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The Best Cheap Whiskey, According To The Masses

Whiskey doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, we’d argue that some of the best whiskey out there is actually very affordable. The best cheap whiskey on the shelf generally hits in the $15 to $30 range and, more often than not, is full of great flavors. This is especially true of the best cheap bourbons since they don’t have to travel overseas to get to your home bar.

So, what makes a good cheap whiskey? That’s simple. Does it taste good to you? Then that’s enough. Look, you spend $100 on a bottle of whiskey. No one’s stopping you from doing that. But, for that same $100 bill, you can buy five, maybe even six bottles of perfectly passable every-day-drinking whiskeys. We’ll let you do the math on that.

To find out what the masses think are the best cheap whiskeys on the shelf today, we went over to Ranker to see what the people had to say. A clear top ten emerged that represents a solid list of whiskeys. Are these the best whiskeys overall? No. Maybe. Kind of. There are certainly some tasty crowd-pleasers on this list and that’s enough.

10. Four Roses

Four Roses

ABV: 40%
Distillery: Four Roses Distillery Lawrenceburg, KY (Kirin Brewing)
Average Price: $20

The Whiskey:

We’re big fans of Four Roses around here. Their standard bourbon is a blend of the distillery’s ten unique mash bills (one high rye, one low rye, and each with five unique yeast strains used). The sip carries the essence of the distillery in the bottle.

Tasting Notes:

We luckily just got to taste this one live. Check it out here. This is a light and fruity bourbon up top. That sweet fruit carries through with hints of classic bourbon vanilla and a touch of oak. Overall, it’s light and accessible in all the best ways.

Bottom Line:

This is a solid cocktail mixer.

9. Jim Beam

Jim Beam

ABV: 40%
Distillery: Jim Beam Distillery, Clermont, KY (Beam Suntory)
Average Price: $18

The Whiskey:

Jim Beam is the classic (and ubiquitous) dram all standard bourbons are measured against. The juice is a classic mix of corn, rye, and malted barley that’s aged for four years before blending, cutting down to proof, and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Caramel, corn, vanilla, and fruit lead the way. The bourbon is classic for a reason after all. The sip is touched by an echo of oak as the vanilla and caramel take center stage. There’s a mild spice with a fairground caramel corn sweetness on the short end.

Bottom Line:

Mix it, shoot it, drink it on the rocks.

8. Jack Daniel’s

Jack Daniel

ABV: 40%
Distillery: Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Lynchburg, TN (Brown-Forman)
Average Price: $25

The Whiskey:

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey is another stone-cold classic. Frank Sinatra was buried with the stuff because he loved it so much. Rock stars have been swigging from bottles of Jack since there were rock stars. The Tennessee whiskey has an extra layer of refinement thanks to the Lincoln County Process of sugar maple charcoal filtration, making it a bit more refined than a standard Kentucky bourbon.

Tasting Notes:

Banana and oak greet you. Vanilla arrives next with a hint of dark spice and little tart apple. The banana is ever-present as the oak, spice, and vanilla fades away semi-slowly.

Bottom Line:

This is Jack Daniel’s, no one can tell you how to drink your JD.

7. Crown Royal

Crown Royal

ABV: 40%
Distillery: Crown Royal Distillery, Gimli, MB (Diageo)
Average Price: $28

The Whiskey:

This iconic Canadian whisky is a powerhouse. The juice is a blend of 50 different whiskies with varying grain mash bills, aging times, and even oak it’s aged in. The result is a focused look at what Canadian whisky can be when blended just right.

Tasting Notes:

Maple syrup, oak, and vanilla mingle upfront. The syrup leans into grape pancake syrup territory as mild hints of powdery spices ping throughout the taste. The end is short, full of oak and fruit, and satisfying.

Bottom Line:

This works well as a highball or as a cocktail base.

6. Knob Creek

Knob Creek

ABV: 50%
Distillery: Jim Beam Distillery, Clermont, KY (Beam Suntory)
Average Price: $35

The Whiskey:

Jim Beam spread its wings a bit back in the early 1990s with their Small Batch Collection. This — along with Basil Hayden, Booker’s, and Baker’s — helped reinvigorate the brand. The juice in the bottle is small-batched from barrels that average nine-years in age.

