Bourbon is the “everyman’s whiskey” in all the best ways.

It’s one of the most affordable types of whiskey, yet it’s still delightfully sophisticated and offers a divinely smooth, refined drinking experience. Bourbon is the embodiment of ingenuity and adaptation; New World inventiveness meets an Old World staple and makes it all the better.

Some might even call it the “true American spirit”!

Bourbon drinkers know that few whiskeys can offer the same depth of sweet, rich flavor, which is why it’s so popular among both sippers and mixologists.

Whether you want to enjoy your bourbon neat, on the rocks, or stirred into a heavenly cocktail, we’ve got you covered.

Below, we’ve curated a selection of the best affordable bourbons you can pick up anytime, anywhere, so you’ll always have a bottle stashed away for the night you want something to drink.

Trust us, we’ve personally sampled every one of these bourbons (repeatedly!) and can tell you with a great deal of confidence that they are worth stocking on your shelves.

Prepare your taste buds and those whiskey stones, because we’re about to take a deep-dive into all the best bourbons for your drinking delights!

BEST Cheap Bourbons

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Maker’s Mark 46

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Maker’s Mark is a whiskey everyone’s familiar with—it’s smooth, rich, and indulgent in all the right ways. But whiskey-lovers will find Maker’s Mark 46 takes excellence one step farther. With strong notes of caramel and vanilla, this wheat-based whiskey slides like velvet down your throat and has just enough sweetness to stand on its own or mix into cocktails.

What makes it so unique is the way it’s finished. Combining limestone-filtered water with a 150-year old heirloom yeast strain, the mash ferments in copper stills and poured into fire-charred American white oak barrels. But during the process, French oak staves are added to maximize the rich, earthiness inherent in the whiskey. The result is a bourbon that we can all agree is absolutely divine.

Specs

  • Barrel: American white oak, French oak
  • Tasting Notes: Caramel, vanilla, and baking spice
  • Proof: 94
  • Age: Roughly 6 years old
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Basil Hayden Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

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This high-rye bourbon tastes like a million bucks, but still ends up being one of the most affordable whiskeys on our list. Distilled in Clermont, Kentucky, it’s distilled in new American oak casks that are lightly charred for just the right hint of smoky richness. With gorgeous colors ranging from coppery gold to a delicate caramel, it’s got a hint of tannic bite and the spiciness of rye that pairs perfectly with the orange and light wood notes.

It’s not the most complex whiskey around, but that just means it’s an easy-drinking bourbon that’s perfect for mixing up cocktails. Your Old Fashioned will taste better when it’s made with Basil Hayden’s.

Specs

  • Barrel: New American oak
  • Tasting Notes: Charred oak, sweet brown sugar, black pepper, orange, and dried fruit
  • Proof: 80
  • Age: Unspecified (age is at least 4 years due to labeling rules, likely 8 years or less)
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REBEL 100 PROOF BOURBON

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This wheated bourbon has just the right intensity and fullness to make every sip an experience. Though not overly complex, it’s got an excellent balance of oakiness and bitterness that’s perfect for drinking with your favorite cigar or sitting around a campfire. It’s affordable enough to mix into cocktails but still has the depth of flavor that makes it enjoyable to sip.

At 100 proof (50% ABV), it’s a more potent whiskey than many of the others on our list, but don’t for a minute think that compromises its richness or quality. With gentle, sweet aromas and bold notes of vanilla and caramel, it’s the perfect drink to enjoy year-around.

Specs

  • Barrel: Charred white oak
  • Tasting Notes: Caramel and vanilla
  • Proof: Proof:
  • Age: Unspecified (at least 4 years, per straight bourbon rules)
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Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon

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If you’re a mixologist or simply love your cocktails, you’ll always want to have a bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon on hand. This is the bourbon to use in your Juleps, Old Fashioneds, and other fancy concoctions, thanks to its fruity aroma and strong flavors of baking spices and chocolate that can stand up to sweeter ingredients.

Four Roses is often overlooked because of its low price, but it’s a bourbon that will sing across your palate and set your senses tingling with every inhalation. Drink it neat, on the rocks, or mixed into a tasty cocktail, and it’ll be pure, smooth pleasure all the way down.

Specs

  • Barrel: New charred American white oak
  • Tasting Notes: Hints of ripe plum and cherries
  • Proof: 100
  • Age: 7-9 years
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Wild Turkey 101

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Wild Turkey 101 is a well-crafted, robust bourbon that can be enjoyed on its own or mixed into cocktails with equally tasty results. The high-rye bourbon has strong, bold flavors of charcoal, old leather, cinnamon, white pepper, and maple, and at 101 proof, it’s definitely on the more potent side. But the strength of the whiskey never overwhelms your palate or stings your throat—it’s a velvety smooth drink with just enough heat to make you sit up and take notice.

Best of all, it’s an affordable bourbon you won’t mind using to make cocktails, but it stands on its own two feet for a night of whiskey drinking with the lads.

