If you’re looking to spend some serious cash on bourbon, there are a lot of expensive options available. And sure, some of these whiskeys are actually good and worth the money, but there are still some bottles that appear to be priced more in line with hype than quality.
Fortunately, there are even more bourbons available that are both outstanding and reasonably priced. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore various categories of bourbons under $100, including classic favorites, hidden gems, and budget-friendly options for delightful tasting experiences.
The Sweet Spot: Why Under $100 Bourbons Offer Great Value
Let’s be honest, under $100 is the sweet spot when it comes to the value-to-affordability ratio. Many bourbons in this range offer a balance of flavor and craftsmanship that makes them accessible to a wide range of enthusiasts. These bourbons may not have the rarity or extreme aging of higher-priced options, but they still offer an amazing drinking experience.
The value of bourbons under $100 comes from their affordability without compromising on quality. You can enjoy well-crafted bourbons for sipping neat or mixing in cocktails without breaking the bank. Exploring this price range allows bourbon enthusiasts to discover many excellent options without emptying their wallets.
1. Classic Favorites: Well-Known Bourbons in the Affordable Range
If you’re looking for classic favorites in the world of bourbon that are both well-known and affordable, you’re in luck. These iconic bourbons are often readily available in many liquor stores and offer a consistent and enjoyable bourbon experience without the need to splurge. Here are some timeless options that won’t break the bank:
Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
If you asked bourbon enthusiasts, bartenders, and even distillers about the best-value bourbon available, you’d get many of them pointing directly to Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. It’s produced by the Buffalo Trace Distillery, which is known for its rich history and commitment to crafting quality bourbon. This bourbon is celebrated for its smooth and approachable character with flavors of caramel, vanilla, and a subtle spiciness. Its widespread availability and consistent quality make it a go-to choice for newcomers and enthusiasts alike.
Maker’s Mark 46 Bourbon
You can never go wrong with a Maker’s Mark bourbon. But if you want to get the most out of your money, you should consider getting the Maker’s Mark 46 Bourbon. It’s an extension of the iconic Maker’s Mark brand, which is known for its unique production process. It has the same mash bill as the original bourbon, which includes corn, red winter wheat, and malted barley.
However, what sets it apart is the addition of seared French oak staves to the aging process. Maker’s Mark 46 is a darling choice for bourbon enthusiasts and a classic among the various options under $100.
Four Roses Bourbon Single Barrel
Four Roses is the kind of brand where you can’t possibly go wrong regardless of the expression you choose. However, its Single Barrel might be the finest choice for less than $100. This high rye, 100-proof expression is aged for seven to nine years. The result is a full-bodied, slightly spicy spirit with notes of vanilla beans, maple candy, cocoa powder, dried cherries, and rich oak.
2. Hidden Gems: Lesser-Known Bourbons That Won’t Break the Bank
There are many fantastic bourbons available for $100 that may not have the same level of recognition as some of the more well-known brands but offer exceptional quality and flavor. Here are some of the hidden gems in the world of bourbon:
Wild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel Proof Rye
While Wild Turkey is a well-known brand, their Wild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel Proof Rye expression is often overlooked. It’s usually overshadowed by the more well-known offerings, but it has a lot to offer. Rare Breed Rye is bottled at barrel proof, meaning it’s not diluted with water before bottling. It offers a complex flavor profile with notes of caramel, vanilla, baking spices, and a delightful rye spiciness. The combination of these flavors makes it a standout in the rye category.
Rare Breed Rye isn’t as widely distributed as some other Wild Turkey expressions, so it can be harder to find. This scarcity adds to its allure for whiskey enthusiasts who enjoy hunting for unique bottles. If you come across a bottle, it’s worth giving it a try, especially if you enjoy full-bodied rye whiskey.
High West American Prairie Bourbon Whiskey
High West is a craft distillery that produces some outstanding bourbons, and High West American Prairie Bourbon Whiskey is one of them. It’s a blend of straight bourbons with a high rye content, resulting in a balanced and flavorful whiskey. You can expect notes of honey, baking spices, and dried fruit. It’s a hidden gem that offers great quality and can be found for under $100.
