Clicky

Bourbon Bottle Prices, Sizes & Types (2022 Updated)

Last Updated on August 9, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Everyone knows that bourbon is America’s whiskey. By law, this spirit must be produced within the United States, primarily in Kentucky. Its mash bill must be made predominantly from corn and aged in a new container of charred oak. 

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about bourbon: how it’s made, its different classifications, and the most popular brands and their price points. 

All About Bourbon 

Bourbon on desk with glass

The history of how bourbon came about has conflicting theories. For one, the Samuels family claims that the patriarch Robert Samuels was the first to make America’s Native Spirit a “secret” family recipe in 1783. In 1840, T.W. Samuels, Robert’s grandson, constructed a distillery at Samuels Depot, Kentucky, and decided to sell the whiskey to the public. Today, the Samuels family is considered the oldest bourbon family business. They own Maker’s Mark in Loretto, Kentucky. 

On the other hand, Elijah Craig, known as the Father of Bourbon, was also said to be the first to have invented this spirit. People claim that the Baptist minister was curious about how moonshine, a popular corn whiskey, would taste if stored in former sugar barrels. In 1789, Elijah Craig opened his distillery in Georgetown, Kentucky. Check out the popular Kentucky Bourbon Festival here.

Yet another tale talks about how bourbon came about when the interior of former fish barrels was burned in an attempt to sterilize them before filling them up with corn whiskey for shipment. These were sent to New Orleans via the Ohio River. The whiskey’s new taste shed light on a new aging method by the end of the three-month journey. [1]

Different Types of Bourbon 

Different Types of Bourbon 

Traditional Bourbon

Legally, all bourbons must have at least 51 percent corn in their mash bill. Traditional bourbon comprises anywhere from 70 to 80 percent corn in its mash bill, which results in potent flavor notes of vanilla, oak, and caramel. 

Wheated Bourbon

Wheated Bourbon on table

On the other hand, wheated bourbon has more wheat in the spirit’s mash bill. Traditionally, wheat wasn’t used in bourbon recipes, but they discovered that adding it to the mash bill resulted in a fluffier, softer mouthfeel, much like freshly-baked bread. But is there a gluten-free bourbon?

Rye Bourbon

Adding rye to the spirit contributes to a bold, spicy flavor. Traditional bourbon does use around 7 to 10 percent rye in its mash bill to balance out the sweetness of the corn, but in rye bourbon, this ingredient is dialed up.

Read: How To Order Bourbon Like A Pro 

Popular Bourbon Brands

Popular Bourbon Brands 

Traditional Bourbon

Evan Williams

Evan Williams

Evan Williams bourbon is one of the world’s best-selling bourbons. It is made from a traditional bourbon mash bill consisting of 78 percent corn, 12 percent malted barley, and 10 percent rye. Honestly, this is what we believe American bourbon should taste like: strong vanilla and caramel apples with spicy ginger and pepper notes. 

Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace is aged for at least eight years before bottling at 90 proof and has less than 10 percent rye in its final mash bill. You’ll likely notice its sweet and mellow notes of brown sugar, vanilla, and toffee, which can be off-putting for those who don’t like overly-sweet bourbon. Overall, this is a smooth spirit that is warm and welcoming, even for beginners. 

Jim Beam

Jim Beam

Jim Beam is probably the first brand people think of for American bourbon. This is another traditional straight bourbon whiskey made with a mash bill of 75 percent corn, 13 percent rye, and 12 percent malted barley. This is a pretty straightforward bourbon with caramel, vanilla, and cinnamon notes. 

Related Posts:

Rye Bourbon

Wild Turkey 

Wild Turkey 

While Wild Turkey also produces traditional bourbon, we’re going to talk about their high-rye bourbon here. Wild Turkey Straight Rye Whiskey uses a mash bill with a whopping 51 percent rye and just 37 percent corn. As a result, this rye whiskey has strong spicy black pepper notes, with an undertone of honey, toasty oak, and vanilla. 

Bulleit 

Probably the youngest on the list, Bulleit brand released their rye whiskey just last 2011. It has a mash bill of 95 percent rye and 5 percent malted barley. Its whopping 95 percent rye lends a distinctive spiciness, much like hot chili. Upon close inspection, you’ll notice its fruity undertones of peaches, cherries, and a little bit of orange zest. 

