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Best Bottles Of Bourbon Under $50 To Give As A Holiday Gift

We’ve already talked about the best general gifts for whiskey and cocktail fans. Now it’s time to talk about some of the best actual bottles of bourbon to give as a gift this holiday season. Bottles that tell a story while delivering in the flavor department.

The bottles below are bourbon whiskeys we’d love to see under our own trees this year and, therefore, think would make great gifts. Each is fairly easy to find nationwide, tastes good (for the price), and comes in at under $50. These aren’t the bottles that are meant to “wow” on flavor alone when the paper gets ripped off the box — we’ll get to those at the $100 level. These are very solid mixing and sipping bourbons that are hard not to love, even if your giftee is just beginning their bourbon whiskey journey.

Let’s get right into it!

Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Bourbon Posts Of 2021

Eagle Rare

Sazerac Company

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $45

The Whiskey:

Eagle Rare is a marriage of at minimum ten-year-old Buffalo Trace whiskeys. Each barrel is hand-selected to bring in classic bourbon flavors that also feel deeply rooted and unique to the brand.

Tasting Notes:

This one opens boldly, with orange rind and maple syrup next to touches of honey, worn leather, and toffee. Then the oak char and vanilla kick in, giving it a classic old-leather-chair-in-a-smoky-library vibe, as hints of mint lead back towards the toffee. When you add a little water, there’s a dark chocolate bar with an almond note that blooms in the glass. The finish is short but sweet in all the right ways.

Bottom Line:

Even passive bourbon fans have likely heard of Eagle Rare. What’s amazing is that you can still score the entry-level bottle for a pretty fair price. Even if the person you’re buying for already has a bottle of this on the shelf, they’ll be stoked to get another.

Hirsch The Horizon

Hirsch

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $39

The Whiskey:

Hotaling & Co., started by San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing, is a hell of a blendery. This expression is a mix of two MGP of Indiana whiskeys. The lion’s share (94 percent) is a five-year-old bourbon with a fairly standard mash bill of 75 percent corn, 21 percent rye, and four percent malted barley. That’s married to a six-year-old bourbon with a mash bill of 60 percent corn, 38 percent rye, and four percent malted barley. The whiskey is proofed down to 92 proof and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear sense of pipping hot cornbread dripping with whipped butter cut with cinnamon and vanilla on the nose. That spicy vanilla butter really drives the palate’s flavor as the sweetness leans towards pancake syrup on a pecan waffle with a small hint of leather and tobacco lurking in the background.

Bottom Line:

This is a very unique whiskey that stands out on the shelf and in its flavor profile. It’s affordable, works as a mixer, and shines as a sipper. You can’t beat that value in a bourbon gift.

Benchmark Bonded

Sazerac Company

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $20

The Whiskey:

The juice in this bottle is from Buffalo Trace’s Mash #1, which has a scant amount of barley and rye next to mostly corn. This is the same mash that’s used for bigger hitting brands like Eagle Rare, Stagg, and E.H. Taylor. In this case, this is a four-year-old bonded that’s sort of like a proto-E.H. Taylor, Jr. Small Batch.

Tasting Notes:

This is surprisingly bright with a nose full of lemon-honey tart sweetness, a touch of vanilla extract, a hint of charred wood, and maybe a little wet leather. The taste keeps it simple and really leans into the oak and vanilla while the honey sweetness mellows to a standard caramel with a hint of spicy tobacco. The end is pretty short but leaves you with that vanilla, honey, and tobacco.

Bottom Line:

This whiskey has been winning awards this past year. For this price point, you really can’t go wrong. If whoever you’re gifting this to doesn’t 100 percent dig it on the rocks, they can always mix it into a cocktail or cut it with coke and not really worry. Still, the pedigree of this whiskey is undeniable and that’s what this gift is highlighting.

Ezra Brooks 99

Ezra Brooks 99
Luxco

ABV: 49.5%

Average Price: $27

The Whiskey:

This whiskey, distilled at Lux Row Distillers in Bardstown, is kind of like a Tennessee whiskey made in Kentucky. The juice has a pretty standard mash bill corn, rye, and barley. But, once the spirit comes off the stills it’s filtered through charcoal, just like Tennessee whiskey, before it’s filled into the barrels. That whiskey is then batched, proofed down with limestone water, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

This also leans very classic bourbon with hints of corn on the cob with melty salted butter next to hints of soft leather pouches filled with roasted peanut shells, a touch of caramel, and a vanilla/chocolate ice cream vibe. The palate keeps things super easy as that rich vanilla ice cream leads towards holiday spices, tart green apples, and a freshly baked cornbread bespeckled with dried chili flakes and black pepper. The finish is soft and fast with that spice leading back towards a leather tobacco chew.

