Guest Post: The 5 – Best Bourbons Around $30

The bourbon market has exploded in recent years, and with so much stuff out there it’s usually hard for me to pick out something that is tasty AND worth the money. We’ve all spent time wandering up and down the whiskey aisle at Binnys trying to pick out something like that. After purchasing some pricey bottles earlier this year, I have begun searching for whiskeys that punch above their weight. All of these whiskeys below can be sipped neat or with a few drops of water (NOT a boulder of ice, MSS) and can hold their own against bottles twice their price.

Early Times Bottled in Bond (1 liter, $30, 100 proof, 79% corn,11% rye, 10% barley)

Yes, that same Early Times brand that you’ve bought a plastic pint of to sneak into concerts. In 2020, Early Times was purchased by Sazerac, the conglomerate that owns Buffalo Trace and 1792 Bardstown, and has helped rebrand their line of whiskeys. This bourbon seriously tastes much more expensive than it is and I have picked it over some pricey bottles in blind taste tests. This one has gained a cult following recently so if you see a bottle of it, grab a cuppa two/tree. Plus it’s a liter and you get more booze.

Jack Daniels Bonded (750 ml, $30-40, 100 proof, 79% corn, 11% rye, 10 barley)

This is the standard Jack Daniels mash bill but aged for 4 or more years and comes in at a higher 100 proof. Its basically Jack Daniels on steroids and a great pickup if you like the regular brand. This one is very easy to find and was recently cut down from $40 to $30 at Binnys. Beware of some small stores trying to sell it for well above $50. This actually won Whiskey Advocate’s best whiskey of 2022 and lives up to the hype.

Jim Beam Single Barrel (750 ml, $30, 108 proof, 77% corn, 13% rye, 10% barley)

Another easily available bottle to find at just about any liquor store. This bourbon doesn’t contain an age statement but most think its around 5-6 years old. Not only does this taste great, but to find a single barrel bourbon at this proof for under $40 is unheard of these days. This whiskey is great not only for sipping, but also for making high proof and sweet Old Fashioneds.

Old Grand Dad 114 (750 ml, $30, 114 proof, 67% corn, 27% rye, 10% barley)

OGD 114 is made by the Beam distillery and is unique in that it features a high rye mash bill for the company. You really get that spice of the rye in the nose and taste much more than any of the other bourbons above. This has also become popular with bourbon purists and smaller stores have been known to price gouge on this. Don’t pay any more than $30 and you can either sip this or make a Manhattan with it (I prefer Manhattans with high rye bourbons).

Knob Creek 7 year Rye (750 ml, $35, 100 proof undisclosed)

Most people associate Knob Creek with taking shots at shitty bars, but their line of whiskeys is actually pretty stellar (Knob Creek 12 is one of my favorite whiskeys ever and a great buy at $70). The mash bill is believed to be only around 51% rye so its not an overpowering rye for those that are unfamiliar rye whiskey. This year, Knob’s distiller Jim Beam added the 7 year age statement to it since everyone loves seeing that these days. With ryes becoming more popular and more expensive, there isn’t a 7 year, 100 proof rye on the market that’s this good at this price.


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