The 21 Best Bourbons Under $50 In 2023
There’s no spirit as American as bourbon. Whether it’s in an old fashioned or served straight-up, the dark liquor has a reputation for helping you grow a few more hairs on your chest. Bourbon often features notes of oak and vanilla, but variations differ based on ingredients, the barrels it is aged in, and the region it helms from.
All bourbons can be classified as a whiskey, but not ever whiskey is considered a bourbon. Bourbon is distinctly American because it is whiskey, typically made of corn, that is produced in the U.S. For example, Scottish whiskey is called Scotch, and an Irish Whiskey like Jameson is distinct due to its origins. Therefore, bourbon is the American take on a centuries-old beverage.
Bourbon’s been around in the U.S. since the birth of the nation. According to VinePair, Evan Williams opened the first whiskey distillery in Kentucky in the 1780s. Nowadays, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a bar that doesn’t stock at least a few bourbons, if not an entire list. Whiskey is not only a cocktail staple, but it’s also a common ingredient in indulgent desserts, too.
You can buy bourbon at virtually any price range these days, including a few budget options that rival the top-shelf stuff. We gathered 15 bourbons you can snag for $50 or less in 2023, to expand your palate and your at-home bar.
Knob Creek’s Small Batch 9-Year Bourbon
Knob Creek has developed a line of bourbons that exemplifies everything that Kentucky bourbon is and can be. Coming in at $37, you can’t go wrong with their signature small-batch bourbon aged for nine years in white oak barrels (via Wine Searcher). It’s a good starter bourbon for a novice looking to begin to understand notes and bodies. Additionally, it’s always a good staple to keep on your shelf when the taste for a whiskey cocktail strikes at a moment’s notice.
Knob Creek’s 9-year-old bourbon is rich and woody, like you’d expect a beverage that took almost a decade to perfect. But as pointed out in a review from Breaking Bourbon, the price point allows non-bourbon drinkers to sample a complex bourbon that takes its time to develop its signature flavor. Knob Creek is dripping with vanilla and caramel, with a slight sweetness that keeps it light and smooth.
New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon
If you’ve got the basics of bourbon down and are looking for something new to excite your palate, look no further than New Riff’s line of Kentucky bourbon. New Riff is far from sweet, and can even be described as spicy thanks to notes of clove, cinnamon, and other baking spices. The uniqueness comes from the New Riff Distillery’s mash bill which is 65% corn, 30% rye, and 5% malted barley. The high percentage of rye is what makes it stand out and adds a deep savory flavor that is unlike your typical corn-heavy blends. New Riff also distills a rye whiskey with an even higher percentage of the grain, but notes of rye are prevalent in all of the spirits they release.
New Riff’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey comes in at about $40 a bottle, via Binny’s Beverage Depot. However, considering its uniqueness, it’s not a bad option to try out and expand your taste. The price is a bit on the higher end considering it’s only aged for four years but its youngness is part of its appeal. As Bourbon Banter points out, New Riff’s bourbon is acidic and sharp, a stark contrast to the sweetness of most popular brands.
Larceny‘s claim to fame is that it’s a wheated bourbon that is shockingly smooth. Like New Riff is heavy on the rye, Larceny is heavy on the wheat, which gives off a smell and flavor of fresh-baked bread every time you take a sip. Larceny’s Small Batch is a perfect balance of sweet and savory, all fueled by the distinct amount of wheat in the mash bill. Reviews on Larceny’s website praise the spirit’s pairing of atypical qualities with a smooth and full-body finish.
A bottle of Larceny Small Batch rings up at just around $43, so it’s a good price for a bottle of bourbon that is so out of the ordinary (via Total Wine). It’s a good bottle to break out to impress guests looking for a stiff drink, or a unique addition to at-home cocktails if your usual Kentucky Mule or Bourbon Sour is getting stale.
Heaven’s Door Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Heaven’s Door is a Tennessee-based bourbon created by none other than music legend Bob Dylan, with its namesake inspired by his song "Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door," per Whiskey Rocks. The distillery first opened in 2018, offering a handful of master-crafted bourbons to try. The brand’s straight bourbon whiskey will cost you about $50, but it’s not a bad price for an award-winning spirit with a major celebrity attached to it (via Total Wine).
Heaven’s Door bourbon is aged for a minimum of six years and has an all-around warm appeal, evocative of a firm handshake. It’s smooth and sweet, with an extended finish that leaves lingering flavors of vanilla, dried fruits, and various spices. It’s an all-around great bourbon to have on-hand, so whiskey aficionados likely won’t regret purchasing a bottle once to try out. If they also happened to be fans of the iconic singer-songwriter, there’s double the reason to try it out.
Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon
If you’ve never tried Four Roses, make 2023 the year to check it off your list. The Kentucky single-barrel bourbon is a fair price at $45, and it always is reliably tasty (via Total Wine). Four Roses Single Barrel is aged between seven and nine years, giving it a heavy oak and tobacco flavor. It also has sweet notes of chocolate and baking spices, with a fruity aroma that balances everything out. As Paste explains, single-barrel bourbons are more defined in flavor, as they only contain alcohol that was aged in one barrel rather than a blend.
As Liquor.com described it, Four Roses’ "low price and ubiquity on liquor store shelves may cause it to be overlooked or taken for granted." However, it’s a reliable and well-priced bourbon that you can’t go wrong with. Whether you pick up a bottle or order it on the rocks next time you’re at the bar, it’s an easy bourbon to try that will likely become a regular in your rotation.
Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage
Evan Williams is a pretty run-of-the-mill whiskey brand, but they have a great deal on a single barrel release that will become a reliable staple on your liquor shelf. Like a typical aged bourbon, it’s heavy on the oak and vanilla notes, with a nice hint of sweet and spicy. Breaking Bourbon even described one of the flavors as being reminiscent of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, so it’s definitely a bourbon that will warm you up. Additionally, because it’s a single barrel, it’s extremely polished from pour to finish.
Evan Williams Single Barrel costs about $32 a bottle, so you can’t beat the price when compared to other single-barrel spirits on the market (via Drizly). It may not be a flashy new bourbon, but sometimes the reliable staples go shamefully overlooked. The price makes it a must-try in 2023, and don’t forget about it when you find yourself wandering the liquor store aisles unsure of what to buy.
Early Times Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon
Early Times Kentucky Straight Bourbon is a must-try for those who prefer drinks on the savory side. The process of labeling a spirit as "bottled in bond" is elaborate. Essentially, it’s a proof of authenticity that dates back decades. As per Wine Enthusiast Magazine, to be considered bottled in bond, the liquor must be aged for at least four years, bottled at precisely 100 proof, made in one location during one season, and aged in a bonded warehouse. That essentially means it’s a high-quality product that tends to have super complex savory flavors, with notes of leather and tobacco being popular.
Early Times channels just that. The $40 bottle of bourbon definitely has its earthy tones of tobacco and oak, but with a pleasantly sweet side (via Frootbat). There are notes of brown sugar, banana, and caramel, giving it a well-rounded flavor. As Bourbon Obsessed noted, the price "may most surprise those who taste it."
Jim Beam Bonded Bourbon
If you’re looking for a name-brand option to dip your toe into bourbons bottled in bond, Jim Beam makes a bottle that costs $23 (via Drizly). Jim Beam’s Bonded is heavy on the oak in both its aroma and flavor. It’s not an insanely complex bourbon, but it is extremely smooth, refined, and worth tasting if bonded bourbon is a new concept to you. It’s also good to drink alongside a pour of original Jim Beam, to really understand how bonded bourbons stand out from the original varieties.
Word to the wise — The Whiskey Jug describes the flavor of Jim Beam Bonded as reminiscing candy corn, or waxy corn and caramel. It’s a good option for the price, but maybe don’t pick up a full bottle if you’re someone who doesn’t love the controversial Halloween candy. If you’re nervous about it, it’s a common enough spirit to try out at a local bar rather than buying a bottle you might end up not liking.
Maker’s Mark 46
Even if you’re not a bourbon aficionado, it’s likely you’re familiar with Maker’s Mark and its signature red cap. The brand has succeeded in becoming one of the more popular bourbon brand names on the list. But if you haven’t tried Maker’s Mark 46, it’s definitely one to add to your liquor shelf.
Coming in at around $40, Maker’s Mark 46 is an indulgence for whiskey enthusiasts (via Drizly). The wheat-based spirit is astoundingly smooth, and it’s drowning with notes of caramel and vanilla. Maker’s tends to be popular because it’s on the sweeter side, and 46 is no different. However, its complexity truly makes it stand out, thanks to its distinct finishing process.
Maker’s Mark 46 is aged like any bourbon, but then distillers throw in French oak staves in the barrels to amp up the earthy flavors of the stuff, according to Master of Malt. This is one of the options on the list that’s best to first try straight on the rocks. But if you buy yourself a bottle, you’ll probably be inspired to experiment with making cocktails out of it.
Bulleit Bourbon 10 Years
Bulleit Bourbon is one of the most versatile options on the market with an extremely balanced flavor profile, so it’s likely whiskey enthusiasts have sipped it before. However, Bulleit has a 10-year-old bourbon that is underrated and worth adding to your list. Bulleit 10 Year is aged in charred American white oak barrels for a decade, resulting in a depth of flavor unmatched by the original. It’s another good spirit to drink alongside its more basic counterpart, to really elevate your bourbon tasting skills.
