Off-Topic: Whiskey Rec's?

The more I find myself delving into the Audio world the more I notice fellow Whiskey and Watch enthusiasts so figured I’d ask here:

What whiskey should I grab next?
Perhaps something <$100, a bit about my taste: I’ve built my taste on Bourbon, but have opened it up since trying JW Black Label- not bad for the price and not being Bourbon lol! Recent buy was Elijah Craig Small Batch and wasn’t very impressed, ended up mixing drinks with it, but not an ideal neat pour imo.
Any takers? What’s your favorite?

Some brands I like and worth trying in your price range are Aberlour and Talisker.

Any particular notes you’re after or prefer? A bit smokey, a bit sweet, smooth or that strong little kick, … ?

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First, if you are looking for “whiskey” suggestions, you are excluding scotch, which is “whisky”. And that would be a mistake. For whisky, I would suggest starting with a single malt from the northern area such as Cragganmore or Old Pulteney. If you can’t find those, try the Glenfiddich Solera Reserve, a Speyside that doesn’t require any apologies.

You might just start reading the Music and Drink pairings topic here also.

Second - there is no second.


If you liked the smoky taste of Johnnie Walker Black, then you may love the heavy peat smoke taste of Laphroaig, which is a single malt and not a blended like Johnnie.

Be warned: Laphroaig is an acquired taste. It’s the Dallas Cowboys of scotch – people either love it or hate it. Unlike the Cowboys, I love it! :slight_smile:

If you want a cheaper, blended daily driver scotch, The Famous Grouse is a nice alternative to Johnnie Walker Red. Usually a couple of bucks cheaper per bottle than Johnnie Red, and definitely sweeter and smoother at the slight expense of character and finish.

As for pricey single malts, I think Oban is divine.

One final recommendation: Old Bushmills, Jameson and Tullamore Dew seem to be the most popular Irish whiskeys. I think Red Breast kicks all of their collective asses. A lovely, lovely tipple.


Good advice here already. Recognizing that pricing can vary drastically by location, I would recommend Glendronach 12, which has been my “house” whisky for years now. I have several others, including older Glendronachs, but those are special occasion bottles. Where I live, I find Glendronach 12 for between $68 and $75 regularly.

I’d also recommend Bowmore 15 darkest, which used to run me about $75, but now I assume it’s in the 80s.

Aberlour is my favorite distillery, so I’m glad to see it getting some love in this thread already. My first bottle was Aberlour 18, which I got in duty free for $100. Not sure you can find that for $100 anymore. I wouldn’t recommend the 12 or 16 year expressions over the Glendronach 12.

All of the above will either be aged exclusively in or finished in a sherry cask.

For whiskey, I actually think a lot of local distilleries make good stuff. I don’t know which distillery is closest to where you live, but I’d do a search. Lots of great whiskey makers in New York for instance. Obviously some decent ones in Kentucky too. :slight_smile:

You can get a lot more bang for your buck here too. I happen to like Four Roses Small Batch Select, which goes for $65 near me, and which has a richer and sweeter flavor profile, due to the amount of corn in the mashbill.

I also recommend Barrel Bourbon and Van Brunt Stillhouse in your price range.


Pretty great recommendations here already. Just wanted to add one my all time favorites, Laphroaig Quarter Cask. It can usually be found between $65-80. It’s a NAS scotch but since it’s aged in smaller casks, it matures faster and has a pretty unique taste imho. As others have mentioned, Laphroaig is quite peaty and this one is no exception but if you want to close your eyes and be transported to a mossy forest as you listen to some nice tunes, can’t beat a nice dram of Laphroaig :tumbler_glass:

Another smoother peaty one is Lagavulin 16 which is slightly more expensive nowadays but still under $100 usually. It was popularized by Ron Swanson of Parks and Rec and well deserved imho.


Well, @deafenears, you appear to have started something going here. I’d like to take this opportunity to do some (hopefully not condescending) whisky 'splainin. @pk500 @wkesquire @KaranGovil and I have all given you excellent advice, but we all sort of just jumped in without giving background.

