Best Bourbons Under $50: Everybody (of legal age) has a drink of choice. Mine is whiskey. I do enjoy drinking beer and wine, as well as a variety of cocktails, but whenever the choice is given I am most likely to take a neat scotch or bourbon over anything else. Scotch and Bourbon are probably the most popular types of whiskey, but there are other types as well like Irish whiskey, rye whiskey, malt, blend, and so on. We are not going to delve into the differences between different types of whiskey and will solely discuss bourbon, as you might’ve already figured out from the title of the article.
When someone asks me what the differences between bourbon and whiskey are, I say that the rule is: all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. To elaborate, bourbon has to be made in America, preferably in Kentucky, but not in Tennessee, which earned its own type of whiskey due to some differences in process compared to other bourbons. Technology-wise, bourbon should be made with 51% corn, it has to be distilled to no more than 160 proof (80% alcohol by volume) and has to be kept in new charred oak barrels, as compared to whiskey, which has to be stored in simple oak barrels. Bourbon has to be put in the barrel at 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume and bottled at no less than 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume).
Now, similar to wine, there’s an aging period for bourbon and there are bottles that range from a couple of dollars to high-end prices of over $3,000. And similar to wine, there’s the common misconception that the more expensive and older the bourbon, the better it tastes, which is not always the case. Of course there are Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash Whiskey or Old Fitzgerald Very Old 8 Year Old Bourbon, which cost north of $3,000 and must taste heavenly, but you can also pick up a bottle under $50.
So, whether you want to enjoy one of the 11 Easiest Alcoholic Drinks to Digest at home alone, or in the company of your friends, or are looking for a great gift for someone, here’s our take on the 10 best bourbons under $50.
Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Bourbon
Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Bourbon is part of the premium small-batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon brand, Woodford Reserve, which is produced by Brown-Forman Corporation (NYSE:BF.A). The Distiller’s Select is the flagship bourbon of Woodford Distilery, which has been in operation since 1780. The bourbon has an alcohol by volume content of 45.2% and is triple distilled for extra smoothness. According to the producer, the bourbon has a distinctive rich dried fruit aroma with hints of citrus and mint. The full-bodied and rounded taste has notes of citrus and cinnamon, as well as toffee, caramel and spices.
Jim Beam Signature Craft 12 Years
Jim Beam, produced by Beam Suntory (a subsidiary of Japan-based Suntory Holdings) is probably one of the most well-known bourbon brands in the world. Signature Craft represents the premium spirit from the producer and comes as Quarter Cask or 12 Years. The 12 years that the spirit spent in the barrel did a great job for this handcrafted bourbon, which contains an aroma with a caramel background and hints of vanilla and oak. Moreover, the sweet vanilla taste with rich oak notes makes it a perfect bourbon to be served neat or on rocks.
Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve
Next in line is another Beam Suntory Bourbon: Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve. Generally, Single Barrel bourbon is considered to be a premium class of the drink. The difference between Single Barrel and Blend is that each bottle is from an individual barrel, which is considered to have a unique contribution to the taste. Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve is a limited-edition, handcrafted bourbon that was aged nine years. It has a rich and sweet taste and an aroma that contains notes of nuts, grain and oak.
Four Roses Single Barrel
Another single barrel bourbon, Four Roses Single Barrel, the next one on the list of best bourbons under $50, is made by Kentucky-based Four Roses distillery, which is owned by Japan-based Kirin Brewery Company. Four Roses Single Barrel is bottled at 100 proof and has a pruney taste with a balanced nose with hints of spices and chocolate.
Wild Turkey Russell’s Reserve 10 Years
Wild Turkey is a brand of bourbon distilled and bottled by Austin Nichols, a division of Campari Group. Russell’s Reserve represents a small batch bourbon handcrafted by Wild Turkey’s distiller, Jimmy Russell and his son, Eddie Russell. The bourbon won medals at a number of competitions, including a double gold medal at the 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and silver medals at the 2012 and 2013 San Francisco World Spirits Competitions. The bourbon is bottled at 90 proof and has a full-bodied taste with notes of caramel and vanilla.
Rowan’s Creek Bourbon
The next in line on our list of best bourbons under $50 is the Rowan’s Creek that is a brand of bourbon produced by Willet Distillery, also known as Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, a family-owned and family-operated company. Rowan’s Creek is a small batch, 12-year-old bourbon that has a distinct aroma of maple syrup and has a deep, sweet taste.
Four Roses Yellow
Four Roses Yellow is one of the cheapest bourbons in this list and is made by the same Jim Rutledge distiller that is behind the previously-mentioned Four Roses Single Barrel. Even though Four Roses Yellow is the brand’s entry-level spirit, it’s light and fruity taste, with hints of apple and honey, won’t leave anyone disappointed.
Old Grand Dad 114
Old Grand Dad, the number three on our list of best bourbons under $50 is produced by Beam Suntory at the Jim Beam plant in Clermont and the 114 is the best bourbon in this line-up. Aged for six years and bottled at 114 proof, this bourbon contains 27% rye, which gives it a spicy taste. The aroma contains elements of dark fruit, vanilla, and dark caramel, which are also present in the palate.
Eagle Rare Single Barrel 10 Year
Eagle Rare, the second on our list of best bourbons under $50, is distilled and distributed by the Buffalo Trace Distillery, which is owned by the Sazerac Company, a New Orleans-based, family-owned company. Eagle Rare is a single-barrel bourbon aged 10 years and bottled at 80 proof. It has an aroma of toffee with hints of orange peel and herbs, as well as honey and leather, while the taste is dry with notes of cocoa and candied almonds. However, as with all single barrel bourbons, bottles from different barrels have their distinctive individuality.
Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Barrel Proof
The number one on our list of Best Bourbons Under $50 is Elijah Craig that is a premium brand of bourbon distilled and bottled by the Heaven Hill Distillery, the only remaining family-owned distillery in Kentucky. Heaven Hill also produced some of the oldest single barrel bourbons, 18 Year Old and 23 Year Old, which cost about $120 and $200 per bottle respectively, buu 12 Year Old barrel proof should also not disappoint. However, it’s important to mention that since it’s barrel proof, it is much stronger than other bourbons at 134.2 proof (67.1% alcohol by volume). It has a caramel, vanilla and butterscotch palate with a caramel and oaky aroma.