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

Bourbon whiskey (already) starts to hit its stride at this price point. You can really find pretty damn good bourbons in the $20 to $30 range. In fact, you can score some stone-cold classics at this price point. Why? Well, the biggest reason is that bourbon doesn’t have to be aged forever (two to six years is common) and it’s largely a local product.

Just for clarity, I’m not saying a $25 bottle of bourbon is going to blow your socks off. What I am saying is that bourbon whiskeys in this price range are going to be a) very easy to drink, b) relatively easy to find, and c) versatile. You’re going to find complexity. You will find great cocktail bases. Hell, there are even a few bourbons I sip on the rocks on this list.

The ten bottles of bourbon whiskey below are great-tasting standard bourbons. These are everyday pours. They all clock in at under $30 based on prices at Total Wine in Louisville, Kentucky (your local prices will vary slightly). Let’s dive in!

10. Larceny

Heaven Hill

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $22

The Whiskey:

Larceny is Heaven Hill’s wheated bourbon. The mash bill is 68 percent corn, 20 percent wheat, and 12 percent malted barley. The wheated juice is “small batched” with no age statement and proofed down to a very accessible 92 proof.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a note of freshly baked biscuits with butter and toffee dripping through on the nose. That butter gets very creamy on the palate as the toffee leads towards rich vanilla, sweet oak, and very slight berry fruitiness. The real star of the show is the buttery toffee, biscuits, and hint of sweet wood that lingers the longest throughout the short-ish finish.

Bottom Line:

An accessible and tasty wheaty is a good place to start on this price-point journey. This whiskey highlights the graininess with a nice sweet edge coming through, making this an easy mixing bourbon.

9. Two Stars Bourbon

Sazerac Company

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $23

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 a 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 alongside a hint of sourdough crust and maybe mint. The sip has a moment of orchard 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 tied back to the vanilla.

Bottom Line:

This is a whiskey that’s best suited to shots and highballs, especially ginger ale ones.

8. Four Roses Bourbon

Four Roses

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $20

The Whiskey:

This introductory juice from Four Roses is a blend of all ten of their whiskeys (they produce two mash bills — one high rye and one low rye — with five different yeasts). The barrels are a minimum of five years old when they’re plucked from the warehouses, blended, brought down to proof, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a bit of steeliness to the nose that’s mellowed by hints of dried florals, apple, and a touch of honey and spice. The taste doesn’t veer too far from the nose as the apple and honey move toward mild vanilla and more sweetgrass. The end is subtle and short with a touch of green oak, spice, fruit, and one more dash of honey.

Bottom Line:

If it wasn’t for that steely note on the nose, this might be at the top of this list. Still, this is a solid mixing bourbon that works well as shot with a beer back too.

7. Old Forester 100 Proof

Brown-Forman

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $21

The Whisky:

Old Forester’s 100-proof expression is made in the same way as their 86 proof (with a mash bill of 78 percent corn, 18 percent rye, and ten percent malted barley). The key difference is that after these barrels are blended, they’re barely touched with water, keeping the proof on the higher side.

Tasting Notes:

Oak and caramel draw you in on the nose with a nice dose of cherry candy and a hint of coffee bitterness. The palate wallows in vanilla as a spicy apple pie with a vanilla-flecked, buttery crust drives the taste. The oak, apple, and spice really power the dram home with a medium-length fade and plenty of bourbon/oaky/spicy warmth.

Bottom Line:

This works really well in old fashioneds and Manhattans thanks to that higher ABV. Though, I tend not to pour this on the rocks all that often.

6. Ezra Brooks 99

Ezra Brooks 99
Luxco

ABV: 49.5%

Average Price: $28

The Whiskey:

This whiskey, distilled at Lux Row Distillers in Bardstown, is kind of like a Tennessee whiskey made in Kentucky. The juice has a pretty standard mash bill corn, rye, and barley. The whiskey is then aged but before it goes into the bottles it is charcoal filtered. That whiskey is then batched, proofed down with limestone water, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

This also leans very classic bourbon with hints of corn on the cob with melty salted butter next to hints of soft leather pouches filled with roasted peanut shells, a touch of caramel, and a vanilla/chocolate ice cream vibe. The palate keeps things super easy as that rich vanilla ice cream leads towards holiday spices, tart green apples, and a freshly baked cornbread bespeckled with dried chili flakes and black pepper. The finish is soft and fast with that spice leading back towards a leather tobacco chew.

Bottom Line:

The higher ABVs on this one make it great for mixing up easy cocktails (think old fashioneds and highballs). I have poured this over the rocks from time to time as a sort of everyday table whiskey.

5. Old Bardstown Estate Bottled 101 Proof

Old Bardstown Estate Bourbon
Kentucky Bourbon Distillers

ABV: 50.5%

Average Price: $28

The Whiskey:

This bourbon from Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (or more familiarly, Willett) is a bit of a mystery. Willett doesn’t really show its hand with any of their releases and this one is no different. We do know it’s a “small batch” and from barrels that are a minimum of four years old (some say as old as ten). But that’s about it.

