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The Best Bottles Of Bourbon Whiskey Between $20-$30

Our quest to find the best bourbon at every price point marches on. This week, we’re talking about bottles of bourbon whiskey that cost between $20 and $30. This is one of the sweet spots in bourbon — as we’re starting to get into quality expressions that aren’t just workhorse mixers and shooters.

After a little debate in the comments last week about prices, we’ve decided to give you more of a range this go around. But remember, prices are determined by the stores themselves — so it’s possible to walk into two stores across a street from one another and pay two (sometimes drastically) different prices for the same bottle. Also, a few of the bottles on this list are blowing up right now, so don’t expect them to be this cheap much longer.

As of now, the ten bottles below are all easy enough to find nationwide and should cost you less than $30 each. They’re also all very drinkable, which is really the whole point of this endeavor.

Let’s get into it!

Wild Turkey 101

Campari Group

ABV: 50.5%

Average Price: $22 to $29

The Whiskey:

Wild Turkey 101 (Campari) uses a deep “alligator” char in their barrels to add more depth and flavor over the six-or-so years the juice spends with the wood. The iconic whiskey is also lightened with that soft Kentucky limestone water, bringing the proof down to a still strong 101.

Tasting Notes:

Buttery toffee, rich vanilla, and a note of citrus pull you in. The palate amps up the vanilla while adding in dark spices that lead towards a sharp, fresh tobacco leaf chew. The end is long and leads back to that toffee sweetness with a touch of butterscotch as the oak, vanilla, and spice linger on your senses with a warming embrace.

Bottom Line:

This bold with a capital “B.” It really works best as a cocktail base given that the high ABVs can standup to mixing. Try it in your next old fashioned.

Buffalo Trace

Sazerac Company

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $24 to $30

The Whiskey:

This is the whiskey that heralded a new era of bourbon in 1999. Famed Master Distiller Elmer T. Lee came out of retirement to create this bourbon to celebrate the renaming of the George T. Stagg distillery to Buffalo Trace when Sazerac bought the joint. The rest, as they say, is history, especially since this has become a touchstone bourbon for the brand. (And a much-beloved “value bottle.”)

Tasting Notes:

Classic notes of vanilla come through next to a dark syrup sweetness and a flourish of fresh mint. The palate cuts through the sweeter notes with plenty of spices — like clove and star anise — next to a hint of tart berries underneath it all. The end is long, velvety, and really delivers on the vanilla and spice.

Bottom Line:

This is tipping into solid sipper territory, especially over ice. It’s also a really nice bottle to have on hand for mixing up subtler cocktails, like a Manhattan.

Two Stars Bourbon

Sazerac Company

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $20 to $22

The Whiskey:

This juice hails from one of Sazerac’s many other distilleries. In this case, Clear Spring Distilling Co. is behind the brand (they’re also rumored to be behind Costco’s Kirkland Signature bourbons). This juice is pretty straightforward bourbon that’s aged around two years before blending, proofing, and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

This does taste a lot like the Kirkland Signature stuff. There’s a clear sense of vanilla, caramel, and oak that’s neither bold nor muted but … there. The sip has a moment of fruit next to the caramel that then leads back towards the vanilla. The end is short, a bit hot, and sweet-ish with a cherry edge.

Bottom Line:

This really works best as a mixer and will likely remind you of Jim Beam thanks to that note of cherry. Still, at around $20 per bottle, it’s a great bottle to use while you’re practice mixing drinks.

Knob Creek Small Batch 100 Proof

Beam Suntory

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $23 to $30

The Whiskey:

This higher-end whiskey from Jim Beam is a nine-year-old bourbon that’s bottled at nice, high proof. It was a no-age-statement bourbon between 2016 and April of 2020. Then Beam brought the age-statement back, likely to get a higher price for “older” bourbon — though that hasn’t happened yet.

Tasting Notes:

Buttered kettle corn with caramel meets mild notes of vanilla and a hint of orange zest up top. The sip delivers a very mild peppery spice that never overpowers the caramel corn, vanilla, or slightly musty oak. That wood leads towards an end that retouches on the orange, spice, and vanilla while fading away fairly quickly.

Bottom Line:

This is a fine sipper on the rocks. It’s a little warm for neat, so at least one or two rocks are needed to cool it down while opening up those flavor profiles. Don’t sleep on this in cocktails, either.

Old Tub

Beam Suntory

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $22 to $24

The Whiskey:

Last year, Jim Beam released their “distillery-only” Old Tub expression on the national market. The juice is an unfiltered and higher ABV version of classic Beam, giving you more of the brand’s depth in each sip of whiskey.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a sense of cornmeal next to sawdust, oily vanilla, and a hint of fresh honey sweetness that entices your senses. The sip takes on a caramel corn sweetness vibe as the vanilla carries you towards sweeter woods and cherry fruits. The end is short and sweet (like most Beam) with a distant wisp of orange oils next to a slight minerality.