Knob Creek 

Knob Creek 

The Jim Beam distillery also produces Knob Creek.

This brand’s straight rye whiskey is bottled at 100 proof, but they’ve never disclosed the specifics for its mash bill (it’s rumored that they’re slightly just over the legal minimum of 51 percent rye).

It’s not the most rye-forward rye whiskey, but it’s still an enjoyable sip with light amounts of citrus, vanilla, and pine. 

Read: Top Knob Creek Bourbon Bottles

Wheated Bourbon

Redemption 

Redemption 

Redemption Wheated Bourbon has a mash bill made from 45 percent winter wheat and 51 percent corn. This is a light, sweet bourbon with honeyed graham, caramel, and marshmallow notes. We can also assume that the sweetness comes from the wheat itself. 

Old Elk 

Like Redemption, the Old Elk Straight Wheated Bourbon has a whopping 45 percent wheat. The bourbon is aged for a minimum of five years before being bottled at 92 proof.

This one had a floral aroma on the nose that was slightly off-putting and strange, but this was quite an enjoyable drink, with notes of English toffee, maple syrup, and black pepper. 

WL Weller 

WL Weller 

Also made by Buffalo Trace, W.L. Weller’s Original Wheated Bourbon uses a special wheat mash bill.

You’ll notice spice cake and vanilla flavors, coupled with leather and exotic fruits. They also have a 12-year version, which lends the wheated bourbon a smoothness unlike any other. 

Read: Does Bourbon Age In The Bottle?

Different Types of Bourbon & Their Prices 

Different Types of Bourbon & Their Prices 

Type Size Alcohol By Volume Average Price

Traditional Bourbon

Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon  Whiskey 750ml 43% Around $16.09
Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 750ml 40% Around $21.99
Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 750ml 45% Around $48.14
Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 750ml 40% Around $24.63
Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky 750ml 45% Around $31.63

Rye Bourbon

Wild Turkey 101 Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey 750ml 46.5% Around $24.99
George Dickel Rye Whisky 750ml 45% Around $27.49
Old Forester Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey 750ml 50% Around $28.63
Bulleit 95 Rye Whiskey 750ml 45% Around $32.99
Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey 750ml 50% Around $36.99

Wheat Bourbon

Redemption Wheated Bourbon 750ml 48% Around $44.99
WL Weller Special Reserve 750ml 45% Around $59.99
1792 Bourbon Sweet Wheat 750ml 45.6% Around $64.99
Old Elk Straight Wheat Whiskey 750ml 50% Around $71.99
Larceny Barrel Proof 750ml 62.2% Around $87.79

Compared To Other Hard Liquors 

Compared To Other Hard Liquors 

Gin

Gin is an alcoholic spirit made primarily from distilling juniper berries. Gin has a lighter, pine-like flavor, which makes it a great alcohol base for different cocktails instead of bourbon’s bold vanilla taste.

Also, gin doesn’t require aging, making experimentation easy. If you want to do testing with bourbon, you’ll have to wait for years. But does bourbon get better with age?

Whiskey

Whiskey

Bourbon is whiskey — or, at least, a classification of it. The first difference is the geographical location: bourbon has to be made in the United States, and whiskey bottles in either Ireland or Scotland. 

Secondly, we know that bourbon has to be made predominantly from corn. On the other hand, whiskey can be made by fermenting anything from barley, corn, rye, or wheat. Bourbon’s high corn content gives it a generally sweeter flavor as opposed to whiskey. 

Read: Whiskey vs Bourbon

Tequila

Tequila, just like bourbon, is also location-specific — it has to be made in Mexico. This alcoholic spirit is made from the distillation of the fermented juices of the agave plant, which gives it an earthy flavor. Tequila classifications include blanco (un-aged), reposado and anejo (aged), and gold (blended). 

Read: Does Bourbon Go Bad?

Popular Bourbon-Based Cocktail Recipes 

Popular Bourbon-Based Cocktail Recipes

Boulevardier

Many would consider the Boulevardier to be a variation of the classic negroni. Both use vermouth and Campari and can come across as quite bitter to the palate. 

  • Prep Time: 2 minutes 
  • Total Time: 2 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ oz bourbon 
  • 1 oz Campari 
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth 
  • Orange twist 
  • Ice 

Instructions: 

Pour all the liquid ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain and pour into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange twist. 

