Bow To Your Liquid Gold Overlords

I am nowhere even close to considering myself to be any sort of connoisseur of whiskeys or liquor in general. McClelland's 25 has and likely never will grace my lips. But with that said, I've had a nearly year-long infatuation with Jameson Black Barrel:

This stuff is unbelievably good for the price. I know this varies by state/country, but I get it for $37 USD for a fifth. It was on sale recently so I picked up 3 more bottles, hence the cluster pictured above. Even if you don't typically like whiskey I'd encourage you to try Jameson Black Barrel, it's incredibly smooth. My guess is that whiskey snobs/'enthusiasts' would consider it decent but not great, because it's not multi-staged like the fancier whiskeys. This is why I think it's so good for 'regular' drinkers though, it's wonderfully smooth and consistent.

That bottle of Johnnie Walker Double Black in the background may be more for whiskey drinkers, but I don't like it as much. I appreciate how it has several stages of flavor to it, but it's much more of an acquired taste and I just haven't acquired them all yet... and it's also like 30%+ more expensive.

So this is my wildly unscientific recommendation to light or even non-whiskey drinkers to try this stuff, you may be pleasantly surprised

*and yes this entire post is only a result of being on refill #3 of this stuff, with no end in sight :)


  • WarpFoxWarpFox Nashville, TN
    Jameson is one of the only whiskeys I can drink on the reg, but I'm more of a beer guy anyway. I'll definitely pick up a bottle of the Black Barrel next time I've got a little extra scratch to drop on booze.
  • WarpFox said:

    Jameson is one of the only whiskeys I can drink on the reg, but I'm more of a beer guy anyway. I'll definitely pick up a bottle of the Black Barrel next time I've got a little extra scratch to drop on booze.

    Yeah I know what you mean, I think it's a great 'mild' blend that is more amicable to non-whiskey aficionados like myself. I've never fallen in love with beer, I'll drink it socially with friends at a bar or something if everyone else is only drinking beer (it feels a little odd to be the only one ordering liquor at a table full of beers), but I've never loved it. I tend to like what I'd consider to be mid-flavored beer, e.g. I like Hefeweizens and Belgian ales; they have a good flavor without being so heavy like an IPA or too watered down like a domestic light (I'll drink Coors/Miller Light/etc.. w/ friends but would never have it in my fridge at home).
  • TravisTravis CA
    edited January 2015
    After tax season when I got my bonus (I work in tax prep), I picked up a bottle of Lagavulin 16 after Nick Offerman more or less referred to it as the drink of the Gods. Man, that shit is good and certainly added some additional hairs to my torso. I was not disappointed even after such build-up.

    I'm more of a beer guy as well, but I love a little scotch on occasion (though I typically stick to the ~$20-25 a bottle variety). I'll take a look at my couple of local haunts and see if I can get that price too. Thanks for the heads up. I haven't had Black Barrel before. It feels like a good time to splurge on a nice bottle.

    If you like bourbon and have like $80 to spare (I got it as a gift. I very, very rarely have $80 to spare) Noah's Mill bourbon is really, really fantastic.
  • pavlovsbellpavlovsbell Brooklyn, NY
    edited January 2015
    @TravisSmith, Lagavulin is my favorite single malt. I'm partial to the smoky, peaty Isley scotches, but I rarely drink them in the warmer months, when I usually turn to something like Glenmorangie. But mostly I'm a wine or sake person, and vodka for cocktails.
  • edited January 2015
    @TravisSmith‌ @pavlovsbell‌ Don't single malts tend to be pretty heavy/pungent? I've had some that's strong/biting but in a good way, and others that I just couldn't stand. What I like so much about the Black Barrel is that it's so smooth you can just drink several glasses of it straight and it will give you a nice buzz without destroying you, and it's not so pungent as to ruin flavors of something else you may be eating/whatever at the same time.

    Edit: haha, I meant Macallan 25 in my first post, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were something called Mcclelland's too.
  • @ghm3‌ I definitely won't call myself educated in the least (in regards to the various types and their properties. I just kind of grab what sounds good and end up liking what I like), but I can say that the Lagavulin (for instance) is very potent in flavor and effect. It's a big, big flavor. That isn't to say that it isn't smooth too, but it's a big flavor, and where you can't have glass after glass without getting wrecked, I feel like the treat of the flavor stopped me from wanting to. It was an easy glass to nurse, but it was a total treat. I'm intrigued about Glenmorangie. I'll have to try that one. When I'm buying myself a more treat type bottle of scotch I will typically go with something like Glenlivet or more typically (because it's a little cheaper) Johnny Walker Black. At the end of the day though, I'm really a beer guy.

