glencairn-amazonLiquor.com has asked various bourbon bloggers and reviewers to provide their insight on the five best bourbons available today at under $30.  With a stable of over 50 whiskey reviews now, Modern Thirst is stepping up to the plate!  So here’s our list of great bourbons that can be purchased for less than the cost of a decent cab ride in a lot of cities.  We used only bourbons we have fully reviewed on ModernThirst.com in order to provide accurate tasting notes.

Four Roses Single Barrel (100 Proof) $29.99 – Full Review

Four Roses Single Barrel 1

  • Appearance: Bright copper
  • Aroma: Floral potpourri, caramel, maple syrup
  • Flavors: Dark fruit, cherries, caramel, wood/oak.
  • Finish: Long & pleasant

Even at 100 proof, this bourbon sips extremely easily neat, and with a few drops of distilled water, the aromas really pop, without sacrificing the taste.  It can truly be enjoyed however you like your bourbon- neat, with water, or on the rocks. That makes it a very versatile spirit.

At its price point, this is a remarkable bourbon.  It is refined, complex, and packed full of flavor.

Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bottled-in Bond 10 Year (100 Proof) $29.99  – Full Review

McKenna BiB 10 Year 1

  • Appearance: Mahogany
  • Aroma: Mint, citrus, caramel, oak
  • Flavors: Caramel, vanilla, orange peel, heavy oak
  • Finish: Long with pepper and oak notes on the tail end.

Its 100 proof makes it stand up well to water or ice, and adding distilled water brings out the citrus aromas even more strongly.   If some bourbons can be criticized for being a bit too weak, with the flavors too subtle, this bourbon certainly avoids that pitfall.  It takes classic bourbon flavor and smacks you in the face with it.  Like the big bourbons of ages past, it’s a product of a no-regrets and no-frills distilling philosophy that makes no apologies for what it is, and makes no compromises.  It’s straight forward, powerful, and quite enjoyable.

Larceny (92 Proof) $22.99 – Full Review

Larceny 2

  • Appearance: Medium amber
  • Aroma: Simple syrup, bakery goods, corn, citrus & ripe banana.
  • Flavors: Wheat tingle, sweet simple syrup, caramel, wedding cake, frosting
  • Finish: medium-to-short, crisp, clean

A wheated offering form Heaven Hill, Larceny drinks like a much more expensive bourbon. It is a smooth, creamy, sweet bourbon sure to engage the palate of the most ardent wheated-bourbon fans at a price well within the budget of most bourbon drinkers.

Bulleit Bourbon (90 Proof) $28 – Full Review

Photo courtesy of Bulleit Frontier Whiskey
Photo courtesy of Bulleit Frontier Whiskey
  • Appearance: Bright copper
  • Aroma: Bubblegum, sweet syrup, white icing, spices
  • Flavors: Vanilla, honey, caramel gives way to black pepper and spice
  • Finish: Dry, crisp, with slight hints of rye and bubblegum

At  under $30, it’s a really nice addition to a bourbon shelf for an everyday mixer or sipper, as it works well in both formats.  I’d even call it a ‘sneaky’ bourbon.  There isn’t a ton of buzz amongst collectors and hoarders, but it’s a surprisingly drinkable whiskey.

Elijah Craig (94 Proof) $26.99 – Full Review

Elijah Craig 12 year

  • Appearance: Deep Copper, hint of cloudiness
  • Aroma: Vanilla, Caramel, heavy aged oak
  • Flavors: Maple Syrup, Caramel, oak and bitters
  • Finish: Long, powerful with lots of woodiness and black pepper on the back

It’s hard to find fault with a bourbon this complex in this price range.  At under $30, Elijah Craig remains a popular value buy amongst discerning bourbon drinkers, and is a staple of many bourbon bars.  At 94 proof, it’s just the right ABV to sip neat or with a splash of water.  And a 12 year bourbon in this price range is a steal.  Adding some distilled water opens up those citrus notes on the nose, but doesn’t greatly affect flavor. Elijah Craig is worthy of its praise, and drinks like a bourbon of a much higher price tag.

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