Regarding bourbon, what makes the best value for the money may vary. Some people swear by Wild Turkey, others prefer Maker’s Mark and others like Bulleit. So, which bourbon is the best value for money? It depends on what you’re looking for in bourbon. Maker’s Mark is a good option if you want something smooth and mellow. If you’re looking for something with a little more spice, Wild Turkey is a good choice. And if you want something with a bit more of a kick, Bulleit is a great option. 

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. So, if you’re unsure which bourbon is right for you, try a few different ones until you find one you love. And when you do find that perfect bourbon, stick with it—you won’t be disappointed. 

What Are The Most Important Factors To Consider When Purchasing Bourbon?

When buying bourbon, consider a few key factors to maximize your purchase.

Guide on selecting bourbon with quality factors highlighted.
What is the Best Bourbon for the Money – Factors to Consider When Choosing Bourbon


While a higher price might indicate a bourbon aged longer or comes from a limited batch, balancing cost with personal taste preferences is essential. Expensive bourbons may offer a complex and nuanced flavor profile that enthusiasts can appreciate, but many reasonably priced bourbons deliver exceptional quality and enjoyment. Considering price helps you find the best value within your budget, ensuring you enjoy quality bourbon without overspending.

Flavor Profile

If you want an in-depth look at how to taste whiskey, check out our article on the whiskey tasting process. Bourbons can range widely in taste, from sweet and smooth with notes of vanilla and caramel to spicy and robust with hints of oak and tobacco. Understanding the flavor profile you prefer—whether you like to a smoother, sweeter bourbon or one with more bite and complexity—can guide you to a bottle you’ll enjoy. Reading tasting notes and reviews can provide insight into a bourbon’s characteristics before purchasing.


Distilleries with a long history and a strong reputation often have a proven record of producing high-quality spirits. These producers maintain consistent standards and have honed their craft over years, if not decades. Choosing a bourbon from a well-regarded distillery can offer some assurance of the spirit’s craftsmanship and quality. 

Each distillery has its unique approach to bourbon-making, from the choice of grains to the distillation process and aging methods, which influence the final product’s flavor. 

Most brands, like Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, and Wild Turkey, are distilled in Kentucky. 


Bourbons with a higher ABV, often called “barrel strength” or “cask strength,” are more potent and offer a more intense flavor experience. These can be more challenging for some drinkers but are prized by enthusiasts for their depth and complexity. 

Conversely, bourbons with a lower ABV might be smoother and more accessible, particularly for those new to bourbon or who prefer a gentler sip. 

Also note that genuine bourbon has an alcohol by volume (abv) level of 40%.

How Do You Determine Which Brand Of Bourbon Is The Best Value For Your Money?

Determining which brand of bourbon offers the best value for your money involves considering several factors beyond the price tag. To make an informed decision, you might want to consider the following considerations.

Taste Preferences

Knowing what you like in a bourbon—whether it’s a sweeter profile with notes of vanilla and caramel, a spicy kick from a high rye content, or a deep, oaky character—can help you identify which bourbons you might enjoy the most.

For instance, Buffalo Trace may be the best value option for bourbon enthusiasts who like sweet caramel flavors, while Bulleit Bourbon might satisfy someone who likes bolder, punchier flavors.

Age and Production Quality

While age isn’t the sole determinant of quality, it can influence the complexity and depth of flavors in the bourbon. Similarly, bourbons from distilleries known for high production standards and quality ingredients are often a good bet. However, remember that some younger bourbons or those from lesser-known distilleries can still offer exceptional quality and value.

For a closer look at how whiskey is made, check out our article on the whiskey production process.

Examples of well-aged bourbons known for their exceptional quality include variants from the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection and the Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve.

Once you’ve found a few options, taste them yourself to see which one you like best. Then, decide which brand offers the best value for your money. 

Awards and Accolades

Bourbons that have received awards or high ratings from reputable competitions or industry organizations indicate quality. While not the only measure of a bourbon’s worth, accolades can be a valuable benchmark for comparing brands.

Some of the most prestigiously awarded bourbons include the 15 Stars Cherry Cask Finished, Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond, and the William Heavenhill 9th Edition 15-Year-Old Small Batch Bourbon.


Consider how you plan to enjoy the bourbon—neat, with water, on the rocks, or in cocktails. Some bourbons are more versatile and can shine in various contexts, potentially offering more value if you enjoy experimenting with different drinking styles.

Wild Turkey 101, Buffalo Trace, and Bulleit Bourbon all stand out in various settings and have well-balanced profiles.

Best Bourbons For Cocktails

Selecting the best bourbons for cocktails involves finding spirits that offer the right balance of flavors to complement and enhance the other ingredients without being overshadowed. A good cocktail bourbon should be versatile, offering a solid foundation for various drinks. Here are a few bourbons that you can use to craft the best cocktails.

Guide to top bourbon picks for cocktails.
What is the Best Bourbon for the Money – Best Bourbons for Cocktails

Bulleit Bourbon

Bulleit’s high rye content gives it a bold, spicy profile that works well in cocktails. It adds depth and character to any drink, particularly in a Bourbon Sour or a Manhattan, where its spice can shine.

Wild Turkey 101

Known for its robust flavor and higher proof, Wild Turkey 101 adds a kick to cocktails, ensuring the bourbon’s presence is felt without overpowering the drink’s other components. It’s excellent in a Kentucky Mule or an Old Fashioned.

