10 Best Whiskey’s Under $50 to Buy for the Holidays


While the Bourbon Bonanza craze that was happening just a few short years ago has started to slow down a bit, a lot of great distilleries have continued to produce some really exciting top-notch whiskey and bourbon options at reasonable prices.

This is great news for whiskey enthusiasts as it’s possible to get your hands on some top-tier options without having to spend a small fortune – and without having to reach for the “specialty” whiskeys that have Jim or Jack in the name.

Below we highlight 10 of the best options that you want to try the next time that you’re looking for something a little different.

Redbreast 12-Year Old Irish Whiskey

At first blush this stout little bottle of whiskey (Irish whiskey) looks like something that your grandpa or great grandpa probably had tucked away in the liquor cabinet somewhere – but you shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that the old-school look of this label and bottle means there’s an old-school flavor profile here.

This 12-year-old whiskey is super complex but buttery smooth, with a lot of grassy and smoky notes about the nose while you get a touch of cinnamon, grape, and honey towards the back end of the finish.

This is a rock solid Irish whiskey option at less than $50.

Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Bourbon

The Kentucky bourbon in this bottle is said to be aged only eight years, making it some of the youngest “brown stuff” you’re going to find coming out of Kentucky outside of the mass-produced bourbon Jim and Jack are putting out like clockwork.

Pepper and spice with a little bit of honey on the back end make this a real treat. You aren’t ever going to want to use this as a mixer for fear of diluting its rock solid flavor profile.

W.L. Weller

Produced by the same folks behind Buffalo Trace whiskey (something we touch on in just a little bit), this is a super smooth 90 proof bourbon that stands head and shoulders apart from the rest of the pack, not only because of its soft and mellow flavor profile but also because of its ultra burnt orange color.

A lot more mild than you’d expect especially at 90 proof; it works well with cocktails but doesn’t sit uncomfortably in a glass neat or with ice either.

Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon

This small batch bourbon is a real sneaky favorite of whiskey enthusiasts that know great booze when they taste it. The fact that you can pick up this bourbon for about half of the $50 limit we established for this list seems almost criminal.

Small batch bourbon from top to bottom, it’s heavy on the caramel and vanilla flavors but has a little bit of a citrus finish towards the back end that makes it really nice. It definitely will burn a little bit sliding down but it has a smooth finish that won’t have you diluting it with a chaser or any ice.

Eagle Rare 10 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Considered by many to be one of the “best value” whiskeys money can buy at any price point, Eagle Rare has done something really special with this 10-year-old Kentucky bourbon. It’s spicy (but not too spicy), citrusy (but not too citrusy), and has just the right amount of honey and vanilla two round things out nicely. This tastes like a bourbon that costs two or three times as much as it does.

Knob Creek Straight Rye Whiskey

Made by the legends behind some of the best Kentucky bourbon ever produced, the Noe family knows a thing or two about putting out top-tier small batch whiskey – and this just might be the very best of the best available at any price point.

In 2015 this whiskey was given the third-place award in the right category but it’s possible that the judges there had had a little too much to drink when they rated this that low. It comes in at a whopping 100 proof (quite a bit higher than some of the other options on this list) which makes it ideal for cocktails but taking it straight up or neat is a pleasure, too.

Buffalo Trace

You will have an almost impossible time finding people that do not love everything Buffalo Trace has to offer, particularly at the sub $50 price point. This is a premium whiskey through and through, hot and spicy but with a smooth caramel kind of finish that is rounded off with just a little bit of orange towards the back end.

It doesn’t hurt that it comes in gorgeous bottles and just has that “old-school” kind of look to it that makes it sit so pretty when left out while you are entertaining guests.

Old Forester 100

The same age old recipe and mash bill that was created by founder George Garvin Brown continues to be used today, helping to set this 100 proof whiskey apart from the rest of the pack with a throwback kind of flavor profile that’s tough to find in some of the more modern and “tinkered with” options – including some on this list.

This is the kind of whiskey that folks drank in the middle of Prohibition (one of the few whiskeys available for sale back that as it was classified as “for medicinal purposes”) and enjoying a touch is a lot like climbing into a time machine.

Michter’s US #1 Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey

This rye whiskey is a celebration of America’s oldest whiskey type, made from carefully selected grain produced in America and then sheared to exacting specifications to produce the highest flavor extraction possible.

Coming in at 84.8 proof (and cooped up in fire charred, new oak barrels for a couple of years before being blended), this is a spicy, citrusy whiskey that has a butterscotch backbone. It’s a real treat for less than $50.

