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The Best Bourbons Under $50 to Add to Your Home Bar

Best Bourbons Under 50 00 Hero(1)

There was once a time when you could go to the grocery store and have no shortage of bargain bourbons from which to choose. In fact, even mid- and top-tier varieties were readily had at prices that would seem ludicrously low when compared to the current market. However, once the world rediscovered its taste for brown liquor, bourbon became something of a hot commodity, with bottles flying off the shelves quicker than you could quaff a cup. Fast forward ten years and you’ll find that all of the renewed enthusiasm has given rise to what experts are calling the “bourbon boom,” a trend in which increasing exports are making many drinkers’ druthers either impossible to find or impractical to purchase. There’s no denying the positive effect it’s had on the industry, but it’s doing a number on our wallets.

Luckily, there are still some quality bottles to buy under $50, and for the sake of this guide, we will keep our range somewhere between $30 and $50, give or take. Whether you’re after a small batch or some Kentucky Straight, we’ve got something for everyone in our guide to the best bourbons under $50.

Best Sub-$50 Bourbon Whiskeys

Can Sub-$50 Bourbon Actually Be Good?

There’s a silver lining to bourbon’s mainstream status: diversity. For despite the inflation, despite the scarcity, the market’s exponential growth means that are now more expressions than ever before. Sure, some may have come and gone, and others are fetching sums far beyond that of their original cost, but there are still plenty of great bourbons that can be found for under 50 bucks.

And while you may turn up your nose at the thought of buying something on the affordable end of the spectrum, don’t be too quick to write it off just yet. It may be cheap and it may be plentiful, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that there are some bourbons that can punch well above their weight. While more options definitely means more bad whiskey, it also allows the good stuff to stand out even more.

Woodford Reserve Small Batch Bourbon

Brown-Forman first launched the Woodford Reserve brand back in 1996 as an effort to cater its offerings to drinkers’ growing interest in more upscale spirits. With its eye-catching bottle design, premium price tag, and triple-distillation, it quickly emerged as one of the better buys within the whiskey world. Some 25 years later, it’s still going strong, earning a place on shelves far and wide because of its sweet honey nose and quintessential oaky bourbon palate. Sure, it’s not as complex as some offerings, but it serves as a great base for a cocktail.

ABV: 45.2%
Tasting Notes: Charred oak, toffee, vanilla, spice

1792 Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Let’s face it: The $30 price range gives rise to a lot of sub-par spirits that are all but indistinguishable from one another because of their simple, alcohol-heavy taste. However, if you’re looking for a bourbon that’s bold, balanced, and full of character, you can’t go wrong with this Kentucky Straight Small Batch from 1792. Rich with rye spice and peppered with vanilla and caramel, it offers both the contrast as well as the mouthfeel befitting a much more expensive alternative.

ABV: 46.85%
Tasting Notes: Caramel, vanilla, spice

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon

Heaven Hill’s Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon has experienced such a surge in popularity that the distillery actually had to remove its 12-year age statement in 2016 so that it could meet demand. In most cases, a shift to NAS would mean the end of a great expression, but this is one whiskey that proves an exception to the rule. Warm copper in color and well-rounded in flavor, this one first hits you with a nose that’s pleasant and sweet before transitioning into an enjoyably oaky palate and finishing off with some cinnamon spiciness.

ABV: 47%
Tasting Notes: Oak, cinnamon, mint, nutmeg, vanilla

Maker’s Mark No.46 Bourbon

Makers Mark 46

Pick any American bar at random, ask for a bourbon, and chances are good that you’ll wind up with three fingers’ worth of Marker’s Mark — it’s everywhere these days. That being said, just because it’s one of the more mainstream bourbons on the market, doesn’t mean that you should discount it as another dime-a-dozen dram. And its stave-finished No.46 expression improves upon its winning formula even more, getting us closer to the wood with a rich profile of vanilla and oak.

ABV: 45%
Tasting Notes: Vanilla, baking spice, oak

Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon

Unlike other distilleries, all Four Roses Bourbon begins with two mashbills and five different yeast strains, yielding 10 different recipes that can be mixed and matched to produce a particular blend. The Small Batch Bourbon we’ve featured here combines four of such recipes (two per mashbill) in order to deliver a versatile expression that’s great neat, over-ice, or in a cocktail. That being said, we’d opt to let it shine on its own because of its smooth mouthfeel and agreeable alcohol content.

