As you’re reading our 7 Cheap (But Delicious) Bourbons for Beginners in 2023 keep in mind that at Distillery Dudes, we don’t mess around when it comes to our whiskey. Our reviews are based on firsthand experience, with each and every drink sampled by our team members. We’re not a big operation, but we make up for it with passion and dedication. So you can trust that when we give our honest feedback, it’s backed by the taste buds of two die-hard whiskey enthusiasts. We may not have a huge team, but we have something even better – a shared love for great whiskey and bourbon. Let’s raise a glass to that!

Welcome to the world of bourbon, where rich flavors and smooth sips await! Whether you’re a seasoned whisky aficionado or just dipping your toes into the intriguing realm of brown spirits, finding the perfect bourbon can be an exciting adventure. But with so many options out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. That’s why we’ve curated a list of five delicious bourbons that won’t break the bank – perfect for new bourbon drinkers in 2023. So grab your favorite glass, sit back, and let us guide you through this delightful journey into the world of bourbon! 

Bourbon 101

Before we dive into the best bourbons for beginners, let’s start with a quick Bourbon 101 crash course. Bourbon is a type of whiskey that originated in the United States, specifically Kentucky. It’s made primarily from corn and aged in charred oak barrels, which gives it its distinct caramel color and rich flavors.

To be considered bourbon, the spirit must meet certain legal requirements.

  1. Must be made in the United States, with Kentucky accounting for 95% of the global supply.
  2. Aging requires new, charred, oak barrels. Bourbon must be aged for at least two years to be considered straight bourbon.
  3. Mash must contain a minimum of 51% corn.
  4. Whiskey must enter the barrel below 125 proof and cannot be bottled below 80 proof.
  5. Only water can be added to bourbon, solely to reduce the proof. No color or flavor additives are allowed, unlike other whiskeys.

When it comes to taste, bourbon offers a wide range of flavor profiles. Some are sweet with notes of vanilla and caramel, while others have more robust and spicy characteristics. Exploring different brands and expressions is part of the fun!

Now that you have a basic understanding of what makes bourbon unique let’s move on to our top picks for affordable yet delicious bourbons that are perfect for those just starting their journey into this captivating world!

Maker’s Mark

Maker’s Mark

Maker’s Mark is a classic bourbon that has been satisfying whiskey enthusiasts for decades. With its smooth and approachable flavor profile, it’s no wonder why this brand has become a staple in many liquor cabinets.


One of the things that sets Maker’s Mark apart from other bourbons is its unique aging process. Unlike most distilleries, Maker’s Mark rotates their barrels during the maturation process to ensure an even distribution of flavors throughout each batch. This attention to detail results in a consistently delicious bourbon every time.

The nose of Maker’s Mark offers hints of caramel and vanilla, with just a touch of oakiness. On the palate, you’ll find notes of butterscotch and toasted nuts, balanced by a subtle spiciness. The finish is long and warm, leaving you with lingering flavors of sweet corn and honey.

Whether enjoyed neat or used as the base for your favorite cocktail, Maker’s Mark delivers on taste without breaking the bank. Its accessible price point makes it an ideal choice for new bourbon drinkers who are looking to explore different brands without emptying their wallets.

So if you’re ready to dip your toes into the world of bourbon, give Maker’s Mark a try. With its smoothness and affordability, it just might become your new go-to drink!

Read our full review here. 

Wild Turkey 101

Wild Turkey 101

Wild Turkey 101 is a bourbon that packs a punch with its higher alcohol content, and it’s perfect for those who prefer a bold and intense flavor profile. With an ABV of 50.5%, this Kentucky straight bourbon is not for the faint of heart. 

One sip of Wild Turkey 101 reveals its robust character, with notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak dancing on your palate. The rich flavors are complemented by hints of spice and warmth that linger long after each sip.

What sets Wild Turkey 101 apart from other bourbons in its price range is its exceptional quality. It undergoes a longer aging process compared to many other bourbons at this price point, which allows the flavors to develop more depth and complexity.

Whether you prefer sipping it neat or using it as the base for classic cocktails like an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan, Wild Turkey 101 delivers satisfyingly smooth results every time. Its versatility makes it a great choice for both seasoned bourbon drinkers looking for something affordable and newbies wanting to explore the world of bourbon.

So if you’re ready to take your taste buds on an adventure without breaking the bank, give Wild Turkey 101 a try. You won’t be disappointed by its bold flavors and impressive value for money!

Read our full review here. 

Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace is a fantastic choice for new bourbon drinkers. It’s known for its smooth and approachable flavor profile, making it a great introduction to the world of bourbon.

Buffalo Trace has a very rich history. The distillery has been producing bourbon since 1773, making it one of the oldest continuously operating distilleries in America. This long-standing tradition shines through in every bottle.

When you take your first sip of Buffalo Trace, you’ll notice notes of caramel, vanilla, and a hint of spice. The flavors are well-balanced and not overpowering, which makes it an excellent choice for those who may be new to the world of whiskey.

What I love about this bourbon is that it can be enjoyed straight or used as a base for cocktails. Its versatility allows you to experiment with different mixers and flavors to find your perfect drink.

The price point is also worth mentioning – Buffalo Trace offers exceptional quality at an affordable price, making it accessible to all levels of bourbon enthusiasts.

Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon is a must-try for beginners looking to explore the world of bourbon. Its smooth taste and affordable price make it an ideal starting point on your journey into this delicious spirit!

Bulleit Bourbon

Bulleit Bourbon is a popular choice for new bourbon drinkers, thanks to its smooth and approachable flavor profile. This Kentucky straight bourbon is known for its high rye content, which adds a spicy kick to the overall taste.

One of the standout features of Bulleit Bourbon is its rich amber color, inviting you to take a sip and savor the experience. On the nose, you’ll detect hints of vanilla and oak, giving it a warm and inviting aroma.

When it comes to taste, Bulleit delivers notes of caramel and maple syrup that dance on your palate. The spiciness from the rye brings an extra layer of complexity without overpowering the other flavors.

Whether you prefer sipping it neat or mixing up classic cocktails like Old Fashioned or Manhattan, Bulleit Bourbon holds up well in any setting. Its versatility makes it an excellent choice for experimenting with different drink combinations.

With an affordable price point, Bulleit offers great value without compromising on quality. So if you’re looking for a budget-friendly yet delicious bourbon option, give Bulleit a try!

Old Forester

Old Forester is a classic bourbon brand that has been around since 1870, making it one of the oldest distilleries in Kentucky. This historic legacy speaks volumes about the quality and craftsmanship behind their spirits.

One thing that sets Old Forester apart from other bourbons is its unique flavor profile. It has a rich and full-bodied taste with caramel, vanilla, and oak notes. The combination of these flavors creates a smooth and satisfying drinking experience.

Another reason why Old Forester is perfect for beginners is its affordability. Despite being a well-established brand with decades of expertise, their bourbons are reasonably priced, making them accessible to everyone.

Whether you prefer sipping your bourbon neat or mixing it into cocktails, Old Forester can deliver on both fronts. Its versatile nature allows you to enjoy it however you like best.

If you’re new to bourbon drinking and looking for an excellent entry point into this world, Old Forester should definitely be on your radar. With its rich history, exceptional flavor profile, affordability, and versatility in serving options – it’s hard not to love everything that Old Forester brings to the table!

Evan Williams Bourbon

Evan Williams

Evan Williams is a classic go-to choice for many new bourbon drinkers. Named after Evan Williams, who was one of Kentucky’s first distillers, this bourbon offers a smooth and approachable flavor profile that is sure to please.

One thing Evan Williams does really well is combine affordability without compromising on quality. It offers great value for money, making it an ideal option for those just starting their bourbon journey. Plus, with its wide availability, you can easily find it at your local liquor store or online.

When it comes to taste, Evan Williams Bourbon delivers a delightful blend of sweet caramel and vanilla notes with hints of oak and spice. It has a medium body that feels both robust and smooth on the palate, allowing you to savor each sip.

Whether enjoyed neat or in classic cocktails like Old Fashioned or Manhattan, Evan Williams Bourbon adds depth and character to any drink. Its versatility makes it suitable for both casual gatherings with friends or special occasions where you want to impress your guests.

As you venture into the world of bourbons as a beginner drinker, give Evan Williams Bourbon a try. You won’t be disappointed by its affordable price tag combined with its delicious flavor profile that showcases why bourbon has become such a beloved spirit across generations. Cheers!

Four Roses Small Batch

Four Roses Small Batch

Four Roses Small Batch is a bourbon that offers a delightful and complex flavor profile. With its smoothness and rich taste, it is an excellent choice for those new to the world of bourbon.

Crafted by master distillers at Four Roses Distillery, this small batch expression combines four unique recipes to create a harmonious blend. Each recipe adds its own distinct characteristics, resulting in a well-balanced and flavorful whiskey.

