I recently ran across two whiskey blog posts on the always excellent Relish. Both listed ten favorite whiskeys. Both by two men in the know. The first post by #accomplishedeater Andrew Mark Veety gives some of his favorites that will also be available at the upcoming Whiskey in the Winter. The second post, by Jeff Stettner, owner of 33 Wine Bar, the home of one of the best appointed whiskey selections in St. Louis, lists some of Jeff’s favorites available at the Whiskey in the Winter event as well as at 33.
After reading these posts and enjoying and buying quite a bit of whiskey this weekend, I thought I’d put my own list together. But what to include? I drank half a liter of Schnucks Private Stock Bonded Bourbon Friday. I bought bottles of Van Winkle 12 year and Sazerac 18 year on Saturday. But a list of my recent whiskey purchases and consumption is of no value to anyone, least of all me. Then there’s that glass of Pappy Van Winkle 23 year I enjoyed on the first Tuesday in November of 2008. Or how about on the day my wife went into labor, I had a dram of Midleton Very Rare while preparing the house for its coming occupant. Those are two situations where the context may have out shown the whiskey itself, but a list of greatest pours of my life would be too subjective. Therefore, I thought I’d just toss out ten favorites that would be my suggested whiskies to add to a home bar.
- Old Fitzgerald Bonded Bourbon – This $11 bonded bourbon is the bourbon that many of my favorite cocktails are prepared with at Taste. Generally if a bourbon is good enough for Ted Kilgore to pour, it’s good enough for little old me.
- Elijah Craig 12 year – My rail bourbon of choice. Delivers more flavor than Buffalo Trace, especially when mixing. I’ve got two single barrel EC12’s at home as well. The quintessential mixing bourbon.
- Parker’s Heritage 2012 – My bottle clocks in at 131.6 proof. That’s hot. Yet, this over proof bourbon is a sipper, I’ll take mine neat. If you’re looking for an over proof bourbon for mixing in something like Jeff Morganthaller’s Amaretto Sour, go with Booker’s.
- Rittenhouse Rye – Why mess with Wild Turkey, George Dickel, Bullet, or whoever else is bottling ryes now, just mix with the original. This bonded rye brings enough spice and enough kick to be my go to be it; Algonquin, Manhattan, or Old Fashioned in my mixing glass.
- Colonel E.H. Taylor Straight Rye – Occasionally you want a rye for sipping and Colonel Taylor delivers. Add a splash of water to cool a bit of the heat, but the body and rye flavors will still be there waiting. Try it in a Sazerac and let that heat cut through the absinthe.
- Trybox New Make Rye – A true uncut whiskey. This beauty is unaged Rittenhouse and falls under the white dog category, and unlike those watered down versions you often see now that white dogs are cool, it’s 125 proof.
- Yamazaki 12 year – I have to agree with everything Mr. Veety and Mr. Stettner wrote about this fine scotch. In addition, this is my favorite mixing scotch. Be it a Blood and Samurai or a Rusty Nakiri, I reach for the Yamazaki.
- Ardbeg 10 Year – Laphroaig Cask Strength could just as easily made this list, but I believe the Ardbeg is a bit more approachable, but still delivers the funk.
- Powers Gold Label – During my time in graduate school I was fortunate enough to travel to Ireland where I researched a paper on how the geology and geography of the Emerald Isle affected the evolution of their whiskey. While I was there I noticed everyone was drinking Paddy’s and Power’s, I chose the latter.
- Redbreast Cask Strength – Whether your toasting a baby’s birth or a good man’s death, you need something at the home bar that’s up to the challenge. This is your whiskey.