If you are an ardent whiskey lover whole-heartedly dedicated to home distilling, aging, and custom flavoring your favorite liquor, you would know that whiskey is no longer the poster spirit of just the U.S. and Scotland. Call it the globalization of whiskey or anything else, everyone’s favorite bourbon and scotch have gone local in almost every country. There is a wide variety for aficionados to choose from- rye whiskey to Japanese. On the rocks, with water, neat or as our favorite cocktail like whiskey sour, gatherings at your home are incomplete unless the right drink is poured straight out of your home bar.
In an effort to help you improve your home bar, we offer up this handy guide to the best-known forms of whiskey to leave an unforgettable impression on your next guest.
10 Must-Have Whiskeys For Your Home Bar Other Than Scotch And Bourbon
Kentucky’s greatest contribution to mankind, with respect to the Colonel, Bourbon came into our lives in the 18th century. It legally consists of at least 51% corn and is aged in virgin barrels for at least 2yrs and hovers between 80 and 101 proof. In every way, it tastes like America.
Where it comes from: The Bluegrass State is the authentic point of real bourbon’s origin. However, micro distillers all over the country are starting to make what they call bourbon, typically in barrels shipped from Kentucky just to trick the buyers.
Great examples: Buffalo Trace, Maker’s Mark, Bulleit, and Wild Turkey.
Essentially, it’s not all that different from bourbon. The main difference is that if you call it ‘bourbon’, you will likely be shot by an angry country singer. Also, it’s treated to something called the Lincoln County Process, which involves dripping it through charcoal.
Where it comes from: One of the scattershot counties in Tennessee that actually allows alcohol. Because Tennessee be CRAZY.
Great examples: Jack Daniel’s and his classy brother, Gentleman Jack. And his yahoo cousin George Dickel.
More rules! In order for rye to be rye, it needs rye. Go figure. The mash has to be more than half composed of rye, in fact. Otherwise, it’s a lot like a drier version of bourbon. Also, rye.
Where it comes from: Generally, Kentucky, since a lot of your favorite bourbon distillers also dabble in the rye. They also, interestingly, make it at George Washington’s crib, Mt. Vernon, presumably to dull the pain of chewing with wooden teeth.
Great examples: Jim Beam and Van Winkle Family Reserve.
The most misunderstood whisky, for which every man at some point feels he needs to develop a taste. It’s a malt whiskey (though it can be grain) that’s all about the aging; it’s got to sit in a barrel for at least 3yrs. The longer it sits there, the tastier it is. Then there’s the difference between single malt and blended: this can get really confusing since single malt can be a blend of whiskies as long as all of them are from the same distillery. Blended, meanwhile, can mean your bottle is the product of multiple distilleries. Confused yet? Just drink up.
Where it comes from: The Highlands of yore.
Great examples: Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Glenmorangie, and other Glens with weird names… Johnny Walker, Balvenie, and other stuff in your boss’s office.
Also known as “water” in Dublin, Scotch’s neighboring spirit is extra smooth, thanks to its lack of peat and typical triple-distilled preparation following 3yrs in a cask. It’s often blended, usually single malt, and one of the most popular whiskies in the world.
Where it comes from: The Emerald Isle, or a ginger who showed up at the party and seemed to pull a bottle out of thin air.
America Junior’s take on whiskey is often called “brown vodka” by whiskey snobs, but most of them don’t know what this stuff’s all about. It’s actually a blend of liquors based on corn and other grains, which makes it a lot lighter most of the time. And while some of the quality is questionable, it warms you up. That counts for something.
It’s not made with rice, despite some misinformation out there. In fact, the biggest Japanese distilleries are shelling out something remarkably close to Scotch- single-malt and blended whiskies with a Western influence.
Where it comes from: Throughout the Land of the Rising Sun, with Suntory’s Hakushu distillery claiming status as the highest-altitude distillery in the world.
Easy to drink and far more complex than its price point would suggest, Speyburn’s Scotch whisky is nothing if not consistently excellent value. All of its offerings are mellow and moreish with a satisfying aftertaste. Light flavors make for a strong choice that comes with an affordable price tag for all.
Hailing from Speyside, Scotland, Glen Moray is an iconic distillery known for winning several awards. The brand dates back to 1897, making it one of the most trusted whisky distillers in the world, too. It’s known for being partial to a sweet note.
The Classic is Glen Moray’s entry-level spirit, but don’t be put off by that. The vast range of notes from this bottle makes it an enjoyable drink to sip. Sweet notes like butterscotch and shortbread are the first to be tested, followed by lemon curd and meringue.
With an exclusive following, the brand offers plenty of different bottles with a range of ages to suit all palates.
Craigellachie’s 13-Year-Old was first released in 2014 and works perfectly as a whisky for someone just starting to delve into the spirit. The brand is known for its almost meaty flavors, with spice on the nose and a lot of depth.
It’s an exciting whisky that beginners will love for its original character. If you’re looking for a smoky whisky, you won’t find it in Craigellachie’s 13-Year-Old. But if toffee, fudge, and fruity flavors are the goal then this is a top pick.