The nose of Four Roses Small Batch is filled with enticing aromas of caramel, vanilla, and oak. It invites you to take your first sip and discover the layers of flavors waiting to be explored. On the palate, you’ll find notes of ripe fruits, spices, and hints of honey that dance on your tongue.

What sets Four Roses Small Batch apart is its smooth finish. As you savor each sip, you’ll experience a warmth that lingers gently without overpowering your senses. This makes it an ideal choice for both sipping neat or enjoying in classic cocktails like Old Fashioned or Manhattan.

Whether you’re looking to expand your bourbon collection or trying bourbon for the first time, Four Roses Small Batch offers an affordable yet high-quality option. Its balanced flavors make it easy to enjoy straight from the bottle or mixed into your favorite cocktail creations.

Four Roses Small Batch stands out as one of the best bourbons for beginners due to its approachable taste profile and reasonable price point. Give it a try – you won’t be disappointed!

How to serve bourbon

Now that you’ve got your bottle of bourbon, it’s time to learn how to serve it properly. The first thing to keep in mind is that bourbon is best enjoyed neat or on the rocks. This means you can either sip it straight from the glass or add a few ice cubes for a slightly chilled experience.

When pouring your bourbon, use a clean and high-quality glass. A classic whiskey tumbler or Glencairn glass are both great options. Pour about 1-2 ounces of bourbon into your glass, allowing enough room for swirling and nosing.

Before taking your first sip, take a moment to appreciate the aromas of the bourbon. Swirl the liquid gently in your glass to release its full bouquet. Then bring the glass up to your nose and take in the delightful scents – notes of caramel, vanilla, oak, and maybe even some hints of fruit or spice.

Once you’ve taken in all those enticing aromas, it’s finally time for that first sip. Take small sips and let each one linger on your palate before swallowing. Pay attention to the flavors as they unfold – sweetness from corn, warmth from rye or wheat, richness from malted barley – every nuance tells a story.

Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to enjoy bourbon as long as you savor every drop. So sit back, relax, and let this golden elixir transport you into a world filled with flavor and history!

Conclusion & Final Thoughts

It can be exciting for beginners to find the perfect bourbon, filled with rich flavors and new experiences. There are plenty of affordable options out there that deliver on taste and quality, whether you’re just starting out or looking to expand your collection of bourbons.

We have selected seven cheap but delicious bourbons for new bourbon drinkers to try in 2023. From the smoothness of Maker’s Mark to Wild Turkey 101’s boldness, these selections offer a variety of flavors and profiles to suit different palates.

Bulleit Bourbon offers a robust flavor profile with hints of vanilla and caramel, while Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon offers a balanced mix of sweet and spicy notes. An excellent choice for beginners, Old Forester is renowned for its rich history and unique taste.

Evan Williams Bourbon is another budget-friendly option without compromising on quality or flavor. Four Roses Small Batch whiskey combines multiple flavor profiles to create a complex yet approachable whiskey experience.

In order to fully appreciate the unique characteristics of bourbon, remember to take your time savoring each sip. If desired, add ice or water, but start by enjoying it neat.

The best way to find your favorite bourbon is through personal exploration and tasting different brands over time. No matter what bourbon you choose, keep in mind that everyone has a different palate.

Embark on this delightful journey into the world of bourbons! Cheers!



Can I enjoy these bourbons neat or should I mix them in cocktails?

These bourbons can be enjoyed both ways! They are versatile and can be savored neat to appreciate their unique flavors and aromas. Alternatively, they also work wonderfully in cocktails, adding depth and character to your favorite mixed drinks.

Where can I find these bourbons mentioned in the article?

The bourbons featured in the article can be found at various liquor stores, online retailers, and even some well-stocked supermarkets. Check with your local retailers or explore online platforms to discover these affordable and delicious bourbons for beginners.

What is the best way to store bourbon?

To ensure the quality and longevity of your bourbon, store it in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperature fluctuations. Seal the bottle tightly to prevent excessive air exposure, which can affect the flavor over time. Proper storage conditions will help maintain the integrity of the bourbon for an extended period.

Can bourbon go bad or expire?

Unlike some perishable foods, bourbon does not spoil or expire if stored correctly. However, its flavor and quality can gradually change over time, especially after the bottle has been opened. The alcohol content acts as a preservative, but extended exposure to air can lead to oxidation and a decline in taste. It’s best to consume opened bourbon within 1-2 years for optimal flavor, although it will still be safe to drink beyond that timeframe.