Bourbon Barrels in Rickhouse

Eleven of the Best Every Day Bourbons Under $50

1. Wild Turkey 101

The choice every day bourbon of my family, Wild Turkey 101 is hard to beat when it comes to an every day bourbon staple. Whether your a whiskey coke, old fashioned, neat, or on the rocks person, Wild Turkey 101 will satisfy all.  A little punch that smooths into a nice  spice that you can only get from crossing that 100 proof threshold is the first thing to hit your nose, complimented by a little vanilla and a nice whiff of oak.  And when I say oak, I mean exactly what “oakiness” is supposed to be when you’re describing a bourbon.  On the palate, let that 101 bite relax into a finish of spicy oak with a touch of vanilla.


2. Woodford Reserve

If a bourbon is going to get to claim the title of “Official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby”, of course it’s going to be good.  Two important southern traditions - Bourbon, and Kentucky Derby, must have a mutual respect for each other.  All kidding aside, Woodford is a great bourbon for sipping alongside a good steak or game dish.  Woodford is an all around rich bourbon that has a lingering flavor and enhances the flavors of what the grill has cooking.


3. Still Austin Straight Bourbon Whiskey “The Musician”

I’m a native Austinite, so maybe I’m a little biased on this one.  But I’m also confident that if you put a glass of Still Austin in front of someone for the first time, they’re going to be impressed.  This is a homegrown company that is doing things the right way.  They’ve got some great bottled in bond annual releases that clock in at a little higher price but with even more proportional deliciousness.  The Musician is a fruitful bourbon all around, with some tropical notes up front.  Take a sip and you transition into a sweet cinnamon and what I think is some brown sugar, that finishes off with a light spice and a reminder of the fruit notes.


4. Pinhook

Pinhook’s marketing is what hooked me from the start, but then I tasted it, and let me tell you, their bark backed up their bite.  Pinhook is a smooth bourbon for making an old fashioned, or on occasion sipping the entire bottle neat until 1AM in the morning swapping stories with friends.  Their entry level bourbon and rye’s clock in right about $40, and once you get hooked on those, give the rest of the vertical series a try.


5. Weller Special Reserve

This will be the one “controversial” bourbon on this list.  Weller Special Reserve is highly sought after given it’s relationship to Pappy Van Winkle, and the overall popularity of the various (and all exquisite) options in the Weller series.  Generally speaking though, Weller Special Reserve is readily obtainable in Austin at the time of writing this article.  This wheated bourbon is, in my opinion, one of the best that money can buy.  People will tell you it’s overhyped.  For the secondary prices people pay, maybe that’s true.  But for a retail price, having a bottle of Weller Special Reserve around for an evening sipper or an old-fashioned on the sweeter side is highly recommended.


6. Buffalo Trace

There are two kinds of people in this world.  Those who can’t stand Buffalo Trace because they are a part of some of the most sought after Bourbons and integral to bourbon history, and everyone else who enjoys a good glass of Buffalo Trace.  We are a part of the latter.  Buffalo Trace is a solid bourbon.  It shouldn’t be over-hyped to the point of secondary market pricing, because it’s not.  It’s just good for what it is.  Like Wild Turkey, Jack Daniel’s, or Maker’s Mark to many others, Buffalo Trace is a good all around every day bourbon, and it just so happens that it’s one we put right around the level of Wild Turkey on our shelf.


7. Blue Note Uncut and Unfilitered

This was a book-by-its-cover discovery for me, but the contents did not disappoint the quality of the label.  This particular offering from Blue Note will always clock in north of 115 proof, but it’s an incredibly smooth and relaxed flavor that sits on the tongue after the initial high-proof bite.  When I need a new bourbon to introduce to my friends, Blue Note is generally the first one i reach for.


8. Wild Turkey Long Branch

The second Wild Turkey product to make this list for me.  Long Branch made its debut to a mix of reviews.  There are a lot of people who are “never celebrity brands” drinkers.  But first of all, Come on…it’s Matthew McConaughey. Secondly, it’s a damn fine bourbon.  The first time I cracked open a bottle of Long Branch was year’s ago during a Kentucky Derby, and I’ve kept a bottle on my shelf ever since.  It’s another versatile bourbon that goes great neat, on the rocks or in an old fashioned.  I like it because I still get some of the famous Wild Turkey flavors a little lower than the 101, but not all the way down to the 80 proof.


9. Angel’s Envy

Angel’s Envy will clock in right at $49.99, but it’s still worth it.  Because of the price point, I tend to stick with neat or on a rock for Angel’s Envy, and like Woodford, consider it another good steak dinner bourbon.  On top of the sweet flavors of the bourbon itself, I can’t help but love the name.  The liquid that evaporates while a bourbon sits in a barrel is known as the “Angel’s Share” and I like playing with the idea of our winged guardians wanting to get their hands on a little more of the good stuff.


10. Willett Pot Still

Another one that divides the bourbon nation on if it’s overhyped or tasty - often due to the pot still shape of the bottle being seen by some as gimmicky.  But you know what? It’s not.  Willet Pot Still bourbon is as good tasting on the pallette as the bottle is good looking on your bar shelf.  Give it a try.


11. Maker’s Mark Cask Strength

If you can’t tell, I like my high proof bourbons.  Truly, I find the entire Maker’s Mark lineup to be enjoyable, and while the others don’t quite cross the line for my top 10, I do really enjoy the Cask Strength and the tingle on the tongue that comes with it.  Another iconic bourbon brand that deserves to be on this list not just because of it’s name, but because of the products it produces.

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