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The 8 Best Bang-For-Your-Buck Bourbons

The 8 Best Bang-For-Your-Buck Bourbons

Damn, do we love bourbon. For whatever reason, people sometimes get the wrong idea about this distinctive and storied blend of whiskey. They think it’s super expensive and unapproachable, or exclusively reserved for devout followers of the Church of Good Whiskey. But that’s just not true. In fact, there are a ton of approachable, affordable, and absolutely incredible bourbons out there, and we wanted to prove it. If you don’t want to drop a ton of cash, consider these bourbons under $50 a pop.

Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

We really can’t say enough good things about Buffalo Trace, as they produce some of our all-around favorite bourbon expressions. But far as budget bourbons go, their flagship Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is an unbelievable buy at a more-than-affordable price. You’ll be tasting vanilla, brown sugar, and toffee on the front, with strong oak and spice to finish things off. The name of the game here isn’t boldness. Rather, it’s about being even-keeled and exceptionally approachable. It’s the kind of bourbon that anyone could appreciate—on the rocks, neat, or in a cocktail—no matter their predispositions toward the Kentucky gold. $22

Cooper’s Craft Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

When it comes to budget bourbons, Cooper’s Craft Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is one of our favorites because it’s dirt cheap without being cheaply made, and it’s a whiskey we find to be perfect for people who are new to bourbon or aren’t necessarily bourbon drinkers. At 82 proof, it’s not a heavy-hitter by any means (In fact, its light proofing is one of the biggest complaints about it), but we appreciate Cooper’s Craft for its mellow, lighter finish. It has a very warm corn taste to it, followed by oak, vanilla, leather, and even a little citrus thrown in for good measure. $26

Maker’s Mark

When most people pour their first dram of bourbon, there’s a pretty good bet it’s going to be Maker’s Mark. Is if the best stuff out there? Certainly not. But it’s a staple in the Kentucky bourbon world, and one of the nation’s best-selling bourbons overall. What makes it unique is that it doesn’t feature any rye in its mash bill whatsoever (instead opting for wheat), which means it lends itself to an immediately fruitier, sweeter, fuller body than a lot of other bourbons out there. Over-all, it’s one of our go-to’s, and we certainly can’t argue with its popularity. $29

Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Now, Eagle Rare is distilled, aged, and bottled at the Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfort Kentucky, but it’s worthy of its own label and mention on our list because it is an incredible, delicious bourbon. Eagle Rare is believed to be at least a 10-ish-year aged bourbon (though there’s nothing out there to officially confirm it), and offers a very big, unique flavor profile unlike most of the other whiskeys on this list. It’s a notoriously low rye liquid, which means you’re not getting too much spiciness (which is par for the course in a good bourbon). Instead, think lightly charred roasted marshmallows, stone fruits like cherries, and even a little bit of raisin and molasses. It’s an overall excellent bourbon, regardless of the price point. $35

Old Grand Dad

Every shitty dive bar in the country probably uses Old Grand Dad in their budget beer-and-a-shot combo, but it makes our list because it is one of the most potent budget bourbons out there, without being low quality or painful to drink. Its mash bill is heavy on the rye, which means right off the bat, you’re getting hit with a spicier, cinnamon taste. But it also has a 63% corn concentration, which means brown sugar and vanilla, too. This one is not an easy-going Sunday-afternoon sipping bourbon, but if you’re looking for something stronger and drinkable (this stuff clocks in at 114 proof!), this is an excellent go-around. $35

Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select

Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select isn’t a bourbon that people think of as a budget bourbon. It’s not some kind of “Little Engine That Could”-type of deal. It’s a premium bourbon whiskey that does everything it’s supposed to do (and probably a little more), without the unnecessarily and arbitrarily high price tag. It’s a sweeter, approachable bourbon that gives off layers of vanilla, citrus, and honey, over an oaky, leathery layer in between. If you’re looking for an all-around perfect drinking bourbon that doesn’t need to be a shelf queen, Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select is it. $36

Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon

The “Small Batch” distinction here is dubious, because this stuff is still distilled and bottled by the boatload. However, of the Four Roses expressions out there (All of which we’re fans of), we love the Small Batch Bourbon because even though it’s a little pricier than the flagship stuff, it’s well worth the extra dough. It’s a very soft and easy-going bourbon, with flavor notes of ripened red berries and just a perfect mix of dried spice. You’ll get sweeter oak, caramel, and vanilla in there, too. Overall, we consider it one of our favorite bourbons on the planet. $37

Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

When we were putting together this list, we felt pretty bad not including Wild Turkey 101 on this list because of its incredible availability and widely known label, but we also remembered the ace in our pocket: Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey is technically a Wild Turkey product. So, take that two birds. Russell’s Reserve 10 year ultimately won out because it’s an incredibly big bourbon with an amazing value, whose price we don’t think can be touched by the competition. This is a long, sweet, buttery bourbon with a nose of almond and crème brulee, and taste notes that scream things like vanilla, toffee, and spice. It’s good as it sounds. $40

Want to read more about the best budget bourbons? Click here for Cool Material’s Guide to Bourbon.