If you can’t think of a better way to spend this Sunday than sipping a couple Bourbons on ice – well, you’ll have company. June 14 is National Bourbon Day.
But fans of America’s official spirit have had to pay a high price for its popularity in recent years.
“Bourbon is struggling with an unpredicted surge in demand coupled with an unmercifully slow production process,” said Lew Bryson, editor of Whisky Advocate magazine, a publication that has been tracking whisky trends for more than 20 years.
Bourbon making has grown 150% since 1999, with production hitting 1.2 million barrels in 2013, according to the Kentucky Distiller’s Association. And premium small-batch and single-barrel Bourbons are driving the renaissance.
So what’s a Bourbon drinker on a budget to do?
“Once upon a time, you could get very good bottle of Bourbon for under $15. With its rise in popularity, that’s much harder,” says Fred Minnick, author of Bourbon Curious: A Simple Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker. “But you can still find wonderful values under $40.”
Minnick shared his favorite 750 mL bottles of Bourbon under $40. You can impress your friends by quoting from his detailed tasting notes.
Four Roses Small Batch
Tasting notes: “In the aromas, you find oak, cinnamon, floral and fruit,” Minnick said. “Four Roses Small Batch is a ‘flavor highway’ sensation with a long cinnamon finish.”
Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Tasting notes: “Knob Creek has a rich caramel nose with notes of toffee, dark fruit and fresh baked bread,” Minnick said. He described the Bourbon as having flavors of pancakes with maple syrup, pumpkin spice latte and nutmeg.
Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage, 2004
Tasting notes: “The nose brings out ripe aromas of banana, pear, peach, pineapple juice, canned corn, lemon zest and an array of caramels,” Minnick said. “In addition, there’s notes of ginger, nutmeg and clove with hints of chocolate and spearmint.”
Tasting notes: “The aroma is fully floral, almost like walking into a garden of lilies, roses and honeysuckle vines,” said Minnick. “The palate notes hit early with powerful vanilla cake batter notes and fudge brownies with nuts.”