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Bourbon Whiskey

The 20 Best Bourbons Under $40, Ranked

Some of the best bourbons on the shelf are found at this price point. There’s a balance, not only on the palate but in what you actually get in the grand scheme of things. Bourbons in the $30 to $40 range tend to be both accessible — you can generally find them — and they’re relatively cheap for a high-quality juice.

That’s a winning combo. Perhaps the best combo.

That said, when listing the 20 best bourbons you can buy in the $30 to $40, I did include a few gems that are a little harder to find. What fun would it be otherwise? Sometimes a little sleuthing adds extra joy to this whole bourbon thing.

As for the ranking, this is based on taste alone. But let’s be honest, some whiskeys are made for mixin’ and some for sippin’ — even at this price point. But having tasted well over 2,500 whiskeys in the last two years, judged spirits competitions, and consulted on tons of barrel picks, I feel sure I won’t lead you astray. Read my tasting notes, find something that jumps out to you, and give that a try.

Before we dive in, these prices are based on Total Wine’s inventory and prices in Louisville, Kentucky. Prices and availability will vary regionally.

Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Bourbon Posts Of The Last Six Months

20. George Remus Bourbon

George Remus Bourbon
Luxco

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $38

The Whiskey:

This entry-point bottle to the beloved Remus Reserve yearly releases. The whiskey is MGP’s bourbon but they don’t let us know the mash bill or how long these barrels age before they go into the batch.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The nose is full of berry brambles heavy with sweet, tart, and dark berries, thorny stems, green leaves, and even a little dark soil next to Cherry Coke with a hint of spicy and a touch of sweet oak.

Palate: The cherry morphs into a syrupy and spicy cherry pie with a lard crust next to hints of vanilla pudding, brittle toffee, and more of that soft and sweet oak.

Finish: The finish is short and sweet and really highlights that cherry while layering in new leather, more oak, and nice and lush vanilla cream.

Bottom Line:

This is a very nice, fruit-forward bourbon with deep sweetness, which makes it a nice cocktail bourbon if you’re making a smash or sour.

19. High West Bourbon

High West Bourbon
High West

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $32

The Whiskey:

High West Bourbon is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after sourced whiskeys. The whiskey in the bottle is a blend of two to 13-year-old barrels rendered from high-rye and low-rye mashes alongside undisclosed whiskeys, some of which are sourced from MGP.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: There’s a hint of funk on the nose that leads to raw leather, vanilla pudding, and buttered sweetcorn.

Palate: The taste is soft and velvety with a touch of nougat next to quickbread biscuits with plenty of butter and vanilla-laced honey.

Finish: The finish dries out toward vanilla pods and cedar bark with a hint of apple chips with a flake of Kosher salt.

Bottom Line:

This is just a solid bourbon. There’s a nice balance of creamy and classic bourbon notes that feel nostalgic to the senses. You can sip this over a glass full of ice, but it really shines in simple cocktails like an old fashioned.

18. Yellowstone Select

Yellowstone Select
Luxco

ABV: 46.5%

Average Price: $38

The Whiskey:

Stephen Beam is working some serious magic from his tiny Limestone Branch Distillery. While we really love his limited-edition releases, Yellowstone Select is the entry point to the brand’s vibe. The whiskey is a blend of four to seven-ish-year-old barrels with a mash bill Beam keeps to himself. The whiskey is largely sourced and the barrels are stored at Luxco’s massive property down the road before batching, proofing, and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: This is a classic on the nose as soft and sweet oak mingles with vanilla pods, caramel apples, a hint of singed marshmallows, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Palate: The palate lingers in a bowl of fresh peaches and rich cream infused with vanilla as almost sweet suede leads towards a tiny note of spicy streusel.

Finish: The finish is straightforward and dries out with a cedar box full of vanilla-laced tobacco leaves, a hint of Cherry Coke, and a dusting of fine white pepper.

Bottom Line:

This feels like an old-school bourbon from yesteryear. There’s a deep sense of stone fruit and vanilla that makes this feel like something you should be baking with. I mean that in the best way possible. Seriously, cut your next peach or apple pie with this. Then serve that pie with an old fashioned made with this on the side and you’ll be all set.

17. David Nicholson Reserve

David Nicholson Resreve
Luxco

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $33

The Whiskey:

This whiskey from Luxco is a throwback brand that the company is pushing for a bit of a comeback. This expression is a high-rye whiskey they source from an undisclosed distillery in Kentucky. The whiskey is cut down to 100 proof and bottled in old-school bottles.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: This opens very nut-forward with a walnut bread vibe with plenty of cinnamon and nutmeg (maybe a hint of clove) next to vanilla extract, a dose of buttery toffee, and a hint of Graham cracker.

