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The Best Bottles Of Bourbon Between $10-$20

Our quest to find the best bottles of bourbon at every price point has landed us in the $10 to $20 bracket. We’re still squarely in the cheap stuff, but we’re already getting to some very drinkable bottles of bourbon. Bourbons under $20 are almost always devised as workhorse whiskeys, but sipping territory is just past the horizon.

Our method here is pretty simple: Do these whiskeys taste good? Are they under $20 per bottle, on average (though they may be priced differently depending on which part of the country you’re in)?

Those simple parameters left us with 10 great bottles and even a few solid picks just outside that cutoff. Evan Williams White Label, for example. All of these picks are widely available nationwide, too. Hopefully, that’ll allow you to give one or two a pour if you dig their tasting notes.

Ezra Brooks Kentucky Sour Mash

Luxco

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $11

The Whiskey:

Luxco’s Ezra Brooks is a throwback to the Mad Men days of bourbon. The juice is a standard rye-infused bourbon without an age statement. It’s made as a workhorse whiskey that’s easy to find and cheap when you do find it.

Tasting Notes:

Classic yet mild notes of caramel corn, vanilla, and oaky spice lead the way. There’s a continued sense of those notes on the palate, with a hint of dark chocolate and spice when a little water is introduced. The end is short, caramel sweet, and has hints of kettle corn.

Bottom Line:

This is nice, but it’s a workhorse. Use it in cocktails and highballs.

Heaven Hill Green Label 6-Year

Heaven Hill

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $13

The Whiskey:

Heaven Hill’s Old Style Bourbon is always affordable and very palatable. This expression adds an extra two-years (or so) of aging to the entry-level juice. Beyond that, we’re talking about a very standard bourbon that’s meant to be mixed, shot, and enjoyed without breaking the bank.

Tasting Notes:

Sweet oak comes through on the nose with a hint of dried mint and maybe some brown sugar. The palate holds onto that oak and gets a little bitter, thanks to the char of the wood, while vanilla arrives with a touch of pancake syrup. It’s really the oak that holds on the longest, as the sip creates a warm buzz on your senses and slowly fades out.

Bottom Line:

This is a perfect bottle of booze to learn mixology with. It’s bold and cheap and works really well in an old fashioned or Manhattan.

Wild Turkey Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Campari Group

ABV: 40.5%

Average Price: $13

The Whiskey:

This was devised as a more approachable and mixable version of Wild Turkey 101 (Campari Group). The juice is rye-forward and aged from six to eight years in heavily charred “alligator” barrels. Finally, it’s brought down to proof with that soft Kentucky limestone water.

Tasting Notes:

This is truly classic bourbon through and through. The nose has hints of that oak with sweet pears covered in caramel with a slight spice and plenty of vanilla. Hints of buttery kettle corn mix with more pear and maybe a touch of peach too. The spiciness edges towards a Christmas spice boldness as the oak, vanilla, and caramel slowly fade out.

Bottom Line:

This is a great cocktail base. It also works on the rocks in a pinch as that water helps the juice really shine in the glass.

Four Roses Bourbon

Four Roses

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $15

The Whiskey:

Four Roses’ (Kirin Brewing) entry-point bourbon is a blend of the brand’s ten signature whiskey recipes. The distillery uses a high-rye and low-rye mash bill, each fermented with five different yeast strains, bringing a lot of variable flavors to the whiskeys.

The juices are then blended, proofed, and bottled with the idea of mixing in mind.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a definite steel note to this whiskey that leans toward minerality when water is added. The nose also brings along dried flowers, plenty of honey, and orchard fruits, with a hint of dark spice. The palate adds vanilla to the honey and apple foundations. The end is short but full of fruit, sweetness, spice, and green oak.

Bottom Line:

This is a solid workhorse whiskey that shines best as a cocktail base, especially for beginners looking to practice with a good, cheap bottle of bourbon. We also like it highballs with this, as the water really lets it bloom.

Jim Beam Bonded

Beam Suntory

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $16

The Whiskey:

This bonded bottle of Beam is classic Jim Beam that’s dialed into something a little more special. The juice is from one distilling season, matured for a minimum of four years in a bonded warehouse, and bottled at a higher proof of 100, in accordance with the law.

All of that makes for a (slightly) heightened mixing-level bourbon from the world’s biggest bourbon maker.

Tasting Notes:

Red cherry vines mingle with toasted oak and a sense of fresh vanilla pods. Sweet caramel corn mixes with apples stewed in dark spices with more of that vanilla, buttery toffee, slight notes of honey, and a distant wisp of mint. The toffee and vanilla merge near the end as a sense of dark chocolate and pipe tobacco arrive with the addition of water. The end is slow, full of oak, spice, and vanilla, and leaves you wanting more.

