Welcome back to Bourbon Holler, your go-to source for whiskey entertainment and more. I’m Justin, and today I’m excited to guide you through building an impressive bar cart with fine whiskeys that won’t break the bank. These selections are not only affordable but also fairly easy to find in most markets. Let’s dive into my top picks!
1. Buffalo Trace: The Quintessential Starter Bourbon
Buffalo Trace Distillery is renowned for its rare whiskies, but its flagship product, Buffalo Trace, stands out for its accessibility and quality. Priced around $25, it’s a steal for its rich vanilla flavors and mild spice. Aged for about six years, this small batch bourbon from mash bill number one (lower rye content) offers a smooth profile, making it perfect for sipping or cocktails.
2. Wild Turkey 101: A Sweet and Higher Proof Classic
At under $20, Wild Turkey 101 is a classic bourbon with a sweeter profile and a higher proof of 101. Its mash bill of 75% corn contributes to its sweetness, and the heavy char barrel adds oaky characteristics. With toffee and caramel notes, it’s an excellent choice for those looking for a robust yet affordable bourbon.
3. Evan Williams Bottled and Bond: A Versatile and Budget-Friendly Pick
Priced below $20, Evan Williams Bottled and Bond is a charcoal-filtered bourbon that offers great value. As a bottled and bond product, it’s aged for at least four years and sits at 100 proof. Its high corn mash bill (78%) brings out sweet caramel and vanilla notes, making it a versatile choice for neat sipping, cocktails, or even in confectionary treats.
4. Early Times Bottled and Bond: An Underestimated Gem
Don’t let the Early Times name fool you. The Bottled and Bond version, priced at less than $30 for a liter, is a fantastic value. Aged for at least four years and at 100 proof, it features a high corn mash bill (79%) and offers honey and orange notes, perfect for an Old Fashioned or neat drinking. However, with its recent acquisition by Sazerac Company, its future availability is uncertain.
5. Woodford Reserve Double Oaked: A Step into Finished Whiskies
For around $55, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked is a foray into finished whiskies. Aged in two different barrels, it offers complex toasted marshmallow and graham cracker notes, ideal for the Kentucky summer. At 90.4 proof, it balances alcohol with complex flavors, making it a great choice for those looking to explore beyond standard bourbons.
Conclusion: Building an Affordable and Quality Bar Cart
These top five bourbons demonstrate that you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy quality whiskey. There are plenty of underappreciated bottles on the shelves that offer great value and taste. This is just part one of the series, so stay tuned for more recommendations, including ryes and other bourbons that deserve attention.
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About the Author
Justin Howell is a creative director from Kentucky passionate about the spirits and bourbon industry.