A lot of time is spent these days in talking about the unicorn bottles that many folks will never see in the wild while on the hunt for the next exciting score at liquor store x, y, or z. Some of those unicorns however as you get closer and can see what you have, turn out to simply be a donkey with a cardboard horn affixed to their head. Not all bottles are created equal and there are some highly coveted bottles that just aren't that great of drinkers. There are however a number of really great bottles that you can pick up nearly any day of the week and are quite enjoyable (if you live in a dry county, this post isn't for you...and that sucks, you should move). The really great news is that you don't even have to spend that much to land a really enjoyable bourbon! So instead of buying that EH Taylor Seasoned Wood which by all accounts was a flop and will set you back about $2,600 on the secondary market, you can redeploy those funds and enjoy between 50-110 of the bottles listed below....that's the kind of math that I think anyone can get behind!
On the Shelf: $23.99
At the very tip top of our list for reasonably priced and highly drinkable whiskeys is Buffalo Trace. It's the flagship bourbon of Buffalo Trace Distillery and is my go-to bourbon for making a really great Old Fashioned. Check out our post on Making THE Best Old Fashioned and get insights on our homemade Orange Bitters to really up your game. At just a smidge over twenty dollars it's one of the cheapest and best pours that you'll have, period.
On the Shelf: $24.00
It shouldn't probably come as a surprise if you keep up with Bourboneur that Weller Special Reserve made the list. Our recent deep dive into Weller Bourbon probably showed some bias towards this brownwater institution. Although it's not widely available everywhere, where it is available it's cheap and fantastic. If Weller Special Reserve isn't a part of your life, you need to get to know it...and for the price, it's a cheap friend to have around!
On the Shelf: $48.49
Many folks who enjoy bourbon have a "go-to" bottle that tends to be home base. I enjoy drinking all sorts of bourbon...spicy, earthy, fruity, sweet, but I always come back to one bottle, Woodford Double Oaked. It's a smooth pour that has a lot of the things that are quintessential to the American bourbon experience...oak, obviously...vanilla, ribbons of caramel and a touch of spice. It's more sweet than anything but it's a good one, if you haven't met it yet, get acquainted...you'll be saying "did we just become best friends?"
On the Shelf: $35.99
Four Roses puts out some great stuff, and their small batch offering falls right in line with what you can expect out of their other bottles...a great pour. Overall, it's one of those interesting bourbons that most anyone can find something to like about, and undoubtedly some of you will go a bit further and evolve from like to love. It happens, and for those of you who do fall in love, I hope you continue to find Four Roses on the shelf for as long as you both shall live.
On the Shelf: $41.99
With a silky and sweet fruit-forward flavor profile this whiskey has something unique to offer, even if it's not readily noticeable from the bottling...which I will admit doesn't scream "buy me!" There aren't a lot of whiskey's though that are marketed as "sour mash whiskey's" on the shelf; admittedly, there probably are a number that use the sour mash process, they just don't make that a central part of their branding. An enjoyable sipper, at the bottom of a short list, I'd recommend grabbing a bottle if you happen to see it sitting on the shelf next time you're out and about.
There's a lot of options in today's burgeoning bourbon market and these are just a few good options from the vantage of one person...who happens to be a Certified Bourbon Professional...but still. Make sure to open these with friends and share in the experience, a lot of great times and good conversation await in every bottle, towards the bottom of the bottle that conversation may be a bit muffled and slurry, but it's still good, albeit less and less memorable by the pour. Speaking of sharing, share your thoughts in the comments, or join the conversation and become part of the Bourboneur community on Instagram, Facebook, and yes, even TikTok.