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The Best Bourbon At Every Price Point From $10-$100

To say that we’re in a golden age of bourbon whiskey would be an understatement. There’s so much of the juice on shelves these days (with new releases dropping all the time) that it’s hard to know where to begin. That also means there’s a lot of good stuff out there — plus a little bit of great stuff and some legitimately bad stuff, too.

To help you figure out which bottles to buy, we thought we’d break down some of our favorite sips of bourbon by price point, working in $10 increments. That way, you can get into the game at whatever level your budget allows.

Before we dive in, the ten bottles of bourbon below are not the be-all-and-end-all of their price ranges. There are plenty of bottles we like at each price point. But we love these and we want to give them their flowers. We also tried to make these picks as accessible as possible. With varying state tax laws and availability in general, some of these bottles may not be priced at these rates or readily available where you are. Still, most of these expressions should be available via delivery and somewhere within the “average price” range listed below.

$10 — Ancient Age 90

Buffalo Trace

ABV: 45%
Distillery: Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort, KY (Sazerac)
Average Price: $9.99

The Whiskey:

Ancient Age is molded from Buffalo Trace’s mash bill #2. That’s the same juice as Blanton’s (more on that later). This bottom-shelf juice is a simple and straightforward whiskey.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a real sense of the corn on the nose with a more classic vibe of vanilla, caramel, and sweet toffee drawing you in. The sip remains sweet with a buttery edge as a light dusting of cinnamon kicks in beside a honeyed note. The slightly curt finish arrives with a cut of citrus against the sweeter body of the whiskey.

Bottom Line:

There are no bells or whistles. The point is to shoot this one with a beer chaser. It also works pretty well in a hot toddy with a lot of lemon, ginger, and honey.

$20 — Old Grand-Dad 114

Whisky Exchange

ABV: 57%
Distillery: Jim Beam, Clermont, KY (Beam Suntory)
Average Price: $19.99

The Whiskey:

Jim Beam’s Old Grand-Dad is a high-rye bourbon that also is the base for Beam’s Basil Hayden’s. Barrel aging is what separates the two expressions. And while Hayden’s makes a hell of a dram, Old Grand-Dad 114 gets the job done without breaking the bank.

Tasting Notes:

Candied fruits blend with mild spice, vanilla, and a dose of caramel. The Christmas spiced cake feel carries through to the palate as a touch of oak meets a hint of a musty library. The caramel corn sweetness marries to the oak as the sip fades, warms, and ends on a note of dry grass — especially with a touch of water in the dram.

Bottom Line:

This is a great mixing bourbon. The high ABVs lets the bourbon hold its own in old fashioneds, Manhattans, and even highballs.

$30 — Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Buffalo Trace

ABV: 45%
Distillery: Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort, KY (Sazerac)
Average Price: $30

The Whiskey:

Buffalo Trace’s signature expression comes from their mash bill #1, which also gave rise to icons like Eagle Rare and George T. Stagg, among several others. The low-rye juice is made to be an easy-drinking whiskey and they hit it out of the park at a great price point.

Tasting Notes:

Vanilla next to a dark molasses greets you on the nose with a very distant hint of mint. The sip leans into a buttery toffee that’s jacked with Christmas spices, more vanilla, and a nice feeling of oak depth. When you add a little water, a dark berry essence pops near the end as the vanilla, spice, and oak fade away.

Bottom Line:

This is the perfect utility bottle to have on the shelf. It’s a solid mixer, works as a highball or on the rocks, and can do solid duty as a sipper with a little water in a pinch.

$40 — Wild Turkey Longbranch

Wild Turkey

ABV: 43%
Distillery: Wild Turkey Distillery, Lawrenceburg, KY (Campari)
Average Price: $39.99

The Whiskey:

We’re fans of this one around these parts. The combination of Matthew McConaughey and Wild Turkey is a good fit. The Kentucky bourbon comes with a deep Texas foundation thanks to Texas mesquite charcoal filtration. The results are another solid entry in the Wild Turkey range.

Tasting Notes:

Classic Turkey bourbon notes of caramel and vanilla mingle with a whiff of powdery cinnamon. The dram then moves into a myriad of tones from the cinnamon to more vanilla to charred and slightly smoky wood to a creamy toffee spiked with orange peels. The sip fades slowly back through the cream, spice, and vanilla and then ends on a final wisp of that Texas hardwood smoke.

Bottom Line:

This has been a solid addition to my shelf for a couple of years now. It’s another workhorse and adds a nice depth to cocktails while also being 100 percent sippable with a little water to really open up that smoky and woody nature.

$50 — Michter’s US*1 Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Michter

ABV: 45.7%
Distillery: Michter’s Distillery, Louisville, KY
Average Price: $48

The Whiskey:

This is a solid bourbon all-around. The juice is small-batched from no more than 20 barrels per bottling. The blend of bourbons is meant to be an entry-point to the wider world of Michter’s expressions.

Tasting Notes:

Classic notes of bourbon vanilla, caramel corn, and oak greet you up top. The sip cashes in on the promise of the nose and then veers into ripe, sweet stonefruits with a mild spiciness next to velvety vanilla. As you add a drop of water, the end slowly lingers on the oak, fruit, and vanilla plus a whisper of smoke that arrives at the very last second.

