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Mark Twain once said, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.” To that end, we’ve compiled a list of a few of the best bourbon whiskeys, including a sampling of the best bourbon for an affordable price. These are sure to elevate your home bar, after-hours cocktail order, or reputation for home entertaining. Whether you’re a seasoned bourbon lover or a budding whiskey enthusiast, these bourbons will definitely bring out your taste for the finer things.
Read on for the best bourbon whiskeys to keep at your home bar or give as a gift.
While we’re in love with the small-batch and single-barrel variations, even the flagship iteration of Four Roses is a stellar addition to any home bar. This is one of the best bourbons under $50 hands down, and while it’s ideal for simple mixed drinks, it’s also smooth enough for sipping on the rocks. Look for light notes of pear, raw honey, and apple. And if you doubt that bourbon is an art form, consider that at 130 years, Four Roses has been in business longer than most Swiss watchmakers.
A true bourbon lover’s bourbon, Booker’s is rife with dark, rich tasting notes like leather, oak, caramel, and spice. Bartender Colin Longstaff of Wolf & Long notes, “If you’re a bourbon drinker like me, someone who likes a drink that is sweet, smoky, and flavorful but that could also strip paint off the side of your house, I would go with a glass (or bottle) of Booker’s. At around 120 proof, the high alcohol doesn’t hinder the rich oak, chocolate, and toffee flavors. An excellent choice for any occasion.”
One of the top bourbon whiskeys at a very fair price point, Willett Pot Still Reserve is an ideal addition to any home bar. With elements of lightly fragrant citrus and warm vanilla, this is one for the rocks. (And the bottle alone is worth putting this bourbon on your shelf.)
If you tend to gauge the best bourbon whiskeys by how cool the bottles are (and who can blame you), Blanton’s is a must. Beneath a top that looks like a missing Monopoly game piece, this bourbon carries luscious notes of burnt sugar, orange peel, and cloves. Enjoy it neat or with a single large cube of ice to open up the fragrance and flavors.
For an affordable price, Old Forester provides one of the best affordable bourbons. Bring this to your next get together or give it as a gift. Its smooth, mild flavor contains notes of caramel, cherry, and clove, making it a great pairing for a winter or holiday drink.
Sometimes the best things come in small packages, and Hudson Baby Bourbon is no exception. While the majority of bourbons are associated with distilling in Kentucky, this is the first New York–aged whiskey to be made since Prohibition, giving it a historical edge with contemporary appeal. Tasting notes include smoky caramel, marzipan, and rich oak.
Strong but not overpowering, Buffalo Trace is full-on Kentucky straight bourbon. With notes of toffee, candied fruit, and vanilla, this is an ideal bourbon for classic cocktails like Old Fashioneds and Paper Planes. At over 200 years old, Buffalo Trace hails from one of the oldest (and most award-winning) distilleries in the United States.
With an ultra-smooth, unobtrusively sophisticated profile, this is one of the best bourbon whiskeys to add to your collection. Unlike a number of more citric whiskeys, Basil Hayden’s carries tasting notes of dark fruit, walnut, cinnamon, and a touch of mint. While you wouldn’t guess it from the bottle, it’s also one of the best bourbons under $50.
What makes Angel's Envy Bourbon unique is its port barrel finish, lending this bourbon a complex yet balanced palate—think vanilla bundt cake, mint, orange, and cinnamon with whispers of burnt sugar. And, like a good port, the finish is long, with flavors of walnut and oak.
Noah's Mill bourbon is lush and rich, with aromas reminiscent of walnuts, prunes, and floral notes. On the palate, a similar profile mixes with lavender and is offset with just the right amount of acid and a burnt caramel finish.
As a bourbon aged for at least 10 years at its Kentucky distillery, Eagle Rare Bourbon Whiskey is part of Buffalo Trace's flagship whiskey collection. It's complex on the nose, with toffee, leather, honey, and citrus aromas, while the taste is nuanced with candied almonds and rich cocoa notes.
Jefferson's is known for innovative, small-batch blends, and its 2018 release features a bourbon aged in flash-charred barrels for optimal oaky flavor. The oak also offers the palate a balanced, simultaneously sweet and spicy profile with a medium-length finish of cedar and tart lemon.
Drinking American Prairie bourbon is like sipping on rich and earthy goodness, with welcoming notes of honey, sweet corn bread biscuits, and a dash of Granny Smith apple. Plus, a portion of every bottle purchased is donated to American Prairie Reserve, a non-profit committed to the stewardship of the country's natural resources.
Those in the know are aware that Heaven Hill's steal of a bourbon, while almost exclusively found in Kentucky, is a great sipping and mixing bourbon for the price. This bourbon touts notes of cinnamon spice and sweetness, as well as apple, brown sugar, and peanut flavors on the palate.