The 22 Best Budget Bourbons for under $50Edit Post
Contributed by on Jun 29, 2018
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The 22 Best Budget Bourbons For Under $50
Looking for some great bourbons? Well you’re in luck! We threw together this handy list of budget bourbons for you folks out there trying to avoid paying 100’s of dollars for stuff like Pappy Van Winke when you can have some damn good bourbons that are made by the exact same distillers of the “Pappy’s of the world”, but for under fifty bucks.
These are ranked by price, so the further you scroll the more expensive they will get for you ultra budget minded guys and gals out there. There is not a ton of pomp and circumstance in here (like what the “Nose” is like, or the “body and feel”) there are a lot of better blogs out there that we have linked to in this post, so if you want to go deep on each one of these bourbons you can do that. Our purpose here is to give you a solid shopping list next time you are looking for the best cheap bourbon.
Evan Williams – MSRP: $12
Proof: 86 | Aged: between 5 -7 years | Mash bill: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% barley
This is going to go down as one of the least expensive bourbons on our list, but we are trying to give you a well rounded view of bourbons, with something for everyone’s price point, so sue me if you don’t like it. At $12 Evan Williams is a pretty solid deal, and they also have slightly more expensive versions like the Evan Williams Bottle and Bonded (white label) at $15 and the more than double expensive Evan Williams Single Barrel at over $30 (if you don’t feel like sinking this low), but there are better bourbons on this list at that price point.
I’d say this makes a great budget bourbon for cocktails and simple stuff like bourbon and cokes, not sure if I would be caught drinking this stuff neat, but to each his own my friend. If you only have $12 to spend in a bourbon worth drinking this is a much better option than something like Jack Daniels at a similar price point. (Yea! I Said it!)
Old Forester – MSRP: $19
Proof: 86 | Aged: 4 years | Mash bill: 72% Corn, 18% Rye, 10% Barley
Fun fact: Old Forester is the oldest continuously operating whiskey distillery (Since 1780!) and that really shows in the quality of their whiskey. It makes for a great entry level bourbon at its price point and approachable flavor. It’s not going to knock your socks off if you are a snob but would be great in a whiskey cocktail. If you are able to find any of its more expensive brethren like the Old Forester Single barrel (not on this list for some reason) then I would opt for them if you don’t mind shelling out more.
Four Roses – MSRP: $20
Proof: 80 | Aged: 4 to 12 years | Mash bill: Blend of 75% Corn, 20% Rye, 5% Malted Barley and 60% Corn, 35% Rye, 5% Malted Barley
You are probably saying to yourself “WTF James, that mashbill is cray!” Well my friend that is for a good reason, Four Roses is made from a blend of 8 to 10 different batches of whiskey with 2 different mashes, and 5 different strains of yeast, all of which are aged anywhere from 4 to 12 years. I know some of your eyes are glazing over by now but the importance of all this is that they really put a lot of time, effort and skill into making a solid bourbon.This is all to bring you a bottle of great whiskey at $20, what a freaking steal!
There are a few Four Roses on this list for a reason, they make great whiskey. This is your entry level of the bunch so it makes the perfect getaway whiskey. The only problem is ponying up for the higher end ones which you undoubtedly are going to want to try after this one.
Heaven Hill Fighting Cocks – MSRP: $20
Proof: 103 | Aged: NAS (No Age statement) at least 4 years | Mash bill: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Malted Barley
Made by the same folks (Heaven Hill) that brought you another player on this list (Evan Williams), this whiskey may seem like something a twenty something would pick up cuz it says “Cock” on it, but this whiskey punches at a slightly higher weight class than its $20 price would indicate. It was made to compete with Wild Turkey 101, but to do one better, they made it 103 proof and most would agree it’s a superior bourbon. It’s a great booze for you true bargain hunters out there looking for something that is going to taste decent but not cost an arm and a leg.
Old Grand Dad – MSRP: $21
Proof: 100 | Aged: 4 years | Mash bill: Not sure but it is purported to have a high percentage of rye making it spicy
This bourbon has a interesting connection with another bourbon on this list named for an old distiller, Basil Hayden. His grandson named this whiskey in his honor. I feel like this bourbon doesn’t get the credit deserved, maybe it’s the cheapo looking orange label staring at you from behind the bar, but it’s actually a decent whiskey. Made by Jim Beam, it’s a great buy for a bottle and bonded whiskey and at $21 it taste great for the price and its boozy at 50% ABV. So next time you see the old man staring at you from behind the bar, get a glass of it on the rocks instead of shorts of Jagar you plebeian.
