The Best Wheated Bourbons Under $50, Ranked Worst To Best

Wheated bourbons are known for their smoothness and distinctive flavor profile. The problem for many enthusiasts is that popular wheated brands such as Pappy Van Winkle and Weller can be extremely expensive. Thankfully, for those looking for a great affordable wheated bourbon, there are still plenty of options. Here, I'm taking a look at the best available for under $50. As long as it's under that price mark, is a bourbon, and has wheat in its mash bill, then it's eligible for this list.

With all these expressions having a similar price tag, the rating is almost exclusively based on tasting notes. Where I found it hard to split them, accessibility was also considered. I've had plenty of personal experience with a wide range of wheated bourbon, and this experience has allowed me to see which expressions excel in using this grain and which fall short; see the end of this article for more information on my methodology. The result is a list you can rely on when you purchase your next bottle of wheated bourbon.

12. Old Fitzgerald Prime

The Old Fitzgerald brand occupies both extremes in the world of bourbon. On the one hand, it produces some of the best and most expensive whiskey in the world. On the other hand, there is Old Fitzgerald Prime, a budget bourbon and a fairly weak expression. Prime isn't a particularly bad bourbon, and is easily drinkable. But this is the type of whiskey that you expect to add to mixers and cocktails. It can also be sipped neat, but there are much better bourbons on this list for that.

The nose is nice enough, with vanilla being most prominent, along with an undertone of oak. It doesn't go much beyond the traditional bourbon tasting notes on the palate, but there is a little spice present, which isn't always the case with wheated bourbon. The low proof and less pronounced flavor profile makes it the worst whiskey on this list. Moreover, it gets next to no promotion and is increasingly hard to find. Buying a bottle of Old Fitzgerald Prime isn't a bad idea if you want a decent cheap bourbon, but  if you want better examples of how good wheated bourbon can be, keep reading.

11. McKenzie Bottled in Bond Bourbon

Kentucky dominates the bourbon market, but there are still plenty of brilliant bottles that can be found further afield. One such expression is this whiskey, produced in New York by Finger Lakes Distilling. It pays homage to the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897, which was brought in to ensure whiskey standards and prevent counterfeiting. Part of those laws this McKenzie bottle abides by requires this whiskey to be at least four years old and bottled at 100 proof. That higher proof helps make this a robust bourbon, while still having the softness you want from a wheated bottle.

It has an enticing aroma, with the most distinctive smell being a subtle char. Taste-wise, it offers delicate notes of honey and butterscotch. They sit on a bed of cinnamon and nutmeg, giving the drink an enjoyable warmth. The texture is pleasing too, with a decent finish. It doesn't quite have the balance of others on this list, and the notes on the palate aren't as well-rounded, however. Its lesser availability outside New York and the fact that it's at the top of this price bracket also affects its standing. If you want a non-Kentucky wheated bourbon, this bottle will satisfy your curiosity and would be a nice addition to your collection. But it doesn't deserve to be any higher on this list.

10. Larceny Small Batch

Here, we have another good bourbon that isn't quite good enough to rank any higher. The first impression you get with this bottle is its lovely aroma, which is full of toffee and butterscotch. There are also subtle hints of fresh bread. The sweetness from the nose is immediately noticeable on the palate and offers a pleasant mouthfeel. There aren't many other notes to pick out here besides some baking spices that linger in the background, but it does the basics well. The finish carries the tasting notes through, though it ends a little sooner than you'd hope. Those looking for more power from their whiskey may prefer the Barrel Proof version, which is comfortably over the $50 mark.

Heaven Hill Distillery produces Larceny Small Batch. Its name pays homage to John E. Fitzgerald, as does the Old Fitzgerald brand listed above. Fitzgerald was a bonded U.S. Treasury Agent who used his position to steal whiskey from the finest barrels. Those lighter barrels became known as Fitzgerald barrels, cementing his name in history. Fitzgerald may have been fond of the highest quality bourbon, but his expression doesn't hit that mark — its flavor is too one-dimensional. But it should be noted that it's still enjoyable, and is also one of the cheapest bottles on this list. If you're on a budget and looking to explore wheated bourbon, a bottle of Larceny Small Batch isn't a bad first step on your journey.

9. David Nicholson 1843

This whiskey is named after a legendary distiller who first made bourbon in the back of his grocery store in St. Louis. Now made by Lux Row Distillers, David Nicholson 1843 has all the smoothness that fans of wheated bourbon love. Bottled at 100 proof, it's a good whiskey with a great price. It's also nicely presented with a classic bottle design and a vintage-inspired label that will strike a chord with those nostalgic for the golden age of bourbon.

