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Father’s Day 2022: Affordable Bourbons Under $35

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About the Author: Adam Terry is a thirtysomething salesman in the heating and manufacturing industry, and he’s moreover Dappered’s resident shoe & denim expert. He enjoys bourbon, boots, sneakers, raw denim, and working on on his dad bod father figure.

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Father’s Day is the yearly U.S. holiday that celebrates the fathers and father figures in our lives. Many people enjoy spending time with their family and giving their fathers a small token to show their love and appreciation. Odds are your father doesn’t need flipside necktie, 400-piece socket set, house slippers, or pair of grilling gloves. If your father is anything like me, odds are he would rather sit virtually the kitchen table with you and the family, sharing funny stories and warm memories of the good ol’ days over a glass of whiskey from a snifter you’ve gifted him.

Dappered tragedian Jason P. did a unconfined job walking readers through the nuts of bourbon in this post, tent mashbills, proof, and a handful of big name distillers like Wild Turkey instead of non-distilling producers like MGP. Like Jason, I’ve moreover tried to stay true to Dappered’s affordable quality theme by recommending wontedly misogynist and relatively affordable choices. Affordability is highly subjective – one man’s $60 “daily drinker” snifter is flipside man’s monthly bourbon budget. So, I’ve recommended an overflowing skillet of bottles that should be misogynist on most store shelves throughout the country including a few of those NDP bourbons.

Bottles of bourbon

Pricing will naturally vary from state to state and plane from store to store. These prices were placid (or averaged) from national retailer Total Wine and Ohio’s state run OHLQ to get a solid running average. They may not represent pricing or availability in your neck of the woods. Apologies if you live in expensive cities like New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, or Honolulu!

A quick note on tasting notes – everyone’s palate is different. Taste is a highly subjective sensory exercise and it’s directly linked to your senses of smell and sight as well as your brain’s memory bank. As such, each person may see, smell, and taste things differently than you or me. So, you shouldn’t put too much stock into what other people say in terms of taste or flavors. Try things for yourself! As always, drink in moderation and remember to drink what you like, the way you like to drink it. Cheers!

In this post we’re going to focus on whiskeys I could source for under $35. Stay tuned, soon, for a second post focusing on bottles under $70.

 

1. Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch – $20

Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch

Evan Williams 1783 is a small batch bourbon from the Heaven Hill distillery that’s headquartered in Bardstown, Kentucky. This “extra aged” bourbon went through a much needed rebranding in 2021 which updated the packaging, raised the proof from 86 to 90, and widow an age statement of 6-8 years old (online). Heaven Hill claims this small batch product has a mashbill of 78% corn, 10% rye, and 12% malted barley. The batch is pulled together and composite with fewer than 300 barrels, and while small batch isn’t a legally tightness term, the distillery is well known for their upper quality and value focused products that regularly land on “Best Of” lists every year. This bourbon features typical notes of syrupy honey, caramelized vanilla, and a pop of citrus zest. I’m a big fan of Heaven Hill’s products and this Evan Williams bottling is no different.

(FYI: My local liquor store has this one priced to move at $16 for a 1 liter bottle!)

 

2. Rebel 100 Proof – $20

Rebel 100 Proof

Rebel, formerly known as Rebel Yell, is produced by Luxco’s Lux Row Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. This wheated bourbon has a mashbill of 68% corn, 21% wheat, and 12% malted barley and is bottled at 100 proof. While it carries no age statement, we know it’s at least four years old. The wheated bourbon inside the vintage looking snifter was formerly sourced from Heaven Hill under contract, but word on the bourbon street is that Lux Row is now selling whiskey that they produced in house without opening their distillery and firing up the stills when in 2018. Either way, the wheat in the mashbill recipe adds a hint of velvety softness and a handful of youthful sweet notes like honey, toffee, and vanilla. At 100 proof and under $20, this is a fantastic value drinker that you won’t mind drinking straight or mixing with a Coke.

(FYI: My local liquor store has this one priced unelevated $15 for a 750 ml bottle!)

 

3. Old Forester “Signature” 100 Proof – $23

Old Forester “Signature” 100 Proof

Old Forester’s “Signature” 100 Proof bourbon is produced by the Brown-Forman visitor and is distilled at their Shively, Kentucky distillery that moreover produces whiskey for Woodford Reserve and other “white label” or contract goods for other distilleries (*cough* Michter’s). Old Forester products use a mashbill of 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley as well as a worldwide strain of the Brown-Forman family yeast so the overall taste profile is somewhat similar to that of Woodford and, believe it or not, Jack Daniel’s. The “Signature” 100 proof variety is hand picked from select barrels for a richer, increasingly flavorful product as compared to the standard 86 proofer. I notice flavors like espresso, summery chocolate, and baked world pie. This is an easy drinker!

