Many bourbon lovers are always on the lookout for obtaining limited edition releases and other rare bottles of their beloved spirit. Of course, these rare finds should only be kept for special occasions. But what about your daily sipper or celebratory drinks for simple family gatherings?
Among all the confusing brands in the market today, we’ve listed the best bourbon under $30 to guarantee you get the most value out of your money.
Top 10 Bourbons Under $30
1. 1792 Small Batch
1792 Small Batch is the flagship bourbon of Barton, first released in 2002. The name came from when Kentucky became a separate state from Virginia. Although it is a brand under the Sazerac Company, this bourbon’s production took place in the Barton 1792 Distillery instead of the usual Buffalo Trace Distillery.
It has 46.85% ABV for around $30. The simple tasting notes fit perfectly for those new to bourbons. In addition, its rye percentage is higher than the usual level, leading to the flavors of bold rye spice, sweet caramel, and dark fruit.
2. Buffalo Trace
The Buffalo Trace Distillery released this flagship bourbon in 1999 with an alcohol content of 90 proof and a suggested price ranging from $25 to $30. You can easily find Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon bottles in most states, but you will have to be friendly with liquor store owners in some.
The bourbon mash bill #1 reportedly has low rye content or less than 10% of the total ingredients . This bourbon has pleasantly sweet tastes of caramel corn, vanilla, and brown sugar balanced by light flavors of oak, dark fruit, and spice. It is a versatile spirit that you can have neat or in a mixed drink.
3. Chattanooga Whiskey 91
Chattanooga Whiskey 91 is among the best bourbons under $30 from Tennessee. After aging the blend for two years, it goes through the Solera finishing. It includes bringing together almost one hundred barrels to craft the final whiskey product.
The company released this bourbon in 2019 with a mash bill of corn and three special malts. Its 750 ml bottle has an average price of $30 with 45.5% ABV, and it has a great aroma and smooth, rich flavor. There are also hints of smokiness, caramel, apricot, and honey with leather and pepper spice aftertaste.
4. Early Times Bottled-In-Bond
This bourbon is a value for your money like any other Brown-Forman product. Instead of the usual 750 ml bottle, the company offered this product in a one-liter bottle available at around $25. Its 50% ABV makes it more remarkable than its competitors.
The bourbon has a high corn content of 79%, 11% rye, and 10% malted barley. Its tasting notes have a notable sweetness of honey, caramel, citrus, and candy corn. The Early Times Bottled-in-Bond is chewy in mid-palate, but the finish highlights the black pepper and rich oak flavors.
5. Elijah Craig Small Batch
Elijah Craig Small Batch is another great bourbon from Heaven Hill Distillery named after a Baptist reverend. With a mash bill of 78% corn, 10% rye, and 12% malted barley, it has an average price of $28 and a 94-proof alcohol content.
This product has developed a heavy vanilla sweetness that tempers light nuttiness and subtle hints of spice, peanut brittle, and subtle oak from aging it for eight to twelve years. Although you can drink this bourbon neat, we recommend using it as the base for Old-Fashioned cocktails.
The smoothness of Elijah Craig Small Batch greatly influences other flavors of the cocktail, like the bitters and sugar.
6. Evan Williams Single Barrel
Evan Williams is one of the most recognizable bourbon brands from Heaven Hill Distillery, which never fails to offer smooth and affordable spirits. This single barrel expression came from a handpicked barrel with 86.6 proof and a price of around $30.
The bourbon bears the name of Evan Williams, who established the first commercial distillery in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1783 . It has the aroma of sweet oak and dark caramel with smooth tasting notes of baked apple, cinnamon, honey, and spice.
7. Four Roses Small Batch
This bourbon uses four out of ten unique recipes of Four Roses with a price of around $30. It combines the high-rye and low-rye mash bills with slight spice and rich fruit yeast strains. The blend came from approximately 250 barrels aged for six to seven years.
Four Roses Small Batch is one of the best cheap bourbons that is extremely approachable and incredibly smooth. You can taste the subtle rye spiciness balanced by the sweetness of light caramel, stone fruit, and floral notes. Four Roses’ ABV (45%) is barely there, but there are trailing mint and spice in the finish.
8. Old Tub
Old Tub is a product initially launched by Jim Beam in the 1880s, but they halted production in 1943 to give way to their flagship bourbon, the Jim Beam White Label. Recently, the company relaunched this bourbon in a 375 ml bottle as a gift shop exclusive, but they eventually released a limited-edition 750 ml bottle in 2020. The average price of this bottle is $23.
Jim Beam advertised this bourbon as bottled-in-bond, a government designation for certain liquors. It must be barrel-aged for at least four years and bottled at 100 proof . It has a pleasant mouthfeel with notes of butterscotch, brown sugar, and peanut butter. But is Jim Beam bourbon or whiskey?
9. Very Old Barton
Very Old Barton is another product of Barton 1792 Distillery and one of the best cheap bourbons priced only at around $15. It offers a variety of alcohol content from 40%, 43%, 45%, and 50% ABV, containing the same liquid with an average aging period of four to six years.
There’s a classical bourbon aroma on the nose like vanilla, oak, and baking spice. Its tasting notes have a bold and rich taste of rye spice and black cherry, with a caramel corn sweetness in the background.
10. Woodford Reserve
Aside from Jack Daniel’s and Old Forester, Woodford Reserve is another well-known product of Brown-Forman Distillery. It has an average price of $30 for a bottle of 45.2% ABV. Woodford Reserve is a triple-distilled bourbon using pot stills, leading to a more controlled flavor profile.
The smell is full of sweet honey scents and faint fruity notes. The first sip is smooth and chewy with the richness of caramel, chocolate, cinnamon, and spice notes. There’s a lingering dryness in the finish but with an occasional light honey flavor.
