"Whiskey, like a beautiful woman, demands appreciation. You gaze first, then it's time to drink." - Haruki Murakami
There are only a few things more rewarding than finishing a hard day’s work with an oversized ball of ice, a cocktail glass, and your favorite whiskey. While the quarantine has affected multiple industries, the liquor business has managed to thrive and is living its best life in the midst of chaos. Though there are a variety of different types of booze we enjoy, we at The Modern Gentleman can say with absolute certainty that whiskey is our favorite.
Whiskey offers many joys, most notably:
-Lower Calorie Count
As you’ve seen in countless movies and social media posts, whiskey is a form of class and elegance. In order to embody class and suave, one must have a true understanding of all the beneficial aspects whiskey brings to that first pour.
Let’s start with the basics. Before finding a bottle that’s best for you, it’s important to differentiate between the various kinds of whiskey. While some genres of liquor are “as advertised” (like vodka & gin), the term whiskey acts as an umbrella to the broader menu that falls under the term.
To break it down simply, here are a few options we would suggest:
Keep in mind there are far more than we could ever dream to fit into a post, but these are a few of our favorites!
The intention of this article is to not only explain the differences and what each category offers but to enlighten you on our top 3 for each category. With that said, pull out a pad of paper and write this down. You don’t want to miss any of this.
We feel very confident that even if whiskey isn’t your top choice, you’ve had Irish whiskey at some point in your life. Going to take a guess and say you probably had some during St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
Irish whiskey has a smoother finish as opposed to the smoky, earthy overtones common to Scotch whiskey or your bourbons, in part due to the malting process. This form of whiskey is a great way to dip your toes into this category of liquor as it isn’t as sharp and woodsy as its family members in other categories.
Our top 3 Irish Whiskeys:
The Quiet Man: While the name may be deceiving, this Irish option is anything but quiet. It is a little more challenging to find, but if you see it, we highly recommend grabbing it. With an award-winning label, The Quiet Man is a new face to the Irish Whiskey game.
Proper 12: This whiskey was created by the face of Ireland, Mr. Conor McGregor. Being an absolute animal in the ring, and quickly making a name for himself in the whiskey arena, it only made sense for him to create a version of his motherland’s brown nectar.
Jameson: Jameson has been running the Irish whiskey game for years and years (it was actually the first Irish whiskey we tried here at The Modern Gentleman many moons ago). They also wear the crown for best-selling Irish whiskey in the world.
While many of the Canadian traditions, like wearing denim from head to toe and enjoying Tim Hortons is great, they also offer one hell of a whiskey. Canadian whiskey is one of the best ways to be introduced to the world of whiskey. With powerhouse brands that represent this category, you are sure to find one of these spirits to be a tasty option!
Our Top 3 Canadian Whiskeys:
Crown Royal: The most iconic Canadian whiskey on the market that offers multiple flavors, while having rare-aged options as well. If you’re not a huge brown drink sipper, we are sure there are 2 or 3 Crown options you’d be crazy not enjoy!
Caribou Crossing: With a name like this, it’s a no brainer that this brand is a Canadian whiskey, but what separates Caribou Crossing from the crowd is the unique bottle and, for you cork collectors (I’m talking to you Blanton boys out there), a welded maple leaf attached to theirs. This particular brand is going to be one of the more expensive Canadian whiskeys, but is a fantastic option nonetheless to enjoy over the rocks!
Pendleton: Like all of the categories that we will be covering, Canadian whiskey has its “go-to” options and Pendleton falls directly into that. This particular brand is a tasty option that offers a little more of a bold side of the category’s taste and is sure to have you enjoying every drop. Guaranteed.
“Smooth like Tennessee whiskey” – Chris Stapleton
We couldn’t have said it better, Chris. Tennessee whiskey is a staple and just like the other categories provides some of the biggest names in the liquor industry. Offering a taste that pairs great with mixers and truly focuses on how it's processed (Mash), the list below is great for getting the night started!
