The 10 Best Bourbons Under $30 to Try in 2021
There are great tasting bourbon brands under $30 for every liquor lover or fan of American whiskey. The following collection delivers a variety of bourbon brands for consideration to save you money.
While you won’t find a single barrel bourbon or ultra-premium American whiskey brand on this list, you will find some interesting, unique varieties and lead in products from leading distilleries that could become your favorite bourbon while working through the list.
1. Wild Turkey 101
Wild Turkey 101 uses natural limestone filtered water and non-GMO grains, then is white Oak barrel aged a minimum five years with the deepest possible char, which is known as #4 alligator char.
The extra maturation in oak creates a deep amber bourbon filled with the aroma of brown sugar and butterscotch that leads into toffee vanilla, citrus and a smattering of spice on the palate. With the 101 proof (50.5% ABV) this Wild Turkey bourbon packs a solid punch through the long finish with a nice burst of rye spice.
The premium ingredient mix belies Wild Turkey 101’s price point, you can get a real taste of these flavors when you drink this great bourbon neat or sip over ice.
2. Knob Creek - 9 Year Bourbon Whiskey
Knob Creek Bourbon is named after Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home in Kentucky, created to represent whisky before it was mass produced at the always enjoyable 100 proof. Knob Creek is aged nine years, giving it the distinction of being one of the longest matured Small Batch Bourbons, which is even more surprising given its price.
Extra maturation allows the expression to absorb more of the sugar in the wood, giving it a slightly darker color, richer taste and nose than other expressions. A classic great bourbon Knob Creek offers rich corn and oils competing with vanilla custard, caramel and dried coconut, countered by balancing minty freshness, lashings of rye whiskey baking spice and sharp white pepper through the finish.
3. Evan Williams - 100 Proof Bottled in Bond Bourbon
This Kentucky Straight Bourbon is bottled at the iconic Heaven Hill distillery and named after Evan Williams, who opened Kentucky’s 1st Distillery in 1783. By being Bottled-In-Bond Evan Williams follows the Act of 1897; it’s 100 proof (50% ABV), aged for four years, distilled in one season at one distillery under U.S. government supervision.
A rich gold in color, Evan Williams has aromas of caramel and vanilla, oak and barley with a hint of citrus and black pepper notes. The kick of the 100 proof works beautifully with this smooth expression and works through to a long, vanilla laden finish.
4. Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey
Bulleit is aged six years minimum and provides a mature, complex flavor of an almost straight rye whiskey. Bulleit’s unique 175 year old recipe makes for a distinctive taste: full-bodied and spicy with a long, smooth finish.
The nose is bright with orange zest, toasted oak and vanilla that adds further notes of orange winter baking spice and a hint of tobacco leaf on the palate.
A 750 ml bottle of Bulleit Bourbon is a great sipping bourbon, right at the upper the end of the $30 price group. Even if you need to go a few dollars over (depending on the retailer) it’s well worth the price.
5. Four Roses Bourbon
Four Roses Bourbon scored 93 Points and was described by the 2020 Ultimate Spirits Challenge as an “excellent, highly recommended, and great value” bourbon whiskey. Four Roses creates 10 distinct bourbon recipes, with each one bringing a different characteristic to the batch. By mingling them Master Distiller Brent Elliott creates a complex range of flavor profiles.
On the nose it shows hints of pear and apple mixed in to compliment golden honey, orange marmalade, and light spice that tastes great on the palate. Four Roses’ uniquely long, smooth and gentle finish makes it a favorite for any mixed drink and classic cocktails around the world, from a Whiskey Old Fashioned or Manhattan to a sweet pineapple Dazed and Confused.
6. Buffalo Trace Bourbon
Buffalo Trace is an amazing Kentucky straight bourbon from the distiller responsible for the classic Sazerac bourbon. It was our favorite bourbon on the list of best whiskies for Old Fashioned cocktails.
The tasting notes for Buffalo Trace are described as, “a complex aroma of vanilla, mint and molasses. Pleasantly sweet to the taste with notes of brown sugar and spice that give way to oak, toffee, dark fruit and anise. This whiskey finishes long and smooth with serious depth.”
