Best Bourbon Under $50

Alex author
by: ALEX WANG
Founder, writer

Avoid duds with my recommendations on some of the best bourbons under $50

There’s a lot of bourbon out there, and it sucks to waste your money on bourbon you don’t like. That’s why I’ve put together this list of some (but not all) of the best bourbon under $50. Before I forget, check out my guide on some of the best bourbons under $100 to get an idea of what I think is worthwhile in that price range.
The topic itself is quite broad and full of opinions, so these are just my thoughts on the subject. Let me preface with the fact that I haven’t had all or even half of all the bourbons under $50, so this isn’t a definitive or complete list, and it’s not meant to be.
But, I have reviewed many of the offerings from the major distilleries, so I generally have a good idea of the bourbon you may be able to find across the US. I still have more to do to cover more of the spectrum, and I look forward to doing the “work,” to be more comprehensive and knowledgeable.
Here’s the general criteria I used so you understand my general thought process.
  • Avoid limited or one time releases
  • I reviewed it and liked it. Mid Shelf+ or better
  • Focus mostly on widely distributed and available bourbons so this list is actually useful
  • Try to avoid barrel picks if possible
I also want to specifically mention that there won’t be much craft bourbon. First, I just haven’t had much of it, and that needs to change. Second, distribution for most of them is limited at best, so recommending them is often not useful for most.
Alright that’s enough setup, so here’s my list of some (but not all) of the best bourbons under $50 in order of price. This is not a ranking in terms of quality or rating.
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Best Bourbon Under $50

The list

Evan Wiliams Black Label

Best Bourbon under $50 #1

Distillery: Heaven Hill

Rating: Mid Shelf

Price: $12-15

ABV: 43%
I’m starting right out of the gate with an exception to my rule – a “Mid Shelf” bourbon. I wanted to start with this because Evan Williams Black Label is so affordable yet surprisingly good. In the scents and flavors, Black Label offers a nice range of sweet, herbal, oaky, and spicy traits, while avoiding any “weird” or “off” funky vanilla or bitter grains.
It’s a little bit oak and grass-forward, but overall very enjoyable for the price. I mean…come on it’s under $20 for a 750mL. I’ve had similarly cheap bourbons like Benchmark Bourbon and Jim Beam White Label that are flavorful and have some of those “cheap” and “young” traits. I have a bit of a controversial opinion as well, I think that Evan Williams Black Label its a 70%ish alternative to Buffalo Trace.

Evan Wiliams Bottled in Bond

Best Bourbon under $50 #2

Distillery: Heaven Hill

Rating: Mid Shelf+

Price: $20

ABV: 50%
Evan Williams Bottled in Bond for me is the best budget bourbon there is. For around $20, you get a fairly dark, sweet, roasty, and well-developed bourbon that’s tasty neat and has enough heft for cocktails. My review goes into the nitty gritty details of how it drinks if you want to know more.
It’s not necessarily amazing and doesn’t push any boundaries, but it has enough richness and nothing “off” about it to make it unbeatable for the price and even exceeds it. I was very pleasantly surprised the first time I drank it, and was even more pleased when I reviewed it.
If you want the best bourbon for the lowest price, let alone one of the best bourbons under $50, I highly recommend Evan Williams Bottled in Bond.

Larceny Bourbon

Best Bourbon under $50 #3

Distillery: Heaven Hill

Rating: Mid Shelf+

Price: $25-30

ABV: 46%
I think that Larceny bourbon is the best wheated bourbon under $30, besting Maker’s Mark, Weller Special Reserve, and Rebel 100 Proof. That discovery really shocked me after I reviewed Larceny bourbon because I didn’t expect it, but I’m glad that I did.
Yes it has the distinctive (and not for everyone) Heaven Hill dry nuttiness, but there’s plenty of caramel nougat and vanilla, a lot of cinnamon, more delicate peach and citrus, and just a little baked bread and cocoa powder to be richer and complex than other wheated bourbons under $30. It’s truly a go-to wheated bourbon in general.

I book a lot of my travel using Agoda because there are so many options (and affordable ones too). So if you’re planning to travel to visit distilleries, buy whiskey, explore, or whatever you have planned, try out Agoda (part of Booking.com so it’s legit). Cheers!

-Alex

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon

Best Bourbon under $50 #4

Distillery: Heaven Hill

Rating: Mid Shelf+

Price: $28-30

ABV: 47%
This is one of my favorite bourbons under $30. With some air, I’ve enjoyed that denser caramel, vanilla, dark fruit, oak spice, and hints of herbal licorice. There’s actually some nice maturity, viscosity, and variety that competes well with more expensive bourbons.
It outperforms the more expensive Heaven Hill 7 Year Bottled in Bond (really disappointing by the way), and I recommend this over Evan Williams Single Barrel every time.
Although it’s very different from Buffalo Trace, I’d also take Elijah Craig over Buffalo Trace. So if you’re looking to spend around $30, this is the bourbon to try first. Single barrel picks are also incredible value and can be even better (depending on the pick of course), so they’re worth getting for under $50.
I recognize that the first 4 bourbons in this list come from Heaven Hill. That’s intentional because they make a lot of great, affordable, and actually buyable whiskey in general. I’m a huge fan.

