I remember it like it was yesterday. Going to the liquor store in my college town, grabbing a 1.5L of the cheapest type of whiskey I could find, picking up a 2L of Coke and having a great time. If I did that now, I’d be looking down the business end of a terrible hangover for about 2 days.
Yes, we all get to a point where we have to upgrade our spirit selection. And, bravo for taking the first steps in doing your research. It isn’t the easiest transition to go from a sweet mixer to whiskey neat… but, you’ll be glad you did it!
First and foremost, don’t let anyone tell you that you have to drink whiskey a certain way. A master distiller in Scotland once told me “You can drink whiskey however you like it, on the rocks, neat, or with a splash of water… but, if you mix my whiskey with Coke, we will have a problem.”
My advice is to experiment a bit with different types of whiskey and trying it different ways. Personally, I first began drinking bourbon with a couple ice cubes to take the “burn” of it a bit.
My guess is that you came here because you are ready to take that next step in your whiskey adventure and throw away your mixers. This is also the step you may want to think about growing a beard, start smoking cigars and telling interesting stories. While you are ready to take that step, you may not be ready for a large financial commitment that can sometimes accompany it.
Good news, I have some whiskeys that will treat your mouth and wallet just right.
1st – Bulleit Bourbon: This is my “go-to” when I want a great tasting bourbon at an economical price. You will typically see this from $25-30 depending on where you live. Pour it into a low ball glass, throw one ice cube in it, and you are set.
2nd: Wild Turkey 101: Wild Turkey Bourbon has come a long way in the last decade. Once thought of as rail whiskey, their 101 is pretty smooth with just a slight burn to it. Plus, you can look like Matthew McConaughey for around $25.
3rd: Pendleton: This beauty from north of the border is better than Crown Royal (IMHO) and about $15-20 less per bottle. Do yourself a favor and take a Canadian adventure with this whiskey… you won’t be disappointed.
4th: Glenlivet 12: Scotch is a different beast altogether and I probably wouldn’t recommend it to a beginner. However, I think its an experience all whiskey drinkers should have at some point in their life. Glenlivet is one of the least peaty types of scotches out there and is great to get started with your scotch trail.
5th: Buffalo Trace: A smooth Kentucky bourbon you can’t go wrong with. Typically around the $30 mark, I enjoy it with just a couple drops of water to smooth the burn and open up the great flavor.