5 Bourbons Under $30 (Best For Sipping)
1. Knob Creek 9 Year
Knob Creek is among the small batch collections of Jim Beam Distillery, including Booker’s, Baker’s, and Basil Hayden’s. A 750 ml bottle of this bourbon ranges from $25 to $40, which is reasonable given its 50% ABV and 9-year age statement.
It is one of the best cheap bourbons under $30 if you are lucky enough to find it at that price point. Knob Creek has the classic bourbon aroma of moderate oakiness, spicy cinnamon, and peanuts. The palate is moderately sweet with the added complexity of oak and cinnamon spices.
2. Maker’s Mark
Maker’s Mark is one of the cheap bourbons in the list that we prefer to have neat, but it also mixes well with Manhattans and Old Fashioneds. It is a wheated bourbon made up of 70% corn, 14% malted barley, and 16% wheat.
Maker’s Mark uses wheat instead of the usual rye, resulting in the bourbon’s softer and sweeter tasting notes with toasted oak and vanilla flavors. It is widely available for an average price of $30 with 45% ABV.
3. Old Forester 100 Proof
Old Forester 100 proof has the reputation of being the first bourbon brand sold in sealed bottles. It is another affordable yet satisfying product of Brown-Forman, with prices ranging from $25 to $30.
The higher proof content and 18% rye make this bourbon an ideal mixer for cocktails to cut through the spiciness and heat. Aside from the bold, spicy rye and char flavors, you can also taste ripe apple, banana, vanilla, cinnamon, and other sweet fruit notes.
4. Old Grand-Dad 114
At a price range of $25 to $30, Old Grand-Dad 114 is among the best bourbons under $30 from Jim Beam Distillery. It is hard to find a moderately aged bourbon close to cask strength in the same way as this product.
Old Grand-Dad 114 features the most extreme values with 57% ABV and an aging period of at least five to six years. The taste of alcohol will hit you right from the first sip as it gently reveals the rich caramel and sweet vanilla softness on the palate.
5. Puncher’s Chance
Despite coming from a relatively new Wolf’s Spirit Distillery, Puncher’s Chance is on its way to becoming one of the fastest-growing bourbon brands released during the pandemic. It is a blend of bourbons aged five to six years old and bottled at 45% ABV.
With around $30, this bourbon has a complex flavor profile that combines caramel, creamy vanilla, baking spices, and dark chocolate flavors. There are traces of oak midpalate, but it finishes long with sweet sugar notes.
5 Best “Bang for the Buck” Bourbons
1. Bulleit Bourbon
For approximately $30, Bulleit is one of the most well-known high-rye bourbon brands in the entire bourbon market. It contains 28% rye mash, more than half of the required corn mash percentage for a bourbon. Bulleit is the perfect choice for people who love rye whiskey but with a more affordable price and slightly sweeter taste.
Bulleit has minimum aging of six years and 90 proof of alcohol, resulting in a spicy and full-bodied bourbon. It is also smooth with tastes of nutmeg, toasted oak, and rich vanilla.
2. Four Roses Yellow Label
It is another good bourbon from Four Roses that falls on our list of best cheap bourbons, with prices ranging from $20 to $25. This bourbon is the only expression from Four Roses that uses all of the ten special recipes of the brand.
It was barrel-aged for five years and contained 40% ABV. Four Roses bourbon has light floral and fruity tasting notes, but with a gentle and memorable spice note in the finish.
3. Larceny Small Batch
Larceny Small Batch is another wheated bourbon like Maker’s Mark and Pappy Van Winkle, replacing the usual rye mash with wheat mash. It is one of the cheap bourbons you have to drink neat to enjoy its sweet and smooth flavors.
This bourbon, pulled from at least 200 barrels and bottled at 46% ABV, is available for around $27. It has attractive tasting notes of brown sugar, banana, and honey, counterbalanced by charred oak and spice hints towards the end.
4. Wild Turkey 101
Master Distiller Jimmy Russell distilled the Wild Turkey 101 at a very low alcohol proof to engage all the barrel flavors into the bourbon whiskey. Along with heavily charred oak, this process resulted in tasting notes full of toffee, butterscotch, and caramel flavors.
Wild Turkey made it into our favorite bourbon products list because of its 50.5% ABV and affordable pricing of approximately $25. Despite the high proof content, Wild Turkey is surprisingly light-bodied without the heavy punch of alcohol.
5. Evan Williams White Bottled-in-Bond
This product of Heaven Hill is not just one of the best bourbons under $30. It is also one of the best bottled-in-bond bourbons on the market. The price ranges from $13 to $15, but you can find other bottles sold at around $18.
Since it is very affordable and has excellent tasting notes, it is an ideal daily sipper for anyone. You can smell some gingerbread and dark candied fruit on the nose, while the palate is full of burnt brown sugar and black pepper spice flavors.
What is the smoothest bourbon under $30 to sip?
Maker’s Mark and Larceny are the smoothest bourbons under $30. Unlike other bourbons, these two brands use wheat on their mash bills, imparting a smoother and sweeter palate to the liquor.
Is there a bourbon under $30 best for whiskey sour?
Yes, Four Roses and Elijah Craig are bourbons under $30 that are best to mix in a whiskey sour. They provide an extra kick to the cocktail without overpowering its flavors.
So, Are The Best Bourbons Under $30 Worth Trying?
Yes, all the bourbons on the list are worth trying, especially for those new to the world of liquors. Among the best bourbons under $30 are the wheated bourbons with a smoother palate, high-rye bourbons with a little spicy flavor, and the traditional bourbons.
The best cheap bourbons on the list all have amazing and memorable tasting notes that you can drink straight, on the rocks, or as a cocktail.
Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds!