Monday, January 30, 2017

What Whiskey Should I be Drinking?


If you're a regular reader, you'll know that lately I've been reviewing more brandy and rum than whiskey.  It seems much easier to find great brandy and rum without participating in the whiskey rat-race, but I feel like I should see if I'm missing anything in the whiskey world, so I thought I'd ask for opinions.

Are there any truly great, affordable (say under $100), available whiskeys that you have been drinking lately?  If so, what are they?

These can be any type of whiskey and can include old standbys or newer releases.

Let me know, and if I see anything I haven't tried before, I'll try to give it a whirl.

Thanks!



37 comments:

Joshua said...

Old Forester 1920 and Rebel Yell 10 Year are my favorites from the last year. Both under $75, at least 100 proof, and full of flavor. Can't beat them right now.

Greg Ponder said...

Yes. I am in complete agreement with Joshua.

Anonymous said...

For me, it should pass two criteria. First, it is good enough that I "want" to buy a second bottle. Second, the quantity is large enough, and the price is low enough, that I am "able" to purchase a second bottle. The only bottles to recently pass that test were 1) Russell's Reserve SiB #16337 Binny's pick ($60) and 2) Rebel Yell 10yr SiB ($50).

AJW said...

I've had great success with HW Double Rye barrel select bottles, especially Binny's version finished in a blended scotch cask. Under $50 and at lease you know what you are getting. Hopefully this program remains in its current format following the Constellation acquisition.

Anonymous said...

Macallan Edition No.2 and Joseph Magnus are two that have recently surprised me with their quality.

Edward said...

Provided it's to your palate, I don't think there's a better value than Knob Creek private selections these days. Four Roses picks are also consistently good, just at a slightly higher price point.

Some of the Untitled releases from One Eight in DC have been pretty good. Unfortunately, I can't remember which is which--the downside to their using numbers and my not taking notes.

Mantisking said...

Nomad Outland Whisky from Gonzalez Byass is affordable and quite drinkable.

Richnimrod said...

I'd nominate Old Grand Dad 114. Even though it has sustained a recent price rise, it's still a decent bargain, and for the consistency, quality, and availability, I'd say it can't be beat. Like any Bourbon with it's own character, it isn't in everybody's wheelhouse; but it's certainly in mine, so this is the brand I give you, Sku. Have AT!

tola'at sfarim said...

Lot 40 rye.

tanstaafl2 said...

I don't think you reviewed it but could be mistaken. The most recent Woodford Master's Collection was a brandy finish (two birds with one stone given your recent focus on brandy!) and I thought it was one of the better releases in this series. Ok, I admit the bar is pretty low! It is still overly expensive to me at about $100 but it is probably possible to still find on the shelf (at least in my area).

Andy said...

The Barrell Bourbons have been consistently impressive to me, I've enjoyed the 4 of them I've tried and it's a become my standard recommendation to people looking for some good and relatively affordable. I also though the Lagavulin 8 year was one of the best releases of 2016, the only thing I liked enough (and could afford) to get a 2 nd bottle of.

Anonymous said...

Burnside Bourbon (Portland, OR), East Side Distillery (Barrel Hitch, Portland, OR), Westland Distillery (Seattle, WA), Woodinville Distillery (Single Malt American, Woodinville, WA)

Pretty good stuff coming from these local distilleries, I know you have had Westland's stuff before, but would definitely like to see a few more reviews, particularly since the investment by Remy-Martin.

Todd said...

Burnside Bourbon is not "local," at least not local to Portland. It's sourced bourbon likely from Indiana or Kentucky.

altadoc said...

I would agree with Joshua above. The two "new" offerings I enjoyed most this year was the Old Forester 1920 and the Rebel Yell 10 Yr. I still stand by the Four Roses Private Barrels as well. Seem to be reasonable to find.

The best thing was probably the Charbay Release V...


I've been getting more into amaro and other bitters.

Anonymous said...

Latest batch of Fireball is damn good

Anonymous said...

Ardbeg Uigeadail

Zach S said...

West Cork 10 is affordable and damn yummy.

Redbreast Lustau is awesome.

I'm actually enjoying the cheap Hepburn's Choice selections that Driscoll is bringing in. Are they incredible works of art? Nope. Are they yummy and cheap enough that you don't have to sit there pondering each sip? Yup. Could you ponder each sip? For many of them.

Johnny Walker Green is back at Costco for $39.

Westland (anything but their Peated offerings) are great.

Frankly, I've lowered my standards over the past year. I don't need a whisky to blow my socks off. I'm happy with well-made, quality, affordable stuff, and there's actually a ton of offerings that fit that standard (and, increasingly, Irish is really the value proposition these days)

Anonymous said...

1792 Full Proof punches way above is price point. It was my pick for best of last year.

Anonymous said...

I agree on Barrell Bourbon. Not much age stated, cask strength bourbon out there for under $100 and some of the batches and especially some of the private store picks have been great. Their 2017 New Year's LE bottle, which is a blend of all of their batches from the past year is quite good.

Anonymous said...

Kilkerran releases are consistently high in quality. AnCnoc 16 maintains a high quality at a great price point. Laphroaig Cask Strength is excellent. There are still plenty of awesome whiskies out there under $100.

Kane said...

Pikesville Rye, Knob Creek SB. I need nothing else.

Anonymous said...

I've been pleased with Signatory releases, lately. For under $100, I've had very nice aged single cask, cask strength Glenlivets and Bunnahabhains. And the Bunnahabhain was sherry matured, not just sherry finished.

BarrelChar said...

