**Editor’s Note: This is a piece written my former TGS member, Brett Stiles, who has now moved on to greener pastures.**
There’s nothing wrong with having a Busch light or a Natty lite every once in a while, but sometimes the occasion doesn’t call for it. Sometimes you need to elevate your drink to a more sophisticated level. Below is a list of my top 10 Whiskeys to help elevate your sophisticated drinking game. Cheers.
10. Old Crow
Unofficial Tagline: When you have $10 and you have to choose between a cheeseburger or an entire bottle of whiskey.
When to Drink it: 5:00 am, as you are getting ready for tailgating for an 11:00 am game. Only if you hate yourself, and the people around you. Put it in some coffee or pull it straight from the bottle.
Why it made the list: This list has to start somewhere so we went with cheap. Dirt cheap. This supposedly is the stuff Mark Twain use to drink so that should account for something. If you can put this down, the rest of the list will be a cake walk.
9. Jim Beam Red Stag
Unofficial Tagline: When you want to tell people you are drinking whiskey, without having to taste any whiskey.
Type: Flavored bourbon whiskey
When to Drink: Great for tailgating or parties. Drink to celebrate, drink to forget. Pending how the night goes.
Why it made the list it: This made the list because of its shear versatility. This can be drank as a shot, sipped on neat or on the rocks, or mixed with Coke or Dr. Pepper, because of its versatility, this drink pairs well with a flask. Drink this when you have a goal in mind.
8. Tullamore Dew
Unofficial Tagline: Because Jameson is too cliché.
Type: Irish Whiskey
When to Drink it: I don’t think anyone here will be surprised on when to drink an Irish Whiskey. That’s right, St. Paddy’s Day. Reach for this rather than the Jameson.
Why it made the list: We needed a good Irish whiskey, and Tullamore Dew makes for a great whiskey ginger ale. It’s also great on the rocks or neat. Makes a great Irish coffee that will be get you saying “Top O’ the mornin.”
7. Woodford Reserve
Unofficial Tagline: When you want the Kentucky Derby experience but can’t afford the hat.
Type: Bourbon Whiskey
When to Drink it: Drink this as a nightcap after a long day of tending to the horses. Also acceptable if you bet it all on one horse and it lost.
Why it made the list: It’s a good, easy drink, a safe bet to get someone as a gift who likes bourbon. It’s also not so expensive that you are afraid to mix it.
6. Glenlivet 12
Unofficial Tagline: The gateway Scotch.
When to Drink it: When you want to bring some class to the drinking, but the occasion isn’t special. This scotch is great for everyday occasions.
Why it made the list: When you are ready to start the transformation to sophisticated drinking, this is the drink for you. This is an easy scotch to drink and goes down smooth. Think of this as your starter scotch. The cost compared to other scotches is relatively cheaper.
5. Buffalo Trace
Unofficial Tagline: That one drink your hipster friends keep telling you about, but when you go to the grocery store, it’s sold out.
Type: Bourbon Whiskey
When to Drink it: When you want to feel like you’re drinking a high end bourbon based cocktail.
Why it made the list: This is a good bourbon with plenty of character that makes a great bourbon based cocktail. This is for the people who want a step up from the well bourbon. This bourbon is growing in popularity for a reason. It’s good.
4. Balvenie 12
Unofficial Tagline: So fancy, you might just keep the box.
When to Drink it: This is a great scotch for parties such as Bachelor/Bachelorette parties. It is just complex enough to feel somewhat exotic, but not complex enough to scare people away from drinking it. You are dialing up that “sophisticated” drinker level with this drink.
Why it made the list: Balvenie, like Glenlivet, is a speyside, but has more character then Glenlivet. It is a great bridge from Bourbon to Scotch, because it has a complex taste but isn’t anything extremely wild like peat smoke. This is a great next step for the sophisticated drinker who is just starting out.
3. Eagle Rare
Unofficial Tagline: Hi, we are Eagle Rare, you may remember us from such drinks as Buffalo Trace!
Type: Bourbon Whiskey
When to Drink it: When all your friends are drinking Buffalo Trace and you want to one up them. This drink is more geared to be prepared neat or on the rocks.
Why it made the list: Buffalo Trace is good for cocktails. Basically this is Buffalo Trace that’s been refined for neat drinking. It loses a bit of that cocktail character along the way but it goes down wickedly smooth.
These next two drinks could go neck and neck. To be honest, any of these two drinks will improve your sophisticated drinking game.
2. Lagavulin 16
Unofficial Tagline: The liquid equivalent of sex.
When to Drink it: Special occasions. This Scotch is good, and is even better when shared among great friends. This is not an everyday scotch, drink this when you have something to celebrate. This can also be a great gift if you want to spend the money.
Why it made the list: If you make it this far you have some class when it comes to drinking. This Scotch is delicious. Do not take a shot, sip it for as long as you can, and remember that there are some truly good things in life and you are holding one of them.
1. Yamazaki 12
Unofficial Tagline: Welcome to the sophisticated drinking club, come in have a seat, grab yourself a drink. Don’t forget, pinky out.
When to Drink it: When you find it. This is a more uncommon whiskey, which is why it’s our number 1. It doesn’t have the social grandeur that comes along with scotch, but it deserves a scotch/whiskey drinker’s full attention. Drink this on special occasions.
Why it made the list: it’s delicious and uncommon. Scotch has the precedence, so in a room full of Scotch drinkers, you can come in with this bad boy made in Japan and floor them. The Japanese know single malt better than many Scotlanders do. As a 12 year, it can out taste many 16 year bottles and some 21 year bottles. They know what they are doing over there in the land of the rising sun.
Go through this list and you will be drinking with class in no time, now get out there and start drinking.