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a good bourbon that lands in the $20-$25 range? Particularly with the idea in mind that I recently learned to make manhattans and my wife has been really enjoying them. I've been using Knob Creek but I'd like to go a little cheaper if there is a good option and I bet there is something better out there if I knew what I was looking for. I appreciate any help.

    @pavlovsbell‌ I miss vodka. Me and the big V had a pretty rocky relationship in my early 20s and I don't touch the stuff anymore, but I was a really big fan. Also, it's funny that you mention sake. My wife and I both have never really done the sake thing but want to give it a shot. Any recommendations?

  • pavlovsbellpavlovsbell Brooklyn, NY
    edited January 2015
    @ghm3 - Single malts (and blended Scotch whisky, as well) are like wine; they vary wildly in taste characteristics and quality depending on the region and distillery. It's horribly complex, and extremely easy to be turned off. Scotch is not recommended with food because it does overpower the palate, as you noted. It's best on its own, although some people order it after dinner. Glenmorangie, from the Highland region, has various offerings that been finished in port, sherry, or Sauternes casks, so those are appropriate with or without dessert. Lagavulin is from the Islay region, which is known for smoky malts from all the peat there. Just writing about it makes me think of ducking into a dimly-lit bar dressed with mahogany and leather on a snowy night, or snuggling up in front of a fireplace.

    If I sound like a lush or a horribly pretentious snob (maybe I am the latter -- I am that person who orders scotch with one or two ice cubes :\ ), I worked in the hospitality industry for years and have done more beverage tastings than I can recall.

    @TravisSmith - Sake is tough to recommend. The best stuff (or often, even just the good ones, depending on your location) are distributed mainly to restaurants and Japanese bars or izakayas. If you live in a relatively cosmopolitan area, then you should be able to find some good bottles at your better wine or liquor shops. Sake is surprisingly complicated. There are several grades, and the easiest recommendation would be to go with the highest grade, daiginjo, but that may be overkill (and expensive) for a novice. The only blanket recommendation I would make is to avoid anything made in the U.S. It's cheap and serviceable, but it doesn't taste very good, and most of it is just awful.

    If you live near a Trader Joe's, they have a house-branded Japanese ginjo (middle but still premium) grade that is really good for its price point: $10-15. For a point of reference, I'm spoiled by working in high end Japanese restaurants and lounges, so my taste buds are somewhat skewed. One of my favorites is Dassai '23 Ni-Wari San-Bu' Junmai Daiginjo, which costs approx. $50 in NYC but is marked up to $200 in restaurants. That said, I have a couple of the Trader Joe's sake sitting in my fridge right now. ;)
  • @pavlovsbell‌ Thanks a lot, man. I really appreciate the info. I actually work right across the way from a TJ's and do a lot of my shopping there. I'll grab some of theirs.
    I'm right there with you on the ice cube or two in my scotch thing. Often if I'm trying something out for the first time I'll take it straight just to get the full feel of it, but ultimately I like it better with a little ice.
    Thanks again!
  • pavlovsbellpavlovsbell Brooklyn, NY
    @TravisSmith - You're welcome. Let me know how you like it. Now I'm craving sushi.

    Many a blind tasting taught me that an ice cube or two does actually open up the bouquet, as ridiculous as that sounds. A few drops of spring water does the trick also, but I'm too embarrassed to do that in public.
  • @TravisSmith‌ @pavlovsbell‌ Yeah I like a lot of ice in most everything (when I get a glass of water or Diet Dr. Pepper or whatever I always fill it with ice then the liquid, refilling more is fine, I like it cold. I don't use THAT much in liquor but my preference for cold drink extends to it as well, though some are just fine room temperature. Jagermeister is the only thing that comes to mind that absolutely must be consumed chilled, I choked down a warm Jager before, it's awful.

    Good to know about the variety of single malts, I've probably had barely more than half a dozen different ones; I've found most to be pretty good but strong and multilayered, I think the ending flavor being smooth is key to my liking it. I can sip those just fine but I wouldn't be drinking more than a glass of it a day. Some, perhaps Scotches in particular? (not certain) are just way too rough for me. Especially when they smell like they could do a sterling job cleaning engine parts.
  • WIshing I had seen this thread sooner...

