November 19, 2020
There are a ton of bourbons in the $20-30 or $25-35 range. And while “budget” is a subjective term that is different for everyone, people often claim that Wild Turkey 101 is the “best” budget bourbon. For the sake of exploring that claim, I’m continuing on my journey to find out what are some of the best affordable bourbons out there (in my opinion) and explore nutty bourbons in general to find out how similar or different they are.
That said, I already have reviewed both bourbons individually, and on rating alone Elijah Craig is the better bourbon. In head to head comparisons, Elijah Craig has fared well with Buffalo Trace and surpassed Gentleman Jack, but none of that will bias me here because direct comparisons can be quite revealing. I also should mention that the Wild Turkey 101 in this comparison is not the one I reviewed before, but a half bottle from batch LL/GH. Alright, I’m putting on my hat of objectivity, so let’s find out which bourbon I prefer in this Wild Turkey 101 vs Elijah Craig Small Batch comparison.
The below table outlines key facts and figures for each bourbon.
Elijah Craig is far better than Wild Turkey 101. Elijah Craig Small Batch is so much more rich and layered with roasted sugars, fruits, oak, and spice that continually evolve and generally hold my attention. It’s just a strong sub-$30 bourbon that you should consider as your daily drinker. Wild Turkey 101 is pleasant enough to drink, but it’s not particularly interesting or compelling for me. It just smells and tastes young, thin, and underdeveloped. The graininess in the nose and flavors really give away that it’s young. Sure, it’s not expensive, but you can do so much better at around the same price.
I know many claim that Wild Turkey 101 is the “best” daily sipper, but I truly think that Evan Williams Bottled and Bond, Elijah Craig Small Batch, and Knob Creek Small Batch 9 Year are better options and comparably priced. I’ve drank WT 101 a number of times and just don’t get the hoopla. Evan Williams Bottled in Bond is $5-10 cheaper than Wild Turkey 101, so you can pay less and in my opinion upgrade to a better bourbon for sipping and mixing. Elijah Craig Small Batch is the winner here, and as an added bonus, so is Evan Williams Bottled in Bond.