My whiskey discovery began with the premier of Mad Men.
Don Draper’s drink of choice was the old fashioned, and any old fashioned is only as good as the whiskey you use.
These are the whiskeys I’ve discovered over the past 7 years that are the absolute best bang for your buck.
These whiskeys taste great, have character, and work well both on the rocks, neat or in an old fashioned.
Let me know your favorite affordable whiskey in the comments.
Best Whiskey Brands That Taste Great and Are Affordable
These are ranked from the most affordable to most expensive.
1. Old Forester Classic 86 Proof
It looks expensive, but actually it’s affordable and tastes nothing like it.
An old bottle of Forester Classic 86 Proof bourbon, it was first introduced by George Garvin Brown in 1870, the recipe of which is in keeping with the style. It is high in the content of rye, this is full bodied and rich.
It looks more like a perfume rather than a whiskey.
Using the knowledge of Chris Morris, a master disiller of Jack Daniel’s owners Brown-Forman, a Canadian whisky was created mellowing Collingwood’s blended spirit with maple wood for a sweet and rich dram.
3. Alberta Rye Dark Batch
This whiskey would be a great drink to share with your “dark batch”!
This Dark Batch whiskey from Alberta Distillers is made up of 91% rye whiskey, 8% bourbon and 1% sherry. Aged in American oak, this has notes of vanilla, smoke and dried fruit.
4. Knob Creek
Looks can be deceiving. But this whiskey is very affordable.
Created to represent whiskey before it was mass produced, Knob Creek embodies the look, feel and taste of pre-prohibition bourbon. This is a long-aged, high-rye bourbon from Jim Beam.
5. Woodford Reserve
A great whiskey to try out with some friends at an affordable price!
A twist that is interesting on Woodford Reserve’s classic straight bourbon. It is first matured in a new charred white oak barrels, as usual, but before bottling is being transferred to special heavily toasted, lightly charred finishing barrel. This gives it quite a different flavour to normal, with lots of spicy oak coming through on the palate.
6. Wild Turkey Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old
This whiskey would be great with chocolate and malt balls.
A Long-aged bourbon, that has a massive palate, yet it is still deceptively smooth. It is named after the company’s long-serving Master Distiller, Jimmy Russell.
7. Cù Bòcan
What makes this whiskey incredible is its light hint of smoke.
Cù Bòcan is a mythical hellhound who has stalked the residents of the village of Tomatin for centuries. As a ‘tribute’ to him, Tomatin have produced this lightly peated whisky, which has been matured in a combination of ex bourbon, ex sherry and virgin oak casks.
8. Corsair Quinoa Whiskey
The makers of this whiskey is called to be one of the best craft distillers in the country.
Corsair Quinoa Whiskey is made in the USA from a combination of red and white quinoa grains and malted barley. Quinoa adds unique earthy and nutty flavours to the whiskey.
9. Glen Grant 10
This whiskey has unusual characteristics and easy accessibility that is being praised by Smith.
Very reliable quality Speyside from a distillery founded in 1840. Glen Grant is one of the world’s best-selling single malts and is particularly popular in Italy. A huge 95 points from Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2013, along with the title of Single Malt of the Year (10yo & Under).
10. Brenne French Single Malt
This whiskey is totally a different and new flavor, and it is a lot of fun to taste and pair it with various kinds of food.
Brenne Single Malt Whisky is full of fruit-forward and complex-sugar notes; like rich creme brûlée, burnt caramel, bananas, tropical fruits and warm spices like cinnamon and clove.
11. Amrut Fusion
This whiskey is subcontinental; if you’re looking for something to add to your shelf.
This whiskeys got its name from the fact that it uses two barleys: Indian and Scottish – with the latter being peated for good measure. It has been picking up awards ever since it first appeared in the year 2009, and also in 2012, it was named the best whisky for a Rob Roy in the Ultimate Cocktail Challenge in New York.
12. BenRiach 17 Year Old Septendecim
This is your ticket if you need more smoke from any of the previous bottles.
An entry in the latin(-ish) named range from Benriach, stepping up from their 10 year old Curiositas with a 17 year old version of their peated Speyside dram. They say it harks back to the older peaty styles of Speyside whisky, we just say it’s rather tasty.
13. Tomatin 18 Year Spanish Oloroso Sherry Cask
The last two and a half years of maturing is spent in sherry’s cask.
An 18 year old from the Tomatin distillery, finished in Spanish oak Oloroso sherry butts.
14. Blackadder Peat Reek Malt Whisky
The name Peat Reek may not be the most appealing name, but if you’re looking for something that smells like the fire department is on their way, then this is the whiskey for you.
PEAT REEK is the smell of burning peat, the flavours of which are imparted in to malting barley as it is slowly dried while the smoky reek of the peat is drawn over it.