Home » The best bottles of bourbon between $20-$30, ranked

The best bottles of bourbon between $20-$30, ranked

By The Bourbon Flight

The ten bottles of bourbon whiskey below are great-tasting standard bourbons. These are everyday pours according to UPROXX, a digital media website.

10. Larceny

Average Price: $22

Larceny is Heaven Hill’s wheated bourbon. The mash bill is 68 percent corn, 20 percent wheat, and 12 percent malted barley. The wheated juice is “small batched” with no age statement and proofed down to a very accessible 92 proof.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a note of freshly baked biscuits with butter and toffee dripping through on the nose. That butter gets very creamy on the palate as the toffee leads towards rich vanilla, sweet oak, and very slight berry fruitiness. The real star of the show is the buttery toffee, biscuits, and hint of sweet wood that lingers the longest throughout the short-ish finish.

9. Two Stars Bourbon

Average Price: $23

This juice hails from one of Sazerac’s many other distilleries. In this case, Clear Spring Distilling Co. is behind the brand (they’re also rumored to be behind Costco’s Kirkland Signature bourbons). This juice is a pretty straightforward bourbon that’s aged around two years before blending, proofing, and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

This does taste a lot like the Kirkland Signature stuff. There’s a clear sense of vanilla, caramel, and oak that’s neither bold nor muted alongside a hint of sourdough crust and maybe mint. The sip has a moment of orchard fruit next to the caramel that then leads back towards the vanilla. The end is short, a bit hot, and sweet-ish with a cherry edge tied back to the vanilla.

8. Four Roses Bourbon

Average Price: $20

This introductory juice from Four Roses is a blend of all ten of their whiskeys (they produce two mash bills — one high rye and one low rye — with five different yeasts). The barrels are a minimum of five years old when they’re plucked from the warehouses, blended, brought down to proof, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a bit of steeliness to the nose that’s mellowed by hints of dried florals, apple, and a touch of honey and spice. The taste doesn’t veer too far from the nose as the apple and honey move toward mild vanilla and more sweetgrass. The end is subtle and short with a touch of green oak, spice, fruit, and one more dash of honey.

7. Old Forester 100 Proof

Average Price: $21

Old Forester’s 100-proof expression is made in the same way as their 86 proof (with a mash bill of 78 percent corn, 18 percent rye, and ten percent malted barley). The key difference is that after these barrels are blended, they’re barely touched with water, keeping the proof on the higher side.

Tasting Notes:

Oak and caramel draw you in on the nose with a nice dose of cherry candy and a hint of coffee bitterness. The palate wallows in vanilla as a spicy apple pie with a vanilla-flecked, buttery crust drives the taste. The oak, apple, and spice really power the dram home with a medium-length fade and plenty of bourbon/oaky/spicy warmth.

Ezra Brooks 99
Average Price: $28

This whiskey, distilled at Lux Row Distillers in Bardstown, is kind of like a Tennessee whiskey made in Kentucky. The juice has a pretty standard mash bill corn, rye, and barley. But, once the spirit comes off the stills it’s filtered through charcoal, just like Tennessee whiskey, before it’s filled into the barrels. That whiskey is then batched, proofed down with limestone water, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

This also leans very classic bourbon with hints of corn on the cob with melty salted butter next to hints of soft leather pouches filled with roasted peanut shells, a touch of caramel, and a vanilla/chocolate ice cream vibe. The palate keeps things super easy as that rich vanilla ice cream leads towards holiday spices, tart green apples, and a freshly baked cornbread bespeckled with dried chili flakes and black pepper. The finish is soft and fast with that spice leading back towards a leather tobacco chew.

5. Old Bardstown Estate Bottled 101 Proof

Old Bardstown Estate Bourbon
Average Price: $28

This bourbon from Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (or more familiarly, Willett) is a bit of a mystery. Willett doesn’t really show its hand with any of their releases and this one is no different. We do know it’s a “small batch” and from barrels that are a minimum of four years old (some say as old as ten). But that’s about it.

Tasting Notes:

The whiskey opens with a note of wintry plum pudding next to oatmeal cookie, a hint of worn leather, and dried mint leaves. The palate luxuriates in vanilla-laced pancakes dripping with real maple syrup, a touch of orange zest, and a little more of that leather next to a mild spicy tobacco leaf. That tobacco leaf attaches to a woodiness that’s almost wet like cordwood as the vanilla smoothes out the finish and leaves you with a smooth menthol tobacco vibe.

Average Price: $20

The Whiskey:

This unique offering from Brown-Forman celebrates the coopers who make all their barrels, including those for Woodford Reserve and Jack Daniel’s. The juice isn’t just aged in those Brown-Forman barrels, it’s also filtered through beech and birch charcoal, adding a Tennessee whiskey-like edge to the Kentucky bourbon expression.

Tasting Notes:

Toasted and charred oak both come through on the nose with a clear sense of tart apples stewed in butter and Christmas spices with a hint of lemon zest. That lemon turns into a creamy pudding as the spice from the stewed apples amps up and marries with the cedar notes from the wood. With a little water, nutty notes pop with a bit of orange zest and mint. The end is deliberate and hits on the toasty oak, spice, apples, and sweetness as it fades.

3. Maker’s Mark

Average Price: $23

This is Maker’s signature expression made with Red winter wheat and aged seasoned Ozark oak for six to seven years. This expression’s juice is then sourced from only 150 barrels (making this a “small batch”). Those barrels are then blended and proofed with Kentucky limestone water before bottling and dipping in their iconic red wax.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is full of those heavily charred oak barrel notes next to classic hints of caramel and vanilla with a grassy underbelly. That grassiness becomes vaguely floral as slightly spiced caramel apples arrive, along with a chewy mouthfeel that leads towards a soft mineral vibe — kind of like wet granite. The end holds onto the fruit and sweetness as the oak and dried grass stays in your senses.

2. Brough Brothers Bourbon

Brough Brothers Bourbon
Average Price: $24

This tiny and new distillery was founded in West Louisville by brothers Victor, Chris, and Bryson Yarbrough. The distillery is the first African-American-owned brand working in the state. For now, this bottle is contract-distilled (distilled at a big distillery based on their own recipe/concept) in Indiana from a mash bill of 75 percent corn, 21 percent rye, and four percent malted barley.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with dried roses, marzipan, and creamy eggnog on the nose with a hint of apple and dry corn. That apple drives the taste with more orchard fruit (think pears) as the nutmeg really spikes and the marzipan takes on a rosewater note next to a very distant flutter of pepper spice in the background. The finish sweetens with a spoonful of fresh and floral honey as those orchard fruits affix to a mildly spicy and vanilla-forward tobacco leaf.

1. Knob Creek Small Batch 100 Proof

Average Price: $29

This higher-end whiskey from Jim Beam is a nine-year-old bourbon that’s bottled at a higher proof. The mash bill is the same as standard Jim Beam with 75 percent corn, 13 percent rye, and 12 percent malted barley. It was a no-age-statement bourbon between 2016 and April of 2020. Then Beam brought the age statement back due to popular demand and solid supply.

Tasting Notes:

Buttered kettle corn with caramel meets mild notes of vanilla, worn leather, and a hint of orange zest up top. The sip delivers a very mild peppery spice that never overpowers while caramel corn, vanilla, and slightly musty oak mingle with cherry tobacco with an edge of wintry spice. A soft woodiness leads towards an end that retouches on the orange, cherry-spice, and vanilla while fading away slowly.

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