Regardless of your personal tastes, there is a vast and complex world of whiskey.
There is an undeniable abundance of choices, and there has never been a better moment to explore Scotch whisky and the American whiskey varieties like Bourbon and Rye. For whiskey drinkers of all skill levels, here is a helpful buying guide for Bourbon, Rye, and Scotch.
For the Whiskey Newbie: Basil Hayden Bourbon
Jim Beam's Basil Hayden, made in Clermont, Kentucky, is a great entry point into the world of bourbon whiskey. Other names from the Beam catalog that you might be familiar with include Booker's, Knob Creek, Jim Beam, and more.
In terms of the ranking family tree, Basil Hayden was developed as a more aged Jim Beam bottle that was intended to give greater flavor and complexity yet at a drinkable level. Basil Hayden is a simple bottle to start enjoying alone, but it also blends well with whiskey-based drinks like an Old Fashioned or a classic Kentucky Lemonade.
Both Knob Creek and Baker's have your back if you like Basil Hayden and want a flavor (and proof!) upgrade right away.
The Classic Bourbon Lover: Woodford Reserve
Woodford Reserve adds a sweeter, oakier flavor to your pour despite being a little more expensive than Basil. In the Kentucky portfolio for the brand, Woodford Reserve sits next to Old Forester and is distilled by the Brown-Forman company.
There's a reason Woodford Reserve is a well-known whiskey partner of the Kentucky Derby every May, with a little more tannin, plenty of maple, vanilla, and caramel.
Brown-Kentucky Forman's bourbon, Woodford Reserve, is the clear favorite, and it shows. Each limited-edition whiskey produced by the distillery draws inspiration from the legendary Woodford Reserve blend and is crafted under the watchful supervision of Chris Morris. Therefore, Woodford is the ideal bourbon to consume for individuals who appreciate traditional bourbon and want a little extra taste in each pour.
The Cigar Connoisseur: Angel’s Envy
Look no further than Angel's Envy for a sweeter, dessert-like pour. There may not be a better, more accessible whiskey and cigar combo. Angel's Envy tastes fantastic either neat or on the rocks in the summer. Angel's Envy ages for some time in a typical, charred oak barrel before being transferred to Port wine casks for a few months of finishing, which is less usual in American whiskey than in Scotch.
The Port wine influences the bourbon at this stage of aging, imparting flavors of blackberry, honey, smoke, and toffee. A more recent strategy used in the whiskey market is finishing whiskey in wine barrels, although it has started to gain traction thanks to the pioneering work of companies like Angel's Envy.
The Quintessential Rye: Wild Turkey 101 Rye
It's a bold claim, but I'll make it anyway: Wild Turkey 101 Rye is the only rye you should keep on hand. Even if the expression "Jack of All Trades" is overused, it applies here perfectly.
Nearly as old as the current era of American Whiskey itself is the Wild Turkey distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, run by Bruce, Eddie, and Jimmy Russell.
I'm grateful that Wild Turkey and their corporate entity Campari have worked hard to make Wild Turkey 101 Rye accessible once more. It was previously a difficult to find release. This rye whiskey, which is 50.5% ABV when bottled, has plenty of kick to keep your Boulevardier or Manhattan sipping properly.
A neat pour is a pure rye spice experience, with layers upon layers of creamy cream, honey, clove, and tobacco. Finally, pouring it over a big ice cube won't convert it into whiskey water the first time you turn your back on it during the summer.
What's best? This high-proof, all-around whiskey master, which costs $32, ought to serve as the foundation of your newest whiskey collection.
An Intro to Single Malt Scotch: GlenDronach 12 Year
Scotch whisky is a must-have for any whisk(e)y shelf, and few distilleries can match The Glendronach's pedigree, quality, affordability, and dashing good looks. The Glendronach is a Whiskey Raiders favorite.
Even Glendronach's entry-level 12 year old is a must-have for whiskey aficionados old and new because it is one of the undisputed leaders in the area of gently and heavily sherried whiskies (its single malt ages in sherry casks rather than just barrels that used to store bourbon). If there is one single malt to introduce Scotland, this is it. It combines tart apple, sweet malt, smoky tobacco, and a deep, cooked fruit flavour.
GlenDronach 15 Year and Speyburn 18 Year Old are stunning whiskies that won't break the bank if you're already a fan and looking to advance and spend a few more dollars on your drams.
Peat Lovers: Laphroaig 10 Year
Few feelings compare to a thrilling adventure, and whisky lovers would be negligent to neglect Laphroaig 10, which is possibly the whisky with the most intense flavor we have ever encountered.
Laphroaig is a whisky that is produced in Scotland on the Isle of Islay and has a strong peat flavor. Their barley is roasted, fermented, and distilled after first being cold-smoked with peat. The end product is a whisky that is surprisingly inexpensive and has a unique flavor profile. The combination of rich lemon butter, barbecued ribs, diesel, coal, iodine, and salty sea air results in a single malt that will not leave any drinker indifferent.
Regardless of the route you pick, purchasing whiskey can feel like a genuine effort, especially with so many excellent options available and so many more potential dangers. We've got your back whether you're opening a home bar, attempting to pick a winner for a friend or coworker, choosing a Father's Day gift, or for any other purpose. Each of these outstanding whiskeys serves as a fantastic introduction to the best available right now.