 

4. Old Grand-Dad Bonded – $25

Old Grand-Dad Bonded

Old Grand-Dad is a well-known staple in the bourbon and bartending communities. It’s been in production since the 1800s and was plane made during prohibition as a medicinal spirit. Today, Old Grand-Dad is produced by the Beam Suntory visitor and is distilled at the Jim Beam distillery in Clermont, Kentucky. Affectionately known as OGD, this whiskey is unconfined in cocktails as the higher proof and upper rye mashbill (63% corn, 27% rye, 10% malted barley) add an uneaten layer of savor and depth with notes of toasted oat, cinnamon, and a hint of pepper spice on top of the traditional vanilla and oak flavors that are usually found in bourbon. The bonded version of OGD is notable as it’s at least four years old, was made during one distilling season by one distillery, was weather-beaten in federally bonded warehouses, and is bottled at exactly 100 proof.

 

5. Early Times Bottled in Bond – $25 for 1 L

Early Times Bottled in Bond

Early Times was once a fantastic bourbon, but decades ago during the bourbon glut, it became a low quality composite whiskey that not many bourbon enthusiasts would shoehorn to drinking. However, the Brown-Forman visitor re-released the straight bourbon product as a limited edition Bottled in Bond offering in 2017 and it ended up stuff a huge win and a recipe for success. As such, it went into regular production and can be found on most store shelves. In early 2021, Brown-Forman sold the trademark and some of the whisk stock to the Sazerac Company, which is now bottling those older stocks and distilling new distillate out of their Barton distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. As such, the bottles on store shelves may taste variegated in 2-4 years! The mashbill contains 79% corn, 11% rye, and 10% malted barley. As a Bottled in Bond product, it’s weather-beaten at least four years and is bottled at 100 proof. For my palate, I get a big helping of traditional bourbon notes – vanilla, caramel, a soupcon of citrus rind, and a little hint of ripe banana.

 

6. Jack Daniel’s Bonded Tennessee Whiskey – $33 for 700 ml

Jack Daniel’s Bonded Tennessee Whiskey

I know what you’re probably thinking – Jack Daniel’s isn’t bourbon! Well, technically it is.. And technically it isn’t. Most whiskey nerds will stipulate that Jack Daniel’s whiskey is made like a bourbon – it’s made in the good ol’ U.S. of A, has a mashbill of at least 51% corn, gets weather-beaten in new, charred oak containers, and enters the whisk at no higher than 125 proof. What makes Jack Daniel’s a Tennessee whiskey is their pre-barreling soot filtration method nicknamed the Lincoln County Process, named without the county that the distillery’s home of Lynchburg, Tennessee resides within. Some oppose that this process changes the flavor, and thus, is a unique style of whiskey that’s wholly unique to Tennessee. Either way, Jack’s new Bonded product isn’t your grand-dad’s favorite Old No. 7 woebegone label whiskey. This one earned the Bottled in Bond designation and is made with whiskey weather-beaten at least four years in select barrels. This one has notes of caramel, oak, brown sugar, schizy foster, and a warming spice finish.

 

7. David Nicholson Reserve Bourbon – $35

David Nicholson Reserve Bourbon

David Nicholson Reserve is produced by Luxco’s Lux Row Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. This bourbon is an NDP product; Lux Row sources this whiskey from flipside local distillery, reportedly either Heaven Hill or Barton, and bottles it as their own. The practice of ownership barrels of young or well-aged whiskey is nothing new. For over a century, local saloons, grocers, and new whiskey brands have needed whiskey to sell to their thirsty customers. David Nicholson was one such grocer who, when in the mid 1840s, bought and sold whiskey for his patrons. Today, this product is an “extra aged” bourbon with no age statement and a mysteriously missing mashbill that contains corn, rye, and malted barley. At 100 proof and under $35, this is a solid everyday drinker that features notes of honey, caramel, oak, and spice.

 

8. Green River Bourbon – $38

Green River Bourbon

Green River Distilling Visitor is an old, pre-prohibition label that went unseeded just surpassing prohibition and was officially resurrected in 2020. Don’t let the recent stage fool you, this is a fantastic whiskey that’s been years in the making. The distillery itself is in Owensboro, Kentucky and has reverted hands numerous times since prohibition, but current Master Distiller Jacob Call started working as the distillery manager when in 2014 when the facility was named O.Z. Tyler. Today, Green River’s bourbon is a superb example of what happens when you get it right. This bourbon is weather-beaten at least five years and features a mashbill of 70% corn, 21% winter rye, and 9% 2 and 6-row malted barley. This “high rye” mashbill tastefully blends the sweetness of the corn with the sultry spice notes of the rye and malted barley. You’re in for a real treat if you like notes of cinnamon, red fruits, vanilla, caramel, visionless chocolate, and a bit of a leather note.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking to try a new whiskey or want to souvenir someone a small selection of them, don’t forget well-nigh the 50 ml “airplane” bottles. Most liquor stores siphon these and they can be a fun way to explore new spirits without breaking the wall on a full-size snifter of booze. Cheers!

In the next post I’ll recommend several bottles under $70!