Medley Bros – MSRP: $24
Proof: 102 | Aged: 4 years | Mash bill: 72% corn, a relatively high 18% rye and 10% barley
Crafted back in the 40’s, which is old compared to some of the youngsters on here (Basil, High West) this bourbon has stood the test of time. Even though it died out for a while, much like Bulliet, they brought it back with its old school recipe in tack. It is not actually made by Medley Distillery but supposedly by Heaven Hill, who makes of a few others on this list (Evan Williams) so you know its quality booze. If you can get your hands on some it could make for some solid classic cocktails or mixed with ice or a splash of water, least you drink this high ABV jet fuel straight.
Eagle Rare – MSPR: $29
Proof: 90 | Aged: 10 | Mash bill: Supposedly the Buffalo Trace #1 with higher corn content
This bourbon will have to be filed under “hidden gems” on this list because it is really damn good and not as elusive or expensive as a lot of its similar brethren. It’s easier to find then even Buffalo Trace itself and can be cheaper depending on where you are.
In my personal opinion I would say Buffalo Trace is better (and a cooler looking bottle to have on your shelf) but this stuff is still solid! It definitely tastes different from other Buffalo products and I feel runs a bit “hotter” but for the price you really can not beat it.
Evan Williams Single Barrel – MSRP: $30
Proof: 86.6 | Aged: 10 years | Mash bill: 78% Corn, 10% Rye, 12% Malted Barley
One of the better deals on the list that can be found in the $20’s in some locals and for a single barrel at that! It is a great daily drinker that most bourbon newbies and snobs will enjoy, so it’s great to keep on your shelf. At under 90 proof its not going to burn soo goood like the barrel proof stuff on this list, so feel free to try it neat, on the rocks, or with a splash of water.
Bulleit bourbon – MSRP: $30
Proof: 90 | Aged: NAS (No Age Statement) | Mash bill: 68% Corn, 28% Rye, 4% Malted Barley
Now this is the kind of stuff I would get my friends to take shots of with some manly story like “Let’s drink what Wyatt Earp used to drink boys!” which may or may not have been true since it was discontinued in 1860 when Earp was 12 years old (they started young!) but it sure sounded cool at the time.
Anyways, it was resurrected in 1987 and is unique in the sense that it is not owned by one of the big whiskey distillers like most on this list are, buuuut it was made by Four Roses up until early 2017 when booze conglomerate Diageo built them their own Kentucky based distillery. Anyways, it is interested to note that it has a very high rye content, almost enough to be considered a rye whiskey, but it’s still a bourbon, so some folks out there may think it almost taste a bit like a rye. Don’t worry if you are a rye whiskey drinker, Bulleit makes a Rye Bulleit version that is better in my opinion. I’d say for the price point there are better bourbons on this list, but it is a decent staple you can find just about anywhere.
Four Roses small batch – MSRP; $30
Proof: 90 | Aged: 6 to 8 years | Mash bill: Blend of 75% Corn, 20% Rye, 5% Malted Barley and 60% Corn, 35% Rye, 5% Malted Barley (but check out their recipe finder to be sure)
Similar to the other Four Roses, this is made in smaller batches (typically 2-3) from select barrels aged typically around 6 to 7 years. It has all the usual mash bills the other bourbons have but they are narrowed down to some of the best, putting together a superior product, hence why its called “small batch”. It’s kind of in the middle taste wise between the regular Four Roses and the Single Barrel version, that the reason for that?… Well.. because its made to be that way. But for the price, it’s going to hold its own among other bourbons and it may even become your favorite. More importantly, it’s not super rare or hard to get, that keeps it affordable and most importantly, available.
Makers Mark – MSRP: $30
Proof: 90 | Aged: 5 years and 9 months | Mash bill: 70% Corn, 16% Wheat, 14% Malted Barley
Makers Mark is a must-have on any list featuring budget bourbons. Not only is it made in batches of around 1,000 gallons, but it is also dipped in wax by hand, meaning that no two bottles look alike. The distillers also take the time and care to move the barrels from the lower to upper barrel ageing houses to account for any temperature differences between the two, giving you one awesomely aged bourbon.
This bottle is a standard behind any bar worth its salt, so it should be at your home bar as well. Personally it is my go to for whiskey and bourbon cocktails, or straight up on the rocks if you are a bold son of a bitch.