Bottom Line:

This is an incredibly solid mixer to have. It makes a hell of a Manhattan, smash, or highball. It’ll also work fine as a sipper with a rock or two.

$60 — Four Roses Small Batch Select Bourbon

Four Roses

ABV: 52%
Distillery: Four Roses Distillery, Lawrenceburg, KY (Kirin Brewing)
Average Price: $59.99

The Whiskey:

Outside of their single barrel editions, Four Roses is all about their ten mash bills and how well they can blend them together for a cracking whiskey experience. In this dram’s case, it’s a blend of six of their mash bills (both high-rye and low-rye) with a yeast matrix of delicate fruit, slight spice, and herbal notes. The juice is then aged for up to seven years before going in the bottle at a high-ish proof.

Tasting Notes:

Christmas spices are cut by a bright berry note on the nose. The fruit becomes more peachy as the vanilla kicks in with a nice reminder of the oak. The end is a slow one, with a balance of the sweet fruit, svelte vanilla, and holiday spice.

Bottom Line:

This is my go-to egg nog base (it works in any cocktail for that matter). It’s also refined enough to work as a sipper after a big meal. It’s a holiday bourbon, is what we’re saying.

$70 — Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

Heaven Hill

ABV: 67.1%
Distillery: Heaven Hill Bernheim Distillery, Bardstown, KY
Average Price: $70

The Whiskey:

This expression is a sort of replacement for the much-beloved and discontinued Elijah Craig 12. The juice is 12-year-old Craig but it’s bottled uncut and unfiltered, making it the ultimate example of the 12-year expression from the Heaven Hill shingle.

Tasting Notes:

This is shockingly welcoming for such a high proof spirit. The nose beckons you in with notes of green apples dripping in caramel next to a deep oakiness with a hint of orange oils. The vanilla kicks in on the palate and leads toward notes of peppery spice, more caramel sweetness, and creamy toffee. The end takes its time as it walks back through the flavors, warms your senses, and draws you back for more.

Bottom Line:

This might be the best sipper on earth at this price. The taste is on par with any $100 bourbon out there. Don’t forget a few drops of water or a rock to really let this one loose.

$80 — Maker’s Mark Private Select

Maker

ABV: Varies
Distillery: Maker’s Mark Distillery, Loretto, KY (Beam Suntory)
Average Price: $79.99

The Whiskey:

This is one of the most unique whiskeys on this list. The expression starts off as a Maker’s 46 Cask Strength. Then the juice is finished for nine weeks with a combination of five different barrel staves to add a whole new dimension to the sip. High-end liquor store owners and bartenders are brought in to create a stave-selection, so these expressions will vary between releases, sometimes dramatically, thanks to the 1,001 combinations of staves possible.

Tasting Notes:

This will vary depending on the bottle you find in your region. The one I tried last year was interesting with an almost cedar bark and cream soda opening. The vanilla dominated with a sense of caramel corn and apples leading back to the woodiness.

Bottom Line:

These tend to be made to be sipped. If you do get your hands on one, you’ll have a unique bourbon experience ahead.

$90 — Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon

Buffalo Trace

ABV: 46.5%
Distillery: Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort, KY (Sazerac)
Average Price: $89.99

The Whiskey:

Blanton’s has the distinction of being the first “single barrel” bourbon sold to the public. The Buffalo Trace icon is hewn from its mash bill # 2 (like Ancient Age above). The idea for the release was due to Colonel Blanton’s penchant for sourcing and stashing personal barrels from warehouse H because that was the best stuff according to the old master. Over time, that’s what became Blanton’s.

Tasting Notes:

Christmas spices greet you with a note of eggy-creaminess. The sip embraces its vanilla nature as the creaminess leans into corn territory with a dose of fresh honey lurking in the background. The dram continues down the Christmas spice road with a warming embrace as it lingers on your senses.

Bottom Line:

Pour a big ol’ snifter of this stuff after you’ve finished your second slice of pie and let it help you fade into a slumber.

$100 — Jefferson’s Ocean Aged At Sea

Jefferson

ABV: 45%
Distillery: Kentucky Artisan Distillery, Crestwood, KY, partially sourced (Castle Brands)
Average Price: $99.99

The Whiskey:

This is another unique juice. The whiskey is a six to seven-year-old bourbon that is then sent out to sea under the decks of the OCEARCH ship, which travels around the world, touching five continents and crossing the equator four times over six months of additional finishing aging.

Tasting Notes:

Sea-aging aside, this bourbon is an all-around solid sip. The nose greets you with a note of cherry next to vanilla and mild spice with an oaky depth. The cherry carries on and marries into a mix of salted caramel, sharp spices, oak, and more of that bourbon vanilla. The dram fades away at an even pace as the fruit, spice, caramel, and oak make final appearances.

Bottom Line:

This is an interesting bottle with an interesting story, making it a conversation starter. It’s also a really solid sipper with a little water. A portion of the proceeds from these bottles goes to OCEARCH, which tracks sharks and educates people about them worldwide.

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