Best Cheap Bourbon for Whiskey Sour

Best Cheap Bourbon for Whiskey Sour

A whiskey sour is more than just a cocktail; it’s a symphony of flavors where bourbon plays the lead. But who says you need to splurge to enjoy this classic drink? This article is your guide to finding the best cheap bourbon for whiskey sour that will elevate your whiskey sour without emptying your wallet. We’ll dive into the world of bourbon, uncovering how its rich history and distinct taste profile blend seamlessly into the tangy zest of a whiskey sour.

We understand that the essence of a great whiskey sour lies in its bourbon base. That’s why we’ve scoured the market to bring you top-notch yet affordable options.

Whether you’re hosting a party or unwinding after a long day, our recommendations will ensure your whiskey sour is a hit.

So, let’s raise a glass to savvy selections that promise to impress both your palate and your pocket.

Best Cheap Bourbon for Whiskey Sour
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What is Bourbon?

Bourbon is the backbone of a whiskey sour, and choosing the right one can transform your cocktail from ordinary to extraordinary. Let’s delve into what bourbon is and why it’s so crucial for your drink.

What is Bourbon?
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Bourbon is a type of American whiskey, a distilled spirit made primarily from corn. The name “bourbon” comes from Bourbon County, Kentucky, where it has been produced since the 18th century. But it’s not just the history that makes bourbon special; it’s the strict production rules that give it its unique identity.

The Ingredients

To be called bourbon, the mash (the mixture from which the spirit is distilled) must contain at least 51% corn. The rest is usually a mix of barley, rye, or wheat. This high corn content gives bourbon its signature sweetness.

The Process

After fermentation, bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels. This aging process imparts deep flavors of vanilla, oak, and caramel into the spirit. There’s no minimum aging period for a spirit to be called bourbon, but to be labeled as “straight bourbon,” it must be aged for at least two years.

The Distinction

Unlike other whiskeys, bourbon must be made in the United States. It can’t be distilled to more than 160 proof (80% alcohol by volume), and it must enter the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof (62.5% ABV). When bottled, it must be at least 80 proof (40% ABV).

bourbon ingredients
Best Cheap Bourbon for Whiskey Sour bourbon Process
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Why Bourbon for a Whiskey Sour?

The whiskey sour is a classic cocktail that dates back over a century. It’s a simple mix of bourbon, lemon juice, sugar, and sometimes egg white. The bourbon you choose can greatly affect the taste of your cocktail.

Why Bourbon for a Whiskey Sour?
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Flavor Profile

Bourbon’s natural sweetness and rich flavors balance the tartness of the lemon juice in a whiskey sour. The charred wood from the barrels adds a smoky note, while the aging process rounds out the drink with smoothness and complexity.

Price vs. Quality

While there are many high-end bourbons, a whiskey sour doesn’t necessarily need an expensive bottle. The key is to find a bourbon that’s affordable but still has the right flavor profile to complement the other ingredients in your cocktail.

Top Budget-Friendly Bourbons for a Whiskey Sour

When it comes to crafting a delicious whiskey sour, the bourbon you choose is key. But you don’t have to spend a fortune to find a quality bourbon that fits the bill. Here, we’ll explore some of the best budget-friendly bourbons that are perfect for mixing into your next whiskey sour.

Criteria for Selecting Best Cheap Bourbon for Whiskey Sour

Before we dive into our top picks, let’s talk about what we’re looking for in a bourbon for a whiskey sour. We want a bourbon that’s smooth enough to sip on its own but also robust enough to stand up to the other ingredients in a whiskey sour. It should have a balance of sweetness, spice, and oak flavors without any harshness.

Best Cheap Bourbon for Whiskey Sour
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  • Flavor The flavor of the bourbon is crucial because it’s the foundation of the cocktail. We’re looking for bourbons with a profile that includes vanilla, caramel, and a touch of spice. These flavors will complement the sourness of the lemon and the sweetness of the sugar.
  • Price We’re focusing on bourbons that offer great value for money. These are bottles that are priced reasonably but don’t compromise on quality. They’re accessible for everyday purchases, so you can enjoy a whiskey sour anytime without hesitation.
  • Availability It’s also important that these bourbons are widely available. We’ve chosen bourbons that you can find at most liquor stores or online retailers. This way, you won’t have to go on a treasure hunt just to make your favorite cocktail.

Recommended Budget-Friendly Bourbons

Now, let’s get to the good stuff. Here are three bourbons that are perfect for a whiskey sour and won’t break the bank.