Our Top 3 Tennessee Whiskeys:
Jack Daniels: A true household name when it comes to any type of whiskey. If you have never enjoyed a Jack & Coke you’re really missing out. Like Crown, Jack Daniels has a large menu behind the name, but the way they differentiate from common Jack and progress into the finer options is based on the aging process. Jack Daniels is an American classic that you can never go wrong with.
George Dickel: While George Dickel offers many types of whiskey, they got their start in the Tennessee category. What sets George Dickel apart from the competitors is the unique bottling process in addition to, the labels that are handwritten with a barrel number on it. Even if you’re not a Tennessee whiskey fan, George Dickel offers a taste that outshines the others.
Heaven’s Door: Labeled as a “Tennessee Bourbon,” Heaven’s Door offers a very unique twist on the Tennessee whiskey category. While it’s not a true bourbon (which we will cover in the next category) the taste offers a similar one to your classic bourbon but with a slight twist. Being co-created by Bob Dylan who has seen a party or two, we highly recommend you check Heaven’s Door.
People always want to participate in the newest trends. It was craft beers for a while, but it’s safe to say bourbon has become the top priority for any liquor connoisseur. Whether it’s discussing the rare bottles, the aging process, or the smoky nodes that this beautiful brown liquid offers, bourbon has become king. Many states claim they make bourbon, but that’s simply not the case. To be a true bourbon it MUST be created in the state of Kentucky. As for the other states that offer a “bourbon,” the manufacturer legally has to print on the bottle “Blended Bourbon.” At The Modern Gentleman we have to admit we are avid bourbon enthusiasts, so sharing some of our favorites with you is a treat.
While selecting three bourbons was a challenge, we wanted to be sure to share the best of the best!
Our Top 3 Bourbons:
Pappy Van Winkle: One of the rarest bourbons on the market. If you ever have the chance to taste Pappy, take it. There is never disappointment by the elite flavor that Pappy offers. Aged precisely with the conscious effort to add unique and different nodes to its flavor, Pappy takes the cake for our favorite bourbon. While this bourbon is by no means cheap, being able to taste it is a story of its own.
Blanton’s: Blanton’s is loved and sought after by every whiskey drinker. With the unique cork that has the horse running and a variation of letters spelling out Blantons, this bourbon makes for a great trophy and provides impeccable taste. The same advice for Pappy also applies to Blantons. If you see it, buy it. Period.
Willett: Undeniably one of the most unique bottles in the game, Willett is an absolute must-try if you haven’t yet. Unlike Pappy and Blantons, Willett is more commonly carried in most stores. With a smokier caramel taste, we assure you that picking up this genie-like bottle next time you’re at the liquor store, all of your wishes for a bourbon will come true.
Rye whiskey is special in a way that offers many elements and uses. This category is notoriously known to be the go-to for Old Fashions and other specialty cocktails. While the taste has much more of a bite than the other categories, do not sleep on the rye category.
Our Top 3 Rye Whiskeys:
Sazerac Rye: Coming straight out of Kentucky and the Buffalo Trace distillery, Sazerac has to be one of the smoothest ryes on the shelves. Not only is it super affordable, but it’s one of the few rye whiskeys you can enjoy on the rocks. Even if you're sold on one of these categories, we challenge you to branch out and try Sazerac, because you will be happy you did.
Angel’s Envy: Combining traditional distilling methods with the improvised work of an independent craftsman, Angel’s Envy handcrafts every bottle 8 to 12 barrels at a time. Angel Envy’s Rye Whiskey isn’t just a take on classic rye, it’s a complete reinvention that’s finished in Caribbean rum casks that offers a sweeter aspect than most ryes.
High West: Almost every other straight rye whiskey you can buy today is barely legal, with 51-53% rye in the mash bill. Not the High West rye. It honors the way rye whiskey used to be made, with a high rye content and full, uncompromised flavor. In its stand out bottle and a great story behind the brand, we hope you enjoy it.
Regardless of what type of whiskey is your favorite, we just hope you’re enjoying the immense flavors that it has to offer. It’s encouraged for you to be creative and branch out at the liquor store, because at the end of the day being able to discuss whiskey, the different aspects it offers, and the many ways to enjoy it, truly makes you a refined gentleman.
Whether it’s neat or on the rocks…stay suave.