Bottom Line:

This is definitely a step up from Benchmark above and, I’d argue, makes for a great (and cheap) on the rocks bourbon. Look, any bourbon under $30 that is this tasty is going to be a great gift.

I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

IW Harper Bourbon
Diageo

ABV: 41%

Average Price: $42

The Whiskey:

This Diageo whiskey is made from a mash bill of 73 percent corn, 18 percent rye, and nine percent malted barley. The juice was then aged in the famed Stitzel-Weller warehouse for four to 20 years, depending on the barrel in the final blend. Up until very recently this was only available on the Asian market but was recently released in the U.S.

Tasting Notes:

Balance is the key to this bourbon on the nose and on the palate. Notes of sweet and savory fruits drive towards sweet caramel, rich vanilla, and a touch of dried roses. The palate has a touch of masa lurking in the background as juicy berries with a hint of tartness lead to holiday spices, nuttiness, and candied cherry. The mid-palate leans into that soft and sweet red fruit as the spices kick back up with clove and allspice leading the way with a touch of white pepper that ends up with a cherry/vanilla tobacco warmth.

Bottom Line:

This is a really solid and unique bourbon for this price point. You’re not really going to find anything quite like this, making it a great present for any bourbon lover in your life.

Sonoma Distilling Co. Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Sonoma Distilling Co.

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $40

The Whiskey:

Out in California, Sonoma County Distillery is working some unique magic with their bourbon. Sonoma Bourbon has a mash bill that eschews rye and instead uses local wheat. The bill ends up at 70 percent corn, 25 percent wheat, and five percent barley. The wheat adds a nutty and bitter dimension to the final product that’s worth checking out.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a grassy nature here. Think of a field of grass at the very end of summer when everything is amber-gold and the sun scortches the earth. Then rushes of buttery and brisk toffee come into play alongside oaky vanilla, bitter roasted coffee beans, and wonderful echoes of almond-heavy marzipan. There’s a mild alcohol spice on the backend that leaves you wanting another sip.

Bottom Line:

While this might be a little easier to find in California (or the West Coast in general), it’s still a great gift bourbon. A bourbon from wine country is a great “outside the box” gift for any whiskey drinker. Plus, this stuff is really tasty.

Brough Brothers Bourbon

Brough Brothers Bourbon
Brough Brothers Bourbon

ABV: 41%

Average Price: $29

The Whiskey:

This tiny and new distillery was founded in West Louisville by brothers Victor, Chris, and Bryson Yarbrough. The distillery is the first African-American-owned brand working in the state. For now, this bottle is contract-distilled (distilled at a big distillery based on their own recipe/concept) in Indiana from a mash bill of 75 percent corn, 21 percent rye, and four percent malted barley.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with dried roses, marzipan, and creamy eggnog on the nose with a hint of apple and corn. That apple drives the taste with more orchard fruit (think pears) as the nutmeg really spikes and the marzipan takes on a rosewater vibe next to a very distant flutter of pepper spice in the background. The finish sweetens with a spoonful of fresh and floral honey as those orchard fruits affix to a mildly spicy and vanilla-forward tobacco leaf.

Bottom Line:

Support Louisville’s first Black-owned distillery and buy all your whiskey friends a bottle of this as a gift this year.

Legent Bourbon

Beam Suntory

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $47

The Whiskey:

This bottle from Beam Suntory marries Kentucky Bourbon, California wine, and Japanese whisky blending in one bottle. Legent is classic Kentucky bourbon made by bourbon legend Fred Noe at Beam that’s finished in both French oak that held red wine and Spanish sherry casks. The juice is then blended by whisky blending legend Shinji Fukuyo.

Tasting Notes:

Plummy puddings with hints of nuts mingle with vinous berries, oaky spice, and a good dose of vanilla and toffee on the nose. The palate expands on the spice with more barky cinnamon and dusting of nutmeg while the oak becomes sweeter and the fruit becomes dried and sweet. The finish is jammy-yet-light with plenty of fruit, spice, and oak lingering on the senses.

Bottom Line:

This is probably the best mixing bourbon on the list. It is just outstanding in cocktails. It also comes with a great story, which is what you want in a good gift bourbon.