Once poured, a buttery aroma lingers in the background and transfers to a rich mouthfeel. Upon tasting, the sweet notes stand out against the whiskey's mellow character, with honey being the most delicious of all. There is a warmth, too, which comes from some mild spice and oak. These flavors aren't quite as developed as they are in other expressions, though, and some regions have limited availability. There are better wheated bourbons on this list, but this will appeal to anyone looking for something a little different.

8. Nine Banded Wheated Straight Bourbon Whiskey

This expression from Nine Banded is another unique choice. Where many bottles on this list have a classic look, this one adopts a much more modern design. It's no surprise, then, that the brand started producing whiskey in 2014, and launched this bottle in 2019. Using a high percentage of 45% wheat, it has a rich mouthfeel that comes straight from this grain, along with an approachable elegance to its taste and finish. Coming from Texas, it derives its name from the nine-banded armadillo, which also serves as the brand's logo.

Nine Banded Wheated Bourbon has a unique water source: It's the a result of carefully selected barrels cut with  limestone-filtered Texan spring water. What you get is a whiskey that has plenty of flavor. There's a nice mix of vanilla and honey on the palate, along with some clove and citrus. Sadly, these flavors don't have too much depth. However, the bourbon's luxurious texture and satisfyingly earthy finish add up to a pleasant drinking experience. Availability is a small issue, but with an affordable price tag, it's well worth getting your hands on a bottle if you can.

7. Maker's Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon

When it comes to having a great selection of affordable wheated bourbons, no brand does it better than Maker's Mark. All four bourbons from Maker's Mark's core lineup qualify for this list. However, not wanting to flood the list with just one brand, I settled for highlighting two expressions. Maker's Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon is not just many enthusiasts' first wheated whiskey, but their first bourbon entirely, including myself. Many a bottle has been drunk since, partly due to its fantastic taste but also its exceptional value for money. Known for its iconic wax seal. Marker's Mark is further renowned for its handcrafted traditions and consistently smooth tasting profile.

The brand used a high proportion of red winter wheat in the mash bill, which helps make the whiskey both sweet and approachable. Tasting notes of vanilla and toffee shine brightest, but there is also a foundation of earthy flavor that comes from toasted wood and cinnamon and some fruity notes. Thus we get to the point in the list where bourbons start to have a little more depth. The finish is mellow and satisfying, helping to leave a lasting impression. Its wide availability makes it an easy choice for those new to wheated bourbons. Its flavor profile may be relatively straightforward compared to more mature options, but this whiskey more than deserves its spot here.

6. Green River Distilling Co. Wheated Straight Bourbon Whiskey

This expression comes from Green River Distilling Co. It's another brand with an interesting history, and a name that refers to Kentucky's Green River. The brand was founded in 1885; however, production stopped in 1955 before the distillery was revived in 2014. After reconstruction and production, bottles have only been available since 2022. The brand has rapidly grown ever since. The wheated bourbon in its range showcases how they quickly worked out a winning formula for making great bourbon.

This bourbon's mash bill is 21% wheat, with the remainder being 70% corn and 9% malted barley. There is a surprising amount of fruit on the nose, with hints of peach. Toasted oak and a bit of nutmeg also give it an enticing aroma. This develops well on the palate, with the sweetness being most present in the form of honey. Some nuttiness helps give it warmth, which beautifully coats the palate. The only downside is that it can be difficult to find and doesn't quite have the complexity necessary to break into the top five. Nonetheless, this wheated expression proves that the decision to revive this historic brand was a great one.

5. Frey Ranch Straight Bourbon

Wheated bourbons typically use wheat in the mash bill instead of rye. This is accompanied by corn and barley. A few expressions, such as Frey Ranch Straight Bourbon, use all four grains. The aim is to get the best of all worlds, but it often doesn't work out that way. This expression, though, shows how it should be done: You get the luxurious feel of wheat and the warmth of rye in Frey Ranch Straight Bourbon. What's more, all of these grains are grown on-site. Produced in Fallon, Nevada, this bourbon is also presented in what I think is the most beautiful bottle on this list. The package makes this an intriguing expression before you've even twisted off the cork.

Once poured, you get to enjoy its enticing aroma. It has a few unique notes, including citrus and orange. These are underscored with more subtle hints of oak and spice. The palate gives you a tapestry of flavors including banana, and added complexity that comes from cedar and pepper. With the distillery's emphasis on growing its own sustainable grain, it's perfect for those who care about the environment. Even if you don't, it's simply great bourbon. The only slight negative is that availability can be an issue, and its flavors may be too mellow for those who prefer robust whiskey.

