So helpful! Clearly there are some I should try here. My favorite, Evan Williams—recommended by an old Broadway liquor store sensei—is in the middle of the pack (and I likewise don't see *any* similarity to JD, which I have an aversion to):
5. Evan Williams. I couldn't figure out where to put this, so I just stuck it in the middle. On the one hand, EW is sometimes referred to as the poor man' s Jack Daniel's, which would make it the down-market version of something I detest. But although the packaging is similar and both are charcoal-filtered sour mashes, I don't taste a strong similarity. Jack, for better or worse, has a unique cinnamon and licorice profile, whereas Evan Williams tastes more mainstream, and many reputable sources cite it as their favorite cheap bourbon. Malt Advocate named it Best Buy Whiskey of the Year in 2003 and 2011, for chrissake.
Evan Williams has a good pedigree for the price, with five to seven years of barrel aging (the standard is three or four) and a respectable 86 proof. It's a straightforward bourbon that tastes like slightly medicinal cereal grains, which a lot of people either like or pretend to like because it makes them feel like a big strong man. Either way, Evan Williams is decent in my book and great in a lot of better books.