When hosting a party or dinner for friends, you like to have a Bourbon on hand that everyone can enjoy. It can be before dinner as an aperitif or after dinner as a digestive drink or as a cocktail with friends at a party. You don’t have to spend a small fortune to give your friends a good Bourbon at these events. Start by determining what your friends like in their Bourbon’s taste profile.

If your friends like a low proof Bourbon, then I would suggest Four Roses Bourbon (formerly known as “Yellow Label”). It is only 80 proof, but is full of character. It has notes of fruit and spice and pairs well with most party foods and cigars. It is fine straight up, but also makes a decent Manhattan or whiskey sour.

If your friends like a fruity Bourbon, then you cannot go wrong with Old Forester 86 proof. It has notes of green apple and banana with a bit of pepper spice. It mixes well in a whiskey sour or old fashioned cocktail. 

For friends who like a sweet Bourbon with lots of caramel and vanilla notes, Maker’s Mark will fill the order nicely. Great neat, but also very good in an old fashioned cocktail

For those who like a little more spice in their Bourbon, Old Grand Dad Bottled-in-Bond is what you should pour. It has some fruitiness, but is strongest in the baking spice flavors. Once again, it is fine neat, but it is excellent in a whiskey sour and Manhattan cocktail. 

For those who want a robust Bourbon with lots of earthy notes of leather and tobacco, pour them a Wild Turkey 101. This Bourbon pairs well with food and makes very good old fashioned and whiskey sour cocktails.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to please every taste your guests might have for their Bourbons. I have looked at the prices at Westport Whiskey & Wine (April 8, 2022) and the prices of the products I mentioned here in a 750ml bottle are as follows:

Four Roses: $23.99

Old Forester 86 proof: $22.99

Maker’s Mark: $29.99

Old Grand Dad Bottled-in-Bond: $25.99

Wild Turkey 101: $25.99

There are other Bourbons that could be substituted for these suggestions. Evan Williams Black Label could be substituted for the Old Forester and costs $13.99. Larceny could fill the Maker’s Mark slot and costs $25.99. Bulleit Bourbon could be exchanged for the Four Roses. Westport does not have Bulleit at this time, but other stores carry it at a price of $25.99. Jim Beam Black Label is a spicy Bourbon option and costs $24.99. Very Old Barton 86 proof is an earthy, tobacco forward flavor profile and costs only $12.99 for a 750 ml bottle.

 Entertaining guests does not have to be an expensive affair. There are many very affordable Bourbons for every taste. None of these bottles cost more than $30.00. You can purchase all ten of the Bourbons I have mentioned for less than $300.00. If you extend your budget to $50.00 or less for a bottle or two, the choices become even greater and still stay in the $300.00 limit. Whether your guests like their Bourbon neat, on the rocks, with a splash of water or in a cocktail, these Bourbons will please their palates. 

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller