You don’t need to drop thousands of dollars to obtain a great bottle of bourbon—no matter what Pappy van Winkle adherents will tell you. The truth is, spectacular bourbon can be yours for under $50. Not special occasion bourbon to be squirreled away and unearthed only every few years. Everyday bourbon that happens to taste like special occasion bourbon. Here are five of our favorites.
This bourbon is fall in a bottle with notes of orchard fruits and a vanilla finish. Made in Massachusetts (remember, not all bourbons are from Kentucky), it’s made primarily from locally grown corn, with just a touch of rye for a subtle, spicy bite. Though it’s easy to drink neat, it’s also great in lighter, whiskey-forward cocktails. Try it in an Old Fashioned or a cozy Hot Toddy.
Old reliable here is so ubiquitous for a reason: It’s great. Smooth and slightly sweet, it’s soothed many a melancholy barfly over the years. But just because it’s such a bar staple doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong in your home. Keep this on hand for sipping straight and mixing into drinks like Whiskey Sours.
Another bottling from the great Buffalo Trace distillery, Eagle Rare’s 10-year-old offering is about as good a value as you could ask for. We say stock up, this could be the next Pappy. Oaky and caramelly with a long, dry finish, this bottling will keep you warm all winter and keep your Mint Juleps boozy all summer.
You might be more familiar with the Russell family’s other project—a little brand called Wild Turkey. But their Russell’s Reserve line is worthy of some attention, as well. More domesticated hawk than wild turkey, this 10-year-old bourbon is smooth and relaxed, with just a slight bite on the end.
Unctuous and almost sap-like in texture, this dark, rich bourbon will kick any nasal congestion you are suffering from right out of you. An attempted recreation of bourbon pioneer George Garvin Brown’s original recipe, the 90-proof spirit is loaded with candied orange zest, baking spices and heat. Don’t feel bad about adding a few drops of water or even a ginormous ice cube to this delicious beast.