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15 Best Bourbon Brands Under $20: Reviewed (2022 Updated)

Last Updated on August 10, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Bourbon, made predominantly from grains and water, is a mid-level liquor with a price range of around $50 per bottle.

However, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to spend that much money on good quality bottles — in fact, all of those we’ll list below won’t cost you more than twenty bucks. 

Spending less on the bourbon means you can spend more on food that’ll pair well with your liquor. Here’s our exclusive list of the best bourbons under $20. 

Top 15 Must-Try Bourbons Under $20

15. J.W. Dant Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon

J.W. Dant Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon

Average Price: Around $11 

Distillery: Heaven Hill 

Alcohol Proof: 100 

Why We Liked It: Heaven Hill’s J.W. Dant has a hefty 100 proof for its price range, which is already a great steal.

It has a distinct nuttiness and is quite buttery, perfect for beginners and enthusiasts looking for a palate-friendly dram. 

14. Evan Williams Black Label

Evan Williams Black Label

Average Price: Around $14 

Distillery: Heaven Hill 

Alcohol Proof: 90.6

Why We Liked It: The Evan Williams Black Label is one of the most popular labels in the liquor store.

This is a reliable bottle, so if you’re unsure which to go for, this is a great starting point. Its low price tag also ensures that you don’t spend much money in case you don’t like it.  

It’s nothing special when drunk neat, but it truly shines when paired with a simple mixer like coke [1]. 

13. Ancient Age 90

Ancient Age 90

Average Price: Around $12 

Distillery: Buffalo Trace 

Alcohol Proof: 90

Why We Liked It: Ancient Age Bourbon, distilled in the Buffalo Trace Distillery, used to be ancient, that is, until it replaced its ten-year age statement with a “10 Star” label. 

Now, it’s only aged for three years, and its youth is pretty apparent in the mouthfeel. It’s a very cinnamon-ny spirit with spicy and woodsy notes, so if that’s more your speed, you’ll definitely like this. 

12. Old Crow Bourbon 

Old Crow Bourbon 

Average Price: Around $11 

Distillery: Jim Beam 

Alcohol Proof: 86 

Why We Liked It: Old Crow uses the same mash bill as Jim Beam and is produced at the Jim Beam Distillery.

It ages inside charred oak barrels for only three years and is a more watered-down version of JB if that were possible. 

Still, it’s a good bourbon for its price range, and we imagine this will be okay for practicing cocktail making. 

11. J.T.S. Brown Kentucky Bourbon

J.T.S. Brown Kentucky Bourbon

Average Price: Around $10 

Distillery: Heaven Hill 

Alcohol Proof: 100 

Why We Liked It: The J.T.S. Brown Kentucky Bourbon surprised us because, for its price point, it’s a Bottled-In-Bond, has 50 percent ABV, and is quite gorgeous to boot. 

This dram is really good on the rocks — you’ll be able to get plenty of corn, cream soda, and floral honey sweetness. It is further balanced out with plenty of rye spice, which lingers to a gorgeous, warm finish. 

10. Ezra Brooks Bourbon Whiskey

Ezra Brooks Bourbon Whiskey

Average Price: Around $14 

Distillery: Lux Row 

Alcohol Proof: 90 

Why We Liked It: Ezra Brooks is one of those entry labels people tend to fall back on.

It has the typical rye-infused bourbon with a spicy-sweet taste that will work extremely well in a Whiskey Sour or Highball if you’re refining your bartending skills. 

9. Old Grand Dad

Old Grand Dad

Average Price: Around $19 

Distillery: Jim Beam 

Alcohol Proof: 80 

Why We Liked It: Old Grand Dad uses the same high-rye mash bill as Basil Hayden. We find that this is great for a Boilermaker if you want to have fun with friends. [2]

Old Grand Dad has all the boldness of spicy rye yet remains relatively tame for more conservative drinkers. 

8. Heaven Hill White Label

Heaven Hill White Label

Average Price: Around $11 

Distillery: Heaven Hill 

Alcohol Proof: 80 

Why We Liked It: The Heaven Hill White Label is far better than their flagship green label at about the same retail price. 

Its palate reminds us of toffee, dark cocoa, and almonds. It tastes like an expensive bourbon, and with the barrels aged for at least six years, it makes us feel like we should be paying more. 

Read: Top Bourbon Brands For the Money

7. Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon

Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon

Average Price: Around $11 

Distillery: Buffalo Trace 

Alcohol Proof: 80 

Why We Liked It: Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon, made with Buffalo Trace’s Mash Bill #1, is a bit young for our liking yet surprisingly complex. 