It’s a smooth and refined tasting bourbon that can go into literally any smooth cocktail recipe and work brilliantly, or as a straight up sipping whiskey. Personally, I enjoy unlocking the flavor in Buffalo Trace by adding a couple of cubes of ice.
7. Old Forester Classic 86 Proof
Old Forester 86 Proof Kentucky bourbon is marketed as America’s First Bottled Bourbon, having celebrated its 150th birthday in 2020. A touch of oak and pine provides a strong underpinning of flavor alongside sweet corn and rye grain.
Sharp and sweet with a strong floral character that swirls around hints of mint, rich tobacco leaf and vanilla. The finish is spicy from the rye influence with more soft vanilla and light orange notes.
There are great tasting cheap bourbon brands for every liquor lover or fan of American whiskey, and Old Forester nestles comfortably near the top of the list for its smooth, easy drinking flavor.
8. Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
One of American whiskey’s most authentic bourbons. Rebel Yell uses only the purest Kentucky limestone-filtered water and new charred oak barrels for aging.
Rebel Yell is a wheated bourbon distilled using a mash bill inspired by the original WL Weller & Sons company of bourbons from the mid-to-late 1800s. While it’s firmly in the budget bourbon category there’s some individuality to this expression.
The higher proportion of wheat gives this Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey a softer, gentler mouthfeel. Wheat as the secondary grain provides subtlety and contrast, adding a creaminess and gradual sweetness to the spirit than that derived from the majority corn, malted barley or rye recipe.
Rebel Yell offers notes of honey and butter on the nose, then raisins and plums on the tongue, and warm spices on the shorter than average length finish. While it’s not an expression that I would drink neat or on ice, there’s some authenticity to the flavor profile that works well for the bourbon drinkers who prefer mixed drinks or cocktails.
9. Ezra Brooks Black Label Kentucky Sour Mash
Many describe this entry level expression as a “big bodied and firm” spirit. Ezra Brooks Bourbon is distilled at Heaven Hill Distillery however the label is owned by the Luxco Spirits Company, who also produces Rebel Yell.
Ezra Brooks is oak barrel aged and charcoal filtered, offering a buttery corn nose and vanilla flavor on the tongue amidst honey, mocha, and maple syrup. The finish contains more creamy vanilla but with little lashing of warming pepper. Ezra Brooks is a favorite bourbon for those looking for versatility and value, and is the rare sour mash found at such a cheap price.
10. Bird Dog Small Batch Bourbon
Bird Dog Small Batch Bourbon is created by carefully combining premium-aged Kentucky bourbons with strong mash bills of corn, malted barley and rye until the desired bold flavor profile is achieved. While it’s strictly a budget bourbon, a 750 ml bottle of Bird Dog has a lot to offer those with a taste for unique American whiskey. Its red hued amber color is full of caramel and oak aromas.
On the palate, light undertones of honey and golden raisins are complimented by the richness of caramelized sugar and woody oak, backed by the warmth of an 43% ABV through the smoother than expected finish. At the price point Bird Dog offers the budget conscious bourbon drinkers the chance to purchase a unique, individual whiskey useful straight up or in cocktails.
Bonus: Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon
I had to include this because it’s that good and it’s only a touch over the $30 parameter. Adding an extra $5 to your tab is well worth getting hold of this expression.
Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon is named after a Baptist reverend and master distiller known as the Father of Bourbon. Elijah Craig is credited with being the first to age whiskey inside a charred oak barrel, with old wives’ tales suggesting he found the secret by accidently burning his oak casks. Elijah Craig Small Batch is distilled from a traditional Bourbon mash bill of 78% corn, 10% rye and 12% malted barley and then aged for 8 to 12 years in #3 char new American oak barrels.
Each batch of Elijah Craig is selected from fewer than 100 of the finest barrels at the Heaven Hill Distillery in Louisville. If a small batch yet cheap bourbon is what you’re looking for, then the good reverend is a great place to start for the smoothest bourbon experience.
Budget Bourbon FAQs
If you’re looking to utilize a meager budget by purchasing bourbon, then I can recommend the following tips to maximize enjoyment.
