Any fans of whisk(e)y on WSO?


So I happen to be a big fan of quality whisk(e)y from scotch to bourbon to Japanese. I'm interested in whether any of my fellow monkeys like to enjoy a dram or two occasionally, and which whiskies you enjoy the most.

Comments (94)

May 29, 2014 - 12:25pm

I very recently (last week actually when I met the first Tinder chick I wrote about who is into Whiskey) started to like Whiskey.

I'd never tried it in anything other than cocktails and shots before, but I've been sipping it lately and I like it. Got a bottle of whatever the fuck I'm drinking in the BloodBlow video at home.


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May 29, 2014 - 12:28pm

Love a nice scotch, but honestly can't do bourbon. Lagavulin is insanely good with Laphroaig a close second.

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May 30, 2014 - 7:30pm

If you like the Islay malts, I highly recommend Caol Ila. Lagavulin is fantastic, but I can't stand Laphroaig (tastes too much like cough syrup imo). Talisker's Distillers Edition is a very interesting dram - a savory, fruity sweetness with a nice smoky background. My only other recommendation would be Balvenie 14yr Caribbean Casket - the last 2 yrs are done in a spiced rum casket.

May 29, 2014 - 12:56pm

nobody in finance drinks bourbon, dumbass.

in all seriousness, I'm a huge bourbon & single malt fan. favorite single malt (aside from Macallan of course) is 15 years glenlivet french oak reserve, the barrels they use give it a ridiculously smooth finish.

bourbons: ridgemont reserve ftw. better than maker's, better than knob creek, not as smooth as woodford, but a bit more flavor imo. haven't had jefferson's in a while so can't compare with any accuracy.

May 29, 2014 - 1:07pm

I do bourbon. My future mother and father in law went on a bourbon kick for about a year and I was drinking that every night, whether it was shots, or just over rocks.

I can't do scotch though. I've had all the different colors of Johnny Walker and even the blue label didn't do it for me. But after trying all of them at the airport in Japan, along with some saki, I was pretty drunk.
I actually played a couple games of Scotch pong because my friend decided we would drink scotch that night. We have never played better in our lives, because you don't want to lose when playing scotch pong.

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May 29, 2014 - 1:14pm

try a single malt (start with Aberlour), Johnny is a blended scotch and has a distinctly different flavor than a single malt. try it first on a rocks, with a little water, or with a whiskey ball (a big ball of ice) and see if you like it. also try with a cigar, may help dull the burn.

May 29, 2014 - 1:21pm

I don't know if that will even work. I'll most definitely have to acquire the taste. After a few years off of not drinking bourbon, the last time I ordered on on the rocks, it wasn't as good as I remembered which was a little depressing because it was really good before.
I've also never had a cigar so that would be a huge learning experience for all at once! haha

I'll just stick to beer I guess. Unless it's shots, then I'll drink anything someone buys me!

make it hard to spot the general by working like a soldier
May 29, 2014 - 3:10pm

JW probably isn't the best place to start out. I think a good simple malt like a Glenlivet 12 y.o or Highland Park 12 y.o would be a good start. Look at tasting/nosing notes online and try to slowly recognize the different notes and flavors. Once you think you are ready, you can go to something like an Old Pultney. Best of luck!

May 29, 2014 - 1:23pm

For Scotch, the aged Macallan's are great but I've developed a fondness for Oban as well. Skinnayy, try some good single malts. The blends like JW have a time and place but a good single malt's a different drink. I personally think Blue Label is overpriced for what it is. You can buy a great single malt for half the price (or much less) and I think they're better in general.

For bourbon, my stand by is Woodford, the reserves are even better and you can basically find it anywhere. But if you ever see Pappy Van Winkles, get it. Expensive as hell and it's really hard to get because they make a limited amount and it's basically all bought before it's even made but great stuff. Four Roses isn't half bad for a less expensive bourbon.

May 29, 2014 - 2:07pm

good thread on the topic

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May 29, 2014 - 2:29pm

Japanese whiskey is ridiculous, and I'm not talking about just Yamazaki.

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May 29, 2014 - 3:01pm

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve is a great bourbon for the taste and price. Wouldn't recommend mixing with coke, but definitely a drink you sip on ice. Great color and smell to it as well.

Also, for the money Canadian Club is a classic. Definitely use CC for cocktails.

May 29, 2014 - 7:46pm

Scotch: Highland Park, The Dalmore, some Glenlivet, some Glenfiddich, if you're going Johnnie Walker then go Gold but only if the bottle specifically states "18 years". Blue is good, but as someone mentioned earlier, overpriced. I'm not a Macallan person. They cut their whiskey and add a fair amount of caramel color.

