The 10 Best Whiskies Under $50 That Don’t Start With Jack, Jim, Johnnie, or Jameson

The 10 Best Whiskies Under $50 That Don't Start With Jack, Jim, Johnnie, or Jameson

Many men have a tendency to stick with what’s often stocked and served most commonly at local watering holes and social events, but there’s just so much out there that’s not only affordable but delicious too.

We love great whiskey. The good news? There’s a lot of great whiskey. The bad news? We’re usually only trying one at a time. So if you’re just getting into this delicious libation how do you know which is the best whiskey?

Most guys get their start with the major whiskey (or whisky) players like Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Johnnie Walker, and Jameson. And they’re major for a reason: they have a long, storied history with great flavors and loyal fans.  (The distilleries and brands behind the J’s actually produce many of the bottles on this list as a part of their small batch or mid-tier offerings.)

But once you’re ready to try something beyond these, it can be an intimidating landscape of cool sounding names, beautiful designs, and strong opinions from those around you.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of the 10 best whiskies under $50. Any one of these 10 whiskies will be a positive stop on your whisky discovering journey. Order any of them for your boss or father-in-law, and you’ll be met with an impressed face of surprise for your knowledge of the good stuff.

The 10 Best Whiskies Under $50 That Don't Start With Jack, Jim, Jonnie, or Jameson

New to Whiskey? Check out our interactive visual map to whiskey and learn the differences between bourbon, rye, scotch, wheated, Canadian, and Irish whisky.

best whiskeys under 50 redbreast

Redbreast 12-Year Old Irish Whiskey $47

96 points, Whisky Advocate

Don’t let the rather unassuming robin on the label or the single pot origin fool you. This is no whiskey for a simpleton. Midleton Distillery uses both malted and unmalted barley in a single pot and triple distills it then ages it in wonderful Oloroso Sherry casks. The result is smooth and complex at the same time. It’s grassy and smoky on the nose, while on the palate, hints of white grape juice, cinnamon, and honey combine for a long finish. It’s an Irish Whiskey at a more sophisticated level.

basil hayden best bourbon under 50

Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Bourbon, $37

93 points, Wine Enthusiast

Time with Basil Hayden’s is like an adventure that gets the adrenaline going and then settles you in for the night. It’s aged 8 years but seems to have more experience under its sleeve thanks to spice and sweetness rolled into one. Pepper and honey jumped out at us, and it was never overly-spicy but just enough to keep us coming back for more. The rich brown color and its ability to coat the glass enhance the experience, and the price is seriously enticing enough to keep our small home bar stocked with it year-round.

highland park 12 vikings honor best affordable scotch whisky

Highland Park 12-Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky $45

Gold, International Wine & Spirits Competitions 2017

Widely considered to be one of the best single malts for the money, Highland Park 12 is a brilliant combination of mild smoke and brine with the right amount of sweetness in the form of honey and fruit. The result is a whisky whose drinkability and intrigue rest at the top of the heap. Highland Park can brag as one of only two Orkney Isle distilleries in existence, and its briny peat is used in careful amounts so as not to dominate the drinking experience. For less than $50, you can experience one of the best single malts around.

best whiskey bourbon under 50

Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, $26

91 points, Wine Enthusiast

Close your eyes, take a sip, and then another. This is the part where we tell you the price, and then you go out and buy ten bottles. Four Roses Small Batch is that good, and could easily be your go-to Bourbon Whiskey if we had to choose one to settle with all the time because it’s so well-balanced and delicious. Caramel, vanilla, dried fruit, and the smallest hint of citrus soothe you sip after sip. Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon is so smooth, you’ll wonder why you don’t crack it open each and every night. And at this price, you can.

eagle rare whiskey

Eagle Rare 10 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, $26

Wine Enthusiast “Best Buy"

The bottle is tall and bold, and what’s housed within doesn’t shy away. Drink this one on a brisk evening, and you’ll forget all about the weather as soon as the notable spiciness and orange peel of this reddish-brown, dark honey colored whiskey dance on your tongue. For us, we prefer the purity of drinking it neat because it is a rich experience that makes no sense of the wallet-friendly price.