Bulleit 10 Year is the rich and complicated cousin of the brand’s original blend. It’s fruity without losing the necessary oakiness, as well as containing notes of sweet baked goods. More than 70 reviewers on Whiskey Base rate Bulleit 10 Year 81/100, so it’s a palatable pick to try something new. It also rings up for about $50 a bottle, so a bottle is a nice way to treat yourself, or the whiskey lover in your life.
Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Buffalo Trace has been distilling Kentucky bourbon for more than 200 years, so it’s about time to try it if you haven’t already. Its flavor never fails, with equal hints of sweetness, smoothness, and a bit of spice that blend together perfectly (via The Bourbon Road). If drinking bourbon straight-up isn’t your thing, this is a perfect new bourbon to try in your classic cocktail to shake things up.
Buffalo Trace sells its bourbon for about $30 (via Newport Wine and Spirits). It’s a good option to try at a bar or a friend’s house before buying a bottle, but worth tasting for sure. It’s a staple bourbon on many home bars, so you never know if it might become your new favorite. If not, it’s at least worth checking off your list to figure out what aromas and flavor profiles you prefer in a whiskey, like any good expert would.
Old Grand-Dad 114 Bourbon
If you’re looking to try a new bourbon that contains a higher-than-average alcohol content, Old Grand-Dad 114 is a solid pick that won’t totally burn your throat going down. It is shocking that Old Grand-Dad is bottled at 57% ABV, because it is uncanny how smooth it is. Reviewers at the online whiskey community Connosr comment on the pleasantness of the spirit, especially considering its high alcohol content, and it is an unexpected hit for many drinkers.
If that’s not enough to convince you to try it out, a bottle costs just $39.99. It’s an affordable price for a bourbon with legacy — the spirit was first created during Prohibition as a medicine and has had a modern resurgence as a stiff drink, per Frootbat. If you prefer bourbons on the lighter side, however, it may not be the most practical addition to your liquor cabinet at home.
George Dickel 8-Year Bourbon
George Dickel is another great option for drinkers looking to expand their tastings of bourbons aged for more extended periods of time. Whisky Advocate named the 8-year-old bourbon as one of the Top 20 whiskeys of 2021, so there’s no better time to try it than this year. It’s another fruit-heavy option on the list, with notes of cherries and citrus complementing nutty and earthy flavors. However, those flavors are balanced well rather than trying to compete with one another.
Despite being a more mature bourbon, you can’t beat the price at $39 a bottle (via Total Wine). It’s a solid option to pick up if you’re really looking for something different, and feel like you’ve tried everything on the liquor shelf. Plus, a bottle won’t break the bank, and it will likely be nice to have on hand for cocktails if drinking whiskey straight-up isn’t your thing.
Frey Ranch Single Barrel Straight Bourbon
Who says the best bourbons come from Kentucky? If you ask the folks at Frey Ranch, Lake Tahoe can compete just as well as its Midwest counterparts. If you’re looking for a bourbon that feels luxurious but won’t break the bank, Frey Ranch’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a must-buy. Frey Ranch, located in the Northern Nevada Lake Tahoe Watershed region, not only distills their own spirits, but they grow 100% of their grains on-site. A bottle of their classic bourbon retails at just $50, and is sure to impress first-time indulgers with its complex palate.
Frey Ranch’s bourbon is earthy with a punch of fruity flavors — almost as if it channels its origins at the Frey Ranch farm. There are distinct notes of cherries, which pairs well with the whiskey’s sweetness. The most interesting part of this spirit is its rich mouthfeel, which makes the flavors of the smooth spirit pleasantly linger on your tongue.
Wild Turkey 101 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
If you don’t know much about bourbon, you might expect a bottle like Wild Turkey 101 to be just okay. The price point might make you do a double-take — a bottle sells for about $30. However, we all know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, or in this case, its price tag. Wild Turkey 101 is the real deal, and it’s not just because it packs an intoxicating punch at 101 proof. This bourbon is spiced and warm thanks to the extra liquor but fills out with subtle notes of oak, vanilla, and orange peel.
One reviewer on The Bourbon Culture provided a perfect explanation of why this bottle is a must-buy next time you’re at the grocery store. "WT101 is the real deal and a bourbon that would suit anyone well, particularly those with large collections that may find themselves drinking through expensive or rare bottles too quickly," they wrote.
1792 Single Barrel Bourbon
If a spirit has been around since the 18th century, then there is probably a good reason. 1792 Single Barrel is an award-winning bottle that’s exactly what quintessential Kentucky bourbon should be. This liquor not only has a rich caramel color, but is also lead by notes of butterscotch and toffee that stay present throughout. A liquor with the legacy, accolades, and a tasty reputation might sound like it would cost an arm and a leg, but not at all. 1792 Single Barrel is being sold for around $36 on Total Wine.
