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Bourbon Bargains: Ranking The Best Bottled-In-Bond Bourbons Under $30

Nestled neatly between standard bourbons (40 to 49% ABV) and high-proof bourbons (51 to 69% ABV) are bottled-in-bond bourbons, at exactly 50% ABV. These whiskeys are considered the “good stuff” by old school bourbon fans, thanks to that slightly elevated proof, and the four years minimum these whiskeys need to spend in the barrel before blending, proofing, and bottling.

Of course, there’s more to bottled-in-bond than just proof and age. The main distinction/rule for the style is that each release is from one distillation season at one distillery that’s made by one distiller. The main reason that those rules elevate this class of whiskey — in some folks’ estimation — is that the barrels blended into the final whiskey are from the same distillation season and year. Very broadly, that means the blender and/or distiller can’t take barrels from various different years to hide flaws or fill in gaps in the flavor profile. In theory, there’s a little more fidelity to a bottled-in-bond expression than your standard, everyday bourbon.

And while all of this sounds like it’d make bottled-in-bond bourbon way more expensive, there are plenty of bottled-in-bond masterpieces out there that won’t break the bank. To that end, I decided to name eight of my favorite, bargain bottled-in-bond bourbons, which all clock in under $30. Check them out below and maybe you’ll find your next great mixing bourbon!

8) McAffee’s Benchmark Bonded

Benchmark Bonded
Benchmark

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $20

The Bourbon:

Named after some of the first Europeans to reach Kentucky, this bottle is an entry-level Buffalo Trace expression. The juice is from BT’s famed Mash Bill No. 1, which has a little rye and barley in it alongside plenty of corn. The mash is the recipe for heavy-hitting BT brands like E.H. Taylor, Stagg, and Eagle Rare, making this a lower-rent version of those bangers.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is caramel apples, vanilla, and a nice kick of spicy rye, but not much else and that’s not surprising for a value bottle. The flavor is decent but fairly generic. There’s vanilla, caramel, and some oaky wood, but that’s about the extent of the flavor profile. The finish is long, warming, and has a spicy kick of pepper.

Bottom Line:

For a bargain bonded bourbon, this isn’t terrible. It’s just not all that exciting either. The flavors are fairly muted and bland and that’s why we’re starting here. This is a bourbon-and-Coke bottle at best.

7) J.W. Dant

J.W. Dant
J.W. Dant

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $14

The Bourbon:

As the legend goes, this historical whiskey was first distilled out of a hollow log back in 1836 by a man named Joseph Dant. Since 1993, it’s been produced by Heaven Hill, which kept the old-school logo and design. The juice in the bottle is made from HH’s 78% corn, 12% malted barley, and 10% rye mash bill — just like Evan Williams below, Elijah Craig, and Henry McKenna.

Tasting Notes:

Apples, caramel, and oak are prevalent on the nose. Otherwise, it’s fairly muted and boring. Sipping it highlights notes of dried fruits, caramel candy, vanilla, and slightly cracked black pepper. You can taste that this is high proof, but the flavors are still fairly light with oak and pepper taking up most of the palate.

Bottom Line:

You can do much worse for less than $15. But if you were to stack this up against most $25 bottles, you’d be pretty sad about the results, and so it’s going to stay pretty low on this list.

6) Jim Beam Bonded

Jim Beam Bonded
Jim Beam

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $27

The Bourbon:

Jim Beam makes a pretty decent bonded whiskey from their classic 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley mash. Beyond that, this 100-proof, award-winning bourbon was aged for a minimum of four years in a bonded warehouse.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a ton of sweetness coming out in the nose with aromas of dried cherries, brown sugar, vanilla, and heavy oak. The palate is very robust and filled with heat as well as flavors like vanilla, caramel, dark chocolate, and warming, spicy pepper at the very end. It’s flavorful but has a little too much burn for some drinkers.

Bottom Line:

If you’re a fan of Jim Beam White Label and you want to turn it up to 11, this is the whiskey for you. It’s a heightened, bolder version of the classic bourbon. It does have a little more burn than necessary for an everyday sipper, making this a cocktail bourbon more than anything else.

5) Early Times Bottled-In-Bond

Early Times Bottled in Bond
Early Times

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $23 for a liter

The Bourbon:

Early Times was founded by John Henry Beam (Jim Beam’s uncle) in 1860. Its Bottled-In-Bond expression was discontinued in 1983 before being relaunched in 2017. This expression pays tribute to the original recipe of 79% corn, 11% rye, and 10% malted barley. Like all bonded whiskeys, it’s aged a minimum of four years in bonded warehouses.

