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Five top-quality American whiskeys for $30 or less

It’s an exciting time for the American whiskey category as producers invest in new distilleries and take innovation up a notch. Here, we present five expressions that offer high quality at an affordable price.

Expressions from Old Forester and Balcones Distilling make up our list of affordable American whiskeys

The Spirits Business held its annual American Whiskey Masters last month, where an experienced panel of judges recognised some of the best bottlings in the business.

For as little as US$23, drinkers can purchase a range of high-quality expressions that were bestowed with Gold medals from our recent blind-tasting.

Some of these expressions could also work well for making a classic Whiskey Sour (as it is National Whiskey Sour Day this Sunday), without breaking the bank.

Click through the following pages to see a selection of American whiskeys priced at US$30 and under. 

Old Forester Rye

Price: US$22.99

The Rye – Premium round delivered a Gold medal to Brown‐Forman’s Old Forester Rye Whiskey, which judges said had “cracking rye spice”. “This was textbook – and light for the abv,” noted one judge.

The 50% abv expression was made with a historic recipe, acquired in 1940 by Owsley Brown I, and features a mash bill of 65% rye, 20% malted barley and 15% corn.

Released in February this year, Old Forester Rye is available to buy in the US.

Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon


Price: US$29.99

Grabbing a Gold medal in the Bourbon – Premium Round, the “spicy, cinnamon” Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon is made from a four-grain mash bill of roasted blue corn, Texas wheat, Texas rye and malted barley.

This straight Bourbon is aged for two years in new charred barrels. Bottled at 46% abv, the expression is limited to Texas, Florida and California initially before expanding to other markets.

Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Price: £25 (US$30)

Sazerac’s Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon, with notes of “stewed apples and brioche”, was bestowed with a Gold medal in the Bourbon – Premium round.

Made from corn, rye and malted barley, Buffalo Trace is the flagship Bourbon for the eponymous distillery, and is aged in new oak barrels in historic old warehouses.

Given tasting notes from the brand include a “complex aroma of vanilla, mint and molasses” with notes of “brown sugar and spice that give way to oak, toffee, dark fruit and anise”.

Isaac Bowman Port Finished Virginia Straight Whiskey

Price: US$30

The “resinous, woody” Isaac Bowman Port Finished Virginia Straight Bourbon also scored a Gold medal in the flight of premium Bourbons.

Bottled at 46% abv, the expression is aged in charred white oak barrels, then finished in Port barrels, many of which come from Virginia wineries.

The combination of barrels is said to offer flavours of “jam with caramel and spice notes”.

Very Old Barton 90 Proof

Price: US$30 

Sazerac was given two Gold medals for its Very Old Barton 90 Proof and 80 Proof expressions in the Bourbon – Aged up to 7 Years flight.

The Bourbon is also available in a variety of proofs, including 86- and 100-proof. This particular expression, bottled at 45% abv, carries an age statement of six years.

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