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Classic And New Small Batch Bourbons Under $100, Ranked

“Small Batch” bourbon whiskey still has pretty big sway in the American whiskey industry. The term is a catch-all for bottles of whiskey that exist one step above the standard expressions on the lower shelves at the liquor store (but below the single barrels, limited editions, bottled in bonds, etc.). The term “small batch” imbues a tad more refinement which whiskey drinkers look for once they get past the entry-level stuff and start craving the “better” bottles.

To that end, let’s rank some serious small batch bourbons for you to drink. Before we dive in, let’s get a little context. Small batch doesn’t technically mean anything. There’s no legal destination that makes any whiskey expression a “small batch” offering. It’s simply a marketing term that was made up to allow brands to take up more shelf space with their whiskeys. A small batch of bourbon whiskey can be made with anything from two barrels that were painstakingly hand-selected by the blenders to an expression that incorporates hundreds of barrels in the blend. That’s not to say that there isn’t more refinement at play in small batch expressions, there absolutely is. It’s simply to say that there’s no hard and fast rule for what makes a small batch bourbon a “small batch” bourbon.

That means that this category of bourbon comes down to the flavor profile created by the distillers and blenders. Make sense? Great! Now let’s rank some spectacular new and classic small batch bourbons!

Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Bourbon Posts Of The Last Six Months

20. Benchmark Small Batch

Sazerac Company

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $19

The Whiskey:

This is a standard “small batch” from Buffalo Trace’s budget brand, Benchmark. There’s not a whole lot of information on what this is exactly when it comes to the mash bill or aging. The “batch” could be 20 barrels or 200. The bourbon is cut down to 90 proof before bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Vanilla extract, slightly wet oak, and that Buffalo Trace Bourbon raw leather/wet grain dominate the nose. The taste pretty much stays in that arena with caramel apples and floral honey popping up next to a slight metallic note and soft mineral water mouthfeel. The end is short and sweet and leaves you with that leather, oak, and vanilla primarily.

Bottom Line:

This is one of the cheapest pours on the list that also still feels a little cheap. It’s not astringent. It’s just very much for taking shots, mixing with Coke, and maybe mixing into a really fast old fashioned.

19. Evan Williams Small Batch

Heaven Hill

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $19

The Whiskey:

This is a “small batch” in theory. The expression marries 200 classic bourbon barrels from Heaven Hill’s warehouses. That juice is then proofed down to 45 proof and bottled as is.

Tasting Notes:

Vanilla and leather lead the way with a distinct note of fresh and warm cornbread that’s just touched by an oak note. The palate holds onto that caramel apple flavor profile while the cornbread makes a very buttery and honey-forward return with a light hint of egg nog spices. The end is short-ish and dances through that honey-soaked and buttery cornbread, rich vanilla, caramel apple, and oak towards a final touch of brown spice.

Bottom Line:

This is a big step up from Benchmark with a classic vibe that doesn’t feel cheap or bottom shelf at all. This is also a great mixing bourbon and makes a solid cocktail.

18. Larceny Small Batch

Heaven Hill

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $22

The Whiskey:

This brand was devised by Heaven Hill to be the accessible wheated bourbon with Heaven Hill’s own Old Fitzgerald and Buffalo Trace’s Pappy and Weller having long left mass accessibility far behind. The juice is a wheated bourbon mash bill that’s small batched with no age statement before proofing and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a note of freshly baked biscuits with butter and toffee dripping from the breadbasket. 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:

This is a pretty solid cocktail base that can work as an on the rocks sipper in a pinch.

17. Paul Sutton Small Batch Bourbon

Paul Sutton

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $68

The Whiskey:

Paul Sutton is a new bourbon from an old family recipe. I know, we’ve all heard it before. The new whiskey is not a blend of sourced bourbons. The brand took the time to release its contract distilled whiskey. The bourbon mash bill has a touch of rye in it and it aged for up to five years in medium char barrels.

Tasting Notes:

The nose on this has a distinct barnyard funk tied to wet bales of straw that leads to a salted caramel sweetness with a twinge of a pine box full of cherry pits. The taste veers away from most of that towards sweet corn cakes with a touch of vanilla cream and eggnog spice. A Caro syrup-soaked pecan sweetness and nuttiness drive the mid-palate towards a cherry tobacco finish with a hint of dark cacao powder.

