The Best Bourbon Under $50

by Dane Wilson | Last Updated: December 22, 2022

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Sure, it is not terribly difficult to locate a decent bourbon these days, but are you prepared to pay? Some brands—looking at you Pappy—will give you a heart attack when you see the price tag. There is some good news, though. You do not need to spend hundreds. Try $50. Prepare your palate for a flavorful journey, because this list of the best bourbon under $50 has some new and old favorites for you to discover.

Let’s not keep you waiting.

Table of Contents

best bourbon under $50

The Best Bourbon Under $50

When choosing the following bourbons for the list, a couple of things were taken into consideration. The price was the biggest thing—nothing here is over $50 for a bottle. Next, the flavor. Is the bourbon good? Is the whiskey good for a beginner? Has it won awards? Is it worth your time? Rest assured, the bourbons here have been highly rated and can be used in a variety of ways. You are bound to find one that you love to sip or mix into cocktails.

Here are the 15 best bourbons under $50:

1. Woodford Reserve Bourbon

Do you love a smooth Kentucky bourbon that can be sipped without much of a struggle? Then you are going to love this flagship bourbon from Woodford Reserve. In terms of mouthfeel, this bourbon is a bit on the thin side, but that does not mean it lacks in flavor. Woodford Reserve has created an iconic bourbon that has vanilla from the oak barrels, tannins, spice, and cereal flavors blending together perfectly.  

As such, Woodford Reserve Bourbon is an economical choice for those who are just beginning to explore the complexities of this alcohol. You will find that the experience changes the longer you sip. There are layers of flavors that mix seamlessly. You are going to want to keep your liquor cabinet well stocked with this one; it’s that good.

2. Louisville Distilling Co. Angel’s Envy 

Aged up to 6 years in French oak casks, Angel’s Envy is a heavenly concoction brought to you by the masterminds at Louisville Distilling Co., which has over 200 years of history. Angel’s Envy was inspired by Lincoln Handerson, a master distiller. It looks, smells, and tastes like a handcrafted masterpiece, and that is because it is. Angel’s Envy utilizes mineral-rich water from Kentucky and local grains, giving you a flavor spectrum that includes nuts, vanilla, tangerine, chocolate, and spice all at once.

Is this one the best bourbons under $50? You bet.

3. Maker’s Mark 46

Most people are familiar with the brand Maker’s Mark, but have you heard of 46? This is one you are going to want to snag when you get the chance. Maker’s Mark has done it again. Although slightly higher in price, this indulgent bourbon has the smoothness of silk and the sweetness of a dessert. You get quintessential Maker’s Mark essence but with an additional complexity that is incredibly unique.

Although Maker’s Mark has aged this liquor like any other alcohol they make, they decided to jazz up the aging process by tossing in some French oak pieces to add a bit of earthiness. Maker’s Mark 46 is recommended for sipping neat, but you can also flex your creative muscles and mix it into your favorite bourbon cocktails.

4. Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Buffalo Trace is not new to the world of whiskey and bourbon. They have been distilling Kentucky spirits for over 200 years. Therefore, if you have not tried Buffalo Trace bourbon yet, you are well overdue. Buffalo Trace has a distinguished flavor that is a trifecta of savory, sweet, and smooth. You can drink this bourbon straight or mixed together with other ingredients in a cocktail.

This bourbon has a low-rye mash bill that gives you notes of caramel, corn, and vanilla. Affordable and dependable, Buffalo Trace may just be your new go-to for a delightful Old Fashioned.

5. Wild Turkey 101

Few bourbons are also reliable and mixable as Wild Turkey 101. With an ABV of 50.5%, it is robust, boozy, and smooth enough to standalone or round out your favorite cocktails. Wild Turkey 101 is made using the same high-rye grain bill that Jimmy Russell utilized during the wheated bourbon era during the 1980s and 90s. As such, this bourbon has a unique flavor profile that can be described as pepper, maple, cinnamon, and leather. It has just enough heat to make sipping it straight seem like an adventure.

6. Driftless Glen Bourbon

Coming from Baraboo, Wisconsin (an unusual location), Driftless Glen bourbon has already gathered a following. This bourbon is crafted by using local grains, pure water from a local aquifer, and then distilled and aged on Driftless Glen campus. Bottled at 48% ABV, this bourbon packs a punch. The aromas are sweet, and on the tongue, it has notes of pepper, honey, brown butter, and toffee.