Jim Beam Single Barrel Bourbon

Best Bourbon under $50 #5

Distillery: Jim Beam

Rating: Mid Shelf+

Price: $30-35

ABV: 54%
Jim Beam really stepped up their game with this more sweet, herbal, and fruity release that still offers plenty of mature oak and spice. Don’t let your feelings about Jim Beam White affect your opinion of this one, it’s a balanced and pleasing bourbon that completely caught me off guard with its nice richness and decent complexity.
It admittedly sits in a weird place next to the 9 year old and 100 proof Knob Creek Small Batch at around the same price, but while this more luxurious and grown-up Jim Beam bourbon flies under the radar, it shouldn’t be ignored. The ABV also should hold up nicely in cocktails.
I think it makes a decent Blanton’s alternative too.

Cooper's Craft Barrel Reserve

Best Bourbon under $50 #6

Distillery: Brown Forman

Rating: Mid Shelf+

Price: $30-35

ABV: 50%
Out of all the bourbons on this list (except Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel because it’s also owned by Brown Forman), Cooper’s Craft Barrel Reserve provides one of the more unique bourbon experiences, and in a good way. It’s a dark, vanilla & banana-forward, and viscous (think pillow-y and marshmallow-y) experience, representative of the Brown Forman’s distinctive signature trait(s). That specific note isn’t for everyone, so wanted to let you know.
Outside of that, this is a well balanced sweet, oaky, banana-y, spicy, earthy, and fruity-enough bourbon that hits many of the right notes. With the heftier 100 proof, the scents and flavors have nice roundness, and the unpleasant vodka taste in Old Forester 86 Proof is completely gone. Sure it could be a bit more rich and fruity, but this is still worthy of being one of the best bourbons under 50.

Still Austin "The Musician" Bourbon

Best Bourbon under $50 #7

Distillery: Still Austin (Texas)

Rating: Mid Shelf+

Price: $40-45

ABV: Varies, but usually around 49-50%
The Musician, even at 2 years old, brings a surprising amount of maturity and richness that I really enjoy. There’s dark toasted caramel, vanilla, mocha, roasted oak, earthy caraway seed, and more, that’s wise beyond its years. It never crossed my mind that it smelled or tasted young.
I constantly enjoyed and was intrigued by the unique mocha scent and flavor (and other things) that don’t have any close comparison. Ok fine, the heat in the scents can get a bit rowdy, but the flavors don’t have the same issue. I’m a big fan, and a worthwhile purchase for $40-45. That said, I personally would pick Still Austin Cask Strength every time.

Maker's Mark Cask Strength

Best Bourbon under $50 #8

Distillery: Maker’s Mark

Rating: Top Shelf (older releases at least)

Price: $40-50

ABV: Usually mid 50%
People go crazy for Weller, but Maker’s Mark Cask Strength brings just as much fragrance and flavor from the caramel sweetness, oak spice (especially cinnamon), nuttiness, and alcohol kick that I’d go as far to say that it’s better, easier to find, and more affordable than Weller Antique 107. How do I know? I compared them and Maker’s Mark won.
I wouldn’t say that it’s under the radar, just underappreciated. If you just want a fantastic wheated bourbon without the chase and fuss, get Maker’s Mark Cask Strength and be happy with the purchase and subsequent drink. This may just be the single best wheated bourbon under $50.

Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon

Best Bourbon under $50 #9

Distillery: Four Roses

Rating: Mid Shelf+

Price: $40-50

ABV: 50%
Four Roses wasn’t kidding that this OESV bourbon has delicate herbal rye and fruit. This bourbon has moderately dense and rich honey, apple, and vanilla sweetness, with the oak, cinnamon, and clove spices.
It’s not a big and bold bourbon like the Single Barrel Cask Strength versions, but the 100 proof single barrel still brings plenty of richness and character across the board. There’s some mint and berries too, overall making it a fairly complex and interesting bourbon that offers a lot for $40-45.
This is another bourbon that I think makes a decent (and mostly readily available) Blanton’s substitute.

EH Taylor Small Batch

Best Bourbon under $50 #10

Distillery: Buffalo Trace

Rating: Top Shelf 

Price: $40-50 (MSRP), but often tough to find and marked up

ABV: 50%
Hold up, yes I know this is hard to find now, but if I’m going to include one allocated / difficult to find Buffalo Trace bourbon on a list of best bourbons under $50, this has to be it. Yes I picked this over Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare, which had the potential to be on this list. I’d even say that this is better than Blanton’s, Elmer T Lee, and Rock Hill Farms.
It’s an epic bummer that EH Taylor Small Batch is so tough to get because it’s actually an excellent bourbon that is unfortunately mired in the chase and hype.
The dark sugar, fruity, roasty, and floral notes make it sort of like a cinnamon bun with raisins, a very different personality than Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare, two other very popular mashbill #1 bourbons. Surprisingly, EH Taylor’s floral notes actually expanded over time, making it even more expressive, complex, and captivating.
EH Taylor Single Barrel, even more wildly desirable and marked-up, is going to be all over the place because it’s single barrel, but this batched version should be more consistent… and consistently excellent.
The bottle I reviewed outdid Eagle Rare and EH Taylor Single Barrel, making it one of the better bourbons that Buffalo Trace makes. If it weren’t so hard to get and often marked up, I might say that this was just as good value as Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon.
If you can get it for around the $40 MSRP, you should get it.