Bottom Line:

This is a nice standard bourbon with a unique vibe. I tend to use this for cocktails and highballs thanks to that funky nose.

16. Broken Barrel Small Batch Bourbon

Broken Barrel Small Batch
Broken Barrel

ABV: 47.5%

Average Price: $33

The Whiskey:

This whiskey is made under contract at Owensboro Distilling Co. The mash is 70 percent corn, 21 percent rye, and nine percent malted barley. Those barrels then have oak staves put in them for a final maturation. The “Oak Bill” by Broken Barrel is 40 percent French oak, 40 percent ex-bourbon, and 20 percent sherry cask staves. That whiskey is then blended and bottled after proofing.

Tasting Notes:

This feels classic on the nose with big notes of dark cherry, rich cacao, raw biscuits, and wintery spice next to vanilla beans and a hint of caramel. The palate largely delivers on that nose, which is a little bit of a letdown, but also layers in some dark cacao and espresso beans with clove/cinnamon/allspice spicy warmth. The end is cherry tobacco dipped in lush eggnog and packed into a cedar box.

Bottom Line:

This is a new whiskey that leans into classic vibes. I like using this one for cocktails mostly, but you can certainly enjoy it over a few rocks too.

15. Bib & Tucker 10-Year-Old Small Batch Bourbon

Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $85

The Whiskey:

Bib & Tucker is another classic example of what great blending can do with sourced juice. The Tennessee whiskey is a marriage of ten-year-old whiskeys aged in the lowest char barrels available, allowing more direct contact with dried wood rather than black char (which is a filter). Those barrels are blended and then proofed down before bottling.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a sense of vanilla bean (pod, seeds, essence) up top with hints of spicy chewy tobacco, dry oak (almost pine), and a distant note of fresh corn husks. The palate really holds onto that velvety vanilla as the corn husks dry out and notes of orange-infused dark chocolate mingle with that spicy tobacco, which starts buzzing on your tongue. The end is long-ish, has touches of that dry pine, and holds onto both the vanilla and dried corn husks.

Bottom Line:

This is a high point for the brand. I dig this neat or on the rocks, but it truly shines as a solid cocktail base for a Manhattan, Sazerac, or old fashioned.

14. Elijah Craig Small Batch

Heaven Hill

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $30

The Whiskey:

This is Elijah Craig’s entry-point bottle. The mash is corn-focused, with more malted barley than rye (12 percent and ten percent respectively). Originally, this was branded as a 12-year-old whiskey. The brand decided to move away from that labeling and started blending younger whiskeys to create this label.

Tasting Notes:

Classic bourbon notes greet you with a clear focus on vanilla, caramel, oak, orchard fruit, and a touch of fresh mint. The palate holds onto those flavors while adding in mild Christmas spices with a touch of oak and tobacco. The end is short, simple, and will leave you with a warm Kentucky hug.

Bottom Line:

This is just a solid whiskey all around. It’s not mind-blowing but it gets the job done either as an ice-filled sipper or a cocktail base.

13. Horse Soldier Small Batch

Horse Soldier Small Batch
American Freedom Distillery

ABV: 47.5%

Average Price: $75

The Whiskey:

This craft whiskey from Kentucky is made with a mash bill of 65 percent corn, 30 percent rye, and five percent malted barley. The barrels have aged a minimum of six years before batching, proofing, and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Butterscotch leads the nose on this sip as ginger snaps mingle with rich and sharp toffee candies next to a touch of vanilla, pepper, and cherry lurk underneath everything. The taste really amps up the creaminess of the vanilla and the butteriness of the toffee, as a slight marzipan flourish arrives with a thin layer of freshly cracked black pepper and salted black licorice. That pepper marries to the ginger as the heat levels off and fades out leading towards a finish with more of the vanilla and dry wood than anything else.

Bottom Line:

This really does have a lot going for it from the nose to the finish. It’s a little green with that butterscotch note, which is the biggest reason it’s ranked this low. Otherwise, this is a solid bottle to have on hand for everyday use.

