You may be a first-time bourbon lover and easily be intimidated by the prices of top-grade whiskey. However, enjoying an excellent bourbon doesn't always have to come with a hefty price tag because some of the best bourbons under 50 dollars are waiting for you to discover.
Nevertheless, it's important to remember to start slow and work your way up. This way, your palate will be able to differentiate the quality and layers of flavors from multiple distilleries. Here is our list of the best bourbon under 50 dollars for beginners and connoisseurs alike.
Best Gift: Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bourbon
Best Budget: Weller Special Reserve
Best Overall: Four Roses Single Barrel
1. Buffalo Trace Bourbon
Fruity Bourbon for All Seasons
Originating from Kentucky, this eight-year-old flagship bourbon brand is not only affordable but riding with a lot of flavors. Buffalo Trace sells a wide variety of bourbons and spirits every average joe will know and love.
It's the long-reigning flagship of the Sazerac Bourbon line-up thanks to its consistency, ensuring mash bill is kept tight. It maintains the usual rye components, malted barley, and no wheat filler when distilling to preserve quality with timeless tradition.
The nosing experience of this budget-friendly bourbon is a sensation that is buttery, nutty, and sweet. The first impression includes a medium amber color with doses of caramel and pumpkin spices. Once you've broken down the layers, hints of butter toffee, mint, and even fruit cake begin to surface the palate, leading to a medium-length finish that lingers.
2. Larceny Small Batch Bourbon
Smooth Trademarked Technique in a Glass
A strong contender for the best bourbon under 50 bucks is the Larceny Small Batch whiskey. One of the oldest and largest bourbon distilleries globally, Heaven Hill Distilleries brings whiskey lovers a distinctive touch of rye and Barley, using just ⅓ more wheat in contrast to other American bourbon distilleries.
When it comes to sweetness and smoothness, this bourbon is a good drink for new whiskey enthusiasts. Strong yet flavorful aromas include warm bread, toffee, and butterscotch. This spirit sparkles at first glance with a polished copper color. The nose on this bad boy is rich yet imbues softer tones with orange, caramel, blossom honey, and if your palate is promising, you'll get a whiff of bread pudding.
3. Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon
Burnt Sugar Bourbon for the Taking
There's something about the Four Roses Single Barrel, and it's not real roses. This great variant stands out in our list of the best bourbon under 50 dollars for its unique recipe. This comeback is like no other, distilling ten different bourbons using two mash recipes and five yeast strains. Flavors that stand out include burnt sugar and cinnamon spices.
Nosing this scintillating concoction will surprise you with a fresh wine aroma, along with sweetened nuts. A mouthful of caramel, vanilla, and raisins will meet your palate. A dense layer will also surface, including a hint of charred oak and coffee, leading to a sweet and long finish for a memorable sipping experience without breaking the bank.
4. Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon
Strong Start with a Sweet Finish
Another one of the best bourbons under 50 bucks, the Elijah Craig Small Batch is here to stay. With 12 years of stellar groundwork in the whiskey world, this great variant is another gem from Heaven Hill Distillers. Elijah Craig boasts full flavors that bring you a strong sip and scintillating finish. It starts with a charred barrel that boasts an intense amber hue.
With classic sweet vanilla and mellowed down an oak that meets you on the first sip, the firey punch wows you as your nose meets further complexity with dried fruit, fresh mint, and nutmeg. Tasting this bourbon will bring your palate memorable hints of woody and smokey accents.
When it comes to sound quality whiskey, pay attention to the finish because that's the last impression your first sip leaves you. With Elijah Craig, the finish may be long, but its toasty touch and sweetness sealed our approval.
5. Woodford Reserve Bourbon
Smokey Woodford with a Toffee Punch
Woodford Reserve is another proud selection that could be the best bourbon under 50 bucks on our list. Distilled by a pioneer in the world of whiskey, Woodford Reserve is one of America's best wine and spirit manufacturers to this day.
