For someone just getting into whiskey of any kind, it can be a daunting and challenging task to pick a sure-fire winner from the hundred or so bottles lining the shelves. Anyone who’s been into a liquor store recently can attest to the fact that whiskey offerings have absolutely exploded in recent years.
Many of the newer boutique brands with fancy labels and cool-looking bottles are very expensive. But price is not always the best indicator of quality. And the good news is that you don’t have to pay a lot of money for a great bottle.
Here are five picks – all under $30 – you can’t go wrong with.
The 5 Best Whiskey Buys Under $30
1. Bulleit Rye
Bulleit sets the standard for rye whiskey. It leans more towards the fruity side, but has subtle pepper and spice notes in the background. A slightly oily body with a medium finish. I always suggest Bulleit Rye to anyone looking to get into rye whiskey.
2. Buffalo Trace Bourbon
An absolute steal. The Buffalo Trace Distillery consistently pumps out some of the most desirable whiskies on earth. And this bourbon is one of their flagship offerings. Smooth and sweet with great balance, Buffalo Trace is an extremely versatile sipper – a highly characteristic bourbon that never disappoints.
3. Old Grand Dad 114
If you’re in the mood for a high-proof bourbon but don’t want to pay barrel proof prices, this is the one you want. With a high rye mash bill Old Grand Dad 114 has many layers of flavor that you could easily pay twice the price for. On the palate, you’ll get leather, oak, pepper, vanilla and citrus notes. I recommend letting this one sit for a day after opening, and to do it justice by sipping it neat.
4. Ridgemont Reserve 1792
A high-rye bourbon that starts out sweet with fig and nougat but then develops mid-palate into so much more. Minty spice and citrus fruit notes lead into a rye and sweet popcorn finish. It comes in a gorgeous bottle that also makes it a great whiskey to give as a gift.
5. Elmer T. Lee
A single barrel bourbon with a nice sweet start that transitions into a cinnamon spicy treat. Finishes with a balanced ratio of pepper to sweet, with charred oak that lingers for a long finish.
Elmer T. Lee is, admittedly, a little hard to find. But, it’s definitely worth the hunt. Yes, there are hard to get whiskeys even in this price range. Also, If your local store marks this up a bit due to its scarcity, then pay the extra for it! It’s worth every penny.
Got a favorite whiskey under $30? Chime in below!
HSS Contributing Editor
Whiskey & Cigars