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These Are the Best Bourbons Under $50

GQ logo GQ 3/9/2018 Paula Forbes
© Illustration by Ward Sutton

Looking to upgrade your bourbon stash without dropping a few hundred dollars on Pappy Van Winkle? Yeah, us too. The good news is that there’s a ton of great bourbon available at a relatively low price point, from old school deep cuts to newer distilleries (even outside of Kentucky!).

For recommendations, we asked bartenders across the country to recommend their favorite bottle under $50—and many are way, way under. Cheers to your liquor cabinet and your wallet. Now you can go make an Old Fashioned that would make even Pappy proud.

Elijah Craig Small Batch

This 94 proof beauty from Bardstown, Kentucky is a classic. “In most cases it’s been aged for around 10 years,” says Ayron Vandergriff of The Wheel in Austin. “It’s hard to find anything aged that long for under $50. Mix in the 90 proof and you got a winner in my book.”

> $30, buy at Astor Wines

Willet Pot Still Reserve

“Willet makes my favorites,” says Jeff Banks of C. Ellet’s in Atlanta. Also from Bardstown, the distillery makes a number of reasonably priced bourbons. Try the Willett Pot Still Reserve, which makes up for being at the top of our $50 budget range by coming in a really slick looking bottle.

> $40, buy now at Astor Wines

Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon

This rec comes from Shaun Stewart of The Elk Room in Baltimore. This is a 90 proof number from the folks behind Wild Turkey, and its production is overseen by Master Distiller Jimmy Russell. It’d be a trick to find a smoother sipping whiskey for this price.

> $35, buy now at Blackwell's

Ben Milam Single Barrel

“I’m not sure if it’s available outside the state of Texas,” says Dustin Courtright of The Living Room Bar in Austin, “but it is truly outstanding. I highly recommend picking up a bottle if you’re ever down in my neck of the woods.” Ben Milam, made in Blanco, Texas, also produces a rye.

> $39, buy now at Total Wine

Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon

And, finally: Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon, recommended by Ekotoras Binikos of Gabriel Kreuther in New York City. Made in Franklin County, Kentucky, this is a crowd pleasing bourbon that’s aged at least 8 years and clocks in at 90 proof. It's also incredibly easy to find.

> $35, buy now at Astor Wines

Related video: The Perfect Party Cocktail

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