Top 5 Bourbons under $50
I’ve had a lot of requests over the year to do a list of the best bourbons under $50. I’ve always steered clear because there are tons of those lists already out there. I figured it was time to jump into it because half the time, the recommended bottles are not easily available anymore. We are living in a 2019 bourbon world and most of those lists are from 2015! This is obviously just my opinion on the best bourbons for under $50 right now. As I’m writing this, they are all readily available. That will most likely change though. Bourbon is cyclical and sometimes something is hot and then another time it’s not. I guarantee Baton Rouge will go on a dry spell for a couple of these before too long but for now, enjoy it while we got it!
Let’s start with the honorable mentions because I would’ve put at least one of these on the top 5 list if they were more readily attainable. The bourbon I’ve been recommending to people for years now is Henry McKenna Bottled-in-Bond 10 year from Heaven Hill distillery. This is a fantastic 10-year-old bourbon that is 100 proof. It retails for around $33 and is a hell of a deal actually. If you follow the bourbon world, you’ll recognize the name Henry McKenna because it won “Best in Show Whiskey” at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. If you’ve been following bourbon for a while now, you’ll remember that McKenna also won “Best Bourbon” at the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Plus, you’ve had acclaimed whiskey writers like Fred Minnick laud this bourbon for years and suddenly, that secret bourbon that you could always find on the shelves is suddenly allocated. That means that there just isn’t much of this on the shelves anymore, it’s getting much harder to find!
Another bourbon that can’t go unmentioned is Eagle Rare. This is a ten-year-old bourbon from the Buffalo Trace Distillery. It’s one of the most popular offerings from Buffalo Trace. It’s a fantastic bourbon that would’ve made the cut three years ago. Today, it’s very hit or miss on the shelves. I’ve been doing a lot of reconnaissance on the liquor stores in town and two weeks ago, I didn’t see any on the shelves. I know some stores since then got a shipment in but it is surprisingly rare these days! My last honorable mention has to go Noah’s Mill. This is sourced bourbon, produced and bottled by Willett. It does not have an age statement but is bottled at 114.3 proof so it packs quite a punch. This was one of the first bourbons I really got into when I started drinking and collecting seriously, so it’s always been special to me.
Now onto the reason y’all are here today. I’ll start with number 5 on the list Elijah Craig Small Batch. This is another bourbon from Heaven Hill distillery. It retails around $25 so it’s way under the $50 mark. Back in the good ole days of bourbon, i.e. 4 years ago, this used to be an age stated bourbon at 12 years old. As the industry changed and age statements were dropped due to demand, so did the 12-year statement go from this bottle. It is still expected to be in between 8 and 12 years old, so it’s definitely still very drinkable. Those 12-year Elijah Craig’s though are just fantastic. They are very rare today but if you ever see a bottle that has 12 years old on it, BUY IT IMMEDIATELY!!! Another fun variation in the Elijah Craig world is barrel picks. If you’ve read my “Whiskey Wednesday” reviews, you know I’m a big fan of barrel picks. (A barrel pick is when a liquor store buys an entire barrel of a specific whiskey.) Normally Elijah Craig is a small batch, so it’s a blend of 5-100 barrels of Elijah Craig, watered down to 94 proof. But a barrel pick, is one barrel of Elijah Craig at a time and that is where you can find some truly unique bourbons. Calandro’s Supermarket has picked up some fantastic barrel picks over the years. Acquistapace’s in Covington is also known for their spectacular EC barrel picks. These barrel picks sometimes run for $30 or so but they still tend to be fantastic buys. You definitely don’t want to sleep on a barrel pick of Elijah Craig if you see it out in the wild!
Number 4 is Bowman Brothers Small Batch Bourbon. This is probably the most unknown bourbon on the list but I’m working on it! This is from the A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Smith Bowman is owned by the Sazerac Company. Sazerac owns several different distilleries including both Bowman and the Buffalo Trace Distillery as well as the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery (which operates within Buffalo Trace). Buffalo Trace distills their bourbon first, then sends it Smith Bowman who then distills it again. Then they age it in Virginia for around 6-7 years but there is no age statement on the bottle itself. It is 90 proof and sells for around $33. This one has been hit or miss on the shelves but lately I’ve seen it more than not. A fun informational note about Bowman Brothers: my dad was not much of a bourbon drinker, or a drinker period. Alcohol just wasn’t his thing. Anyway, my mother and him were visiting my sister in DC and they had some downtime one afternoon. I suggested they head 20 miles south to Fredericksburg. He surprisingly did and became slightly obsessed with their bourbon. After that trip he was much more open to trying bourbon and sampled some of my best stuff I owned. His standard response was, well this 2016 Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition bourbon is good but it’s not Bowman Brothers good. LOL. You just never forget your first real bourbon!
Knob Creek Single Barrel is coming in at Number 3. Knob Creek is part of the Jim Beam Small Batch collection, along with Basil Haydens, Bakers, and Bookers. Knob Creek Single Barrel sits atop the rest of the small batch collection. Bookers gets a lot of love, for good reason, but I think KC Single Barrel tends to be a better bourbon though. This bourbon is at least 9 years old and 120 proof, priced around $40. This bourbon tends to be the one of the harder bourbons to drink on this list. It has a robust flavor profile but for the seasoned bourbon drinker, I highly recommended that you try it. This is another bourbon that has fantastic barrel picks out in the wild. Oak Point has three different barrel picks, all at 14 years old, still priced at $43. In my eyes, this is a steal of a price for bourbon. I don’t think you can find much better bourbon for the price point out there! Even without the barrel picks, this has been one of my go-to bourbons for years.
Number 2, coming in hot, is EH Taylor Small Batch. This is controversial because in some areas, EH Taylor Small Batch is hard to find. In the last 6 months though, I’d argue that this is more attainable than Eagle Rare, which is why it’s on the list. EH Taylor Small Batch comes in at 100 proof and is priced around $40. We don’t know how old it is, but it’s guessed to be 7 years old or so. EH Taylor is distilled by Buffalo Trace Distillery. EH Taylor is more known for their limited released bourbons every year, but the small batch is not something you should discount. It’s just fantastic bourbon that almost everyone loves. One time, 8 of my friends and I did a blind tasting where everyone had to bring a bottle of bourbon under $50. I brought a Four Roses Barrel pick which one the majority vote but number 2 was EH Taylor. It beat some seriously tough competition to come in at second so definitely don’t pass it up on the shelf.
Numero Uno, which should be no shock if you’ve been a member of BSoBR for a while, is Four Roses Single Barrel. Four Roses Distillery is my favorite distillery! They make the most consistently delicious bourbon on the planet. There is so many awesome things to write about Four Roses that I just decided that I am going to do a post on them soon to just discuss everything they do. To keep it simple for now, Four Roses technically makes ten different bourbons. They have two unique mashbills and 5 different strains of yeast which in total, is 10 different distilled bourbons. Their Single Barrel is the OBSV recipe. The mashbill consists of 60% corn, 35% rye and 5% malted barley and retails in the $42 range. This is the most delicate bourbon on this list, you will get floral and fruit notes that the other bourbons don’t have. There is so many more reasons why Four Roses is the best, but we’ll get into that at a later date. For now, just trust me when I say that Four Roses deserves the number one spot on this list!
So, this is my list of the top 5 bourbons to buy. Like I said before, bourbon is tricky. All of these bourbons are available around Baton Rouge right now, but 3 months from now you never know! If you want to check out where to shop in town, check out our affiliates page on our website. We’ve had some great support from the best liquor/grocery stores in town and they can help you get any off this list. Best of luck in the hunt you guys!