Scotland, if you read about it on the Internet, is divided into several whisky regions. When you buy a “blended” scotch, like JW Black, Dewars, or Famous Grouse (and yes, I was raised on Dewars, but use the Grouse as my basic blend) you are getting a mix that is relatively standardized, with bits of “single malt” from the different regions and some added neutral grain spirits.

Almost all scotch is processed using peat, which is a soil-like mostly decomposed vegetable material found in bogs - where the water for the scotch comes from - usually spring fed. The peat can be dried and heated to create that peat flavor that is prominent in Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and several other scotches. As the bogs and areas are quite distinct, a scotch produced at a single spot is a single malt.

Now I read that you were coming from a Bourbon background. Just like there is a huge difference between Bourbons, there is at least that large a difference with Scotch.

The most “accessible” scotches are generally considered to be either “Highlands” or “Speyside” where Speyside is a district in the Highland area. A map of the regions can be found HERE in the Wikipedia. Highlands is a bit of a misnomer as it extends northward to the sea.

Most people who make the taste journey in Scotch start with some blend. Then they try things from Highlands or Speyside, and are tempted to learn more. They go to a Lagavulin or Laphroaig and recoil in horror. I fed my younger brother some of the 12 year old Famous Grouse Black the week after he had tried Laphroaig - he said of the better Grouse, “This tastes like dirt, but really good dirt.” He couldn’t handle the Laphroaig. Yet. There may be hope for him.

After the initial drams, you should try Oban - it’s own thing, and one of the six most famous scotches. I also like the scotch from the island of Jura, in particular the 17 year old. Also there is scotch from the Hebrides and and and.

The reason that I suggested the drams that I did is that I’m wicked, and wanted you to enjoy and explore more. I personally like the very northern distilleries, you can almost get a whiff of the salt air. And the 15 year old Solera Speyside is a very gentlemanly scotch - not crazy expensive, distinguished and an excellent representative of the category. Later I agree with @wkesquire that you should explore Bowmore and Aberlour (and probably Balvenie and Knockandu). I agree completely with @pk500 regarding the Irish whiskeys. Red Breast is fine, but does not kick the ass of the 12 year old Tully, aka the water of life.

You’ll find that the peaty ones are best in cold weather, and that you should not ice your scotch, but mix it with up to 1/3 refrigerated water. Scotch is best at room temperature. Provided the room is in a drafty Scottish castle in November.

And yes you can always journey elsewhere and try and explore the ryes. Russel Reserve 6 year old for the budget minded and then Michters, and then Sazerac 18 (don’t bother with the young stuff).


Suntory Whisky Toki is my favorite. Nothing like it. Light and airy.

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um yaaas… Truly the Datsun errr Nissan of Scotches :wink:

Excellent explanation in a fairly condensed and highly informative post!

I would like to add Campbeltown as often forgotten small region of Scotland which is now seeing some newer distilleries coming up. I tried Kilkerran from Glengyle distillery a few years which was around $70 in NYC and had a spicy, herby followed by brine and iodine but non-sweet, non-smoky kind of flavor.


Picked these up for Christmas last year. The Kilchoman was easily my favourite but I tend to favour whiskeys with lots of peaty flavour. So if you like smokey, these are all solid reccs. Even the Japanese whiskey had some smokiness to it.


Currently, my favorite whiskey under $100 is Longmorn cask strength 10 yr “Hart Brothers.” It’s 1 month shy of 11 yrs old in first fill sherry. This is just delicious dram for those who love rich, oily, densely malty Scotch. Too bad local stores just don’t stock Longmorn…


All this talk made me pour one


The last few months have been pretty much boulevardiers if I’m having a whiskey drink.

I’ve had Nikka’s Miyagikyo single malt whisky neat, but want to give their other whiskies a try.



This talk made me rebellious. I made a gimlet.


LOL. And that’s a bad thing?

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I’ll second many of the excellent recommendations above. Here are a few other suggestions.

It’s good to find a solid, reasonably affordable all-rounder blended Scotch. JW Black Label is excellent. Something like this can work as a more affordable, everyday drink.

