Life

The Best Bottled-In-Bond Bourbons Under $100

Bottled-in-bond bourbon is often referred to as “the good stuff” in bourbon circles. This style of bourbon whiskey is simply more refined than your average bottle of bourbon. That makes it tastier, easier to drink, and a little more sought after.

Unlike certain bourbon designations, which can be a little murky (small batch, we’re looking at you), bottled-in-bond is easy to define. For starters, the bourbon needs to be aged for at least four years in a federally bonded warehouse. Next, it must be from one distillation season made by one distiller at one distillery. That doesn’t mean barrels of whiskey aren’t blended to make this. It just means the barrels available to make that final blend (or single barrel expression) are a lot narrower since they all have to come from the same season and distillery. Three, the whiskey needs to go in the bottle at 50 percent ABV, or 100 proof.

Now, we could get into the tax and duty implications behind a “bonded warehouse” and why this whole system exists in the first place, but we’ll leave that to the lawyers and accountants to explain. For now, we’re going to focus on the whiskey. The ten bourbons below are all bottled-in-bond classics with a couple of crafty bourbons thrown in for good measure. If you want to try a bottle, click on the prices and get it delivered to your door.

Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond

Heaven Hill

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $18

The Whiskey:

The juice is standard Evan Williams that’s barreled in a federally overseen warehouse. Then, after those barrels are blended, the juice is brought down to 100 proof, allowing a bit more of that Heaven Hill craft to shine in the bottle.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with a dry cornmeal base next to salted caramel, rich vanilla, and a touch of that oak. The palate adds in whiffs of black pepper next to musty cellar wood and a hint of spicy chewy tobacco. The end is short-ish while highlighting the sweet cornmeal, spicy tobacco, and rich vanilla.

Bottom Line:

This is bourbon’s bottled-in-bond touchstone. It’s shocking when you taste this next to Evan Williams Black Label in how much more refined it is. It’s also the perfect end of the day on the rocks whiskey to take the edge off.

Jim Beam Bonded

Beam Suntory

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $23

The Whiskey:

This bourbon is Jim Beam’s high watermark when it comes to Kentucky bourbon. The juice is aged in a bottled-in-bond facility for four years where it’s also bottled at 100 proof with no bullshit. This is the standard Beam bourbon mash bill but there’s just something extra happening that makes this expression shine.

Tasting Notes:

This bourbon beckons you in with notes of toasted oak, red cherry, and vanilla. That leads to fresh honey, sweet caramel corn, rich toffee, bold vanilla, crisp apple, more of that red cherry, peppery spice, and a note of fresh mint. With a little water, the dram edges towards bitter dark chocolate with a nice billow of pipe tobacco while holding onto the mint, toffee, and vanilla oakiness. The end is long, meandering, and full of warmth, fruit, spice, and bourbon goodness.

Bottom Line:

Not to sound like a broken record, but it’s kind of shocking how much of a step up this is from Beam’s standard White Label. It’s not going to be something that changes your life from the first sip. But this is a well-rounded mixer and sipper that always hits just right at a great price point.

Early Times Bottled-in-Bond

Brown-Forman

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $25

The Whiskey:

Sazerac’s Early Times spent decades as the best-selling bourbon in the world. Their Bottled-in-Bond is a throwback to that heady era in the early to mid-1900s, when bourbon was king of the booze scene. Then this whiskey nearly died in the 1970s and 80s when bourbon took a massive hit in sales. This particular expression was reintroduced in 2017 as a limited release. It was such a huge hit so it turned into a standard release.

Tasting Notes:

The low-rye and longer aging create a dram where the orange oils, pancake syrup, and holiday spices mingle on the soft nose. The palate luxuriates in this rich and creamy vanilla next to a mildly spicy tobacco leaf and another hit of those orange oils. The end adds in a slight allspice pepperiness with more of that creamy vanilla, tobacco, and a final hint of buttery brown sugar syrup.

Bottom Line:

Easy is the word that comes to mind with this bottle. It’s just … easy. Easy to drink. Easy to like. Easy to mix. Easy.

1792 Bottled In Bond

Sazerac Company

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $46

The Whiskey:

This release from the fairly vast 1792 leans into the beauty of the juice coming out of Barton 1792 Distillery right now. The build of the blend of bonded barrels is crafted to have a throwback taste to over 100 years ago, when bonded bourbons were all the rage.

Tasting Notes:

This draws you in with a mix of cracked black pepper, caramel apples, menthol, and a hint of bitter charred wood. The taste holds onto the spiciness but merges it towards ginger, or allspice, with a creamy vanilla pudding foundation and a hint of wet cedar. The finish takes its time and lets the bitterness sneak in with a dark coffee bean vibe next to that creamy vanilla and peppery spiciness.

Bottom Line:

This is an interesting, high-rye bourbon that feels like it’s crafted more towards cocktails than sipping. That being said, there’s no downside to pouring this over a few rocks and enjoying a glass at the end of the day too.

Wilderness Trail Small Batch Bottled In Bond

Wilderness Trail Distillery

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $52

The Whiskey:

Wilderness Trail’s black label Small Batch denotes a very high rye mash bill with 24 percent of the grain in the mix. That’s similar to Beam’s Old Grand-Dad Bonded which narrowly missed making this list. “Small batch” also means something to the folks at Wilderness Trail. This expression is made from only 12 barrels of bourbon that are masterfully vatted to create the signature flavor profile of this award-winning bourbon.

