Stock the Bar and Enjoy Different Types of Liquor Each Month
Whether you entertain every weekend or you just like to wind your day down with a stiff drink or smooth cocktail, these are just a couple of reasons why you’d want to stock your home bar with different types of liquor. From whiskey to gin to rum and others in between, you get a myriad of flavor notes and characteristics from liquor to liquor, along with several ways to enjoy them. Learn all about this below, and let us help you stock your bar with our carefully selected bottle recommendations.
Produced in over 25 countries worldwide, whiskey is a diverse spirit of many types. It’s made from fermented grain mash, including some combination of corn, barley, wheat or rye. The drink is usually matured in charred white oak or old sherry casks.
There are several ways to enjoy your whiskey:
- Straight or neat. This is just whiskey, with nothing added to it and a great way to savor the drink if you like a strong alcohol taste.
- With water. A splash of water added to the spirit releases water repellent elements that let you sense more aromas and taste more flavors because of the lower alcohol.
- On the rocks. For a refreshing take on the spirit, add a large ice cube or ball to slow the melting process and keep from diluting too much. Whiskey stones are a great alternative if you don’t want to dilute the whiskey at all.
- In a cocktail. If you love mixed drinks or are new to whiskey, it’s fantastic in cocktails like a Manhattan or Old Fashioned. Opt for a rye whiskey, since they do well at holding their flavor against mixed ingredients.
It’s incredibly tough to say what whiskey tastes like because the flavors are so diverse and broad, depending on the bottle. You’ll find some to be:
- Sweet, with more corn in the mash, like bourbons, Tennessee whiskeys and Canadian ryes.
- Savory, like Japanese or Indian whiskeys.
- Spicy, like rye whiskeys.
- Smooth, like triple-distilled Irish whiskeys.
- Strong, like a cask-strength whiskey.
Whiskey Recommendation: Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky
A vibrant blend of whiskies chosen carefully from the House of Suntory’s globally-acclaimed distilleries, Suntory Whisky Toki signifies legacy and tradition. Hakushu American White Oak cask malt and Chita heavy-type grain whiskeys challenge the standard malt-grain relationship, creating a groundbreaking blend that stands the test of time.
This 86 proof Japanese whisky is a beautiful clear gold, with aromas of green apple, basil and honey. You’ll taste green grapes, grapefruit, thyme and peppermint on the palate with a slightly spicy and sweet finish that brings oak, vanilla, ginger and white pepper notes, too.
Whiskey Cocktail: Manhattan
Combine 2 ounces of whiskey, 1 ounce of sweet vermouth and 2-3 dashes of bitters into an ice-filled mixing glass. Stir well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, then add a cherry for garnish.
Bourbon, our top club and best-selling spirit type, is exclusively made in the US and matured in new, charred oak barrels for a minimum of two years. It contains a grain mixture of 51% or more corn, and the rest another type of grain like wheat, rye or barley. Bourbon must be distilled to no stronger than 160 proof.
Bourbon is enjoyed in different ways: neat (nothing added), on the rocks (over ice), or mixed into a cocktail. The type of bourbon you’re drinking along with its proof, age and maturation process plus your personal preferences impact how you'll enjoy drinking this southern spirit.
Different bourbon types impact the spirit’s flavor:
- Corn bourbon carries smooth and sweet undertones, along with some vanilla, spice, caramel and sometimes fruit, tobacco, toffee, tannin and leather.
- Tennessee sour mash is similar to corn bourbon but it uses the previous batch’s leftovers, usually giving a sweeter and more intense flavor.
- Wheated bourbon is sweeter and softer than its corn counterpart and brings smooth grain, grass, honey and earth notes.
- High rye bourbon has a spicier, bigger bite than other types and tastes of fruit, baking and grassy notes.
- High malt bourbon/Tennessee high malt contains at least 51% malted barley, giving it a strong, malty taste and a smoky, nutty flavor, along with a bit of chocolate or cocoa tones at times.
