One of the holy grails of a well-stocked home bar is a stellar bourbon that doesn’t break the bank. A bottle that’s not too precious to mix into cocktails, but can hold its own served neat. Some may argue that the $40 to $50 range is where “bargain” bourbons start, but those under $100 can still offer excellent value. Here, we share the best bourbons under $100 to try this year.
What Makes a Good Budget Bourbon?
The short answer is: the same things that make a great bourbon at any price range. Much of that is subjective, of course. The aroma and flavor should be pleasing, perhaps with some sweetness from the corn or baking spice on the finish. The oak should be well-integrated (the tannic “sucking-on-a-wood-stave” quality is a giveaway of a too-young or poorly-made whiskey). And, it should be versatile enough to sip or mix.
“A good budget-priced bourbon has all the characteristics of any good bourbon,” notes Adam Polonski, co-founder and head of whiskey sourcing for independent bottler Lost Lantern. “Budget-conscious drinkers do not have to skimp on quality. Budget-priced bourbons aren’t necessarily younger or made less carefully than expensive ones. They just aren’t as rare and sought-after.”