What kind of bourbon should I use in this recipe for "whiskey balls" (aka "bourbon balls" aka "tipsies")?

1 6 ounce pkg — 1 cup chocolate bits (chips)
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 cup bourbon
2 1/2 cups fine vanilla wafer crumbs (use a rolling pin!)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup finely chopped walnuts

Melt chocolate over hot — not boiling — water. Add syrup and bourbon. Combine crumbs, powdered sugar and nuts. (I do this first before melting the chocolate.) Blend into the chocolate mixture, stirring well.

Let stand about 30 minutes; then form in 1 inch balls (rolling in hands). Roll balls in granulated sugar. Let ripen in covered container for several days. (Makes about 50.)

P.S. Being very much an amateur drinker, I woulddn't know what difference in flavor there might be between, say, Old Crow or Wild Turkey. What I'm looking for is a list of brands that will add a strong whiskey flavor to the product, without my paying extra for nuances and overtones that will get lost in the chocolate. As a man of simple tastes, I will have no problem sipping the leftover whiskey, even if it is not of the highest quality, or I could save it for the next holiday. As for other types of booze, I'm sure rum balls would be delightful, but bourbon whiskey is traditional — the recipe is from a dear departed aunt.

  • After posting this question I deleted it because I read the warning "Please do not use for 'which ingredient should I use in my dish' - this kind of question is subjective and will be closed." But I don't see how my question is any different from this question about what type of beer is best for beer-battered fish and that question seems to be well received, so I undeleted my question.
    – bof
    Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 10:58
  • 1
    I actually suggest rolling back your edit -- "which is best" is subjective and potentially closeable, while "which is used" is less inviting of opinion and "here's my favorite" style answers :)
    – Erica
    Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 12:27
  • @Erica I will edit to clarify what I mean by "best" si it won't be subjective.
    – bof
    Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 14:07

3 Answers 3


Honestly, "whatever you want" is the only answer :)

I have a similar seasonal recipe, and in various years, have tried:

  • expensive bourbon
  • cheap bourbon
  • rum
  • Drambuie
  • Kahlua
  • And so on...

The flavors of your chosen liqueur will be somewhat muted by the chocolate, and so something with the complexity of Drambuie was a bit of a waste. However, ultra-cheap bourbon was a little disappointing, as it provided booziness but not much other taste. Kahlua, Grand Marnier, and similar choices with their own flavor profiles can play very nicely with the chocolate, so it's also OK to get creative.

The best choice is a bourbon (or other) that you might enjoy sipping on its own, ideally one that is already on your shelf (if you don't mind sharing 1/2 cup of it). If you hate a particular liqueur, you won't enjoy this dessert as much! If you don't know much about whiskey or have much interest in it other than as an ingredient, a mid-range price is probably the way to go. Asking the proprietor of a liquor store can often result in a good brand recommendation.

  • This sounds a lot like "don't cook with a wine you wouldn't drink", a sentiment I fully endorse. I might not go with an expensive bourbon but with a good middle-of-the-road brand. Also, just to be pedantic, there is a clear distinction between bourbon and whiskey. Personal preference is to choose a decent bourbon.
    – doneal24
    Commented Nov 13, 2019 at 1:24

I suggest using a regular bourbon; one that you can drink after you open a bottle for the recipe.

If you don't drink the stuff, and just want some for the recipe, get the cheap one in small bottles, enough for 1/2 cup.


I occasionally make similar whisky-based truffles. I'm normally a great fan of peaty whiskeys (e.g. Islay), and I once used Caol Ila. The smokey flavour did not work well with the chocolate.

Therefore I would (personally) recommend against using something peaty/smoky.

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