Life in Wartime – Ordering Really Whisky, Vodka, Tequila and Rum
Well there is always a good excuse to drink and it seems like there's never been a better time. If you are in a bunker, you might as well make the best of it. So in no particular order are some liquor recommendations. Using Drizly is the easy way to access a high-quality liquor store (an essential business for sure!). You get $5 if you sign up and I do too 🙂
Whisky (aka Whiskey, Scotch, aka Bourbon)
So trolling through the last few online issues at the Whiskey Advocate, here are some recommendations. I never knew it but whiskey actually refers to a large category of fermented drinks that are made with grains like barley, corn, rye and wheat. Also looked at Chris Carlsson on Bourbon
In America, if it is made from 51% or more from corn and aged in new charred barrels, it is a Bourbon and has that nice smokey flavor, then there is Malt Whiskey made from 51% malted barley. And then there are is regions, so Tennessee whiskey (only Jack Daniels, George Dickel, Collier and McKeel and Benjamin Prichard) qualify. And of course, the biggest is Scotch made only in Scotland in five regions: Highland, Lowland, Islay, Speyside, and Campbeltown. The late comers are the Japanese and of course the Irish and the Canadians have theirs as well.
Note that they do these reviews quarterly, so make sure that you go backwards looking for good ones. They also have a list of the top 20 in 2019 that is pretty interesting:
- George Dickel 13 year old Bottled in Bond. Tennessee Bourbon
- Dewar's 21 year old Double Double. Just $50 in a half bottle if you can find it, really amazing Scotch.
- Four Roses Small Batch Select. Four Roses is great, but this is the select version. $55. The non-select version is available on Drizly for $45
- Heaven Hill 7 year old Bottled in bond. Just $40 if you can find it.
- Aberlour A'bunadh Alba Cask Strength. $90 and WA93. Aberlour 16 year is $93 on Drizly.
- Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Batch Proof. What a name, but WA94 and $130 if you can find it but great Kentucky Bourbon. The much lesser Double Oaked is $59 on Drizly.
- Old Ezra 7 year old Barrel Strength. Kentucky Bourbon WA94 at it's finest
- Glenlivet Engima. WA93 at a whopping $149, but a great Scotch.
- Glenmorangie 14 year Quinta Ruban. Two more years of port cask aging at $55 for WA92
- Writers' Tears Double Oak. Irish Whisky. $65 for a WA92
- Bardstown Fusion Series #1. WA92 for $60 for Kentucky Bourbon
- Laphroaig Cairdeas Cask Strength Triple Wood. The is peat city from Scotland. WA92. The 10 year is $87 at Drizly
- Talisker Select. Ok, this scotch Whiskey that is a Game of Thrones collection. WA92 for $45. For $74, you can get the Talisker 10-year
- Kaiyo Mizunara Oak. Japanese Whiskey WA92 for $60. It's $81 at Drizly
- Bruichladdich Bere Baley 2010. WA91 Single Malt Scotch for $100
- Baker's Single Barrel. Kentucky Bourbon. WA93 for $60. The seven year old lesser version is $68 on Drizly.
- New Riff Bottled in Bond. Kentucky Rye WA92
- Matsui The Peated. Japanese Single malt. WA92 for $90. The non peated is $84 at Drizly.
- Adnams Rye Malt. WA90 for $80
The trick is to find a local delivery service since in the state of Washington, you can't have it shipped from out of state. So here are some good ones that caught my eye and they are incredibly cheap compared to what you pay for wine but looking at the Winter 2019 list is worth a quick query on Drizly to see if you can get it in your town and some great old names in Whiskey and there are some dupes here from the top of 2019 list (naturally):
- George Dickel Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch Straight (2019 Release). Tennessee Bourbon for $140 a bottle rated 95 points. That's pretty hard to beat. This is hard to get in our neighborhood spirit store for sure. Drizly has the somewhat lesser but still pretty cool George Dickel Barrel Select for $45 (90 points by Whiskey Jug). They say they only have 10 barrels made.
- Dewar's 21 Year Old Double Double. Dewar's is a venerable name, but this sounds incredible. Another 94 point one that is hard to get.
- Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Batch Proof. $130. Another amazing Tennessee Bourbon.
- Old Ezra 7 year old Barrel Strength. $40 Tennessee Bourbon, at 94 points, it's kind of a steal if you can find it.
- George Dickel Bottled in Bond 13 year old. $36 for a 94 point WA rating wow.
- Four Roses Small Batch Select. $55 for a WA 93. The non-Select is $44 on Drizly which is balanced and affordable according to Breaking Bourbon.
A final note is there are some other interesting variants like Rum-cask finished whiskeys. The Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean is an example which has a sweet tropical fruit note. WA89 points for $75.
Finally, there's Chirs Carlsson list:
- Elijah Craig 21 Years Single Barrel. 10/8.
- Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage 2000. 9/10.
- Eagle Rare 17 Year Old 2016. 9/9. Drizly has the 10 year version at $37
And very finally there is going through Drizly's list and going through and sorting bourbons from top to bottom and see what is good:
- Breckenridge Port Cask. This is made in Colorado using casks. 89/100 for $83.
- Koval Bourbon. This is a Chicago craft distiller with a very unique flavor. 94 at The Whiskey Wash. $69 at Drizly
- Baker's Bourbon. 7 year aged rated 88 points.
- Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style. $60 list with a 3.5 rating/4.0
- Michter's US 1 Sour Mash Whiskey. In Pennsylvania. A solid B
- Woodford Reserve Double Oaked and Whiskey Wash $45 list. It's moderately priced and what you would use to sip (rather than the Woodford standard which you use for mixing). Score 87.
- Basil Hayden's. 91/100 and is $57 at Drizly
- Old Forester Stateman. 3/5 with the Prohibition at $60 being a better deal than this.
