Monday, June 23, 2014

Reader Poll: The Best American Whiskeys That You Can Actually Buy

Today's question is:  What is the best whiskey from each major American producer that you can buy?  Not the best ever, not the best special release, not the best that you might win in a lottery or the best retailer exclusive barrel, but the best general release whiskey that anyone can walk into a store today and actually walk out with a bottle of (or order on-line).

Here's my list. 

Beam Suntory:  I'd say Baker's with Old Grand-Dad 114 as a runner-up; others would probably say Booker's, Knob Creek Single Barrel or Maker's 46.

Brown Forman:  Well, I've never been a fan, but if you held a gun to my head, I'd probably say Jack Daniel's Single Barrel.  

Diageo:  George Dickel 12 with Bulleit Rye as a runner up. 

Four Roses:  Four Roses Single Barrel, still one of the best deals in whiskey.

Heaven Hill:  Elijah Craig 12 and Rittenhouse 100 are easy picks.

Sazerac:  This is tough because the availability varies so much from market to market.  I'd probably say Blanton's or Old Weller Antique since the Weller 12 seems tough to find.  I haven't tried the new no age statement Very Old Barton.  Is anyone still a fan?

Wild Turkey:  Wild Turkey Rare Breed.  The 101 rye is apparently back, but I can't say I've seen it anywhere. 

What do you think?


David J. Montgomery said...

Very solid list. I prefer Gentleman Jack to Single Barrel, but I can't say I drink either with any regularity.

Funky Tape said...

Beam - Booker's. I think the "Rountable" batches that Cowdery et al have chosen have been excellent for the money. A local LQ did a Groupon like thing so I got my last one for $23 OTD. Can't beat that.

BF: Old Forester Sig 100.

Diageo: Guinness :)

FR: Private Single Barrel selections at 100 prf in the low $30's or a few CS one's for $50. Sure beats paying double for the yearly "limited edition" which could be from the exact same recipe and vintage, just maybe the barrel right next to it. I'll never get this.

HH: ECBP. It's not that hard to find because they don't bottle and release right away, they seem to be watching the market and then putting out "new batches" as it demands....while of course raising the price.

Saz: OWA 107 if it's on sale under $20.

Wild Turkey: WT101

sku said...

Good picks Funky Tape. Availability varies a lot by region. I didn't consider Elijah Craig Barrel Proof because out here, it's very scarce. If it was obtainable, it would easily be my Heaven Hill pick too. said...

A good list. I like Eagle Rare 10, and while there are all kinds of panicked rants about availability of BT releases, I've not had a problem finding it. Elijah Craig 12 is my house whiskey.

Anonymous said...

very useful post and comments section.

thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

NYC reader here.
Beam Suntory: Booker's hands down for my personal taste.
Brown Forman: OF100
Diageo: Barterhouse. I'm joking but def fits the actually can buy, I'll go with Bulleit as long as Four Roses makes it.
Four Roses: Four Roses Small Batch, I actually prefer it over the Single Barrel. Private Cask Strength excluded (which it apparently is in NYC.)
Heaven Hill: Echo Sku though sometimes a good barrel of EWSB sneaks in.
Sazerac: Actually buy in NYC? Rain Vodka.
Wild Turkey: Again echo Sku's pick.

mark said...

blanton and old weller's antique

Andrew said...

Here in Canada, we get a 103 proof "Gold" version of Blanton's (my pick for Sazerac), which is definitely better than the usual brown label.

Anonymous said...

I'd mark my calendar for the reappearance of Wild Turkey 101 Rye at retail...and I never (or almost never) mark my calendar for anything.

Anonymous said...

Beam: Old Grand Dad 114
BF: Old Forester 100 (although I've had some good examples of WR Double Oaked)
Diageo: Bulleit Rye
FR: Single Barrel
Heaven Hill: Elijah Craig 12 or JW Dant
Sazerac: geez, this is like a six way tie, and I haven't seen ETL on the shelf in months. I'll go with Rock Hill Farms.
Wild Turkey: Rare Breed (though haven't had the newer, higher proof version)

Last I heard, WT101 Rye is only available to bars. If you know of those rare places that is a bar/store, they can probably score a bottle. (Which a buddy of mine did last month)

Anonymous said...

For rye either rittenhouse 100 or turkey 101.
4R single barrel goes for $30 in Wisconsin, silly good deal.
Eagle rare, elijah craig 12, elmer t. lee, and the weller either 107 or 90 are always solid.

Anonymous said...

Sku: I have seen the Wild Turkey 101 Rye available at Wine House on Cotner as recently as 2 weeks ago. Retailing there for $38. The website still shows it as in stock. I loved it at $23 but at $38 I have a hard time justifying the buy given I can get a 1.75 of Bulleit Rye at Costco for the 31.99

webaggression said...

Great list. I'm a big fan of OWA and EC12.

Anonymous said...

house pour is Knob Creek or Eagle Rare

Sam Komlenic said...

Wild Turkey 101 rye is only available in a 1-liter bottle. Factor in the proof and volume vs. the 81 in a 750 and it's actually a better deal.

It's available here in PA on special order from the PLCB at $33 a liter, and tastes just as good as before.

In their infinite wisdom, the PLCB is also discontinuing Rare Breed at $30 per.

Sam Komlenic said...

Oh, my choices?

Beam: Old Grand-Dad BIB
B-F: Old Forester Signature
Diageo: Same as Sku
Four Roses: ditto
HH:Heaven Hill BIB 6 Year
Sazerac: Old Weller Antique
Wild Turkey: Rye 101, thank you very much!

risenc said...

To each their own, but I would include EWSB under Heaven Hill, for sure. For the price, availability and baseline quality year in and out, there's not much to beat it.

@alligatorchar said...

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel easily ranks as a solid whiskey that is readily available. Although taste is clearly subjective, I've been consistently impressed by this label and it scores very well in my blind pour tests at poker night. Runner up might be Blanton's which is another solid offering I can depend on to be worthwhile when pickings are slim.

Anonymous said...

Saw the following article today on this very same subject. FWIW.

Sam Komlenic said...

And if you happen to live in Virginia, John J. Bowman single barrel from A. Smith Bowman. I recommend it highly.

Alex said...

I bet Eagle Rare will lose its age statement in the next year.

sku said...

Alex, BT has repeatedly said it won't, but we will see.

The Rookie said...

Great list sku. I know i'm a week late, but here is my list:

Beam: Jim Beam Single Barrel.

Brown-Forman: Woodford Reserve. I've never understood all the hate, however I haven't had it in about 8-9 years.

Diagio: Dickel.

Four Roses: Single barrel.

Heaven Hill: Black label.

Sazarac: Buffalo Trace.

Turkey: Turkey.

Alan Minor said...

I live in NYC; my picks would be as follows:

Beam Suntory: Booker's (overpriced, but still very good juice)

Brown-Forman: Old Forrester 100

Diageo: George Dickel No. 12

Four Roses: Four Roses Single Barrel

Heaven Hill: Henry McKenna Bottled-In-Bond 10 Year Old (I'm shocked this bourbon hasn't caught on yet)

Sazerac: Colonel E.H. Taylor Small Batch (used to be Elmer T. Lee and then Rock Hill Farms thereafter)

WT: Wild Turkey Rare Breed

DMcG said...

For those who say that the "new" Wild Turkey 101 rye is as good as the "old" version, I strongly disagree. Try a side-by-side and I think you may agree.