4. Wyoming Whiskey

As we've already seen, great wheated bourbon can be found outside Kentucky. Wyoming Whiskey is another brand that proves this. Its mash bill is 20% wheat, and it bursts with the rugged taste of the American West. The nose offers wonderfully rich caramel and vanilla notes with added floral elegance. Despite having a proof of just 88, it's quite robust upon the first sip. As the flavors dance around your mouth, its balance becomes apparent. Picking out specific notes while the buttery texture washes over your tastebuds is a genuine joy.

Dark chocolate, dried fruits, and cinnamon can also be found on the palate. The finish isn't too long, which stops it from ranking any higher, but it's satisfying enough for a mid-priced bourbon. It has a boldness beyond what most wheated bourbons achieve, but individual preference determines whether this is a good or bad thing. We can all agree, though, that its use of pristine water from a deep limestone aquifer makes it a clean and soft spirit. This is a charming brand, and its bourbon is high-quality. Go ahead and add it to your whiskey wish list.

3. Rebel Small Batch Reserve

I've given some love to niche brands here, but here's one that's a little more well-known. This small batch expression has a bold flavor profile, which is helped by its 110 proof, befitting Rebel Bourbon's adventurous spirit. As with the David Nicholson bourbon mentioned above, this expression is crafted by Lux Row Distillers in Bardstown, Kentucky. The recipe used dates back to 1849 — there's no point changing a winning formula, after all.

In terms of tasting notes, there isn't anything too unique here, but there doesn't have to be. Rebel Small Batch Reserve does the basics extremely well, providing you with plenty of rich flavor. Along with all the classic bourbon tasting notes, syrup, dark fruits, and cinnamon are present. The high proof gives it a warm finish, but with that soft wheated style. It's a bold and unapologetic bourbon that still has a sensitive side. Some may find it a little too intense, which is understandable. But for those who crave both power and depth from their bourbon, this is excellent value for money.

2. Redemption Wheated Bourbon

Many bourbon brands deserve to be more popular than they are, and Redemption is a prime example. Its wheated bourbon is exceptional, and boasts fantastic value at under $50. The brand mainly focuses on spicier rye whiskey, but this expression with 45% wheat is deliciously smooth. Vanilla is beautifully showcased on the nose and is supported by burnt wood, pear, and a few elegant floral notes. For many whiskeys, a great nose indicates a great spirit. This continues to be true here. Once you take your first sip, you're greeted with an even wider range of flavors.

It delivers its sweetness beautifully, with a luxurious mouthfeel that coats your tastebuds. There is also an interesting blend of chocolate and hazelnut, with a warmth that comes from nutmeg and black pepper. The finish gently ebbs away to leave you eager to take your next sip and enjoy the experience all over again. It's proof that blended bourbons can still be superb and full-bodied. The only reason it doesn't get the top spot is that the power and complexity of our number-one pick are just slightly better. Still, for those looking for something beyond mainstream choices, Redemption Wheated Bourbon is an excellent pick.

1. Maker's Mark Cask Strength

As I said above, no brand does affordable wheated bourbon quite like Maker's Mark. Finding cask-strength whiskey for under $50 is extremely difficult, but this expression just sneaks under that mark. It has the bold flavor you expect from a high-proof bourbon, but its use of red winter wheat gives it a pleasant sophistication as well. As all great bourbons do, it beautifully rides the line between a robust tasting profile and being easily drinkable. Once you pour yourself a glass, its enticing aroma hints at its depth, boasting a range of spices and dark fruits.

There is an explosion of flavor on the palate upon first sip. The oak influence is instantly noticeable, as is the fact that it's spicier than most other wheated bourbons. Along with these tastes, there is rich toffee and an earthy, nutty flavor. With it being cask strength, the proof can vary slightly, but is usually around the 110 region. Drinking it with a few drops of water can help develop its flavor and further showcase its intensity. There may be better wheated bourbons out there, but not at this price. It has a complexity you'd expect from more expensive bottles and a full-bodied character seasoned bourbon drinkers will love. The only possible downside is that its high proof may be a little much for the casual drinker. However, if you're an enthusiast wanting to explore wheated bourbons on a budget, Maker's Mark Cask Strength is the standout choice.


When ranking these whiskeys, the focus was almost entirely on taste. Secondary to this were the aroma and finish. In instances where I found it hard to separate them, value and accessibility were also considered.

Mustering my profound passion for bourbon and experience with countless wheated bourbons, I was committed to providing you with an accurate and engaging list. I have personally tried many of these expressions and supplemented my knowledge with a diverse array of expert and layman feedback. The result is a comprehensive evaluation of affordable wheated bourbons that can serve as your guide when you buy your next bottle.