Best Reasonable Whiskies to Drink for Under $50

Whisky collecting can become an expensive hobby over time. But for casual drinkers or those just starting out, there are plenty of excellent whiskies that provide great quality and flavor without breaking the bank. As a whisky enthusiast and connoisseur, I’ve tried countless budget bottles over the years and discovered some true gems worth recommending.

In this guide for whisky drinkers on a budget, I’ll share my picks for the best reasonably priced whiskies across multiple styles all under $50. With some savvy shopping, you can stock an impressive home bar without going broke. Let’s dive in!

Focus on Value Over Just Low Prices

The first tip when hunting for bargain whiskies is to focus on value, not just low prices. A cheap $20 bottle from an obscure distillery may not deliver satisfying flavor. Instead, look for whiskies in the $30-50 range from reputable distilleries with a track record of quality.

Known names like Glenlivet, Highland Park, and Buffalo Trace get such high demand that even their low-cost releases are held to high standards. You can often find great complexity and nuance more akin to a $70+ premium whisky.

Judge a value purchase by the flavor quality for the price, not simply that the price is low. With whiskies, very cheap can sometimes mean very nasty. Target the $30-50 sweet spot for the best experience.

Smooth and Inviting Bourbons

For bargain-priced bourbon whiskies, some of my consistent favorites include Evan Williams Black Label and Very Old Barton. Both sell for around $15-20, yet deliver a wonderful balance of sweet corn, vanilla, and oak notes with a pleasantly smooth finish. They work great on their own or for mixing in cocktails.

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Another fantastic value bourbon is Ancient Age, also made by the Kentucky bourbon masters at Buffalo Trace. At $20, you get impressive complexity more like a $40 small batch bourbon. It’s rich and intricate on the tongue with buttery corn flavors and caching spices.

In the $25-30 range, you can’t go wrong with mainstays like Four Roses Yellow Label, Elijah Craig Small Batch, and Wild Turkey 101. Expect more warming spice and a touch more burn, but with plenty of character.

For a few dollars more, step up to premium yet still reasonably priced bourbons like Knob Creek, Maker’s Mark, and Blanton’s. But the cheaper ones above work wonderfully for casual sipping.

Easy-Drinking Scotch Blends

Blended scotch whiskies are an avenue to great value, merging malt and grain whiskies from various distilleries into smooth, consistent products.

Names like Johnnie Walker Red Label, Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition, and Chivas Regal 12-Year-old sell for $30 or less in most cases. They make for mellow, honeyed drams with approachable complexity. Johnnie Red adds a smoky edge, while Famous Grouse offers more fruit and cereal notes.

For a slight step up to around $35-40, I recommend excellent blends from Compass Box and Monkey Shoulder. The variety of malt flavors really shines through.

On a tight budget under $25, Clan MacGregor, Johnnie Walker Black Label, and Dewar’s 12 Year provide solid quality too. Just temper expectations a touch at the cheaper end.

Affordable Single Malt Scotch

While single malt scotch is pricier than blended, quality bottlings are available for under $50. For example, Glenfiddich 12 Year and Glenmorangie 10 Year can both be found for $35-40. Both provide pleasing flavors of oak, cinnamon, fruitcake, and vanilla.

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Other great single malt scotch values include Old Pulteney 12 Year ($40), a light and lively maritime malt; Aberlour 12 Year ($50), a rich sherry cask single malt; and Highland Park 12 Year ($45), with a complex balance of honey and heather flavors.

If you can push your budget to around $55-60, magnificent malts like The Glenlivet 12 Year and Macallan 12 Year deliver luxurious flavor far above their price. But the cheaper options above give you a taste of single malt richness at bargain rates.

No Age Statement Whiskies

In recent years, some distilleries have introduced no age statement whiskies that allow them to release younger stocks without labeling an age. This lets quality distillers get priced-conscious drinkers into their signature drams for $40 or less.

Look for these no age options from Glenlivet, Laphroaig, Aberlour, and other major names. You’ll often get their familiar distillery character at a friendlier price point. For example, Aberlour’s double-cask matured 12 Year goes for $50 but their no age Redbreast Irish Whiskey Finish sells for $40 with similar robust flavor.

Shop Sales and Discount Retailers

To uncover whisky bargains, shop liquor store ads and mailers for sales, coupons and clearance deals. You may be able to snag previous years’ releases of age statement whiskies at discounts.

Also look for whisky bargains at discount retailers like Costco. They buy surplus stock in bulk from distilleries and bottlers and can pass on big savings. You may find generics like “Costco’s Speyside Single Malt Sherry Cask Finish” full of age-stated flavor at cut rate costs.

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Hard-to-find limited releases also get marked down over time. Keep an eye out for dusty gems languishing on the bottom shelf that got overlooked by other buyers. With some persistence, you can uncover amazing values.

Mixers, Cocktails, and Other Uses

One final tip – don’t be afraid to use cheaper whiskies for mixing in cocktails or adding to holiday recipes. A $15 bourbon can shine mixed with cola just as well as something $50.

Likewise, use a smooth blend for adding flavor to Irish coffees or baking with whisky. No need to waste the good stuff when these applications mask subtleties.

In summary, with some wise selection and creative shopping methods, whisky lovers on a budget can stock an impressive collection for under $50 per bottle. Keep chasing those hidden gems!

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