I’ve been a fan of whiskey-based cocktails for my entire adult life, but I have never enjoyed drinking whiskey straight. In fact, I’ve always found it to be pretty vile. One tiny sip of scotch or bourbon was enough to make me gag. Something must have clicked in me this year because I am now a full-fledged whiskey convert. These days, I’m just as likely drink whiskey straight as I am to mix it into a cocktail. Here is a roundup of what I’ve been sipping on lately.

Bourbon: My parents gave Robert a bottle of Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon for Christmas this year. Blanton’s, which came onto the market in 1984, was the very first single barrel bourbon in the country. Most distillers blend bourbons from different barrels in order to achieve a uniform & reliable whiskey. Blanton’s bourbon is not blended; instead, individual barrels are constantly monitored so that each one can be bottled at the peak of perfection. Because every barrel ages a little bit differently, each bottle of Blanton’s is unique. Blanton’s is not cheap, but it is an exceptional bourbon and worth every penny. If you are on a budget, a great option is Russell’s Reserve. Russell’s Reserve is a 10 year old bourbon distilled by Wild Turkey’s master distiller, Jimmy Russell. It isn’t nearly as rich or full-bodied as Blanton’s but, for the price, it is a surprisingly good sipping bourbon. And because it is relatively inexpensive, you won’t feel bad using it for cocktails. Russell’s has become the go to bourbon in our household. Splurging on a high-end bourbon might not always be possible, but having a bottle Russell’s on hand is a solid alternative.

Scotch: While perusing the scotch offerings at Dinette recently, Robert noticed a scotch that he was unfamiliar with: McCarthy’s by Oregon’s Clear Creek Distillery. Scotch…from Oregon? That’s heresy! OK, so it isn’t really a scotch—no whiskey outside of Scotland is allowed to be called scotch—but it is a single malt made from peat-malted Scottish barley and it does claim to be made in the Islay tradition. That sounds pretty darn close to scotch to me. We couldn’t resist trying it and boy are we glad we did! It was buttery and caramely and incredibly smooth. And like a good Islay scotch, it was heavy on the peat. I couldn’t stop smelling the glass long after the last drop was gone. I picked up a bottle at my local liquor store the very next day. I was prepared to hang my head in shame at the idea of buying this “scotch” from Oregon, but the gentleman behind the counter couldn’t say enough nice things about it. Neither can I. I love to rip on all things Oregon, but they got this one right! Pick up a bottle of McCarthy’s as a surprise for your scotch-loving friends.

Rye: After prohibition, rye whiskey fell out of favor and almost disappeared entirely. It has been experiencing a bit of a revival lately, and new brands of rye are cropping up across the country. It can still be hard to find a good bottle of rye in Washington State so we were surprised to see at least five or six different options on the menu at our neighborhood bar, Liberty. Our bartender had us sample several including Whistlepig Straight Rye, Pappy Van Winkle Rye and High West Rendezvous Rye from Utah State. The High West was our favorite hands down. Utah may not be known for its alcohol, but this rye was lovely—sweet and smooth with a perfect amount of that spicy, dry character rye is known for. This well-balanced whiskey is a great choice for anyone who is new to rye. If you want to try a more rugged rye, I suggest Hudson Manhattan Rye by Tuthilltown Spirits in New York State. This was the first rye whiskey to be made in New York since prohibition. It is strikingly different from anything I’ve had before. Unlike most whiskeys which tend to be sweet up front with slowly emerging bitter flavors, the Hudson Rye hits you with a bitterness right away and then finishes sweeter (though not too sweet…this is rye after all). Hudson Rye’s bold taste might not be for everyone. I’ve enjoyed sipping it neat, but I’m really looking forward to mixing it with some Carpano Antica and one of my homemade maraschino cherries for a truly deluxe Manhattan. In less than a year, I’ve gone from hating the sweetest of bourbons to being able to enjoy an assertive rye whiskey. A new world of rich and delicious drinking has been opened up to me, and I am loving it!


  1. I love whisky.Usally I love cocktail with whisky.Exelent post

    Comment by Tragos — March 18, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

  2. hi! i love your blog! i just linked to your recipe that used purslane on my blog. check it out:

    Comment by laguna dirt — April 16, 2011 @ 3:45 pm

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