I am headed to a well-stocked whiskey bar this weekend and want to try something new. Of course, I’d prefer something that I liked. Here’s a list of things that I’ve tried thus far and my opinions of them. Could you offer some suggestions as to what I might try? Also, as much as I’d like to, I don’t have the cash flow to indulge in the top shelf stuff, so more budget oriented options within the price range of the things I list below would be ideal. Thanks!
Glenmorangie (10 yr): My first scotch. I really enjoyed its honey flavors up front followed by a mellow smokiness (A/96)
Antiquary (12 yr): The only blended scotch I’ve tried. Surprisingly I really enjoyed it. Sweet notes of caramel and some chocolate followed by a subtle smoky flavor. (A-/93)
Pendleton: I had this when I was out in Colorado during my first year of drinking legally and enjoyed it there. However, when I tried this blast from my past a second time more recently, I found that it fell flat. Some rosy flavors up front. Very smooth, but the flavor is thin and short lived. (C/76)
Canadian Club: I had the same opinion of this Canadian Rye as I did Pendleton the second time around. Same thin flavor without the nostalgia (D+/76)
Buffalo Trace: Great bourbon for the price. A little more burn than Weller and a little pricier, so I don’t get it as often, but a fine bourbon nonetheless (A-/92)
WL Weller Special Reserve: My go to when I need to buy a bottle. Cheap and delicious. The sweet vanilla and honey with a slight spicy finish goes down smooth, but not too smooth. (A/95)
Jameson’s: My first whiskey and a go to when the bar has nothing else of note. Nothing complex going on here, but easy to drink (B-/80)
Tullamore Dew: Personally I think I find Irish Whiskeys a bit thinner than I like. I may prefer the Dew a bit more than Jameson’s, but it’s marginal at best. (B-/81)
Wild Turkey 101: What can I say: I’m wimpy. I couldn’t handle the after burn on this one. Fortunately I had a friend who took the bottle off my hands (F/50)
Knob Creek: I only had this on one occasion, but I really enjoyed it. Sweet spicy chocolate notes followed by a lingering vanilla flavor. (A-/92)
Bulleit Frontier Rye: Judging from my past experiences with Canadian Ryes, I was a bit hesitant to try this one, but was pleasantly surprised. A little spicier than I’d like normally to the point that I felt it overwhelmed the other flavors, but I was not unimpressed. (B/84)
Rittenhouse Rye 100 proof is distilled out of Kentucky. I found it smooth and quite complex. And it's CHEAP. Highly recommended.
Wild Turkey Rare Breed- if you can find it- is superlative. Very complex and just the right amount of sweetness. It isn't quite as strong as the regular 101 (one of my favorite whiskeys, by the way). Also, they make an 80 proof version of the original. You may have to hunt for it, but it has many of the same flavors without the punch.
Old Granddad- again, if you can find it- is worth whatever price they ask. It comes in several strengths, and though I prefer the 114, I believe there is an 86 proof version. One of the best bourbons out there, in my opinion.
I'm not really a scotch drinker, though I will confess to having enjoyed what I have tasted of Ardberg's offerings. It's far outside the price range of something I would buy for myself, but for special occasions it's worth a try.
For rye, my allegiance has to go to Templeton, being an Iowan product with a long history. Nice round flavor with just enough spice to let you know it's not bourbon.
Have you tried venturing outside of whisk(e)ys? Dark rums- especially good ones- can be a nice change of pace while maintaining enough complexity and richness to keep your mind and taste buds engaged. Mount Gay VSOP, Appleton Estate Reserve, Goslings Grey Seal, or- my personal favorite- Zaya, while perhaps a little harder to find, are well-worth the price and effort of seeking them out.
I've never seen/heard someone refer to Old Granddad as a "best". Granted, it is my go to bourbon(well, that or Rebel Yell) for mixing as the price vs taste is perfect, but for a sipping bourbon I don't know if I would use it.
For sipping bourbons I suggest Willet, Hancocks Presidential Reserve or Pritchards Double Barrel
Right now I really like the Jim Beam Black, it is aged 8 years and is incredibly smooth for the price.
Ohh, let's see.
Buffalo Trace is a great bourbon, I see you've already tried that one. Bullit is decent, not my favorite. Knob Creek, also a great bourbon, seemed a little harsh the last time I tried it, but that was before I really got into drinking bourbon.
Makers Mark is also pretty tasty :)
The big main stream one I like is Crown - crown and water is one of my favorite drinks.
When it comes to rye, Templeton is really, really tough to beat. If you can get your hands on the original recipe stuff (I'm from Iowa, can get the good stuff on occassion), it's great. Different from what you can buy in stores.
Cedar Ridge, made in Iowa as well, has a group bourbon, also one of my favorites. I was told that were coming out with a whiskey but haven't seen it yet.
Johnny Walker is tasty on the scotch realm of things, pretty sure it's blended if I remember right. Red label is the base and cheapest, then it goes up from there. Black, Green, Gold (not sure if they still make that) and then Blue label, which goes for $200 a bottle.
I like a good 7 & 7 on the golf course as well, it's about the only whiskey that I don't enjoy with water. Heck, if I'm at a buddies, I'm fine with LTD and coke or BV and coke, but they are bottom of the barrel (in my mind) and neither of which I'd buy.