Do you think you need a huge bank account to afford good whiskey? Sure, if you want some fancy, Distiller's Edition, super-peated, aged in Sauternes casks stuff, it'll cost you, but there are plenty of great and affordable whiskies. To prove the point, I put together a list of ten great whiskies available for less than $20.
All the prices listed are the going rates at Hi-Time Wine; I used Hi-Time because it has a fabulous selection and on-line ordering, and I wanted to list things that were readily available to the California consumer. I also wanted a place with mid-level prices that were fairly representative of general pricing and Hi-Time tends to be right about there; that means that you may be able to find better deals on the bottles listed. My intent isn't to seek out sales and special offers, but rather, to list whiskies that are generally affordable.
The list is in descending order of price and I tried to include a variety of whiskey types.
Bowmore Legend, Single Malt Scotch, $19.99. Yes, there is a peated single malt Scotch for under $20; enjoy the perfumey smoke of Bowmore for less than a Jackson.
Buffalo Trace, Bourbon, $19.99. As good a standard Bourbon as you'll find with a nice rye kick, Buffalo Trace may be the best bargain in whiskey, period.
The Famous Grouse, Blended Scotch Whisky, $19.99. The most popular blend in Scotland is my choice for the best blend in the under $20 category.
George Dickel No. 12, Tennessee Whiskey, $19.99. This is my favorite of the Tennessee whiskies, and one of the most underrated whiskies. Great on its own, but also the perfect whiskey for a Manhattan.
Forty Creek Barrel Select, Canadian Whisky, $18.99. One of the most heralded Canadians, with lots of sweet caramel and fruit.
Kilbeggan, Blended Irish Whiskey, $18.99. A blended Irish from Cooley that has a nice malty flavor.
Michael Collins, Blended Irish Whiskey, $18.99. An independently bottled Cooley blend for those who like it on the lighter side.
Rittenhouse 100, Rye Whiskey, $17.99. Find perfect rye balance in this 100 proof rye rye whiskey.
Wild Turkey 101 Rye, Rye Whiskey, $17.99. One of the most underrated of rye whiskies, WT 101 has a powerful rye spice and serves a good contrast to the more subtle Rittenhouse.
Tullamore Dew, Blended Irish Whiskey, $15.99. For the basic Irish category, I'll take Tullamore over the standard Jameson or Bushmills.
Ten great whiskies under $20. Now go out and stimulate that whiskey economy!