Bourbon Recommendation: Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey‘s aging process is pretty unique: It involves the use of a unique Solera system that preserves some of the oldest whiskey stocks belonging to the renowned Stitzel-Weller distillery. Solera liquid mixes with other fine Stitzel-Weller whiskies which then mature in new charred American white oak barrels.
In this bourbon, you’ll smell subtle hints of fresh fruit and taste pear, dried apricot and sweet roasted grain. Warm winter spice and charred oak linger on the finish.
Bourbon Cocktail: New Fashioned
In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, combine 2 ounces bourbon with 1 ounce elderflower liqueur or amaretto, ¼-ounce simple syrup, and a few dashes of bitters. Mix well and strain into a rocks glass. Fill with club soda and garnish with an orange slice and brandied cherry.
Scotch is a type of whiskey that contains malt, grain or both. It’s distilled and matured in Scotland in oak barrels for at least three years and has an ABV of at least 40%. But, many Scotches age for about 12-25 years and sometimes up to 50 years.
You can enjoy this type of liquor in several ways, depending on your taste and mood:
- Neat. This is the simplest way to drink any type of Scotch — it’s simply a pour from bottle to glass (tulip or snifter is best) with nothing added. Sip slowly, so you can appreciate all the character and notes the distiller intended.
- Diluted. To take a bit of the alcohol’s strong edge off, you can always dilute your Scotch with a couple drops of water. This also helps to open the drink up and bring out flavors you otherwise wouldn’t taste. Start small though, as you can always add more water but you can’t take it out.
- On the rocks. Sipping Scotch over ice is quite refreshing. Just keep in mind the ice will change its flavor profile with some notes enhanced and others weakened. A large ice cube is best as it melts slower than others.
- In a cocktail. If you’re new to Scotch or are simply a fan of cocktails, you’ll enjoy combining the spirit with a mixer like soda, juice or tea or working it into a cocktail like a Penicillin or Rob Roy.
Different types of Scotch have different flavor profiles, which are also impacted by the drink’s production location or region, distillation techniques and aging process. Generally, though, Scotch has a distinctly sharp flavor. You’ll find blends are smooth, buttery and malty with a spicy finish, while single malts are more woody and oaky, some with the smoky and peaty notes the drink is known for.
Scotch Recommendation: Johnnie Walker Black Label Blended Scotch Whisky
Named one of the world’s top-trending Scotches at the 2020 Drinks International awards, the silky smooth Johnnie Walker Black Label Blended Scotch Whisky will indulge all of your senses with its deep, complexly smooth character. It’s made with a blend of Scotch whiskies from throughout the country, aged for at least 12 years.
Scotch Cocktail: Scotch ‘n Soda
In a cocktail shaker, combine 2 ounces Scotch with soda water. Over an ice-filled rocks glass, pour and garnish with a wedge of lime.
Tequila is a mezcal spirit made from the Blue Weber agave plant, which grows plentifully in Mexico — the home of tequila and where the drink must be produced. After at least 7 years when the agave has matured, farmers harvest it and send the hearts (piñas) to distilleries for production.
If you’re looking for a truly authentic tequila drinking experience, go for a pure 100% agave Reposado, Añejo or Extra/Ultra Añejo rather than a mixto, which contains added sugar. Sip it slowly to savor and really appreciate it. Or, if you’re a newbie to tequila, you could try the American salt and lime method instead. Take 1-2 sips, dip a wedge of lime into salt and suck on it slightly, so the flavor isn’t overpowered. Finally, tequila is an excellent cocktail base in classics like the Margarita (see below) or Paloma.
Tequilas can be pretty diverse in taste but are generally smooth, spicy, sweet and sometimes fruity or toasty with agave flavor. Tequilas have different levels of complexity and will vary depending on their type, production location, maturation time and method of storing.
