5 Whiskies Under $50Edit Post
Contributed by on Dec 16, 2018
Four readers love this post.
Why give bad holiday gifts when you can give something delicious to your family and friends for under $50. This week, I’m giving you my five whisky recommendations for under fifty bucks, just in time for your last minute gift buying needs.
Because nothing says “oh shit, I haven’t gone Christmas shopping and it’s December 24th but I want you to know I love you” like whiskey does. And if you want to stick any of these in my stocking, I wouldn’t be mad about it.
Last year I made Scotch recommendations under $50, this year on my hit list there’s Canadian Whiskies, Irish Whiskies and Bourbons! If you’d like to watch the video all about Scotches Under $50 click here.
Now before we go through the list, I’m just going to disclaimer that in my regular life, I recently started a new job and some of these brands I have the privilege of working with. This not a sponsored post, however, I do have a connection to some of these brands now, so please keep that in mind. That being said, if I didn’t think they were interesting or great, I wouldn’t recommend them. Ok so, let’s go through the list (oh and if you’d like to see the video corresponding with this post, click here.)
In no particular order:
Tullamore Dew Rum XO Finish Irish Whiskey ($45.99)
Tullamore Dew is all about the doing things in threes. It’s triple distilled, made with three types of whisky (those being single pot still, malt and grain whisky) and aged in three types of casks. Of those casks, this new Tullamore Dew Rum XO is finished in first fill Demerara Rum Casks. So what does this mean exactly for the flavour and style?
Well, the more you distill, the more heavy components are left behind. So it’s believed that triple distilled whiskies are “lighter” because that third distillation removes more of the heavier components. The heavier components are things like oils and proteins which contribute to body and mouthfeel, while the lighter ones are like esters that contribute to the aroma and scent.
Now the combination of lighter esters from distillate and the influence from the rum casks mean that this whisky is going to be light and have aromas and flavours of tropical fruits, caramelized bananas, toffee, pears, cinnamon and other dessert-y spices. It’s literally like dessert in a glass.
This whisky is definitely sippable but would also be great in a Revolver cocktail. Coming in at $45.99 it may be an expensive dessert, but a modestly price whisky.
60 ml Tullamore Dew XO Caribbean Rum Cask
15 ml Coffee Liqueur (I like Tia Maria)
2–3 dashes Orange Bitters
In a mixing glass add ingredients and stir until diluted and chilled. Strain into a coupe and garnish with an expressed orange twist.
2. Weller Special Reserve Bourbon ($42.99)
Weller Special Reserve is a straight bourbon produced by Buffalo Trace distillery that is 45% ABV and has no age statement. This bourbon is wheated which means that it’s going to be lighter and sweeter in style.
Unlike using rye, wheat is mild, aromatic and serves to soften up the spirit helping to really enhance all those sweet, honey, fruit, caramellic + vanilla notes from the corn and charred oak that make up bourbons.
Now, when it comes to wheated bourbons, this is the one that started them all… Well, William LaRue Weller (the bourbon’s namesake) is the one that started it. So when we talk about bourbons like Pappy Van Winkle, Maker’s Mark or Rebel Yell you have to thank Mr. Weller for having the foresight to swap out the rye for wheat. Special Reserve is and ‘entry’ bottling to the Weller line which is why it comes in under $50 a bottle. So if you have a champagne taste on a beer budget try Weller for your Pappy-craving needs.
I really like wheated bourbons in Mint Juleps, and so that is the cocktail that I would recommend for this whisky.
60 ml Weller Special Reserve Bourbon
1 tsp Powdered Sugar
Handful of Mint
This is my sneaky way of making it: in a cocktail shaker add a handful of mint, bourbon, sugar and large ice cubes. Shake for 8 seconds and double strain over crushed ice into a julep tin. Garnish with a straw and slapped mint.
