Hobbies can get expensive quickly—just ask anyone who races yachts. But building up a good bourbon collection doesn’t need to break the bank. Though it’s easy to drop $70 or $80 on a top-shelf bourbon, if you know where to look (i.e. down), you can find some great bottles for just a couple of sawbucks—you’ll probably even have enough left over to buy yourself a fancy glass. Here are a few affordable bottles to buy, whether you like your whiskey neat or mixed in cocktails.
The rich and flavor-filled 86-proof Old Forester Bourbon is a huge bargain at only $19 a bottle. It has notes of dried fruit and spices, with a little honey-toffee sweetness. While it’s great for mixing into bourbon cocktails, you’ll have no issue sipping it neat, as long as you don’t mind a bit of extra spice up front.
If you want a versatile and inexpensive bourbon, Four Roses is a great option. Its light and mildly fruity flavor gives way to spice and honey notes. Mix it into a Mint Julep or Whiskey Sour after tasting a nip of it neat, to get a real sense of its round, mixable flavors.
Thinking about buying a bottle of Ancient Age? Put the bottle down and reach for this dorm room staple instead. This massive bottle is a steal for only $20. It stands up to ginger ale in highballs and is perfectly palatable on its own.
For those who like a little more of a punch upfront, this high-proof offering from Wild Turkey delivers a powerful kick. While you get a lot of the spice on first tasting, it quickly develops into a sweeter, vanilla-flecked flavor.
Another ultra-affordable high-proof bourbon, Old Grand-Dad is a little oakier than Wild Turkey’s 101, but it stands up in cocktails just as well. Though the blended bourbon’s label may look dated, you won’t regret picking up a bottle to mix into your next Mint Julep.
If you’re in the market for a great sipping whiskey, but don’t want to drop upwards of $50 or more, Elijah Craig’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a solid buy. It’s aged for 12 years—an impressive age statement priced at only $25. It’s also darn good in an Old Fashioned or Manhattan.