Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Squid Mixes: A Whiskey Champion Emerges

Two untested rye whiskeys in our price range are on sale in Vermont liquor stores for June: Jack Daniels Tennessee Rye and Ezra Brooks Straight Rye.  We picked up a bottle of each setting up, for now, our final whiskey battles...

George Dickel vs. Jack Daniels Tennessee Rye

Jack Daniels was fruitier.

Winner: George Dickel

George Dickel vs. Ezra Brooks

This was a particularly important battle.  Brooks is definitely a lower-shelf brand than most of the others we've tested.  At full price for each, Brooks is $12 cheaper than Dickel.  Brooks is a perfectly nice whiskey, having already triumphed over Old Overholt, our original favorite (read here).  And $12 really is rather a lot.  So, even if Dickel should win, it's likely only going to be our "when it's on sale" choice while Brooks remains our staple.

George Dickel is smokier.

Winner: Ezra Brooks

Well, what do you know?

My wife was quite surprised to find that she preferred the Brooks in the blind test.  What's interesting is that she'd never described Dickel as smoky before and, in fact, wouldn't have considered the word a redeeming adjective for a whiskey.  Nonetheless, her choice was clear.

No complaints here.  The preference will save us money.  While I think the other brands might be nice for a change of pace once in a while, our rye of choice is both tasty and affordable.  Everybody wins!

Next up: Vermouth Battles

Squid on the Vine

Fondo Bozzole, Giano Lambrusco Mantovano
A bubbly red
Cherry nose
Cherry, bubblegum taste
My rating: 8.1


  1. Replies
    1. I'm with you! A peaty scotch is a magical thing. My wife, however, doesn't care for it.

      She is a super taster and thus probably more sensitive to the bitterness than I. Not that it holds her back with other things...

  2. The Rittenhouse I get is about $20/bottle.
    I may have to check on Brooks just to see the difference.

    1. It could also be that cheaper brands actually work better for mixed drinks. That's an important traditional purpose for cocktails: hiding the flaws in your lower-quality inventory.

    2. On the other hand, there's also the view that says your cocktail can only be as good as your least ingredient, which is the view my espouses to.

    3. Sure. But there's a tipping point. I'm not going to corrupt anything over $30 with a mixer. Within those parameters, personal preference is paramount. So far, we have cheap tastes. That's not a bad thing.

    4. Hmm... That was supposed to say " wife espouses to."
      I'm much less discerning with cocktails, although there are some quality concerns that I do follow. For instance, the quality of the coconut milk is VERY important to a pina colada. I've found that the rum is less impactful.

    5. Oh, definitely, with anything perishable, quality matters. For instance, I am absolutely sold on the superiority of fresh fruit juice even though it requires more work.

      Liquor is wonderfully shelf-stable and thus more economical than one would think from the price tag. It keeps a lot better than wine, for instance. Still, one should consider how much to spend for what one wants. If I ever get my hands on a $100 bottle of scotch - or rye, or bourbon - I'm not letting a mixer anywhere near it. I would even be sparing with ice! All subtleties would be lost. In a cocktail, I want each ingredient to hold its own but there's no reason to spend more if one is happy with the basics.

    6. TAS: I don't know how it is with liquor, but, once you go over about $20, there is no qualitative difference in wine. Not that a "wine person" would ever acknowledge that.
      But in studies, by taste, people can't tell the difference in the "quality" of the wine when the bottle is $25 or the bottle is $100.

    7. No argument here. I have a $20 limit on wine. Really, anything above $15 is pushing it on my comfort level.