Building Your Bar A Bottle At A Time: 3 Bourbons Under $20

In this new series that is being introduced to our lineup of recurring Whiskey Wednesday experiences, we will discuss different whiskeys that you can use to help make your home bar the number one destination for all your friends and family. Some of these will be by price point, some by proof point, and other by types. These won’t be the end all be all whiskeys in these categories, but they should help you find something to add to your ever-growing collection. Today, let’s start everything off from scratch with three great bourbons that you should be able to find for under $20 based their suggested retail price.

When looking for a bourbon that’s under $20, I still want something that I consider a great pour. I want something that overdelivers in quality and flavor, that’s affordable, and easy to find. Now everyone will have a different opinion on what they will consider a good bourbon, but these are three that I think not only drink so much better than their price point, but also bring the flavor that we all look for in a good bourbon selection.

Ancient Age
80 proof – $13.99

The first bourbon on our list comes from the Buffalo Trace Distillery. Known as a poor man’s Blanton’s, Ancient Age gets its familiar taste by using Buffalo Traces number two mash bill. The same recipe that produces bourbons such as Elmer T. Lee, Rock Hill Farms, and yes, Blantons.  On the nose I get slight notes of cinnamon, caramel, green apple peal, and honey. On the palate I am met with a rye spice, red fruit, and vanilla on the front and finishing with a slight oak note at the end.  I would say that this bourbon drinks a little higher than 80 proof but nothing that will give you that Kentucky Hug! This is actually one of my favorite daily drinkers. It soft on the palate, easy to drink, and holds up great with a lot of the cigars I smoke. 

If you are looking for a good cigar to pair with this bourbon let me recommend: Los Statos Deluxe

Quality House
80 Proof – $14.99

The next bourbon on our list is Quality House. Coming in at 80 proof and aged for at least three years, Quality House is the entry level offering from the Heaven Hill Distillery. Known as an easy sipper with sweet flavors and little burn, this bourbon is a great choice for anyone just starting out on their whiskey journey as well as someone looking for a great daily pour. On the nose I get light notes of sweet corn, caramel, and apple. The palate brings a fairly thin mouth feel with a lot of the same notes from the nose, caramel, apple, and a very slight oak. This bourbon is good neat but due to its low proof, I would not drink on the rocks. The water tends to bring out a funky flavor note that isn’t pleasant. Over all, if you are looking for an easy sipper that won’t break the budget, give this one a try. 

If you are looking for a good cigar to pair with this bourbon let me recommend: Blackbird Cigar’s Rook

Evan Williams Bottled In Bond 
100 proof – 18.99 srp

The last bottle on our list is Evan Williams Bottled in Bond, also known at Evan Williams, White Label. Also distilled by Heaven Hill, aged for at least four years, and bottled at 100 proof, this bourbon diffidently doesn’t drink like a budget whiskey. On the nose I’m met with a lot of sweet sugar notes followed by the traditional notes of caramel and vanilla finished by a slight sugar cookie in the background. On the palate I get a buttery smooth texture across my tongue with no bite or tingle. Notes of toffee, brown sugar, and vanilla in the front and finishing with a slight oak and black pepper on the finish. This bourbon is a great choice if you are looking for an easy sipper, something that mixes great in cocktails, or even over an ice ball. The versatility of this 100 proof workhorse would be a great addition to anyone’s bar. 

If you are looking for a good cigar to pair with this bourbon let me recommend: All Saints Dedicación

As always, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to read this. Do you have favorite whiskey that’s under $20 that you enjoy? Leave me a comment below and let me know what it is. I love good conversation and being able to hear about what you enjoy or what you didn’t. Until the next Whiskey Wednesday, if you’re going to enjoy a little smoke & oak just remember, “Life’s too short, enjoy the good stuff”…. and do it responsibly!