A well-stocked home bar is one of the ultimate you-made-it accomplishments of being an adult. However, figuring out exactly what bottles you want to keep on stock is a struggle. Then there's the other issue of buying booze without breaking the bank. So splurge on the spirits you love the most and spend wisely on those spirits you don't necessarily love but would like to keep on hand anyway. From $100+ bottles of scotch to a $13 bottle of rum, here are 21 bottles of alcohol at every price point to get your home bar stocked better than your favorite bar.
Bourbon is arguably America's favorite brown spirit. Just look at all the die-hard bourbon communities across social media. Whether you're looking for something to drink straight up or you're looking to mix a mint julep like you're at the Kentucky Derby, these three bottles prove why bourbon really is the preferred brown spirit of the United States.
A 9-year age statement on a $30 or so bottle of 100 proof bourbon that's available every state. On stats alone, Knob Creek's Small Batch Bourbon is the paragon of value bourbon. Thankfully, it's absolutely delicious, too. Drink it neat, on the rocks or mixed.
- Available in all 50 states
- Usually between $35 and $40
- Proof is ideal for mixing or sipping
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof doesn't try to be one of the cool bourbons, it just is. It's released a few times a year, it's among the best regularly released bourbons in the world and it is — in most cases — available for around $65. A single sniff of a glass of this stuff and you'll understand.
- Well-aged, barrel proof bourbon for less than $100 is increasingly rare
- Flavor profile is more of less perfect: massive vanilla, peanut, caramel and apple flavors
- Barrel proof can be too high for some drinkers
The best cheap bourbon doesn't taste cheap at all. Made at the legendary Heaven Hill Distillery, Evan Williams Black Label is one of the most popular whiskeys in the world for good reason.
- Classic bourbon flavors like brown sugar, vanilla and caramel
- Consistently sub-$20, everywhere
- Perfect on the rocks or mixed
- 86 proof isn't beefy enough for some who drink bourbon neat
Scotch shouldn't just be a drink for celebratory occasions, and scotch is certainly not just for those looking to emulate Ron Swanson. Scotland's whisky of choice is made for everyone — those who have the money to spend over $100 on a 16-year-old Lagavulin or those who just want a nice bottle of brown every so often without tapping into their savings.
Lagavulin's 16-year-old scotch is an absolute crowd pleaser. It's peaty, smoky and savory, like every good Islay scotch should be. Not an Islay fan? This juice might actually win you over.
- Packed with flavor
- Available everywhere
- Universal appeal
- Too pricey to be a daily sipper
This multi-award-winning spirit is the ultimate giftable scotch — for yourself or for others. While Highland Park makes a number of expressions, it's this bottle that should be your go-to.
- Bold flavors with a creamy mouthfeel
- The bottle is a tad gaudy
- Arguably overpriced
At $52, this is far from a cheap bottle of scotch, but what you get out of the juice makes the price an excellent value. It's aged in bourbon casks, which gives the whisky a slight sweetness for those who prefer bourbon to scotch.
- Great value
- Smooth, sweet and briny
- Some bottles may be inconsistent
Rye is the spicy counterpart to its sweet cousin, bourbon. At one point, rye was America's favorite brown spirit. Nowadays, a majority of drinkers prefer a sweet sip of bourbon, but those in the know will know that more people should be drinking rye, a spirit known for its depth of flavor and that notorious spicy finish.
One of the few rye whiskies to hold an age statement, Russell's Reserve's 6-year greatly benefits from some aging. It has a good bite to it, and you won't mind sipping it or mixing with it.
- Complex, sweet and bold
- Consistently good
- Available everywhere
- Lower proof than some might like
WhistlePig's 10-year-old rye whiskey is made with a 100-percent rye mashbill. It's warm and spicy, with a hint of butterscotch sweetness. It's initially aged in Canada before being finished in Vermont — a point of contention for some rye drinkers.
- Complexity makes each sip a different experience
- Full rye flavor
- Some may be turned off by its Canadian origins
An easy bottle of rye to transition to from bourbon, this rye whiskey is just a tad spicier than its sweeter counterpart. It's super cheap, which somehow makes the juice inside taste even better.
- Incredibly cheap, but still very good
- Good for first-time rye drinkers
- Not quite complex
No liquor gets as much heat as tequila. It's not as harsh as the stuff you drank in your youth, and you can stop blaming tequila for that time you got black-out drunk. Give tequila the chance it deserves with any of these three bottles, and finally realize that you should be sipping it just as often as you're shooting it. And yes, these all make for a delicious margarita.
