It’s easy to scan the top shelf and pick out a good bourbon. Finding something worth drinking every day for under $20 is more difficult, but it’s certainly doable. Here are 7 of the best bourbons that are worth drinking every day but won’t break the bank. They are all under $20 in Chicago. Depending on where you are, they’re more than likely even cheaper than I list them.
Rebel Yell – $13
Naming a bourbon after the the rallying cry of the failed Confederacy may seem like a strange idea, but at least they were consistent. Until a few decades ago the bourbon was only available in the south. They may have lost the war, but goddammit that didn’t mean they had to share their booze with the damn yanks. Another little fun fact for you: the Billy Idol song “Rebel Yell” was actually named after the whiskey. “In the midnight hour, she cried more, more, more.”
Evan Williams 1783 No 10 Bourbon – $15
According to The Wine Enthusiast, this is “the best whiskey value in the world, bar none. Best Buy.” Do I really need to make a clever comment to sell you on it? If a pinky flailing grape stomper loves it, you know it must be good. And at only 15 bucks, it could probably blind your friend, and you’d still drink it.
Ancient Ancient Age – $18
Like couscous and New York, it’s the whiskey so nice they named it twice. Don’t be fooled by the moniker though, it’s not actually that old. The one you want to grab is 10-years old, not to be (easily) confused with Ancient Ancient Age 10 Star, which is a 6-year old pile of mediocrity. You can think of this as the poor man’s Buffalo Trace; BT does produce it after all.
Old Forester Classic – $19
The hippies may scream bloody murder over deforestation, but if every Forester was this good, I’d be standing down in Brazil with my chainsaw. This has more rye than most, so it shouldn’t surprise most of you that I’m a fan. There’s nothing spectacular or offensive about Old Forrester. It’s just a good tasting bourbon that won’t cost you much. Plus it was legal during prohibition under the pretense of being medicine. So it’s like the weed of the whiskey world.
W.L. Weller Special Reserve – $19
WLWSR used to also carry a 7 year designation, but they decided that the name was just too ridiculously long. OK, so really they starting including whiskey younger than 7 years old in the blend, but I’m sticking to my story. If you’re into a wheat heavy mash bill, this bourbon is for you. It’s smooth and incredibly easy to drink for a cheap hooch.
Old Fitzgerald 1849 – $19
Fitzy packs an amazing and huge flavor for a low price. Like W.L. Weller, it has more wheat than most, making it a little softer on the esophagus. It’s another booze that greased the right Prohibition palms to be considered a medicine as well. Feel free to use that little piece of information next time your girlfriend is bitching at you for drinking too much. You’re only drinking as a preemptive strike against serious illness. You’re doing it for her and your future.
Wild Turkey 81 – $20
The original intent of WT 81 was to be used by new age bartenders in all their fancy-pants cocktails. While that’s certainly happening, it’s also a solid straight whiskey. It’s probably the easiest of the bunch to drink while still packing that manly whiskey punch. If you’re going with a purely bang-for-buck approach, this isn’t your best bet. If you want something that tastes great and is versatile though, this is worth far more than the $20 you’ll pay for it.