3. Old Forester Bourbon ($36.99)
Old Forester which is produced by Brown Forman is truly part of bourbon history and is the longest running bourbon distillery that’s still open today! I don’t know how this bourbon has not been on my radar until this year. Clearly I’ve been living under a rock for the past 148 years. So let me give you a little history lesson for a second. In 1870 George Garvin Brown founded Brown-Forman and recognized that bottling bourbon in consistent packaging gave his product legitimacy, discouraged tampering, and boasting safety to consumers. So Old Forester was the first bourbon to be exclusively sold a glass bottles. Before Old Forester, bourbon as a category was generally sold out of the barrel. People would bring a jug to the saloon and buy it right out of the barrel. Needless to say, there were some questionable sanitary issues with this, not to mention whisky was largely unregulated so there were no parameters around aging, ingredients used etc.
Nevertheless Old Forester is said to have a mash bill of 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malted barley. Despite the high percentage of corn in the mash bill, I find this bourbon extremely rustic, bold and full bodied which is what I am typically looking for out of a bourbon.
Recently, had the opportunity to judge an Old Forester Old Fashioned Showdown, and thus, my cocktail recommendation for this whisky is, and rightfully so, is an Old Fashioned.
60 ml Old Forester Bourbon
1 brown sugar cube
3–4 dashes Angostura Bitters
In an Old Fashioned glass add sugar and bitters. Muddle ingredients into a paste. Add large ice cubes and whiskey. Stir until integrated, diluted and chilled. Garnish with an expressed orange twist and Amarena (or other brandied) cherry.
4. Bearface Canadian Whisky ($39.99)
Now I’ve just talked about this whisky in my last video and wanted to highlight it again as it’s new to our marketplace. Bearface is a Canadian Whisky that is aged a minimum of 7 years in ex-bourbon American Oak barrels which impart a vanilla sweetness, ex-red wine barrels made from French Oak which impart dry fruit notes, and virgin Hungarian oak.
I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but this bottle is BEAUTIFUL. It’s a show stopper for sure.
Anyways, one of the main flavour notes that I can’t unsmell in this whisky, is an interesting savoury, bacon fat slash barbeque note which comes from the Hungarian oak. I think this whisky is very interesting and would be great in a Manhattan using a fuller, more bitter vermouth like Punt E Mes which has tobacco and christmas spice notes to it. Mmmm I definitely want notes of bacon, tobacco and Christmas spices in my cocktails this holiday season. Or is that just me?
60 ml Bearface Whisky
30 ml Punt E Mes
2–3 dashes Angostura Bitters
In a mixing glass, add all ingredients and ice. Stir until diluted and chilled. Strain into a coupe or martini glass. Express orange oils over drink and garnish with a cherry.
5. Signal Hill Canadian Whisky ($39.99)
Signal Hill is a relatively new whiskey in the market that uses two types of grains, corn which is column distilled and barley which is pot distilled. Because there is no rye in the mash bill and it is made with predominantly column distilled corn, this whiskey is going to be lighter in style and smooth. These distillates are then aged in three types of barrels: new white oak casks which provide vanilla, caramel and toffee notes, bourbon casks which bring dried fruit and baking spices, and Canadian whisky casks which bring out the grain characteristics.
Now just as a reminder with Column Distilled vs. Pot Still Whiskies, column distilled whisky is faster, cheaper and yields a higher alcohol content distillate but in exchange creates a less flavourful whiskey so many distilleries compensate by being strategic with their barrel aging to create a more complex profile which I think Signal Hill is a great representation of.
My recommended cocktail for Signal Hill is a Whisky Sour, or as I like to say, a Signal Hill Sour because I’m a sucker for alliteration.
60 ml Signal Hill Canadian Whisky
22.5 ml Lemon Juice
15 ml Simple Syrup
1 egg white
2–3 dashes of Angostura
In a cocktail shaker, add all the ingredients and ice. Shake until diluted and chilled. Strain out the ice and re-shake to froth the egg whites. Fine strain into a coupe or short glass. Express orange oil over drink.
Alright guys! I would love to know in the comments below if you’ve tried any of these five whiskies before, if you bought one for someone you like OR if you’re going to buy one for me (you know, because Christmas is almost here and my birthday is also coming up in a few weeks so really you’d be spending less than $25 per occasion).