There are many options available on the market for anyone searching for the best bourbon whiskey. It is easy to assume grabbing the top shelf will be your best bet, but there are many fine bourbons that will be much friendlier on your wallet. We’ve put together a collection of the best bourbon under 40 so that you have a handy guide available the next time you’re at the liquor store. What is better than having a great quality whiskey to enjoy in the evening? Having several to choose from, without breaking the bank. In the immortal words of Mark Twain, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”
Many of the preeminent distillers of quality bourbon whiskey have been in the game for centuries. Even the more up-and-coming affordable options still follow the time-honored traditions of bourbon distilling. With this knowledge and practice, several offer affordable yet fantastic bourbons. Whether you take yours neat, on the rocks, or prefer a quality mixed drink, one of the following bourbons will satisfy your thirst for a reasonable price.
Best Bourbon Under 40
1. Buffalo Trace Bourbon by Buffalo Trace ($24.99)
Created by the World’s Most Decorated Distillery, Buffalo Trace Bourbon is well regarded for it’s sweet, long finish. This 90-proof bourbon has a complex mix of vanilla, candied fruit and toffee. Beyond the layered flavors, several reviewers describe this treat as “criminally smooth”. It truly has all the flavor of a top shelf offering at a reasonable price point.
2. Bulleit Bourbon ($19.99)
This high rye content whiskey has a bold and spicy character with a mellow finish. The 90-proof Bulleit Bourbon is perfect for drinking neat or on the rocks, with a long-lasting toffee flavor at the end. The old-timey look of the bottle looks great on the shelf of any home bar. Grab a bottle today to have this great tasting staple at the ready the next time you entertain.
3. Early Times Bottled-in-Bond ($25)
Created by Jim Beam’s nephew, Early Times is one of the longest-running labels in bourbon. This 100-proof straight bourbon has light corn and caramel aromas, followed by shortbread cookie, chocolate and cinnamon spice on the finish. At a price point of $25 for a liter, its approachable price is almost too low for such a quality sipping whiskey.
4. Elijah Craig Small Batch, Heaven Hill ($24.99)
Named for the Baptist preacher who started putting distillate in charred oak barrels, Elijah Craig Small Batch is a 94-proof bourbon deserving of more than its mid-$20s price point. It starts off sweet and light, with a spicy, toasty finish. While without any flashy flavors or stand out packaging, you’ll find that Elijah Craig is a reliably good bourbon at an even better price.
5. Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Black Label ($9.99)
If your evening plans involve mixing up a great-tasting cocktail, Evan Williams is one of the best bourbon whiskeys to choose. Operating since 1783, Evan Williams has been at the forefront of bourbon distilling. Their Black Label carries hints of oak, caramel and brown sugar to a warming finish. Keep a bottle of this at your bar for an easy go-to bourbon.
6. Knob Creek, Straight Bourbon Whiskey ($32.99)
This 9-year-aged, pre-Prohibition bourbon is ideal for anyone looking for robust taste and a quiet heat. Made with a variety of spices and the sweet fruitiness of roasted apples, this is an enjoyable whiskey to drink neat or over ice. Clocking in at 100-proof, it is considered right in the “honest age” of bourbons. One reviewer advises drinking it over ice and “in five minutes it’s like drinking a sweet tea on a summer day.”
7. Russell’s Reserve, Wild Turkey ($39.99)
This 10-year-old bourbon is the brainchild of father and son master distillers, Jimmy and Eddie Russell. This hand-picked small-batch bourbon has a great oak presence with hints of vanilla and caramel. If you are looking for a unique but highly regarded whiskey, this award-winning bourbon was aged in #4 “Alligator” charred American Oak barrels to guarantee a phenomenal finish. At around $39.99, it just squeaks in as the best bourbon under 40.
8. Woodford Reserve, Woodford Reserve ($29.99)
If Old-Fashioned is your cocktail of choice, you have certainly heard of Woodford Reserve. A favorite of bartenders, Woodford Reserve also is a quality sipping whiskey. It is strong, bold and spicy, with a large charred oak flavor and hints of pepper and vanilla. For anyone who is newer to whiskey, this is an ideal whiskey to sip and study, as the flavors are consistent and long-lasting.
While not the end-all, be-all of the best bourbon whiskeys, this list will give you an excellent place to start – and at a great value. You can afford to start stocking up your bar with an array of complex flavors and smooth finishes when you pick the best bourbon whiskey. For more information about quality whiskeys, stunning decanters and more, be sure to check out our blog.