12. Garrison Brothers Small Batch

Garrison Brothers

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $89

The Whiskey:

Garrison Brothers is a true grain-to-glass experience from Hye, Texas. The juice is a wheated bourbon made with local grains. That spirit is then aged under the beating heat of a hot Texas sun before the barrels are small-batched, proofed with local water, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a caramel apple note on the nose next to a bit of dry straw, worn leather, and … what feels like Cinnamon Toast Crunch. That cereal nature continues through the palate with a sugary and buttery shortbread note mingling with hints of vanilla cake frosted with lemon cream leading to a touch of orange oils. The end is very long and warm with a bit of cinnamon that ultimately leads back to the caramel apples plus just a touch of dry campfire smoke at the very end.

Bottom Line:

Garrison Bros. bourbon is a great example of juicy and thick Texas bourbon. It’s big and bold but has serious nuance. All of that boldness also makes it a great candidate for powerful cocktails.

11. Jefferson’s Very Small Batch

Jefferson's Reserve
Jeffersons Reserve

ABV: 41.5%

Average Price: $25

The Whiskey:

This is a sourced bourbon from around Kentucky. The age, mash, and vital details are undisclosed. What we do know is that the team at Jefferson’s spends a lot of time tinkering with their barrels to create accessible and affordable bourbons.

Tasting Notes:

This opens pretty thin with hints of caramel, vanilla pods, and maybe a touch of leather and oak with a mild berry vibe. The palate is either subtle or thin … I can’t decide. There are notes of classic bourbon caramel and vanilla countered by a hint of stewed apple, buttery toffee, and maybe a hint of nutmeg. The end stays pretty mild but does build to a nice finish full of classic bourbon notes.

Bottom Line:

This is one of the most even-keeled sips on the list. It’s light but has real depth, which makes this one an easy drinker. This is also very affordable for such a soft and welcoming bourbon. There are no rough edges here.

10. Dragon’s Milk Origin Small Batch Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 5 Years

Dragon's Milk Origin
New Holland

ABV: 47.5%

Average Price: $50

The Whiskey:

This whiskey from New Holland Brewing up in Michigan marries craft bourbon with the brewery’s beloved Dragon’s Milk beer. The whiskey in the bottle is made with a high-barley bourbon mash bill. After five years in the barrel, the juice is blended, proofed down, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

A big chocolate malt note draws you in on the palate first before layers of winter spices, dark caramel malts, a twinge of orange oils, and a mild Vanilla Coke kick in. The taste has an almost Hershey’s Kiss feel to it alongside spiced chocolate powder next to a hint of lemon-lime that turns into a tangerine-laced maltiness (kind of like a tangerine White Claw) with a chocolate wafer in the background. The end holds onto the chocolate maltiness and mild winter spices the longest.

Bottom Line:

If you’re looking for big chocolate notes and a great stout pairing, this is the whiskey for you. This is a distinct pour that feels familiar. Make sure to pour it over a rock or two or with a few drops of water to really let it bloom in the glass. You’ll get a much creamier mouthfeel with all that chocolate.

9. Hidden Barn Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Small Batch

Hidden Barn
Hidden Barn

ABV: 53%

Average Price: $75

The Whiskey:

Former Master Taster for Old Forester Jackie Zykan just left her post at Brown-Forman and her new whiskey is already out. Zykan’s first release at her own shingle is a sourced whiskey from Neeley Family Distillery in rural Kentucky. The bourbon is made from a sweet mash (a brand new mash with every cook instead of reusing mash for a sour mash) with a high-ish rye content over pot stills (a true rarity in bourbon these days). Those barrels aged for four to five years before Zykan picked a handful for this inaugural release at batch proof.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is full of digestive biscuits and whole wheat pancakes cut with vanilla and pecan next to hints of anise, caramel candy, and cinnamon-toast tobacco next to plenty of toffee. The palate holds onto the massive graininess with a clear sense of rye bread crumb next to thick oatmeal cookies with more of those pecans and plenty of raisins and spice. Later, a hint of white pepper arrives and leads the finish to soft espresso cream with a dash of nutmeg and creamy toffee.

Bottom Line:

This is another great outlier. The nose is wholly new and fresh before leading into a classic and deep flavor profile on the palate. Though, I would recommend some ice or water to let this one open up a bit in the glass.

8. Uncle Nearest 1884

Uncle Nearest 1884
Uncle Nearest

ABV: 46.5%

Average Price: $56

The Whiskey:

This whiskey is built from a batch of barrels that are a minimum of seven years old. Nearest’s Master Blender, Victoria Eady-Butler, builds the blend according to classic flavor notes first put into Tennessee whiskey by her ancestor, Nearest Green, back in the 1800s.

