Cognac is seen by many as the undisputed champ of brown post-meal spirits, but we feel bourbon is tragically overlooked as a contender for the occasion. While there’s no shortage of bright, fruit-forward bourbons on the market, there are just as many that capture the sweeter, more decadent side of the category. That’s why we scoured through our favorite bourbons we reviewed this year and plucked out the ones we consider the most indulgent: We’re talking tasting notes of caramel, praline, oak, chocolate, vanilla, toffee, and other final-course flavors.

So after you’ve polished off your last plate of holiday ham, forget the cookies and cheesecake. Consider one of the following options for a mellow, fireside sit-down as you digest.

Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Finished In Port Wine Barrels

Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Finished In Port Wine Barrels is one of the best after-dinner bourbons for 2023.

Aging a spirit in fortified wine barrels is a well-established practice in Scotch production, but this release from Angel’s Envy applies the port wine cask treatment to bourbon. After resting for three to six months in barrel, this spirit emerges with newfound raspberry aromas and a sweet punch of butterscotch. Black pepper, spice, and oak are also present in the mix, culminating in a smooth, rich finish. This is essentially the love child of bourbon and dessert wine, and a chocolate pairing is most certainly in order.

Average Price: $52
Rating: 92

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked is one of the best after-dinner bourbons for 2023.

Woodford Reserve is a rich spirit to begin with, but this expression’s double maturation takes it to the next level with velvety layers of toffee, vanilla, butterscotch candy, and — of course — oak. A light char on the edges of the palate adds textural complexity that only makes this release more delectable. And at 45.2 percent ABV, it strikes a pleasant balance between strength and approachability.

Average Price: $55
Rating: 92

Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel Bourbon Whiskey

Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel Bourbon Whiskey is one of the best after-dinner bourbons for 2023.

In 2020, Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel hit the bourbon circuit to high acclaim — so much so that bottles often sell for well above MSRP. Nonetheless, if you can track it down for a decent price, you’ll be glad to have a bottle on your bar cart. This whiskey was finished in custom-toasted new oak barrels, and bottled at 94 proof. Beyond toasted oak, this bourbon oozes caramel, dark chocolate, and coffee notes from nose to finish.

Average Price: $80
Rating: 94

W. L. Weller 12 Year Old Kentucky Straight Wheated Bourbon Whiskey

W. L. Weller 12 Year Old Kentucky Straight Wheated Bourbon Whiskey is one of the best after-dinner bourbons for 2023.

There was once a time when Buffalo Trace’s Weller line was an affordable alternative to the borderline-unattainable Pappy. Nowadays, Weller bourbons are pricier and harder to find, but they’ve undeniably played a key role in popularizing wheated bourbons, and this release lives up to that reputation. Unctuous waves of toasted almonds, vanilla bean, and oak glide across the palate in spades, all delivered with a creamy, weighty mouthfeel. At just 90 proof, this bourbon is a tad lighter than many modern expressions, but it doesn’t skimp on decadence.

Average Price: $307 (MSRP: $70)
Rating: 94

2XO The Tribute Blend Bourbon

2XO The Tribute Blend Bourbon is one of the best after-dinner bourbons for 2023.

From the mind of master blender Dixon Dedman, this limited-release bourbon is truly outstanding. The brand itself is named for the “Two Times Oak” blending process coined by Dedman and used to make The Tribute Blend, for which he re-barrels certain aged whiskeys into new charred oak barrels. The technique clearly pays off: This bottle’s nose leads with a bouquet of cinnamon, vanilla, and strawberry compote followed by a palate of walnuts, caramel, and a touch of spice. The finish leaves traces of creamy spiked eggnog with a subtle oak influence gently woven through.

Average Price: $100
Rating: 92

Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged

Maker's Mark Cellar Aged is one of the best after-dinner bourbons for 2023.

It’s uncommon to see Maker’s Mark releases surpass eight years in age, but this past September, the brand launched its oldest-ever bourbon to date: Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged. Bottled at a whopping 57.85 percent ABV, made with a blend of 11- and 12-year-old whiskeys, and matured in barrel for six years, this bourbon is proof that Maker’s Mark has a promising future in aged spirits. The nose kicks off with wafts of mixed berry tarts and brandied cherries. On the first sip, those notes give way to chocolate ganache and honey-roasted peanuts with a kiss of oak influence on the back palate. The finish is equally generous, dishing up lasting flavors of Nutella, Kinder eggs, and maple syrup. It’s like an entire dessert plate distilled into one glass. Maker’s Mark has already gone on record stating Cellar Aged will be an annual release, so have your sights set on this expression next year if you can’t find a bottle to enjoy this holiday season.

Average Price: $559 (MSRP: $150)
Rating: 95

Hardin’s Creek Boston Bourbon

Hardin's Creek Boston Bourbon is one of the best after-dinner bourbons for 2023.

Just last year, Jim Beam put out its first stocks of Hardin’s Creek Kentucky Series, an ongoing exploration of ultra-rare whiskey from the far reaches of the brand’s cellars. The Boston Bourbon arrives at a heady 110 proof, and was aged for 17 years at the distillery’s campus in Boston, Ky. It opens up with chocolate, hazelnut, figs paired with a heavy aroma of oak and peanut butter fudge. Those notes carry seamlessly over to the palate, which reveals an even stronger oak influence, though it’s restrained enough to strike harmony with the other elements at play. This bourbon’s rich and buttery texture captures decadence in every sense of the word. Forget chestnuts roasting on an open fire; indulge in a pour of Hardin’s Creek Boston Bourbon and thank us later.

Average Price: $258 (MSRP: $170)
Rating: 92