- Look for versatility
- Listen to your cellarman
- Smoother is better when buying cheap bourbon
- Do some research before purchasing
Yes, bourbon is a type of whiskey, but there are some rules to its production. At least a 51% corn mash bill stored in charred oaks for four years and distillation in the US is what makes a bourbon, as opposed to other grain whiskeys such as rye.
While Kentucky is responsible for 95% of the world’s bourbon, this figure is beginning to change rapidly, as other states in the USA pick up the distillation of American whiskey. These days you’re much more likely to find quality bourbon in Texas, Colorado, and even New York than in the past, and it tastes great too.
Top 29 Best Watches Under $500 For Men
With cellphones so ubiquitous, your watch choice can be less about telling time and more about personal style. However, a watch is not ‘just’ a watch. For example, the vast majority are made for right-handed people, but a select few cater to the lefties among us. There is a wide range in functionality and size.
The wristwatch is also one of the few socially acceptable accessories for men, so why not have a small selection? If you’re not cashing a CEO’s paycheck just yet, here are the top 28 most handsome watches for men that retail for under $500.
Got a bigger budget? Then check out our guide to the best men’s watches under $1000 instead.
Top 29 Best Watches Under $500 For Men
1. Tommy Hilfiger Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
If you like the feel of a pliable, non-metal band but aren’t comfortable with genuine leather, this watch comes equipped with a handsome synthetic band. At 46mm in diameter, this watch is perfect for men of smaller stature, as it will not overpower your hand or make it look like you’re wearing your father’s watch. With bold Arabic numerals, a stainless steel case, and classic styling, this watch is an outstanding choice for an everyday watch and the man on a budget.
2. Nordgreen Pioneer – Black Dial
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Not everyone has an endless amount of cash to drop on a luxury timepiece. If you’re money-conscious but want something high-end, then why not consider the Nordgreen Pioneer.
An inspired take on a classic Chronograph, Nordgreen celebrates the Danish with what they call a timepiece “that captures the sustainable future.” Available in various dial colors from blue, black, and white. There’s even the choice of three case colors – gunmetal, silver, and rose gold. A perfect addition to the collection of any watch enthusiast.
3. Fossil Grant Brown Leather WatchCheck Price
This lovely offering by Fossil features slim Roman numeral hour markers and delicate cut-out hands. The casing is stainless steel and is water-resistant to 165 feet, making it a great dive watch. The band is made of supple, soft calfskin leather and uses a buckle closure.
Of course, this timepiece also comes with the generous 11-year warranty and it’s own fun tin. This watch oozes class and is great for nearly every occasion in your life.
4. Citizen Sport Stainless Steel Men’s Watch With Brown Leather Band
If you don’t want to deal with changing out a battery in a digital watch, this watch is powered by either natural or indoor lighting. The mineral crystal face and stainless steel case make this watch water-resistant to 330 feet, making it a great choice for swimmers and snorkelers.
Handsome and utilitarian, this is a great watch for everyday wear. It’s one of the best watches for men who are always on the go.
5. Fossil Men’s Machine Chronograph Silicone Watch
This watch was designed with the active man in mind. The knurled silicone band stands up to sweat and oils without issue, and the timepiece itself is water-resistant to 165 feet.
The patterned bezel and quality craftsmanship of the black dial is excellent, as is to be expected from a Fossil watch. It even comes in the iconic and collectible tin!
6. Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Watch
This men’s watch features Japanese quartz movement that charges itself indoors or out when exposed to light, making it a great choice for those who don’t want to change out the battery too often. The stitched canvas strap is soft against your skin and will wick away moisture, while the mineral crystal face stands up to the rigors of your everyday life.
Water-resistant to 330 feet, this dive watch is a classic and simple design you’ll be proud of for years to come.
7. Invicta Pro Diver Chronograph Men’s Watch
Another gorgeous offering by Invicta, this watch features a bold design with a slightly nautical feel to it. It will look at home whether you’re wearing a business suit or are going for a dive of less than 660 feet. This piece is also covered by a one-year warranty as a matter of course. The luminosity feature and magnified date window make it a great choice if you work or play in low light.
If you want something that looks like a Tag Heuer but without the luxury watch brand price tag, this is a good option!