    There are so many good whiskeys out there, I don't even know where to begin. I'm a sucker for bourbon but get down on scotch from time to time as well... and hell, a good rye too, why not?

    the single ice cube is basically a splash of water, depending on how fast you drink it. (this is a joke. the surgeon general demanded that I tell you that)

    @ghm3‌ oh GOD, warm Jagermeister? Sounds like a shot Eric would do. Ugh. I'm not a huge fan of Jameson, more a Johnny Walker guy, but I'd be willing to try some black barrel.
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    This is probably obvious, but I like all booze. Beer, wine, hard liquor, if you're pouring I'm drinking. I've brewed my own beer and fermented my own wine, which is a great and inexpensive hobby.

    Last year (2013) I made it a point to educate myself on Scotch, and it was a fools errand. I must have sampled over 3 dozen varieties, but I never developed a great palate for it, it was usually "hot damn, that was good" but without great ways to articulate it. I never had that problem with beer or wine. Lagavulin is very good, we have a bottle in the studio for particularly good episodes. I actually prefer Glenfiddich as a more milder, less smash face scotch. It's interesting how you guys are saying cubes bring out the bouquet, because I was always taught that single malts have to be drank neat. I'll cube up a Johnny Walker though.
  • Over the xmas break I sampled a 15yr Glenfiddich. It fell into the "hot damn, that was good" category.
  • @Jim Jones‌ Yeah it's it's an.. experience. To never be repeated.

    I must try this Lagavulin stuff, though it sounds kinda fancy. I like how the Black Barrel doesn't break the bank and isn't strong enough to demand it to be consumed as its own experience/event.

    Johnnie Walker Black is very good, and while slightly more expensive than others, its quality for its cost very likely has no equal. I actually prefer it to Johnnie Walker Blue, though probably just because I've had so much more of it. The Double Black is a bit much for me, it's fine but I think the regular Black is balanced better, wish I found a small bottle to try instead of a full fifth.

    The Glenfiddich stuff looks good for the price too, need to see if I can source a bottle.
  • I've only had Glenfiddich a couple of times and it's been a long time. I'll have to give it another spin. This thread creates the best kind of homework.
  • Just had some Lagavulin 16; holy hell, that stuff has a super smooth middle and a roaring smoky finish, it just doesn't stop. I feel like this stuff must be consumed with a cigar. I appreciate the flavor and smoothness but that smoky finish is a bit too intense for me to appreciate regularly, the friend next to me could easily smell that heavy smokiness property.
  • @ghm3‌ Yeah, it is a WHOLE LOT of scotch. I loved it, but it is definitely one of those "bust out for something special" bottles.
  • There's been a lot of talk about Lagavulin and I found out today that this happened (and it's pretty awesome):
  • edited January 2015
    @TravisSmith‌ Ha nice. I think you can only fully appreciate that video if you've had it, its boldness was quite unexpected.

    EDIT: derp scratch that, maths is hard. i did a division in my head to how many pours and didn't continue to cost per. It was $12 a glass which is a good price at a bar but still over twice what it is if you buy a bottle, which is about $6ish per glass.
  • Wow, that is a really good price. If I remember correctly I paid $90-$95 for it last year so you're just about on target.
  • edited January 2015
    @TravisSmith‌ Yeah I didn't finish the calculation in my head in my first post, I stopped at how many pours a bottle is but didn't divide the cost. @ $100 for a bottle it's about $6 per glass.

    Still, I think $12 a glass is really good for this stuff, especially because to me at least, it's NOT something I'd drink glass after glass of. I had one glass and appreciated it, but switched back to the $3 happy hour house white wine afterwards.

    I've had a $20 glass of Johnnie Walker Black in Vegas, that place is absurd. I assume you live in LA? Most places there are just as bad in my experience. DC has really expensive fancy crap but there's some good places downtown too.
  • TravisTravis CA
    edited January 2015
    @ghm3‌ Yeah, $12 feels like an amazing price point to me. Your Vegas thing happened to me too in Boston when I paid like $22 f'ing dollars for a scotch that would be ~$35 for the bottle. I've never ordered Lagavulin in a bar before, but I would expect to be charged in the ballpark of $20 if I did. You're right, Vegas is brutal though and unfortunately your story doesn't surprise me much. Totally ridiculous!

    I'm not from LA, but near it (about an hour north) and yeah. The reputation is earned, at least in a lot of spots. I'm rarely out there and I don't go to any really hip places or anything, and I try to keep it pretty modest when we're out (me and "the well" are very good friends when I go with hard alcohol) but I've definitely paid 9 or 10 bucks for a crappy beer at a concert or 15+ bucks for a basic martini for my wife. There are some reasonable and cool spots too though. If I'm in L.A. and out for a drink it's typically with my buddy at this cool craft beer spot in his neighborhood that has really good selections and a reasonable price. I've never been to your neck of the woods but it sounds like LA and DC are overall pretty similar in that respect.
  • pavlovsbellpavlovsbell Brooklyn, NY
    $20 for Lagavulin in NYC is the average price. $25 and up for the more premium whiskys, and $60 and up for Johnny Walker Blue (which I still don't understand). There are some precious vintage whiskys that sell for $100s up to $1000 per shot, but I've never tasted those.

