Best Bourbons, Ryes, & Whiskeys Under $30 to Pair With Your Cigar

Best Bourbons, Ryes, & Whiskeys Under $30 to Pair With Your Cigar
8 years ago 23 comments

Best Bourbons, Ryes, and Whiskeys Under $30, According to Slows Bar-B-Q's Rob Stone

The working man's elixir. Served in barns, barbecue joints, and boozing establishments across America for hundreds of years. It should always be strong, smoky, and a little sweet. But never too pricey.

Of course, we're talking about bourbon. And rye. And whiskey. And seeking some guidance on the best bottles to be bought for 30 bucks or less, the Cigar Place crew recently solicited six favorites from Rob Stone, the cocktail manager at Slows Bar-B-Q in Detroit.

An expert in the boozy arts with years and years of bar-slinging experience, Mr. Stone previously plied his trade at the now-defunct Talula Restaurant on Miami Beach before moving cross-country to Denver, where he logged time as general manager at Colt & Gray and Ste. Ellie.

On what makes a fine bourbon, Rob says: “Balance. I don't like a bourbon to be too sweet. It needs some spice and other nuances.”

He also insists the strong stuff doesn't need to be expensive to be good. “An older, higher-priced bourbon or rye or whiskey might be a little smoother with some deeper flavors. But that doesn't mean you can't get the same kind of enjoyment out of a lower-priced bottle made by a solid, perhaps lesser-known distiller. It's really easy to overspend. But there's just no reason to drop big money, unless you're a bourbon nerd who's chasing some Colonel Taylor or Pappy Van Winkle.”

In that spirit of saving cash while still drinking well (and often), here are Mr. Stone's best bourbons, ryes, and whiskeys under $30.

Mellow Corn Whiskey $12

Mellow Corn Whiskey: $16

“Fantastic, sweet, fun — this is a bottled-in-bond corn whiskey, which means it's over 100 proof. If you need to sweeten up a bourbon for a cocktail, you can mix in some Mellow Corn. But it's really cool on its own too. And the reason why this bottle makes sense in your bourbon cabinet is because corn is the basis of bourbon. For a bourbon to be a bourbon, its mash has to be at least 51-percent corn. So why not try a corn whiskey? The label is weird, and Mellow Corn might look like rotgut. But it's not. It's the liquid gold that's been sitting in the back of grandpa's liquor cabinet for too long.”

Cigar pairing recommendation: Ashton Symmetry

Old Overholt Rye Whiskey $15

Old Overholt Rye Whiskey: $19

“For bourbon drinkers who want to try some rye, I really like Old Overholt. It's smooth, it's a bit of a secret, and it will only run you about $12 or $15 a bottle. And it is, in fact, quite easy to drink straight out of the bottle,” Rob jokes.

However, if you prefer enjoying your booze in a somewhat more civilized manner, our expert also adds that “Overholt works really well in cocktails, especially a Sazerac.”

“Sure, there are other great ryes, like Templeton and Rittenhouse, that go for $40 at the liquor store. But they aren't any finer than Old Overholt. It's the rye that every bourbon fan should always have at home.”

Cigar pairing recommendation: Rocky Patel Cigars

George Dickel No. 8 and No. 12: $19 and $25

“If you've got a friend who's just a Jack Daniel's drinker, turn them on to Dickel,” Stone suggests. “It's a fantastic Tennessee whiskey. And you can go with either the No. 8 or No. 12. They're both so smooth and elegant.

“This stuff is just another awesome example of why you don't need to blow a day's pay to get a very good drink.”

Cigar pairing recommendation: Liga Privada Cigars

Sazerac Rye $25

Sazerac Rye: $25

“A little hard to find, because it's from Buffalo Trace and it's in the Sazerac Company portfolio, this rye tends to be allocated to certain liquor stores and restaurants and other buyers. So yes, it is rare. But it isn't expensive.

“The Sazerac is a bottle, unlike the Mellow Corn, that you see and say, 'How classy.' And it's a surprise when you spot the $25 price tag — which might actually lead you away, because you're thinking, Oh, it's just a cool bottle. Like Absolut, it's only marketing.

“But no, on the contrary, this stuff is amazing. Spicy and sweet, it goes great in the traditional Sazerac cocktail. But it's just so exceptional, I feel like it should be sipped straight.”

