The 11 Best Bourbons
Under $50

“There is no bad whiskey. There are only some whiskeys that aren’t as good as others.”
-Raymon Chandler

 

I’ve spent a good amount of money since I gradated college on traveling. Because of that, I’ve been drinking on a budget the past few years my entire life.  In my early and mid 20s, I couldn’t afford to buy a “nice bottle” of bourbon AND go to Australia, so sacrifices had to be made.  After all, you don’t put together a list of the 11 best bourbons under $50 if you can afford a bottle of 15 Year Family Reserve Pappy Van Winkle

But the good news is my sacrifice is your gain.

I’ve drank quite a few different bourbons under $50, which means, you don’t have to. I wanted to compile this list to help you have a good starting point on different, more cost-effective bourbons to try without breaking the bank.

In the world of whiskey and bourbon there are A LOT of great distilleries with more and more popping up each year.  Lucky for us, most American distilleries have at least once (if not more) solid bourbons under $50 to try and enjoy.

But with so many options it can be overwhelming.  Below you’ll find my list of the 11 best bourbons under $50 with information about the distillery, ABV, price, description, and most importantly the tasting description.

Related: Neat: The Story of Bourbon Review

Buffalo Trace

The Bourbon: Buffalo Trace Bourbon
Distillery: Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort, KY (Sazerac Company)
ABV: 45%
Average Price: $25.99

The Whiskey:

In tribute to the mighty buffalo and the rugged, independent spirit of the pioneers who followed them, Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is distilled, aged and bottled at the most award-winning distillery in the world. Made from the finest corn, rye and barley malt, this whiskey ages in new oak barrels for years in century-old warehouses until the peak of maturity. The taste is rich and complex, with hints of vanilla, toffee and candied fruit. The smooth finish lingers on the palate. This will never change.

Tasting Notes:

This deep amber whiskey has a complex aroma of vanilla, mint and molasses. Pleasantly sweet to the taste with notes of brown sugar and spice that give way to oak,  toffee, dark fruit and anise. This whiskey finishes long and smooth with serious depth.

Four Roses 

The Bourbon: Four Roses Single Barrel
Distillery: Four Roses Distillery, Lawrenceburg, KY
ABV: 50%
Average Price: $43.99

The Whiskey:

This top-shelf bourbon has one of the more sophisticated distilling processes on the market, using corn, rye and five yeast strains to produce its rich, unique flavor. Single Barrel isn’t merely a cocktail mixer. It’s bourbon for people who know what bourbon’s all about. That’s why it’s won several domestic and international taste competitions over the past decade. When you drink Four Roses Single Barrel, don’t rely on your taste buds alone. Your sense of smell is actually 10,000 times more powerful than taste. While this isn’t ideal at a festival, it does wonders for enjoying bourbon.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is full of cherries, pear, and chocolate along with some oak and toffee. The palate finds even more oak, darker fruits, and an additional hint of chocolate. The long, easy finish comes back to the cherries, sugars, and oak.

Knob Creek

The Bourbon: Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Distillery: Jim Beam Distillery, Clermont, KY
ABV: 50%
Average Price: $34.99

The Whiskey:

Jim Beam’s Knob Creek is a blend of bourbons from the Beam rickhouses that have aged up to nine years. That’s a good amount of time for bourbon in this price range, especially given that bottles just 10 to 15 bucks cheaper are usually only aged four years.

Tasting Notes:

The dram starts with a sense of buttery toast and echoes of rye spice. That rye leads to charred oak and maple syrup essence that mellows into delightful hints of apple orchards. The oak, spice, and fruit bring about a long finish with plenty of warmth.

Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey

The Bourbon: Bulleit Bourbon 10 Year
Distillery: Bulleit Distilling Co, Louisville, KY
ABV: 45.6%
Average Price: $45.99

The Whiskey:

Bulleit Bourbon 10 Year Old Whiskey allows you to savor its bold character and complex finish. With its russet color and oaky aroma, our aged whiskey makes a good first impression before it’s even opened. The flavor profile combines hints of vanilla and dried fruit with a smoky finish. The bourbon is aged for 10 years in charred American oak barrels. Bulleit Bourbon is still distilled and aged in the Bulleit family tradition. High rye content gives it a bold, spicy character with a distinctively smooth, clean finish. Kentucky limestone-filtered water provides a foundation for the whiskey’s character, while charred American oak barrels lend a smoky backbone.

Tasting Notes:

Deep russet in color, rich oaky aromas. Consistently smooth taste with vanilla, dried fruit, and a long, smoky finish.

W.L. Weller

The Bourbon: Weller Special Reserve Bourbon
Distillery: Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort, KY (Sazerac Company)
ABV: 45%
Average Price: $39.99

The Whiskey:

The Original Wheated Bourbon Whiskey features an exceptionally smooth taste, substituting wheat for rye grain. Bottled at 90 proof, this bourbon under $50 stands out with its burnt orange color. Its softer flavor notes make this bourbon great for sipping or making cocktails.

Tasting Notes:

A sweet nose with a presence of caramel. Tasting notes of honey, butterscotch, and a soft woodiness. It’s smooth, delicate and calm. Features a smooth finish with a sweet honeysuckle flair.

