For the past couple of weekends now, I’ve been buying all the bottom shelf whiskeys from CVS. Gran Legacy, Jethro T. Boots, and other such no name brands. And here’s what I learned. You should drink it neat. Never drink it with ice or a splash of water or a squeeze of lime and ice and whatever variation that you would ordinarily drink your whiskey. A few weekends ago, I tried out this plastic bottle of Gran Legacy Bourbon. It was terrible. It had this awful chemical aftertaste during the sip and after it’s gone down the gullet. Plus, I didn’t even get drunk–at all from drinking the entire bottle in one sitting. This is bad. You’re basically buying a really expensive bottle of water with a weird chemical aftertaste. I wouldn’t recommend it. Even it was priced at $6.99 a bottle at CVS, which is the price I bought it at. JP Wiser is another brand. Granted, I’ve done a bit of research on this brand and it’s actually a Canadian branded whiskey. Not very popular in America nor is it that well known either but in Canada, it seems to be a “value whiskey” like Canadian Club. Drinking this blended whiskey with ice brings out the harshness like sipping on a Jim Beam Bourbon. I don’t recommend it with ice. But neat? Wow. It’s really smooth if you drank it neat. If you add a splash of water, you will totally water it down to the point that it doesn’t taste like anything but water. It kills the alcohol smell and taste though if you do this. But to start with, if you drank it neat, it doesn’t taste like anything. It’s like vodka with very minor hints of grain and something else. It’s supposed to be a rye whiskey but it had none of the traditional elements of a rye whiskey. For starters of rye whiskey, I would suggest Knob Creek. Good quality rye whiskey for $30 regular price. Bear in mind now, that this is the price at a typical CVS in California and within the city of Los Angeles. I can’t speak for other states.
Today, I’m trying out the Jethro T Boots Kentucky Straight Bourbon. Like JP Wiser Rye Whiskey, it’s harsh if you pour it over ice. With a splash of water, it kills the smell and taste of alcohol and leaves nothing else for you to taste. But strangely enough, it has a certain harshness even with water.
Now, I’m not a whiskey expert by any means. But I’ve tried a variety of whiskeys, be they bourbon’s, scotch, blended, or Irish whiskey single malts. And I don’t know what’s the “proper” way to taste whiskey but I taste whiskey like i do with coffee. Sniff it, sip it while breathing in some air and then “spread it” over my tongue, then swallow. While I’m doing this, I’m taking in mental notes of what I experience during and after the sip. Like sensations, flavors, harshness, etc. No matter what bottom shelf brand, there’s going to be a certain level of harshness/bitterness that you’ll always taste with these under $20 bottles of whiskey. By far though, blended whiskeys are not so bad compared to straight bourbon. Nevertheless, they are still harsh. And then from there, you can compared the level of harshness compared to other brands, be they name brands or no name brands.
In my experience so far though, drinking it neat is the way to go and it minimizes the amount of harshness and chemical flavors that just seem inherent in all of these bottom shelf whiskeys. But if you absolutely can’t stand the harshness or weird chemical flavors, just mix it with ginger ale. Ginger ale masks everything about these bottom shelf whiskeys and actually makes it taste pretty alright. Not fantastic but still better than drinking it neat. I drink it neat just because I like tasting it in its original form without the influence of temperature or what not added to it.
Next week, I’m planning on buying a bottle of Gentleman Jack to see how that tastes. But we’ll see. I might end up buying Canadian Club or some other no name brand (not that Canadian Club is a no name brand) in a plastic bottle just to see for myself how bad they can taste. But by far, Gran Legacy is terrible and it didn’t even get drunk. Don’t buy it.