12 Best Whiskeys for Under $50

Some of the best whiskeys on the market won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Updated April 11, 2024
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Whiskey's popularity is undeniable, with the global market expected to reach a staggering $127 billion by 2028.

While preferences vary, navigating the vast and sometimes expensive world of whiskey can be intimidating.

Here are 12 excellent whiskey options for under $50 to help you find your perfect pour and keep more cash in your wallet.

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Angel’s Envy

Courtesy of Total Wine total wine-angel’s envy

Angel’s Envy is an award-winning, Kentucky-based distillery. It’s comparatively new to the scene, started in 2016, but it’s making its mark with its whiskeys.

It comes in a few varieties, with the 114.4 proof cask-strength rye clocking in with a price tag of over $200, but you can find the equally delicious version for under $50.

Ardbeg Wee Beastie

Courtesy of Total Wine total wine-ardbeg wee beastie

The Ardbeg Wee Beastie scotch whiskey comes to us from, perhaps predictably, Scotland.

The distiller calls it “a feisty young creature with a formidable taste.” It’s a smoky scotch that hits the nose with some pepper and then evokes flavors of chocolate, tar, and savory meats.

Get ready for the “blast” of eucalyptus before that meat flavor settles in. It’s bottled at 95 proof — 47.4% ABV.

Blue Note Juke Joint

Courtesy of Total Wine total wine-blue note juke joint

Memphis, Tennessee-based Blue Note is on the younger side of the whiskey landscape — they started in 2014 but are already award-winners.

It’s aged at least three years, carries flavors of vanilla, allspice, apricot, and pear, boasts a proof of 93%, and won’t set you back much with a price tag of around $30.

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FEW American Straight Whiskey

Courtesy of Total Wine total wine-few american straight whiskey

FEW is a Chicago-based distillery that cranks out a variety of bourbons and whiskies. Their award-winning American Straight Whiskey is a blended whiskey.

For taste, it starts with a graham cracker and honey introduction, then some savory rye spice and hints of tart cherry, before ending with some smoke and some pepper and honey.

Four Roses Single Barrel

Courtesy of Total Wine total wine-four roses single barrel

Four Roses traces its history back to 1888 in Kentucky. These days, it produces a series of bourbons and several awards.

The distillery’s high rye mash bill has a spicy character to the whiskey. It boasts a unique blend of robust richness on the palate and a remarkably smooth finish.

Green River

Courtesy of Total Wine total wine-green river

Green River has a legacy in Kentucky dating back to 1885. Perhaps more impressive, it claims to have been made the “official whiskey of the U.S. Marine Hospital” in 1913.

These days, Green River offers a classic bourbon, a wheat bourbon, and a rye whiskey for $35 to $40. The single-barrel full-proof is a bit pricer, though.

Maker’s Mark 46

Courtesy of Total Wine total wine-maker’s mark 46

Maker’s Mark, based in Kentucky, has been around for more than 70 years, and it’s a well-known name for bourbon.

Maker’s Mark 46 kicks it up a notch in a few different ways. It’s aged longer. It also has a different flavor profile from the other Maker’s options. Finally, it’s 94-proof, so it packs more of a wallop.

Old Forester 100 Proof

Courtesy of Total Wine total wine-old forester 100 proof

Old Forester, as the company slogan goes, doesn’t get old.

Established in 1870, this distillery continues to delight whiskey drinkers. The award-winning 100-proof option is a tribute to founder George Garvin Brown.

Each bottle has his signature. It’s hand-selected from premium barrels and offers a rich, complex profile with spicy notes, maintaining its full flavor.

Old Grand-Dad 114

Courtesy of Total Wine total wine-Old Grand-Dad 114

Old Grand-Dad dates back to 1882, Basil Hayden Sr. (the titular “Old Grand-Dad”), and his vision for a bourbon with more rye. These days, it falls under the Jim Beam family of whiskeys.

Old Grand-Dad 114 boasts barrel-strength and spicy notes from its high rye content. As the name suggests, it’s 114 proof, so this is one powerful whiskey.

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Pikesville Rye

Courtesy of Total Wine total wine-pikesville rye

This award-winning whiskey started in an area that one might not expect: Maryland, where it was first made in the 1890s.

It’s now distilled in Kentucky and carries notes of cocoa and smoky oak. The taste is described as dry and a bit spicy with rye and cloves. It packs a punch, too, at 110 proof.

Russell's Reserve 10 Year Bourbon

Courtesy of Total Wine total wine russell's reserve  bourbon

Russell’s Reserve has claimed multiple awards for this spirit, one crafted by Jimmy and Eddie Russell themselves.

It’s aged for 10 years in alligator char barrels. It has notes of orange, citrus, and oak, has a taste that brings forward caramel and vanilla and ends smoothly. It’s bottled at 90 proof.

Woodford Reserve

Courtesy of Total Wine amazon-woodford reserve

Woodford Reserve can trace its history back to the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery in Kentucky, which has been cranking out high-quality alcohol since 1812. That’s a heck of a pedigree.

It consistently delivers exceptional quality, and its handcrafted small-batch production doesn’t break the bank. It can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or in any cocktail.

Bottom line

poylock19/Adobe two-men-clinking-whiskey-glasses

From seasoned enthusiasts to curious newcomers, the world of whiskey offers something for everyone.

So, grab your best cash back credit card, raise a glass to this timeless spirit, and discover your own perfect dram.

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Author Details

Will Vitka Will Vitka is a D.C. area reporter and writer. He previously worked for WTOP, The New York Post, Stuff Magazine, and CBS News.

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