Our Spirits Expert Recommends The 25 Best Bourbons Under $100

Finding high-quality bourbon without breaking the bank can often seem like a tough task. This can be made more difficult by some bourbons being much more expensive on secondary markets than their retail price. That's where I can help. I've found the 25 best bourbons that can be easily purchased at almost any time of the year for under $100. For this reason, you won't find any rare bottles or limited editions here — just simple to find, great bourbon.

As a guide through the landscape of affordable bourbon, you can rest assured you're in expert hands. I have many years of experience in tasting bourbon and have personally sampled the vast majority of expressions here. This article will give you a fair and accurate guide on which of these should be the next bottle in your home bar. Join me as we celebrate those bourbons that find the perfect balance between quality and affordability.

1. Willett Pot Still Reserve

We start off with a whiskey that sits comfortably under the $100 mark. This expression is notable for its unique bottle, which resembles a copper pot still, hence the name. But this is much more than just a fancy bottle. 

Willett Pot Still Reserve bourbon has a beautiful taste with a nose that elegantly showcases its classical bourbon sweetness. Upon tasting, you're greeted by a smooth texture before it unveils its most distinctive noses of toasted nuts and dark fruits. With a hint of spice, it leaves a warm and long finish. A mixture of fancy packaging, a low price tag, and great taste makes this a tempting choice.

2. Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage

One of a few Heaven Hill whiskeys on this list, this is a great bourbon from a brand that specializes in value. Due to the bourbon coming from a single barrel, the tasting notes can alter slightly from one bottle to the next, but they are usually excellent. 

The sweetness of honey shines brightest on the palate and there is a pleasant taste of orchard fruits. When you add in a powerful foundation of cinnamon, you get an expression that is sure to warm the soul and put a smile on your face. Evan Williams is a good choice for anyone looking to sample a single-barrel bourbon.

3. 1792 Full Proof

The name Full Proof comes from the fact that the proof (125) of the bottle is the same as before it went into the barrel. This is a powerful expression that may not appeal to beginners. It's unapologetically strong, with plenty of oak on the nose. 

There are a few unique tasting notes to celebrate here, notably caramelized sugar and dark chocolate. With a range of baking spices, you'll start to appreciate the depth of this bourbon with its full-bodied flavor. For those looking to up their bourbon game with a high-proof spirit, this will give you a memorable tasting experience.

4. New Riff Distilling Single Barrel

Many of the bourbons on this list come from long-established distilleries but New Riff is one of the more modern craft brands. Aged without chill filtration, this single-barrel offers plenty of robust flavors and a nuanced tasting experience. 

As with the Evan Williams bottle, tasting notes can change but this is often a fruity whiskey with notes of apple and cherry. The sweetness mainly comes from vanilla, counterbalanced by cinnamon and charred oak. It's one of the cheaper bourbons on the list and shows that you don't need to be a historic brand to make great whiskey.

5. Michter's US-1 Small Batch

This is one of a few whiskeys on the list that can often be found under $50. It's a great example of small-batch bourbon with a nuanced taste. The highlight here is a beautifully developed caramel flavor. You'll also get to enjoy a few other sweet notes, such as vanilla and stone fruits, while the expression sits on a base of smokey oak. 

Michter's US-1 Small Batch is a deliciously smooth bourbon that compares favorably with many of the more expensive bottles on this list. At 91.4 proof, it's also ideal for those who are put off by more powerful bourbons.

6. Smoke Wagon Uncut Unfiltered

If you're looking for something away from the mainstream brands, Smoke Wagon would be the perfect choice. Availability may not be as high as some others, but this Nevada bourbon is still easy enough to find at under $100. Both uncut and unfiltered, this is a stark contrast to the Michter's as it's bold and uncompromising. 

The high rye mash bill gives it a powerful spice with a full-bodied mouthfeel. There is plenty of sweetness here but it's dominated by more earthy notes such as leather and tobacco. Add in some maple syrup and dark chocolate, and you get beautiful depth but a whiskey that is not for the faint-hearted.

7. Penelope Four Grain Barrel Strength

Most bourbons use corn and malted barley in the mash bill, then either rye or wheat. A few expressions, such as this Penelope bourbon, use all four. This gives it a contrast with the spiciness of rye and the smoothness of wheat. An uncut and unfiltered expression, it's bottled at 115 proof. 

Butterscotch presents itself nicely on the palate, where it is joined by brown sugar and a subtle smoke. As the flavor develops in your mouth, the sweetness fades away, and a cinnamon spice comes to the fore. Penelope is not quite as bold as the Smoke Wagon, but this is still a powerful whiskey.

8. Basil Hayden 10-Year

The flagship bottle of Basil Hayden Kentucky Straight Bourbon is an excellent affordable whiskey, but the 10-year expression is a step above. After looking at a couple of robust bourbons, this bottle is smooth, elegant, and approachable. If you're just getting into the world of whiskey, this is an excellent choice. 