Palate: The palate largely builds on those flavor notes while leaning into the nuttiness and creating a sort of walnut pie with plenty of vanilla-laced whipped cream drizzled with syrupy toffee and just touched with dry brown woody spice.

Finish: Those dry and woody spices drive the finish towards a soft and thin finish.

Bottom Line:

If you love that mid-century modern vibe, this is the bottle for you. It’s a throwback to the heady days of the 1950s and 1960s with a palate that screams to be mixed into Manhattans, Sazeracs, and whiskey sours.

16. Green River Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Green River
Green River

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $38

The Whiskey:

Green River Distillery has been pumping out contract-distilled whiskey for a while. In the spring of 2022, they finally released their much anticipated Green River Bourbon to much hoopla. The bourbon is a blend of five years and older barrels of bourbon made from a mash bill of 70% corn, 21% winter rye, and 9% malted two-row and six-row barley. Those barrels and batched, proofed, and bottled as-is for this new whiskey.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: There’s a hint of dry cornmeal on the nose with clear and rich butterscotch (which feels a little young) alongside vanilla pudding cups, wet brown sugar, and a hint of an old leather jacket.

Palate: The taste holds onto that leather note as a foundation and builds layers of sticky toffee pudding with vanilla buttercream, a handful of roasted almonds, and a thick buttery toffee sauce tying it all together.

Finish: The finish is green with a big note of fresh mint that leads back to the leather with a whisper of dark fruit leather and Red Hots.

Bottom Line:

This is a promising whiskey. The composition is balanced but a little young. Still, this makes a killer cocktail and has tons of promise for 2023 releases and beyond.

15. Penelope Bourbon

Penelope Bourbon
Penelope Bourbon

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $34

The Whiskey:

Standard Penelope Bourbon is a great place to start with the brand’s ever-expanding line. This expression is an MGP four-grain bourbon that’s aged a minimum of two years before vatting, proofing, and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: This whiskey opens with a nose full of wet yellow masa next to a buttery Graham cracker crust holding a light vanilla pudding that’s countered by a note of red chili spice and a touch of cinnamon.

Palate: The taste is very soft and touches on stewed raisins, more of that vanilla, sweet oak, and some orange.

Finish: The softness leans back into that wet masa while the finish smooths out with vanilla before ending on that chili pepper spice.

Bottom Line:

This is just good. It’s more of a cocktail base than a sipper but no one is stopping you from pouring it over some rocks as an everyday table bourbon.

14. Puncher’s Chance Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Puncher's Chance
Punchers Chance

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $32

The Whiskey:

This is a celebrity-owned bourbon from UFC’s Bruce Buffer. The whiskey in the bottle is a blend of four to six-year-old bourbons from Kentucky that are touched with a little proofing water after blending.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: This has a slightly tannic nose (think old, red-wine-soaked oak) with woody vanilla, nutmeg, and a lush vibe.

Palate: The palate mixes up the sweet vanilla with sweet yet sharp spice, some dark chocolate, and a hint of orange zest.

Finish: The end combines everything into a lush finish that highlights old oak, soft nutmeg, and a soft orange-chocolate vibe with a hint of clove and anise.

Bottom Line:

We’re not even to the top 10 and things are already getting really good. This is an easy everyday sipper (over plenty of ice) that also works really well for any cocktail application.

13. Smooth Ambler Old Scout

Smooth Ambler Old Scout Bourbon
Smooth Ambler

ABV: 49.5%

Average Price: $32

The Whiskey:

Old Scout is MGP’s classic high rye bourbon — 60% corn, 36% rye, and 4% malt barley — that’s aged for five years. The whiskey is batched in small quantities and proofed down with West Virginia’s Appalachian water.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The nose draws you in with a soft masa vibe with a mix of Tex-Mex spices (think chili powder and a hint of cumin and garlic powder) that’s countered by cedar park and chocolate-laced tobacco leaves (the nose takes me straight back to my favorite childhood Tex-Mex joint).

Palate: The taste veers more towards a classic bourbon with cherry tobacco and bales of damp straw next to a smooth vanilla foundation cinnamon-infused dark chocolate and a touch of dry oak.

Finish: The finish lingers for a bit as vanilla toffees, a smidge of marshmallow, and spicy cherry tobacco round everything out.