There's also a new Texas Single Malt crushing the international competitions. Balcones.

Bourbon: Pappy above all else. Buffalo Trace, Angel's Envy, Woodford is decent. Four Roses.
W.L. Weller is actually the same whiskey as Pappy (slightly different recipe) and makes for a decent sipping whiskey for an inexpensive price.

Best advice is start trying a bunch and you will find your palate prefers certain regions or styles more than others.

May 30, 2014 - 1:35am

Interesting tip on Balcones, will look out for that if it ever crosses my path. In terms of JW, I actually prefer the Green Label for its maltyness given that it is comprised solely of single malts, and I like its fruity notes and the "bite" from a slightly higher alcohol content. Plus it's discontinued which could be interesting. The only thing I don't like about it is the E150 caramel coloring added.

May 30, 2014 - 10:49am

Not as close as what we'd like haha but yes, it was the first bourbon produced by Pappy. Mr. VanWinkle and his business partners originally founded the Stitzel-Weller distillery and W.L. Weller was the first bourbon produced there. It is Pappy's recipe for a wheated bourbon and serves as the foundation for the Old Rip/Pappy VanWinkle range.

May 30, 2014 - 3:36am

I wouldn't bother too much with blends like JW to start off with, quite overrated, but if you eventually end up developing a taste for them then that's fair enough.

To start, I would encourage something simple like Glenlivet 12 or Glenfiddich 12, but try them one after the other so you can compare and contrast, and start trying to appreciate the different flavours with each drink. After you develop a taste for speyside, perhaps then start looking at Lagavulin and Highland Park. I don't think it's worth spending large amounts of money on whisky until you're really able to appreciate why it costs more.

Once you think spending more on whisky makes sense, don't bother with buying it in shops as you normally would. Take a look in to joining the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. They bottle whisky from all over Scotland and Japan, so will be able to offer you both a better range and quality of whisky than you'd normally get in the states. I don't really have time to explain about it all, but you'll find that almost everything you try is somewhat unique which I have found has really got me in to whisky. My favourite whisky just now is a 23 year old Glenrothes of which there are only about 200 bottles in the world, and almost all of their product is of a similarly non standard nature, so perhaps that gives some idea of what I mean when I say unique. I believe they have a branch in Florida, and I suspect they deliver across the US.

Oh, and only a little water. No ice.

(Scotsman and big whisky fan living in Scotland.)

May 30, 2014 - 9:13am

I'm not super knowledgeable about scotch but I really enjoy drinking it and trying new ones. I don't know the difference between most scotches aside from how they taste differently (and don't know how to describe them in scotch connoisseur lingo). I've tried quite a few in my time and consistently go back to Glenfiddich 12 as my staple.

May 30, 2014 - 12:24pm

There are so many great whiskys that it's not even funny.

First on the Scotch thing - someone brought up ice versus water. I was always brought up with you never put ice in Scotch. 2-3 drops of water, that's it. The reason is that 2-3 drops open up the bouquet a great deal and really enhance the flavor. Ice just waters the liquor down.

Second, there is such a huge gamut of drinks that fall into the Whisky spectrum that you will always find a way to drink it. Whether you drink it neat, as a boilermaker or in a cocktail, you're talking a lengthy list of drinks here. Where do I start... between the Manhattan, Penicillin, Old Fashioned, Hot Toddy, Brown Derby, Sazerac, Whiskey Tea and, my personal favorite, the Boulevardier, there are lots of cocktails meant to enjoy your fix. When it comes to drinking it neat, my current collection of Scotch is really too large to count, but it includes some really rare gems (including 2 bottles of Tomintoul 31, a few extremely uncommon and rarer bottles from Glenmorangie, Glenfiddich 21, a Havana Reserve Labeled bottle of Glenfiddich 21 and 30, Glenlivet 25 and 2 bottles of Cask Strength), and a lot of stuff everyone knows. As I've been getting older, my go to Scotch has shifted from Glenlivet and Glenfiddich (it's what I grew up drinking and I like it over Macallan) to Tomintoul 16. In my humble opinion, it blows Macallan out of the water. I think it's better than the Macallan 18. The Tomintoul 31 is pure heaven. I don't own any bottles of Irish Whisky, but I do like Jameson (I'm a huge fan of the Black Barrel and the Gold Label), Bushmills and Knappauge Castle.