Tasting Notes:

Pecan Sandies and leather pouches that once held cinnamon sticks dominate the nose. The taste is more about the vanilla ice cream over a fresh piece of apple pie with plenty of brown spice and brown sugar with a hint of butter. The end brings about some walnut, cherry, and chocolate powder with a touch more of that cinnamon-infused leather but ultimately kind of peters out.

Bottom Line:

This is one of the better cocktail bases on the list. The juice is soft but deep with a good profile that stands up to mixing really well. Naturally, you can sip this all day over some rocks too but try in your favorite cocktail first.

7. Kirkland Signature Small Batch by Barton 1792 Master Distillers Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Batch no. 1124

Kirkland Signature Small Batch
Costco

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $19 (1 liter)

The Whiskey:

This is the entry point to Costco’s new lineup of Kentucky Bourbons (along with a Bottled-in-Bond and Single Barrel release). The whiskey in the bottle is from Sazerac’s Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown with a mash bill of 74 percent corn, 18 percent rye, and eight percent barley. That juice is left to age for four to five years before blended, proofing, and bottling for Costco.

Tasting Notes:

Apple and pear open the nose up toward peach taffy with a hint of black licorice ropes, old leather, sweet winter spices, and a whisper of Nutella. The palate lets the vanilla linger while a sweet and mild Red Hot vibe mixes with classic cherry cola, dried sweetgrass, salted caramel candies, and apricot jam on a Southern biscuit with a drop of fresh honey and butter. The end stays pretty classic with a sense of spiced cherry tobacco, rich vanilla, and a few old oak staves.

Bottom Line:

This has no business being as good as it is. If this were a regular 750ml bottle, it’d be around $15. The quality of the juice and that price jettisoned this up to the top ten.

All of that said, this is more of a cocktail base that works as a table whiskey for end-of-day pours. It’s not fancy but it’s good.

6. Frank August Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey

Frank August Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey
Frank August

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $69

The Whiskey:

The first whiskey from Frank August is a sourced bourbon. The juice is made in Kentucky, where it’s also aged. The team at Frank August then takes roughly ten to 15 barrels per batch and builds this bourbon painstakingly to fit their desired flavor profile. The whiskey is then lightly proofed down to 100 proof before bottling.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is pure classic bourbon with hints of salted caramel with a twinge of soft grains next to spicy cherry syrup, a whisper of sour apple, and a touch of aged oak staves soaked in mulled wine. The palate moves on from the soft grains towards rum-soaked raisins with a warm winter spice matrix — cinnamon, ginger, clove, allspice — before a brown sugar/rock candy sweetness takes over on the mid-palate. The finish is long and sweet with a nice dose of sharp cinnamon and soft nutmeg that leads to a supple vanilla cream with a thin line of dry cedar and tobacco spice just touched with dark cherry on the very end.

Bottom Line:

I’ve tried this new whiskey a few times now and it feels like an instant classic. This is also where we get squarely into sippers first that happen to make amazing cocktails. The only reason this is on the lower end of the top 10 is that it’s still growing on me. Give it a year and it might be even higher on this list.

5. Knob Creek 12

Beam Suntory

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $66

The Whiskey:

This is classic Beam whiskey with a low-ish rye mash bill. The juice is left alone in the Beam warehouses for 12 long years. The barrels are chosen according to a specific taste and married to create this higher-proof expression.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with clear notes of cherry, dark chocolate, winter spices, and a hint of menthol. The palate leans into a red berry crumble with a hint of chili flake spice, salted caramels covered in dark chocolate, and a spicy/sweet note that leads towards a wet cattail stem and soft brandied cherries dipped in silky dark chocolate sauce.

Bottom Line:

This is a great whiskey. It’s a damn near perfect sipper. It makes a killer Manhattan. It’s available pretty much everywhere around the country (with a few exceptions naturally).

4. Wyoming Whiskey Small Batch Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 5 Years Limited Edition National Parks No. 2

Wyoming Whiskey National Parks
Wyoming Whiskey

ABV: 52.5%

Average Price: $83

The Whiskey:

This bottle celebrates our National Parks with each limited edition release. In this case, the release celebrates Yellowston’s 150th anniversary with part of the proceeds from each bottle sold going to Yellowstone Forever, which helps protect the park. The whiskey in the bottle is a special release from Wyoming grains — 68 percent corn, 20 percent wheat, and 12 percent malted barley — and water. After five years, the barrels are small-batch blended and bottled with a drop of proofing water.