Bottom Line:

Most bottles of Jim Beam are $20 or less. This is the one to pick up if you’re looking for a cheap sipper (with some ice) or a really solid mixer.

Coopers’ Craft Bourbon

Brown-Forman

ABV: 41.1%

Average Price: $17

The Whiskey:

This unique offering from Brown-Forman celebrates the coopers who make all their barrels, including those for Woodford Reserve and Jack Daniel’s. The juice isn’t just aged in those Brown-Forman barrels, it’s also filtered through beech and birch charcoal, adding an almost Tennessee whiskey edge to the Kentucky bourbon expression.

Tasting Notes:

Toasted and charred oak both come through on the nose with a clear sense of tart apples stewed in butter and Christmas spices with a hint of lemon zest. That lemon turns into a creamy pudding as the spice from the stewed apples amps up and marries with the cedar notes from the wood. With a little water, nutty notes pop with a bit of orange zest and mint. The end is deliberate and hits on the toasty oak, spice, apples, and sweetness as it fades.

Bottom Line:

This might cost just over $20 when you find it, or you might get lucky and find it for less than that. Either way, this works as a sipper on the rocks as well as a really nice mixer for simple bourbon cocktails.

Maker’s Mark Whisky

Beam Suntory

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $20

The Whiskey:

Beam Suntory’s Maker’s Mark is one of the classic “wheated” bourbons on the market. The mash bill includes red winter wheat in place of the more standard measure of rye. This expression’s juice is then aged for up to seven years before blending, proofing, and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is full of those heavily charred oak barrels next to classic hints of caramel and vanilla with a grassy underbelly. That grassiness becomes slightly floral as slightly spiced caramel apples arrive, along with a chewy mouthfeel. The end holds onto the fruit and sweetness as the oak and dried grass stays in your senses.

Bottom Line:

This is a great place to start your “wheated” bourbon journey since this bottle should be available on pretty much every liquor store shelf. It’s also a great bottle to use while you learn to mix drinks.

Old Forester 100

Brown-Forman

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $18

The Whiskey:

Old Forester 100 (Brown-Forman) is a solid whiskey that’s crafted as equal parts mixer and sipper. The juice is bottled at a higher proof, 100, though it’s not a bottled-in-bond whiskey. Still, the craft is there and it’s a unique whiskey at this price point.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is bold with hints of butterscotch, dark chocolate mints, and espresso bean bitterness. The palate veers away from those notes and embraces a tart stewed apple with plenty of Christmas spice, especially nutmeg, as peaches and toasted oak arrives. The end holds onto the spicy, stewed apples as the oak brings the bitter char until the very end.

Bottom Line:

This is an interesting sip with plenty of ice. It also is the perfect base if you’re mixing up some mint juleps.

Old Grand-Dad Bonded

Beam Suntory

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $19

The Whiskey:

Hailing from Jim Beam’s line of “Old” whiskeys, this is a very high-rye bourbon worth checking out. The mash bill is comprised of 27 percent rye, making it on the very high end of the spectrum of “high-rye” bourbons. The juice is also botted-in-bond, meaning it spent at least four years in the barrel before bottling at 50 percent ABV.

Tasting Notes:

Black pepper greets you but is counterpointed by rich and creamy vanilla pudding with a burnt sugar topping and a hint of dark spices. Those spices lean into the Christmas season, as orange oils arrive with a floral edge, more vanilla pudding, and a sense of toasted oak. The end reminds you of the black pepper sharpness that drew you in, as vanilla, oak, fruit, and a final touch of popcorn fade across your senses.

Bottom Line:

Whip up a Manhattan, Sazerac, or boulevardier with this.

Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey

Diageo

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $20

The Whiskey:

Bulleit’s (Diageo) signature bourbon is another high-rye bourbon. The mash bill exceeds Old Grand-Dad’s rye content by one percent, with a 28 percent rye mash. The juice in this case is aged up to six years before it’s blended, cut down to proof, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with peppery spice, plenty of oak, classic bourbon vanilla, and a hint of tobacco. The taste delivers on those notes while spice edges towards Red Hots, the vanilla gets creamy, and the tobacco creates a buzz in your mouth. The end brings about caramel kettle corn flourishes as the spice, vanilla, and oak all slowly fade out.

Bottom Line:

This is probably the easiest sipper on this list, but only if you’re adding a little water or a rock or two. This also works wonders as a cheap cocktail base that tends to hold its flavors impressively when used as a mixer.

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