When it comes to Bourbon and American Whiskey. That's a whole different world. Considering that 97+% of the US Whiskey is made by the following 13 distillers - Barton, Booker Noe, Brown-Forman, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, George Dickel, Heaven Hill, Jack Daniel's, Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, MGP Indiana, Wild Turkey, and Woodford Reserve. How's that for being limited. Another great kicker, there are more barrels of Bourbon aging in Kentucky than the entire population of the state. Here's the biggest thing you guys need to understand about American Whiskeys, the magic number, for the most part. is 51%. Rye , Wheat, Malt and Bourbon all require that the mash (the fermentable ingredients) are at least 51% Rye, Wheat, Malted Barley or Corn (those correspond in order to Rye, Wheat, Malt and Bourbon). Additionally, to be Corn Whiskey, the mash needs to be at least 80% corn. There's another caveat with Bourbon. Even though 95% of the Bourbon produced comes from Bourbon County, Kentucky, it doesn't need to come from Kentucky. So enough with the facts, what am I drinking? It's really all about what I can find, but it's a pretty wide list. I'm looking for any of the following when I want American Whiskey:

Bourbon: Maker's Mark, Old Grand-Dad, Baker's, Basil Hayden's, Booker's, Knob Creek, Woodford Reserve, Cabin Still, Elijah Craig, Evan Williams, Rowan's Creek, Black Maple Hill, Rebel Yell, Four Roses, Ezra Brooks, Bulleit, Blanton's, Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, Wild Turkey, Angel's Envy, Breckenridge, Kings County and the Van Winkle Family (Pappy Van Winkle and Old Rip Van Winkle)
Rye: Old Overholt, Knob Creek Rye, Bulleit Rye, Sazerac, Templeton, Michter's Rye and Whistlepig
Non-Rye/Non-Traditional Bourbon American Whiskeys: New Holland Brewing's Beer Barrel Bourbon, Walleye Rye and Double Down Barley, Kings County Corn Whiskey, Rouge's Dead Guy Whiskey and Oregon Single Malt Whiskey, Midnight Moon Moonshine, and Stranahan's Small Batch.

IF I had to distill the list down even further, I'd say that the list gets shrunk to Elijah Craig, Buffalo Trace, Angel's Envy, Kings County, Michter's and Whistlepig for drinking straight when I'm at bars that don't cater to the Whiskey enthusiast. Maker's, Knob Creek and Bulleit (both Rye and Bourbon) for cocktails. IF I can find them, The Van Winkle Family and Stranahan's are picked above all else. Pappy Van Winkle, despite the hype, is worth it. Stranahan's is just absolutely fantastic.

And then there's Old Blowhard 26 Year Old Bourbon. Old Blowhard comes from Diageo's Orphan Barrel Lost and Found Whiskey Company. Meaning, they don't know what distillery its from or who actually brewed it or what batch it belonged to, but they buy the barrels from the distiller directly, barrel them and sell them. The Old Blowhard was just as good as the Pappy 23. I mean, Pappy 23 is the Holy Grail of Bourbon. If you drink Bourbon and are an avid drinker, there is no finer a Bourbon to try at least once in your life than the Pappy 23. I swear, the Old Blowhard gave it a run for the money. Oh, while we're at it, the barrels that were used for Old Blowhard were found in a warehouse at Stitzel-Weller Distillery. Somehow the ghosts of Pappy van Winkle may be smiling down on us with that one.

May 30, 2014 - 6:41pm

You got your bourbon knowledge mixed up. First, to be a bourbon the mash needs to be composed of 51% corn, not rye. There are two types of bourbons wheated and rye bourbons. Where the mash must be composed of at least 51% corn, the distinction between a wheated and a rye bourbon relies on which ingredient has the next largest proportion in the mash. More wheat than rye will make it a wheated bourbon, while more rye than wheat makes it a rye bourbon. Next, 95% to 98% of the world's bourbon is made in Kentucky but it is not made in Bourbon County. Maker mark is distilled in Loretto, Kentucky, Buffalo Trace is distilled in Frankfurt, Kentucky, Woodford Reserve is distilled in Versailles, just outside of Lexington. Jim Beam is distilled in Clermont, KY. Wild Turkey and Four Roses are distilled in Lawrenceberg, Ky. Willet and Heaven Hill and 1792 are distilled in Bardstown, Ky, The common factor between these distilleries is that they are not located in Bourbon county. Best of all, unlike Jack Daniels, all of these distilleries are located in wet counties.

