Can you find a good bourbon under $100?
Fine bourbon, the all-American spirit, has grown expeditiously as a drinking category in recent years. While all eyes go to Blanton's and Pappy Van Winkle when asked about the 'Best Bourbon', there are plenty of incredible bourbons — the best bourbon — under $100. These bottles are often within the range of the same age statements as 6, 8, and 10 year favorites, while maintaining some the same, fantastic aromas, palate notes, and finishes as the heavy hitters. The best bourbon under $100 is not only comprised of bespoke, craft brands. Rather, they include bottles from the ranks of globally renowned distilleries such as Woodford Reserve, Jefferson's, Knob Creek, Old Forester, and even, Buffalo Trace itself.
Our general criteria and observations for ranking the best bourbon under $100:
- Avoiding extremely allocated or limited releases. We all know these types of bourbon are incredibly difficult to get our hands on. Even if you manage to land one, the price is often ways beyond the MSRP price. For the sake of picking a great daily sipper without being too heavy on the pocketbook, we'll look past those here.
- Taking a deep dive into each bourbon flavor profile — aromas, palate, and finish. We'll then balance this view with the price of each respective bourbon.
The #1 Best Bourbon Under $100: Jefferson Ocean Aged At Sea Bourbon
ABV: 45% | Tasting Notes: Caramel, Floral, Citrus, Black Pepper
This Jefferson's release is perhaps one of the most unique releases to hit the market in recent years. The story behind the bourbon captures the imagination and truly leads your palate wanting more. It starts with barrels of Jefferson Bourbon being loaded aboard ships that will go on to visit ports across the world. Tidal waves, turbulence, and everything in between cause the bourbon to constantly churn across the barrel, increasing the varied contact between the liquid and the barrel. Of course, with the travel, comes extreme temperatures and remarkable climates. Throughout its journey, the bourbon experiences the coldest of the coldest and the warmest of the warmest weather. Simply put, it's aged at the mercy of the sea and nature that will take your palate on a voyage. While we often look for Kentucky or Indiana MGP Bourbon due to the varied climate and soil, imagine having access to it all globally in just a single bottle. Coming in at just around $75, this bourbon is a keeper and is released annual through different batches.
The #2 Best Bourbon Under $100: Blade & Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon
ABV: 45.5% | Tasting Notes: Caramel, Vanilla, Dried Fruit
Paying homage to the famous Sitzel-Weller Distillery in Kentucky, Blade & Bow contains remnants of the last bourbon produced there in 1992. By using a novel solera system aging process, Blade and Bow is able to preserve elder stocks and blend it with other younger whiskies. The full process still takes place at Sitzel-Weller, where the bourbon is aged in new American charred white oak barrels. The bourbon itself offers beautiful notes of sweet toasted cereal, winter spice, and dried fruit. More broadly, Blade & Bow is a tribute to Sitzel-Weller's vibrant past of distilling. On each bottle, you'll find a key labeled with a number from 1 to 5. Each number symbolizes one of the steps of crafting great bourbon: grains, yeast, fermentation, distillation, and again. These keys were what unlocked access to the Sitzel-Weller cathedral of bourbon for 57 years and continues to carry to tradition forward. It's the dream of every collector to hunt down bottles with each number key and is feasible with the price of this stellar drinker coming in under $50.
The #3 Best Bourbon Under $100: Joseph Magnus Kentucky Straight Bourbon
ABV: 50% | Tasting Notes: Dark Fruit, Toasted Oak, Dark Chocolate, Rye Spices
Joseph Magnus is another one of those nuanced bourbons on the market today, this time based in the nation's capital, Washington D.C. The bourbon itself is widely regarded to be Indiana MGP bottled at 100 proof and finished in a variety of casks: oloroso sherry, pedro jimenez sherry, and cognac. Both sherry casks are typically used in the production of sweet, fortified wines that provide those dense grape, nutty, and dark fruit characteristics to the cask. On the other hand, cognac leaves its barrels with notes of dried fruit, candied nuts, and light oak. By carefully mingling these together with limited exposure provided just in finishes (rather than extensively aging), Joseph Magnus comes out as a smooth and complex bourbon. It contains layers of dried fruit, dark chocolate, toasted nuts, cinnamon, honey and oak on the palate. While it comes in at the higher end of our $100 budget (right around $85), it's well worth it, especially for those that relish finished bourbon.
The #4 Best Bourbon Under $100: Angel's Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon
ABV: 43.3% | Tasting Notes: Caramel, Raisins, Vanilla, Pralines
Bacardi Limited, the parent organization of Angel's Envy, only produces 8,000 bottles of this expression per year, but it's still in enough distribution to find a few bottles at your local shop. This bourbon is distilled and bottled by Louisville Distilling in the heart of bourbon country, known for smooth whiskies with a muted sipping flow. The bourbon itself is aged for 6 years in French oak barrels after distillation, and later transported to sweet port wine casks to be finished for 3 to 6 months. The unique combination leads to a silky and slightly sweet whiskey that connoisseurs and amateurs alike love as a daily bourbon to sip on.
The #5 Best Bourbon Under $100: Stellum Bourbon
ABV: 57.5% | Tasting Notes: Toasted Marshmallow, Dark Chocolate, Vanilla
A product of Barrell Craft Spirits, Stellum Bourbon is its founder, Joe Beatrice's, newest portfolio brand that takes his remarkable blending skills and applies it to an everyday bottle. It's produced from sourced whiskey from Tennessee (Tullahoma), Kentucky, and Indiana MGP, bottled at Cask Strength just under 115 Proof. With a dull amber look, the bourbon offers a nose of toasted oak, rye spices, and clove. On the palette, the bourbon feels very light, rolling along the tongue and giving notes of marshmallow, caramel, black pepper, and dark chocolate. Coming in under $50, this is the deal of a century and deserves its spot on our best bourbon under $100 list!
The #6 Best Bourbon Under $100: Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon
ABV: 45.2% | Tasting Notes: Dark Caramel, Hazelnut, Vanilla
Hailing from the world famous Woodford distillery, the bourbon has become a staple across most households. Its simplicity is where it thrives — crafted by taking a normal Woodford Reserve bourbon, pouring it into new charred oak barrels, and later allowing it to mature in a second barrel for a just about a year. Naturally, the light aging catalyzes the flavor profile of the original bourbon, adding layers of deep toasted oak, nuttiness, and other complexities. The rich, dark amber liquid starts off with a nose of candied nuts, marshmallow and over-buttered popcorn. On the palate, we get strong notes of dark cherry, dark chocolate, caramel and fresh ginger. It's absolutely delightful to sip on, especially knowing that it costs just around $50.