Serving:

Kentucky Mule

Kentucky Mule

When they say “mule,” you can expect the incorporation of ginger beer into the cocktail. Here’s a variation of the vodka-centric Moscow Mule, Kentucky Mule, using bourbon instead. 

  • Prep Time: 2 minutes 
  • Total Time: 2 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz bourbon 
  • ½ oz lime juice 
  • Ginger beer 
  • Mint sprig 
  • Ice 

Instructions: 

Pour the bourbon and lime juice into a copper mug and stir gently to combine. Add fresh ice. Top off with ginger beer and garnish with a mint sprig. 

Serving: 1

Bourbon Sour 

The natural sweetness of the bourbon makes it the perfect contrast to the tartness of the lemon. Here’s how you make a Bourbon Sour. 

  • Prep Time: 2 minutes 
  • Total Time: 2 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz bourbon 
  • 1 oz lemon juice 
  • ½ tsp refined sugar 
  • Orange slice 
  • Maraschino cherry 
  • Ice 

Instructions: 

Pour the bourbon, lemon juice, and refined sugar in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake well until chilled. Strain and pour into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry. 

Serving: 1

Maple Bourbon Smash

Maple Bourbon Smash

In one way or another, most cocktail drinks are just a variation of the other. Here’s how you make the Maple Bourbon Smash (which many say is just a variation of the Old Fashioned!). 

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes 
  • Total Time: 5 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz bourbon 
  • ½ oz maple syrup 
  • ½ oz orange juice 
  • ¼ oz lemon juice 
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters 
  • 1 ½ oz chilled seltzer 
  • Orange wheel 
  • Ice 

Instructions: 

Combine the maple syrup, lemon and orange juice, and bitters at the bottom of a rocks glass. Add the orange wheel and gently muddle. Pour the bourbon into the mixture and gently stir to combine. Fill the glass with ice and top off with the chilled seltzer. 

Serving: 1 

Bourbon Sidecar

The sidecar is one of the oldest cocktail drinks still enjoyed today. You can make this recipe with your choice of any liquor. Here’s how you make it with bourbon. 

  • Prep Time: 2 minutes 
  • Total Time: 2 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz bourbon 
  • 1 oz triple sec 
  • ¾ oz lemon juice 
  • Lemon or orange twist 

Instructions: 

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake until everything is well-combined and chilled. Strain and pour into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon or orange twist. 

Serving:

FAQs 

How much does bourbon cost to make?

The cost of making bourbon can be quite expensive; you can expect to shell out a few thousand dollars upfront if you want to start this kind of business.

Probably the biggest expense is the industry standard 53-gallon barrel — where the spirit will age — that will cost you at least $250 each. You also have the liquor itself, labor, and taxes to think about.

You also cannot expect to make money right away as bourbons need to age for a minimum of two to four years. 

No wonder a bottle of bourbon is so expensive! 

How much is a decent bottle of bourbon?

Expect to shell out at least $30 for a decent bottle of bourbon. Bulleit, Knob Creek, and Buffalo Trace fall under this price range. 

What is the cheapest price for bourbon?

You can get a 750ml bottle of bourbon for less than $20. A 750ml bottle of Jim Beam costs just around $16. 

Is bourbon more expensive than Scotch whiskey?

No, bourbon isn’t more expensive than Scotch whiskey. Scotch whiskey is primarily made from barley, and Scotch-approved barley can be difficult to harvest because it needs specific starch-to-enzyme properties. A lot of barley is also required to make just a liter of Scotch whiskey.

The aging process also plays a part; while American bourbon can be aged for as little as two years, the vast majority of single malt scotch is aged 10 to 12 years. 

Final Thoughts 

Bourbon is an alcoholic spirit deeply rooted in American culture and has defined the country’s spirit industry over the years. One of the best ways to drink this spirit is to sip it neat and allow the flavors to coat over your tongue. However, just like the rest of America, its unique flavor notes allow for great self-expression — meaning you can enjoy it any way you wish.

Reference: 

  1. https://vinepair.com/wine-blog/what-are-barrel-char-levels-and-how-do-they-affect-the-way-my-whiskey-tastes/

Leave a Comment