knob cree small batch rye whiskey

Knob Creek Straight Rye Whiskey, $30

3rd Place Best Rye Whiskey - 2015, International Whisky Competition

Introduced in 2012 by the distillers at Beam Global, Knob Creek Rye provides a spicy, full body when enjoyed neat, while providing a present, flavorful foundation when used in a cocktail thanks to its 100 proof. Along with the spice provided by the rye, vanilla and caramel notes end in a peppery finish.

sazerac rye whiskey best rye whiskies

Sazerac Rye, $30

93 points, Wine Enthusiast

Most know Sazerac as a cocktail, but this whiskey distilled by Buffalo Trace is worthy as a standalone spirit, even though it’s designed to be at the heart of a Sazerac beverage. Sazerac Rye bears strong honey and rye malt flavors with an undertone of vanilla, and the finish is both spicy and sweet. It’s hard to believe it’s only been aged for six years. Sazerac Rye is one of those whiskies that’s priced like a mixer but tastes like one that never requires ice or entry into a cocktail. A full minute after we’re done, it’s still on our tongue.

laphroaig whiskey the beatles record good whisky

Laphroaig 10 Year Old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky, $39

92 points, Whisky Advocate

Some say this peaty, smoky Islay is an acquired taste, but we say it’s one of the best whiskies on earth and one that belies its price point. Sure, its flavor can be polarizing but don’t ever call it a slouch. The peat fires that are used to dry the barley for the malt impart powerful punches to the nose and palate, but the kind that will awaken you and make you wonder about breaking up with the lightweights.

michters whiskey taylor guitar

Michter's US #1 Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey, $36

93 points, Wine Enthusiast

Michter’s rye doesn’t hold back despite the fact that nothing is known about the distillery or mashbill. The rich orangish-brown color coats the glass well, and the nose brings rye, spice, and caramel, followed by a sweet and spicy flavoring that finishes long and peppery but not overwhelming. Here’s another rye whiskey that stands on its own neat or with just the smallest hint of ice.

russels reserve budget whiskey

Russell’s Reserve “Small Batch” 10 Year Bourbon $28

92 points, Wine Enthusiast

From the mind behind Wild Turkey comes something more complex and totally unexpected. The Russell's Reserve Small Batch Bourbon is the brainchild of Master Distiller Jimmy Russell and his son Eddie Russell. 10-years of aging imparts a serious maturity and the right amount of woodiness to the sweet and spicy flavors. Orange peel and caramel emerge, and then the finish is spicy and sweet, along with the tiniest bit of clove. This one will make you go back to more than a few sips just to see what you’ll come across as you re-journey.

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And, if you have a bottle you enjoy, keep the list going in the comments with the price and what you like about it.

Amos Kwon is the Editor-In-Chief for Web2Carz and has worked as the Automotive Section Editor for the popular men's digital lifestyle publication, Gear Patrol. He's covered topics such as cars, motorcycles, watches, cigars, spirits, travel, technology and style. He also has a background in real estate, telecommunications and law enforcement, which makes him oddly well-rounded. Amos is based in the Windy City, Chicago. Follow him on twitter @wrathofkwon.

  • Ed Patrick

    Don’t discount Monkey Shoulder, a vatted malt, and usually under $30. Not a lot of peat and drama, but a very solid Scotch all the same.

    • Big O

      You are a GOD amongst MEN, Ed! I was JUST going to write about Monkey Shoulder until I saw your post. Yes, Monkey Shoulder is definitely on my list of recommended malts!

      Bravo, my friend!!!!

  • Matt Jacobs

    Elmer T. Lee

    • diversification

      Wat? ETL is fantastic, but can be found almost nowhere, and where it can be found it routinely goes for like $70 or higher.

  • Mark

    Where can you find Laphroaig for $35?? I’ve never seen it that low and would love to find it at the price. I must be looking in the wrong places…

    • Ed Patrick

      The Total Wine stores in North Texas have it for about that price, in states where Costco has liquor stores it might be about that also. Finding Redbreast 12 for less than $50 might be a trick, around here (Dallas area) under $60 is not that easy.