Bottom Line:

This is another winner that highlights the superb bourbon barrels coming out of Indiana’s MGP right now. It’s just good, folks. Drink however you like to drink your whiskey.

12. Longbranch

Campari Group

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $39

The Whiskey:

A few years back, Wild Turkey brought on Matthew McConaughey to be the brand’s Creative Director and create his own whiskey. The product of that partnership was launched in 2018. The whiskey is a wholly unique whiskey for Wild Turkey, thanks to the Texas Mesquite charcoal filtration the hot juice goes through. The whiskey then goes into oak for eight long years before it’s proofed and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Christmas spices meet oily vanilla, subtle caramel, and a whisper of singed cedar bark up top.

Palate: The palate adds orange oils and buttery toffee to the mix, as the edge of the spices upwards on the palate, next to a creamy vanilla pudding body.

Finish: That velvet texture builds throughout, with toasted oak and cedar notes as a hint of sweet firepit smoke arrive on the long and satisfying finish.

Bottom Line:

This is an easy-going whiskey that hits just right. It’s great in a cocktail but can easily be used as an everyday sipper over some rocks at this price point.

11. Legent Bourbon

Beam Suntory

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $39

The Whiskey:

This bottle from Beam Suntory marries Kentucky bourbon, California wine, and Japanese whisky blending in one bottle. Legent is classic Kentucky bourbon made by bourbon legend Fred Noe at Beam that’s finished in both French oak that held red wine and Spanish sherry casks. The whiskey is then blended by whisky-blending legend Shinji Fukuyo at Suntory.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Plummy puddings with hints of nuts mingle with vinous berries, oaky spice, and a good dose of vanilla and toffee on the nose.

Palate: The palate expands on the spice with more barky cinnamon and dusting of nutmeg while the oak becomes sweeter and the fruit becomes dried and sweet.

Finish: The finish is jammy yet light with plenty of fruit, spice, and oak lingering on the senses.

Bottom Line:

This is a perfect Manhattan whiskey. It’s also pretty damn good in a glass with a little ice and a twist of orange.

10. Town Branch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Town Branch
Town Branch

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $34

The Whiskey:

Town Branch is Lexington’s destination distillery/brewery right in the city. Their flagship bourbon is a high-malt mash bill, adding more smooth sweetness to the mix. The whiskey ages for four to five years before it’s blended and proofed with water from the “town branch” of Elkhorn Creek, which runs through Lexington.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: This is as soft as it is classic on the nose with hints of rich caramel mingling with dark cherry, soft nutmeg, and a hint of leathery oak.

Palate: The palate follows that path while layering in a hint of orange blossom next to cherry leather with cinnamon and clove hints and a bit of pipe tobacco in a wooden box.

Finish: The finish is subtle and short and marries the cedar with the orange blossom with the cherry lingering the longest on the backend.

Bottom Line:

This is supple and inviting. It’s another one that’s simply a good whiskey, folks. Drink it however you like, you won’t be disappointed.

9. New Riff Bottled In Bond

New Riff Bottled In Bond Bourbon
New Riff Distilling

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $34

The Whiskey:

This four-year-old whiskey is rendered from a mash bill of 65% corn, 30% rye, and 5% malted barley. That whiskey is then blended under the bottled-in-bond laws and proofed down to 100 proof before bottling in New Riff’s dark bottles.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: This opens with a rush of cinnamon rolls with plenty of butter, brown sugar, spice, and an echo of sourdough next to oily vanilla, baked apple, and a hint of firewood on the nose.

Palate: The palate leans into baked apples with more wintry spices, dry vanilla pudding packets, deep caramel, a touch of sweet cedar, and apple-laced cotton candy.

Finish: The finish leans into the winter spices with sharp cinnamon next to lush vanilla, a hint more of that sweet cedar, and a note of spicy yet dry tobacco.

Bottom Line:

You cannot go wrong with a bottle of New Riff. The distillery never misses. This is their entry point to the brand and it’s f*cking delicious.

8. Coopers’ Craft 100-Proof Barrel Reserve

Cooper's Craft 100 Proof
Brown-Forman

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $31

The Whiskey:

This whiskey is from Brown-Forman (which also makes Jack Daniels, Old Forester, King of Kentucky, and Woodford Reserve in the U.S.). The Kentucky-distilled juice is aged in special oak barrels that are chiseled before charring to create more surface space for carbon filtering and aging in the barrel. The best barrels and then batched, slightly proofed with that Kentucky limestone water, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: There’s a sense of old oak and almost smoldering cinnamon bark on the nose with a hint of apple/pear cider cut with orange oils and a whisper of vanilla-nougat wafers.