You might think it is a bit cloying when you swallow, but no. Driftless Glen has an astounding clean finish that leaves you wanting more. Do not overlook this bourbon just because it comes from a less recognizable location. The distillery may be new, but they have done something magical. Give this bourbon a shot.

7. Woodinville Whiskey Straight Bourbon

A notable distillery on the west coast is Woodinville Whiskey. Located on the outskirts of Seattle, Woodinville Whiskey’s flagship bourbon is aged for 5 years and bottled at 90 proof. Recently, this bourbon has gained a reputation for being one of the best. Made in small batches, this bourbon is nuanced and rich. Each sip reveals notes of vanilla, caramel, dried fruit, brown sugar, and even cream. The finish warms you right down to your toes.

For the price, you cannot go wrong with this bourbon. Also, if you want something a bit more strong, you can find a barrel-proof bourbon created by Woodinville Whiskey, as well.

8. Old Forester 100 Proof Bourbon

When you want a brand that has made a name for itself, turn to Old Forester. This brand has been distilling and bottling whiskey and bourbon since 1870. Fun fact: Old Forester persisted through the Prohibition age by selling whisky as a medicine. Since then, they have evolved their product line and are now delivering an exemplary 100 proof bourbon that has one of the lowest prices on this list.

Old Forester 100 Proof is a truly satisfying bourbon that will sooth your cravings for a full-bodied cocktail or a straight pour on the rocks. The flavors are rich. There are hints of oak and spices, as well as fruit and caramel. Be prepared to want more than one serving.

9. Redemption High Rye

In order for bourbon to be bourbon, the grain bill must use at least 51% corn. Once distillers fulfill that requirement, they are free to play with the rest of the grains however they wish. Redemption Whiskey did just that with their High Rye bourbon. They made their bourbon with 36% rye.

The result? A bourbon that is a refreshing experience. Aromatic and rich, Redemption High Rye is a spicy drink that entices you to try it a dozen ways. The flavors of oregano, mint, and pepper linger on the tongue, but you will also sense whispers of ginger and fennel. For those who love a spicy bourbon, this is one you are going to want to sample.

10. New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon 

Want to try a bourbon that is refreshing and exciting? Then you are going to want to try the Kentucky bourbon from New Riff. This bourbon is a far cry from sweet; it’s often called “spicy,” thanks to the strong notes of cinnamon and clove. But where does this punchy flavor come from?

It’s all in the grain bill. New Riff uses 5% malted barley, 30% rye, and 65% corn. It’s that 30% rye that creates a unique and irresistible flavor that is savory yet sweet. Plus, this bourbon is only aged for 4 years. Somehow, it manages to be both sharp and smooth, powerful yet somber. New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon is an exceptional liquor to try if you are looking to expand your palate and find a new favorite.

11. Knob Creek Small Batch 9-Year Bourbon

Knob Creek is a well known brand in the world of whiskey and bourbon. The distillery decided to take their line up a notch and introduce a bourbon that showcases everything a Kentucky bourbon can and should be. With an approachable price tag, Knob Creek’s Small Batch 9-Year Bourbon is an incredible spirit that any novice will enjoy. Even those who have tried hundreds of bourbons will want to give this one a try.

As you would expect of Knob Creek, the flavors are rich and full of woodiness from the barrels. It has complexity without getting too heavy. In fact, it is so light and smooth that you can sip this bourbon neat.

12. Larceny Bourbon 

Do you love wheated bourbon? Then you are going to want to give Larceny a try. In fact, it was ranked among the best wheated bourbons in the past few years. See, Larceny was a bit heavy-handed with the wheat in the grain bill, so the bourbon smells like a bakery when you pour it. However, it does not taste like a loaf of bread. Instead, it is the ideal balance of savory and sweet. You get the wheat as well as caramel, honey, and cherries. Additionally, Larceny bourbon is aged for six years, giving it a smooth yet complex profile.

Larceny bourbon is the spirit you use for guests that want to taste something new and surprising. It will bring some zest to Whiskey Sours, for example.

13. Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon

Four Roses is another brand that has some acclaim already. Now, they have a single barrel bourbon that you need to add to your whiskey bucket list. This is one budget bourbon that tastes like it should come from the highest shelf. Aged between 7 and 9 years, Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon is heavy, heady, and sweet. There are notes of tobacco and wood, as well as chocolate and pie spices. To balance out these distinct flavors is a fruity scent.

The best thing about this bourbon, though, is how reliable it is. You know that when you add Four Roses bourbon to a cocktail or drink it neat, it is going to taste good. There is no question. You can’t go wrong with this one, no matter the occasion.