Specs

  • Barrel: New American white oak
  • Tasting Notes: Charcoal, old leather, cinnamon, white pepper, and maple
  • Proof: 101
  • Age: 5+ years
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ELIJAH CRAIG SMALL BATCH Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

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Spice, strength, and silky smoothness: that’s what this Elijah Craig Straight Bourbon brings to the table. This handcrafted corn-heavy bourbon comes from one of Kentucky’s oldest and best-known distilleries, and from the first sip, you’ll immediately taste the attention to detail and expertise that went into making this a bourbon you can love.

Despite its accessible price tag, it’s truly enjoyable from start to finish—grassy, sweet nuttiness gives way to coffee, chocolate, citrus, and caramel notes, with just a hint of peach once you let it rest in the glass and really open up. It’s a delight on your nose, your palate, and your wallet!

Specs

  • Barrel: New American white oak
  • Tasting Notes: Sweet caramel, vanilla, oak, peach, citrus, cinnamon, and nuts
  • Proof: 94
  • Age: Unspecified (believed around 8 years)
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Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon

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As one of Kentucky’s oldest distilleries—in operation for more than 200 years—Buffalo Trace knows a thing or two about crafting the perfect bourbon. With consistent flavor, pristine quality, velvety smoothness, and a rich complexity, it’s the bourbon-drinking man’s choice. Straight-up, neat, or mixed into a cocktail, this bourbon can do it all.

It’s got just enough spice (particularly anise) to wake up your palate, but the richness of dark fruit, the sweetness of vanilla, and the herbaceous note of mint makes for a truly complex and intriguing experience. There’s a good reason that this bourbon is found at so many bars, restaurants, and home bars around the world—it’s just a good, old-fashioned Kentucky staple that stands the test of time.

Specs

  • Barrel: New American white oak, charred
  • Tasting Notes: Dark fruit, anise, mint, vanilla
  • Proof: 90
  • Age: Unspecified (minimum 4 years, though more likely 6-8 years)
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Michter's US 1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon

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For the gentleman who likes to sip his bourbon neat, there’s always Michter’s! This ultra-flavorful bourbon tastes like a much pricier whiskey, but the price tag remains surprisingly affordable anywhere in the country. Though it’s only a fairly new brand—established in 2015—it has quickly earned itself a reputation for rich, complex-tasting bourbons that go down perfectly smooth.

The bourbon has strong flavors of dried fruits, peach, sweet corn, and vanilla, with a peppery finish and velvety mouthful that will sing across your taste buds. If you love your small-batch whiskies, you’re guaranteed to come back to this one again and again.

Specs

  • Barrel: Fire-charred, new American white oak
  • Tasting Notes: Vanilla, sweet corn, peach, dried fruits
  • Proof: 91.4
  • Age: Unspecified (4+ years)
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EVAN WILLIAMS BOTTLED-IN-BOND

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Love your mid-shelf bourbons? The Evan Williams Bottled in Bond Bourbon is the perfect choice for a whiskey that goes down fine, but won’t break the bank. In fact, it’s more budget-friendly than most of the bourbons on this list. Despite the affordable price tag, though, it never sacrifices quality for the sake of affordability.

It’s one of the most consistently satisfying bourbons you’ll ever drink—nothing groundbreaking or overly complex, but its notes are never “off” and it’s always a pleasant experience. The flavor is sweet, dark, roasty, and well-developed enough that you’ll love drinking it neat as well as in cocktails. From its bright gold color to its strong caramel and vanilla notes to its warm, long, and dry finish, it’s a bourbon-lover’s treat.

Specs

  • Barrel: Charred American white oak
  • Tasting Notes: Citrus on top of vanilla, and black pepper
  • Proof: 100
  • Age: Unspecified (minimum of 4 years)
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W.L. Weller Special Reserve

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W.L. Weller Special Reserve is a product of the Buffalo Trace Distillery, and it’s a wheated bourbon whiskey that removes rye from the recipe to deliver a truly smooth taste and softer flavor notes. It’s highly-rated and the recipient of multiple whiskey awards, but still keeps its affordable price tag so you can always keep it in stock.

The aroma is heavy with honeyed sweetness and citrus notes backed by apple, vanilla, strawberry, cinnamon, and a hint of toasted oak. It’s a surprisingly gentle, delicate bourbon, though, with every mouthful an absolute delight. Yet it still packs just enough heat to wake up your palate and accentuate the tasting notes of honey and butterscotch.

Specs

  • Barrel: New American white oak
  • Tasting Notes: Honey, butterscotch, and a soft woodiness
  • Proof: 90
  • Age: Unspecified, generally believed to be around 7 years
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Knob Creek Small Batch 9-Year Bourbon

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Knob Creek is a bourbon you’ll want to come back to again and again because of how affordable it is, but it’s a surprisingly elegant whiskey for its price class. The longer-than-average aging process gives it a depth of flavor and complexity you won’t find in most bourbons, and the various notes and bodies are prominent enough that even whiskey n00bs will recognize them.