Tasting Notes:

The whiskey opens with a note of wintry plum pudding next to oatmeal cookie, a hint of worn leather, and dried mint leaves. The palate luxuriates in vanilla-laced pancakes dripping with real maple syrup, a touch of orange zest, and a little more of that leather next to a mild spicy tobacco leaf. That tobacco leaf attaches to a woodiness that’s almost wet like cordwood as the vanilla smoothes out the finish and leaves you with a smooth menthol tobacco vibe.

Bottom Line:

This is a light bourbon. There are distinct notes throughout but they never “Wow” the palate or sense. That being said, this folds into a cocktail very easily and opens up a bit more over a rock than on its own.

4. Coopers’ Craft Bourbon

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Brown-Forman

ABV: 41.1%

Average Price: $20

The Whiskey:

This unique offering from Brown-Forman celebrates the coopers who make all their barrels, including those for Woodford Reserve and Jack Daniel’s. The juice isn’t just aged in those Brown-Forman barrels, it’s also filtered through beech and birch charcoal, adding a Tennessee whiskey-like edge to the Kentucky bourbon expression.

Tasting Notes:

Toasted and charred oak both come through on the nose with a clear sense of tart apples stewed in butter and Christmas spices with a hint of lemon zest. That lemon turns into a creamy pudding as the spice from the stewed apples amps up and marries with the cedar notes from the wood. With a little water, nutty notes pop with a bit of orange zest and mint. The end is deliberate and hits on the toasty oak, spice, apples, and sweetness as it fades.

Bottom Line:

This is where we start getting into the versatile pours. This works wonders in a cocktail but is also perfectly well-suited to an on the rocks pour.

3. Maker’s Mark

Beam Suntory

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $23

The Whisky:

This is Maker’s signature expression made with Red winter wheat and aged seasoned Ozark oak for six to seven years. This expression’s juice is then sourced from only 150 barrels (making this a “small batch”). Those barrels are then blended and proofed with Kentucky limestone water before bottling and dipping in their iconic red wax.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is full of those heavily charred oak barrel notes next to classic hints of caramel and vanilla with a grassy underbelly. That grassiness becomes vaguely floral as slightly spiced caramel apples arrive, along with a chewy mouthfeel that leads towards a soft mineral vibe — kind of like wet granite. The end holds onto the fruit and sweetness as the oak and dried grass stays in your senses.

Bottom Line:

While this is a little low in the ABVs for cocktails, it still makes a mean Manhattan. Otherwise, pour this on some rocks after a hard day’s work and take your time enjoying it.

2. Brough Brothers Bourbon

Brough Brothers Bourbon
Brough Brothers Bourbon

ABV: 41%

Average Price: $24

The Whiskey:

This tiny and new distillery was founded in West Louisville by brothers Victor, Chris, and Bryson Yarbrough. The distillery is the first African-American-owned brand working in the state. For now, this bottle is contract-distilled (distilled at a big distillery based on their own recipe/concept) in Indiana from a mash bill of 75 percent corn, 21 percent rye, and four percent malted barley.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with dried roses, marzipan, and creamy eggnog on the nose with a hint of apple and dry corn. That apple drives the taste with more orchard fruit (think pears) as the nutmeg really spikes and the marzipan takes on a rosewater note next to a very distant flutter of pepper spice in the background. The finish sweetens with a spoonful of fresh and floral honey as those orchard fruits affix to a mildly spicy and vanilla-forward tobacco leaf.

Bottom Line:

This is a whiskey that punches way above its price point. It’s unique and deeply hewn while still feeling accessible (and very drinkable). I do like mixing this into a nice Sazerac (thanks to the florals) but it 100 percent works on the rocks as a sipper too.

1. Knob Creek Small Batch 100 Proof

Beam Suntory

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $29

The Whiskey:

This higher-end whiskey from Jim Beam is a nine-year-old bourbon that’s bottled at a higher proof. The mash bill is the same as standard Jim Beam with 75 percent corn, 13 percent rye, and 12 percent malted barley. It was a no-age-statement bourbon between 2016 and April of 2020. Then Beam brought the age statement back due to popular demand and solid supply.

Tasting Notes:

Buttered kettle corn with caramel meets mild notes of vanilla, worn leather, and a hint of orange zest up top. The sip delivers a very mild peppery spice that never overpowers while caramel corn, vanilla, and slightly musty oak mingle with cherry tobacco with an edge of wintry spice. A soft woodiness leads towards an end that retouches on the orange, cherry-spice, and vanilla while fading away slowly.

Bottom Line:

This expression never disappoints. It’s so easy to drink neat, on the rocks, or mixed into your favorite cocktail (thanks to those amped-up ABVs). Though, I really do prefer it on a couple of rocks.

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