Bourbon #1: Old Forester 86 Proof

  • Flavor Notes: This bourbon offers a rich flavor with notes of chocolate, vanilla, and a hint of orange. Its smooth finish makes it a great choice for a whiskey sour.
  • Price Point: Old Forester 86 Proof is priced around $20-$25 for a 750ml bottle, making it an excellent value.
  • Why It’s Good for a Whiskey Sour: Its balance of sweetness and spice, along with a smooth finish, ensures that your whiskey sour is flavorful without being overpowering.
Bourbon Distillers in Kentucky Old Forester

Bourbon #2: Buffalo Trace

  • Flavor Notes: Buffalo Trace is known for its complex flavor profile with hints of toffee, anise, and dark fruit. It’s a well-rounded bourbon that adds depth to any cocktail.
  • Price Point: Typically available for about $25-$30 for a 750ml bottle, it’s a small investment for a significant upgrade in your cocktail experience.
  • Why It’s Good for a Whiskey Sour: The complexity of Buffalo Trace adds layers of flavor to the whiskey sour, making each sip a discovery.
Top Picks: Renowned 90 Proof Bourbons
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Bourbon #3: Evan Williams Black Label

  • Flavor Notes: With a profile that includes vanilla, nutmeg, and charred oak, Evan Williams Black Label is a classic bourbon that’s both bold and smooth.
  • Price Point: At around $15-$20 for a 750ml bottle, it’s one of the most affordable options for a quality bourbon.
  • Why It’s Good for a Whiskey Sour: The bold flavors stand up well to the sour and sweet components of the cocktail, creating a balanced and enjoyable drink.
Best Cheap Bourbon for Whiskey Sour: Evan Williams Black Label
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Making the Perfect Whiskey Sour with Budget Bourbon

Creating the perfect whiskey sour is an art, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. With the right budget bourbon and a few simple ingredients, you can mix a cocktail that’s both delicious and easy on the wallet. Here’s how to do it step by step.

Ingredients and Tools You’ll Need

First things first, let’s gather what we need. For a classic whiskey sour, you’ll require:

  • Bourbon: Choose from one of the budget-friendly options we discussed earlier.
  • Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed for the best flavor.
  • Simple Syrup: Equal parts sugar and water, heated until the sugar dissolves.
  • Ice: To chill and dilute the cocktail.
  • Cocktail Shaker: To mix and aerate the drink.
  • Strainer: If your shaker doesn’t have one built-in.
  • Glass: A rock glass is traditional.


  • Egg White: For a frothy top layer.
  • Angostura Bitters: A dash to enhance the flavor.
  • Cherry or Orange Slice: For garnish.

Step-by-Step Mixing Guide

Now, let’s put it all together.

Step 1: Prep Your Ingredients

  • Squeeze the Lemon: Roll the lemon on the counter first to make it juicier.
  • Make the Simple Syrup: Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently.
  • Chill the Glass: Fill your glass with ice to get it nice and cold.
Making the Perfect Whiskey Sour with Budget Bourbon
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Step 2: Mix Your Cocktail

  • Combine Ingredients: In your shaker, pour 2 ounces of bourbon, 3/4 ounce lemon juice, and 1/2 ounce simple syrup.
  • Add Ice: Fill the shaker halfway with ice.
  • Shake: Seal the shaker and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds.
  • Strain: Strain the mixture into your chilled glass filled with fresh ice.

Step 3: Add the Finishing Touches

  • Egg White (Optional): If using, shake the egg white in the shaker without ice first, then add to the drink and shake again briefly.
  • Garnish: Add a cherry or an orange slice on the rim of the glass.
  • Serve: Enjoy your perfectly balanced whiskey sour.
Best Cheap Bourbon for Whiskey Sour
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Tips for the Best Whiskey Sour

  • Balance is Key: Adjust the sweetness and sourness to your taste.
  • Quality Ingredients: Use the best ingredients you can find within your budget.
  • Experiment: Try different bourbons to find your favorite combination.

Embracing Affordable Quality

As we wrap up our exploration of budget-friendly bourbons for the perfect whiskey sour, it’s clear that quality doesn’t have to come with a high price tag. The bourbons we’ve discussed offer a harmony of flavors that can elevate your cocktail experience without straining your finances.

Remember, the essence of a great whiskey sour lies not in the cost of the bourbon but in the quality of the ingredients and the care put into the preparation. The bourbons selected for this guide bring their own unique profiles to the table, ensuring that each sip is a testament to the rich heritage of American whiskey-making.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different bourbons that are within the budget-friendly range. Each variation can bring a new dimension to your whiskey sour, allowing you to discover your personal preference and perhaps even your new favorite.

Share your whiskey-sour creations with friends and family, and take pride in knowing that you’ve crafted a cocktail that’s both delightful to the palate and kind to the wallet. Use this opportunity to educate others about the nuances of bourbon and the joy of cocktail-making.

Final Thoughts

This is all about the best cheap bourbon for a whiskey sour. As you continue on your journey of cocktail crafting, let this guide be a reminder that the best experiences often come from simple pleasures. Whether you’re a seasoned mixologist or a curious beginner, the world of bourbon and whiskey sours is rich with possibilities, all waiting to be explored without requiring a lavish expenditure. So here’s to finding the perfect balance of flavor and affordability—cheers to your next homemade whiskey sour!


Disclosure: Our blog contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

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