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For some people, drinking alcohol is a hobby and for others, it is their way of socializing with friends and family. But not everyone has the money to buy expensive whiskey or other alcohols all the time - even if they enjoy drinking them!
Fortunately, there is a budget whiskey for every whiskey lover that still offers an impressive range of flavors. While there are countless of them out there, we have narrowed them down to 20 to help you get started. Without further ado, here are the best cheap whiskeys.
Our Top Picks
Best for Mixed Drinks - Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
• Fruity aromas
Best Light Whiskey - Lot 40 Canadian Rye
• Distilled in copper pot stills
Best Blended Scotch - The Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky
• Well-balanced malt
Best Whiskeys Under $20
The taste of Rebel Straight Bourbon 80 Proof is a throwback to the original, time-honored recipe with a big round body and rich flavor. This best cheap whiskey is made from wheat malt corn syrup that will fill your nose in honey butter raisin smells you can't miss out on.
The nose has notes of honey, a little vanilla, and slightly woody raisin which lead into flavors that include sultanas as well nectarine hint prune. You can taste these on your palate with every sip while finishing warm with pressed apples that remain after drinking!
Evan Williams is one of the best bourbons that's a real treat for your senses. It's made with only the finest ingredients and comes in small batches, meaning that each batch contains 80 carefully selected barrels of goodness.
This extra-aged bourbon is made with a traditional recipe and process that was popularized by Evan Williams. He is a pioneer in the bourbon industry, with roots that date back to 1783.
The Evan Williams "1783" whiskey is a masterful display of oakiness and sweetness that starts out with notes of vanilla, buttered corn on the cob then finishes off with some honey for good measure. The finish is dry yet still creamy due to it being aged in a used barrel, adding another layer not found in other bottles.
Another best cheap whiskey is Old Forester 86 Proof that has a rich and complex flavor. This well-known staple of the line of Brown Forman offers an affordable price point and high roller levels of consumption. The scent of Old Forester Bourbon is oaky, toasty, and sweet with a touch of smoke.
The first sip of Old Forester 86 Proof Bourbon is inviting and warm, which makes it a great half of a whiskey-cigar pairing. It has candied fruits in the background as well an earthy taste that reminds you it's not all light flavors here. There’s also some complexity to this drink for your senses.
Initial tastes include burnt sugar, and apple with just enough cinnamon to sharpen the sweetness for an overall taste that can be described as homey but still exciting. The first impression of the finish is light, with honey and toasted grains that eventually turn to banana notes.
Best Whiskeys Under $25
Suntory Toki whisky is the product of blending whiskies from Suntory's Hakushu, Yamazaki, and Chita distilleries. The result is an exquisite balance due to a beautifully customized process - just what you would expect from one of the most prestigious and best Japanese whiskies.
Suntory Toki is a blend of single malt and grain whiskies that was created to evoke the taste and feeling associated with time. It has been compared with its sister, Hibiki, but it actually has a different composition. It starts with the nose honey and basil.
Then, the palate follows with green apples before delivering grapefruit for your taste buds to enjoy. There's no doubt this drink will be enjoyed by all, especially because it finishes so nicely - subtle, sweet yet spicy from vanilla oak wood smoke and ginger.
The Johnnie Walker Red Label has been around since the early 1900s, though it existed as Walker's Special Old Highland Red Label before. This high-quality blended whisky was created by two brothers - George and Alexander Walker who first made this drink in their fathers' distillery in 1909.
Johnnie Walker Red Label Blended Scotch Whisky is the perfect balance of sweet, fruity notes with just enough spice to keep you coming back for more. The nose hints at apples and pears before revealing itself as a true representation of what's inside.
There are elegant Speysides malts that leave behind their signature smoky finish while delivering alluring flavors such as pear, delicately peeking through cinnamon onto your tongue. There’s no doubt this whiskey will make it hard to stop drinking once you start!
6. Glenfiddich 12-year-old Single Malt
The Glenfiddich 12-year-old Single Malt is one of the world's best-selling malts, and for good reason. The famous bottle has made it into practically every bar across planet earth, but don't let its light and easy-drinking qualities fool you - this stuff packs a punch!
It is a smooth and flavorful drink that can be enjoyed by anyone. It also makes a fantastic drink to pair with a cigar. With its rich aroma, it's easy to see why this whisky ages so well in used American whiskey barrels.
The aroma starts off with buttery orchard fruits mixed with other baking spices such as cinnamon. Notes of oatmeal and cinnamon fill your mouth on the first sip, then it finishes quickly without being too overwhelming or lingering on taste buds after each swallow!