Buffalo Trace – MSRP: $30
Proof: 90 | Aged: between 8 -10 years | Mash bill: Shuuu, it’s a secret
Buffalo Trace is made by… you guessed it… Buffalo Trace Distillary, and since its the flagship Bourbon of the distillery that makes whiskeys such as Pappy Van Winkle and Blanton’s, you know this is one awesome bourbon. Any good whiskey bar (or bar that makes a solid cocktail for that matter) should have this as their well whiskey for things like; Manhattans, Old Fashions and the like. Otherwise why are you even wasting your money and liver on lesser whiskey? Aged in their middle warehouse where it experiences the most temperature change, it is batched from no more than 40 barrels at a time making it a whiskey of top notch quality.
I always have this on my shelf at home, it is my go to for cocktails like Hot Toddies (Cocktails that really need a good bourbon behind them, least you taste some tinge of that plastic bottle – rock gut -whiskey that you had served to you at some dive bar). As a matter of fact, I loathed Hot Toddies till I had one made with Buffalo Trace, now I can have much more enjoyable colds.
Elijah Craig Small Batch – MSRP: $30
Proof: 90 | Aged: 8-12 years | Mash bill: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, & 12% Malted Barley
Now these guys could have had more whiskey on this lovely list but unfortunately all their other stuff (Barrel Proof, 18 and 23 year) is too expensive to make the cut. This used to be their 12 year, which would have made the cut, but they had to do away with the age statements to avoid the current bourbon price gouging that scarcity issues have caused. This scarcity issue is in part thanks to the rising popularity of it’s caramel goodness but also due to them not having the ability to know just how many hipsters would love to sip it 12 years later, who knew?! Anyways, this stuff is tasty (if you can get your hands on some), but I’m just some guy that likes to drink so don’t take my word for it, take the San Francisco World Spirits Competition word where it has won not one but two Double Gold Medals.
Lost republic – MSRP: $35
Proof: 91 | Aged: 3 years and 2 months (so specific)| Mash bill: 75% corn, 21% rye and 4% barley
Near and dear to my heart as a native Californian, this bourbon is created in small batched (600 bottles) by a former California winemaker that sources this caramel eliquier from Indiana, Tennessee and California, making it one of the only bourbons on this list made in California. It is sadly hard to find since it is made in such small batches but I bet I can get my hands on it so if you ask nice enough maybe I’ll let you have a nip of it.
Rowan’s Creek – MSRP: $35
Proof: 100.1 (like a radio station) | Aged: 12 years | Mash bill: Supposedly “at least 51% corn”, whatever that means
This one may be filed under the “harder to find than most” category, but I didn’t make any categories so deal with it bro! Made by the fine purveyors of small batch “boutique” bourbon Willett Distilling Company most of their stuff are not on this list due to higher price points, but look them up if you got the doe to shell out for bourbons over $50 or if you’re a snob like that. It makes for a fine sipping bourbon so don’t mix it with a can a coke like some white trash bro. Fun fact, this whiskey won gold medals at the 2005, 2011 and 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, so you know it’s gonna be good!
Woodford Reserve – MSRP: $35
Proof: 90.4 | Aged: NAS (You Know what it means by now) | Mash bill: 72% Corn, 18% Rye, 10% Malted Barley
This list used to be the “21 Best Bourbons under $50”. I found all these awesome bourbons and somehow omitted the wonderful whiskey that is Woodford Reserve, silly me, so now it’s the “22 Best Bourbons under $50”! Anyways, this bourbon is so good I made more room (and spent more time) adding it to this already fairly lengthy list, but hey some of this stuff is hard to find and not always under $50 so you’re welcome. Distilled in the oldest continuously operating distiller (since 1780) you know they know what the F they are doing. This also has its downside since they haven’t really changed its recipe up in decades so it doesn’t hold its salt as much as it used to against the fierce competition seen on this list, but is a solid buy for its price point and approachability.
Four roses single barrel – MSRP: $40
Proof: 100 | Aged: Depends on the barrel | Mash bill: Depends, but they have an awesome recipe finder here
This, like the other Four Roses, is made in a very distinct way: 2 mash bills, 5 yeast strains, 10 recipes, and a partridge in a pear treee. You get it, it is a pretty cool and unique way to make a bourbon, and each iteration of their iconic brand is better than the last. This one being the best hand selected barrel from all those batches, it is then hand warehoused and numbered by someone whose handwriting looks like they have tried too many sips of bourbon.
I know what you are saying by now “James, how many MFin Four Roses are you gonna have on here?!” First off, have a sip of some bourbon and chill bruh. Second off, it’s not my fault Four roses lazily names their whiskey’s, the other guys do the same thing but name their booze differently. To each their own my friend! Anyways, it’s on here because it’s pretty damn good like the rest of the stuff four roses makes and it is a great bourbon for the price.