Woodford Reserve Bourbon

Brown-Forman

ABV: 45.2%

Average Price: $42

The Whiskey:

This is where everything comes together that makes Woodford unique. The mash bill on this bourbon is mid-range rye heavy with 18 percent of the grain in the bill for support. The triple distilling in pot stills and blending with column distilled whiskey is utilized. And yes, this bourbon rests for six to seven years — taking time to mature before barrels are pulled for blending, proofing, and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

There’s that classic note of bourbon vanilla up top but it doesn’t overwhelm the notes of dark chocolate oranges, dried fruits, spicy tobacco, and a distant wisp of fresh mint. A lovely toffee richness creates a well-rounded mouthfeel as notes of spicy and chewy tobacco mingle with dark chocolate dust, more orange oils, and a touch of cinnamon sticks. The end is pure velvet, lingers for just the right amount of time, and brings the whole sip together.

Bottom Line:

There’s something about Woodford that really feels like a great gift bottle. Part of it is the design of the bottle and logo, sure. But this has a wintry vibe that feels like it just matches holiday flavors and vibes.

US*1 Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Michters Distillery

ABV: 45.7%

Average Price: $49

The Whiskey:

Michter’s really means the phrase “small batch” here. The tank they use to marry their hand-selected eight-year-old bourbons can only hold 20 barrels, so that’s how many go into each small-batch bottling. The blended juice is then proofed with Kentucky’s famously soft limestone water and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

Buttery caramel and peaches mix with creamy vanilla and oak on the nose. The vanilla really shines as the peach almost takes on a grilled edge as it gets sweeter and adds a whisper of smoke next to peppery spice. The spice kicks up and warms the senses as the slow fade embraces stone fruit, toffee, and more vanilla with a final kick of charred oak.

Bottom Line:

A bottle of Michter’s for under $50?! It’s true and this bottle will be the highlight of any gift-giving session. It’s a killer bourbon that works wonders in wintry cocktails or just sipping on the rocks after the melee of the present opening is over.

George Dickel Bottled in Bond, Spring 2007

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Diageo

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $45

The Whiskey:

Nicole Austin has been killing it with these bottled-in-bond releases from George Dickel. This year’s release is a whiskey that was warehoused in spring 2007. 13 years later, this juice was bottled at 100 proof (as per the law) and sent out to the wide world where it received much adoration.

Tasting Note:

The nose on this one is mildly sweet with almost earthy maple syrup next to pecans from a pie with a touch of dried apple and old leather. The taste runs deep with vanilla leading the way next to a touch of apple and pecan crumble. The mid-palate takes a turn away from all of that and dives into a candied cherry that’s dusted with dark chocolate and a ground-up fruit Neco Wafer or Flintstone’s multivitamin (that’s also cherry-flavored) before the finish gets this browned butter vibe with a touch of soft, sweet oak.

Bottom Line:

This remains one of our favorite all-time whiskeys under $50. It’s a delightful whiskey (yes, all Tennessee whiskey passes the tech specs for bourbon) that hits such unique and vibrant flavor notes. This is a winner all around and will advance a burgeoning palate or make an advanced whiskey drinker very happy.

EDITOR’S PICK: Blue Note Crossroads

Blue Note Bourbon Whiskey
Blue Note

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $40.00

The Whiskey:

This Memphis-made bottle is a 2021 release with a mash bill of 60% corn, 36% rye, 4% malted barley — a commonly sourced mash from MGP. It’s finished in toasted French oak and there’s no age statement. The “crossroads” in the name is a reference to the crossing of the two woods — new American oak and French — and the famous “Devil at the crossroads” myth of a musician selling his soul to the devil.

Tasting Note:

The nose here is pretty mellow and relatively predictable. It’s a common MGP mashbill without a ton of variance (just the wood finish). You get a little bit of French Oak but that really levels up on the palate. The rest of the nose is vanilla forward — Vienna Finger cookies (are those still a thing?) — alongside some typical baking spice notes. The palate is a little oakier and I got some faint… I feel like Zach here, but… leather chair/ musty library vibes? The mouthfeel was pleasant and viscous and it was warm but not hot on the finish.

The real key here is that this is an easy, sweet, luscious intro bottle for someone just getting into bourbon on the rocks.

Bottom Line:

Fun story to chat through with musicians. Fun intro bottle. Great value.

Win-win-win.

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