My house malt these days is Springbank 12 year for $50. The current batches are a perfect blend of sherry and moderate peat. My house bourbons are Four Roses Single Barrel (unoriginal, I know) and the less-heralded Henry McKenna BIB. For a 10 year/100 proof Heaven Hill juice at $25 that is usually good or great, I think it's the best value on the shelf. I hoard it and live in fear that'll it'll disappear one day.

When Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is on the shelf ($70), I buy it. Just don't see it too often, though. Signatory Ledaig sherry casks (2004/2005, usually 10 yr) have all been spectacular and are still available in the $80 range. The Ledaig bourbon cask indies have been almost as good. Such an under-appreciated distillery. And I would echo the earlier sentiment that most of the Signatory cask strength releases (of all distilleries) are typically fair values and high quality.

Whistlepig 10 year cask-strength store picks have been pretty good (and yet I'm not a big fan of the current standard release). Total Wine has a single barrel here for $59.99 that's a real B/B+. The new Aberlour 12 year (46%) surprised me with its depth, an enjoyable sherry-bomb with no sulfur and fairly priced at $50. Laphroaig CS Batch #8 returns to its former glory, the best one since the red stripe batches of yore.

As you've noted, 1792 Full Proof is a good value. And a local store pick of it here was a steal at $39.99. Kilkerran 12 year was delicious and reasonable at $65. If you're ordering from overseas, Ileach Cask Strength and Classic of Islay cask strength are typically on-point. To the extent that any indie/cask strength Bowmore from 2000/2001 or Caol Ila can be found for under $100, they're usually excellent. But obviously, prices are rocketing upward.

WT Russell's Reserve single barrels have been a nice, spicy affair at $50. Teeling Single Malt isn't overly complex, but a solid Irish for $50. Usually if it's from Binny's, it's worth buying, esp. their Signatory and G&M picks. I've enjoyed most of the Westland malts, including the new Peat Week and Winter Warmer. The single casks show a lot of potential, and, while not cheap, I haven't had a dud yet. Binny's Westland #274 was a winner.

Looking forward to trying the new Port Charlotte 10 year/100 proof for $60.

Anonymous said...

No. You're not missing anything.

tms_508 said...

Blends/ Home Vattings are pretty much all drink these days:

Stranahan's/ Uigadahl
Noah's Mill/ Caol Ila 10 CS are my two favorites...
Abunhadh/ Lagavulin 2015 Distillers Reserve 12yr
for a flavor profile that I imagine is like Talisker 10 at cask strength

For a decent "available" bourbon, Store Picks of Russell's Reserve(had really good bottles from Binny's & K&L) but otherwise savoring the last of Smooth Ambler's single barrel releases.

"Microbatches" of 4R, different CS/ Single Barrels (as opposed to "Small Batch"), but can see the age of released barrels steadily going down, so the potential complexity gained from microbatching is a useful diversion from individual bottles being a bit short on it.

I look forward to trying Willett's new 4yr Rye, as well as Pikesville Rye and OF 1920 prohibition bourbon when I get around to it...

Anonymous said...

After Smooth Ambler discontinued its barrel program, the 7 and 10 year standard offerings are the primary aged products still available. How about post with a comparison tasting.

CBFC said...

Whenever I drink either GlenDronach 12 or Four Roses Small Batch I re-remember how weirdly affordable they are.

Naomi D.A. said...

I've been reaching for the High West Yippee Ki-Yay most recently. Also really like the Pow Wow Botanical Rye, which I discovered at a local American whisky-focused bar.

Anonymous said...

Evan Williams BIB

Catch22 said...

Several releases that I thought were noteworthy this past year were OF 1920, Rebel Yell 10 yr., and a few that are just starting to get wider distribution and deserving of attention, Pikesville rye and Larceny. The Smooth Ambler Old Scout 10, batch 46 was the best bourbon I've had in years, but since it's being put on hold for awhile or discontinued all-together, it's probably on its way to becoming the "I wish I would have bunkered more of those" regret. Barrel Bourbon batch 9 is outstanding and still hanging around at just under the price point. Henry McKenna BIB Single Barrel is the best $30 I spent all year.

Balcones Brimstone deserves honorable mention as uniquely capable of wrecking your palate for 2 days from one pour.

Jimmy Leg said...

Ledaig 10 is excellent and a great value.

NotSmallBatch said...

Such useful tips in this thread, many thanks all! @BarrelChar: Where on earth do you find Springbank 12 for $50? I can't even get 10 yr for that price where I live.

Randy P said...

If Scotch is your drink of choice:

Kilchoman Sanaig or Machir Bay

Bruichladdich Laddie Ten or Islay Barley

Steve L said...

I have recently been blown away by J. Henry Patton Road Cask Strength Bourbon. A Nancy Fraley jernt, the stuff is amazing for 5 year old whiskey.

Steve L said...

I have been blown away recently by J. Henry Patton Road Cask Strength. Nancy Fraley helped... and it's really something else. They use an heirloom red corn and it really opens this thing up. Complex but very very easy to drink.

Joel Osborn said...

Heaven Hill: Henry McKenna 10 year, Evan Williams Single Barrel, Rittenhouse Rye, Pikesville Rye, Elijah Craig barrel proof/small batch, which is still good, despite the loss of age statement.

Four Roses: any private selection- I snatch up at least one bottle any time I see one. I also still enjoy the standard single barrel.

Wild Turkey: I like Russell's Reserve, all releases. I still like WT 101 too. I used to love Rare Breed, but not the past few releases.

Brown-Forman: I have never liked their offerings, but I have two bottles of the 1920 "prohibition style" which is a bunch of malarkey, but the whiskey is damn good.

Anonymous said...

1) Pikesville straight Rye (the 110 proof) is on my top list and was relatively easy to get at $39 until Jim Murray added to his bible. So it's a little tougher to find now.

2) I am having some Noah's Mill and it is very tasty and at $45.