Recently, Burks posted a list of his top 5 Anejo tequilas under $60. Check it out HERE if you haven’t seen it yet. Since I am TLA’s “Bourbon Guy”, and not to be outdone, I decided to create my own list. As any Bourbon fan knows, it’s getting harder and harder, as prices rise, to find truly great, easily available bottles under this price point. And I stress ‘easily available’ because it would be pretty easy to populate this list with Eagle Rare, Weller 12 (or 107), EH Taylor Small Batch, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof and Blanton’s. But my intention is to put forth some great, affordable Bourbons that people can actually and fairly easily FIND (at least in my area) – so in that spirit (pun definitely intended), off we go.
#1 – Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style – $59.99 To me, it’s actually rather crazy that this expression from the Old Forester Whiskey Row series hasn’t gone allocated. This was one of my first true loves in the bourbon world – and a perfect introduction to the world of higher proof bourbons. Clocking in at an almost perfect 115 proof, you get a very complex collection of flavors, smells, and a wonderful finish that gets as close to a campfire smore as you could possibly get. Oh, and honorable mention to Old Forester 1910 – if you prefer a lower proof, just swap these out.
#2 – Knob Creek 12 Year – $59.99 Named Breaking Bourbon’s #1 whiskey of 2020, and for good reason. Not a lot of truly excellent 12 year Bourbons on the market at this price point, but this one is a real winner. Knob Creek has long been known for some of the most excellent single barrel store picks on the market (usually at 120 proof) and as BB points out, this expression has managed to bring out most of the wonder and deliciousness found in those amazing older store picks, at a lower proof and a similar price point. Smooth, easy drinking, yet deep and complex enough to please any bourbon drinker, this bottle is a home run and I am thankful that the folks over at Jim Beam have gifted us this bottle as a permanent and non-allocated addition to their brand.
#3 – Chattanooga Whiskey Cask 111 – $44.99 Simply put, one of my top discoveries of 2020. It’s rather unlikely I’d like this one as much as I do, because it’s a younger Bourbon – “aged at least 2 years” – which 90% of the time is a big time turn off for me. But whatever these folks are doing – they are doing it right. It’s a unique, complex flavor profile that truly stands by itself, and delivers a Bourbon that drinks much older than its 2 year age. I have been singing this bottle’s praises for awhile, and will say this as bluntly as I can – if you see this one on your local shelf, buy it.
#4 – Baker’s 7 Year Single Barrel – $59.99 This expression got a facelift in 2020, with a new bottle, and a revised age statement of “aged at LEAST 7 years”, and is now a single barrel instead of a small batch. So right away due to the varying ages, it creates some mini “brands within the brand”. Those who enjoy the hunt, can search around and find anything from a 7 year 1 month all the way up to close to 9 years. The bottle pictured here is 8 years 7 months, the oldest I was able to find – and it definitely makes a difference. Arriving at a potent, but drinkable 107 proof, spend some time and seek out the older bottlings, and enjoy a nice easy drinking, middle-aged bourbon with some complex, classic Jim Beam flavors.
#5 – Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – $57.99 From the Lawrenceburg Distillery, AKA the home of Wild Turkey, Russell’s Reserve store picks are a mainstay in my collection – they are ALWAYS good – especially at my local spot. When you go from a private barrel to a mass-market single barrel you are always going to experience some drop off, but for the price, especially if you live in an area without a lot of stores doing their own barrels, you will never go wrong with Russell’s. Aged around 10 years, and clocking in at a somewhat spicy 110 proof, you can find this bottle pretty much everywhere, and it should be on every bar.
So there you have it, friends. Whether you’re an experienced Bourbon drinker, or a Tequila lover looking to branch out, this list will definitely get your bar headed in the right direction, and won’t hurt your wallet too much in the process. Shoot me a DM over on my Instagram or email me here at TLA: firstname.lastname@example.org.