    I still shake my head at the family Christmas tradition of one of my exes. They do shots of Chivas and Johnnie Walker Blue on Christmas Eve until they pass out, and in the morning they do more shots of Crown Royal with their breakfast of boiled kielbasa and sauerkraut. Ugh.
  • Really? Shots of Johnnie Walker Blue? I suppose if you can afford it, but nah man. I say this never having had the blue, but I imagine there is SOME quality bump that goes with a $60 drink (even if that $60 is overstated). Hell, do your first shot of the good stuff, but may as well reduce the quality after that. At a certain point, once you're loosened would you even notice the difference between a JW Black shot and a JW Blue shot (emphasis on shot).
  • I don't make a habit of buying good whiskey at bars because it's fucking expensive. I'd rather pay twice as much and buy a bottle of the stuff. I did try JW Blue at a cigar bar in Indy once. It was about $45 for a glass and probably not worth it. I should have just spent $200 for the bottle.

    as far as expensive booze goes, the liquor store I worked at hadone of these. I don't know what year it was but we were selling it for $12,000.
  • in the morning they do more shots of Crown Royal with their breakfast of boiled kielbasa and sauerkraut. Ugh.

    Oh god... you need to get them together with @ghm3‌ and they can add warm Jager shots to that tradition.
  • pavlovsbellpavlovsbell Brooklyn, NY
    @Jim, they do Jager shots also! His grandfather passed away recently, but he was going strong into his 90s. He had more energy than I do.

    Clearly the lesson is, I need to drink more. ;)
  • @Jim Hah nooo. No more warm Jager ever, one time is twice too many.

    Shots of Johnnie Walker Blue just sounds dumb, almost like lighting cigars with $100 bills. Or to a much lesser degree making a mix drink with Black instead of Red.

    If I'm ordering whiskey at a bar I'm usually getting Johnnie Walker Black or Jameson. If not whiskey then I'm probably gonna order a vodka or gin tonic/soda. I'm not picky with vodka (and I actually dislike Grey Goose) but I don't like cheap gin. Tanqueray No. Ten is my favorite goto, but Hendricks and Bombay Sapphire are good too, if a bit lighter. Regular Tanqueray is actually quite excellent but for whatever reason I always associate it to martinis which I rarely drink since I'm not a fan of Vermouth.

    Tequila fucking hates me so I avoid it, I don't think I've ever been able to finish a whole glass of margarita. Rum is okay in small doses but I don't really like the sweet liquors, that's what makes me nauseous and creates pounding miserable headaches.
  • pavlovsbellpavlovsbell Brooklyn, NY
    Ugh, Grey Goose is a lesson in marketing brilliance ( It doesn't taste much better than nail polish remover.

    I'm not a gin drinker, but I do like Hendricks. It's the cucumber that lightens the usual juniper taste.

    I rarely drink tequila now, but in my college days, I was like Marion in Raiders of the Lost ark -- an unassuming, 100-lb girl who could drink any man under the table, as long it was tequila. It was always a happy buzz, not an ugly drunk buzz. A dubious achievement, at best.
  • edited January 2015
    @pavlovsbell‌ Yeah it's funny how you can just have a certain compatibility with a specific type of drink. I crushed a case of Coors Light one long night with a group of friends at the presidential suite of a Westin; the full-size fridge was packed with beer, soda and Voss water and refilled every day, comped, it was awesome. This of course naturally challenged us to drink as much as possible before the next day's refill. Anyway I was certainly properly inebriated but not totally plastered, just leveled off to a nice level with the right pacing. Felt totally fine going to bed and the next day.

    But I've also had a bucket of Bud Light (5 bottles) at a sports bar with a friend and it went down just as easily for me as any other similar beer, but maybe 90 minutes later I got really nauseous and threw up in my hotel room. Last time I ever had Bud Light. It tastes alright to me but I just don't react well to it.

    I can drink vodkas and gins and whiskeys and wines for hours and be just fine, but tequila just does evil things to me.

    Edit: Oh and I'd encourage you to give Tanq 10 a try, I think you'd like it. It's not as junipery like regular Tanqueray, it has a nice smooth sweetness to it without being at all sugary/sickening sweet like rum is. Try it with some cranberry or just soda water, good stuff.
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