- Old Forester 1897 Bottled in Bond. The idea of Bottled in Bond is from way back in 1897 to ensure that there were no additive in the sprit. WW89/100
- 1792 Single Barrel. $45 for WW88/100
- George Dickel Barrel Select. $45 for WW92/100
Then for Vodka, there is way less choice as it is pretty easy to make, but the pricing is commensurate. T3 and Proof66 has some simple ratings that aren't too surprising. The main thing is that Vodka is pretty much flavorless, so the cost is lower and the differences are smaller. Nonetheless, might as well get a good one 🙂
For "fancy" vodka, here are some others non of which are on Drizly right now 🙁
- Jean Marc XO. This is mainly a cognac producer
- Stalinskaya Red Vod and Silver.
- PUR. Made in Quebec
- Stolichnaya Elite.
For what I would call mainstream vodka, here are some choices:
- Black Cow. Never heard of this, but it is made from milk, so pretty interesting and made in the UK.
- Belvedere. A very common brand, but reliable. It's $30 on Drizly. I'm an idiot and never realized it was made in Poland from Rye.
- Grey Goose. Also common and I again never realized with was made in France from Winter Wheat. It's $38 from Drizly.
- Chase Vodka. Made in Britain
- Ciroc Vodka. If you like the flavored stuff.
- Zubrowka Vodka. A specialty of Poland, it is grass flavored so for someone with special tastes. $33 at Drizly.
- Stolichnaya Vodka. I hadn't quite realized this is from Latvia and from Wheat and Rye.
- Absolut Vodka. The best from Sweden.
- Skyy Vodka. If you are flag-waving American it's from all US grain.
- Russian Standard Vodka. Ok, from where else.
Then there is Tequila which is actually way better than the cheap stuff that used to be imported. Chris Carlsson has some great reviews rated on a absolute quality and then a value for the money basis:
- Don Roberto Anejo. Lowland using new oak barrels rated 10/9
- Avion Anejo. A Highland Tequila 9/9
- paQui Silvera. 9/9 for a Lowland at $40 list.
- Tequila Cabeza. 9/9 and on Drizly
- Partido Reposado. 9/8. Made in Jalisco and the Anejo is just as good.
- Avion Reposado. Reposado means rested or aged, so nice to have a little more expensive.
- Casamigos Tequila Blanco. 9/8 rating a Highland Tequila. $42 list. $62 at Drizly
- Don Julio Blanco. Clive Cussler's favorite, need I say more. 9/7, $40 list and $68 from Drizly
- Dos Lunas Tequila Del Senor. This is 9/7 with $55 list. The Dos Lunas Del Senor Anejo is equally good at 9/7
- Partida Blanco. 9/7 at $50 its sister are a Reposado (aged) and Anejo (old) which are different aging times.
Another complex and overlooked beverage. I remember the first time I had a 40 year old rum. Wow, would be way wasted in a Rum and Coke for sure. Rum is basically from sugar cane and from the Carribean. If it is Rhum Agricole that means it is directly from sugar cane juice and that is way more expensive. Rhum Industriale means it comes from molasses which is the junk left after you extract the sugar. Again, Chris Carlsson has some good opinions and there is the crowd sourced Rum Ratings
- Clement X.O.The best ever they say at 10/10 and it should be at $150.
- Clement Cuvee Homere. 10/9 at $100 a bottle from a unique microclimate.
- AROME Ture Run Aged 28 Years. 10/9 at a whopping $595 a bottle!
- Don Pancho Origenes 30 Year Old. 10/9. Amazing if you can find it for $425 a bottle!
- Don Pancho Origenes 18 Year. 10/8 for $90.
- Don Q 151. A know your socks off 151 proof. $23 for a 9/10!
- Don Pancho Origenes 8 Year. 9/10 for $40. This is a value leader for sure! Drizly has it as well.
- Cana Brava Rum. 9/10 at $35/liter direct from the importer
- Isla de Canas 7 Year. 9/10 and hard to find. Cuban
- Lost Spirits Navy Rum. 9/10 at $45 from California.
- Panama Red Overproof. 9/10
- Ron Cartavio XO. Peruvian rum, who would have though 9/10 for $45 on Drizly.
- Ron Zacapa Centenario Licorera. $37 for a 9/10. Drizly has the more expensive 23-year version for $54
- Plantation 20th Anniversary. 9/10. $50.
- Rum Fire Overproof. Cheap and tasty and powerful 9/9 for $33 at Drizly
- Denizen. 9/9. A new rum that's blended, not your average Blanco (white rum). $19 list and on Drizly.
- Banks Rum West Indies. 9/9 at $28. Kind of a screaming deal blended from five different islands.
- Downslope Special Gold. 9/9 for $26 from a micro-distillery using Maui cane. The White Rum and Wind Barrel Aged are equally good.
- El Dorado Special Reserve. 9/9 for $35. What a deal.
- Havana Club 7 Year Anejo. 9/9 And the Seleccion Maestros is 9/10
- Damoiseau VSOP. 9/8 at $50. It's a Rhum Agricole.
- Don Q rGan Anejo. This is from Puerto Rico. Nicely aged. 9/8 for $60
- Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva. Aged 12 years and Diplomatic Reserver Blanco is the white variant. Both are 9/8. $30 list from Venezuela. $44 from Drizly. Some folks find it too sweet though.
- Depaz Blue Cane. Mt Pelle sourced. 9/7 at $42 list.
- Plantation Grande Reserve Barbados 5 Year. 9/10. $20 list. One of the best cheap bottles you can find. $27 from Drizly
- Clement Premiere Canne. 8/9 at $30 list. $44 on Drizly. Much cheaper,