The palate offers a subtle rye warmth but the sweet notes shine brightest here, especially with caramel and honey. There are still some earthy flavors such as toasted notes and a light smoke to add some complexity. Whether a beginner or seasoned connoisseur, this is a whiskey that is sure to be loved by anyone.

9. Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

With an average price of around $60, this is one of the best bourbons in the world when it comes to value. As the name suggests, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked is aged in two different charred oak barrels. This helps to give it a unique character, but the oak influence isn't too heavy. Instead, it's mostly a sweet whiskey with a creamy vanilla mouthfeel. 

After a few sips, you'll start to appreciate its depth with nuts, tobacco, and baking spices. With some fruity notes, you'll appreciate the long finish and remarkable quality. If you're looking for one of the cheaper bottles on this list, you can't go wrong with Woodford Reserve.

10. Still Austin Whiskey Co. Cask Strength

With 25% of rye in the mash bill, this is a Texan whiskey that packs a punch with a cask strength of 118 proof. It is a great option for anyone who loves fruitier bourbons, as you get plenty of cherries and berries on the palate. 

The rye gives you notes of nutmeg, pepper, and clove, while there is also a touch of maple syrup. These notes combine with a rich caramel to give you a highly satisfying pour. If you want to expand your portfolio away from Kentucky, this Still Austin bourbon is a great way to do it.

11. Widow Jane 10 Year Old

Another great brand away from the Bluegrass State is Widow Jane. Coming from New York, this 10-year-old bourbon is a great example of what the distillery offers. The quirky name comes from the Widow Jane Mine in New York — which is itself named after a famous widow from the area called Jane Snyder. 

The source of the name may have plenty of depth, but so does the whiskey. You get a bouquet of orchard fruits on both the nose and palate. Once sipped, you'll also appreciate the honey and maple notes sitting on a foundation of toasted oak and nutmeg. A long finish confirms this as a great bourbon.

12. Knob Creek 12 Year

Knob Creek knows how to make a great whiskey, and its 12-year is another great example of that. A big improvement on the impressive 9-year bottle, this has plenty of qualities you'd associate with a maturely aged bourbon. 

Knob Creek 12 Year has a significant oak influence as well as an enjoyable nuttiness and cinnamon spice. This is underpinned by a subtle smoke that lingers throughout the entire tasting experience. Cherry and oranges provide some big fruity notes with a warmth continuing to the medium-long finish. At 100 proof, it's not a mild bourbon but equally, it isn't overpowering. If you liked the 9-year, then you'll love this 12-year.

13. Garrison Brothers Small Batch

I've already highlighted one brilliant Texan bourbon, and here's another. Matured in the state's oppressive heat, Garrison Brothers Small Batch bourbon provides a rich flavor profile. 

Before tasting, you'll notice its stunning crimson color. The nose is fairly muted but the same can't be said for the taste. Big notes of toasted oak and caramelized sugar hit you and depth is added by some leather and cinnamon. There are some candied fruits there and a nice dollop of honey. Inspired by the blazing hot state it was created in, this bourbon could warm you up on cold winter nights.

14. Wild Turkey Rare Breed

We're just about to look at three barrel-proof bourbons in a row, starting with Wild Turkey's Rare Breed. Bottled at a proof of 112.8, this is blended from Wild Turkey between the ages of 6 and 12 years. It's a whiskey that captures the untamed nature of the spirit with its raw power. 

Vanilla is the most dominant tasting note but there is also sweetness provided by honey. More bold notes come from black pepper, smoke, and nuts to give it plenty of depth. However, there are some floral notes to elevate it even further. It's likely that you've already tried Wild Turkey 101, and this is a great step up.

15. Larceny Barrel Proof

Coming from Heaven Hill, this is another barrel-proof whiskey but with a significant difference. Larceny is a wheated bourbon which gives you an interesting contrast. Barrel-proof bourbons are usually robust and bold, whereas wheat usually gives you a smooth and mellower profile. Larceny Barrel Proof offers the best of both worlds as you still get a powerful bourbon but with a more subtle touch. 

The palate bursts with flavor including vanilla, dark chocolate, and hazelnut. There is some sweetness from ripe fruits but also distinct notes of leather and tobacco. It helps make this indulgent drink an ideal choice for those looking for something different. Larceny also makes one of the best wheated bourbons under $50.

16. Bulleit Single Barrel

From a wheated bourbon, we go to one that has a high rye mash bill. Due to that difference, you can expect a heavy spiciness to this whiskey, which most predominately comes in the form of nutmeg. The sweetness mostly comes from toffee, and it mingles with toasted oak and maple to give you a beautifully deep bourbon. 

The proof of Bulleit Single Barrel bottles can get as high as 125 and there is plenty of warmth on the finish. With it also being uncut and unfiltered, everything about this expression points towards it being a powerful whiskey. While that may be true, it's still smooth and easy to drink.

17. Noah's Mill Bourbon Whiskey

This is our second whiskey on the list to come from the Willett Distillery and it's another fine expression. Noah's Mill is a little more refined than the last few whiskeys we've looked at but still has a proof of 114.3. It has an elegant floral quality along with the palate offering you a taste of rich caramel. 

