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The Best Cheap Whiskey of 2024
Discovering the best affordable whiskey in the United States is not something to be ashamed of; it's a matter of pride. Despite the skyrocketing demand for top-shelf spirits, there's a prevailing sentiment among whiskey enthusiasts that if you're spending more than $50 on a bottle of bourbon, you might be missing out. Here is the 2023 Men's Journal Spirits Awards, a list of the finest inexpensive whiskeys available today. Shop cheap whiskey!
Best Overall Cheap Whiskey: Buffalo Trace
The Buffalo Trace, a venerable name in the bourbon world, hails from the eponymous distillery in Kentucky and is revered for its rich history and exceptional craftsmanship. As a Kentucky straight bourbon, Buffalo Trace is meticulously crafted from a mashbill of corn, rye, and barley and aged in new charred oak barrels. Known for its approachable yet complex profile, this whiskey offers notes of toffee, vanilla, and a hint of spice, creating a well-balanced and smooth sipping experience. What sets Buffalo Trace apart is its reputation for consistency and quality, making it a favorite among both casual drinkers and seasoned bourbon aficionados alike. The distillery's commitment to tradition and innovation has solidified Buffalo Trace as a cornerstone in the world of American whiskey. Buy it now for $28.99.
Best Cheap Rye Whiskey: Old Overholt Bonded Rye
Crafted by Beam Suntory Inc., Old Overholt Bonded Rye is a formidable whiskey aged for about four years, boasting a deep amber color and a brisk, oaky scent. With a proof of 100 (50% ABV), this rye offers a robust and flavorful drinking experience in a 750mL bottle, showcasing the rich heritage and craftsmanship of American whiskey. Buy it now!
Best Cheap American Whiskey: Michter’s US*1 American Whiskey
Michter's US*1 American Whiskey stands out with a citrus-forward profile, offering a unique sipper that, interestingly, doesn't qualify as bourbon due to its aging process. Unlike bourbon, which must age in unused barrels, Michter's American Whiskey matures in barrels previously used for bourbon. However, this distinction in labeling doesn't diminish its quality. The palate delights with prominent orange zest, accompanied by a delightful array of confectioner's notes, and keen noses may even detect hints of sticky toffee pudding. Buy it now!
Most Affordable Cheap Whiskey: Old Forester 86 Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Navigating the Old Forester lineup offers a range of excellent choices, but if budget considerations play a significant role in your decision, the 86 Proof variant is a solid pick. This expression combines smoothness with robustness, delivering a nuanced experience that includes a subtle touch of pepper and licorice, leaving a tingling sensation on the back palate. Buy it now!
Most Unique Cheap Whiskey: Maker’s Mark No. 46
This innovative Maker's Mark expression brings a French twist to their classic recipe, representing the first new formula in over fifty years. The bourbon undergoes a unique aging process with custom-charred French oak staves, imparting distinctive flavors and characteristics to the spirit. Bottled at 94 proof (47% ABV), this release showcases Maker's Mark commitment to innovation and craftsmanship. Buy it now!
Best Spicy Cheap Whiskey: Larceny Small Batch Straight Bourbon Whiskey
The Larceny Kentucky Straight Bourbon, steeped in historical legacy, traces its roots back to John E. Fitzgerald, a post-Civil War distiller who founded a distillery along the Kentucky River. Fitzgerald's Old Fitzgerald Bourbon, renowned for its quality, eventually landed in the hands of Julian P. "Pappy" Van Winkle, sealing its fate as one of the world's most celebrated bourbons. Larceny pays homage to Fitzgerald's discerning taste and the Old Fitzgerald brand, incorporating a unique mash of corn, wheat, malted barley, and rye. Distilled in Kentucky limestone water and fermented with a proprietary yeast strain, Larceny honors tradition by choosing wheat as its secondary grain, creating a distinctive and flavorful bourbon. Buy it now for $30.99.