Cigar pairing recommendation: Oliva Serie V Melanio

Eagle Rare Ten-Year: $29 (if you search for a deal!)

“This bourbon, another Buffalo Trace spirit, is really nice in the nose. You get hints of caramel, vanilla, marshmallow, and honey. It isn't so much sweet as very flavorful. That's why the Eagle Rare is a good straight sipper, but I also like to use it in cocktails. It's got white pepper notes and lots of vanilla on the finish, so it makes a solid Manhattan-style drink. Either neat or mixed, the Ten-Year would go amazingly well with a cigar.

“For somebody who's looking for a small-batch type of bourbon, along the lines of E.H. Taylor, this is your more affordable option. Go for the Eagle Rare. It's usually the best value on the shelf. And that's a fact.”

There's lots of bourbons, whiskeys and ryes out there to try and pair with your cigars these days and there are even cigars that are pushing the envelope in terms of innovation in their aging process. We hear all the time about the unique things that liquor distillers are doing to enhance the flavors of their delectable treats, but what about cigar makers? Some are turning to the alcohol industry and buying up used bourbon barrels and are trying their hand at aging their wrapper leaves in those bourbon barrels.

Cigar pairing recommendation: La Aroma De Cuba

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Derek 8 years ago at 12:09 AM
This is a great read. Scotch, Porto, Whiskey's I've read pairing reviews for my preferences. Some liquor type pairing reviews in abundance and some liquor type pairing reviews a few, yet they're out there.
Alexander Pishchukhin 8 years ago at 5:14 AM
Really interesting things!
Chris Goodwin 8 years ago at 12:42 PM
I am a fan of Buffalo Trace products as well. Here in Baltimore there is a startup distillery that is the brainchild of the CEO of Underarmor Kevin Plank. It is called Sagamore Spirit and is a staight Rye Whiskey. Highly recommended.
Cigar Ninja Jessica 8 years ago at 2:09 PM
I'll have to give it a try.
P.H. 8 years ago at 11:58 PM
This Bourbon is for Real Men Only!!!
Cigar Ninja Jessica 8 years ago at 2:10 PM
Funny I love a good bourbon, neat, no back needed.
Jason 8 years ago at 12:54 PM
Thanks for this info
Adam P Farnsworth 8 years ago at 9:51 PM
These look fantastic! I will have to try to find them!
Cigar Ninja Jessica 8 years ago at 2:11 PM
These are fantastic. I managed to find a whiskey, bourbon bar in Savannah that had over 200 bourbons...
Ian 8 years ago at 2:42 PM
Eagle Rare is some good stuff.
rbflyfishr 8 years ago at 6:43 PM
Nice list... thank you!
Ken Fellenstein 8 years ago at 6:26 PM
Bulleit Bourbon is $25/bottle, great taste for the money.
Cigar Ninja Jessica 8 years ago at 9:06 PM
Bulleit is a staple in my liquor cabinet for sure.
john g 8 years ago at 4:35 PM
great list! i've been meaning to pick-up a bottle of that eagle rare!
Larry P 8 years ago at 8:24 AM
Been a while, I need to grab bottle, too. Good stuff.
Henrik Viberg Forsgren 8 years ago at 7:22 PM
Are there any thoughts about adding a whisky to the list?
Jim 8 years ago at 9:23 PM
What's your thoughts on Pendleton?
RT 8 years ago at 1:43 AM
Great list...need more focus on the good value products...too much focus on the rare or limited release bourbons.
David Espinoza 8 years ago at 7:45 PM
Eagle Rare is possibly the best bourbon bargain around! But, now I'm going to have to try the Weller Reserve.
CigarSurgeon 8 years ago at 4:51 PM
Great article. Value spirits are just as important as the top shelf stuff.
Harry 8 years ago at 6:02 PM
Since we are talking value here I would have to add
Old Grand-Dad 114
Henry McKenna BIB 10 year
Old Forester Signature 100 Proof
additional notes:
Elijah Craig 12 before the age statement removal. If you can find some with the age on the front or the back its a solid buy
Weller 12 year is better, but its impossible to find like Pappy
Dustin Langmaid 8 years ago at 8:43 PM
Eagle Rare is excellent!
Al Urrea 8 years ago at 7:42 PM
Woodford reserve best bang for ur buck a must try if u like bourbon

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