It’s my favorite time of year – fall. It also brings with it my favorite holiday, Halloween! I was the kid fascinated by scary stories, though the blinds rattling late at night was enough to send me into a panic. You would’ve thought I would’ve read something more pleasant…nah. These days, it’s American Horror Story (why CLOWNS!?) and the Walking Dead. And don’t forget the most fun of all – Halloween parties! Whether you’re hosting one, or bringing a bottle to your favorite haunt, these whiskies will help you not be scared of looking at your bank balance later.

The beginning rung of the Four Roses Bourbon ladder, there’s nothing bottom shelf about Yellow Label. Smooth and a little sweet/fruity, it’s a great bourbon over ice or mixed into a cocktail. At about $20 a bottle, you won’t feel guilty putting it into drinks or even a punch bowl.

If your friends like vodka, or you’re thinking of a drink that needs a clear spirit like Vodka Eyeballs or a Monkey Brain Shot, George Dickel No. 1 will fit the bill nicely. It’s the unaged base whiskey for the rest of their line, but it’s not harsh like some of the white whiskies I’ve had. A great substitute in a drink that calls for vodka or even gin, at around $20 it works nicely.

Hovering right around the $30 mark, Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage is the choice on this list if you’re looking for something to drink neat. It has a full flavor, that finishes just a little bit sweet. It’s a great bourbon that I drink, even when there are more expensive choices.

Another of the less expensive products from a distillery that makes some high-end hooch, there’s nothing cheap about Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon. The flavor may have a bit more bite than Four Roses, but it’s still a smooth-drinking whiskey. Straight Bourbon on the label means it’s aged at least 2 years. It’s not always the easiest to find, but a great choice at around $23 when you do.

You simply can’t beat a $15 bottle of bourbon that’s this drinkable. Thank you, Trader Joe’s for bottling Bourbon and not just another salad dressing or funky vegan product. If you prefer your whiskey neat, this one is a bit better with a single ice cube, and it mixes like a champ. Like most of TJ’s stuff, it’s made by a big name: Sazerac’s Barton 1792 Distillery does TJ’s Bourbon (1792 Ridgemont Reserve is another good bottle, but it’s about $35).

Quick drink ideas: Bourbon Old Fashioned (depending on the party and your bartending tolerance) Kentucky Mules (ginger beer, any of these Bourbons, plus a little fresh mint over ice), or even a quick Whiskey Sour will work and hopefully won’t give you a Brain Hemorrhage (it says peach schnapps, but damn that stuff’s too sweet, use George Dickel instead).

There you have it: five budget whiskies that won’t scare your bank account, nor your taste buds. Cheers and Happy Halloween!

Article by: Jeanne Runkle

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