14. Heaven’s Door Straight Bourbon Whiskey

You can thank Bob Dylan, the musical mastermind himself, for this Tennessee bourbon. Aptly named Heaven’s Door after the song “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” this bourbon is at the high end of the price limit. If you have high expectations, don’t worry. This bourbon is not going to disappoint.

Heaven’s Door ages the bourbon for about 6 years. It is warm, sweet, and smooth. There is an array of spices that blend with the vanilla imbued by the casks. You may also get some dried fruit on the tongue. All in all, Heaven’s Door bourbon is well-rounded, even-bodied, and is a perfect spirit for those who are fans of Bob Dylan and his music.

15. Early Times Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon

Bourbon should be an experience. Early Times Bottled-in-Bond Kentucky Straight bourbon promises to be just that, particularly if you like savory spirits. The “bottled in bond” on the label is also a big deal. A “bottled in bond” designation is prized among distilleries, because it means that not only did the distillery adhere to tradition, it means Early Times met or exceeded rigorous demands.

In order to be “bottled in bond,” a spirit must be aged for at least 4 years and be bottled at 100 proof exactly. Additionally, the spirit has to be made at a single distillery by only one distiller then matured at a bonded warehouse. Now, you get to try a bottled-in-bond bourbon under $50. That’s something to talk about.

But you should not drink a bourbon just because of this distinction. No, drink Early Times Kentucky Straight because it is delicious. The flavors are complex yet pleasant. You do not get bogged down by anything too heavy. The notes of oak and tobacco lace the sweeter edge of the bourbon, making it a delightful bourbon for anyone.

Is Quality Reflective of Price?

When you are searching for the best bourbon under $50, one thing that is on most people’s mind is getting the best quality for a reasonable price. That may lead you to wonder if there is any correlation between price and quality. Is there a reason Pappy Van Winkle can sell for thousands of dollars while Maker’s Mark is well below $50?

It depends.

Like most liquor, there is a low and high end. In the middle, you get a good balance of quality for price. In fact, it is not uncommon to find an exceptional bottle of bourbon for less than $50 that rivals a premiere Scotch. Then there are the upper tiers of bourbon that are expensive because of the status of the brand rather than the quality.

What is the Best Way to Drink Bourbon?

In order to maximize your bourbon drinking experience, you should know how to make each of the brands on the above list shine. There are four ways to drink bourbon, neat, on the rocks, with a splash of water, or in a cocktail. How you choose to enjoy bourbon is ultimately up to you, but some styles of bourbon taste better one way.

If you choose to drink bourbon neat, it means it a dram served at room temperature from a snifter or rocks glass. This is recommended for seasoned bourbon drinkers who know how to taste their drink. A smooth 6 year old bourbon is ideal for this.

Want to enjoy a bourbon on the rocks? Put an ice ball or metal cubes in there to give the bourbon a slight chill. Doing so will tone down spicier bourbon, making it smoother.

Lastly, consider mixing different kinds of bourbons into cocktails like Manhattans, Mint Juleps, Bourbon and Coke, or Old Fashioned. Kentucky Mules are perfect for bourbons like Early Times Bottled in Bond Kentucky Straight or Wild Turkey 101.

This video gives you some cocktail ideas:

Bottoms Up on the Best Bourbon Under $50

Bourbon is a wonderful spirit that is complex and rich—and the price reflects that. So, what is the best bourbon under $50? There are so many to choose from, including Maker’s Mark 46, Early Times Bottled in Bond Kentucky Straight, Wild Turkey 101, and more. Why not consider trying all the ones on this list? The price is right! Just remember to drink your bourbon responsibly, as most of these have a higher proof.

FAQs

What is the smoothest bourbon to sip?

There are many smooth sipping bourbons available. Some are also below $50. Some examples include Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Maker’s Mark, Driftless Glen Bourbon,  and Old Forester Signature.

What is the best bourbon money can buy?

The best bourbon in the world is also among the most expensive. Brands like Blanton’s, Pappy Van Winkle, Henry Mckenna, and Knob Creek are all of exceptional quality.

Why is bourbon expensive?

Bourbon—and whiskey, in general—is expensive because of a tax called “ad valorem,” which is added on each year an alcohol ages. In order for bourbon to age and get more smooth, it has to sit for a while, which means it is taxed at a higher rate. Furthermore, there is supply and demand and inflation to take into account.