Budget-Friendly Bourbons

Budget-Friendly Bourbons: Top Picks Under $20

Bourbon has been popular for centuries, originating in Kentucky in the late 18th century. It’s a type of whiskey that’s made from a mixture of grains, most commonly corn, and aged in charred oak barrels. As a result, bourbon has a distinct smoky flavor and rich amber color that sets it apart from other spirits.

What makes bourbon so special is not just its taste or aroma, but the cultural significance it holds. It’s an American classic that has been enjoyed by presidents and commoners alike for generations.

The drink even has its own holiday – National Bourbon Day is celebrated on June 14th each year! But as much as we love bourbon, there is one downside: it can be expensive.

Many bourbons are priced well over $50 per bottle, making it difficult for those on a budget to enjoy this beloved spirit. That’s where this article comes in – to provide budget-friendly options for bourbon lovers who want to indulge without breaking the bank.

Why We Need Budget-Friendly Bourbons

Let’s face it – not everyone can afford to splurge on high-end bourbons all the time. And even if you can afford it, why would you?

There are plenty of affordable bourbons out there that taste just as good (if not better) than their pricier counterparts. Plus, part of the joy of bourbon is experimenting with different brands and flavors.

By limiting yourself to only expensive options, you’re missing out on a whole world of delicious possibilities. That’s why we need budget-friendly bourbons – because everyone deserves to enjoy this iconic American drink without breaking the bank.

The Purpose of This Article

The purpose of this article is simple: to provide a list of budget-friendly bourbons that you can enjoy without sacrificing taste or quality. We’ve scoured the shelves and tasted countless bottles to bring you our top picks for bourbons under $20.

But this article is more than just a list. We’ll also provide tasting notes, cocktail pairings, and tips on how to properly enjoy your budget-friendly bourbon.

Our goal is not just to help you save money, but to enhance your bourbon-drinking experience as well. So grab a glass and let’s dive into the wonderful world of budget-friendly bourbons!

What is Bourbon?

Bourbon is much more than just a whiskey. It’s an American tradition that has been handed down for generations. A true bourbon must be made in the United States, and the mash bill must contain at least 51% corn.

The remaining grains used in its production include malted barley and either rye or wheat. But bourbon is not simply a matter of ingredients.

It’s also about processes, methods, and standards that are strictly adhered to by distillers across the country. These standards ensure that each bottle of bourbon meets certain qualities that define what it means to be a true bourbon.

Definition and history of bourbon

The term “bourbon” originated in Kentucky in the late 18th century, where distillers began producing whiskey from the corn they grew locally. The name “bourbon” came from Bourbon County, Kentucky – an area that was known for its high-quality whiskey.

Over time, distillers became more skilled at their craft, and the popularity of bourbon grew beyond Kentucky’s borders. Today, bourbon is produced in several states across America using traditional methods passed down over generations.

The legal definition of bourbon was established by Congress in 1964 as a distilled spirit made from at least 51% corn and aged in charred oak barrels for a minimum of two years. This definition ensures consistency across all brands of bourbon while also protecting it as an American product with specific requirements.

Explanation of the different types of bourbons

There are several different types of bourbons available on the market today – each with its own unique flavor profile: – Straight Bourbon: Aged for at least two years but often longer and bottled at no less than 80 proof.

– High-Rye Bourbon: Contains more rye than usual (at least 20%) which gives it a spicier flavor profile. – Wheated Bourbon: Uses wheat instead of rye in the mash bill which can lead to a softer, sweeter taste.

– Single Barrel Bourbon: Bottled from a specific barrel, giving each bottle its own unique character. – Small Batch Bourbon: Blended from a small number of barrels, usually around 4 to 15.

In my opinion, each type of bourbon offers something special for the whiskey connoisseur. Whether you prefer the spicy kick of high-rye bourbon or the smooth sweetness of wheated bourbon, there is a bourbon out there that will satisfy your taste buds.

The Budget-Friendly Bourbons: Top Picks Under $20

The Classic Choice: Evan Williams Black Label

If you’re looking for a classic bourbon that won’t break the bank, Evan Williams Black Label is the way to go. With a smooth and rich flavor profile, this bourbon has all the characteristics you want in a top-shelf option at an affordable price. The nose starts with sweet vanilla and caramel, followed by notes of oak and just a hint of cinnamon.

On the palate, the flavors are well-balanced with a slightly spicy finish. When it comes to cocktail pairings, Evan Williams Black Label is versatile enough to work in many different recipes.

However, it really shines in an Old Fashioned or Manhattan. The sweetness of the sugar or vermouth helps to bring out the vanilla and caramel notes in the bourbon, while the bitters add a nice kick that complements its spiciness.

The Hidden Gem: Old Grand-Dad Bonded

Old Grand-Dad Bonded might not be as well-known as some other bourbons on this list, but don’t let that fool you. This hidden gem packs a punch with its bold flavor profile and high proof (100 proof).