Palate: That apple/pear cider vibe dominated the start of the palate with a Martinelli’s cider sweetness next to clove buds and more cinnamon bark, a light sense of vanilla cake, and burnt orange.

Finish: The cinnamon really attaches to the apple/pear cider on the finish with a fleeting sense of sweet oak and old evergreen pitch and an echo of orange tobacco.

Bottom Line:

This is interesting and deep. There’s a lot going on but it all makes sense on your palate. It’s a solid sipper all around but really makes an incredible Manhattan.

7. George Dickel Bourbon Whisky Aged 8 Years

Diageo

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $34

The Whisky:

The whisky in the bottle is the same Dickel Tennessee whiskey but pulled from barrels that leaned more into classic bourbon flavor notes instead of Dickel’s iconic Tennessee whisky notes. The barrels are a minimum of eight years old before they’re vatted. The whiskey is then cut down to a manageable 90-proof and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: This nose is classic, with rich vanilla next to dry spicy tobacco leaves next to apple hand pies with sugar icing made with plenty of dark spices and butter.

Palate: The palate has a bran vibe that hints at a white Necco Wafer with a ripe white peach fresh off the tree with a hint of ginger bite to it.

Finish: The end circles back around to a vanilla wafer with nutmeg, orange zest, and a twinge of dark chocolate sauce leading to a dry and slightly molded wicker chair sitting in the sun.

Bottom Line:

This is a really solid workhorse bourbon. It’s a great, easy backyard sipper, cocktail base, or on-the-rocks pour.

6. Jack Daniel’s Bonded Tennessee Whiskey

Jack Daniel's Bonded
Brown-Forman

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $31

The Whiskey:

This whiskey is made from Jack’s classic mash of 80% corn, 12% barley, and 8% rye before it’s twice distilled and run through Jack’s long Lincoln County sugar maple charcoal filtration process. The spirit then goes into the barrel for at least four years — per bonded law — before it’s batched, cut down with a little water, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The nose draws you in with Cherry Jolly Ranchers next to sweet cedar bark braided with old strands of leather and orange-laced tobacco leaves while a hint of vanilla wafer and general “health food store” vibes underneath it all.

Palate: The palate feels like warm apple pie on a sunny day with the best vanilla ice cream on top as layers of eggnog nutmeg and creaminess move toward a Cream of Wheat vibe.

Finish: Some apple wood chips for a smoker and a hint of almond shells pop on the finish.

Bottom Line:

This has no business tasting this good at this price point. The lesson here is that higher proof Jack is better Jack, especially if you’re looking for a killer cocktail base or easy sipper.

5. Starlight Distillery Carl T. Huber’s Signature Indiana Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Starlight Bourbon
Starlight Distillery

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $36

The Whiskey:

This crafty Southern Indiana whiskey is made with a high-corn mash bill in a tiny farm distillery. The hot juice is aged on-site among the apple and peach orchards for at least four or five years before it’s batched, proofed, and bottled as-is.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The nose opens with a mild sense of sweet orchard fruits next to buttered cornbread with a hint of green chili pepper, touches of vanilla oils, and a hint of orange zest.

Palate: The palate has a sweet grits vibe with a buttery underpinning that leads to vanilla cake, caramel frosting, and a twinge of marshmallow sweetness countered by woody spice and orchard tree bark.

Finish: The woody spice leads to a finish full of eggnog creaminess and a hint of burnt orange by way of cinnamon sticks with a whisper of apple cider to them.

Bottom Line:

This is the perfect place to start your Starlight journey. The bourbon is a classic with a hint of craft vibe to it thanks to those sweet and grainy corn vibes. Still, if you’re looking for something new, unique, and delicious, then this is the bottle to add to your bar cart.

5. 1792 Single Barrel Bourbon

1792 Single Barrel
Sazerac Company

ABV: 49.3%

Average Price: $37

The Whiskey:

This whiskey from Sazerac’s other Kentucky distillery of note (they own both Buffalo Trace and Barton’s 1792 distilleries) is a bit of a hidden gem. As with all Sazerac products, there’s a lot of secrecy around what the actual mash bill is, aging times, and so forth. It is likely a high-rye mash that’s aged over five years.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Salted caramel and apple pies lead the nose with a nice dose of nuttiness, winter spices, and eggnog creaminess with a butter vanilla underbelly.

Palate: Bruised peaches with clove and nutmeg drive the palate toward woody orchard barks, rich toffee, and a sense of vanilla cake with cardamom icing.