It’s also useful to get a sense of how good scotches can get by tasting some of the pricier ones. I’d recommend finding a bar or restaurant with a decent selection and sampling a half dozen or so. If the bartenders knows their stuff, they can give you recommendations, especially if you tell that what you like or dislike about the ones you’re trying.

The good news is that while they can get ridiculously expensive, single malts don’t have to be costly to be good (although they’re probably better suited to a weekend treat). Speysides tend to be quite sweet and smooth and easy to like. The standard Highland Park is very nice, as is Aberlour, which is my favorite. Among Highland scotches, Macallan is a popular option. Islays, as the resident connoisseur and expert @pennstac notes, can be more of an acquired taste, or have a taste that is more divisive. Besides Laphroaig, you might like to check out Ardbeg, which seems popular, to judge from the above posts. I’d try the last two in a bar or restaurant rather than risk buying a whole bottle.

Japanese whiskies are well worth exploring, too; the Nikka Coffee and Hibiki Harmony are deservedly popular.

Bourbons tend to be sweeter than Scotch, although they can vary considerably in their taste profile.

There has been a crazy explosion in bourbon’s popularity over the last decade. Previously cheap bourbons have become more expensive, often if they’re seen to be coming from the same distilleries that produce infamously expensive, fancy bourbons. For this reason, Buffalo Trace, which was once a perfectly decent, entry-level sipping bourbon costing around $25 in NJ (not a cheap place for booze) has now become $40-45, largely thanks to its association with the silly, overhyped craze for Pappy Van Winkle. The same thing can be said for the same distillery’s Weller brand, which is now very expensive and hard to come by.

There are also a lot of terrible bourbons out there now, with people trying to cash in on the current fad. Many are truly awful. Beware of folks in liquor stores trying to unload godawful stuff on unsuspecting customers. It may not work out well for you if you ask for a recommendation! I’d suggest starting out with some of the more well-known brands but do please steer clear of Jim Beam or Jack Daniels (the latter being Tennessee whiskey, which is its own, separate thing, and best described by some wag as “old tennis shoes”).

Some bourbons are spicy, as with Bulleit, which I don’t like but many do. I prefer Noah’s Mill, which is much more expensive but not as harsh, and it has an appealingly complex flavor.

My favorites are sweeter bourbons like those produced by Knob Creek. I also like ryes as a sweeter kind of whiskey. My favorite is Knob Creek, again, which represents decent value when on sale, while Elijah Craig’s is very good, too. Michters makes very nice, sweeter whiskies in the $40-50 range. They offer a solid bourbon, a lovely rye, and some fun other whiskies, including a Sour Mash one and an American Whiskey (not a bourbon or rye). You could have fun sampling all of them.

My favorite bourbon is Booker’s - which is a treat for holidays and special occasions.

Here’s a fun “bourbon family tree,” which appeared in GQ magazine a while ago (here):

The sweet spot for me, in terms of price to performance, lies in the 4- to 10-year offerings. Ones I’d recommend that I haven’t mentioned previously are W. L. Weller, Maker’s 46, and some of the Willetts.

This book is a useful reference. I’ve found that its recommendations make sense, even if I don’t like them, particularly, and the descriptions of the flavors are usually fairly reliable.


I just tried some of the RedBreasts and completely agree - very smooth.

On the peaty side I do like some Bruichladdich.


I second the rec above of Talisker. Very tasty.

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So I am a somewhat half- fast watch and Bourbon fan.
Not a collector but I’ve been very fortunate with the three watches I’ve owned.
recently divested myself of my Rolex 16610 Submariner. Talk about great timing.
I got over double what I paid for it over 20 years ago. It paid for almost a quarter of my new Tacoma
truck. In my twilight years, I’ve found an Apple watch to be far more useful, especially as a health monitor.
In regard to “whisky”, I have drifted back and forth from scotch to bourbon. Right now, settled on bourbon. To my decidedly uneducated palate, I find myself drifting to the higher proof versions,
I’m especially liking many of the bonded varieties. My current favorite is Old Grandad Bonded.
In this area (St Louis) I’m finding it for about $22 for a 1 Liter bottle, although it can be hard to find.
Also good and reasonably priced is Evan Williams. A little pricier but easy to find is the old standard
Wild Turkey at 103 proof.