This bourbon brings a dark amber with classy tones of dried cherries, candied oranges, and vanilla. The palate is met with smokey flavors resembling pipe tobacco that balances out the richness of toffee, caramel, chocolate, and orange zest. A creamy and lingering finish gives you a tangible sensation that will make you reach for another sip.
The Woodford Reserve is one of the best bourbons used for cocktails. Its vanilla sweetness, along with its spicey hints, makes for a complimentary Old Fashioned.
6. Eagle Rare 10-Year-Old Bourbon Whiskey
Ten-Year Leather Load Down
Eagle Rare has to be on our list of the best bourbon under 50 dollars. An award-winning spirit, this 10-year-old bourbon whiskey won the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. To this day, it continues to baffle bourbon lovers with its vast array of flavors and its signature tasting experience.
Perfectly served on a rocks glass with a splash of water, this bourbon boasts aromas that dwell on stewed fruits. A captivating honey gold color brings your nosing experience to a complex yet inviting scent of toffee, honey, orange peel, and leather. An oily yet spicey vanilla flavor layered with candied almonds and sweet char welcomes your palate.
If you like bourbon with a lingering and spicy finish, this might be the choice for you.
7. Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey
Smoked Maple Bourbon that won’t Break the Bank
Another delightful bourbon under 50 bucks is Knob Creek. It's a bourbon blend that was distilled from Jim Beam in Kentucky. Boasting an aging process that took up to nine years and priced at an affordable rate, this whiskey is a bargain.
It is a particular small batch of bourbon tailored for mixers and cocktail lovers. Tasting notes include buttery toast, rye spice, and maple syrup for a scintillating aroma and palate. It sends you into a flavor spiral right at first glance with a copper to an even medium amber look.
The nosing will give you maple, vanilla, and caramel hints, whereas pepper, toffee, and cinnamon layers awaken your palate. A delicate finish offers you a smokiness and smoothness down to the tee.
8. Breckenridge Reserve Blend Bourbon
Custard Caramel Bourbon Bet
Breckenridge Reserve Blend is another undoubted candidate for the best bourbon under 50 dollars. Breckenridge Distillery is located in Colorado, USA, and is one of the country's young yet stand-out distillers.
This bourbon is made with 56% yellow corn, 38% green rye, and 6% unmalted barley aged in white oak barrels. Its unique nosing and tasting experience is a blend that plays with aromatics quite well. Nosing this bourbon takes you to the movies, where the scent of caramel popcorn mingles with freshly brewed coffee.
Sweetness, oakiness, and stewed fruit will surprise your palate, along with layers of creme caramel and porridge oats. The finish is long and lingers with sweet oak and vanilla hints bound to get you to buy more bottles.
9. Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon
Turkish Delight with a Honeysuckle Seal
Authenticity at its finest, Wild Turkey Rare Breed is a bourbon every whiskey lover has probably tasted once in their life since its release in 1991. This bourbon variety is uncut with water and plays with sweet tobacco and mint tones for wild layers of flavor—a must-try.
Another budget-friendly buy, Wild Turkey Rare Breed, is a top-shelf contender with rich flavors of toffee, caramel, vanilla, and hints of wood that packs with heat. Nosing this baby is excellent with a mahogany red color that piques your interest at first glance.
Wait till the spice kicks in on the palate, layered with black pepper, honeysuckle, orange, and oak, leading to a bold and complex finish to remember.
10. New Riff Bourbon
Neat, Non-GMO Bourbon with a Bite
When it comes to the best bourbon under 50 dollars, New Riff has to qualify. It may be a bit pricier than other four-year-old bourbons, but its quality is a bang for the buck. With 65% corn, 30% rye, and 5% malted barley, the mash bill is tight with non-GMO components that make value for money an understatement.
Distilled back in 2014, this bourbon is 100 proof and is a bottle you can get for less than $40. Looking at this bourbon will find you wide-eyed with its unfiltered, deep amber color.
Butterscotch notes are layered with caramel, rye spice, vanilla, and dry citrus. A neat finish brings out the acidic element met with a literal sharpness in your tongue due to the sweet caramel and pepper blends. It's not for the picky drinkers but well worth a sip if you're a newbie to the world of whiskey.