Tequila Recommendation: Espolón Reposado Tequila
The premium, award-winning Espolón Reposado is handcrafted in small batches with single-sourced 100% pure Blue Weber Agave and many decades of expertise in the Jalisco, Mexico highlands. The hand-picked agave piñas cook for 18 to 20 hours before the fermentation process, and distillation is slower than you’d find at many other producers. Once ready, this reposado is aged for 6 months in new American oak barrels before being bottled at 40% ABV.
On the nose and the palate, you’ll get delicious notes of cooked agave, oak, caramel and vanilla, with a bit of butter and pepper.
Tequila Cocktail: Margarita
Run the juice side of a lime wedge around the top rim of a highball glass. Add some coarse salt to a plate and dip the glass rim until covered with your preferred amount of salt, then set aside. To a cocktail shaker, add 1.5 ounces tequila, 1 ounce orange liqueur, ¾-ounces of freshly squeezed lime juice and some ice. Shake for about 10 seconds until combined. You can then add some optional agave nectar or simple syrup to taste. Pour into your ice-filled glass and garnish with a slice of lime.
Gin is a spirit that begins with juniper berries, which come from evergreen conifers native to much of the world’s temperate zones. This is a diverse, botanical type of liquor that comes in many forms with several ingredients or just a couple, and it may or may not be sweet or barrel-aged.
Here are the classic ways to enjoy your gin:
- Straight. When drinking gin straight up, be sure to chill it first, since it’s best cold. If you don’t have time or forget to refrigerate it in advance, just pour your shot into a mixing glass with ice and stir, then strain it into a rocks glass.
- Neat. If you're a seasoned gin drinker looking for a unique experience, go ahead and try it at room temperature, or neat. The flavors develop in a different way than they do when gin is chilled, so you’re bound to taste something new.
- On the rocks. Simply pour the gin over ice, which will dilute the alcohol a bit and bring out more flavors.
- In a cocktail. It only makes sense that some of the world’s best cocktails contain gin — like the Gin & Tonic and Gin Martini — since the historical spirit was used as medicine in Medieval times.
Like any other spirit, gin’s flavor profile will vary by distiller depending on the ingredients, production methods used and style (including London Dry, Contemporary, Genever, Old Tom and Sloe). That said, gin typically has a strong citrus aroma and taste given that citrus peels are usually used in production. Other varying aromatics are also present, like coriander and cardamom.
Gin Recommendation: Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin
Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin was created to showcase the distillers’ impressions of modern-day Australia: approachable, classic, lifted by citrus and spiced to perfection. So, the spirit is made with a bit of spice and organic citrus.
Luscious and full of character, this gin features cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, juniper, lavender, orange, lemon myrtle and pepperberry. Try it on its own or in a Gin & Tonic (see below).
Gin Cocktail: Gin & Tonic
To an ice-filled highball glass, add 2 ounces of gin and top with tonic water. Stir gently and garnish with 1-2 lime wheels.
Rum is distilled in about 50 countries with many different traditions and technologies. This means the styles are quite broad, though sugarcane products are the common denominator. From dark and aged to spiced and white rums, there’s something out there for everyone.
Rum can easily be enjoyed neat, with a bit of ice or water and some lime, or mixed into a highball or cocktail like a Rum & Coke or Daiquiri.
You’ll generally get sweet and sugary notes when you drink rum, though it actually tastes drier because the sweetness is reduced during distillation. Tasting notes include caramel, spice, tobacco and leather, but rum flavors depend largely on the production method and ingredients used. For instance, if molasses are used, the result will be a rounder, bolder character than rums with sugar cane juice, which produce a more herbaceous flavor.
Rum Recommendation: Tanduay Double Rum
What do you get when you combine a wonderful 5-year-aged rum with a fabulous 16-year-aged rum? A beautifully flavorful combination called Tanduay Double Rum, aged for another two years in Kentucky bourbon barrels smack dab in the Philippines’ intense heat and humidity.
On the palate, you’ll taste mellow vanilla and cherry along with torched pineapple. The spirit finishes quite elegantly, with medium to long notes of raisin, wood and tropical zest.