It’s a woody, heavy bourbon that is absolutely opulent with strong flavors of caramel and vanilla, just sweet enough to be enjoyable and with a light, smooth finish you’ll enjoy sipping all night long.

Specs

  • Barrel: New American white oak
  • Tasting Notes: Oak, vanilla, caramel
  • Proof: 100
  • Age: 9 years
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Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

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For more than 200 years, since 1812, Woodford Reserve has been making some of Kentucky’s finest and most palatable bourbons. No surprise, then, that the Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey makes it onto this list. You won’t find many bourbons with better balance of potency, delicacy, and luxury.

With every sip, the bourbon will open up your palate and give you a taste of the 200+ detectable flavor notes—from spice to fruit to sweet aromatics to wood. The tannins are slight, the sweetness is just right, and you’ll find that it’s one of the most consistently pleasing bourbons around.

Specs

  • Barrel: New American white oak.
  • Tasting Notes: Citrus, cinnamon, and cocoa, with notes of Toffee, caramel, chocolate, and spice
  • Proof: 90.4
  • Age: Unspecified, believed to be 6-7 years
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Rowan's Creek Bourbon

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This small-batch bourbon brings a taste of Kentucky’s finest right into your home, at a price tag you’ll never shy away from. Bottled at the Willett Distillery located right atop the creek from which the brand gets its name, this is a potent 100+-proof bourbon that will set your taste buds alight and keep you taking sip after sip to enjoy the full realm of flavor.

The aromas of mint and spice will intrigue you from the moment you pop the cork, but the bourbon itself is woody and rich on your palate, with just the right dark notes of chocolate and molasses. Its color is beautifully dark, too—not from any coloring additives (like Scotch), but because of how long it spends aging in charred barrels. It’s a feast in a bottle, one you’ll never get tired of drinking!

Specs

  • Barrel: Charred American white oak.
  • Tasting Notes: Sweet caramel, vanilla, and dusted in floral notes... finishing notes of oak and a lingering spiciness.
  • Proof: 100.1
  • Age: Unspecified, but believed to be between 5 and 15 years
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Heaven's Door Straight Bourbon Whiskey

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With a name like Heaven’s Door, you can’t go wrong! Created by Bob Dylan and named after the legendary song Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, this distillery has only been around for a few years (since 2018) but is already making waves with its master-crafted bourbons. Don’t expect bargain-budget prices, though—you’ll pay slightly above average to get your hands on a truly fine, best-in-class bourbon.

The six-year aging process produces a warm, appealing drink you’ll want to sip slowly so you can savor every mouthful. It’s a delightfully sweet and smooth bourbon that strikes a delicate balance between spices and fruitiness, with plenty of vanilla to make the flavors sing. The longer you drink it, though, the more it deepens and becomes a toasty, spice-heavy experience that will have you coming back for more and more.

Specs

  • Barrel: New American white oak.
  • Tasting Notes: Vanilla, dried fruits, and various spices
  • Proof: 92
  • Age: 6 years
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Bulleit Bourbon 10 Years

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If you’re a bourbon drinker, it’s all but guaranteed that you’ve had Bulleit at least once. It’s the iconic Kentucky bourbon that everyone knows. But you’ve probably never had Bulleit’s 10-year-old bourbon, an underrated yet highly enjoyable aged whiskey that far exceeds the flavors offered by the original.

Sample the two side by side, and you’ll see that the 10-year aging process leads to some truly intriguing flavor and aroma notes. It has plenty of oakiness but brings in hints of fruits to make it more enjoyable, with hints of baked bread and pastries to amplify the sweetness. Definitely try it on the rocks and give it a swirl to really open it up and let it delight you from start to finish.

Specs

  • Barrel: Charred American white oak.
  • Tasting Notes: Vanilla, dried fruit, and a long, smoky finish
  • Proof: 91.2
  • Age: 10 years

BUYING GUIDE

If you’re going to be a bourbon-drinking man, then by God, you’d better drink it right!

Like whiskey, Scotch, and wine, bourbon is a truly complex liquor that can lead to some fascinating drinking experiences, provided you take your time to savor each sip and search for its subtle flavors. Some bourbons are smooth and velvety, others have a spicy or woody kick, and still others lean heavily into sweet richness.

And that journey all starts with the ingredients!

Bourbon is typically made with grains—at least 51% rye, corn, wheat, or malted barley—that are all mashed together and fermented. Once fermented, the water is removed from the alcohol, and the alcohol is put into barrels to age. For bourbon, that barrel must be made out of American white oak (either new or charred). The whiskey has to be distilled at 160 proof or less, and has to be poured into the barrel at 125 proof or less.

All of this produces the liquor that becomes bourbon, but there are a few types of bourbon you need to know about:

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