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15 Best Bottom Shelf Bourbon Brands Listed (2022 Updated)

Last Updated on November 15, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Bourbon is an amazing spirit for many reasons. Some are crafted neat and sipping in mind, while others are created for mixing.

However, finding a great quality of this America’s native spirit at a low price might be difficult.

But we’ve got you. Some bourbon gems out there have a remarkable taste despite their price point.

Read on if you’re looking for the best bottom-shelf bourbon as your daily sipper.

Top 15 Bottom Shelf Bourbons Worth Sipping

15. Benchmark Bourbon Old No.8 Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Bottle of Benchmark Bourbon Old No.8 Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Average Price: Around $10 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40%

Why We Like It:

Benchmark Old No. 8 is an 80-proof bourbon made by Buffalo Trace.

It has a sweet and pleasant flavor that you might find in a wheated-bourbon, such as light florals, cherry, and dark berries. 

Buffalo Trace bourbon, such as Benchmark, is one of the bourbons that are traditionally made but at an affordable price.

Its bottle would probably cost less than most cocktails at a bar. 

14. Zackariah Harris Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Clos up Shot of Zackariah Harris Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Bottle

Average Price: Around $9 for 750ml (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 40%

Why We Like It:

Zackariah Harris is an admirable straight bourbon with a great price point. This bourbon has a nice sweet palate with savory rye notes.

Although it has a likely strong note, it’s relatively approachable to sip. 

Zackariah Harris has an easy expression because of its 80-proof but could surprisingly flatter your taste buds.

It’s one of the affordable Barton brands, including the Very Old Barton. It’s good bourbon, and you will get what you pay for.

13. Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Evan Williams Straight Bourbon Whiskey Bottle

Average Price: Around $15 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 43%

Why We Like It:

Evan Williams’ black label is an award-winning and the second-best-selling bourbon worldwide last 2021.

Although it has an affordable price, Evan Williams has a rich, full flavor, great as a sipper or for mixing basic whiskey cocktails.

Evan Williams is both competitive in price and flavor. It is made by Heaven Hill and other famous bourbons like Henry McKenna Straight Bourbon.

Evan Williams is everything a consumer would want about bourbon; it has a pleasant taste and is priceworthy.

12. Wild Turkey 81 Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Man Holding Wild Turkey 81 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Bottle

Average Price: Around $17 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40.5%

Why We Like It:

Wild Turkey 81-proof bourbon was formerly an 80-proof bourbon and was replaced in 2011.

It has a high rye content in the mash bill, giving it a prominent spicy profile. But it has a lower proof that offers a satisfying mouthfeel.

Its flavor profile can compete with Jim Beam (white label) and Evan Williams (black label).

But its notable attribute is its price, a great value that’s approachable for the masses.

11. Ancient Age Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Ancient Age Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey bottle with 2 glasses

Average Price: Around $15 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40%

Why We Like It:

Ancient Age is another brand from Buffalo Trace that has been around since 1946. No doubt, it has one of the great profiles for bourbon.

However, the Ancient Age hasn’t been reclaimed by the bourbon hipsters. 

This straight bourbon has a light body with light cinnamon, honeyed sweetness, and some rye-bread hints.

It’s a young, cheap bourbon, but its versatile profile could work easily on mixed drinks without a problem.

10. J.W. Dant Kentucky Straight Bourbon

JW Dant Bottled in Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Bottle

Average Price: Around $15 for 1L (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 50%

Why We Like It:

J.W. Dant is one of the cheap bourbons from Heaven Hill that is a bonded bourbon with potent proof.

Its peppery spice profile, with a moderate alcohol burn and burnt sugar aromas, is a great mixer for classic and simple concoctions. 

9. Very Old Barton Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Bottle of Very Old Barton Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Average Price: Around $12 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40%

Why We Like It:

Very Old Barton is a classic bourbon whiskey with a bold-tasting profile, but it’s not very old. It is matured in charred oak barrels between four to six years. 

Very Old Barton or VOB is owned by Sazerac company and comes with multiple proofs: 80, 86, 90, and 100.

It has a rich flavor with highlighted notes of vanilla beans, dried fruits, and black pepper spiciness.

8. Rebel Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Rebel Kentucky Straight Bourbon bottle and a glass on top of table

Average Price: Around $20 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40%

Why We Like It:

Rebel or Rebel Yell is a self-proclaimed ’defiantly smooth’ wheated bourbon written in its bottle. This bourbon is one of the best deals in the bourbon world. 

Rebel is an extremely approachable bourbon that doesn’t have visible oak notes.

It has a well-known mellow flavor with notes of sweet caramel and toasted vanilla beans. 

7. Heaven Hill 6-Year-Old (Green Label)

Heaven Hill Green Label Old Style Bourbon

Average Price: $12.99 MSRP for 750ml

Alcohol Content: 45%

Why We Like It:

Heaven Hill green label is a six-year-aged bourbon that’s one of the best bottom-shelf bourbons. This bourbon is only available and sold in Kentucky liquor stores. [1

Many bourbon drinkers, specifically in Kentucky, are hoarding Heaven Hill.

