10 Solid Bourbons Under $50
by Nat Harry, Spirits Buyer
Good bourbon doesn’t have to be expensive. Louder for the peeps in the back … you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get great bottles! Here are some of our favorite values:
This was barrel selected especially for Cask, and despite older bourbons being en vogue, most of my favorite bourbons are under 10 years old. This bottle might just be the most ridiculous value on our bourbon shelf right now. It’s 9 years old, 47% ABV, and it’s UNDER $30. Notes of graham cracker and PB&J.
One of our favorite underdog bourbons that should be a home bar staple for brown liquor tipplers, 1792 quietly releases a number of special barrels each year that are made and priced for drinking, not collecting. Always exceeds expectations.
Don’t forget about this cult classic that can always use a little more love. High rye mash bill and sitting around a 100 proof, its a bourbon that will suit all your needs. It’s a lovely sipper and if you’re a fan of any other Willet bourbons, you can always rest easy knowing who’s behind this expert blending.
Plenty of whiskey drinkers don’t give this old school bottle a second look. Yea, it looks like something in your great grandpa’s secret booze collection. And maybe he knew something you didn’t -- maybe old gramps outsmarted you so he didn’t have to share with the rest of the family. Be prepared to say “wait, this is Evan Williams?”
Just a reminder here, we’re not judging how pretty the label is, this is about the quality of the juice. Get yourself a nice decanter and pour this right in, recycle the bottle and now you have a “house” bourbon and a whiskey secret. Thought to be at least six years old.
It’s Maker’s Mark but on steroids! This front palate whiskey gets bumped up a notch with the addition of French Oak staves. It’s an easy wheated sipper.
Wyoming Whiskey is produced in a little town called Kirby, right in the middle of the Bighorn Basin. Out here you’ll find plenty of grain and corn, and pure limestone water runs beneath the bedrock of the family’s land. And I hope you just read all that aloud in your best Sam Elliot voice, because that makes all the difference. But moving along, still in baritone, these fifth generation Wyoming farmers and ranchers turned to bourbon veteran Steve Nally to develop a plan to build Wyoming’s first bourbon distillery. Nally, who had been with Maker’s Mark for more than 30 years, helped set their plan in motion. The whiskey, which they waited to release at around the 5 year mark (no baby bourbon here!), is a great addition to the world of independent whiskey distillers.
The Fingerlakes region isn’t just for wine any more! This little New York distillery has been making a variety of spirits just a short drive up the road from Ithaca. Their newest release is a Bottled in Bond bourbon with a wheated mash bill for all you wheat seekers. A blend of four to six year old whiskey aged in full sized barrels, this a great example of how much progress is being made in the craft whiskey category.
It’s the poor man’s Basil Hayden, but even that sells it short. The same juice as your beloved Basil, just a couple years younger and a little bit higher ABV. Mix away my friends, mix away.
Cleveland Underground Reserve Bourbon $32
Purists, close your eyes, move along. This self proclaimed technology company in Ohio isn’t trying to be a craft distillery or replace anyone’s favorite go-to bottle. But they are giving us some things to think about. Technically a bourbon, as it’s seen some time in American oak barrels, but the rest of the aging is aided by science! These guys love to play with different wood types, so keep any eye out for other releases such as their Cherrywood. I dare you to put this in a blind tasting with a couple of the others on this list.