An Exploration of Affordable Luxury: The Best Bourbons Under $100
When it comes to premium spirits, the bourbon world has something to offer to every whiskey enthusiast, from the seasoned sippers to the new initiates. But does high quality always have to come with an equally high price tag? Absolutely not. There’s a treasure trove of bourbons in the market that are as wallet-friendly as they are tasty. Let’s embark on a journey to discover the best bourbons under $100 that don’t cut corners on taste or character.
What separates Bourbon from the Rest?
Before we get into the recommendations, let’s shine a light on what sets bourbon apart from other whiskies. Unlike most other whiskies, bourbon must meet certain legal requisites. It must be produced within the United States from a grain mixture that’s at least 51% corn, aged in new, charred oak containers, and bottled at no less than 40% alcohol by volume. These guidelines not only protect the integrity and tradition of bourbon-making, but they also result in a spirit with unmatched depth and complexity.
Top Picks: Best Bourbons Under $100
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof
Boasting a hefty, full-bodied profile that can stand up to even the most discriminating bourbon aficionado, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof uniquely represents what a barrel-strength bourbon should be. Despite its high proof, this bourbon manages to maintain a balanced flavor profile, rich with dark chocolate, caramel, and oak, subtly underscored by hints of spice and smoke. A bottle of this beauty usually runs under $70.
Maker’s Mark Cask Strength
When you think bourbon, you think Maker’s Mark. And they pulled out all stops with their cask strength variant. Each bottle is less than $60 and offers a full-flavored, nuanced bourbon experience. Its trademark flavor profile boasts notes of burnt sugar, dried fruit, and vanilla, enhanced by a good kick of spice from the cask strength ABV.
Four Roses Single Barrel
For those who want an introduction to bourbon without a hefty price tag, Four Roses Single Barrel, typically costing less than $50, is the ideal choice. Despite being light on the wallet, it doesn’t compromise at all when it comes to flavor. Smooth notes of dried fruit and spice harmonize with hints of cocoa and toasted oak to create an incredibly versatile and enjoyable bourbon.
J. Henry and Sons Wisconsin Straight Bourbon
A bourbon from Wisconsin? Absolutely! J. Henry and Sons produce their bourbons entirely within Wisconsin from locally grown ingredients. This bourbon is a rich, balanced experience with distinct layers of butterscotch, vanilla, and pepper. Definitely worth a place in your homebar lineup and under $60 a bottle.
Belle Meade Cask Strength Reserve
If you’ve got room to splurge while sticking to our under $100 guide, include Belle Meade Cask Strength Reserve. This bourbon features robust flavors of caramel, winter spice and dark cherry, rounded off by a punchy, yet smooth finish. Elegant and rich, this bourbon usually sells for around $80 a bottle.
Choosing a Bourbon that’s Right for You
When selecting a bourbon, keep in mind that it is not just the price that matters. Each bourbon brings a different set of flavors and nuances to the table. Whether you’re into bold, spicy expressions or prefer a more subtle, smooth profile, there’s a bourbon out there for you. Take your time and open yourself up to trying something new.
Remember, the best bourbon is not necessarily the rarest, the oldest, or even the most expensive. It’s the one that suits your taste and brings you the most joy. Cheers to finding your new favorite bourbon!