The wide world of whiskey can be difficult to navigate for beginners. There is a lot to learn, but to get started, all you really need is a solid expression to sip neat that doesn’t cost an entire paycheck. Here are five of our favorite whiskies that cost less than $50 and are delicious to drink straight.
This high rye bourbon is a Supercall favorite, and for good reason. Even at a whopping 101 proof, the spicy whiskey still manages to taste smooth on the palate with just the right amount of burn. It has a peppery, rye-forward nose that blossoms into flavors of cinnamon, cloves and a silky nuttiness on the palate. Wild Turkey 101 is so good, it’s damn near impossible to have just one glass.
While we’ll sip regular ol’ Maker’s Mark any day of the week, Maker’s 46 is like the sophisticated older sibling of the classic standby. The bourbon is aged a bit longer than the original in barrels containing French oak staves, which create bold, complex flavors and an extra smooth finish. On the nose, you immediately get the whiskey’s wheat heat along with milder notes of cherry and caramel. The flavor is sweet and pleasant and reminds us of roasted corn, vanilla and toasted cinnamon with a long, pleasant finish.
Fondly known as “Yellow Label,” Four Roses’ namesake bourbon is a winner. But don’t take our word for it—simply look at the long list of awards the bottling has received in the last decade. The mellow liquid is light and fruity on the nose with scents of pear and honey. On the palate, you’ll enjoy crisp apple, light baking spices and a soft, smooth finish. When we see this bottle on the bar shelf, we go for it straight away.
This 10-year-old bourbon is probably the most underrated whiskey on this list. Made by Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, you’ll realize it’s a steal upon first neat sip of the smooth amber liquid. Its toasty nose fills the air with scents of orange peel and maple syrup before you experience honey, buttery walnuts and a hint of red fruit on the palate. The vanilla-tinged, oak-spiced finish is the addicting kicker.
While many will suggest you use this whisky in a Japanese Highball (which you totally should), we love it just as much sipped straight. The silky blend of whiskies from Suntory’s Hakushu, Yamazaki and Chita distilleries is slightly herbal on the nose with wafts of green apple and honey, and has a fruit-forward flavor of grapefruit and juicy grapes. The finish is a perfect balance of sweet and spicy, and leaves flavors of custardy vanilla and ginger lingering on the tongue. This expression is the perfect Japanese whisky for beginners.