11. Michter's US*1 Bourbon
Bonafide Bourbon with a Toasty Caramel Finish
Michter's is no stranger to fussy whiskey enthusiasts. Their US*1 bourbon is one of the top contenders on our list of the best bourbon under 50 bucks. This bottle is full of layered flavors that won't have to make you tug on your pocket strings so hard.
With vanilla notes accompanied by dried fruits, this bourbon is distilled in small batches of no more than two dozen barrels in Louisville, Kentucky.
Nosing a glass of this whiskey will bring you tones of caramel and apple. Baked cinnamon, candied apples, and burnt sugar make it to your palate for a neat and toasted finish you would want to sip on a second time.
12. Weller Special Reserve Bourbon
Sazerac’s Sacred Cherry Bonanza
Another heavy hitter by Sazerac Company and distilled by Buffalo Trace, the Stitzel Weller bourbon whiskey is a must-try. At an affordable price, whiskey lovers will find this bourbon aged in a new, charred American oak barrel.
Weller Special Reserve features an original wheat flavor that exudes a smoothness incomparable to other Weller whiskies. It starts off your drinking experience with a visible burnt orange color. Nosing this 90 proof bourbon starts with honey tones, a few cherries, and a distinct leathery aroma.
The palate is clean and balances off the sweet tones with pepper, tart apples, and honey. Caramel eventually follows through towards the end, making the finish medium length and quite spicy with a subtle sweetness that lingers. This is one of the rather sharp yet sweet bourbons on our list.
13. Maker's Mark Bourbon (Maker's 46)
Bold Bourbon with a Chocolate Chuckle
This bourbon under 50 dollars is another superb option from Maker's Mark Distillery. It comes with bolder tones but is still soft enough to linger on the palate without haste.
Maker's 46 is aged in barrels with French oak staves that create mouth-watering bourbon that is best served neat with ice on a tasteful Glencairn glass. Tasting notes include butterscotch, toasted oak, cherries, and chocolate on the first sip.
As it makes its way to the depths of your palate, the burn will follow with a sweet and soft rye flavor, layered with hints of rose, vanilla, and corn. The Maker's Mark Bourbon is a must-try wherever you are in your whiskey tasting journey.
14. John J. Bowman Single Barrel Bourbon
John's Award-Winning Vanilla Packer
One of the most distinct bourbons under 50 bucks, the John J. Bowman Single Barrel Bourbon is a drink for all seasons. Best served neat and on the rocks, this whiskey emanates with superb flavors of caramel, baking spices, and biscuits for blended flavors worth exploring.
Buttery notes will lead to the 100 proof that creates a slow yet scintillating burn once you get past the sweet and unforgettable vanilla-infused taste.
Great for date nights out or a pre-game, John J. Bowman's Single Barrel Bourbon is a choice that will bring you Kentucky's award-winning concoction. After a couple of sips, its sturdy finish will make you gaze at its shiny, toasted color with delight.
15. Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bourbon
Heaven Hill's Nectar for the Gods
Distilled in Heaven Hill, this whiskey is another budget-friendly option to bask on. The 10-year-old award-winning bourbon is an excellent variant that has stood out in the San Francisco International Spirits Competition.
This bourbon under 50 dollars creates a fantastic tasting experience from the first to the last sip with its leathery tones. It will offer you a nosing decked with layers of burnt sugar, creamy caramel, and cloves.
A bottle of this bourbon for a birthday celebration is an excellent choice to commemorate another year of growth—the same way to honor the great possibility of this drink growing on you a few sips here and there.
Bourbon on a Budget
Did you like our list of the best bourbons under 50 bucks? Work your way up the bourbon ladder and appreciate the layers of hypnotizing flavors with one of our contenders. Our selection boasts versatility and quality without having to second guess the price tags.
Let us know in the comments which ones you've checked off your bourbon tasting journey. Don’t forget to share this article with your fellow whiskey enthusiasts.