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The Best Bourbon Under $50

The Best Bourbon Under $50

Anyone who’s spent time in a liquor store knows that top-shelf bourbon can cost you. The best cask-finished bourbon on Wine Enthusiast’s list of the Best Spirits of 2023, for example, will set you back nearly $150. The list’s top Kentucky whiskey—the oldest expression currently available from Maker’s Mark—costs about the same. In fact, a good number of the best bourbons of 2023 are, in addition to being top-scoring, quite pricey.

But not all of them. A good number clock in under the $50 mark, including a bottled-in-bond bourbon with vanilla and stone fruit aromas; a five-year-old Kentucky bourbon with notes of caramel and toasted nuts; and the last bourbon ever produced at Kentucky’s legendary Stitzel-Weller distillery. Bourbon needn’t be ludicrously priced to turn heads, it seems. This is clear in other bottles Wine Enthusiast has sampled over the years (but that still drink excellently), from a cask-strength bourbon made from an ancient wheat strain to a double-oak bourbon with notes of coconut, praline and brown sugar.

You May Also Like: 10 Bottles That Prove Some of the Best Bourbon Isn’t From Kentucky

“I do think $50 and below is a good price point for bourbons,” says Writer-at-Large Kara Newman, Wine Enthusiast’s resident spirits reviewer. “Lots of good stuff going on with this list—there’s a diversity of techniques, like unique finishings and creative mash bills (four-grain bourbon, wheated bourbons, high-rye bourbons).”

She’s also impressed by the under-$50 offerings’ geographic diversity. “It’s notable how many good bourbons are made outside of Kentucky,” Newman says. “It’s a trend on the ascent for sure.”

Of all of the bourbons listed below, the Dragon’s Milk Beer Barrel Bourbon was Newman’s most memorable sip of 2023. “I’m not typically a stout drinker, but I truly enjoyed this bottling,” she recalls. “It was somehow luscious and lively at the same time, with lots of warm, roasty notes framed by bright fruit.”

Dragon’s Milk Beer Barrel Bourbon

Finished in Dragon’s Milk Stout barrels, this bold bourbon opens with a distinct hoppy aroma, mingled with subtle fresh apple and almond. The lively palate echoes that hoppy note, focusing it on a roasty, malty backbone that is accented with a hint of cocoa nibs. Juicy Granny Smith apple and grapefruit-peel astringency make the mouth water, creating an effect that’s light and refreshing. A hint of ginger crackles on the finish. Best Buy. 95 Points— Kara Newman 

$ Price Varies
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Wolcott Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon

Look for vanilla and stone-fruit aromas. The palate opens with almond and toasted oak; a splash of water amplifies the almond and vanilla tones, and adds a mouthwatering saline note. Perky baking spices and lemons emerge on the fade. 95 Points — K.N.

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Bank Street Reserve Bourbon

Expect a honey hue and an aroma that suggests rich caramel and toasted nuts. The palate opens with vanilla sweetness, pecan and chestnut cream, lingering in a clove and black-pepper finish. This is a five-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon bottled in New Jersey. 94 Points — K.N. 

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Blade and Bow Bourbon

There’s no age statement on the label; that’s intentional. The lore of this liquid is that it includes a small amount of the last bourbon ever produced at the iconic Stitzel-Weller distillery, which closed in 1992. (Diageo re-opened it in 2014.) This blend of straight bourbons offers vanilla on nose and palate, leading into almond and a hint of dried apricot. The finish is lively and relatively dry, with grapefruit peel, leather and chamomile tea. Overall, it’s a light-handed and pleasing take, regardless of how much (or little) old/rare distillate is actually in the glass. 93 Points — K.N.

$ Varies
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Seven Sons Bourbon

Confectionery tones mark this bourbon: think hazelnut, cocoa, and toasted coconut. With a splash of water, that evolves into coconut-cream pie, Nutella and mocha, winding into a gentle baking-spice finish. Distilled in Indiana from “100% heartland grains,” this was bottled in St. Louis. 93 Points — K.N.

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Old Emmer Cask Strength Bourbon

This name of this wheated bourbon pays homage to Old Emmer, an ancient wheat strain. Look for a mild maple aroma and pleasing vanilla, orange peel and honey on the palate, finishing with fiery cinnamon and a ginger glow. 92 Points — K.N.

$ 50
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Bellis Small Batch Bourbon

This wheated bourbon has a mellow almond aroma, which carries over to the palate alongside vanilla and flickers of cinnamon and ginger heat. The drying, spiced finish includes dehydrating grapefruit peel, hops and cedar. 91 Points — K.N. 

$ Varies

Bluestone Manor Bourbon

Oak and maple aromas lead the nose on this five-year-old wheated bourbon. The palate opens with oak, plus a fleeting espresso bitterness. Adding water coaxes richer mocha, plus hints of hazelnut and butterscotch into the long finish. 91 Points — K.N.

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Nine Banded Bourbon

A rich vanilla-bean aroma leads into a cookie-dough flavor profile framed by vanilla and roasted nuts. A splash of water folds in cedar and a bracing hint of grapefruit peel, fading into a brisk baking-spice finish. Distilled in Indiana and blended and bottled in Austin. 89 Points — K.N.

$ Varies
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Why You Should Trust Us

All products featured here are independently selected by our team, which is comprised of experienced writers and wine tasters and overseen by editorial professionals at Wine Enthusiast headquarters. All ratings and reviews are performed blind in a controlled setting and reflect the parameters of our 100-point scale. Wine Enthusiast does not accept payment to conduct any product review, though we may earn a commission on purchases made through links on this site. Prices were accurate at the time of publication.

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