Tasting notes include cherries and corn, culminating in a hot and satisfying finish. This is an inexpensive whiskey that surprisingly tastes really good when drunk neat. 

6. Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch

Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch

Average Price: Around $19 

Distillery: Heaven Hill 

Alcohol Proof: 90 

Why We Liked It: This small batch bourbon is matured in 200 barrels and blended to produce a specific flavor profile. 

Like other Evan Williams bottles, this is rich and well-rounded, with some nice brown sugar, vanilla, caramel, and buttery notes.

The juice has a substantial weight, which is quite rare for cheap whiskey. 

5. Very Old Barton Bourbon

Very Old Barton Bourbon

Average Price: Around $19 

Distillery: Barton Distillery

Alcohol Proof: 100 

Why We Liked It: The Very Old Barton Bourbon is another sublime Bottled-In-Bond that deserves a shoutout. This dram has gorgeous burnt sugar and green grass notes. 

We imagine this being served in parties, with your guests, none the wiser that you’d just served them a $15-something whiskey. 

4. Fighting Cock Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Fighting Cock Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Average Price: Around $19 

Distillery: Heaven Hill 

Alcohol Proof: 103 

Why We Liked It: The abhorrent bottle design of Fighting Cock Kentucky Straight Bourbon might turn you off, but take a second to hear us out.

If you like spicy cinnamon whiskeys, this is the one. It also has a nice caramel taste to balance out all that heat. 

The best part about it is that it goes down smoothly and neatly, considering its 103 proof.  

3. Wild Turkey 101

Wild Turkey 101

Average Price: Around $20 

Distillery: Wild Turkey 

Alcohol Proof: 101 

Why We Liked It: Wild Turkey 101 is probably the most popular label from the brand. The spirit uses a high-rye mash bill, contributing to a distinct spiciness. 

It has a well-balanced sweet and spicy profile, with rich buttery toffee notes and a hint of citrus. Its finish is bold and long with a pleasant spicy heat. 

We are confident that this is a great everyday bourbon that can stand up to other bourbons that are twice (or even thrice) its price point. 

2. Heaven Hill Black Label Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Whiskey

Heaven Hill Black Label Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Average Price: Around $13

Distillery: Heaven Hill 

Alcohol Proof: 80 

Why We Liked It: The Heaven Hill Black Label Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a great option for its price range. 

This whiskey is aged for three years and bottled at a standard 80 proof. It is subtle and delicate, with a cinnamon candy taste. 

1. Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond

Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond

Average Price: Around $19 

Distillery: Heaven Hill 

Alcohol Proof: 100 

Why We Liked It: The best budget bourbon goes to Evan Williams Bottled-In-Bond. At this point, we don’t know how Heaven Hill brands have a price range that almost feels like highway robbery. 

This is a great everyday bourbon that stays fresh and interesting. The spirit has a definite weight, with flavor notes like black pepper, salted caramel, and rich vanilla. 

Doing the Kentucky chew brings forth the more elusive flavors of sweet cornmeal, spicy tobacco, and a hint of cherry. 

FAQs

Are bourbons under $20 great for sipping?

No, not all bourbons under $20 are great for sipping. Some brands are more expensive because they’ve spent a great deal of time maturing inside oak barrels.

Bourbons that have not extensively aged tend to be sharper in flavor, which can be off-putting. 

What bourbon under $20 is best for cocktails? 

We find lighter, spicier bourbons like Wild Turkey 101 best for cocktails. Spicier bourbons add an interesting contrast of flavors if you combine them with traditionally sweet mixers. 

Final Thoughts 

And there you go — our all-inclusive list of the best bourbons with a $20 (or less) price tag.  

You might hear people say not to get the “cheap, garbage stuff” when it comes to whiskey, but you’d be surprised at how some brands can prove you wrong.

Those we’ve listed on top provide such a great bang for your buck that you won’t believe you spent only $20. 

Wild Turkey, Old Barton, and Old Grand Dad are excellent options, but the best budget bourbon under $20 is the Evan Williams Bottled-In-Bond, whose depth and complexity feel like we should be paying more for it. 

Did we include your favorite budget bourbon on the list? Let us know your thoughts by sounding off below. 

References: 

  1. https://www.liquor.com/whiskey-coke-cocktail-recipe-5115802 
  2. https://www.esquire.com/food-drink/drinks/recipes/a3853/boilermaker-drink-recipe/ 

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