Elijah Craig

The Bourbon Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon
Distillery: Heaven Hill Distillery, Bardstown, KY
ABV: 47%
Average Price: $29.99

The Whiskey:

An inoffensive, well-rounded bourbon that doesn’t try to wow, but offers a good bourbon at a good price. It’s exactly what it needs to be. Classic bourbon flavors of sweet vanilla and mellowed oak with a welcoming amount of heat are the quintessential bourbon characteristics. Offered at a remarkable high-$20 price point, it’s hard to beat pound for pound. What it lacks in strong memorable characteristics it makes up for in drinkability and value. 

Tasting Notes:

Delightfully complex with notes of vanilla bean, sweet fruit and fresh mint. Smooth and warm, pleasantly woody with accents of spice, smoke and nutmeg.  Long, sweet and slightly toasty.

1792  

The Bourbon: 1792 Small Batch Bourbon
Distillery:  The Barton 1792 Distillery, Bardstown, KY
ABV: 45%
Average Price: $39.99

The Whiskey:

1792 Small Batch Bourbon is sophisticated and complex. A distinctly different bourbon created with precise craftsmanship. Made from our signature “high rye” recipe and the marriage of select barrels carefully chosen by our Master Distiller. 1792 Bourbon has an expressive and elegant flavor profile. Unmistakable spice mingles with sweet caramel and vanilla to create a bourbon that is incomparably brash and bold, yet smooth and balanced. Elevating whiskey to exceptional new heights, 1792 Bourbon is celebrated by connoisseurs worldwide.

Tasting Notes:

Amber in color. Fruits, custard, rye and coffee with hints of a butterscotch. A nose of spices and rye and Warm, lingering and… ohh so smooth finish.

Maker’s Mark

The Bourbon: Marker’s 46
Distillery: Maker’s Mark Distillery, Loretto, KY (Beam Suntory)
ABV: 47%
Average Price: $39.99

The Whiskey:

Maker’s Mark should be given credit for what they’ve done with Maker’s 46. The bourbon clearly contains the soul of their standard Maker’s Mark while enhancing it in an overall positive way. While the exposure to additional charred wood has given Maker’s 46 a woodier flavor profile, it’s not one that’s overly oaked, and brings with it a nice blast of sweetness from the additional sugars from the seared French oak staves. Maker’s 46 brings takes that beloved Maker’s Mark flavor profile and amplifies it in all the right ways through a very unique twist on barrel finishing not seen elsewhere in the industry.

Tasting Notes:

Hints of wood staves, caramel and sweetness. Very intense flavors; a big crescendo of wood blending perfectly with deep, complex and rich notes of vanilla and caramel with a smooth and subtle finish.

Old Forester

The Bourbon Old Forester Classic 86 Proof
Distillery: Old Forester Distilling Co. Louisville, KY
ABV: 43%
Average Price: $25.99

The Whiskey:

A bottle of Old Forester Classic 86 Proof bourbon, the recipe of which is in keeping with the style of when it was first introduced by George Garvin Brown in 1870. High in rye content, this is full bodied and rich.

Tasting Notes:

The aroma is sharp and sweet, with a strong floral character that swirls with hints of mint, rich tobacco leaf and vanilla. A touch of oak and pine provides a strong underpinning. Sharp at first, but softens quickly, with hints of oak, sweet corn and rye grain character. Spicy, with soft vanilla and light orange notes.  With a long, warm and slightly drying. Nice level of sweetness finish.

Eagle Rare

The Bourbon: Eagle Rare 10-Year Bourbon
Distillery: Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort, KY (Sazerac Company)
ABV: 45%
Average Price: $37.99

The Whiskey:

Eagle Rare Bourbon Whiskey is masterfully crafted and carefully aged for no less than ten years. Every barrel is discriminately selected to offer consistent flavor but with a seemingly individual personality. Eagle Rare is a bourbon that lives up to its name with its lofty, distinctive taste experience. It has claimed over 30 awards in the past decade, including 5 Double Gold medals at the SFWSC. In terms of price/quality ratio, you would be hard pressed to find a better value in a bourbon as this one.  And pretty damn spectacular as well. 

Tasting Notes:

The nose is complex, with aromas of toffee, hints of orange peel, herbs, honey, leather and oak. The taste is bold, dry and delicate with notes of candied almonds and very rich cocoa. The finish is dry and lingering.

Henry McKenna 

The Bourbon: Henry McKenna Single Barrel
Distillery: Heaven Hill Distillery, Bardstown, KY
ABV: 50%
Average Price: $34.99

The Whiskey:

This high proof, Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon was named for Henry McKenna, the Irish immigrant who adapted his family’s whiskey recipe to work with the grains he found in Kentucky. Henry McKenna is one of the longest aged Bottled-in-Bond whiskeys available today, resting in the barrel through 40 Kentucky seasons. Critics agree that this is perfectly balanced Bourbon.

Tasting Notes:

Warm golden amber in color. Vanilla, caramel, oak, and a light herbaceous note aroma. Smooth oak, sharp spices, honey, and sweetness with a long, sweet, and spicy finish.

There you have my list of, in my opinion, the best bourbons under $50.  

If you haven’t tried all of them yet, well, there’s no time like the present.

And if you do pick up one of these bottles, shoot me a DM on Instagram over at @ofwhiskeyandwords for a chance to get featured!

Stay Gold

Todd

2 responses to “The 11 Best Bourbons under $50

  1. Nice list, I’m partial to Makers and Weller. Woodford Reserve, Coopers Craft, and Heaven’s Door earn high marks as well


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