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Full Version: Absentheurs picks on "best of breed" for other alcohols?
The Fée Verte Absinthe Forum - The Oldest, Largest, Most Authoritative Absinthe Forum. > The Monkey Hole > The Cellar
Ok, so I've come to the following conclusions:

1) I know very little about what's "good" liquor
2) A lot of you know a hell of a lot more than I do

(yes, the "duh" heard 'round the world...)

Anywho... as I respect (most of) your opinions very much having read your rantings on here for so long, I am curious as to your picks for other "generic" alcohols. I mean stuff like rum, gin, vodka, tequila. Nothing specifically-fancy, but something worth stocking the bar for general-use for making a variety of mixed drinks. I would like to explore the world beyond Smirnoff, Bacardi, Beefeater, and Cuervo. However, I would not like to break the bank doing so... so while I do not doubt that the $50 tequila is the cat's meow, please be respectful of my wallet. Mainly I'm interested in discovering what the lesser-known brands are outside of my brainwashed pop-culture that can be had for around the same price but are considerably better. I worry that with alcohol I've succombed to the BOSE-effect and I would like to break free and reach a new level of enlightenment.

Now I realize there's no "one true best" for any of these... that goes without saying. As long as I'm not paying $50/bottle I'm willing to explore several recommendations and find which I like the best. I just need some leads to begin with... savvy? biggrin.gif

So with that said... suggestions?
Wild Bill Turkey
Somebody over at the WS suggested a rhum agricole blanc from Martinique to me a couple of weeks ago that I found at my local Bevmo, on the shelf next to a bunch of mass-market garbage rums going for about the same price. La Favorite. Oh my God is it good. 5 star.
Pig's Nose and Sheep Dip Scotches aren't bad for about $27.00 a bottle.
Milagro and Don Eduardo are fair for the price, but for a little more get Patrón.

Authentic tequilas tend to hang around the $40-50 range for reposados and usually anything in the $20-30 range is crap, grain alcohol with flavoring. Regardless of what you buy, make sure the lable contains "100% Blue Agave".

Casa Noble is heavenly.
Stomp Brockmore
With regard to gin, I always go for either Hendrick's or Plymouth. Hendrick's is my favourite, but a little bit atypical in that it is distilled with cucumber and rose petals - has a more floral quality than "regular" gin. You can't go wrong with Plymouth.
Everclear and lemonade ain't bad. wacko.gif
As for rum, after many tastings and research, and considering some of the best are hard to find, I will suggest one you can find pretty easy: Appleton Estates 21 Year Old - also may want to look at the 21 year old Pyrat

As for Vodka, I am not too into it. But I have found that the wife likes Absolut in mixed drinks the best. Others will make recommendations.

As for tequila, try Don Eduardo Añejo

Gin is an intersting one. Try Bombay Sapphire or, for another perspective, the lighter Citadelle should do you well.
One caveat regarding Añejo tequila is that it is aged longer to be enjoyed neat. It's not something you'll really want for mixing. Go with a good Silver (Blanco) for mixing. I prefer the Reposados since they have a little age on them to soften them up, but still retain a fair amount of raw agave character. Good for both mixing and sipping and middle of the road in price.
Donnie Darko
El Tesoro is one of my favourite Reposados, and cheaper than Patron. And their Silver is surprisingly smoothe.

Good Mezcal beats the pants off Tequila any day of the week though. Del Maguey distributes some outstanding Mezcals that are every bit as complex and varied as a good Whisky. Almost as expensive as absinthe, but worth it.

For quality Bourbon, I recommend Basil Hayden's and Booker's. They're like polar opposites and will give you a good idea of how Bourbon is capable of being both incredibly mellow and an intense firewater. Booker's is great because it is basically Bourbon in its purest form. Unfiltered, undiluted.

For Whisky (single malt scotch, not Whiskey), a good selection would be Springbank and Aberlour on the silkier sherry side of the spectrum, and Talisker and Laphroaig on the manly smokey peat bomb side of the spectrum. And older Macallans are definitely worth seeking out. Talisker and Laphroaig are not for novice Whisky drinkers, they have some tastes that might initially put people off, but once you've sampled a wide range you'll really appreciate their complexity.

I can't stand Rum or Gin, so I have no advice as far as those go.

For Vodka, I really do think Grey Goose is some of the best. The water they use is pristine. I also like good ol cheap ass Stolichnaya.

Of course I wouldn't recommend using most of the above listed beverages for mixing, so you can probably disregard everything I said, plus everything that I listed is probably too expensive (except for maybe Grey Goose, Stoli and Basil Hayden's). They're all too good for mixing, although Stoli is great for Vodka mixed drinks.
In Gin, I love Plymouth, Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire. They're my faves, and I reckon they represent the best of what there is available in commercial Gin at the moment.
I'd love for someone to let me know if i'm wrong though... Always a good excuse to try a new brand of gin...
Ah, fricken forums... thought I was to be notified when people replied? Grr...

Anyhow, many interesting leads here. Thanks to all! As it turns out, I already have Bombay Sapphire in my stock... a ladyfriend from a while back was into gin & tonics so I picked up a bottle per her suggestion. Whiskey is interesting, as I didn't mention it but I do enjoy a good whiskey-sour... I have a bottle of JD (not fond of it myself) but I also have a bottle of 12yo single-malt Bunnahabhain... is that considered any good?

I've sort of fallen out of drining tequila straight up... these days I mix it, either in margaritas or Long Island Iced Teas usually.

Thanks again for the info, definitely will help me out next time I go shopping...

I would highly recommend Hanger One vodka if you can find it, runs about $35 a bottle in D.C.

As far as a decent rum to keep stocked, look into Cruzan. It's dirt cheap and much better than Bacardi.
I have 2: Keith Richards (Vodka & Sunkist, I prefer Belvedere Vodka) and Beam and Coke.
Rum - La Mauny or Trois Rivieres 62% Rhum Agricole de Martinique, blanc for session drinks or ti punch, vieux for sipping. No molasses based rum sold on U.S. shores can touch the better Martinique rums, period.

Gin - Personally, I haven't found a gin yet that I feel is what gin should be, but Tanqueray Ten provides something a bit different from the typical industrial fare.

Vodka - Not really worth drinking, but if you must, Zhitomirska.

Tequila - Cabo Wabo reposado for session drinks, Del Maguey Tobala Mezcal for sipping.

Whisky - Sazerac 18 year old rye - for the perfect mint julep

Scotch - Macallan 18 year old - a whisper of aged oloruso sherry cask is the clincher

Brandy - Domaine Boingnères 100% Folle Blanche - absolutely untouchable

I agree with Ted on Macallan 18 year old (better than the 25 year old).

I disagree with Ted on vodka, but since I am now in the vodka business, maybe I am biased!
So, what's your poison, Grey Goose, perhaps?

I agree with Ted...not worth drinking.
Since you ask, Jean-Marc XO Vodka.

Before I tried it, I would have agreed with you both on vodka. Check out the Newsweek review cited on Wikipedia.

Other alcoholic drinks: I love Mount Gay Extra Old, Krug Clos du Mesnil (preferably 1983!) and Speckled Hen Bitter!
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