The Speyburn 10 Year Single Malt is easy to drink and has complex flavors for those looking to get more out of their scotch experience. The San Francisco World Spirits Competition awarded this 10-year old single malt with its Gold Medal, making it one of the best malts in Scotland.
This classic Speyburn distillery enjoys an exquisite taste that will be sure to please any fan or whiskey connoisseur. Speyburn 10 Year is light and sweet with toasty malted barley and oak notes that are only heightened by its soft palate, thanks in part for being aged ten years before bottling.
The finish has just enough smoke lingering on it from the distillation process, which makes this an easy-going drinker at heart but also something worth appreciating when enjoying oneself out amongst nature during autumn leaves season!
For those looking for a refreshing twist on their favorite tipples, you can try making a DIY infused bourbon whiskey at home. But if you want a quicker route, just buy a bottle of Crown Royal Regal Apple Flavored Whisky!
It’s made with Canadian whisky and flavors from apples grown in the Regal Gala orchards. Crown Royal is very aromatic with light vanilla and caramel notes. You'll smell a pleasant bouquet as Crown Royal offers no alcoholic burn. The undertones of pound cake and lemon zest make for an elegant but gentle scent.
The crisp, tart flavor of the apple shines through in this drink! It’s a great mixer for highballs as well! The sweet taste is hardly noticeable when mixed with other ingredients but stands out nicely on its own or when diluted to your liking.
Best Whiskeys Under $30
Wild Turkey is a reputable and well-known liquor in America. They're known for their American whiskey, which has been aged at least six years before coming out with 109 proof levels! Then it's diluted to arrive at 101 proof.
Wild Turkey is a beautiful and complex bourbon that has notes of vanilla ice cream, toast with honey sweetness, and spice on granary bread. The nose hasn't been toned down for those who prefer their whiskey rough-around-the-edges, but it's still there in all its glory!
The palate offers up flavors like toasty oak alongside hints of citrus zest with enough butterscotch. This gives way slowly at first then faster until you get hit squarely between your eyes by an intense wave of warmth.
10. Early Times Bottled-in-bond
Early Times Bottled-in-bond has a subtle, approachable scent with hints of honey and orange peel that fade into caramel. While they are light on the nose, these flavors need some time before you can fully appreciate them in your glass or bottle.
This will appeal to those who enjoy sweet drinks. The first impression on the palate are tasting notes of caramel and candy corn, with vanilla mixed in. There are also very subtle tobacco flavors as well as rye spice hints.
As you swirl your glass around while drinking it, note how light these tastes become as more underlying subtleties come out. Early Times finishes with a slightly spicy-sweet mix that finds balance, making for an enjoyable experience.
Old Grand-Dad is one of the most widely distributed bourbon whiskeys in America. It was named after Basil Hayden who started making his signature product with a higher percentage of rye.
The art of distilling has been passed down through three generations. First, it was taught by Basil Hayden to his son and then grandson. In return, Colonel R.B. Hayden commemorated his grandpa by naming his wonderful whiskey creation after him.
In 1882, their signature marriage between body and flavor was recognized as being unique in an ever-changing market. The flavor of this bourbon is very sweet and dessert-like with flavors such as vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg. There are also hints of candied nuts for an extra layer in your drink.
The Benjamin Chapman is a smooth and flavorful spirit that will take you on an aromatic journey with each sip. The Canadian Rye blend of 10-year aged rye whiskey is mixed in equal parts of wheat beer for more roundness.
Then it's distilled by artisans using pure glacial water to bring out the complexity from both ingredients. It's also aged for seven years before being finally bottled at barrel strength so it can reveal all its rich flavors even better as time goes by.
The flavor profile starts out soft and delicate, with just enough sweetness to keep your palate engaged without being overwhelming on the first sip or taste. Towards the end, there’s an earthy spice that rounds everything off nicely. It's not too heavy-handed though.
The Four Roses brand is a symbol of quality and distinction. The distillery uses five proprietary yeast strains, two different mash bills to create 10 whiskey recipes that are then blended into each bottle for an individual taste you can't find anywhere else!
This world-class drink has been used for centuries to create mixed drinks or cocktails with an elegant, and modern flair. It is a smooth, mellow drink with hints of pear and apple that mix well in this whiskey's flavor profile.
It also includes floral aromas as well as a honey spice hint. The finish lingers pleasantly long on your palate before fading away softly, leaving you wanting for more.
