How to Choose the Right Bourbon for Your Ham Glaze

How to Pick the Right Bourbon for Your Ham Glaze

By Peyton Whittington Published February 2024

Easter dinner (or lunch, or brunch) wouldn’t be complete without a juicy, succulent glazed ham. If it’s a bourbon-glazed ham, even better.

But wait! Before you throw whatever bourbon’s hanging out in your liquor cabinet into your glaze, consider selecting a bourbon with a flavor profile that complements the primary flavor of your ham glaze.

Scroll onward for the best bourbons to pair with 7 different ham glaze flavors, pure pork perfection guaranteed.

Quarter Horse Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Orange Bourbon Glazed Ham

Use: Quarter Horse Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Citrus is like salt: it makes any dish better. Glazed ham is no exception. For a delectably zesty union of sweet and savory flavors, glaze your ham with orange and Quarter Horse Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. This bourbon opens with tantalizing aromas of toasted corn, dates, praline and, you guessed it, orange zest. It has a vibrant, medium body that can stand up to orange’s punchy flavor, but with a vanilla cola finish. If you’ve ever enjoyed an orange Coca-Cola, then you know this combination of flavors is bound to rock your world.


Maker's Mark Bourbon

Pineapple Bourbon Glazed Ham

Use: Maker's Mark Bourbon

If the aesthetics of a pineapple ring-cloaked ham appeal to you, this is your recipe. Pineapple is a vibrant, tropical flavor that has a habit of overpowering other tasting notes, so we’ve opted for a classically smooth bourbon that will play nice with pineapple’s sweetness and acidity: Maker’s Mark Bourbon. This beloved favorite has notes of vanilla and oak and a creamy, clean and pleasantly spiced finish. Crack open that red wax seal, glaze your ham and don’t be surprised when there are no leftovers.


Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey and Cooper’s Mark Maple Bourbon

Maple Bourbon Glazed Ham

Use: Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey OR Cooper’s Mark Maple Bourbon

Truly, is there anything more lovely on this earth than the crunchy bits on the outside of a glazed ham that are full of caramelized, brown sugary goodness? Maybe, if they’re coated with a layer of maple bourbon glaze. Combine pure maple syrup (the real stuff, none of that flavored corn syrup that goes on pancakes) and warm bourbon for a glaze that’ll make you want to lick the mixing bowl. For subdued maple notes, use Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey. It has a gentle spiciness and sweet oak aromas with tones of maple, oak and nutmeg with a light toffee finish. If you’re more into coating your entire palate with that maple-y magnificence, pour Cooper’s Mark Maple Bourbon in your glaze. Its flavor profile of maple, whole nuts, nougat and caramel are sure to stir up quite a scene at your Easter brunch buffet line.


Cleveland Underground Black Cherry Wood Bourbon Whiskey

Cherry Bourbon Glazed Ham

Use: Cleveland Underground Black Cherry Wood Bourbon Whiskey

Cherry is a gorgeous, naturally sweet and sour flavor that is so under-appreciated as a featured flavor in savory dishes. Artificial cherry flavoring can be overly sweet, which is why we’ve chosen a cherry bourbon with no artificial flavors for use in this cherry ham glaze. Cleveland Underground Black Cherry Wood Bourbon Whiskey has flavors of tart cherry and sweet baking spice delivered with a rich texture. The pork’s sweet tenderness will make a fabulous vehicle for this dark and fruity cherry bourbon glaze.


Four Roses Bourbon and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple Whiskey

Apple Cider Bourbon Glazed Ham

Use: Four Roses Bourbon OR Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple Whiskey

True, apple is traditionally a fall flavor, but this apple bourbon ham glaze is so good that it deserves to be enjoyed year-round, including Easter celebrations. Prepare it with Four Roses Bourbon for hints of pear and apple with delicate notes of honey and spice on the finish. If you’re looking to bring a whole dang orchard of apple flavor to your glaze, grab a bottle of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple Whiskey. Notes of freshly cut apples combine with warm caramel and toffee to balance Jack's classically spicy finish. When they say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, this counts...right?


Whistlepig PiggyBack 100 Proof Bourbon and Jim Beam Honey Bourbon Whiskey

Honey Bourbon Glazed Ham

Use: Whistlepig PiggyBack 100 Proof Bourbon OR Jim Beam Honey Bourbon Whiskey

If we ever turn down a tender slice of sweet, honey-crusted ham, that’s how you know we’ve reached the end times. Put your local Honey Baked Ham to shame with your own honey bourbon-glazed ham this Easter. For softer honey notes in your glaze, reach for a 100% corn bourbon like Whistlepig PiggyBack 100 Proof Bourbon; the all corn mash bill gives it a sweeter flavor profile with a hint of honey on the finish. If you want your ham dripping in honey flavor, choose Jim Beam Honey Bourbon Whiskey instead. It’s infused with honey for that straight-from-the-bee sweetness and complementary vanilla and woody spice notes. Consider swapping out the regular honey in the glaze mixture for hot honey for a kick of sweet heat that’ll have your guests coming back for seconds.


Jefferson's Very Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey and Evan Williams Peach Bourbon

Peach Bourbon Glazed Ham

Use: Jefferson's Very Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey OR Evan Williams Peach Bourbon

Peach and bourbon go together like sweet tea and front porches. So, a peach bourbon-glazed ham would fit right in with an Easter meal brimming with Southern comfort classics like collard greens, mac ‘n’ cheese and cornbread. Jefferson’s Very Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey has subtle notes of peach with a crisp honeyed pear and citrus finish. If you’re looking to go full throttle with the peach flavor, add Evan Williams Peach Bourbon to your glaze. It has fresh, sweet mango aromas that marry nicely with hints of citrus, pineapple and, of course, peach. Regardless of which one you choose, everyone’s gonna want a peach of this, y’all.


Go ahead, go ham on the bourbon section at your local ABC Fine Wine & Spirits or online at Your Easter guests will thank you.

Interested in learning more? Visit our ABC Blog page.