May 31, 2014 - 10:50am

IF we're going to play semantics here, what I wrote was:

Rye , Wheat, Malt and Bourbon all require that the mash (the fermentable ingredients) are at least 51% Rye, Wheat, Malted Barley or Corn (those correspond in order to Rye, Wheat, Malt and Bourbon).

The translation is as follows:

(Whiskey's made from) Rye, Wheat, Malt and Bourbon all require that the mash (the fermentable ingredients) are at least 51% Rye (for Rye Whiskey), Wheat (for actual Whiskey made with Wheat, like Bernheim Original), Malted Barley (for Malt Whiskey) or Corn (for Bourbon and Corn Whiskey). ([Each of those grains] correspond[ing] in [the listed] order to Rye, Wheat, Malt and Bourbon [respectively]).

I thought I was pretty clear when I wrote that. In fact, if you look up 27 CFR 5.22, you'll see that I'm spot on in what I said as well. As to the distinctions with what the second point - about being a "Wheated" or a "Rye" Bourbon, that's irrelevant to the point I was making about the basics of American Whiskey.

Jun 3, 2014 - 6:06pm

I feel like I need to redeem myself from the ice comment. whenever I do scotch on the rocks, I always do a small pour so it doesn't melt & water it down, I simply like it to be a little cooler (unless it's 18+ years old, I'm ballin on a budget so I usually get 12yo). also, I usually use whisky rocks to keep it cold so it's never watered down, just cool.

dudes with orange sideburns & kilts will tell you that anything other than in a snifter room temperature is blasphemy, but I think that as long as the liquor isn't diluted, you don't miss anything. where people go wrong is pouring scotch like it's a goddamn rum & coke in a glass of ice then after 20 minutes you end up with a pee colored liquid that tastes mediocre at best.

by the way, your post was tldr but I can tell you know what you're talking about. if you're in NYC, what do you think about Fraunces whisky bar within the restaurant? I'm coming up there a couple times this fall and am looking for a place like Fraunces but am happy to try something new.

May 30, 2014 - 12:28pm

Whiskey has been my favorite alcohol (when I do drink) for a long time. Jack & Coke FTW

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May 30, 2014 - 1:30pm

Glenrothes is my favorite, followed by Glenfiddich 12yr.

If you really want to splurge, Johnnie Walker Blue or any Hennessy X.O or better does it for me.

May 30, 2014 - 10:38pm

I like all whiskies. Bourbon is good. For me a single malt is by far the best. I prefer it neat or sometimes with just a little splash of distilled water. If you're just starting with ice is fine. I would start with blends. Johnny Walker green for the price is actually a decent dram. I would then go into the Glenfiddich/Glenlivet/Macallan. As these are all the most available at bars. My favorites are talisker, ardbeg, glendronach, cragganmore, laphroaig. It is actually recommended (malt masters) to add a splash of water as this takes some of the harshness away from the alcohol, and allows you to taste the flavor of the scotch. Don't become an age snob. For the noobs maltmadness is a pretty good site to learn, and to find reviews of whiskeys.

Jun 1, 2014 - 11:51pm

Cheaper? Are you sure we're talking about the same Jack? When I hear Jack, I think Jack Daniels Old Number 7. I think that when I go to a bar and order a shot of Jack, I'm getting Jack Daniels from a bottle with the classic black label and square shape. I don't know where you are, but a bottle of Jack Daniels costs me ~$24 Bucks. Knob Creek is ~$32. I don't know where you are, but I would love to know where you are getting Knob Creek cheaper than Jack Daniels.

Jun 2, 2014 - 5:22am

A 2 page discussion on bourbon and not a mention of rye. Well, sazerac and old fashioned fans, next time, order one with a Rittenhouse instead. An interesting rye only available in the US is Masterson's. Nothing in the nose, but a beautiful finish with depth and power.

On Pappy and other Buffalo Trace "wonders" (I'm thinking of the limited editions; strictly speaking the king of bourbons is not Pappy, but the much rarer Stagg; on the rye side, something like Handy, which is tastier than the famous Sazerac 18), I'm not convinced; when I was younger I bought into the hype and convinced myself they were something special, these days it's more "that's it?". Nor Blanton's. Try something "crazier", like Noah's Mill, which is somewhere between a concentrated expression of "bourbonness" and some very odd, very French hors d'age cognac overtones probably from the older spirits in the mix, and you'll find it hard to go back to the relative blandness of Blanton's. I've had every Blanton's in the collection and still don't get the hype.