Tasting Notes:

Soft holiday spices mix with orange creamsicle, dry sweetgrass, old boot leather, a dash of dark chocolate powder, and a hint of cedar. The taste feels like you’re on a back porch on a sunny day with rich toffee, cherrywood, and vanilla next to buttery zucchini bread with walnuts and plenty of cinnamon. The end takes on this woody and sweet carrot vibe while lush marzipan brings a nutty sweetness with a hint of Earl Grey and walnut loaf with low notes of soft cedar and warm tobacco.

Bottom Line:

This is a deeply hewn sipper that supports something great — Yellowstone NP. That’d be great on its own but add in that this is some seriously delicious juice and you have a bottle worth seeking out. Try it neat first and then add some water or a rock to let it bloom in the glass.

3. Four Roses Small Batch Select

Kirin Brewery Company

ABV: 52%

Average Price: $72

The Whiskey:

This expression uses six of Four Rose’s ten whiskeys in their small-batching process. The idea is to blend both high and mid-rye bourbons with yeast strains that highlight “delicate fruit,” “slight spice,” and “herbal notes.” The whiskeys tend to spend at least six years in the barrel before blending and proofing with just a touch of Kentucky’s soft limestone water.

Tasting Notes:

This nose is enticing with a mix of dark berries and cloves with a yeasty doughnut filled with dark fruit and covered in powdered sugar next to a thin line of berry brambles — stems, thorns, dirt, leaves, everything. The palate is lush with a balance of dark berry pie filling next to winter spices, mincemeat pies, nutshells, and brandy butter vanilla sauce. The finish arrives with a rush of fresh mint next to wet cedar, blackberry Hostess Pies, and nutmeg-heavy eggnog all leading to a final note of that dark berry bramble black dirt.

Bottom Line:

This is the height of Four Roses’ standard bottles. The juice is delightful and fresh with a great unique vibe. It’s fruity and fun. It’s also versatile in that it’s a great sipper and cocktail base.

2. Kentucky Peerless Small Batch Bourbon

Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company

ABV: 54.65%

Average Price: $70

The Whiskey:

Kentucky Peerless Distilling takes its time for a true grain-to-glass experience. Their Small Batch Bourbon is crafted with a fairly low-rye mash bill and fermented with a sweet mash as opposed to a sour mash (that means they use 100% new grains, water, and yeast with each new batch instead of holding some of the mash over to start the next one like a sourdough starter). The barrels are then hand-selected for their taste and bottled completely un-messed with.

Tasting Notes:

Blackberry pie dances with old glove leather, buttery toffee, expensive vanilla beans, and wet, almost sticky tobacco leaves on the nose. The palate leans into the butteriness and spicy tobacco has dry ropes of cedar bark leading to a bitter and oily espresso bean. The end goes deeper with a vanilla pipe tobacco which leads back to that blackberry pie filling with a hint of pie crust and white sugar frosting before the dry cedar kicks back in late.

Bottom Line:

This is hard to beat. The whiskey is so well-rounded, enticing, and rewarding sip after sip.

1. Michter’s US*1 Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Michters Distillery

ABV: 45.7%

Average Price: $40

The Whiskey:

Michter’s really means the phrase “small batch” here. The tank they use to marry their hand-selected eight-year-old bourbons can only hold 20 barrels, so that’s how many go into each small-batch bottling. The blended juice is then proofed with Kentucky’s famously soft limestone water and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

The nose opens with a hint of ripe peach next to maple syrup, vanilla pancakes, and a hint of cotton candy. The palate leans into the vanilla cakes as the stonefruit takes on a grilled vibe next to peppery spice, fatty cream, and a touch of singed marshmallow. The finish leans into wintry spices as the stonefruit almost becomes smoked while toffee and vanilla cake counterpoint everything. The end has a nice layer of old cedar next to maple/vanilla tobacco leaves.

Bottom Line:

This feels both like a true small batch (only 20 barrels) and a truly great whiskey at a great price. This is the bourbon you give to people when you want to both hook them on the category and show them what bourbon is supposed to be. All of that aside, this makes the best cocktail on this list as well. Those are all wins!

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