So I did some online research on inexpensive whiskeys and looked for the names that kept popping up everywhere as possible aging candidates. Then I went to the local liquor store to see what I could find. Here are the names that were often cited as good inexpensive whiskeys:
- WL Weller ($18/750ml; $36/1.75L)
- George Dickel ($18/750ml; $33/1.75L)
- Evan Williams black and green label ($10/750ml; $16/1.75L)
- Heaven Hill Bonded (could not find)
- Old Crow ($9/750ml; $16/1.75L)
- Rebel Yell ($14/750ml; tasted at a concert and it was not bad)
- Old Grandad Bonded ($17/750ml)
- Benchmark 8 ($11/750ml; $16/1.75L)
- Fighting Cock - 103 proof ($16/750ml)
- Four Roses ($15/750ml)
I ended up going with the Evan Williams black label. It seemed to be getting the most positive reviews. Got it home and had some on the rocks and really disliked it. But I had 2.5 liters so I dumped it in the keg. After 3 weeks I tasted it and it was markedly better but still has a long way to go.
Meanwhile, I bought some Weller and Old Grandad. Tried them both on ice first and the Weller blew me away. The guy at the liquor store said he liked it more than Makers Mark and I don't disagree. Had it straight up and it was not as good but still respectable. The old Grandad was not bad either.
At the end of the day I would rather spend a little more and get a good final product than nickel & dime it. I think my next batch will be the Wellers and I'll keep trying these different whiskeys in between aging batches. Should be a fun journey.
Also, I tried some Templton Rye last week and really liked. That opens up a whole new group of whiskeys to try