8. Casio Edifice Multi-Function Men’s Watch
This watch has three sub-dials for 12 hour, 60 minute and 60-second displays, in addition to the standard time. It also features a fold-over, push-down clasp on the stainless strap, keeping it secure throughout your activities. If you’re looking for a classy timepiece that shrieks sophistication, this is a great choice.
9. Fossil Machine Three Hand Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
This quality watch is a chameleon piece. It looks at home as a dress watch riding below the cuff of your best suit, and it also looks great paired with jeans and a t-shirt. Backed by Fossil’s 11-year warranty as a matter of course and beautifully crafted, this smoke-colored piece is guaranteed to become the go-to accessory for nearly every occasion.
10. MVMT Watches Black Face Men’s Watch
If you like the look of a simple watch, this minimalist offering from MVMT is right up your alley. With just a plain black face, tick marks to denote the hours and a single date window, there is nothing overdone or extravagant about this design. The is understated and suited to the simple design. It’s definitely a classy, low-key piece for the budget-conscious.
11. Timex Weekender Watch
If you’re looking for a fun watch to pair with casual outfits, this is a great option. The band is blue and yellow woven nylon, and the face features both civilian and military timekeeping. An Indiglo night light is also included. This watch is water-resistant to 99 feet, meaning it can withstand splashes of water or exposure to rain but you won’t want to submerge it.
12. PUMA Ultrasize Black Sport Men’s Watch
Boasting a 50mm diameter, this piece is perfect for the large-framed man or one who likes to wear his accessories oversized. A true fashion statement, this sports watch comes in eight different colors schemes to match your favorite hues.
Do be aware, however, that the dial knob is configure for left-handed men!
13. Timex Easy Reader Men’s Watch
Another dress watch designed with the older gentleman in mind, this watch features a white dial with generously sized numerals that do not appear comical to the casual observer.
It’s also an excellent choice if you take your contacts out at night and still want to be able to check the time. With classic lines and a simple white face, the watch would not be out of place at any casual gathering. It comes with Timex’s one-year warranty at no additional charge.
14. Fossil Nate Men’s Chronograph Watch
For men who like a more gritty, industrial feel to their accessories, this Fossil watch is right on point. The bezel is gear-edged and the face is utilitarian black and gray. Water-resistant to 165 feet, this watch is a great choice if you like your adornments to be understated yet add visual interest.
It’s definitely a stand-out piece, for those who would take notice!
15. Timex Expedition Field Chronograph Men’s Watch
Featuring an indigo night light, tachymeter, a date window and a buckle closure, this watch is perfect for men who like to work or play outdoors. It is also water-resistant to 330 feet, making it a great choice for snorkeling or swimming.
You won’t want to wear it for diving, however. With classic, black styling and a genuine crystal face, this is a timepiece that will stand the test of time in both form and function.
16. Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
This Seiko automatic watch has all the bells and whistles you need, but presents it all in a plain and strikingly attractive manner. It features a date window in either English or Spanish, sword-shaped hands, a sweeping second hand and a mineral dial window. This is a great option for the man on the go. The canvas strap can be removed and hand-washed if sweat or other odors become an issue.
This watch is not water-resistant, so you’ll only want to wear it when you won’t be popping by the pool for a swim!
17. Invicta Pro Diver Collection Silver-Tone Men’s Watch
For those who prefer an all-metal timepiece, the stainless steel Invicta fits the bill nicely. It has a similar aesthetic to a Tag Heuer watch, but at a more affordable price. Equipped with a unilateral bezel and removable links, the band can be customized to fit your wrist perfectly. The face is flame fusion crystal and features a magnifier to highlight the date window.
It’s also water-resistant to 660 feet. If you’re looking for a gorgeous watch that stands up to an active lifestyle, this is an excellent choice.
18. Seiko Men’s Adventure-Solar Classic Casual Watch
This Seiko watch derives its power from either natural or indoor light and can withstand water depths of up to 330 feet. The supple brown leather strap and timeless brushed steel give this piece an attractive look, and the alarm chronograph is easy to set.
If you’re looking for a watch that can serve as a backup for your wake-up call while traveling, stand up to the elements and look awesome, this casual wrist watch is a winner.
