Spirits & Liqueurs Bourbon

The Best Bourbon Under $50

(photo illustration: Laura Sant).

You know who knows best which bottles to buy? The people who pour and sell drinks—that’s who. We asked dozens of top bartending and spirits industry professionals to tell us which bottles they love and why.

Heads up: The numerical order below is not organized by importance or quality; it’s an alphabetical list, not a ranking. Prices are averages and can vary from state to state.

  • Eagle Rare ($36)

    “My long-standing favorite bargain for sipping, it’s smooth, spicy and delicious any time and all of the time.”—Chad Michael George, partner and beverage director at Denver's The Way Back

  • Elijah Craig Small Batch ($31)

    “It's always smooth, but at 94 proof, it has the backbone to stand out in a cocktail.”—George

  • Evan Williams Single Barrel ($30)

    “Considering this bottle can usually be found for $30 or less, it's basically the best deal in bourbon. Every year is a different release, but it consistently has some of the most delicious whiskeys I can think of for sipping neat or mixing into a Manhattan or Old Fashioned.”—Joaquín Simó, partner at New York City's Pouring Ribbons

  • Four Roses Single Barrel ($45)

    “Add a little water and, boom, a burst of flavors and nose can be deceiving.”—Jose Medina Camacho, bar manager at Birmingham, Ala.'s Marble Ring

    Continue to 5 of 16 below.
  • Four Roses Yellow Label (Original) ($18)

    “Yellow Label is a great introduction to bourbon. It holds up against many high-priced bourbons while only a fraction of the price.”—Mike Strohm, lead bartender at Kansas City, Mo.'s The W

  • Henry McKenna Single Barrel ($34)

    “It’s spicy in a way that you would expect a higher rye build in the mash, clean and woody without being overpowering. A 10-year-old bourbon for under $40—it’s a win.”—Max Green, owner of and head bartender at New York City's Blue Quarter and Windmill

  • I.W. Harper ($35)

    “Good for when you want Maker's Mark but don't want to stay in the wheated bourbon subcategory.”—Patrick Marran, bartender at New York City's On the Rocks

  • Jim Beam Black ($36)

    “This bourbon has a great interplay of that sweetness with a depth that prevents it from being too sweet.”—Cari Hah, bar manager at Los Angeles' Big Bar

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  • J.W. Dant ($20)

    “It’s my favorite cheap but amazing bottle of bourbon, both for an affordable sipper and the best cocktail bourbon around.”—Nathaniel David Smith, bartender at St. Paul, Minn.'s Hodges Bend and ambassador for Teeling Irish whiskey

  • Michter's ($48)

    “It’s just a damn good, damn fine American bourbon to drink on special occasions or just because.”—Smith

  • Old Bardstown Estate Bottled ($35)

    “I love almost anything coming out of KBD, but OBE is a special whiskey for the price and not impossible to find, which is increasingly becoming the case with American whiskey.”—Jamie Boudreau, owner of and bartender at Seattle's Canon

  • Old Grand-Dad Bonded ($25)

    “Old-Grand Dad Bonded is significantly below the $50 mark, yet I still recommend it for use in just about any craft cocktails that you might be making in the house. At 50 percent ABV, it still has plenty of body to be mixed with everything from absinthe to pineapple juice, without getting lost. Consider this bourbon a great workhorse for mixing drinks.”—Erick Castro, owner and bartender at San Diego's Polite Provisions

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  • Ranger Creek .36 ($45)

    “Love the bottle, love the inside. It's all- around good.”—Marran

  • Russell's Reserve 10 Year ($41)

    “Russell's Reserve 10-year-old is the perfect buy, as it works perfectly as a sipper on its own yet still has the backbone and structure to hold its own in a cocktail.”—Castro

  • Wild Turkey 101 ($26)

    “This bourbon has such a great flavor all around. It’s a solid bourbon for cocktails as well.”—Hah

  • Yellowstone Select ($49)

    “Steven Beam and his team, while working on aging their own product, have sourced some really quality juice. I don't know if there's a nicer, easier drinking bourbon out there for the money right now.”—George