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Bartenders Share Their Favorite Bourbon Whiskeys Under $30

In most cases, the more you spend on something, the better it is. The higher the price, the better the quality. It’s pretty basic logic. This is specifically true in the whiskey world. A higher price tag often means you’re going to get a whiskey that’s been made with high-quality ingredients and is aged longer than a cheaper bottle.

That being said, allocations, trends, and the hype machine can sometimes make that chasm look a little bigger than it is. The difference between a $50 bottle and a $30 bottle is often quite slim. And even though you can spend into the thousands on bourbon, you can still get a lot for a little at the lower price tags.

Today, we’re talking about whiskeys that fall under $30. To find the best of the bunch, we asked a handful of bartenders for help. Check out their picks below!

Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Bourbon Posts Of 2021

Evan Williams Black Label

Evan Williams

Joel Schneider, tasting room manager at SLO Stills in San Luis Obispo, California

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $13

Why This Bourbon?

Evan Williams Black Label is my pick. It’s 86 proof so you’re not missing much ABV-wise and it’s aged for four years so you get a sip with enough oak on it without being overpowering. Medium-bodied with notes of vanilla, caramel, burnt sugar, butterscotch, and a hint of mint.

It finishes long, especially for a bottom-shelf bourbon.

Benchmark Old No. 8

Benchmark

Nicole Fas, beverage director and bar manager at La Pícara in Santurce, Puerto Rico

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $11

Why This Bourbon?

I think that a good Benchmark Old No. 8 is a great bottom-shelf Bourbon. A great option to have on your “speed rack” if you have a bar. It’s oily, sweet and rich, but still punches above its weight because it’s full-bodied and at the same time it’s super approachable.

Some of its tasting notes include vanilla bean and a slight touch of cereal.

Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Four Roses

Eric Heinel, certified sommelier and beverage director for David Burke in New York City

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $23

Why This Bourbon?

Four Roses Yellow Label has all the classic bourbon notes while not trying to be too fancy or unique. It’s very straightforward bourbon, perfect for using in cocktails while still having enough flavor and balance to enjoy as a sipper.

Larceny Small Batch

Larceny

Chandra Richter, beverage development and chief mixologist at Drinkworks

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $27

Why This Bourbon?

Larceny Small Batch is a great value bourbon that still delivers on taste. Larceny has a really nice balance of fruit and spice — it’s a soft, approachable wheated bourbon that features apricot and orange on the nose and finishes with a little spice on the palate.

Maker’s Mark

Maker

Sue Stia, bartender at TPC Jasna Polana in Princeton, New Jersey

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $30

Why This Bourbon?

Maker’s Mark is very versatile and has strong hints of caramel and honey. It’s great neat but shines in a cocktail. It’s definitely hard to beat in terms of price and value.

Rebel

Luxrow

Robbie Robinson, sommelier and mixologist at The Ballantyne in Charlotte, North Carolina

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $18

Why This Bourbon?

Though it is much more popular nowadays, Rebel has to be my favorite bottom-shelf bourbon. Rebel is not my favorite bourbon, not even close, but for the price it’s solid.

Strong vanilla throughout, a little bit of citrus, prune, melted together with that familiar burn.

Jim Beam Black Extra Aged

Jim Beam

Evan Hosaka, lead bartender of The Dorsey at The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $23

Why This Bourbon?

Jim Beam is a good place to start for bottom-shelf bourbons. It’s low ABV and not overly complex. They also offer great bottom-shelf expressions like its Black Extra Aged for $20. The Black Extra Aged is aged years longer in white oak than the original and features flavors of oak and vanilla typical to bourbon but offers an added smoothness that isn’t found in younger bourbons.

Very Old Barton

Very Old Barton

Katherine Ball, consumer engagement & mixology director at Black Button Distilling in Rochester, New York

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $13

Why This Bourbon?

I actually just tried Very Old Barton for the first time last week. I was surprised by the flavor that such an affordable product could offer. It would definitely be a go-to for cocktails for me in the future.

Old Grand-Dad

Jim Beam

Darron Foy, bartender at The Flatiron Room in New York City

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $19

Why This Bourbon?

Old Grand-Dad. Cheap and cheerful as they say. Produced by Basil Hayden’s grandson (Hayden made bourbon with a higher than usual rye content, creating a different flavor profile than what was used to at the time), you’ll find caramel, cinnamon, and rye dominate. But there’s a nice balance between some sweeter notes and a hint of burnt oak.

Big bang for your buck.

Wild Turkey 101

Wild Turkey

Deven Kampenhou, cocktail artist at Curfew Bar in Fort Worth, Texas

ABV: 50.5%

Average Price: $25

Why This Bourbon?

Wild Turkey 101 Straight Bourbon Whiskey is often stigmatized by a bad drinking day back in college, yet it is one of the finest bourbons created by the longest active distillers in the U.S.: Jimmy Russell, who has over 62 years of experience.

Toasty sourdough on the nose with a palate of rich caramel, this whiskey is great in a cocktail or served on a large ice cube.


As a Drizly affiliate, Uproxx may receive a commission pursuant to certain items on this list.

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