19. Nautica Men’s Stainless Steel Watch with Blue Resin Band
Featuring a plethora of options and a smart, snappy style, this a great casual watch with a eye-catching blue dial. The hardy resin band is adjustable, and the face is protected by a mineral window. Whether for work or play, this bold blue design is handsome and substantial on the wrist. It comes with Nautica’s five-year warranty at no additional charge.
20. Citizen Sport Men’s Stainless Steel Watch with Black Leather Band
The black, red and white face of this piece eschews the traditional two-tone color scheme so often employed in other watches, and the contrasting stitching on the band adds creative flair. It comes backed by Citizen’s five-year warranty and will compliment any casual outfit.
21. Alessi Tic15 Analog Display Analog Quartz Black Men’s Watch
Another not-quite-round offering on our list, the curved square casing of this piece gives it instant visual appeal. Sleek and clean, this unfussy design will be a compliment to almost any occasion. It has quartz movement and is water-resistant to 99 feet, making it a great choice for everyday wear.
22. Invicta 1517 I Force Collection Watch
Another on our list designed for left-handed men, this watch is something special. Water-resistant to 330 feet and featuring oversize stenciled numbers and a sub dial, this watch is great for any casual outfit. The cloth band is extremely durable and stands up to dirt, sweat and grime.
If you lead an active lifestyle, this watch will be right at home in your collection.
23. TRIWA Blue Steel Nevil Canvas Watch
This watch comes in a whopping 14 color variations, all of them beautiful. You may decide to add more than one to your collection!
Designed in Sweden, this watch features Japanese quartz movement, a stainless steel casing and a strap made from Tärnsjö organic leather. TRIWA, which stands for Transforming the Industry of Watches, believes in the artistry of fine jewelry and it shows in their product.
24. Victorinox Swiss Army Alliance Watch
Another fine dress watch from the makers of the Swiss Army knife, this watch is emblazoned with the internally recognized cross and shield emblem. It has no sub-dials, tachymeter or other add-ons to detract from its simple and appealing style.
This watch will be at home with all but the most formal of outfits and carries a two-year warranty.
25. Ingersoll Automatic Stainless Steel Bull Run Watch
Again, Ingersoll remakes the classics and brings them into the present day. With a highly polished stainless steel casing, two sub-dials, a date aperture and arrow-shaped hands, this quartz watch is beautiful.
The band features contrasting stitching on the fine-grain leather, adding depth and detail to the workmanship. This watch will compliment any casual occasion and can be relied upon for years to come.
26. Tissot Quickster Chronograph Black Leather Men’s Watch
Made with scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and Swiss automatic movement, this watch is a smart and utilitarian choice. If you’re looking for a solid Swiss watch that isn’t flashy, this is an excellent option. It’s also guaranteed for two years.
27. Seiko Sport Solar Men’s Beige Watch
Are you getting tired of squinting down at your watch or holding it closer and closer to your face? Don’t worry, we all get a bit nearsighted with age, especially over the age of 40.
If you’re not quite ready for reading glasses or a comically huge watch, this is a great choice from Seiko. The numerals, indices and luminous hands stand out in stark white against a black background, and the numerals are generous in size. It’s a perfect casual watch for the older gentleman.
28. Seiko Men’s 5 Watch Blue Canvas Band
This simple and affordable watch has a clean, crisp aesthetic to it and doesn’t bog down its design with a ton of bells and whistles. It’s time and date, end of.
If you want a watch for casual wear, this Seiko is a shoo-in. The band is forgiving and comfortable against your wrist, and it’s blue color will likely compliment your existing wardrobe. The price is also extremely affordable.
29. Tommy Hilfiger Men’s Stainless Steel Watch With Brown Leather Band
Featuring the Hilfiger logo at the three o’clock position, this wrist watch is a statement piece. It is a bright, shiny stainless steel work of art that you’ll be proud to wear at all but the most stuffy of workplaces. The calfskin leather band uses a buckle closure and the date window is beside the logo at three o’clock.
If you’re a fan of Tommy clothing, cologne or luggage, you can complete your look with this stunning accessory.