If you’re a beginning bourbon drinker, you can easily pick up a few bottles in the $30-50 range that you’re sure to be happy with. Sip it over ice, mix it into an old fashioned, or even drink it neat. The joy of being a newcomer is that your expectations are significantly lower.
As you progress and your palate grows more refined, so too will your tastes. As your tastes evolve, the price tags on your favorite bottles will get steeper. It’s a boozy layer cake.
But no matter how elitist your palate eventually becomes, $100 will always get you a lot in the world of bourbon — where there are no international tariffs to be paid. In fact, there are lots of amazing, high-quality bottles for at or under $100. We’re talking actual sippers. To find them, we hit up the experts — asking a handful of our favorite bartenders to tell us the best bourbons for under $100.
Check their answers below.
Jefferson’s Ocean Cask Strength
Seth Falvo, bartender at The Hotel Zamora in St. Pete Beach, Florida
I really enjoy Jefferson’s Ocean Cask Strength. Despite its high proof, it drinks very smooth, and the salty, briny notes the bourbon picked up at sea complement the salted caramel and tobacco forward flavor profile of the base whiskey.
It’s a unique bourbon that belongs in any whiskey drinker’s collection.
Basil Hayden’s 10
Brennen Brainard, bartender at Gigglewaters Social Club in Clearwater, Florida
Basil Hayden’s 10 year is a great bourbon to drink neat. Clocked in at 80 proof, ice and mixers should be on the sidelines for this bottle. The characteristics and flavor would be lost if anything were added.
Do yourself a favor and pick one up after reading and you’ll see what I mean.
Pinhook Bohemian Bourbon
Cory Coose, bartender at Tak Room in New York City
Pinhook’s Bohemian Bourbon flagship, which was just released this year. Extremely reasonably priced and with a taste of high end. Fun spices along with some tropical fruits.
Can be used for all types of cocktails or just on the rocks.
Josh Curtis, bar director at Carbon Beach Club in Malibu, California
Buffalo Trace is my favorite bourbon because it has such a unique flavor profile. Espresso, oak, toffee, custard, and mint rove across the palate. It’s perfect for sipping neat or mixed into your favorite cocktails.
One of the best value bottles on the market, if you ask me.
Michter’s US1 Bourbon
Ben Potts, owner and bartender at The Sylvester in Miami
Michter’s makes some great stuff. Their 10 year doesn’t quite hit the under $100 mark, but their core bourbon is fantastic. It has a great level of sweetness with hints of honey, vanilla, and charred oak.
Four Roses Small Batch Select
Blake Jakes, director of beverage at The Kennedy Bar in Pensacola, Florida
I’d have to say Four Roses Small Batch Select. They are usually always amazing and also high proof. I love that you can have 10 different Mash bills to choose from, which makes every single barrel truly unique.
High West American Prairie Bourbon
Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami
High West American Prairie is an excellent bottle that checks a lot of boxes. The flavor is superb, there’s enough heat to stand up to a cocktail, and it’s also easily sipped.
It’s filled with pleasing flavors of brown sugar, vanilla, and rich caramel.
Old Forester 1920
Bill Whitlow, owner of Proper Food & Drink in Covington, Kentucky
I don’t drop around $100 on bottles very often, but now and then I will throw down on a bottle of Old Forester 1920 or Four Roses Small Batch Select. Those are always on the shelf around here. If I can grab a bottle of Colonel E.H. Taylor Single Barrel or Barrel Proof at retail, I will jump all over either of those.
If I had to pick one for today, it would be Old Forester 1920 with its complex, highly sippable flavors
Angel’s Envy Bourbon
Juan Fernandez, bartender at The Ballantyne, A Luxury Collection Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina
Angel’s Envy Bourbon. Angel’s isn’t a cheap bourbon, but it isn’t an expensive one either. I would have to say that it’s my favorite, thanks to is versatility. It’s great on its own straight, as well as in many whiskey driven cocktails.
It’s also not so expensive that I feel guilty adding it to cocktails.
Hudson Baby Bourbon
Crystal Chasse, beverage director at Talk Story Rooftop in Brooklyn
Hudson Baby Bourbon. Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery is only a few miles from where I grew up in the Hudson Valley. Aside from the savory notes the whiskey offers, I love to support local businesses. Hudson distillery was the first whiskey brand to bring the spirit back to New York and also help create the laws and state requirements to be allowed to produce whiskey in New York.
Hirsch The Horizon
Kevin Baird, bartender at Dead Rabbit in New York City
I really love Hirsch The Horizon’s distinguished, layered, rich yet dry flavor complex. This brand could possibly redefine the disposition of a high corn bourbon. Also, its slightly unconventional and not-too-fancy turquoise label with line work and symmetry provides a fun almost nautical accent to the juice.
Certainly, and attractive shelf piece.