Monkey Shoulder

It’s almost impossible to recommend ANY scotch whisky for less than $50, because the very best options coming out of Scotland are easily three or four times that. However, Monkey Shoulder blended malt scotch whisky is something you have to try to believe.

The flavors here are totally unique thanks to the fact that this scotch whisky has been blended from barrels produced at three different space I distilleries. In the end you get something that is very creamy, very malty, and very upfront with its vanilla and spice flavors – but with just a little bit of back end heat that lets you know it’s still a legitimate scotch whisky.

Wine 101: Food And Wine Pairing

wine pairing harry dalian

Taken from Kendall-Jackson’s own website, here are the basics of wine pairing:

  • Pair Similar Flavors
    • Wine with similar flavors pair well together – fish with lemon sauce pairs well with citrusy Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Pair Similar Weight And Texture
    • Pair light, medium, and heavy dishes with corresponding wines – both medium and rich, Lobster and Chardonnay go very well together.
  • Pair Same Sweetness
    • Wine should always be of equal sweetness, if not more sweet, than the dish it’s paired with – pork chops and apple sauce are perfect with sweet Riesling.
  • Pair Crisp With Salt
    • A crips wine balances salty food – kalamata olives and feta tapas are complemented by crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Pair According To Sauce
    • Light citrus sauces go well with Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, heavy cream and mushroom sauces pair with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and red and meat sauces go well with Merlot, Cabernet, and Syrah.
  • Pair For The Spice
    • Spicy foods are relieved by sweet wines – hot Asian foods go very well with Riesling.
  • Pair Tannins With Fat
    • Tannic wines cut through fat leaves in the mouth – Cabernet Sauvignon pairs great with steak.

Click on this infographic for an easy visual guide for what foods pair with what wines:

pairing wine and food harry dalian

A Wine Collector’s Must-Have Pinot Noirs

Growing one’s collection of wine is not an easy feat to undertake. It requires, time, knowledge, storage, and money. So, if you’re going to consider yourself a true collector of delicious wines, you must have all the above resources. However, to really cultivate your collection, to make it coveted by every other wine enthusiast, start collecting the wines on this list.

You’ll be a wine connoisseur once you nab a bottle of these amazing Pinot Noirs:

Romanee-Conti harry dalian


This Pinot Noir is annually released in limited supply, making it highly coveted and revered. Each vintage comes out remarkably consistent, with grapes being grown in the clay-rich soil of the Romanee-Conti vineyards, buyers jump at any opportunity to purchase one of these bottles.

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Domaine Georges Roumier

Fermented differently than other Pinot Noirs, this unique vino is more fruity and flavorful than the rest. Bathed in a cold soak at the beginning of the fermentation process, this vintage is seamlessly blending the old with the new.

Richebourg harry dalian


Considered by many to be the first of its kind, the Richebourg Pinot Noir is much richer than most other, thinner versions of the wine. It was also the first estate to receive AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) status.

d’Auvenay Mazis-Chambertin harry dalian

d’Auvenay Mazis-Chambertin

With a love for natural, unfiltered wines and a name associated with the white variety, owner Lalou Bize-Leroy only produces about 350 cases of this wine annually. According to biodynamic approaches, each harvest yields a very low amount of crop each year.

Sylvain Cathiard harry dalian

Sylvain Cathiard

Terroir is almost as important to the characteristics of wine as the grapes are. However, there is only one estate that truly adheres to this philosophy. Only using materials for labor and farming from resources within a few miles of the vines, this Pinot Noir is as terroir-pure as a wine can get.

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Louis Jadot

Produced traditionally and extremely consistent in quality, Louis Jadot is one of the largest wine producers in the world. Preferring wood over metal, the natural fermentation process of this Pinot Noir has been ahead of the trend since day one.

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Kosta Browne

Not rare or impossible to find, this California wine makes up for its lack of exclusivity with its diligently garnered and formulated ingredients and processes. Letting the vines grow to full maturity before harvesting, this wine is able to capture the flavorful, complex notes it’s loved for.

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Domaine Fourrier

Separated by terroir, the Pinot Noirs that Domaine Fourrier produces are pure in origin, but that’s not all. Their malolactic fermentation technique combined with their 20% new oak barrels produces a more delicate, fruity wine.