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Tennessee Whiskey

Best Bourbon under $50 #11

Distillery: Jack Daniel’s

Rating: Mid Shelf+

Price: $40-50

ABV: 47%
If you’re going to drink Jack, this is the one I recommend you start with before pummeling your senses with the barrel proof. Why do I say that? Because I’ve drank through nearly all of the core (not limited) Jack Daniel’s range, and this is one of the better ones.
And if you don’t think that Jack Daniel’s is bourbon, I lay out the various factors as to why it is.
The single barrel Tennessee whiskey is the richer and more complex version of Gentleman Jack, Old No.7, and Sinatra Select with denser caramel, vanilla, and oak spices. It also has some fruit too for added depth that the others don’t have.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon

Best Bourbon under $50 #12

Distillery: Wild Turkey

Rating: Top Shelf

Price: $45-55 (average price teeters around $50)

ABV: 58.4%
Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon is flat out one of the best bourbons under $50 (usually, but prices can fluctuate) that you can find almost everywhere (although that may change).
It’s quintessential higher-abv bourbon with rich caramel, vanilla, oak, and spices with some apple, licorice, and orange. It’s dense, spicy, and has a solid alcohol kick too, so be prepared. It can be a lot to handle, but it’s well worth it.
It may not be the most unique bourbon out there, but you can’t go wrong with the combination of price, availability, and excellent quality.
The international-only non chill filtered release is even better, but that doesn’t count for this list.

New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon

Best Bourbon under $50 #13

Distillery: New Riff

Rating: Mid Shelf+

Price: $45-55

ABV: Varies, usually in the 50-59% range
I had quite an interesting and sort of out there single barrel that was very earthy and vegetal, but still densely rich, dark, sweet, and oaky. It drank older and bolder than 4 years, so the future is very bright for the now well-known craft distillery. Give or take $50 isn’t so bad either.
This is an important point – I think these single barrels may be more variable than the ones from the mega distilleries, so every barrel you find might bring a totally different experience.
I know that I have to try more single barrels to understand the full potential (I’m searching for a fruit-forward one), but I’ve enjoyed it so far and it’s compelling for around $50.

Knob Creek Single Barrel

Best Bourbon under $50 #14

Distillery: Knob Creek / Jim Beam

Rating: Mid Shelf+

Price: $45-50

ABV: 60%
Knob Creek Single Barrel Bourbon is a true rarity in bourbon given its age, abv, and price. Any other bourbon like this would likely cost $30-50 more. It’s a big, burly, intense, and spicy bourbon that needs a lot of air to tame the often powerful heat.
Once you get over the hump though, it’s bold and flavorful with plenty of sugar sweetness and oak spices, and some supporting fruitiness and herbalness in the background. It’s not for the faint of heart or mouth, but rewarding for those who can handle it.
From what I’ve seen, this is mostly available across the US, which is a huge plus. Now if only the prices would stop increasing because I’ve been drinking these for years and used to be able to buy them for $35. Enjoy it while you can still find it.
While you’re at it, learn more about some of the best bourbons under $100
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Best Bourbon Under $50

Still a work in progress
I recognize that I haven’t reviewed everything (working on it). So, here’s a list of bourbons (not remotely comprehensive) that I haven’t reviewed yet so they haven’t been considered for this list.
  • Jim Beam (e.g., double Oaked, bottled in bond)
  • Knob Creek 9 Year Small Batch
  • Old Forester 100 proof
  • Old Forester Bottled in Bond
  • Bowman Small Batch
  • 1792 Single Barrel
  • 1792 Bottled in Bond
  • Michter’s Bourbon
  • More craft bourbon (e.g., Starlight Huber, Wilderness Trail non-picks)
  • Ancient Ancient Age
  • Makers 46
  • Makers 101

In Conclusion

You have a lot of options with some of the best bourbons under $50. And lucky for you, you should be able to find many of them without too much trouble (minus EH Taylor…sorry). Try some of the bourbons I’ve mentioned if you haven’t already, try some more, decide what you like, and go from there.

In the meantime, check out my guide on some of the best bourbons under $100 as well.
Alex author
Meet the Author: Alex

I have far too much fun writing about whiskey and singlehandedly running The Whiskey Shelf to bring you independent, honest, and useful reviews, comparisons, and more. I’m proudly Asian American and can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and some Japanese.

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