It’s 2018. Whisky is expensive. But, there is still hope!
Last year we posted our inaugural “Best Whiskies Under $80” blog and it has been our most popular blog post ever. So, just like for the first one, we contacted whisky shop owners and managers from across Alberta with a simple queston: “What are your favourite whiskies priced at $80 or less?”
Here’s what they said:
Dave Scott/Manager at Keg n Cork Liquor (Edmonton)
Cooper’s Choice Tormore Sweet & Smoky 46% abv ($73.96)
A tasty little number from Cooper’s Choice. It’s single cask, yet non age statement. The unpeated spirit from Tormore is filled into casks that previously held Laphroaig. That merry mix up is then finished in port casks, and bottled at 46%. The joy of second hand smoke. Wonderful stuff, but quite limited. Can go toe-to-toe with whiskies twice its price, and will still compare favourably.
Finlaggan Cask Strength 58% abv ($66.96)
A ‘secret islay’ bottling, whose distillery of origin is a mystery. Tales abound that the Finlaggan label utilizes spirit from different distilleries for different releases (i.e., sometimes it is Caol Ila, sometimes it comes from other Islay sources). Anyway, what’s in a name? Google that shit if you want to know. Limited availability. Monstrously good value for what it is. Drink it along with a fine cigar.
Tullibardine ‘The Murray’ 56.1% abv ($83.96)
The first distillery release of cask strength Tullibardine in quite some time. Delicious stuff. OK, it’s cheating a bit, more than $80, but, take your $80, and also save the price of a hamburger & fries, and buy this instead. Excellent vanilla, sweet, oaky powerhouse that remains eminently drinkable. 100% bourbon cask matured. Tullibardine is an unsung hero of Scottish whisky, and this malt showcases the heights of what their younger spirit can do.
Sazerac Rye 45% abv ($59.96)
Some people say it’s the classic rye for the Sazerac cocktail (composed of absinthe, cognac, rye, bitters). Others say it “symbolizes the tradition and history of New Orleans”. All that is fair enough, but, well, I drink a bottle every two months without exception and that’s what it means to me. Delicious American Straight Rye, light spice, mild doughy-ness, amazing balance, and a steal of a deal. Mixes well, and drinks very nicely on its own.
Aultmore 12 Year Old 46% abv ($75.96)
If you get tired of this stuff, you are surely dead inside. Grassy, fresh, vibrant, a wisp of fragrant oak. Easily one of the best distillery bottlings of 12 year old single malt available. Punches leagues above its weight class. Also, nearly chuggable, without being insipid.
Andrew Ferguson & Evan Eckersley/Kensington Wine Market (Calgary)
Adam Koziak/Manager at Chateau Louis Liquor (Edmonton):
Mitchter’s American Whiskey ($74): This has the same mash content as the Bourbon but uses Bourbon casks for ageing. This is a smooth American whiskey that can be drack straight or put into a nice cocktail
Glenfarclas 105 ($80): For a cask strength, this is your best bang for the buck.
Highland Park Magnus ($44): This is a classic HP. Has some nice smokiness and is a bottle you don’t feel back leaving at a friend’s house that has no good whisky.
Syndicate 58/6 ($73): This is a Sherry Bomb that is blended by RICHARD PATERSON, enough said.
Glendronach 12 year ($70): This one brings me back to my early days of learning about whiskey. This 12 year old is the reason I drink Single malt today. This 100% sherry ages wisky
Graham Usher/Owner of UnWined Fine Wines, Spirits, & Ales (Edmonton)
BOWMORE NO 1 ($54.99): Bowmore No. 1 has been a very popular bottle for customers looking to get into Islay malts. Not overly complex like the older age statements but some nice balance and certainly not peat heavy.
DEANSTON VIRGIN OAK ($49.99): Deanston must have obtained some top notch barrels from Kentucky. It tastes older than it seems on the label. A lot of honey and spice. Perhaps a touch of cinnamon.
TAMDHU 10 YR ($69.99): Some of my favourite sherry cask whiskies are getting too expensive for me. Tamdhu is a great alternative for someone that likes this style but doesn’t want to pay Macallan prices.
FETTERCAIRN FIOR ($64.99): I forgot about this one in the back of my cabinet and rediscovered it recently. To me,it’s probably the most complex whisky in this price range. A lot going on here.
HIGHLAND PARK MAGNUS ($39.99): Our most popular new whisky doesn’t dissapoint. It’s hard to find a better value right now.
David Owens/Owner of Sherbrooke Liquor (Edmonton)
“Here are my top 5 Whisk(e)y selections under $80 all prices include GST and I tried to look further than just Scotland. None of these will break the bank and all can be enjoyed by even the most pretentious!”