Marcassin harry dalian


With a waiting list over 5,000 names long, Marcassin Pinot Noir might be the most coveted, exclusive vintage of them all. Only offered to those on their mailing list, this unfiltered and cold stabilized wine is the creme de la creme when it comes to Pinot Noir.

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Peregrine Pinnacle

The grapes on the vines of Central Otago, New Zealand endure extreme weather conditions. However, located on stone-heavy soil, the grapes have excellent drainage year round. Also, aided by a gradient that changes to mimic the wings of a peregrine falcon, the vines get excellent sunlight 12 months a year at the vineyard.

The Many Wines Of Italy

italian wines harry dalian

Wine comes from many different regions across the world. Italy is one of the most popular regions with a wide variety of grapes and as a result, many different varieties of wine.

Producing both red and white, Italian wine has something to offer every palate. Here’s a list of the major Italian wine varieties:


Asti: sparkling, moscato grapes from Asti, sweet, low alcohol content, fruity, floral

Frascati: Trebbiano grapes, Frascati area, dry, light, crisp, subtle

Gavi: dry, medium, Cortese grapes from Gavi, crisp. slight notes of honey, apple, and minerals.

Pino Grigio: light, dry, crisp, subtle flavors, Pinot Gris grapes, Northeastern Italy

Soave: Veneto region, Garganega grapes, dry, crisp, light-medium, slight notes of pear, apple, or peach.

Verdicchio: dry, medium, crisp, mineral flavor, fresh, Verdicchio grapes, Marche region


Amarone: full bodied, partially-bried Corvina grapes, Veneto region, dry, firm, concentrated fruity notes

Barbaresco: Very similar to Barolo, same grape and area, lighter, more palatable, best 8-15 years

Barbera: Piedmont region, dry, light-medium, strong berry flavor, acidic, slight tannin, best from Alba or Asti zones

Barolo: dry, full, Nebbiolo grapes, Barolo area, eclectic aromas, strawberry flavor, tar, herbs, earth, tannin, 10-20 years

Brunello di Montalcino: full, strong, Savgiovese grapes, Montalcino zone of Tuscany, dry, very tannic, 15+years

Chianti: very dry, medium, slight tannic. sour cherry flavor, Savgiovese grapes, Chianti area of Tuscany, enjoyed young and old

Lambrusco: sweet, fizzy, grapey flavor, Lambrusco grapes, Emilia-Romagna region, dry, can come sparkling

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo: medium, red fruit flavor, slight veggie note, comes as a lighter wine, best enjoyed concentrated, denser, from Montepulciano grape, Abruzzo region

Salice Salentino: dry, full, Negroamaro grapes, Puglia region, strong flavors of hot, ripe fruit, complex

Valpolicella: medium, Corvina grapes, Valpolicella area, Veneto region, dry, light, slight tannic, strong cherry flavor

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano: medium, dry, light, cherry flavor, similar to Chianti, Sangiovese grapes, Montepulciano area, Tuscany region.


Check out this video of another guy who is passionate about wine and its many varieties:

Wine Cocktails Part 2

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Cherry Jam

Yes, this cocktail is made with fruit preserves, and it’s a revelation. Combine some delectable cherry jam, lemon juice, vodka, and Chandon Brut Classic (or your choice of champagne or prosecco), shake, strain, and enjoy!

french 75 harry dalian

French 75

Made with Pucker Grape Gone Wild Vodka, this drink is not sour, but its sweet and delicious! Most flavored vodkas are terrible, leaving you with a medicinal, bitter taste, but Pucker flavored vodkas are actually tasty! Combine the vodka with lemon juice, simple syrup, and ice in a shaker, strain, and top with sparkling wine. Voilà!

san francisco sangaree harry dalian

San Francisco Sangaree

This cocktail is guaranteed to warm you up! After muddling cherries in a shaker, add ice, simple syrup, merlot, bourbon, and a lemon slice, and shake your heart out. Strain into a glass and let this rich, warming drink keep you company on any chilly evening.

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Beauty Elixir

A cocktail that is (semi) good for you? Yes, this drink is hydrating and delicious! Muddled cucumber combined with ice, Oxley Gin, strawberry puree, lemon juice, and simple syrup is shaken up and topped with sparkling rosé. Yum!


Wine Cocktails Part 1

Vino Francesca Harry Dalian

Vino Francesca

This fruity cocktail incorporates honey and sage syrup, rosé, ice, and lemon for an earthy yet refreshing drink made to enjoy with lunch or dinner.

