Bucket list booze is great, but some of us enjoy drinking on a near-daily basis. We need cheap whiskey in order to do that. Just because you can’t splash the cash doesn’t mean you can’t drink well. Some of the best tasting whiskey can be had for a reasonable sum. Here’s a look at some of the top rated whiskies that are easily found and can be yours for less than $30.


Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage

This bottle is the reason for limiting the list to one per brand. Every year Evan Willams releases a new 9-10 year old vintage for their Single Barrel, and every year it’s liquid glory in a bottle. It’s surprisingly easy to find and might just be the best value in all of whiskey. $25


Alberta Rye Whisky Dark Batch

The American release of a Canadian whisky owned by Beam-Suntory. It’s 45.5% pot-still rye aged 6 years in new oak, 45.5% column-still rye aged 12 years in ex-bourbon barrels, 8% Old Grand-Dad bourbon, and 1% sherry. Got all that? It’s confusingly wonderful. $29


Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

There are a plethora of reasons you shouldn’t rely on Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible to determine the best whiskey, but it’s a safe bet that whatever takes the title is good booze. Such is the case with 2016 winner, Northern Harvest Rye, which certainly isn’t the best but is absolutely worth drinking. $25


Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition

The real “Real McCoy” was notorious for smuggling Cutty Sark during prohibition, and this rough-around-the-edges spirit is a tribute to said manly man. It’s a great example of why you should give blended scotch a shot. Just don’t make the mistake of grabbing the old green Cutty bottle instead. $28


Buffalo Trace

Everything Buffalo Trace produces is on allocation, but unlike their Pappy, Stagg, etc., the flagship Buffalo Trace is pretty easy to get your hands on. It’s also an amazing bourbon for a small price. They could dub it “premium” and charge mid-$30s, but unluckily for our livers they haven’t. $24


George Dickel Superior No. 12

I’ll tickle your pickle for a bottle of Dickel. Actually, at $22 I don’t need stoop to that. No. 12 is a big blast of corn that absolutely outkicks its coverage in terms of flavor and interest. $22


Sam Houston American Straight Whiskey

Branding this as American Straight Whiskey made from Kentucky Bourbon left everyone confused about what’s actually in the bottle. Many assume it’s just marketing to differentiate itself from the hundreds of bourbons, but either way the mystery whiskey itself is an interesting Texas treat. $23



This might be the most forthright labeling in the game today. “Blended rye whisky with natural flavors & caramel color” is prominently displayed on the front of the bottle. It’s easy to be that honest when you’ve got a great product that’s light and easy to drink at a bargain price. $15


The Irishman Founder’s Reserve

The triple-distilled blend of 30% Single Pot (only legally made in Ireland) and 70% Single Malt make this a very interesting and unique spirit. The unmalted barely in the Single Pot portion adds a spiciness and graininess you might not be accustomed to in your everyday Irish whiskey. $28


Forty Creek Barrel Select

These folks pride themselves on not taking things too seriously, but they still manage to make some serious whiskey. Rich and Canadian rarely describe the same whisky, but this bottle packs so much flavor it might as well be filled to the brim with toonies. $22


Johnnie Walker Black 12 Year Old

It doesn’t get much more classic than Johnnie Walker Black, but just because it’s ever-present doesn’t make it any less amazing. About 35 different whiskies go into the blend, so you know it isn’t boring. And Johnnie might as well have invented the term “consistency.” $25


Small Batch 1792 Ridgemont Reserve

Now known just as 1792, this bourbon is my go-to for anyone who needs to bring a bottle to a party or tasting. The eight-year-old whiskey punches well above its price point and is unique enough to stand out in any crowd. If you take one thing away from this article, let it be 1792. $30

Honorable Mention:


Bastille 1789

Could you have named a French whisky before this exact moment? We didn’t think so. That alone gives Bastille the bonus spot on the list. It’s made from malted barley and wheat, distilled in an Alembic still typically used for making cognac, and aged in cherry, acacia, and Limousin oak. $28

*Prices based on the lowest available online through Binnys, BevMo, or Total Wine.

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Unzip your coat and have some mulled wine on the house—you’ve arrived at your final gifting destination: The Holiday Gift Guide. It’s like your friendly neighborhood one-stop holiday shop, except instead of balsa wood ornaments, ours is packed with thoughtful gifts for everyone on your list. Future heirlooms, small-but-significant stocking stuffers, and gear for getting out there (or staying in)—are all right here. There’s no music playing in the background though, so you’ll just have to hum Bing Crosby while you click around instead.

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