Finish: The end is softly full of woody cedar bark, cream soda, and apple-cinnamon tobacco.

Bottom Line:

This is going to be hard to find and way more expensive if you don’t find it right when it drops. If you are lucky enough to walk into the liquor store on that fateful day and they haven’t marked up the price too egregiously, then buy two. It’s that good. But you don’t need to tell me in the comments how much more expensive this is wherever you live. I know.

4. Old Bardstown Estate Bottled 101

Old Bardstown Estate Bourbon
Kentucky Bourbon Distillers

ABV: 50.5%

Average Price: $36

The Whiskey:

We know that this is a “small batch” and from barrels that are a minimum of four years old (some say as old as ten). Since it’s a Willett product, we can also assume that this is good ol’ Heaven Hill whiskey. But that’s about it.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The whiskey opens with a note of wintry plum pudding next to an oatmeal cookie, a hint of worn leather, and dried mint leaves.

Palate: The palate luxuriates in vanilla-laced pancakes dripping with real maple syrup, a touch of orange zest, and a little more of that leather next to a mild spicy tobacco leaf.

Finish: That tobacco leaf attaches to a woodiness that’s almost wet like cordwood as the vanilla smoothes out the finish and leaves you with a smooth menthol tobacco vibe.

Bottom Line:

This is a great all-around whiskey. It’s well-balanced and deeply flavored, making it a solid choice for either everyday sipping or cocktail mixing.

3. Evan Williams Single Barrel

Heaven Hill

ABV: 43.3%

Average Price: $38

The Whiskey:

This is Heaven Hill’s hand-selected single barrel Evan Williams expression. The whiskey is from a single barrel, labeled with its distillation year, proofed just above 86, and bottled as is.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: This has a really nice nose full of woody cherry, salted caramel with a tart apple edge, and a soft leatheriness.

Palate: The palate feels and tastes “classic” with notes of wintry spices (eggnog especially) with a lush creaminess supported by soft vanilla, a hint of orange zest, and plenty of spicy cherry tobacco.

Finish: The end is supple with a hint of tart apple tobacco with a light caramel candy finish.

Bottom Line:

There are still a few bottles of this out there. But since this became a Kentucky-only release in 2022, it’s going to get rarer and more expensive outside of the Bluegrass State. That said, if you’re in Kentucky or traveling there, buy a case of this. It’s still cheap, delicious, and the perfect everyday sipper with real depth.

2. Woodinville Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Woodinville

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $36

The Whiskey:

This much-lauded bourbon is Woodinville’s touchstone expression. The whiskey is made with those same family farm grains. The hot juice spends years in the toasted and heavily charred barrels maturing until it’s just right (around five years in total). The results are batched and proofed down with local water to a very welcoming 90 proof.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: You’re greeted with a thick vanilla pudding with caramel candy and a cedar box full of dark spices.

Palate: The caramel thickens to a buttery and rich toffee with notes of dark chocolate peeking in next to more of those woody spices and a vanilla oil velvetiness.

Finish: The end is long and really embraces the sweeter edges of the vanilla pudding while allowing the spice to warm the senses.

Bottom Line:

Woodinville is finally getting wider, nationwide releases and we’re all better for it. The whiskey from Washington is a true gem, even at this entry-point level. This makes a hell of a cocktail and is the quintessential backyard everyday sipper on some ice.

1. Maker’s Mark 101

Beam Suntory

ABV: 50.5%

Average Price: $39

The Whisky:

This is Maker’s Mark classic wheated bourbon that’s bottled at a higher proof to bring about a “richer flavor.” Well, that’s what the label says anyway. In short, this is classic Maker’s that’s treated with a little less of that limestone water to let the barrel techniques shine a bit more while still holding onto the Maker’s vibe.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: This is a bowl of vanilla ice cream covered in stewed apples that have been drizzled with extra caramel.

Palate: The taste really focuses on that caramel with hints of oak next to roasted almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg, dry wicker, and a drop of soft mineral water.

Finish: The end lingers while it fades through salted caramel apples towards a mellow floral spiciness with a dried reed finish and a touch of vanilla tobacco chew.

Bottom Line:

This is the year that Maker’s Mark makes a comeback (not that it ever went anywhere). It’s a stellar wheated bourbon that you can actually find and afford (compared to Weller and Pappy). While Maker’s Cask Strength is their high water mark, this higher-proof expression is still goddamn delicious and worth adding to your bar cart as a neat sipper or mixer (it makes a great Manhattan).

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