Best Bourbon Under $30

by Erin Rea  |  06.02.2022

Best Bourbon Under $30

Ahh, bourbon, arguably one of the greatest products to ever come out of the United States. Yet it’s also one of the buzziest spirit categories, where an accolade from the right person or winning Best Whiskey at the world’s most respected spirits competition (sound familiar, Henry McKenna?) can create a scarcity that makes a handful of expressions catch the eye of whiskey lovers everywhere.

But have you seen the price tags on some of these rare bottles? Yowza! Sometimes you just want a quality pour at a reasonable price. We got you. Here, 5 top-medaling bourbons from the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition that show outstanding value, at a suggested price of $30 or less.

Best Neat Pour At a Dive Bar: Wild Turkey 101

The Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky consistently produces some of the world’s best whiskeys and their flagship 101 Kentucky Straight Bourbon shows why. The high rye mash bill comes through with notes of vanilla, orange, and baking spice.

Wild Turkey 101’s wide availability at all types of bars from dives to nightclubs to fine dining, along with the value of quality to price, make this the ultimate go-to neat pour at your neighborhood spot.

Best Value Bottled In Bond: Evan Williams 100 proof

For a spirit to tout the Bottled-In-Bond designation, there are several criteria to meet: it must be made in a single season by one distiller, aged in a bonded warehouse for 4 years, and bottled at 100 proof. This much attention to detail often comes with a higher price tag, but not for Evan Williams.

Oak shines through, with caramel and black pepper on the palate. It has excellent mixability and you’ll find it as an anchor to some of the industry’s best cocktail programs.

David Nicholson 1843

Best Storied Origins: David Nicholson 1843

David Nicholson 1843 was originally produced in the backroom of a St. Louis, Missouri grocery store in – you guessed it -1843. They’ve since moved down the road to Kentucky. The wheated mash bill brings out honey and vanilla, with a bold char of wood.

Try this alongside a high-rye bourbon for a DIY whiskey tasting, or as a next step from some of the softer, rounder wheated offerings on the market

Best For an Old Fashioned: 1792 Small Batch

Another rye-forward option, 1792’s Small Batch provides spice, sweet corn, and a peppery bite at a complexity that belies its sticker cost. Named for the year Kentucky became a state, this distillery touts itself as the oldest fully-operating Distillery in the Bourbon Capital of the World.

This bold bourbon tames nicely with a little demerara sugar or gum syrup and a few dashes of bitters on ice in a classic Old Fashioned.

Best For Newbies and Aficionados Alike: Maker’s Mark

One of the original wheated bourbons, Maker’s Mark makes an excellent introductory whiskey, due to its soft, rounded flavor profile. It sports the expected vanilla, oak, and caramel notes, but comes off sweeter and more balanced than those that tend toward spicier grains.

Just put it in a Mint Julep already!