On the nose, you’ll get strong aromas of corn and rye along with hints of oak and vanilla. As for taste, it’s spicy upfront followed by flavors of dark fruit and caramel.

When it comes to cocktail pairings, Old Grand-Dad Bonded works great in an Old Fashioned or Whiskey Sour. Its high proof means it can stand up well against other strong ingredients like bitters or citrus juice.

The Smooth Operator: Very Old Barton Bottled-in-Bond

If you’re looking for a smooth Bourbon that goes down easy without sacrificing flavor or character than Very Old Barton Bottled-in-Bond is a great choice. Its nose has aromas of vanilla, caramel, and oak with a hint of spice. The taste is smooth and mellow with flavors of brown sugar, vanilla, and oak.

When it comes to cocktail pairings, Very Old Barton Bottled-in-Bond is best enjoyed neat or on the rocks. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, try using it in an Old Fashioned or Boulevardier for a bold yet balanced drink.

The Bold Flavor: Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey may have a rebellious name but it’s taste profile isn’t rebellious at all. You’ll get aromas of vanilla and oak along with hints of cinnamon and cloves on the nose.

The taste will give you flavors of sweet corn followed by caramelized sugar with just enough spice to keep things interesting. As far as cocktail pairings go, Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey shines in an Old Fashioned or Mint Julep where its sweet notes can be amplified by sugar while mint works to complement the spices.

How to Enjoy Your Budget-Friendly Bourbon

Glassware choices and why they matter

Let’s be real, when it comes to drinking bourbon, a solo cup just won’t cut it. The right glassware can make all the difference in enhancing your bourbon-drinking experience.

The ideal glass should have a wide mouth to allow you to take in the aroma of the bourbon, and a tapered base that concentrates the flavors on your palate. A Glencairn glass or a rocks glass are both excellent options.

But honestly, if you don’t feel like dropping big bucks on fancy glasses, any vessel that is comfortable enough for you to hold and enjoy your beverage out of will do just fine. Just please don’t use one of those plastic cups shaped like a boot – we’re better than that.

Ice or no ice?

The debate on how to properly enjoy your bourbonThis is where things get controversial in the world of bourbon drinking – whether or not to add ice. Some purists argue that adding ice “waters down” the flavor and alters the intended taste of the spirit. However, personally I think it’s all about personal preference. If you like your drink chilled with some melting ice cubes, then go ahead and add them! That being said, there is definitely an art to using ice properly in your drink without completely ruining its taste profile. Instead of dumping in handfuls of ice cubes that will rapidly melt away leaving you with diluted whiskey water, try adding one large cube or even freezing some water into fun shapes like spheres or skulls for added flair (and slower melting).

Cocktail recipes using budget-friendly bourbons

While there’s nothing quite as satisfying as sipping straight whiskey after a long day at work, sometimes it’s nice to mix things up (literally). Here are a few cocktail recipes that utilize budget-friendly bourbons and won’t break the bank:

– Bourbon Sour: In a cocktail shaker, combine 2 oz of bourbon, 1 oz of fresh squeezed lemon juice, and 1/2 oz of simple syrup. Fill with ice and shake until well chilled.

Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with a cherry. – Kentucky Mule: In a copper mug filled with ice, add 2 oz of bourbon, 1/2 oz fresh lime juice, and top off with ginger beer.

Stir gently to combine and garnish with a lime wedge.

– Boulevardier: In a mixing glass filled with ice, combine 1 1/2 oz of bourbon, 3/4 oz of sweet vermouth, and 3/4 oz of Campari.

Stir well until chilled then strain into an old-fashioned glass over one large cube of ice. So go ahead – experiment and find your favorite way to enjoy your budget-friendly bourbons!


After trying out the budget-friendly bourbons on this list, I can confidently say that you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy a quality glass of bourbon. These top picks under $20 provide unique flavor profiles and are perfect for cocktail mixing or sipping neat. In first place, the Evan Williams Black Label is a classic choice that delivers on taste and affordability.

With notes of caramel and vanilla, it’s perfect for an Old Fashioned or Manhattan. The Old Grand-Dad Bonded is a hidden gem with a spicy kick that works well in a Whiskey Sour or Boulevardier.

Very Old Barton Bottled-in-Bond sets itself apart with its smoothness and oakiness – ideal for a Mint Julep or Rusty Nail. Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey packs a bold punch with its sweetness and spice – excellent for sipping over ice or in an Old Pal.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different glassware, ice levels (if any), and cocktail recipes to find your preferred way of enjoying these budget-friendly bourbons. And just because they’re affordable doesn’t mean they’re inferior – each of these bourbons offers something unique in terms of taste and complexity.

So go ahead, grab one (or all) of these top picks under $20, pull up a chair, and sip away without worrying about breaking the bank. Cheers!

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