Tasting Notes:

Vanilla, cherries, raisins, and honey are prevalent on the nose. The palate is fairly sweet, yet complex with notes of dried cherries, candied orange peels, pipe tobacco, vanilla beans, caramel, and oaky wood. The finish is dry, warming, and memorable.

Bottom Line:

If you’re looking for a spicy and bold bonded bourbon, look elsewhere. Early Times is surprisingly sweet with vanilla and dried fruits taking center stage, making a perfectly fine mixing bourbon.

4) Old Bardstown Bottled-In-Bond

Old Bardstown Bottled in Bond
Old Bardstown

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $20

The Bourbon:

Named for an iconic thoroughbred horse, Old Bardstown Bottled-In-Bond from Willett has a mash bill of 72% corn, 15% malted barley, and 13% rye. Unlike some bonded bourbons, it’s rumored that Old Bardstown’s barrels spend up to 10 years aging in new, charred American oak barrels.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a lot of spice on this whiskey’s nose, highlighted by aromas of cinnamon candy, vanilla, caramel, and light, peppery spice. The palate is more than just spice with gentle, dried fruits, cinnamon sugar, maple candy, butterscotch, vanilla, oak, and a nice hint of pepper to tie everything together nicely.

Bottom Line:

There’s definitely a great mix of spice and sweetness at play here. This one earns bonus points for being pretty good for this price, though we’re still squarely in “I’d use this as a mixer” territory.

3) Old Tub Bottled-In-Bond

Old Tub Bottled In Bond
Jim Beam

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $22

The Bourbon:

This non-chill filtered, bottled-in-bond bourbon comes from Jim Beam. Originally, it was only available at the distillery’s gift shop. In 2020, it became a limited-release offering available in stores. Distilled with Beam’s signature mash bill of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley, it’s aged for a minimum of four years in new, charred American oak barrels in bonded warehouses and bottled at 100-proof.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a lot going on with this whiskey’s nose. There are aromas of candied pecans, caramel, slight peppery rye, and cinnamon. On the palate, you’ll find hints of caramel corn, nutty sweetness, dried fruits, butterscotch, and rich oak. The finish is sweet, and fruity with just a hint of baking spices.

Bottom Line:

This is a surprisingly cheap whiskey for its quality. It’s complex, flavorful, and well-balanced with warming spices and gentle nutty, fruity flavors. This beats out Beam Bonded above for that lack of filtration, adding a little more character to this one.

2) Evan Williams Bottled-In-Bond

Evan Williams Bottled in Bond
Evan Williams

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $19

The Bourbon:

Heaven Hill’s award-winning 100-proof, bottled-in-bond bourbon has the same mash bill as J.W. Dant above but a little more nuance. Still, this is aged for a minimum of four years and bottled in the same place.

Tasting Notes:

Classic aromas of vanilla, rich oak, butterscotch, and dried fruits are heavy on the nose. It’s very inviting and leads to a palate of vanilla cream, orange peels, cinnamon sugar, raisins, dried cherries, and a nice kick of spicy cracked black pepper. It all ends in a warming, dry, slightly spicy finish.

Bottom Line:

There are few bargain-priced, bottled-in-bond bourbons better than Evan Williams. It’s complex, slightly spicy, and loaded with caramel and vanilla flavors. It’s a great, potent sipper on the rocks or a killer cocktail base.

1) Old Grand-Dad Bonded

Old Grand-Dad Bonded
Jim Beam

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $20

The Bourbon:

The jewel in Jim Beam’s “Olds” crown, the Old Grand-Dad on this classic bottle is none other than Basil Hayden (who also has a whiskey named for him). This spicy, high-rye whiskey — 63% corn, 27% rye, and 10% malted barley — is aged for a minimum of four years in bonded warehouses.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find scents of caramel corn, toasted vanilla beans, candied orange peels, brown sugar, and a nice kick of peppery spice. The palate is a nice mix of sweetness and spice with orange zest, buttery caramel, toasted oak, vanilla, cinnamon, and cracked black pepper all making an appearance. It all ends with a warming mix of sweet citrus, creamy vanilla, and peppery spice.

Bottom Line:

There’s a reason Old Grand-Dad Bonded is beloved by bartenders and drinkers alike. It’s bold, and spicy, but has enough sweetness to counteract the heat. It’s a great sipping whiskey as well as a terrific base for your favorite bourbon cocktails. It wins today because it’s always cheap, flavorful, and available.

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