What Is the Best Value Bourbon? Whiskey Critic Picks 6 Favorites
Given how explosively popular whiskey has become, plenty of producers are competing to bottle and sell the best bourbons possible — often at unattainable prices or in such limited quantities that they’re impossible to find on shelves.
Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable and easily findable bourbons on the market. However, a lot of them are unremarkable or outright bad. To help you avoid having to sift through “meh” bourbons until you find one that strikes your fancy, we asked spirits critic and whiskey expert Jay West, who has personally reviewed nearly 2,000 whiskeys, to pick his favorite value bourbons that will give you a bang for your buck.
6 Best Value Bourbon Options
Here’s the list, presented from least expensive to most.
Green River Wheated Bourbon ($34.99)
Released in March, Green River Wheated Bourbon is a killer new release from an old brand.
Green River was founded in 1885 — making it Kentucky’s 10th-oldest licensed distillery — but shut down in 1918 after a fire burned down the distillery. It reopened for production in 2016, and the brand was reestablished in 2022 and soon thereafter acquired by Bardstown Bourbon Company.
Bottled at 90 proof, Green River Wheated Bourbon is distilled from a mashbill of 70% corn, 21% wheat and 9% malted barley and is an exciting step up from Green River’s solid flagship bourbon.
We reviewed Green River Wheated Bourbon last month and named it one of the best five whiskeys we tasted in May.
This tasty, smooth sipper is sweet and buttery on the nose, with notes of caramel, buttercream, vanilla ice cream and praline. The palate delivers a medium mouthfeel with notes of vanilla, caramel candies, butterscotch and tiramisu. The finish is moderate in length with more caramel candies, toffee, honey, maple candies and cinnamon.
Best of all, Green River Wheated Bourbon is available at an affordable price of $34.99 per bottle. Green River is continuing to expand its distribution and will be available in 25 states by the end of 2023. See if it’s reached your area yet here.
Chattanooga Whiskey 111 ($45)
If you like your whiskeys on the stronger side, this barrel-proof bourbon from Tennessee craft distillery Chattanooga is a great option. Clocking in at 111 proof, this bottling is a great argument in favor of the “age isn’t everything” theory in whiskey.
Boasting notes of cocoa, cake, orange peel, toffee, sweet cream, oak, praline and honey, Chattanooga 111 delivers exceptional structure despite its presumed youth (aged at least two years).
Chattanooga 111 can be found for anywhere between $35 and $55, but usually it hangs around the $45 range. It can be purchased from the Chattanooga website or found in retail locations in Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Louisiana and Illinois.
George Dickel Bottled in Bond 13 Year ($45)
With this release, Tennessee whiskey producer George Dickel put its hat in the ring for the title of best bang-for-your-buck whiskey on the market. Bottled at 100 proof and typically found for between $40 and $50, this whiskey is extremely tough to beat in terms of quality and age for the price.
This limited-edition whiskey features notes of bold butter toffee, sour apple, toffee, baking spice, rising bread, nougat, sourdough, light pepper and clove on the nose; a rich palate with tannin, lemon curd, toffee, coffee; and a rich, long finish with toffee, cocoa and nougat.
While this whiskey is labeled as a Tennessee whiskey rather than a bourbon, Tennessee whiskeys are essentially just bourbons with the addition of charcoal filtration, so we’re qualifying it for this list.
Ben Holladay 6 Year Bottled-In-Bond ($60)
This bourbon hails from Holladay Distillery in Weston, Missouri. Originally founded by Kentucky-born brothers Ben and David Holladay in 1856, Holladay Distillery has a long history. Aged six years, this bottled-in-bond whiskey is classified as a “Real Missouri Bourbon,” meaning it must be mashed, fermented, distilled, aged and bottled in Missouri; aged in oak barrels made in Missouri; and made with corn grown in Missouri.
This product is a home run from a lesser-known brand in a state not associated with whiskey by most. Ben Holladay 6 Year delivers notes of biscuits, honey, toffee and sweet cream on the nose; a moderate to rich mouthfeel offering sweet oak, toffee, honey, caramel candies and praline on the palate; and a long, bold, sweet, oaky and dessert-forward finish.
This bourbon can be found in select states, including Missouri, Colorado, Washington, Iowa, Michigan, and Oregon, or ordered online from sites like Internet Wines, which has it available for $54.99.
Knob Creek 12 Year Old ($60)
Bottled at 100 proof and aged for 12 years, Knob Creek is the definition of a bourbon that punches above its price point. This Beam release is easily found throughout the U.S. and will outperform whiskeys priced in the triple digits.
Knob Creek 12 is bright on the nose, with notes of berries, sweet cream, caramel, nougat and a pinch of pepper. On the palate, Knob Creek 12 has a creamy mouthfeel with notes of nougat, peanut butter, cocoa and cherry. The finish is long and sweet, with brown butter, chocolate-covered cherries, peanut brittle and creme brûlée.
Larceny Barrel Proof ($60)
A barrel-proof version of Heaven Hill’s wheated bourbon, Larceny, Larceny Barrel Proof — often abbreviated to LBP by whiskey enthusiasts — is a terrific bourbon regardless of which batch you find, and we recommend any whiskey fan that can get it at a reasonable price give it a shot.
The wheated mashbill gives LBP a soft and smooth flavor profile, which combined with the elevated proof delivers a well-balanced dram.
The most recent Larceny Barrel Proof release is B523, a 62.2%-ABV bold and rich pour with notes of pancake syrup, waffle batter, boney, caramel, toffee, pepper, maple, caramel, cookie dough, nutmeg and ginger.
Larceny Barrel Proof is tough to find at its suggested retail price of $60, but it’s also a great deal easier to track down than most limited-edition releases of similar caliber.
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