We've been talking bar science, and usually that term is about what's happening in front of the house, behind the bar, or in the back of the house. But I'm here to give you some of MY tips I use as a consumer, as a drinker, sitting on that bar stool.
One of the most difficult things you run into as you're trying to expand your bourbon knowledge on a budget Is bellying up and seeing dozens of bottle choices on the back bar. Or opening your whiskey menu at the table, and there's no pricing on ANYthing. If your wallet is fat, you may not care about the cost. You buy what you think you'll like. BUT, if you want to get the biggest bang for your buck, you want to know the price of the potential pours you're gonna have.
If you ask your bartender or wait staff, "How much is your Maker's 46?", he or she leaves, goes to the register, keys it in, comes back with "$20". Depending on how good your poker face is, you might be able to get another pricing request in for another pour. Before completing irritating the staff (and likely anyone else in your party), what EYE do is pre-select or down-select my own choices from the availability. I'll hit them with a "What's the price difference between the Maker's 46, and the Maker's Cask Strength?" Or "the Maker's 46 and the Blanton's?". You just may find that the cask strength gives you better bang for your buck at $16. Or you may be getting a better value with one wheater over another if that Blanton's come back at $25.
Try it out for your yourself, and save everyone some time so you can get to drinking!