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The Payson

This citrusy, zesty cocktail has many ingridients but doesn’t lack freshness and personality! Ingredients include fruity red wine like Pinot Noir, cranberry and orange juices, Chambored, ice, sprite, and lemon, lime, and orange zest for garnish.

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The Star Gazer

A cocktail with pazaz and complexity, The Star Gazer isn’t playing around. Incorporating chardonnay, dark rum, vanilla bean syrup and pineapple juice, you cannot get bored with this beverage.

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Apple & Pink Julep

Port is not traditionally thought of as refreshing, but the Croft Pink Port in this drink reimagines what one can do with wine and cocktails. Muddle some mint leaves with apple juice and add the port and ice and you’re good to go!

Hampton’s Rosé Shortage

Harry Dalian Rosé

Year after year, case after fleeting case, rosé wine has become scarce in the Hamptons during the summer months when the wine is most popular by demand.

Whether by those who inhabit the area year-round or just during their vacation time on the beach, rosé has become the go-to drink for men, women, young, and old as they soak up the sun and take in the salty coast.

Rosé, to those not hailing from the Hamptons, has garnered a bad reputation. But for those who do not know, the first wines ever made were rosés, and they are much closer to red than white in comparison. Rosé is made very similarly to a number of red wines but the color is created differently, hence the light blush to deep purple colors rosé can come in.

So, why is rosé so scarce in the Hamptons? Rosé is best enjoyed the same year it is created, making it hard, even discouraged, to hoard the bottles longer than 12 months. With wine connoisseur-ism on the rise, rosé is gaining respect and the demand is greater than the production, plain and simple.

However, the wineries on the island and the Hamptons are clueing in to the trend and preparing to generate more and more rosé each year. A famous and very popular rosé brand, Wolffer, has increased its production every year since 1992. Wolffer’s winemaster, Roman Roth, has stated “every year we make a little more.” However, maybe he would be advised to push for a little more than just “a little more” given the urgency of this rosé shortage and the Hamptonite’s dependency on the refreshing vino.

Autumn Spirits: 5 Wineries To Visit

Harry DalianAs the season of apple and pumpkin picking is upon us, the smell of fall is in the air, and it’s the perfect weather for wine tasting too. Head to Virginia and Maryland for some of the best wines for autumn this year. According to The Washington Post, here are 5 wineries you can’t miss:

Old Westminster Winery
The past five years, Old Westminster Winery has impressed with its hand-crafted wines. This season (starting Nov. 7th), they will be opening a new tasting room to add to the experience. Recommendations include: any of the 2014 whites, but especially, the Greenstone (a blend of sauvignon and viognier) or the albariño. Keep a lookout for co-owners and siblings Drew Baker and Ashli Baker Johnson, who manage the vineyards and tasting room, respectively.
Paradise Springs Winery
Located in the corner of the southwestern region of Fairfax County, Paradise Spring keeps gaining in popularity. October 3rd, co-founder Kirk Wiles and his winemaker partner Rob Cox are releasing their 50/50 blend of petit verdot and tannat. The grapes are homegrown from the Williams Gap VIneyard in Fauquier County. Continuing to grow his business, Wiles has been traveling out to Santa Barbara, CA, creating yet another wine.
Casanel Vineyards & Winery
Family-owned and run, Casanel Vineyards & Winery was created by Casey Nelson and her husband Nelson in 2006. Two years ago, they decided to change directions and hired two winemaker consultants: Katell Griaud and Lucie Morton. Morton is the product of famed winemaker Michel Rolland. Together with the Nelson’s daughter Katie, they have released new reds including petit verdot, cabernet, and sauvignon. New whites include: a pinot gris and a chardonnay.
Big Cork Vineyards
Situated on rolling hills in Maryland, Big Cork Vineyards is picturesque and serene. The decor is quirky with cork-themed bar stools and a motif of Big Cork’s new labels throughout. Their food from their kitchen is also delicious so plan to stay for a late lunch.
Granite Heights Winery
Being right off of U.S. Route 29, Granite Heights Winery provides easy access to its perfected red wines. The 2011 reds are certainly something to try, but the soon to be released 2012’s and 2013’s are the real showstoppers. There are other goodies to find here too including homemade jams and homegrown fruits.

White & Red Wine Chiller

Perfect for those nearly Summer, not yet Fall days. Enjoy responsibly!


Basque Wine Tasting in NYC

Check out this great video about a Basque wine tasting in NYC! It’s great to get out and explore new foods, cultures, tastes, and experiences – all available in this oyster we call New York. Enjoy!