      • John Wilson

        Yeah, Redbreast for that cheap is difficult around my neck of the woods as well.

    • Jake Shivers

      Costco!

  • John Wilson

    Gotta remember WL Wellers (if you can find it). Been called the poor man’s Pappy (made in the same distillery, Pappy is just aged hand picked Wellers). Every person who has tried this at my recommendation has loved it.

    • Ed Patrick

      I’ve heard that especially applies to the Weller 12 year old, but I’ve never been able to find any. I agree, nothing wrong with any Weller. My nephew had the Pappy 10, said it was good but he didn’t hear angels singing.

    • diversification

      Most of the Weller family is relatively rare at this point, and is often very inflated in price (overly so in the opinion of many bourbon hobbyists.)

      • John Wilson

        I’ve never paid more than $25 for a bottle of Wellers Special Reserve, and I’ve struggled to ever find more than the SR. I did stumble onto a bottle of Blantons the wife and I are saving to open once she finishes the semester.

        • diversification

          That’s impressive. Any time I see anything from the Weller family, it’s usually at a restaurant and the price is usually laughable. Jealous of the Blanton’s pickup. That was one of my favorites when I could find it. Haven’t seen any on shelves in over 2 years.

    • Patton0789

      Currently have a bottle of Wellers at the house. You are correct, it is quite nice.

  • Patrick

    Where on earth are you finding Redbreast for $47? Cheapest I can find around Las Vegas is $70.

  • Jeffrey Davis

    No Buffalo Trace? Bruuuhhh, it’s hard to beat the value of BT! Even with >$50 Bourbons it’s in my top 5! Time for a glass on the rocks!

  • diversification

    Perhaps I’m just in the wrong part of the country, but in Western NY RR SB is closer to $40 than it is to $30, Mitcher’s is well into the $40s, Knob Creek Rye 100 is 40s, Eagle Rare is probably high 30s if not 40, and Basil Hayden is into the 40s.

    Speaking of Basil Hayden, there are plenty of other whiskeys which will be a much better value — this one is typically considered to be overpriced. 4R SB isn’t a bad buy, and is probably a bit I’ve $30 here making it a good value, however why not mention 4R Single Barrel for probably low $40s, which is extremely well regarded?

    For anyone who is interested in Bourbon, I’d definitely recommend lurking the bourbon subreddit for a bit.

  • Bill Edwards

    the middle octane Old Forrester has been a go to for me lately. just enough bite, doesnt break the bank and useable for mixers. Best served neat.

    • diversification

      I have yet to step into OF territory. Frankly they have so many variants I end up a bit confused about what I’m actually looking at. I’ll tackle them at some point. Any particular variants you’d recommend? I seem to recall that they have a 100 proof (possibly a BiB?) that ppl point to as a good value?

      • Bill Edwards

        the 1897 is the one I had in mind specifically. Here in VA its not too bad, $44 for a 750ml. I got a bottle over the summer for a little steeper discount.

  • Patton0789

    Whiskey Pricing is very subjective depending where you are at. I agree with most of the list, I would substitute Four Roses small batch with the Four Roses Single Barrel, it still should be under the $50 price point but has amazing flavor. I would also look at Monkey Shoulder, Michter’s American, Ranger Creek 36 (which can be harder to find), and Woodford Reserve as nice Whiskies under $50

  • cspears20

    I can attest to the Russell’s 10 year being a great bourbon for under $50. Although here in the Indianapolis area, it’ll run you more like $40. Although not technically “under $50”, Woodford Reserve is the way to go. Every now and again, you can catch their Double Oak is on sale for around $50 – $60 and it is AMAZING. Last but not least – Makers 46.

  • David

    I’m not sure if it’s only available locally since it’s made where I live but Whisky Girl made by By Dark Corner Distillery is amazing. About 24-26 a bottle they make a peach flavored whisky that is super smooth and leaves a delightful after taste and an apple and maple that I swear tastes like you’re taking a shot of apple pie