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Bartenders Tell Us The Best Cheap Whiskies For Fall


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There’s a fall chill in the air and it’s officially whiskey (and whisky) season. Not sure about you, but we plan on drinking a lot of the brown stuff this autumn. You keep your Halloween candy and Thanksgiving turkies, we prefer bourbon and rye.

When we think about all of the fall whiskey possibilities, it overwhelms us. To help us figure out which to sip on a budget, we’ve asked our favorite bartenders for advice. From Bulleit to Belle Meade, they definitely didn’t disappoint. You can check out all of their choices below.

Don’t agree with their picks? Tell us your favorite tasting budget whiskey in the comments below.

Four Roses Yellow Label

Jeremy Williams, lead mixologist at Lumber Baron Bar in Grand Rapids, MI

“The best cheap whiskey to drink this fall is Four Roses Yellow Label. It’s classic and with a great price tag you don’t feel guilty mixing it into a cocktail. The other expressions they make (small batch and single barrel) are fantastic and don’t fetch a high price either.”

Heaven Hill Old Style Bourbon

Josh Cameron, head bartender at Boulton & Watt in New York City

“Well, budget whiskey doesn’t always mean garbage whiskey. But, oh there are many to avoid. I usually go by my mantra ‘light on the pocket, heavy on the morning.’ Learned that the heavy way too many times. That being said, Heaven Hill is a great bourbon, and it’s very affordable. It works great alone and in cocktails.”

Bulleit Bourbon

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Copacetic. #bulleitbourbon

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Homero Villarreal, beverage director at LH Rooftop in Chicago

“The best value without risking a splitting headache is Bulleit Bourbon. It makes a great fall cocktail, whether you choose to mix or sip. It offers lots of versatility in making classic cocktails like an Old Fashioned or Manhattan.”

WL Weller Special Reserve

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Bourbon Review No.8 —//— W.L. Weller Special Reserve The Original Wheated Bourbon Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 45% ABV / 90° Proof – Sazerac Company Buffalo Trace Distillery Frankfort, Kentucky, USA – $39.95 at the LCBO —//— William Larue Weller was born in Kentucky in the year 1825. He started his Wholesale Liquor Business in Louisville after serving with the Louisville Brigade during the 1840s. Their slogan was “Honest Whiskey at an Honest Price.” His wheated recipe bourbon had a softer, smoother taste that became very popular. – The legendary Pappy Van Winkle bourbons use this same recipe, which makes Weller highly sought after. However, this one is inexpensive and readily available, so I had to see what all the fuss is about. The first Bourbon to use Wheat instead of Rye in the Mash Bill. —//— Buffalo Trace Wheated Mash Bill 80% Corn, 15% Wheat, 5% Malted Barley – NAS; Minimum 4, Formerly 7 Years No.4 Charred New American Oak —//— On the nose is sweet oak, honey, butterscotch, red apples, leather and slightly sour wood. – To the palate is soft oak, light honey, savory wood spice, herbal tea, Honey Nut Cheerios and slightly underripe apple. – The finish has a slightly dry oak and bread flour with a slightly floral hint in the end. — A drop of water pushes some of that floral note up into the nose, the palate becomes incredibly thin, and the finish gains a sourness with the oak notes. —//— Bourbon Mark: 81 —//— Overall, I think it’s decent. I can see why people like it, but I definitely don’t think this is the version people go crazy over. I think it’s good, but basic. I’m not a huge fan of the wheat flour note or the sour wood, but was surprised to find that Honey Nut Cheerios connection. Looking forward to tasting the other versions. —//— @buffalotrace @buffalotracedistillery @sazeracrye — #WLWeller #Weller #WilliamLarueWeller #WLWellerSpecialReserve #WellerSpecialReserve #SpecialReserve #TheOriginalWheatedBourbon #WheatedBourbon #Bourbon #Whiskey #KentuckyStraightBourbonWhiskey #BourbonWhiskey #StraightBourbon #StraightWhiskey #PappyVanWinkle #BuffaloTrace #BuffaloTraceDistillery #SazeracCompany #LCBO #DramOfTheDay #BourbonReview #Whisky

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William Perbellini, property mixologist at the Waldorf Las Vegas Hotel and Residences

“WL Weller Special Reserve Bourbon from Buffalo Trace distillery. Best $20 ever spent, if you can find a bottle at the liquor store.”

Old Overholt Rye

Sam Cable, head bartender at P.S. Speakeasy in Kansas City, Missouri

“Sitting at roughly $15 a bottle, Old Overholt is a workhorse of a rye whiskey. I’m a firm believer that all whiskey should have a bit of a bite, but Overholt backs up the burn with notes of baking spices and something like vanilla cola. Try it in a Manhattan or the Kansas City classic, a Horsefeather.”

Maker’s Mark

Peter Szekely, Beverage Operation Manager at Grand Hyatt Baha Mar in The Bahamas

“Makers Mark is very affordable, great served neat and performs with excellence in cocktails such as the Old Fashioned. Big blast of sweetness comes in the nose; however, the taste is not sweet at all — vanilla, oak, toffee. Quite buttery and thin. Very enjoyable. In cocktails, it feels well rounded but not overwhelming. Great value for money even though today Makers Mark stands on the edge of the argument of ‘pricey or not.'”

Wild Turkey 101

Anastasia Sasewich, head bartender at Bar Moxy in Chicago

“For value whiskey, I’m a big fan of Wild Turkey 101, either the bourbon or the rye. I love high proof whiskies for cocktail applications as well as sipping. I tend towards rye typically but sometimes I’m in the mood for bourbon and the Wild Turkey 101 has a high rye mash bill so it perfectly satisfies both those tastes.”

Belle Meade Bourbon

Todd Thrasher, Potomac Distilling Company and Tiki TNT in Washington, DC

“I am not a whiskey drinker, so, to be honest, I don’t keep many bottles at home. The bottles I do have though, are all from Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery in Nashville. You can find their classic Belle Meade Bourbon for under $40 and I also love their Madeira and Sherry Cask Finishes, which will run you some more money. I started drinking Belle Meade to support brothers Charlie and Andy Nelson, but then I realized I just really loved all their products. They’ve got a great story too as they revived their ancestor’s distillery, which was once the largest whiskey producer in the state of Tennessee.”

Old Forester

Valerie Boothby, bartender at Grain & Cane in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey

“Old Forester. I love using this in an Apple Cider Mule to bring in the quintessential flavors of fall. The cider, when paired with a ‘cheap’ bourbon or whiskey, give you the best of both worlds, a warm cozy buzz of bourbon paired with the soft punch of apple and ginger.”

High West Double Rye

Logan Demmy, bar manager at The Citizens Trust in Columbus, Ohio

“I always look for the best value for my money, be it in the quality or rarity of products. I think that our House Rye Manhattan, made with High West Double Rye, is a great way to go. We have switched up the vermouth by blending in a small amount of Chinato. The red wine base of the vermouth helps to add a lot of body for the coming colder months.”

Rittenhouse Rye

David Mor, beverage director at Cindy’s in Chicago

“What’s the best cheap whiskey to drink this fall? Reach for Rittenhouse Rye! It’s delicious, provides subtle heat, and versatile.”

Copper Dog

Will Benedetto, cocktail curator at In Good Company in New York City

“My favorite budget whiskey for the Fall is Copper Dog. Copper Dog is a newer product from Scotland. It’s a bit unique, in that it isn’t made up of just a hodgepodge of distillates and neutral grain spirit from random areas of Scotland, but instead it is blended with 100% Speyside single malts, making it a remarkably refined and approachable whiskey.”

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