Tasting Notes:

Classic bourbon vanilla is present alongside hints of worn leather, buttermilk biscuit dripping with honey, and a sprinkling of orange zest. The peppery spice is a nice accent for the caramel corn bourbon-y aspect with a bit of tart apple crispness. The oak and spice linger the longest as the sip fades away while warming you up.

Bottom Line:

This is perfectly suited for a highball or over the rocks. But don’t sleep on using it in a Manhattan either.

5. Jameson

Jameson

ABV: 40%
Distillery: New Midleton Distillery, County Cork
Average Price: $30

The Whiskey:

You kind of can’t go wrong with a bottle of Jameson on the shelf. The Irish tipple is a blend of pot still and grain whiskeys that are aged in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks for varying amounts of time. The final result is a workhorse whiskey that works in any application.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a grassiness that leads toward a honey sweetness and apple tartness. Expect a hint of nuttiness next to the grass as citrus notes kick in next to a dusting of cinnamon. The oak, spice, fruit, and grassiness fade away fairly quickly, leaving you wanting another sip.

Bottom Line:

Jameson and ginger with a lime twist is a classic. But, this one also works fine in a highball or on the rocks in a pinch.

4. Wild Turkey

Whisky Exchange

ABV: 40.5%
Distillery: Wild Turkey Distillery, Lawrenceburg, KY (Campari)
Average Price: $20

The Whiskey:

This bourbon is made for the mixing crowd. The mash has a fair amount of rye in there, adding texture and depth. The juice is aged for around six to eight years before blending and being brought down to the unique 81 proof.

Tasting Notes:

Stone fruit, popped corn, and vanilla open this one up. There’s a mix of Christmas spices next to apple pie with a nice, buttery crust. The sharp spices and mild oak carry the sip to a velvety end with more of the sweet corn and fruit lasting until the last moment.

Bottom Line:

Use this in your next old fashioned, Sazerac, or boulevardier.

3. Evan Williams

Evan Williams

ABV: 43%
Distillery: Heaven Hill Distillery, Louisville, KY
Average Price: $15

The Whiskey:

This label has gained massive popularity since it became the go-to rail bourbon at many a bar around the nation. The classic juice is aged between four and seven years before it’s blended, cut to proof, and then bottled.

Tasting Notes:

It’s kind of like walking through a fairground and smelling the kettle corn popping and the caramel apples drying in the sun. The tartness of the apples mingles with the sweetness of the caramel with hints of vanilla, oak, and spice peeking in. The warm end fades quickly with a slight sweetness lingering.

Bottom Line:

It’s the perfect beer back shot or mixer with cola, ginger, or whatever you dig.

2. Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace

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

The Whiskey:

Buffalo Trace is an award-winning bourbon from one of the biggest distilleries in Kentucky right now. This bottle was crafted to be an example of the great work Buffalo Trace does with its premier brands. The low-rye mash bill leans into the softness of the Kentucky limestone water the region is famous for.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a crafted feel to this sip as vanilla and molasses dance up top with a hint of fresh mint. Rich and buttery toffee mingles with hints of mild spice, dark berries, and plenty of oak. The sip’s softness takes hold as the oak, fruit, and spice fade, leaving you with a warming sense of comfort.

Bottom Line:

Use it however you see fit.

1. Maker’s Mark

Maker

ABV: 45%
Distillery: Maker’s Mark Distillery, Loretto, KY (Beam Suntory)
Average Price: $30

The Whiskey:

This is another classic Kentucky bourbon that leans into the world of wheated bourbons. The mash bill chucks the usual rye and replaces it with red winter wheat. The juice is then aged for six to seven years and then blended, cut down to proof, and then bottled before the famous red wax seal is applied.

Tasting Notes:

Crème brûlée cut with pods of vanilla beans rings loudest with a sense of dark spices drawing you in. There’s a crusty bread flourish that counterpoints the rich and velvety vanilla pudding edge. The sip lingers with a mild spice, a bit of oak, and a wisp of fresh mint as it slowly fades away.

Bottom Line:

This is the perfect cocktail base that works on the rocks or in a highball just as well.

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