Jim Beam Bonded whiskey is the product of a special process that takes it to another level. It is subject to regulations and production rules one would typically find with a standard barrel of whiskey.
Jim Beam Bonded bourbon is a bold, flavorful whiskey with strong hints of honey and spice on the nose. It's smooth yet complex in taste. You will find vanilla bean, as well as mint leaves for even more depth.
Dark chocolate bridges that gap between sweet spices like cinnamon or cloves before giving way to oak notes followed by cherry. The finish isn't too short either, instead, it warms your mouth nicely throughout these cold winter months.
Best Whiskeys Under $40
15. John E. Fitzgerald Larceny Kentucky Straight Very Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey
John E. Fitzgerald is one of the most recognizable names in the whiskey industry. His legacy dates back to the 1870s and it was said that he single-handedly made his distillery and sold one of the finest bourbons at the time.
To this day, people still know him partly because of the honor that Heaven Hills Distillery made for him: the John E. Fitzgerald Larceny whiskey. This whiskey has an aroma of fruity coffee with cedar and coriander spice notes mixed in.
One can taste buttered corn as well as molasses followed by sweet malt loaf flavors which slowly build up to include more Christmas spices at the finish. It also allows you to savor your drink since there are some strong but pleasant peppery tastes!
As an expert in the art of distilling, Lot 40 only uses locally sourced ingredients to craft their 100% rye Canadian whisky. They take pride in providing you with a drink that has been around for generations and will keep your taste buds satisfied while still fitting within today’s standards.
This rye whiskey is distilled in a single copper pot still, and the result is earthy rye with woody flavors that give way to vanilla finishes. The color of this Canadian whisky can be compared to a bright copper penny.
Its nose transitions into initial fruity plum before giving way to menthol followed by cinnamon clove all leading up in complexity from start to finish. There are also hints of smoky black cardamom that can be detected throughout this tasting experience.
The finish is full of rye bread notes from black pepper toasted oak grains as well dusty cinnamon! Master Blender Don Livermore is a true devotee of Lot 40!
Jack Daniel's whiskey is produced using the Tennessee Sour Mash method or the "Lincoln County Process", which includes a step where the fresh spirit is dripped through a sugar maple charcoal vat. This produces smoother and versatile distilled products.
The smell is a pleasant mix of fruitiness with vanilla, oak, and hints of banana and apricot that build as you take more sips. Then subtle hints of cinnamon, smoke, and maple syrup come through to add some additional nuances that make it more interesting.
Best Whiskeys Under $50
The world-renowned whiskey brand Maker's Mark is one no whiskey lover should ever miss because you'll be missing out big time! It's a great drink over ice or used in a cocktail. Furthermore, this bourbon has a nose that will make your mouth water.
The sweet aromas are complemented by oak spice and vanilla with hints of cinnamon. It tastes like a well-rounded, spiced treat. There are tasting notes of brown sugar and dark berries can be found with hints from burnt sugars that have been infused into the alcohol itself for extra flavor.
You'll also notice wonderful spices atop rich notes of caramel throughout your mouth on each sip. Because of its flavor range, this would make a fantastic base for a great infinity bottle.
West Cork Bourbon Cask is a blended Irish whiskey that is made up of 75% grain and 25% malt in its mash bill. It is aged in first-fill bourbon casks to provide you with an extra smooth, subtle taste that will remind you of the warmth a home gives you. Moreover, it is bottled at 40%.
The nose on West Cork Bourbon Irish Whiskey has hints of malt and citrus with some peppery tasting notes. For the taste, you can detect sweetness that lingers long after each sip while crisp orchard fruit is enjoyed at the finish.
The Famous Grouse may be a cheap whiskey but it is a world-class and best-selling Scotch whisky in Scotland. It all started with this rather humble blend. It has been around since 1896, but it wasn't until 1905 that it was named "The Famous Grouse."
On the nose, there are hints of apples and barley, with just enough sweetness from honey or sugar cane syrup added in to make this drink as dessert-like as it gets without being sugary at all!
The palate has thick creamy malt that can only come out when blended together so well by master distillers. It's not an easy task indeed given how many Scotch whiskeys exist within Scotland.
Sometimes, the word "cheap" has a negative connotation regarding quality but this is not always true. You can have the best cheap whiskey and still have a fantastic time.
In fact, some people like it this way because they feel like they're making a great deal. That being said, there's nothing wrong with trying out different types of whiskeys at various price points to find what suits you best!
If you want more interesting liquors, check out the best whiskey brands inspired by celebrities.