You can find a decent quality bottle of bourbon at just about any price. Sure, it takes a little knowing what’s what versus just grabbing any bottle of whiskey off the bottom shelf, but if you know what you’re looking for then you’ll always leave the liquor store satisfied.
Personally, I tend to gravitate toward the under $50 range. You’ll reliably find truly excellent bourbons between $30 and $50. But what about the underrated, budget bourbons? Or what if you’re after a pricey bourbon that tastes even better than the $100 MSRP?
These high-quality bourbons punch well above their price tag. Added points if you can find these bourbons at your neighborhood liquor store.
A bit of housekeeping: These prices will certainly vary depending on where you live. However, these bourbons should still fall generally within the price range noted.
$10 to $30
Old Grand Dad Bourbon Whiskey
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better whiskey under $20. Hell, it’s hard to find even a good whiskey under $20. But Old Grand Dad Bourbon might as well be the de facto “bang for your buck” option. While it certainly isn’t the best-tasting bourbon on this list, it does a lot with a little, offering lovely spice notes alongside some smoky char and a healthy bit of bite. You’ll find it in plenty of bourbon cocktails at bars across the country as the well whiskey of choice. Bartenders and bourbon enthusiasts will often tell you that, as far as bottom-shelf bourbons go, it’s hard to beat Old Grand Dad.
$30 to $50
Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon
For those in the know, this is an obvious pick. But for a sub-$50 bourbon, you can’t do better than Four Roses Small Batch. In fact, this isn’t the first time I’ve dished out praise for Four Roses. Small Batch is one of the best regularly available bourbons on the market. Smooth with a touch of fruit character, this bourbon is well worth the $30 to $40 you’ll likely spend on it.
$50 to $70
Noah’s Mill Bourbon
Noah’s Mill might not have achieved the same mainstream success as other Kentucky bourbons, but it continues to earn nods of approval from bourbon enthusiasts for its under-the-radar allure. And it happens to taste really damn good. At 114.3 proof, it’s a pretty hefty bourbon with quite the lasting burn. You’ll also find some really nice tobacco, orange peel, and vanilla notes throughout with a long finish. It won’t be the easiest bottle of bourbon to find, but in this price range, it’s certainly one of the best. Sip it neat or with a single large ice cube.
$70 to $100
Old Forester Single Barrel Barrel Strength Bourbon
The bourbons from here on out on this list are probably not ones that you want to use in cocktails. These bourbons should be appreciated on their own or perhaps on the rocks. The Barrel Strength Single Barrel iteration of this Old Forester Bourbon is an impressive whiskey. 65% ABV packs a solid punch. And yet, despite that strength, you can expect a relatively mellow and balanced journey with caramel, char, spiced fruits, and a touch of nuttiness.
$100 to $150
Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon
Even if you’re just peripherally familiar with bourbon, there’s a good chance you know about Blanton’s. Purveyors of some of the finest bourbon on the market, Blanton’s is the benchmark for bourbon enthusiasts approaching the top-tier of whiskey. With it’s distinctive bottle shape, Blanton’s tends to stick out on liquor store and bar shelves — that is, when you can find it. Vanilla and caramel notes dominate, but you’ll find plenty of nuance in this seriously solid single barrel bourbon.
$150 to $200
Wild Turkey Master’s Keep 17 Year
Wild Turkey produces The Master’s Keep Series as an ode to and celebration of the distillery’s whiskey-making heritage. This particular bourbon, aged for 17 years in American Oak casks, delivers a silky smooth experience and waves of complex flavors. The typical vanilla and oak char notes are there, but a choir of spices chimes in with each sip. While it’s a pricey offering, it still falls under the $200 price tag and is well worth the cost. Save a bottle for a celebratory occasion.
Michter’s 10 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon
As a disclaimer, there is a vast selection of excellent bottles priced well above $200. Some of the most famous are from the inimitable Pappy lineup, which has bottles that regularly hit the $1,000+ mark. But, to keep things relatively approachable, this pick is something that you can find with more ease and regularity than those Pappy white whales. Michter’s 10 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon is a whiskey that tends to hover around the $200 price tag. Sometimes you’ll find cheaper, sometimes more expensive. Regardless, this is an excellent bourbon. Michter’s standard bourbon is nothing to scoff at, but this 10-year expression is an even richer, more complex drinking experience. Expect big vanilla, toffee, maple syrup flavors and a lush, warm ride throughout.