Best Cheap American Single-Malt Whiskey: Stranahan’s Blue Peak
Blue Peak, the sole American single malt on the list, presents a delightful blend of toasty butterscotch and molasses flavors. Remarkably priced at around $41 per bottle, it offers a subtle taste profile attributed to the use of lightly charred oak during maturation. With an easy-drinking 86-proof, Blue Peak provides a smooth and enjoyable sipping experience. Buy it now!
Best Cheap Blended American Whiskey: Fraser & Thompson Whiskey
Fraser & Thompson's blended North American whiskey brings together mature spirits from both sides of the border. Featuring Canadian grain spirit from Montreal's Cirka distillery and bourbon from Heaven Hill, this blend offers a distinctive flavor profile with notes of dried figs and over-ripened orange. Buy it now!
Best Cheap Craft Whiskey: Wilderness Trail Single Barrel Rye
Wilderness Trail Rye Whiskey stands as a testament to small-batch craftsmanship, offering a distinctive Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey experience under the Bottled in Bond designation. This premium spirit is meticulously distilled, aged, and bottled in Danville, Kentucky, showcasing the artistry of Wilderness Trail. Crafted with a mash bill featuring 56% rye, 33% corn, and 11% malted barley, along with the distillery's unique yeast strains, this rye mash bill prioritizes a harmonious balance of flavors. Aged for a minimum of four years in #4 char barrels on the upper floors of the barrel house, the rye enters the barrel at a low 110 proof, maximizing flavor development and wood interaction. The result is an unfiltered rye whiskey, rich and nuanced, revealing notes of baking spices, clove, and a herbaceous bouquet reminiscent of candied flowers and Earl Grey tea. Wilderness Trail Rye Whiskey is a true delight for connoisseurs seeking a refined and flavorful expression. Buy it now!
Most Balanced Cheap Whiskey: Woodinville Straight Rye
Woodinville Straight Rye, a standout from Washington State, prioritizes balance in its flavor profile. While embracing the drier and spicier characteristics of the category, such as caraway and clover, it skillfully introduces a delightful touch of fresh stone fruit towards the back palate. This rye is a true pleasure to savor neat. Buy it now!
Best Fruity Cheap Whiskey: WhistlePig PiggyBack Single Barrel Alfa Romeo F1 Bottle
The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1® Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey carefully chosen by the Alfa Romeo F1® Team Stake drivers. These barrels underwent trials in their wind tunnel, guaranteeing a thrilling taste experience in every sip. Buy it now!
Most Overachieving Cheap Whiskey: Jack Daniels Single Barrel Select
The formidable Single Barrel Select from the renowned Lynchburg, Tennessee producer, boasting a robust 94-proof, outshines its flagship Old No. 7 with remarkable superiority. This whiskey unfolds a wealth of complexity, featuring rich caramel and enticing banana bread notes. Even after the last sip, a soothing essence of molasses lingers, leaving a lasting impression. Buy it now!
Best Cheap Whiskey for Bartenders: Wild Turkey 101 Kentucky Straight Bourbon
The Wild Turkey 101 is a renowned Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey celebrated for its bold and robust character. Distilled by the Wild Turkey Distillery, this 101-proof spirit derives its name from the high alcohol content of 101 proof (50.5% alcohol by volume). With a rich amber hue and a complex flavor profile, Wild Turkey 101 boasts notes of caramel, vanilla, and a hint of spice, delivering a warm and full-bodied experience. Its distinctive taste is attributed to a longer-than-average maturation process in new charred American oak barrels. This bourbon has garnered a loyal following among whiskey enthusiasts who appreciate its intense and well-balanced flavors, making Wild Turkey 101 a timeless and classic choice for those seeking a hearty bourbon experience. Buy it now for $26.99.
Most Exciting Cheap Whiskey: Frey Ranch Straight Bourbon
Frey Ranch, located in Fallon, Nevada, distills a captivating range of American whiskies using ingredients exclusively sourced from its own farm. While some of their remarkable offerings may be a tad too pricey for this feature, the flagship Straight Bourbon is a clear choice at under $50 per bottle. With a brilliant bouquet featuring a delightful peach-and-mint element, the taste experience unfolds with abundant toffee notes on the palate. Buy it now!