1792 Single Barrel might not have some of the novel flavor profiles of some of the other options on this list, but it’s an astonishingly good bourbon for its price. It’s rich with a long finish, as pointed out by a review on Whiskey Consensus. "This spirit is not overly complex; however, it is pleasant to drink," the comment reads.
Old Forester 100 Proof Bourbon
Speaking of legacy, Old Forester bourbon has been sold in specially signed and sealed glass bottles since the company began in 1870. The brand was even able to sell whiskey during Prohibition, as it was used for medicinal purposes at the time. Don’t let that sanative history dissuade you from trying Old Forester 100 Proof — the taste is undeniably satisfying, and a bottle costs just around $28 (via Binny’s Beverage Depot). If it ends up not being your favorite bourbon on the rocks, it makes a great base for bourbon cocktails in place of shelling out your pricier bottles.
Old Forester 100 Proof is in honor of the brand’s founder George Garvin Brown, a legend in the business. This particular blend packs heat — thanks to the alcohol — but the flavor is rounded out with notes of fruit, caramel, baking spices, and oak. "I’ll happily sip this neat, quaff it on the rocks, or use it as the base for a Manhattan or a highball cocktail, without feeling that I’m casting pearls before swine," a review on Malt Review reads.
Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Woodford Reserve is a common bottle to see behind bars or on liquor store shelves. It’s a modern, yet distinguished bourbon — Woodford is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby and has been around since small batch production began in the 1990s (via Woodford Reserve). For having such a robust reputation, a bottle of this classic only costs around $40, so it’s a reasonably priced pick to add to your liquor cabinet (via Drizly).
Woodford is a great tool to start understanding the small complexities that different whiskey spirits can have. One sip of this bourbon is full of various notes like oak, vanilla, and pepper that all mix together seamlessly. One minute, it’s bursting with heat, and the next, you get a hit of sweetness. " This is my go-to bourbon. This is what introduced me to the spirit. Love this," one Flaviar review reads.
Chattanooga Whiskey 111 Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Kentucky may be the bourbon capital, but Chattanooga Whiskey is proof that you shouldn’t count out Tennessee. Chattanooga Whiskey 111 is a labor of love. The distillers use single fermentation in small batches for this blend, also forgoing the usual filtration process. This bourbon is full of natural flavor, thanks also to its unique 4-grain mash. The tastes wash over your senses as malty, fruity, and woody at the same time, yet they keep their balance (via Chattanooga Whiskey). The spirit currently costs around $50 at Total Wine, which is a bargain for a whiskey with so much complexity.
Rick House Ramblings wrote a review that encapsulates the experience of sipping Chattanooga Whiskey 111 Straight Bourbon. "Every sip changes and offers a different flavor profile than the one before," it reads. "This makes it difficult to nail down tasting profiles for the sake of a review, however, it makes for a fun and interesting drinking experience."
Legent Kentucky Straight Bourbon
For a novice bourbon drinker, many run-of-the-mill varieties on the market end up tasting decidedly similar. It takes time to develop a palate that notices the delicate points an individual blend offers, especially if you’re sampling more than one at a time. Legent Kentucky Bourbon, though, is unequivocally one-of-a-kind from the second you open up a bottle.
Legent bourbon whiskey is partially finished in red wine and sherry casks, leading to a bold bourbon with fruity flavors. As Liquor.com points out in its review, the singularity of each batch is far from your average, and you can never really know what to expect. "Legent is a landscape changing bourbon. It takes what you expect from a Kentucky straight bourbon, expands it, and opens it up to a world of new ideas and possibilities," a review from The Whiskey Jug reads.
Total Wine sells this distinct spirit for $45 a bottle, so it’s worth trying at least once, especially if you are looking to expand your dark liquor knowledge.
Breckenridge Reserve Blend Bourbon Whiskey
If you’re someone who likes a whiskey that’s heavy in rye notes but still a definitive bourbon, Breckenridge Reserve Blend should be the next bottle on your must-try list. Rolling down from Colorado, this blend is matured in barrels from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana, making it a bourbon that can live up to its traditional Southern competitors. Breckenridge Distillery claims to blend up to three different expressions at a time, meaning that every bottle is diverse and nuanced. This bourbon tends to contain sweet flavors like molasses and caramel, paired with warm bakery scents of cardamom, vanilla, and even coffee.
According to Drizly, a bottle of Breckenridge bourbon will cost you around $45. It goes down smooth but with a long finish, meaning you really get to savor all of the hidden flavors of each quaff. "Excellent for sipping sweet with a hint of a bite at the end. For the price honestly can’t beat it," one Flaviar review reads.