The common thought is that in order to obtain a spirit worth sipping neat or on the rocks you have to give an arm, a leg, and possibly a kidney! This idea is absolutely false! There is a loose relationship between cost and quality, but what many people don’t understand is there are numerous values to be had that absolutely outperform their price point.
There are several factors when considering pouring straight spirit, first and foremost being neat or on the rocks (over ice). This absolutely will change the flavors of your spirit. I always suggest first trying the spirit neat, then if the product is too high of proof add a couple drops of cold water. Lastly, if you still desire something with a bit less proof add ice, the largest and clearest possible to slow dilution.
With all the snobbery out of the way, we are here to drink after all, so whatever is most enjoyable to you, that’s the way you should drink!
Let’s get to the bottles:
- Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whisky – $38 Total Wine / $35 NC ABC
This bottle is absolutely one of my favorite values of all time, it is a delicious speyside blend that captures the rich brown sugar sweetness of the region, contains a hint of oak and spice, and just the vague idea of smoke.
- Larceny Bourbon Whiskey – $28 Total Wine / $28 NC ABC
This wheated bourbon is an up-and-coming favorite among bourbon lovers with its sweeter and rounder character than a rye-forward varietal. This is a great option with a few drops of water to cool down that 92 proof.
- Old Overholt Rye Whiskey – $18 Total Wine / $23 NC ABC
This is the go-to rye for bartenders, especially at its price! A wonderful expression of the rye style with subtle sweetness surrendering to spicy rye and wood notes. Not the most complex rye, but an incredible value.
- Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey – $35 Total Wine / $30 NC ABC
The oloroso sherry cask version of the classic Bushmills adds rich fruity notes and a complex sweetness to the typical Irish base. A wonderful depth of flavor for both wine and whiskey enthusiasts.
- Brugal 1888 Rum – $47 Total Wine / $36 NC ABC
The 1888 is double aged in ex-bourbon barrels (up to 8yrs) and sherry casks (up to 6yrs) , leading to a long complex flavor profile of spice, vanilla, and caramel. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative try Brugal Anejo from the same company $20/$22
- El Jimador Anejo Tequila – $26 Total Wine / $23 NC ABC
For those of you who didn’t think sipping tequila existed and for those who thought it cost a fortune, this one is for you! Aged for 12 months in oak this anjeo is smooth with flavors of oak, agave, and notes of cinnamon.
- Torres 10 Imperial Brandy – $22 Total Wine / $20 NC ABC
Strong aroma and has warm hints of spices on top of a fruity and nutty flavor. Drink neat or cut with water. Ice masks too much flavor for me.