It’s that time of year – I made a list of my fave bottles of booze in 2019 for Esquire. Read here.
The holidays are fast approaching, so here’s a gift guide I wrote for Departures on some high-end spirits in every category to gift this season.
The holiday season is both a source of joy and existential dread… all those parties, family gatherings, work events. Nothing a good bottle of booze can’t cure (or augment) though. Read my latest for Departures here.
This time around I’m covering rum for Esquire, rounding up the ten best brands to drink now.
I’m a dad and a booze writer, so I always enjoy a nice bottle for a Father’s Day gift. My children are way too young to buy me liquor, but even if they were of age as a father I would want them to be fiscally responsible (of course) and not spend too much on a Father’s Day present. So here are some suggestions of affordable bottles of booze to buy for your dad this Father’s Day that will impress him, both because of the liquid they contain inside and the fact that they are reasonably priced. Nothing here above $100 (except for a watch I threw in at the end), and much below when possible.
Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Malt ($35)
This new permanent addition to the Woodford Reserve range is a blended malt whiskey is made from a mash bill of 51 percent malt, separating this from the American single malt category both technically and flavor-wise. Instead of the pure nutty, malty palate you expect from something like Stranahan’s, this is more akin to a malted bourbon. While I enjoy some American single malts, this is a much more approachable whiskey and should act as a good introduction for those who are unfamiliar with malt outside of scotch or Irish whiskey.
Maker’s Mark Bu 1-3 ($40)
This new expression from Maker’s Mark is very flavorful, though the production method seems a little gimmicky. Basically, it’s a riff on Maker’s 46 – here, wood staves are sous-vide and then seared, before being left in the liquid to impart flavor. And that it does, bringing out rich, fruity notes as well as caramel and toffee. This one is available mostly at the distillery, although it’s in some Kentucky stores as well, so pick up a bottle if you happen to visit.
Bushmills 10 YO Single Malt ($50)
Bushmills 10 Year Old Single Malt is nothing new, but it’s a nice aged Irish whiskey that is often overlooked these days with the countless new expressions in the category that have become available in the U.S. market. If you’re still drinking Jameson, that’s completely and totally fine. But do yourself a favor and try some Irish single malt – and Bushmills is not a bad place to start at an affordable price.
Bully Boy Gin ($30)
Boston’s Bully Boy Distillers is a really fun place to visit. The cocktail bar and tasting room there is top-notch, with a huge variety of really creative cocktails made using the distillery’s spirits by some excellent bartenders. The latest release is the simply titled Bully Boy Gin, distilled from sugar cane and flavored with Italian juniper, ginger, blueberry, and other botanicals. I’ve had other rum-adjacent gins before that I haven’t liked so much, but this one hits the spot.
Rossville Union Rye Whiskey ($40)
Another MGP product that doesn’t disappoint is Rossville Union, which comes in two forms – 94 proof and barrel proof. It’s spicy, fruity, complex – all the things you expect from a good rye whiskey. This might not be as good as something like Pikesville Rye, but it’s much better than a lot of the younger MGP products that come out under different names (Rossville Union is said to be about four years old). I visited MGP last fall with some other journalists, and someone asked them if they might release their own rye. They said probably not, so clearly they were keeping this under wraps at the time.
Jägermeister Manifest ($60)
I know, I know – Jagermeister, right? When’s the last time you’ve even thought about Jagermeister? Actually, for me it was a few years ago when I was interviewing amaro expert Sother Teague who told me that it was one of his favorites. This new expression is basically barrel-aged Jager that has more botanicals and is more expensive. It’s not an everyday drink, but it’s good and works well as a cocktail component – try it in a version of an Old Fashioned, for instance.
Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye ($70)
Knob Creek is one of my favorite whiskey brands, part of Jim Beam’s small batch collection (not really that small, but still). This is an amped up version of the already good Knob Creek rye, bottled at almost 120 proof and aged for about nine years. This is a limited release at the moment, but hopefully it will be expanded – and the reception this is getting has been very positive, so I would imagine that might be the case.
Mount Gay Rum x Kiel James Patrick (KJP) Adventurer Timepiece ($200)
I’m not really a watch wearer, but this is a nice one, kind of like the timepiece equivalent of boat shoes. This is a collaboration between Kiel James Patrick and Mount Gay, one of my preferred rum brands, perfect for your next sailboat or yacht outing. Of course, you have to not mind the intense branding – the Mount Gay logo is featured prominently here. Strap this one, turn on some yacht rock, make yourself a rum Old Fashioned, and relax.
Sometimes I think about rum – when I’m not thinking about whiskey. I wrote about 8 bottles that are 12 years or older for Liquor.com – read here.
Could rum ever be as big as bourbon as far as hype and exorbitant pricing? I wrote about this for Liquor.com – read my story here.
It’s National Rum Day today, but whiskey drinkers take heart – there’s something for you to drink today too. Read my story for Paste Magazine here.
There are some exceedingly rare and expensive spirits out right now, or out very soon. I wrote about them for Town & Country – read my story here.
Cape Cod is one of my favorite places in the world, and there’s a new wave of food and drink options that have made it even more appealing. Read my story for CNN here.