We gave some good-bet whiskeys a run just in time for the Kentucky Derby.
April 05, 2013
1 of 4Photo: Randy Mayor
Very Old Barton, 100 Proof ($15) Proves a point known to non-snobbish bourbon drinkers: A well-made "bottom shelf" whiskey can sneak up on the more expensive brands. Very Old Barton is balanced bourbon with real depth and roundness, and it's perfect for cocktails. Great value.
2 of 4Photo: Randy Mayor
Elijah Craig 12-Year-Old ($27) At 94 proof, this bourbon has the weight and heat of a whiskey two or three times the price. It's big and full-flavored but balanced, with vanilla and fruit notes in the aroma and in the mouth. Twelve years in the barrels makes it remarkably complex at this price—a well-made sipper for anyone who wonders why bourbon is so popular right now.
3 of 4Photo: Randy Mayor
Buffalo Trace ($25) This distillery is into experimenting, producing a number of whiskeys under different labels, some at superpremium prices. But its namesake bourbon is fairly priced and complex: You can taste licorice, maple syrup, and caramel flavors, followed by a lush, smoky finish.
4 of 4Photo: Caleb Chancey
Try My Cocktail
Ann Pittman, Executive Editor, Food
Fizzy Old-Fashioned: Combine ¾ cup bourbon, 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, and 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon Peychaud's bitters in a small pitcher. Stir in 2 cups chilled blood orange soda (such as San Pellegrino Aranciata Rossa) just before serving. Serve over ice. Garnish with orange rind twists.