The Best Bourbons To Drink Straight For Under $50

Having a good bourbon around that you can drink straight (with a little water or a few rocks) is always a solid move. But it doesn’t have to be an expensive one. You don’t need to break the bank to find a very solid bottle of bourbon to enjoy sans mixer. There are plenty of sippable bourbons on the shelf for under $50.

What are we looking for in a quality sipping bourbon at that price range? Flavor is a big factor, naturally. So is the most dreaded descriptor in all of the bourbon world: smoothness. Personally, I like a long, warming finish but plenty of newbies find themselves very happy with drams that fade quietly and/or abruptly. To each their own on that count.

The ten bottles below are all easy sippers that we vouch for. And they all hover right around that $50 sweet spot. The best part? You should be able to find these bottles fairly easily or at least get them delivered. Check our tasting notes and feel free to add any personal favorites in the comments!

Jim Beam Double Oak

Jim Beam

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $22

The Whiskey:

This double matured whiskey is super easy-drinking. The juice is aged in new American oak for four years and then transferred to new barrels for a second maturation. The results are a deeper and more well-rounded iteration of classic Jim Beam.

Tasting Notes:

Naturally, you’re greeted with oak that’s supported by vanilla, caramel, spice, and a touch of dark chocolate. The sip does a good job of adding in layers of peppery spice and creamy vanilla. The sip ends with a note of fruitiness next to a return of the oak throughout the medium-length finish.

Bottom Line:

At this price, you can easily buy two bottles before shelling out $50.

1792 Small Batch

1792

ABV: 46.85%
Average Price: $32

The Whiskey:

This bottle celebrates the year Kentucky became a state. The whiskey is small-batched from hand-selected barrels and bottled at a slightly higher proof than your standard bourbons. The rye in the mash bill is what the taste is centered around.

Tasting Notes:

Pepper and cinnamon mingle with oak, vanilla cream, and a wisp of smoke. The spicy rye really kicks in on the tongue with a note of toasted corn, caramel, and salted peanuts. Finally, the sip lingers just the right amount of time with that rye spice and a final flourish of bright citrus.

Bottom Line:

This expression really shines on the rocks. All those spicy rye notes bloom as the water marries the whiskey.

Four Roses Small Batch

Four Roses

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $37

The Whiskey:

This small-batch expression is a blend of four whiskeys from Four Roses’ distillery. The blend has a focus on mildly spicy and boldly fruity yeasts. The juice is then blended into this easy-sipper.

Tasting Notes:

This is a light and very approachable dram. The nose invites you in with clear notes of fruit next to spice, with a nice oakiness. The berries are the real star of the show as the oak takes a back seat. The sip fades fairly quickly, with warming spice and fruity sweetness.

Bottom Line:

Pour this over a few rocks and enjoy on a long, cool evening. The finish will warm you up nicely.

Russell’s Reserve 10

Wild Turkey

ABV: 45%
Average Price: $38

The Whiskey:

This small-batch expression is hand-selected by both Jimmy and Eddie Russell. The duo picks out ten-year-old barrels that hit just the right spot in both flavor and texture then small-batch them into this tasty bourbon.

Tasting Notes:

This really is a classic bourbon with clear notes of vanilla, caramel, and oak up top. The sip delivers on the classic feel with more vanilla, spice, oak, fruit, and a hint of smoke. The end is slow, full of warmth, and draws you back for more.

Bottom Line:

Make sure to add a little water to dial-in this easy-drinking sipper.

Wild Turkey Longbranch

Wild Turkey

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $40

The Whiskey:

Sticking with Wild Turkey, Longbranch is where Kentucky meets Texas. The juice was born of a collaboration between Matthew McConaughey and Turkey. The ripple is in the filtration through Texas mesquite, which gives the whiskey an extra layer of depth.

Tasting Notes:

Creamy vanilla, sharp cinnamon, and gooey caramel greet you. The sip holds onto the full-bodied creaminess as honey, oak, and toffee mix with a rush of orange oils. The sweeter aspects of the sip counterbalance the spicer ones on the long end with a whisper of that mesquite smoke.

Bottom Line:

Add some water to really open up the smokiness, then sit back and enjoy this slow-sipper.

Eagle Rare 10

Buffalo Trace

ABV: 45%
Average Price: $40

The Whiskey:

This is a great entry-point to the finer whiskeys of Buffalo Trace. The bourbon is made from specially selected barrels from the Buffalo Trace warehouses that have been resting at least ten years.

Tasting Notes:

Fruit, spice, vanilla, and oak open this dram up. The fruitiness yo-yos between berries and apples with Christmas spice and sticky toffee adding complexity. The end fades out at just the right pace while embracing you with warmth, more fruit, and plenty of spicy oak.

Bottom Line:

Adding water really opens this dram up. Honey, chocolate, and leather pop in with a real sense of those Christmas spices.

Old Forester Single Barrel Select

Old Forester

ABV: 50%
Average Price: $44

The Whiskey:

Master Taster Jackie Zykan picks single barrels from the Old Forester rickhouse for this bottling. That means there around 200 bottles from each barrel for these rollouts — making this a one-off chance to taste the beauty of a single barrel product at a very, very accessible price point.

Tasting Notes:

The taste is going to vary slightly with these but they do follow a pattern. Expect a rye warmth with cedarwood and orange zest on the nose. The sip leans into a buttery, maple syrup/ buttermilk pancake body with plenty of spice, oak, and more of that cedar. The end will be long and circle back to that bright orange fruitiness.

Bottom Line:

This is another enticing whiskey that could easily cost a lot more than it does. Add a single rock or a few drops of water to really amp up the woody notes and awaken a mild, resinous dankness.

Michter’s US*1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Michters

ABV: 45.7%
Average Price: $46

The Whiskey:

This is a solid all-around whiskey. The juice is aged in white oak and then blended from no more than 20 barrels per bottling.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a nice balance of vanilla, oak, and caramel on the nose. That leads to a taste that leans into classic bourbon territory with plenty of bourbon vanilla, accentuated by stone fruit and red berries. The end is long, full of spice, oaky, and closes with a wisp of smoke.

Bottom Line:

While this is a great on-the-rocks sipper, don’t sleep on making a killer old fashioned with this bottle. Is that cheating to recommend a cocktail? We couldn’t resist.

Weller Special Reserve

Buffalo Trace

ABV: 45%
Average Price: $47

The Whiskey:

This is the original wheated bourbon. The smoothness of this dram really shines, as the wheat evens out the sip while adding a layer of depth that’s very engaging.

Tasting Notes:

Caramel draws you in. The palate has a gentle oakiness that’s married to rich toffee and fresh honey. There’s a floral flourish that beckons you toward a long, velvety end.

Bottom Line:

This might be the most difficult to find (due to limited supplies and huge popularity) but it’s 100 percent worth the hunt. If you do find it, buy two bottles.

Henry Mckenna Single Barrel

Heaven Hill

ABV: 50%
Average Price: $50

The Whiskey:

This has become one of Heaven Hill’s signature expressions. The juice spends ten long years resting in the warehouse before barrels are hand-selected for direct bottling. The result is a single-barrel expression that always wows.

Tasting Notes:

Clear and balanced notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak mingle with a bushel of fresh mint. The sharp spices kick in with honeyed sweetness and plenty of oak. The end of the sip is warming, spicy, and lingers on a sweet final note.

Bottom Line:

There will be a little variance amongst these bottles but they tend to always blossom with a little water or a rock or two.

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