5 Best Bourbons Under $40... That You Can Actually Find!
Getting into bourbon at first can be overwhelming at times. We've all stood in front of an impressive row at a large store and been completely stumped as to which bottle to grab out of hundreds of choices. There's nothing worse than agonizing over that decision, finally grabbing a bottle, then getting home and realizing you spent $50 for a pretty package and whiskey that isn't worth $10. Whether you're new to bourbon or a seasoned pro, this list aims to point out a few bourbons at $40 or less that won't leave you with buyer's remorse.
Note: This list is solely for bourbon you can actually find at almost every decent sized liquor store. Weller 12, OWA, Baby Saz, even Eagle Rare and others are great, but they're tough or impossible to find a lot of places, so I don't see much point in talking about those. This list is for bourbon that I consistently see on shelf at stores nearly everywhere I go.
Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Age: Not stated, but rumored to be in the 8-9 year range
Just a really, really solid bourbon. It doesn't hurt that Buffalo Trace is putting out seemingly every bourbon people are hunting for these days. They clearly know what they're doing. It's very smooth at 90 proof, but doesn't lack complexity and flavor. You can usually get it for under $25, and you'll never be disappointed.
Evan Williams Single Barrel
Distillery: Old Evan Williams
Age: varies by vintage, typically 8+ yrs
A fantastic intro to single barrel bourbons. This one is an easy sipper with the lower proof, but it packs a lot of flavor. Look for caramel, oak and a little vanilla. Since this says "Evan Williams" on the front, a lot of people walk right past it. That's great for you, because it means you can probably find some older bottlings sitting on shelf. Just in the last week I've found bottles ranging from '02 up to the current release of '09. How far back have you found?
Henry McKenna 10
Distillery: Heaven Hill
Age: 10 yrs
10 yrs old, 100 proof, bottled in bond and under $30? Sign me up. It's got a decent rye kick and all the traditional bourbon notes. Incredibly drinkable, and most likely one that people new to the bourbon world haven't yet tried.
Four Roses Single Barrel
Distillery: Four Roses
Age: Not stated
Retail: $39-45 (this one stretches the $40 limit, but it's $39.99 many places and the typical retail is noted at $40)
This is one of my all time favorites, at any price. This is the bourbon that taught me to appreciate bourbon neat. Easily the most flavorful of any bourbon on this list in my opinion. If it's a standard single barrel, it's an OBSV recipe with 35% rye. You'll get a lot of rye spices, but a ton of sweetness as well. Sugary flavors that you don't find in many bourbons. Honeysuckle, toasted caramel, it's delicious. If you can find a Barrel Strength store pick, you'll pay a little more and it won't qualify for this list, but that is legitimately some of the best bourbon money can buy. Don't pass it up.
Wild Turkey 101
Distillery: Wild Turkey
Age: Blend, minimum of 6 years
It's a shame that so many people see "Wild Turkey" on the front and keep on walking. That 101 proof bottling is a completely different animal than standard 80 proof offerings. Give it a shot. This stuff is a flavor bomb. It's a great intro to higher proof bourbon as well, but it's smooth enough for easy drinking.
There you have it. My 5 best bourbons for under $40, that you can go find right now. Did I leave anything off the list? Would you swap any of my choices for another pour? Leave a comment below and let me hear your thoughts!