There is only a subtle cinnamon warmth here with the earthy notes coming in the form of a significant nuttiness. Add in some dried fruits, and you get an indulgent whiskey that is well worth the money. With a long and lingering finish, this is a bourbon sure to satisfy.

18. Russell's Reserve Single Barrel

You can't go wrong with a bottle of Russell's Reserve and this single-barrel is a good example of what the brand offers. Upon pouring, the first thing that'll attract your attention is its deep red color. Darker whiskeys often have a notable oak influence and that is true here. 

After you enjoy the powerful aroma, you'll notice its barrel influence along with both nutmeg and cinnamon. It's a robust whiskey but there is still a lovely sweetness present in the form of vanilla and toffee. Russell's Reserve brilliantly balances those flavors to prevent its high proof of 110 from being too overpowering.

19. Four Roses Single Barrel

Four Roses is a fascinating bourbon brand for a wide range of reasons. One of those reasons is the contrast it has between expensive limited-edition bottles and a range of affordable expressions. The single barrel falls in the latter category. 

After you enjoy a fruity nose, you'll first be met by some caramel and vanilla on the palate. Once it sits in your mouth for a second, you'll appreciate baking spices, some orchard fruits, and maple syrup. All these flavors blend in perfect harmony while allowing you to appreciate the individuality that comes from a single-barrel bourbon.

20. Henry McKenna Single Barrel 10 Year

While most whiskeys are content with one or two statements on the bottle, this Henry McKenna expression is proud to show off three. It's a single-barrel, bottled-in-bond whiskey that has been aged for 10 years. 

For those looking for an affordable expression that is easy to drink, look no further. It's quite a fruity bourbon with its sweetness mostly coming from honey. To counterbalance that, it delivers nutmeg spice with some toasted oak. It's perhaps the most elegant expression on the list and offers a delicious smoothness that comes from its 10 years of aging.

21. Angel's Envy Port Wine Barrel Finish

The majority of bourbons are simply matured in new charred oak barrels from start to finish. However, Angel's Envy likes to do things a little differently. As all bourbons do, this whiskey starts in a new oak barrel but ends up being finished in a ruby port wine cask. This helps to give it a unique sweetness that comes in the form of red fruits such as cherries and grapes. 

The vanilla influence is only subtle, but you'll also enjoy some caramelized sugar, oak, and dark chocolate. If you're still journeying through the world of bourbon, this will give you a great insight into barrel finishes.

22. Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style

This expression is a nod to how the brand was able to survive through prohibition. The whiskey is bottled at 115 proof and that's no coincidence. During prohibition, whiskey produced for medicinal purposes had to be barreled at 100 proof (this rose to 115 after evaporation). The high proof helps to make it an intense bourbon with deep flavor. 

With a luscious mouthfeel, you'll get to enjoy a rich toffee sweetness. Dark chocolate continues the tasting experience with plenty of spices to enjoy as well. Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style is a high-quality bourbon and probably the best Old Forester bourbon you can buy.

23. W. L. Weller Special Reserve

Most Weller bottles will cost you at least a few hundred dollars, but this is the most affordable expression the brand produces. If you want to sample exquisite wheated bourbon, this is a great place to start. 

From the Buffalo Trace distillery, it's a smooth and approachable whiskey that is effortlessly easy to drink. On the palate, you'll get a beautiful creamy butterscotch that perfectly combines with dried fruits and a touch of oak. The finish is delicate and offers no hint of harshness. We've highlighted many spicy whiskeys on this list, and if they don't appeal to you, this will.

24. Eagle Rare 10-Year

Everything about this expression exudes elegance. It's delivered in a stylish bottle, has a beautiful color, and tastes sublime. The only thing not premium about this Eagle Rare 10-Year is the price tag. It's perfect for those who appreciate smooth bourbon. It doesn't have exceptional depth but when the vanilla, caramel, and oak notes are as good as this, it doesn't need to be. 

There is a little chocolate and almond on the palate, but with very little fruit. Whether you love this whiskey or not may depend on your personal preference. If robust and powerful whiskeys don't appeal to you, this expression most definitely will.

25. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

This expression just barely makes the list as it's right on the $100 limit. Some retailers will sell it above that figure but most offer it for much less. While it may sneak in on price, there was no way it was missing out based on taste. It's a wonderful and intense whiskey that gives you a truly authentic taste of bourbon. 

Usually bottled at over 120 proof, you'll sample some beautiful chocolate on the palate along with an array of fruits and charred oak. With a brilliant balance of flavors, you'll soon agree that buying this bottle was money well spent.

26. Methodology

The most important rule for this list is that all these bourbons had to be easily found under $100 at liquor stores. Due to this, I completely ignored retail prices. I also wanted to focus on bottles that have high availability, meaning rare or limited expressions were out. I've spent a vast number of years tasting bourbon at all price tags, so I felt well-placed to put this list together. I have tasted almost all these expressions and where I haven't, I used a wide range of user and expert reviews to form a general consensus.