Whiskey is one of the most American liquors available out there. It can be smokey, tangy, sweet like molasses or buttery on the finish. It’s versatile in cocktails and historic in its long-time presence in American bars pre- and post-prohibition. George Washington even had his own distillery on Mount Vernon. Clearly whiskey runs deep in our veins. Those are serious cultural and societal roots.
Whiskey links us to cultures and societies all over the world who produce their own whiskey including Ireland, Scotland and Japan. It’s made from grains grown right here on US soil including barley, corn and rye. It can be served over ice, mixed with bitters and sugar to create an Old Fashioned, or mixed to pucker the lips in a Whiskey Sour. However you like it, you know that bottles can vary widely in price. How much do you need to spend to get a solid bottle of whiskey? Turns out, not very much. You can find great bottles of this American treasure for less than $50 a pop, in fact.
Don’t believe us? Take a look at our list below. We’ve gathered some of the best affordable whiskey brands below, and they’re all under $50. Take a look if you want to celebrate a classic American treat on a budget.
1. Michter’s US #1 Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey
Despite its distillery and mash bill being quite the mystery in the liquor world, the product Michter’s delivers is solid. Michter’s rye tastes fantastic on its own or with the slightest bit of water to ease the spicy, peppery flavor.
The orange-brown color coats the glass well and the flavor profile brings a solid amount of rye, spice and caramel straight to the nose without hesitation. They’ve mastered a balance of sweet and spicy and the long, peppery finish will leave you satisfied but not overwhelmed. At $42.99, it’s one of the best whiskeys under $50 available.
2. Knob Creek Straight Rye Whiskey
Knob Creek is the dependable whiskey pal we need who goes with the flow and is great neat or in cocktails. It’s got a full-bodied spice when enjoyed by itself but can also pair with other ingredients, making it a solid foundation for cocktails. The rye holds down the fort on the spice front while the vanilla and caramel usher you to the peppery finale.
3. Eagle Rare 10-Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
This whiskey bottle might not fit in with the rest on your bar cart, but you’ll be glad it’s there. The flavor is just as bold as the design with spicy orange peel and honey rounding it all out. It’s got that familiar reddish-brown color you’ve come to expect from your whiskeys and is best enjoyed on its own both because of the quality contained within.
4. Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon
If anything on this list is bound to impress, it’s this concoction. This bourbon from Four Roses might become your new favorite after you try it and realize how much bang you can get for your buck in terms of flavor and quality. It’s very well-balanced and deliciously layered with caramel, dried fruit, vanilla and just a touch of citrus that’ll smooth everything over. It’s one of the smoothest drinks on this list — we guarantee you’ll want to stock up after your first sip.
5. Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whiskey
Sip on Monkey Shoulder and get instantly transported to an old-timey Scottish distillery. This mix combines malts from Balvenie, Kininvie and Glenfiddich which all work together to delicately balance the flavor layers of vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and the citrusy zest of orange. It’s got a creamy smooth texture and is made to be mixed rather than enjoyed on the rocks.
6. Wild Turkey 101 Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
There’s a reason why this straight bourbon is a bartender’s favorite for mixing great whiskey cocktails — it packs a satisfying punch on a budget. It’s got high rye content and high alcohol content that are both enjoyable yet subdued by the spicy aromas and sweeter notes of the flavor profile. It’s a high-proof whiskey, so you don’t have to stress about melting ice cube diluting your beverage.
7. Redbreast 12-Year Old Irish Whiskey
This Irish whiskey is for the more sophisticated among you. It uses both malted and unmalted barley in its creation, an unconventional choice, and triple distills it before aging in Oloroso Sherry casks. All of that gives it a smooth and yet complex flavor profile all at once. It’s got grassy notes, a smoky flavor on the nose and hints of honey, cinnamon and white grape juice as well. It finishes long, so sip slowly and enjoy.
8. Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Rebel Yell brought wheat-based bourbon to the scene back in 1849 when everyone else was stuck in the rye ages. This award-winning recipe has been an original since the beginning and continues to be bold and brazen in the face of other brands. It’s got rough edges but will go down smooth however you like to enjoy your whiskey — neat, on the rocks or mixed. It’s got a subtle flavor profile of dominant spice followed by candy caramel, sweet raisins and a vanilla-cinnamon finish.
9. Evan Williams Kentucky Bourbon
Knock-off Jack Daniels? We beg to differ. This budget whiskey does a superb job bringing the flavor and alcohol content you’re looking for, at a fraction of the price. It’s got a bold flavor and milky texture that satisfies thoroughly. It leads with the spice immediately, followed up by an oaky-vanilla blend that takes you on a journey through cinnamon, caramel undertones and ends on a sweet cherry-honey finish. It tastes like dessert, which we’re a fan of. If you’re looking for a classic whiskey taste that leaves you on a sweeter note, check out this bottle. It won’t disappoint, especially given the price point.
10. Speyburn Bradan Orach Single Malt
This whiskey should be way more expensive than it is, but alas — we get to enjoy higher quality at a lower price. Thanks, world. This bottle mixes fruit with vanilla and holiday spice that you’ll be unable to ignore (in a good way).
Hopefully you’ll have a fireplace and big leather chair nearby when you crack this baby open. It’s got a nice long oak finish that’s great neat, over ice or mixed into drinks. This bottle comes from a distillery that has concoctions ranging from $25 all the way up to the $300 — clearly, they know what they’re doing. You know you’re not sacrificing quality for the price point so take sip, sit back and enjoy.