Spirits & Liqueurs Bourbon

The Best Bourbon Under $50

Image: Elizabeth Reyes

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.

  • Basil Hayden’s ($52)

    “With fresh notes of a woody rose bush and a complex lengthy finish, it’s a sure way to a smile.”—Gil Izaguirre, beverage director at Chicago's Honey's

  • Buffalo Trace ($20)

    “It's super smooth, with a ton of character that isn't overwhelming. I love the subtle vanilla and rounded caramel notes that it has while still maintaining a good amount of spice.”—Michelle Szot, general manager at Chicago's Split-Rail

  • Bulleit ($34)

    “It has a fun bold flavor with a higher rye content than other bourbons. It’s very smooth and easy to drink.”—Lara Lowenhar, beverage director at New York City's La Pecora Bianca

  • Eagle Rare ($36)

    “It’s one of the best-valued bourbons. It provides all of the toffee, citrus, herb, leather and oak notes a person is looking for without breaking the bank.”—Lowenhar

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  • Elijah Craig ($31)

    “It has a great long-lasting flavor profile with vanilla and smoke. It makes great Old Fashioneds or is better simply neat.”—Lucinda Sterling, managing director at Middle Branch

  • Evan Williams Black Label ($13)

    “There’s simply no better value out there.”—H. Joseph Ehrmann, owner of San Francisco's Elixir

  • Evan Williams Single Barrel ($34)

    “It's consistently good no matter vintage it is—dried citrus peels, amber honey, cinnamon and a little baked apple. It’s a great everyday sipper.”—Brian Means, bartender at San Francisco's Mina Group

  • Four Roses Single Barrel ($45)

    “This 100-proof single-barrel expression from Four Roses is still a pretty good bargain. This complex bourbon with its high rye mash bill has it all: initial sweetness from the corn, spiciness from the rye and a long finish with slight floral notes.”—Paul McGee, owner and bartender at Chicago's Lost Lake

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  • Henry McKenna Single Barrel ($34)

    “A 10-year-old wheated bourbon at 100 proof? This is everything I want from a bourbon, and for the price it can't be beat.”—Jonathan Shock, head bartender at Detroit’s Prime + Proper

  • Lost Republic ($33)

    “This Bay Area bourbon stays with the tradition of fruitcake, vanilla and caramel on the nose. Toasted almonds, cinnamon and subtle tobacco flavors show through this whiskey, giving it a soft yet full finish. It’s easy drinking and reasonably priced.”—Alicia Walton, owner and bartender at San Francisco's Sea Star

  • Medley Brothers ($29)

    “It’s a really nice classic bourbon that not many people are aware of—another great value.”—Ehrmann

  • Old Forester ($25)

    “Either the 86 proof or barrel proof shine in cocktails that meet with other spirits.”—Sterling

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  • Old Grand-Dad ($18)

    “It's the best bonded bourbon at a reasonable price to have in the well.”—Szot

  • Rowan’s Creek ($44)

    “It’s more bang for your buck. At slightly more than 100 proof, it has the aromas and tastes of vanilla and caramel, with herbal and floral notes. It’s quite the underrated bourbon. Give this stepchild a chance.”—Juyoung Kang, lead bartender at Las Vegas' Dorsey

  • Russell's Reserve 10 Year ($37)

    “This is one of my go-to whiskeys when I’m out after work or when someone is looking for something new to try. Russell’s is Wild Turkey’s midtier brand and generally flies under most people’s radar. It makes an excellent Old Fashioned. I love turning people on to it.”—Michael Lazar, whiskey concierge and lead bartender at San Francisco's Hard Water

  • Wild Turkey ($21)

    “A long tradition of name and reputation makes this bottle easy to call, and it fits neatly in the well or on the backbar.”—Sterling

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  • Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit ($57)

    “Wild Turkey is still my favorite bourbon distillery. This Wild Turkey single barrel comes in a beautiful bottle and is a slightly more elegant way to give the gift of Wild Turkey to a friend or co-worker this holiday season.”—Shock