You can find Espolòn Blanco almost anywhere, and unlike some cheap tequila, its ubiquity and moderately low price don't mean it's bad. In reality, its Blanco is one of the smoothest tequilas you can drink, and it's made clean and pure unlike the cheaper stuff.
- Budget mixer and delicious sipper
- Made without diffusers or additives
- Bland for some tequila connoisseurs
For a tequila unlike those you used to take shots of in college, grab Siete Leguas Blanco. It's made like mezcal, so it packs a boatload of flavors you may not typically associate with tequila. It's a bit pricey, so we wouldn't recommend it as a mixing spirit.
- Intense and complex flavors
- Not something you'd want to mix with
You'll rarely find a reposado this cheap. It's spicy, floral and vegetal, with a decent finish. A good amount of aging in American White Oak barrels gives it a nice vanilla and oak taste for those who want something other than whiskey for once.
- Affordable for a reposado
- Easygoing flavors
- Body is a bit thin
Another underrated clear spirit, vodka is seeing a resurgence. It's so versatile, yet some will have you believe that the best vodka is one that tastes like water. Get a vodka that actually tastes like something, and that "something" is good.
Reyka's vodka is sourced from Iceland, and its proximity to volcanoes produces an exceptionally clean and smooth spirit that puts that stuff you drank in college to shame. Lava rocks ensure the vodka is purified and the glacial spring water produces a drink that's bright, citrus-like and somewhat vegetal.
- Smooth and clean flavor
- Great value
For those who can't imagine drinking vodka for fun, Polugar is the ultimate sipping drink. This Poland-made spirit is made of rye, so if you like rye whiskey, you're sure to be a fan of this spicy-sweet drink.
- Nuanced flavors not typically found in vodka
- Reminiscent of an old-style of vodka not often seen anymore
- Some may not get past the high price tag
This is, shockingly, a very good vodka for a very low price. The 100-percent rye spirit costs less than $20 for a liter bottle, and compared to comparable vodkas in that price range, Wodka is far superior. It's spicy, a little sweet and a whole lot of flavor.
- Incredibly cheap
- Tastes like it should cost double the price
Gin has to be made with juniper berries, but it shouldn't be defined by its predominant botanical. The best type of gin is one that utilizes its botanicals so that each one plays an important part to the overall spirit. Some gins have a laundry list of botanicals that'll have you savoring sip after sip, and some gins will make excellent use from a handful of ingredients that prove less is more.
The Botanist is everything a gin should be — juniper-forward, but not overpowered by it — and it clocks in at a reasonable price point for the quality. Sip it neat or mix it in your favorite gin-based cocktail, because no matter what you do with it, this is a damn good gin.
- Available everywhere
- Nuanced flavors means every sip is an experience
- Could be cheaper; not economical to use just for mixing
When you're tired of scotch, reach for a bottle of Monkey 47. The gin completely flips the saying that less is more. Because with 47 botanicals, there's always a different flavor to discern in this highly sippable gin.
- Delicious and balanced
- One of the most complex gins
- Best reserved for special occasions because of the price
Don't let the low price fool you. Gordon's London Dry Gin is the perfect bottle for your cocktail needs. If you're lucky, you might find it for just $10, but you'll rarely find something this good and versatile for this cheap.
- Incredibly cheap without tasting cheap
- The perfect mixing gin
- Too harsh to sip on its own
Rum is done taking the backseat to whiskey. A lot of whiskey is overpriced, hard to find and not that good. Then you have rum sitting on the shelves collecting dust, with few realizing the treasures they're passing up on. Don't be that person. Grab a rum that will have you questioning why everyone is flocking to the bourbon aisle when rum exists.
This five-year-old rum is aged in both bourbon barrels and French oak, both of which give the spirit a deep vanilla flavor, accented by toasted coconut and citrus peel. It's not as cheap as the stuff you drank in college, but that's kind of the whole point.
- Adds depth to rum-based cocktails
- Delicious sipper
- Not cheap, but a guaranteed crowd pleaser
Bourbon has its Pappy, and rum has its Foursquare. Much like its whiskey counterpart, Foursquare is the end all be all of its category. A pot and column still blend are aged separately in ex-bourbon barrels for 12 years before they're blended in the bottle. Unlike Pappy, Foursquare doesn't cost a month (or more) of rent.
- Just as tasty as allocated bourbon, but easier to find
- Smooth, sweet and cask strength
- Worth the price, but a hefty price tag nonetheless
Light in age and easy on your wallet, Cruzan makes a rum that'll satisfy your rum craving. It's aged in oak for up to four years, then lightly filtered, which removes its woody color but retains its mild vanilla flavor.
- A utilitarian spirit for all your mixing needs
- Can be found for under $10
- Lacks nuance compared to its pricier counterparts