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5 fan-favorite budget bourbon bottles, ranked

We picked 5 of the best budget bourbons

Whiskey glass
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If you’re a whiskey drinker on a budget, your best bet is bourbon. While you can find deals in the single malt scotch whisky world and with other types of whisk(e)y, the best bargains can be found in the bourbon realm.

For those new to this sweet, mellow whiskey, in order to be called a bourbon, it must fit a few parameters. First and foremost, it must be made with a mash bill of at least 51% corn (although many bourbons have a much higher percentage). Secondly, it must be made in new, charred oak barrels, be distilled to no more than 160-proof, added to the barrel at no more than 125-proof, and bottled at a minimum of 80-proof and no more than 150-proof.

On top of that, it must be made in the US. Although even though some bourbon purists will disagree, it doesn’t have to be made in Kentucky. While 95% of all bourbon is produced in the Blue Grass State, bourbon is made all over the country from Washington State to West Palm Beach and everywhere in between.

Why bourbon?

Whiskey
S. Tsuchiya / Unsplash

And, as we briefly touched on before, all of that bourbon production means that there are more than a few bargain bottles readily available. There are myriad award-winning, exceptional expressions for less than $40 (often way less).

5 fan-favorite budget bourbon bottles, ranked

Whiskey
YesMore Content / Unsplash

Instead of making you find them, we did the work for you. We selected five of the best, fan-favorite budget bourbon bottles and ranked them based on value-to-quality ratio. You’ll find some well-known names beloved by bartenders and home mixologists alike. Keep scrolling to see all the sweet, corn-filled picks.

5.) Old Grand-Dad Bonded

Old Grand-Dad Bonded
Old Grand-Dad

Known for its high-rye mash bill featuring 63% corn, 27% rye, and 10% malted barley, Old Grand-Dad Bonded is known for its bolder, spicier flavor profile. Since it’s a bottle-in-bond bourbon, it’s bottled at a potent 100-proof and was matured in federally bonded warehouses for four full years. The result is a spicy, sweet bourbon with toffee notes, cinnamon candy, vanilla, dried fruits, and charred oak. It’s a great bourbon to have on hand for mixing or rainy-day sipping.

4.) George Dickel Bourbon

George Dickel Bourbon
George Dickel

When you think of George Dickel, you are likely to think of its renowned Tennessee Whiskeys. And while they are great, the brand released a flavorful, complex, reasonably inexpensive bourbon a few years ago as well. Featuring a mash bill of 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley, this 90-proof gem was matured for at least eight years in charred oak barrels. This creates a highly sippable, everyday bourbon featuring notes of orange peel, candied cherries, vanilla, caramel, and oak.

3.) Evan Williams 1783

Evan Williams 1783
Evan Williams

When it comes to underrated, bargain bourbon brands, it’s difficult to beat the appeal of Evan Williams’ whole line. And while you can’t go wrong with anything the brand makes, we suggest its Evan Williams 1783. This award-winning, 90-proof, small batch bourbon is made to honor the year Evan Williams founded the distillery. It’s known for its aromas of oak, vanilla, and sweet corn and a palate of honey, caramel, vanilla, dried fruits, and oak. It’s the kind of nuanced, inexpensive bottle you’ll want on your home bar for all occasions.

2.) Wild Turkey 101

Wild Turkey 101
Wild Turkey

There are few value bourbons more beloved by bartenders and drinkers than the iconic Wild Turkey 101. This 101-proof bourbon has been made the same way for more than 75 years. Matured between 6-8 years in the brand’s deepest alligator charred oak, it’s known for its nose of toasted vanilla beans, oak, and cinnamon. When you sip it neat, you’ll be treated to flavors of vanilla beans, toffee candy, dried fruits, charred oak, and wintry spices.

1.) Elijah Craig Small Batch

Elijah Craig Small Batch
Elijah Craig

If you only try one budget-friendly bottle on this list, make it Elijah Craig Small Batch. Named for the man some believe invented bourbon, this award-winning whiskey is aged in level 3 charred oak barrels between 8 and 12 full years. This creates a complex, highly sippable bourbon with notes of vanilla beans, mint leaves, honey, butterscotch, and rich, oaky wood. Add this exceptional expression to your home bar and you’ll never want to be without a bottle.

Whiskey glass
Thomas Park/Unsplash

Bottom line

When it comes to picking budget-friendly bourbons, the key is determining how much you’re willing to spend and what you plan to use the bourbon for. If you’re looking for a sipping whiskey, you might want to spend a little more than a mixing whiskey.

Editors' Recommendations

Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
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