vodka. Though there are plenty of big name Kentucky Bourbon makers out there, small batch bourbons are making some serious headway, and not just amongst connoisseurs. Among them, is Rowan’s Creek Small Batch Kentucky Bourbon, and if you try it you’ll find that it’s simply one of the best. Using limestone spring water sourced from the Bardstown, KY creek that runs through its distillery and aged in charred oak barrels, Rowan’s Creek is a bold and full-flavored whiskey. Not as smooth as Basil Hayden’s, Rowan’s Creek is sweet and rich to the nose, with floral hints, caramel, vanilla and dark rum. Upon first tasting, Rowan’s Creek brings on spice with some fruit and is never harsh. It finishes with an oaky, malted barley taste with a hint of honeysuckle and herbal flavors. It easily qualifies as a nicely complex Bourbon.

Because of the high alcohol content (100.1 proof), Rowan’s Creek can handle a decent amount of cutting with purified water, which slightly dissipates the spiciness and opens it up for both the nose and palate. For full-on warmth, drink it neat and you’ll find this winter’s evenings more than just tolerable, but rather preferable, especially complemented by a medium to full-bodied cigar.

Take Note: When I partook of Rowan’s Creek with a CAO La Traviata Divino, it brought out even more flavors in the cigar, leaving me really impressed. If you’re new to bourbons, don’t jump into Rowan’s Creek headfirst. But if you know your whiskey and want to try something flavorful and full of surprises, this could just be your new favorite spirit.

Buy Now: $40

By Amos Kwon