Bottom Line:

This is an interesting Jim Beam to try on the rocks. We’ve also been experimenting with it in cocktails and it really holds up nicely, even in overly sweet ones like a Horse’s Neck.

Elijah Craig Small Batch

Heaven Hill

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $24 to $29

The Whiskey:

Heaven Hill’s Elijah Craig Small Batch is batched from fewer than 200 barrels. The blend is comprised of whiskeys aged eight to 12 years before blending. The juice is then proofed with limestone water before bottling.

This is another popular “value pick.”

Tasting Notes:

The sweetness of this dram bridges fresh honey and a nuttiness that leans towards marzipan with a hint of rosewater in the background. That sweetness is counterpointed by Christmas spice next to black pepper and red fruit as the wood lingers underneath with a slight bitterness. The wood turns a bit leathery on the end as the spices, sweetness, and fruit fade out at a medium pace.

Bottom Line:

This is going to be hard to find at this price much longer. Elijah Craig’s Barrel Proof is burning up the awards circuit and that luster shines on this bottle too. Still, if you can try it for under $30, give it a shot as a sipper with a little water or ice before moving onto mixing.

Larceny Small Batch

Heaven Hill

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $20 to $25 to ???

The Whiskey:

This brand was devised by Heaven Hill to be the accessible wheated bourbon of the world — Old Fitzgerald and Pappy having long left mass-accessibility behind. The juice is wheated, of course, and small batched with no age statement.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a note of freshly baked biscuits with butter and toffee dripping from the batch. That butter really becomes creamy as the toffee leads towards rich vanilla, sweet oak, and very slight fruitiness. The real star of the show is the buttery toffee, biscuits, and hint of sweet wood that lingers the most through the short fade.

Bottom Line:

With Larceny Barrel Proof being named whiskey of the year by Whisky Advocate, Larceny may not be that accessible a brand for much longer, thereby taking another wheated bourbon off the mainstream market. In the meantime, plenty of regions still have this bottle at affordable prices.

Give it a shot on the rocks or in a cocktail.

Old Grand-Dad 114

Beam Suntory

ABV: 57%

Average Price: $28 to $30

The Whiskey:

This is the mountaintop of Beam’s Old Grand-Dad series. This is a true high-rye bourbon with 27 percent of the mash bill (recipe) comprised of the grain. The juice is then aged for an undisclosed amount of years before it’s blended, barely brought down to 114 proof, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

There’s spice on the nose. But that spice leans more towards fresh chewing tobacco, worn leather, and musty oak. The palate skews into the tobacco but it almost becomes a vanilla pipe tobacco as a slight cream soda note arrives next to more leather, oak, and a hint of tart apples. The end is that warm Kentucky hug bourbon drinkers talk about, with plenty of the tobacco spice, sweet vanilla soda, leather, and oak lingering the longest as a very distant wisp of charcoal smoke arrives at the very end.

Bottom Line:

At this ABV, this bottle is a great cocktail base. You really won’t lose this one in a boulevardier. Still, it’s not so hot that you can’t enjoy it over the rocks.

Fistful of Bourbon

William Grant & Sons

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $25 to $29

The Whiskey:

This is one of the more interesting sourced whiskeys on the shelf in the U.S. The juice is the design of Scottish Master Blender (for William Grant & Sons) Kelsey McKechnie. McKechnie left Scotland for the U.S. to work in bourbon in the same ways she worked in blended scotch. Fistful of Bourbon is the fruits of that effort and blends five straight bourbons (from undisclosed distilleries) into one bottle.

Tasting Notes:

This is whiskey by design and hits classic and deep notes starting with bespoke but not too sweet Red Hots, vanilla pods, and a touch of mint on the end of the nose. The palate refines the spices and broadens to a clear Christmas spice feel next to a touch of dried fruit, leather, and oak. The end sharpens the spiciness while holding onto the bold vanilla as the oak and fruit fade completely out.

Bottom Line:

This is a really solid cocktail bourbon to have on hand. We’d argue that you need a little water to really let it open up, which also makes it a fine candidate for on the rocks or in a highball.

1792 Small Batch

Sazerac Company

ABV: 46.85%

Average Price: $26 to $30

The Whiskey:

Hailing from the classic Barton Distillery (Sazerac), this bourbon aims to hit classic notes. The juice is small-batched with no age-statement — though, its previous iteration was aged eight years. The mash bill is a high-rye bourbon that helps this one stand out from the pack for its boldness.

Tasting Notes:

“Classic” really carries through this whole bourbon — as vanilla, caramel, sweetcorn, and oak marry with rye spice on the nose. The sip delivers on those notes as the rye almost edges towards a crusty European bread as notes of bitter espresso beans counterpoint that caramel and vanilla. A slight nuttiness arrives late as the cinnamon-forward spice, oak, and vanilla slowly fade away.

Bottom Line:

We’d argue this works best as a sipper on the list, especially with some water or ice to let it bloom in the glass.

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