I'm a bourbon drinker. I love the stuff. I don't know prices where you are but probably the best lowest priced "passable" boubon you can buy that is ~20 is Maker's Mark. There's also Bulleit and Buffalo Trace and a few others I can think of.
Opinions being what they are, and everyone having one and all that, I have to disagree somewhat here.
You can get decent bourbons under $20. Ancient Age is, in my opinion, pretty damn good for the price. Very Old Barton 100 proof needs a splash of water but is also a decent sipper. Anything by Weller, though some of them push up over $20. Weller is supposedly the same juice that goes into Pappy Van Winkle, which is much much pricier.
Makers is OK. Probably better than OK, but not something I typically stock. Not a huge fan of Buffalo Trace but it's OK, too. You can do better for the money, IMO.
In the mid-$20s I like Wathen's and Elmer T. Lee. In the pricier range, I enjoy Four Roses Single Barrel and Noah's Mill (bottled by KBD but distilled by others). Shared some Blanton's with a friend last week and it was better than I recalled but still over priced (again, IMO).
I'm told Evan Williams is a decent bourbon at a low low price point.
I've heard the same, and have a bottle in my cabinet. On the bottom shelf next to the Beam. OK for mixing or using in a BBQ sauce or mop sauce.
Elijah Craig gets a lot of praise, too. It's OK.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Templeton Rye base spirit is made by MGP, a bioplastics food conglomerate, in Indiana. (95% rye, 5% barley) That base spirit is sold to several different brands to make several different whiskeys like Templeton Rye, Bulleit Rye, Willet, George Dickel Rye, etc.
So long story short, it may not be made in your home state.
You are not wrong. Rye is a whole 'nother thread and I could go on an on. Can't beat the Sazerac rye if/when you can get it.
Here's a fun read which can maybe also give Euge some guidance on what to try next.
I went on a budget bourbon spree last year (or maybe two years ago) and Ancient Age, VOB and Weller were the best of the bunch. You can also check out StraightBourbon.com and other sites dedicated to whiskey.
I agree that Ancient Age is not too bad rot gut, but it's not great and less than OK in my opinion. very old Barton is rot gut though. Shocked you find it acceptable. But just goes to show you different strokes....
I certainly don't think Maker's is a great bourbon, but is is great for the price. In fact, for the price and for commonly found bourbons I think it is about as good as you'll find.
George Dickel is a brand of Tennessee whiskey primarily distilled, mellowed, and aged in Cascade Hollow, Tennessee, near Tullahoma. I was lucky enough to stop there and get a tour and sampling a couple weeks ago. Yes they were bought out by Diageo PLC a few years back but still distill the Old No. 8 Brand with a black label, at 80 proof, Superior No. 12 Brand with a beige label, at 90 proof, Barrel Select Tennessee is a small batch whiskey at 86 proof, and , No. 1 Foundation Recipe white corn whiskey at 91 proof right there in Cascade Hollow. The George Dickel Rye Whisky with a green label is a rye whiskey at 90 proof (produced at MGP Indiana). The process was awesome to see as they were distilling the day we were there. I do like Makers Mark and Makers 46, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, and Bulleit (Even though Diageo owns them too). Just picked up a bottle of Dickels Superior No 12, and it's actually really good neat or on the rocks. I plan on finding some of the Barrel Select next as I remember it was even better than the No 12. Just a note I found a bottle of Duke Bourbon (John Wayne son is making Bourbon now), haven't tapped into it yet but I'll let you know what I think.
Here is a list of Diageo Brands:
Beer: Guinness, Tusker, Smithwick's, Red Stripe, Harp Lager, Kilkenny, Kaliber (non-alcoholic), Windhoek
Scotch whisky: Johnnie Walker, Buchanan's, Cardhu, Justerini & Brooks (J&B), Bell's, Black & White, White Horse, Logan, Caol Ila, Vat 69, Oban, Talisker, Lagavulin, Glen Ord, Glenkinchie, Dalwhinnie, Cragganmore, Clynelish, Singleton, Haig, Royal Lochnagar, Glen Elgin, Knockando, The Dimple Pinch
Vodka: Smirnoff, Cîroc, Silent Sam, Popov, Ketel One
Gin: Gordon's, Tanqueray, Booth's, Nolet's Gin
Rum: Captain Morgan, Bundaberg, Pampero, Cacique, Myers's, Zacapa
Bourbon: Bulleit, Orphan Barrel
American Whiskey: Seagram's Seven Crown
Canadian whisky: Crown Royal, Seagram's VO
Tennessee whiskey: George Dickel
Tequila: Don Julio, Peligroso, DeLeón
Schnapps: Black Haus, Rumple Minze
Baijiu: Shui Jing Fang
Mixed drinks: Archers, Pimm's, Jeremiah Weed, Smirnoff Cocktails
Liqueur: Baileys, Sheridans, Yukon Jack, Godiva
Wines: Sterling Vineyards, Beaulieu Vineyard, Chalone, Piat d'Or, Blossom Hill, Canoe Ridge Vineyard, Acacia, Moon Mountain, Dynamite, Provenance Vineyards, Hewitt Vineyard, Rosenblum and Navarro Correas.