The discerning whiskey drinker recognizes “bonded” as a trusted designation of quality. Since 1897, when Congress enacted the Bottled-in-Bond Act, whiskey labeled as “BIB” must be made by one distiller from a single distillery, within one distilling season, and aged for a minimum of four years in a bonded warehouse. By law, BIBs are also required to be bottled at 100 proof, making them a potent base for cocktails.
VinePair asked bartenders around the country for bonded-in-bond bourbon deals that won’t break the bank. And luckily, as many of these pros attest, there are plenty of affordable bottles to be found within this high-proof, low-profile category.
The Best Bang-for-Your Buck Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon Recommended by Bartenders
- Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon
- Henry McKenna 10 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon
- Jim Beam Bonded
- Old Forester 1897 Bonded Bourbon
- J.W. Dant Bottled-in-Bond
- Heaven Hill 7 Year Bottled-in-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon
- Old Tub Bourbon Bottled-in-Bond
- Rittenhouse Rye Bottled-in-Bond
- Old Bardstown Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon
- Evan Williams White Label Bottled-in-Bond
- Mellow Corn Whiskey Bottled-in-Bond
Keep reading for details about all of the recommended BIB Bourbons!
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“I would say my absolute go-to affordable bonded bourbon behind the bar and at home would have to be Old Grand-Dad Bonded. It’s low-key the benchmark bourbon for some of the nicer bars in New York City and is crazy cheap for the quality. Super diverse as well. You can down it neat, and it mixes crazy good in cocktails — especially stirred drinks.” —Drew Johnson, Head Bartender, The Musket Room, NYC
“In my opinion, the best bang-for-the-buck bottled-in-bond bourbon is Henry McKenna 10 Year. It’s a steal to get a 10 year old, bottled-in-bond, single-barrel bourbon for under $50. It comes from the Heaven Hill Distillery, which also has other solid bottled-in-bond products, like Rittenhouse, Sacred Bond Brandy, and Evan Williams White Label, which we use in one of our cocktails here at The Chloe called ‘Punxsutawney Feeling,’ which features China-China amer, Jager cold brew, Bitter Queens chocolate walnut bitters, Cocchi di Torino sweet vermouth, and the bonded Evan Williams.” —Jason Sorbet, Beverage Director, The Chloe, New Orleans
“One of my favorites is Jim Beam Bonded. It is easy-drinking on its own, but can also be incorporated into a cocktail program based on the affordable price. The majority corn mash bill keeps the flavors balanced, without too much heat.” —Kareem McCafferty, Beverage Director, Schulson Collective, Philadelphia
“Old Forester 1897. I love how approachable this bourbon is. A full-bodied high-rye that plays well in a Manhattan and is excellent on its own. Lots of bright fruit with well-integrated spice, without being completely overtaken by oak.” —Pete Stanton, Head Bartender, Ai Fiori at The Langham, New York, Fifth Avenue, NYC
“Coming in at around $15 a bottle, J.W. Dant Bottled-in-Bond is my pick in the ‘bang-for-your-buck’ BIB bourbons. One of the few ryed bourbons finished with a touch more malted barley than rye grain. The nose is punchy… honey and corn and oak dominate. Up front, it’s a lot of caramel and cornbread, [with] a touch of spice and sour tannin [that] wave goodbye to you as it finishes. A solid (low tier) expression from a family with rich bourbon history (it’s rumored his first still was made from a hollowed tree stump). Enjoy it neat or in your Hot Toddy!” —Andy Printy, Beverage Director, Chao Baan, St. Louis
“Heaven Hill 7 Year Bottled-in-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon: Heaven Hill is no newbie when it comes to whiskey-making, and it is made very clear with this expression of bottled-in-bond. Enjoyed neat, over ice, or placed into a classic, such as an Old Fashioned, this whiskey does not disappoint.” —Lauren Paylor, Chief Mixologist, Smokecraft Modern Barbecue, Arlington, Va.
“My personal favorite is Old Tub Bottle-in-Bond. Coming out of the Jim Beam Distillery, you used to only be able to buy it at the distillery. Now, it is a yearly release. A four-year sour mash with big flavors and big nose of corn and honey-roasted peanuts on the palate. But what I really like is the good amount of ethanol, which makes it stand up in cocktails. It makes a mean Old Fashioned. And the best part is, you can get the bottle for around 25 bucks.” —Stefan Huebner, Co-owner and Head Mixologist, Dot Dot Dot, Charlotte, N.C.
“The first BIB that came to mind when asked isn’t technically a bourbon at all, but a rye. Rittenhouse Rye BIB is super versatile and is quite the bang for your buck. Sitting at under $30, it’s hard to pass up. Coming from Heaven Hill Distillery, you know it’s going to be good. It has just the right level of heat and spice. It’s extremely well balanced and works really well in cocktails, or just for sipping. Similarly, Old Bardstown BIB has that great balance you’re looking for along with notes of caramel and butterscotch, with a little pepper at the end. It’s a nice, light, sippable bourbon that is super versatile, though it is on the sweeter side. Coming out of the Willet family and bottled in Bardstown, Ky., it’s about as ‘bourbon’ as bourbon can be if you’re looking for a bang-for- your-buck bottle that will cost you less than $30.” —Lauren Strasser, Assistant General Manager and Bar Manager, Bouquet Restaurant, Covington, Ky.
“Henry McKenna from the Heaven Hill Distillery is easily one of my favorite bottled-in-bond bourbons. It spends 40 seasons in Kentucky, mingling in new charred American oak barrels. Eventually, you get a mouthwatering mix of honey, spices, and slight herbal touch. Due to its popularity and prestige, the price has gone up a bit, but it is worth it for the well-balanced bourbon you get.” —Crystal Chasse, Beverage Director, Talk Story Rooftop at the McCarren Hotel, Brooklyn
“Evan Williams White Label Bottled-in-Bond is by far the best bang for your buck. Typically coming in under the $20 mark for a 750-milliliter bottle, you could enjoy this whiskey as often as you like and never break the bank. It has everything you would expect from a classic bourbon, including caramel, corn, rye spice, and red cherry. It has a quick finish that leaves you ready for the next sip.” —Andrew Erickson, Lead Bartender, Fable Lounge, Nashville
“Most bartenders personally like to drink Old Grand-Dad Bottled-in-Bond, but one we really have fun with at Barn8 is Mellow Corn, which you can find at the liquor store for $12. It has a lighter body and a light finish, even though it is 100 proof, and tastes like the Corn Pops you may have enjoyed (or might still enjoy) as a kid! We love having experienced whiskey drinkers try it for the first time and see how they like it.” —Erin Delaney, Food & Beverage Director, Barn8 Farm Kitchen & Bourbon Bar, Goshen, Ky.