Rowan’s Creek Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey 100.1 Proof
Rowan’s Creek Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey 100.1 Proof is indeed a lesser-known gem in the bourbon world. Despite not having the same level of recognition as some other bourbons, it’s affordable and offers a truly exceptional taste and quality. Its complexity, with hints of toffee, spice, and oak, can surprise and delight even the most discerning bourbon drinkers.
3. Aged to Perfection: Affordable Bourbons With Impressive Maturation
While older bourbons tend to be more expensive due to their extended aging process, there are still some affordable bourbons under $100 with impressive aging for their price range. Here are a few options that offer good value for their age.
Henry McKenna 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon
Henry McKenna 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon is aged for a minimum of 10 years. It gained recognition for its aging and quality, winning the “Best in Show Whiskey” award at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Knob Creek 12 Year Straight Bourbon
Knob Creek 12 Year Straight Bourbon is a bourbon known for its impressive maturation. Aged for a dozen years, it offers a rich and complex flavor profile featuring a deep caramel sweetness with hints of oak, vanilla, and a touch of spice. It’s a great choice for those looking to explore aged bourbons without breaking the bank.
Russell’s Reserve 10-Year-Old Bourbon
Russell’s Reserve 10-Year-Old Bourbon is another excellent choice for those seeking well-matured and affordable bourbon. With a decade of aging, it delivers a smooth and refined taste, showcasing notes of caramel, toasted oak, and a subtle spiciness. It’s a balanced and approachable bourbon that’s sure to please newcomers and enthusiasts alike.
4. Budget Bourbons for Bourbon Enthusiasts: Ideal Picks for Tasting Experiences
Looking for bourbons under $100 that can deliver an amazing tasting experience? Here are some ideal bourbons to consider.
Angel’s Envy Straight Bourbon
Angel’s Envy Straight Bourbon is excellent bourbon for tasting and is often praised for its unique characteristics. It stands out because it’s finished in port wine barrels, which imparts distinct fruity and wine-like notes to the bourbon. This finishing process adds layers of complexity to the flavor profile. When tasting Angel’s Envy Straight Bourbon, you can expect a rich and smooth bourbon with notes of vanilla, caramel, and dark fruits like cherry and plum.
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Barrel Finish Bourbon
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Barrel Finish Bourbon is renowned for its well-balanced and sophisticated flavor profile. It offers a combination of vanilla, caramel, toasted oak, dark chocolate, and a hint of dried fruit, making it perfect for enjoying neat, on the rocks, or mixing in cocktails.
Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is good for tasting because of its high rye content, which gives it a spicy and peppery flavor profile. This makes it great for those who enjoy a smoother and more complex bourbon with a hint of sweetness.
Exploring the world of bourbon doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor. There are numerous affordable options that provide exceptional flavor and quality. Whether you prefer the classic favorites, hidden gems, or aged treasures, there’s a bourbon under $100 for every palate. By trying these bourbons, you can embark on a flavorful journey through the diverse world of bourbon, all while staying within your budget.
What’s the Significance of the Age Statement on a Bourbon Bottle?
This indicates the minimum number of years the liquor has been aged. Older bourbons tend to have more complex flavors.
How Should Beginners Drink Bourbon?
Beginners should start by sipping bourbon neat or with a few drops of water to experience its true flavors. As you become more accustomed to the taste, you can experiment with bourbon cocktails to explore different flavor profiles and find your preferred way to enjoy it.
Is Bourbon Typically Sweet or Bitter?
Bourbon tends to have a sweeter flavor profile than other whiskeys because it’s crafted primarily from corn. However, the sweetness can vary among different bourbon brands and expressions, with some exhibiting more complex flavor profiles that balance sweetness with hints of bitterness or spice from the charred oak barrels.
What’s the Typical Alcohol by Volume (ABV) of Bourbons Under $100?
Most bourbons under $100 have an ABV ranging from 40% to 50%, with barrel-proof options exceeding 50%.