Maker’s 46 – MSRP: $40
Proof: 94 | Aged: aprox 6 years | Mash bill: 70% Corn, 16% Wheat, 14% Malted Barley
Maker’s 46 bourbon is actually the same recipe as Makers Mark and is made similarly except for the one key fact that it gets its name from. The distillers take freshly emptied Maker’s Mark barrels that have newly seared French oak staves placed in them, they then age them out in the cold for approximately 46 days, hence its name.
At $10 more than regular Makers Mark its not insanely more expensive then its little brother and it does carrey a smoother taste profile thanks to the additional aging.
Knob Creek Single Barrel – MSRP: $42
Proof: 120 (whoa!) | Aged: 9 years | Mash bill: 75% corn, 13% Rye, 12% malted barle y
This is a great bourbon for just about everybody, from whiskey newbies to guys that have been thrown them back since before your daddy was born. It’s made by Jim Beam so it’s easy to find (Relatively) and pretty affordable. Also, do you see the proof on this thing?! Its gonna knock your socks off and taste great. The only problem you’ll have is not getting to turnt up on it my friend.
High West American Prairie Reserve – MSRP: $43 (sometimes on sale in the 30’s)
Proof: 92 | Aged: 6/10 years | Mash bill blend: 75/60% Corn, 20/35% Rye, 5/5% barley malt
This stuff is so good that after I tried it for the first time I yanked off another bourbon I had on this list sorry (Henry McKenna). It’s a newer distillery in Utah (of all the places in the world), in fact it’s the first distillery opened there since prohibition and so far they are cranking out some great stuff. The mash bill up there may look funky compared to the others on this list, but it is because these guys are so new they don’t have much of their own bourbon so they are blending Four Roses and LDI (Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana) to crack out their caramel goodness. Unlike all the bourbons on this list this booze is attainable, I’ve even seen it at Vons here in California, so next time you see some on the shelf make sure to pick it up.
EH taylor small batch – MSRP: Varies, under $50 if you’re lucky
Proof: 100 | Aged: Min 4 “by law” | Mash bill: Much like other Buffalo Trace booze they are not forthcoming with this info but it is believed to be a Buffalo Trace bourbon recipe with the high corn content
Made by the fine folks at Buffalo Trace (so you know it is going to be good!) This bourbon, depending on where you look, can actually vary in price from a low of $39.95 to a high of over $100 (we at The BroBasket offer it at $89.95, but we sell gifts,so…). It is what they call “bottle and bonded” which is some obscure law that probably seems like an odd way for the government to spend their time, but whiskey is pretty important stuff and maybe we can equate it to the German beer purity laws. You’re welcome rest of the world for delicious bourbon!
Anyways, this stuff is definitely going to be qualified as “higher end” for our list here, and if you find it for under $50 then you should snatch it up right away! It is the kind of bourbon you probably shouldn’t even waste your time making cocktails with, so only buy it if you plan on sipping it straight or on the rocks.
Basil Hayden’s – MSRP: $53 (Geeze, close enough cheapskates)
Proof: 80 | Aged: NAS (No Age Statement) used to be 8 years | Mashbill: 63% Corn, 27% Rye, 10% Malted Barley
Named after an old distiller with the same name (that was purported to use a high rye mash bill) this bourbon is made in that exact same fashion. In fact it has made quite the resurgence in the last few years, having to lose its age statement because of it. Fun fact, Basil Hayden’s grandson named Old Gran-dad (another bourbon on this list) after him, so this old MF has two bourbon’s named after him, what a badass! This is made by the fine folks at Jim Beam which makes a few others on this list (Knob Creek, Maker’s Mark) so you know it is quality and it will be fairly attainable. It is definitely a great tasting bourbon, especially for people getting into the scene, but it can be pricey compared to other bourbons on this list that are much better (and stronger!)
So there it is my friends. I’m not going to lie, this took me way too long to put together so hopefully it shows. Full disclosure I have not tasted all of these but have tasted a good amount of them so pardon me if I didn’t get into pretentious, pontificate on the nose, pallet, mouth feel, blah, blah, blah… I linked out to many much more knowledgeable sources who do get into that kind of stuff and if you want to learn more I would suggest you pay them a visit. If you don’t feel like these should be on this list, have your own bourbons you would like to see here, or you just think I’m an awesome guy and you want to talk about, feel free bellow.
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