10 of the Best Bourbons You Can Buy for Less than $100

Great bourbon can be had for under $50, so why spend more?

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There was a time when drinkers thought spending more than $50 on a bottle of bourbon was pretty insane. This was before the bourbon boom, mind you. Nowadays people buy rare bottles that cost as much as a used car. But the hesitation remains: there are so many great bottles of bourbon that cost $30 or $40 that it seems a tough sell to spend twice that on anything at all.

It’s not a bad point. Except for a few exceptions. These are the bottles we’ll splurge on, occasionally, when our bonus rolls in or a big deal goes through. Just don’t tell anyone we’ve got them. We’re not sharing.

Stagg Jr.

Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Proof: ~133
Price: $60-$70
Boy Wonder: It’s a younger version of the renowned George T. Stagg bottle — and good luck finding that one. The Jr.-version is hot as hell, with lots of flavors to boot. If you like that sort of thing, and are hunting the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, it’s a good treat.

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Henry McKenna 10 Year Single Barrel

Distillery: Heaven Hill
Proof: 100
Price: $99
A Real Winner: If you’re a whiskey fan, pray your favorite bottle doesn’t win any big awards. Before it won Best In Show, Whiskey at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition this year, McKenna 10 went for $35; now it’s good for about $99. Still, maybe you can find it at the right price and try a winner.

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Barrell Bourbon

Distillery: Various sourced
Proof: Varies
Price: $90+
League of Its Own: It’s a standout for several reasons, the first of which is it’s not distilled, blended or bottled by one of the Big Four distilleries. Instead, founder Joe Beatrice and master distiller Tripp Stimson create new blends using sourced whiskies from Indiana, Kentucky and beyond. Several of their bourbons are less than $100; for the right bourbon lover, trying their blends is worth the splurge.

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Maker’s Mark Cask Strength

Distillery: Maker’s Mark
Proof: 108-114
Price: $50-$55
Heavy Wheat: If you love Maker’s Mark and Maker’s 46, this is the logical splurge for you. There’s much to be said for the smoothness that a wheater imparts, even at big, bold, barrel proof. And it’s available in a 375mL bottle — a “sampler” size that helps the wallet.

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Blanton’s Single Barrel

Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Proof: 93
Price: $80
History in a Bottle: Come for the collectible stopper, stay for the sexy flavor profile. Whiskey historians point to Blanton’s as one of the first single-barrel bourbons. It’s got history, a gimmick and delicious notes of spice and sweetness. What’s not to love?

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Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

Distillery: Heaven Hill
Proof: Varies by batch
Price: $65
Worthy Investment: The price of this barrel-proof gem has crept up steadily over the years (Breaking Bourbon reports that it started out at $35 when it was first released!) but it’s still a solid deal, and one of the best barrel-strength splurge bottles on the market.

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Distillery: Jim Beam
Proof: 128.5
Price: $70
Flavor Bomb: Do not mess around with this bourbon. Jim Beam’s highest-proof whiskey is an absolute explosion of big-bourbon flavors. And if you drink it willy-nilly, you’ll wake up somewhere you don’t recognize.

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Noah’s Mill

Distillery: Unknown (Willett, sourced)
Proof: 114.3
Price: $60
Soaring High: We agree that Willett is for diehards. Their sourced stuff gets big respect; while you can’t afford their Red Hook Rye (it goes for more than $1,000), you can splurge on their Noah’s Mill, with its huge 114.3 proof. It’s a fun exercise in tasting what the respected blenders there have collected over the years from great old stocks of bourbon.

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W.L. Weller 12 Year

Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Proof: 90
Price: $100+
Pappy Potential: Being baby Pappy is a blessing and a curse. Yes, it’s true that it’s blended using younger versions of nearly the same juice that eventually ends up in the Pappy Van Winkle line. But in the overhyped bourbon market, that connection sometimes balloons its cost from MSRP ($30) to upwards of $200. Still, you might find it for less than $100, if you’re lucky — and it is tasty.

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Four Roses Single Barrel Cask Strength

Distillery: Four Roses
Proof: Varies
Price: $70
Mixed Bag: Four Roses uses five different strains of yeast and multiple mashbills in its blended whiskey. This is your chance to try a honey barrel; there have been different releases over the year, depending on which mashbill and yeast strain was in the barrel.

Learn More: Here

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