ABV: 45%
Tasting Notes: Caramel, red berries, spice

Russell’s Reserve 10yr Bourbon

Russells Reserve 10 Year

Before he passed last year, Wild Turkey’s master distiller Jimmy Russell was at it for some 60-plus years. About 25 years ago, he and his son Eddie launched Russell’s Reserve, with a focus on their pristine barrel selection. About as cheap as any good age statement is going to get, this 10-year-old expression at the top of the distillery’s core range is a four-grain straight bourbon is bottled at 90 proof, soaring with a solid profile with notes of toasted oak, vanilla, baking spice, vanilla, and butterscotch.

ABV: 45%
Tasting Notes: Toasted oak, vanilla, baking spice, vanilla, butterscotch

Penelope Bourbon Four Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Penelope Bourbon was founded in 2018 by childhood friends Mike Paladini and Danny Polise. As is often the case in the emerging craft spirits segment, their blends are decidedly younger compared to that of the old guard. For some, this might prove to be a bit of a turnoff, but don’t knock it till you try it. If you’re on the hunt for a pour that’s light, low-calorie, and easy to mix, it doesn’t get much better than their Four Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

ABV: 40%
Tasting Notes: Caramel, citrus, butter, grain

Still Austin Straight Bourbon

Still Austin Bourbon

Texas bourbon benefits from the rich soil of its home state and the equally-unique climate which lessens the aging period and helps make something equally unique. Representing the Lone Star State is Still Austin, a distillery that likes to surround each of its expressions with a concept. For its flagship bourbon, that concept is music (it’s nicknamed “The Musician) and the complexities that arise from blending chords, rhythms, and melodies. Punching way above its price tag, the award-winning whiskey is just as nuanced, with classic notes of cinnamon, toffee, and almond harmonizing with flavors like pineapple and brown butter.

ABV: 49.2%
Tasting Notes: Cinnamon, toffee, almond, pineapple, brown butter

Hudson Whiskey Bright Lights, Big Bourbon

Hudson Whiskey NY

The New York whiskey scene is starting to come alive, but prior to a couple of decades ago, it was non-existent. It wasn’t until an entrepreneur changed up his plans to build a rock-climbing ranch and instead leaned into the spirits world. He used his land to farm grain for whiskey and before he knew it, Hudson Whiskey was the first new distillery in the Empire State since Prohibition. Both big and bright, the label’s Bright Lights, Big Bourbon is one of the few that makes a 95% corn mashbill work wonders, delivering a profile of caramel apple, peanut brittle, vanilla, and a hint of saffron.

ABV: 46%
Tasting Notes: Caramel apple, peanut brittle, vanilla, saffron

Heaven Hill Bottled-In-Bond 7-Year

Up until it was discontinued in 2018, Heaven Hill’s 6-Year Bottled In Bond Bourbon was the darling of the whiskey world because of its unbeatable $12 price point. As the spiritual successor to that steal of a spirit, this 7-Year had its work cut out for it when production began the following year. While it’s not quite as much of a bargain, the good news is that its flavors don’t disappoint. Rather, by starting with traces of leather and finishing with sweet caramel, it manages to keep up the tradition all the same (if a bit drier).

ABV: 50%
Tasting Notes: Honey, caramel, vanilla

Jefferson’s Reserve Very Small Batch

In contrast to the other distilleries that we’ve included on this list, Jefferson’s Reserve is a bit of a newcomer. That being said, age isn’t everything, for despite being founded in 1997, the brand has quickly made a name for itself with its innovative bourbon blends. Just take this Very Small Batch, for instance. Comprising four different bourbons sourced from various undisclosed distilleries, it makes for a subtle sipper that manages to hide its high rye (30%) content quite well.

ABV: 45%
Tasting Notes: Vanilla, custard, dark fruit, nutty

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve

It’s just a few dollars above our threshold, but we don’t think you’ll mind spending the extra dough. At a price point awash with weak, lower-alcohol offerings, Knob Creek’s Single Barrel Reserve makes for an ideal alternative. Aged for nine years and clocking in at a hearty 120-proof, it might not explicitly mention “barrel proof” anywhere on the bottle, but that’s essentially what you’re getting — and at just around $50 to boot. In practice, this means that it provides a characteristic tingling sensation on the nose, after which you’ll find that its creamy sweetness softens through the palate and a mixture of oak, cinnamon, and leather finishes it off strong.

ABV: 60%
Tasting Notes: Oak, cinnamon, leather, creamy

The Best Whiskey Glasses

Photo: iittala Ultima-Thule Footed On-The-Rocks Glass

Just because you’re buying bourbon under $50 doesn’t mean that you have to use a cheap plastic cup. If you’re looking to elevate you’re drinking experience, be sure to check out our guide to the best whiskey glasses.