Seriously, you Americans are lucky because you can get all these bourbons for

On the scotch side, Laphroaig 18 is my go to drink, old enough to take the bite off and add complexity, young enough not to be oak flavoured water - 16-20yo is my sweet spot for scotch. I used to have a dozen bottles at home, and got excited about limited edition releases and all that (PC6 and PC7 were the best from Bruichladdich imho).

But my go to sip is rhum agricole which have so much more subtlety, complexity and roundness than anything made with molasses, right now Bielle (HA) and I was quite fond of the older Clements although I can't find them anywhere anymore. Wondering whether a Trois Rivieres is worth the splurge, it's quite young. I also never had a chance to taste JM, mostly because it seems so terribly overpriced across the whole range and that's never a good sign.

A brown spirit discussion would not be complete without mentioning a place I bet none of you have heard of, which is the Cognac Region's attempt at selling its stuff directly to the customer:

If you want 50+ year old stuff for

Jun 2, 2014 - 9:09am

I think I did mention Rye briefly. It's just not something you see all that often come up in discussion as an American drinker. Truth is, As a Rye drinker, I think it really comes down to knowing what your drinking versus trying it blind. It's easier to go out and order a Bourbon as opposed to a Rye. To tell you the truth, I didn't start drinking Rye Whiskey until I started drinking Rye beer. That just had to do with not being aware that Rye could make such a complex beer. I started with Bear Republic's Hop Rod Rye, Blue Point's RastafaRye Ale and Zeno's Rye Ale which is made by a small microbrewery called Otto's. I liked the taste that the Rye imparted and not to much after, I was at a bar with a decent selection of American Whiskeys and I tried my first Rye. I had Bulleit Rye and Michter's for the first time and was hooked ever since. Again, it's just about getting to try it.

As to the Pappy, it's rarity makes it much more interesting than anything else. It's a phenomenal bourbon, don't get me wrong. It's definitely worth trying at least once in a lifetime. Still, I would say that it's far rarer than the Stagg. If the last major shipment of Pappy didn't get stolen, I might be willing to agree with you that Stagg would give Pappy a real run for the money, but I can't knowing that Pappy disappeared off the face of the planet due to some jackass wanting it all for himself.

Jun 2, 2014 - 7:06pm

There are many, many great whiskeys available these days. I generally don't drink Bourbon, except on the rare occasion. Bourbon just tends to be too sweet for my liking.

When it comes to scotches there is an enormous range available throughout the States now from the ~100 single malt producers and many blends as well. Unfortunately, with the dramatically increased production that's happened over the last ~20 years comes a fairly big problem for some distilleries. The problem is the amount of quality wood (primarily American white oak and European oak but also ex-Sherry casks now) that is available. Many distilleries like Macallan have such a well known name that it seems to me that they are having to rush distillation and maturation on their scotch a bit. I've noticed even over just the last few years signs of rushed distillation, i.e. a bit more heat when a bottle is first opened that you would expect. My most recent Macallan purchase was the 18 year sherry oak and I was surprised to experience that when I first opened it. More air is getting in the bottle now though so it is starting to calm down.

My two favorite distilleries though are Glenlivet and Laphroaig, which of course are totally different producers.

Glenlivet produces a fantastic batch product called the 16 year Nadurra which is a cast strength whiskey. With batch whiskeys though the flavors and characteristics of the whiskey can change between batches but so far I have found them to be phenomenal purchases for the money.

I had the opportunity recently to attend a Laphraoig tasting hosted by their brand ambassador. We tasted the 10 year, the quarter cask, the triple wood, the Cairderas (I can't remember how it's spelled but it's a good cast strength whiskey), the 18 year (the second best 18 year old I have ever had and a highly recommend buy), and the 25 year. The 25 year was of course the most expensive but was by no means my favorite.

That brings up an important point especially for the novice Scotch drinker. Older doesn't necessarily mean better. It just means different. There are many great single malts and blends that may be just 12 or 15 years old but are very, very good. Likewise there are many 18+ year old whiskeys that can be very, very good but in a different way. The main thing to keep in mind when starting to drink Scotches is, don't get carried away. Start with cheaper scotches that are probably younger and appreciate them before moving up the ladder.

When it comes to enjoying a glass of whiskey, scotch or otherwise, I always say it just comes down to how you like to drink it. You don't have to be a whiskey snob and only put 2 drops of water into the glass if you would like more. Don't get carried away though. But if you would prefer a glass on the rocks then enjoy said glass of whiskey on the rocks, although that much water diluting the whiskey will limit the flavors but it can work with some whiskeys.

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Jun 3, 2014 - 4:27am
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