Some rumors popped that it might be discontinued, just like its 6-Year bottled-in-bond white label.

But last 2019, Heaven Hill released its bottled-in-bond 7-Year bourbon in place of its white label.

6. Fighting Cock Kentucky Straight Bourbon

close up shot of a man holding a bottle of Fighting Cock Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Average Price:  Around $15 for 70ml (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 51.5%

Why We Like It:

Fighting Cock bourbon has been labeled Heaven Hill’s “kickin’ chicken.” It has an age statement of six years and could be described as a fiery bourbon with a kick. 

This bourbon is good for shots, straight, or as a mixer. The flavors aren’t too complex, but it offers an easy drinking experience at a low price. 

5. Old Crow Bourbon Whiskey

bottle of Old Crow Bourbon on a table

Average Price: Around $11 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 43%

Why We Like It:

Old Crow is named after Dr. James C. Crow, the inventor of the sour mash process.

It’s one of the expression brands of Beam Suntory, a famous company that owns Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark

Old Crow is crafted with excellent distillation techniques.

It is known for its rich oak and bold profile but has a sippable side that consists of subtle rich sweet corn, toasted oak, and buttery caramel.

4. Early Times Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon

Early Times Bottle in Bond with glass on a table

Average Price: Around $11 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 50%

Why We Like It:

Early Times is a bottled-in-bond bourbon at 100-proof but has a straightforward approach.

Some tasters classify it as a super-basic bourbon, and some cite it as an easy drink.

Early Time has a balanced sweet, smooth profile with slightly sour notes. This bourbon might be a mellow sipper, but it is also a good entry for beginners.

3. Wild Turkey 101

Close up shot of Wild Turkey 101 bottle label

Average Price: Around $25 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 50.5%

Why We Like It:

101-proof is a bolder and higher-proof version of Wild Turkey 81. It is much spicier and more robust than most entry-level bourbons.

But its versatility will never disappoint a newbie for its sippable features.

This 101-proof variant is one of the classic high-proof bourbons most bourbon lovers recommend.

It’s a legendary straight rye bourbon that’s a steal at its price. 

2. Ezra Brooks Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Ezra Brooks Kentucky Straight Bourbon Bottle on a table

Average Price: Around $19 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 45%

Why We Like It:

Ezra Brooks is a sour mash whiskey similar to Jack Daniel’s. It is charcoal filtered and bottled at 90-proof, slightly higher than other bourbons in the market. 

Ezra Brooks bourbon is made of corn, rye, and barley in its mash bill that’s also matured in charred American oak barrels.

This straightforward classic bourbon has rich caramel and baking spices notes. Its bold profile is a bargain for its versatile quality.

1. Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon

Old Grand-Dad Bonded 100 Proof Bourbon Whiskey and a jar

Average Price: Around $11 for 750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 50%

Why We Like It:

Old Grand-Dad Bonded bourbon is good quality with great value.

It is a bonded whiskey aged for at least four years in the same distillery and season and bottled at 100-proof. [2]

Old Grand-Dad is a real person, a distiller named Basil Hayden.

Its bonded bourbon is made with the same mash bill used in Basil Hayden’s bourbon.

Old Grand-Dad’s high-proof and rye spice flavor is a good balance profile, making it a solid sipping bourbon. Throughout the years, it has maintained its affordable price.

FAQs

What is considered bottom-shelf bourbon?

Bottom-shelf bourbon is found at the bottom of the shelf at a bar. It is mainly labeled as bottom-shelf because of its price.

But those bourbons are also relatively popular, so bourbons placed at the bottom shelf could be accessed at any time.

Are bottom-shelf bourbons always cheap?

Yes, bottom-shelf bourbons are always cheap and come at an affordable price. But that does not mean it has a lower price; it might taste bad.

Some best bottom-shelf bourbons do taste better, really, than mid-to-top-shelf brands. 

Why are bottom-shelf bourbons worth trying?

Bottom-shelf bourbons are worth trying because most of them are of great value and a steal for their price.

There are bottom-shelf bourbons that are palatable and excellent for everyday sipping.

Final Thoughts

After our team’s blind taste test, these low-priced bourbons have noticeable, pleasant notes and aren’t low in quality.

Even though it’s cheap, some have a nice spicy kick and bold, high-proof profile, and some are sweet and enjoyable to drink. 

Not everyone likes to pay much for a single commodity, so these bottom-shelf bourbon gems are worth trying.

It doesn’t ask for a high price and offers a lot of versatility and complexity in taste. 

References:

  1. https://www.gearpatrol.com/food/drinks/a33415219/heaven-hill-6-year-green-label-bourbon-whiskey/ 
  2. https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/27/5.88 

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