Rum Cocktail: Mojito
To a cocktail shaker, muddle 6 mint leaves. Add 1 ounce each of lime juice and simple syrup, along with 2 ounces of white rum. Fill shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Then, fill your cocktail glass with ice and strain the liquid into it. Top with soda water and garnish with more mint.
Vodka is typically made from grain or potatoes, traditionally in Russia and Poland though these days it’s produced worldwide. You can get different types of vodka, including plain, fruit, flavored and grain.
Vodka is traditionally enjoyed straight: Either shot quickly or sipped slowly. Some people like it chilled or on the rocks, and we can’t forget vodka as a cocktail base — in fact, it’s the most popular liquor used in mixed drinks and cocktails, like a Screwdriver or Bloody Mary.
This type of liquor is known for its absence of a specific flavor. Rather than focus on taste, many distillers differentiate their vodkas by texture (or mouthfeel). Some feel oily and silky, and taste a bit sweet, while others are crisp, clean, medicinal and watery. Once you get a feel for various vodkas, you’ll probably pick up on subtle taste differences, much like you would between tap water and bottled water. The heat or burn of vodka on the back of the throat is also a common differentiator — often, less expensive spirits come with a stronger burn while premium vodkas are more subtle and smooth.
Vodka Recommendation: Ketel One Vodka
Made with traditional distilling expertise, Ketel One Family Made Vodka is meticulously crafted with non-GMO European wheat for a neutral, crisp and smooth quality. The spirit is distilled in copper pot stills, then filtered over loose charcoal before it gets stored in lined tanks.
For a unique flavor, soft texture and strong, peppery yet easy and dry finish, try this 2020 Drinks International awards top-trending vodka. You’ll smell notes of sweet wheat and herbs with a hint of citrus. On the palate, enjoy the toasty, somewhat sweet notes of grain.
Vodka Cocktail: Cucumber Mint Vodka Soda
To your highball glass, add 2 ounces vodka and a cucumber ribbon. Top with club soda and a mint sprig for garnish.
The three main types of wine are red, white and rosé, though less common types exist, too, like sparkling and fortified wine. Red wine is made from purple or blue grapes. White wine can come from them as well if the juice is separated from the skins, but it’s also made with lighter, green grapes. Rose falls somewhere in between — it's typically made with controlled and minimal contact between a dark grape’s juice and skins.
Acidity and sweetness of a wine are the main components of flavor, and the type of grapes greatly impact the differences between a red and white’s taste. Generally, white wines are sweeter than reds, though a sweet red, like zinfandel or grenache, can be sweeter than a dry white, like sauvignon blanc. A good wine will be balanced between sweet, salty, sour, bitter (or tannin) and spicy flavors. Specific notes shouldn’t be too distinct, but blended so you get a subtle hint of different flavors at once.
Taste some different wines for yourself through our Wine Club, which features red or white wine, or one of each per month.
If you're interested in pairing wine with food, follow these general tips to get the most out of both the wine and food's flavor:
- Wine should be more acidic and sweeter than its paired food, but have equal flavor intensity.
- Red wine goes nicely with bold-flavored or red meat, while white wine pairs well with lighter or white meats, like chicken or fish. That said, you’re better off to match a wine with a sauce than a particular type of meat.
- It’s best to balance a bitter (usually red) wine with fat.
Wine Cocktail: Traditional Red Sangria
Note: this recipe makes 2 servings
To a large pitcher, add ¼ of an apple, ¼ of an orange and 1.5-2 tablespoons of brown or cane sugar, then muddle for about 45 seconds. Combine the mixture with ⅓-cup orange juice and 1.25-ounces brandy, and muddle for another 30 seconds or so. Add 375 ml of dry red wine (Spanish wine, preferably) and stir. Adjust if needed by adding more ingredients to taste. Add about a half-cup of ice, stir again, and garnish with orange pieces before serving.
Now that you’ve learned about various types of liquor, go ahead and have some fun trying out these cocktail recipes. And don’t forget, we can help get you what you need through our Bottle Shop or Stock the Bar Club.