Four Roses Yellow Label

With its floral and fruity notes, Four Roses Yellow Label offers a smooth and versatile profile that works well in a wide range of cocktails. Its balanced flavor makes it an excellent base for simple and complex cocktail recipes.

Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace balances sweetness and spice with caramel, vanilla, and a bit of oak. Its smoothness and medium body make it a favorite for all bourbon cocktails, from the classic Mint Julep to inventive creations.

Maker’s Mark

The sweetness from Maker’s Mark’s wheated mash bill makes it a popular choice for cocktails with a smoother, softer bourbon profile. It’s perfect for sweeter drinks and fruit-forward cocktails.

Best Bourbons For Cooking

Aside from making cocktails, you can also cook with a high-value bourbon. Cooking with alcohol can enhance a dish’s flavor. Bourbon provides explicitly a hint of peppery spice and oak flavor that most other spirits don’t bring to the table. 

Some recipes that include bourbon as an ingredient are bourbon chicken, bourbon-glazed salmon, and bourbon pecan pie. When cooking with bourbon, ensure you pair it with intense flavors, use it in marinades or rubs, or add it to jams or preserves.

Some of the best bourbons to cook with include Jim Beam, Four Roses, and Maker’s Mark, whose flavor profiles offer versatile results.

What Are Some Tips For Choosing The Right Bourbon For Your Palate?

Guide for selecting quality bourbon whiskey.
What is the Best Bourbon for the Money – Tips for Choosing the Best Bourbon

The right bourbon for your palate will ultimately depend on your preferences. When choosing a bourbon, consider the following.

  • Personal taste: Do you prefer bourbon with smokey, sweet, or fruity flavors? Once you understand what you like, begin to sample various bourbons. Everyone has different tastes, so what you enjoy may not appeal to others. 
  • Flavor profile: Is it peppery? Nutty? Caramely? Take the time to appreciate the nuances of each bourbon. 
  • Occasion: Are you looking for a celebratory bourbon for special occasions or a bottle you can have any time? 
  • Budget: Always consider your budget when selecting spirits. Consider how much you will spend to find a bourbon that fits your budget.
  • Brand: Brand names aren’t everything, but starting with popular bourbons can give you a better idea of what flavor profiles will sing to your palette. 

How Does The Aging Process Affect The Price Of Bourbon?

The aging process significantly impacts the price of bourbon due to various factors. Firstly, longer aging requires extended storage, occupying valuable space in warehouses and contributing to higher costs due to the prolonged investment. 

As bourbon ages, a portion evaporates—the so-called “Angel’s Share”—reducing the volume available for sale and increasing rarity. The care and monitoring of aging barrels add labor costs, while the interaction with oak barrels over time enhances the bourbon’s complexity and flavor, making it more desirable to enthusiasts. This quality and complexity, coupled with the rarity of older bourbons, drive up demand and, consequently, the price. 

Moreover, aged bourbons are often marketed as premium products, with elaborate packaging reinforcing their perceived value, further influencing their higher prices. Combining production costs, reduced yield, increased quality, and marketing efforts all contribute to the premium pricing of aged bourbon. 

Comparing Bourbon and Other Spirits

Liking whisky doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll enjoy bourbon—or perhaps you’ll enjoy both. Here’s how bourbon compares to similar spirits.

Bourbon vs. Whisky

There are several ways to differentiate between bourbon and whisky. The main difference is that bourbons are made in the United States, while whisky can be made anywhere in the world. Bourbons must also be made from at least 51% corn, while whiskies come from any grain. Finally, bourbons are typically aged in new oak barrels, while whisky can age in any barrel. 

Infographic comparing bourbon and whisky characteristics.
What is the Best Bourbon for the Money – Bourbon vs. Whisky

Bourbon vs. Moonshine

Moonshine is an unaged corn whisky typically made in the Appalachian region of the United States. Conversely, Bourbon is a type of whisky typically made in Kentucky and must be aged in oak barrels for at least two years.


Ultimately, choosing the best bourbon for your money will depend on personal preferences, price, taste, and occasion. Think about how much you’re willing to spend on a bottle, what flavor profiles you like best, and what occasion you’re celebrating. 

Bring your entire tasting experience together by familiarizing yourself with the different bourbon glasses, whether to drink your glass with or without ice and how best to store your bottle.


Are There Any Health Benefits Associated With Drinking Bourbon?

Yes, bourbon has some potential health benefits. It is a rich source of antioxidants, which can help fight off free radicals and protect the body against disease. Bourbon also has a lot of potassium, magnesium, and zinc, which are all minerals that your body needs to stay healthy. Additionally, bourbon has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation throughout the body. 

For more info check out our article on bourbon nutrition facts.

What Glass Should Bourbon Be Served In?

When serving bourbon, use an Old Fashioned glass. This type of glass is wider at the top and tapers down to a smaller bottom. This allows the drinker to swirl the bourbon and release its flavors easily. You should serve bourbon in a glass that is thick and sturdy. A whiskey glass or a rocks glass are both appropriate. 

How Should You Store Bourbon?

There is no one answer to storing bourbon, as the liquor can be stored in various ways. However, some tips include keeping it in a cool, dark place, ensuring the bottle is sealed properly, and avoiding exposure to sunlight or extreme temperatures. 

Is It Okay To Drink Bourbon On Ice?

It is typically okay to drink bourbon on ice as long as you enjoy the taste of bourbon. However, drinking bourbon with water or soda might be better if you want a refreshing drink on a hot day.