Tom Moore Distillery, previously known as Barton Brands and recently purchased by Buffalo Trace, does great things with cheap booze. Known and loved for Very Old Barton in Kentucky, the distillery's biggest problem is that not much of their whiskey makes it out of Kentucky.
One of the few budget brands from Tom Moore that make it out west is Ten High. A Bourbon, Ten High usually weighs in at $10 or less so it definitely falls into the budget category, but at a mere 40% alcohol, it doesn't have the punch of some of the stronger versions of Very Old Barton.
Ten High Bourbon (distilled by Tom Moore distillery), 40% alcohol ($10 or less).
The nose is a bit harsh, but then there is some caramel and even some wood. With the first taste this is unmistakably a Barton Bourbon, sweet but with some real depth and complexity. Beneath the sugar, there's polished wood and spice and savory notes as well.
No one does good, cheap booze like Barton Brands. This sip of Ten High makes me wish we could get the higher proof but still cheap Very Old Barton in these parts. Maybe Buffalo Trace will widen the distribution and bless us with some of it, but until then, you can't do much better than Ten High for less than ten dollars.