Tasting Notes:

The whiskey opens with notes of wet green grass, pear skins, and buttered popcorn next to a hint of dried flowers soaking in maple syrup. The palate drizzles that popcorn with salted caramel as the butteriness leans into toffee territory with a stewed pear with a cinnamon taste. The creaminess of the butter combines with a lush vanilla note as the taste fades away into a slight whisper of oak and apple tobacco.

Bottom Line:

It’s hard not to fall in love with a bottle of Wilderness Trail. They all offer something a little different but maintain a throughline of being amazingly palatable and approachable, even to a novice.

Old Forester 1897 Bottled in Bond

Brown-Forman

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $56

The Whiskey:

Heading back to Brown-Forman, Old Forester 1897 Bottled-in-Bond is the brand’s throwback bottle that celebrates the 1897 act that brought the world bottled-in-bond whiskey. The juice in the bottle is a mid-rye bourbon mash that’s aged, proofed, and bottled in accordance with the bonded laws and regulations.

Tasting Notes:

This drips with caramel on the nose — the kind that’s a bit tacky and chewy — alongside a touch of orange blossom and maybe a vanilla latte. That vanilla and bitter espresso bean note carry on through the palate as a bowl of red and stone fruits soak in a bowl of brandy with plenty of cinnamon sticks and allspice berries thrown in too. The finish marries all those notes while leaning heavily into the caramel sweetness as it fades away at a good clip.

Bottom Line:

This is probably the best mixer on the list. There’s a sweetness at play that helps this one stand out in any cocktail.

Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond 7-Year

Heaven Hill

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $60

The Whiskey:

Heaven Hill makes a lot of whiskeys. This expression has been a touchstone bottled-in-bond since 1939 and remains a go-to for many bourbon lovers. The juice is a very low rye (only ten percent) mash bill that’s left to age for an extra three years.

Tasting Notes:

The nose on this is like a vanilla ice cream scoop that’s been drizzled with salted caramel and then dipped in dried honeysuckle petals inside an old leather pouch. That caramel and dried floral honey feel drive the taste towards a somewhat dry Graham cracker maltiness with a touch more of that leather and a whisper of toffee tobacco. The end leans into an eggnog spice mix with more of that sweet and buttery tobacco and a final note of sweet cherry and old cellar beams.

Bottom Line:

This is a pretty damn fine whiskey to have around. It’s a great workhorse that drinks well over rocks or shines brightly in a cocktail coupe with a little sweet vermouth and bitters. You can’t go wrong.

Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bourbon Bottled-in-Bond

Heaven Hill

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $70

The Whiskey:

This very affordable offering from Heaven Hill shines brightly. The juice utilizes a touch of rye in the mash bill and is then aged for ten long years in a bonded rickhouse. The best barrels are chosen by hand and the juice is bottled directly.

Tasting Notes:

Orange zest, caramel, vanilla, and Christmas spice are counterpointed by a flush of fresh mint. The vanilla and caramel carry through as the spices kick up the sharpness alongside a burnt orange feel. It all slowly fades out on the charred oak finish with a minor hint of smoke far in the background.

Bottom Line:

This is technically the same juice as the above that’s simply aged three more years and then bottled from a single barrel that hit just the right sweet spot during those extra years. All of that is to say, this is a fine dram of whiskey that’s just as good, if not better, than bourbons twice this price.

Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. Small Batch Bourbon Bottled-In-Bond

Sazerac Company

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $99

The Whiskey:

Buffalo Trace’s Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. line of whiskey hits on both classic and bold, innovative expressions under one shingle. Their Small Batch is an entry point to the 12 expressions released under the E.H. Taylor, Jr. label. The whiskey is a blend of barrels that meet the exact right flavor profiles Buffalo Trace’s blenders are looking for in a classic bottled-in-bond bourbon.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with a nice rush of freshly popped corn that’s been hit with some salt and butter before a touch of caramel arrives with a slight black licorice bent. The taste delivers on those promises with a butter toffee with a slight almond and dark cocoa note next to spicy tobacco leaves and hints of leather and cedar. The end doesn’t overstay its welcome and fades away, leaving you with an almost peppery spice and chewing tobacco buzz cut with salted caramel.

Bottom Line:

This is a pretty beloved bottle of whiskey. It’s one of those bottles that’ll hook you in and take your palate to the next level of your journey through the world of bourbon. It also makes a hell of an old fashioned.

Kings County Bottled-In-Bond

Kings County

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $99

The Whiskey:

This crafty whiskey from New York is a grain-to-glass bourbon experience. The mash bill on this one eschews rye and wheat for 80 percent locally grown corn supported by 20 percent malted barley from England. The juice is then aged for four years in small 15-gallon barrels and treated according to the law and bottled in Kings County’s signature hip flask bottles.

Tasting Notes:

This draws you in with a strawberry shortcake with cornmeal base, topped with fresh berries, buttery vanilla whipped cream, and then dipped in a caramel sauce. The palate veers away from all of that and touches on bitter black coffee syrup with brown sugar and butter notes next to oatcakes and vanilla sauce with a hint of spice lingering in the background. The end is long and full of chocolate malts, leather, and more of that creamy and buttery vanilla whipped cream.

Bottom Line:

This is the true outlier on this list. The flavors of this one are pretty unique while still being 100 percent accessible (and tasty).


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

×