Best Affordable Single Malt Scotch

Best Affordable Scotch

Getting bargain shoppers to agree on the best affordable scotch might not be an easy task. There are certainly some inexpensive scotch whiskey out there, but how do we define which one is best? Does the best affordable scotch have to be single malt or can it be blended? Does it necessarily have to be smooth, or would you prefer to sacrifice some smoothness for special flavor and character? And how cheap does the best affordable scotch have to be to be considered at the top of the list? Of the few bargain-priced, scotch whiskeys I’ve tried I have never really found a very good blended malt that is smooth and flavorful. On the other hand, I’ve tried some affordable single malt scotch that is very smooth, but does have a whole lot of substance and taste. Lismore is a good, affordable single-malt scotch that comes to mind. Unless a single malt scotch is unusually smooth, I decided I’d rather pay a little more for something with some interesting scotch-like flavors. Since the more affordable scotch’s are not aged very long, they are hard to find. Time to check my favorite region for Scotch and see what is available.

Islay Single Malts

For character, flavor and excitement, Islay single malts are the best in my opinion. Unfortunately, they are also usually among the most expensive. I’ll never forget sitting in a restaurant with my wife on our 10th anniversary sampling scotches and choosing one with the weird name, Lagavulin. I thought it was amazing. Very scotchy and peaty. I also enjoyed what I thought was saltiness. When I went home I confirmed that what I was tasting was indeed salt and it’s from the barrels which are aged near the Atlantic ocean. With Islay single malts, you are literally sipping a bit of salt from the ocean. How neat is that? I later bought a bottle of the very expensive Lagavulin which costs about $90 today. I really learned to love it, but if only it was a little more affordable.

Best Affordable Single Malt in an Islay

Don’t think for a minute that MacGavins is anything close to being as good as Laphroaig or Lagavulin, but for the price it is quite good and even satisfies a little bit of the craving for the salty characteristics of an Islay single malt. MacGavins is not aged – or at least it doesn’t say how long on the bottle. The 1.75 Liter pictured above cost about $35.00. Even if it is not a premium Islay Single Malt, MacGavins is one of the best affordable single malt scotch whiskeys you can buy.

Taste Test

The MacGavins is very dry in the nose and really pretty smooth for a whiskey that doesn’t claim to be aged. I tasted some brown sugar, caramel and even a little pear. Also, there is definitely some noticeable saltiness – and that it is a good thing. The whiskey isn’t as dark, intense or peaty as either Laphroaig or Lagavulin, but it is certainly tastier than some of the cheap single malt scotch whiskeys I’ve had from other regions. MacGavins is a keeper for an every day, good drinking, Islay single malt scotch. Either Lismore or McGavins are the best affordable single malt scotch that I’ve tried. Take your pick.


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Superia Vodka

Superia Vodka

  • The Review

Superia Vodka

Best Vodka Martini using Superia Vodka

Supereria Vodka makes the best vodka martini I’ve ever had. I found this jewel of a vodka on my Thanksgiving trip to Arkansas. I stopped in a very nice liquor store in Ashdown, AR (just outside of Texarkana). I didn’t bring any vodka with me on this particular, 1,000 mile road-trip and so I was craving a good martini for Thanksgiving cheer.  I always look forward to finding, good value-priced vodkas. After learning that the ultra-smooth, Titos Handmade Vodka is like drinking pure ethanol I’ve decided sometimes the cheaper vodkas are more to my liking, anyway. The Superia vodka is imported from Russia so I figured it couldn’t be too bad. The price for a 1.75 Liter was just $17.00. Part of the reason for the competitive price could reflect the Arkansas liquor market which I’m not as familiar with as Colorado’s vodka prices. On the other hand, the Svedka vodka, at $23.00, is considerably higher-priced than what I can get it for in Colorado. The truth is, however, I could pay $23.00 for Superia and still think it’s a good vodka for the money. It wasn’t until I finally took the Superia home, though, and made it right, with the
olive that I came to the final conclusion: Superia makes the best vodka martini I’ve ever had.
When I brought the vodka with me to our Thanksgiving party, I was too bashful to ask for a martini glass, so I drank it on the rocks in a plastic cup. Of course, I tasted the vodka neat, at room temperature first, just to get that first note of flavor, character and smoothness. Instantly, I found the Superia to not only be as smooth as Tito’s, but without the undesirable ethanol flavor. Superia is good enough to sip straight-up. I would say, Superia compares slightly to Ruskova, another Russian, bargain-priced vodka. However, I like the Superia even better.  I didn’t fully appreciate the Superia, however, until I made my first martini with it back at the hotel later that evening. Using a coffee cup for my martini shaker, I shook up a glass full of the Superia and strained it into my plastic, clear hotel water glass. It was chilled – and straight, without even so much as olive for a garnish.

Superia Vodka Rating

I give this one a 95 Rating

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Knob Creek Bourbon

Knob Creek BourbonKnob Creek Bourbon single-batch is one of the better, mainstream bourbons I’ve ever tried. When the weather gets colder, I begin to enjoy sweeter, heavier whiskys like Bourbon.  Knob Creek makes a much more expensive, high-quality, single-barrel bourbon that I was anxious to try, but my liquor store didn’t carry it. I decided to give the regular, small-batch a try. There are a few notable characteristics of this particular whiskey.

Knob-Creek Whiskey Facts

  • Aged 9 Years
  • 100-Proof (50% Alcohol)
  • Hand Bottled in Limited Quantities
  • Made in the Heart of Kentucky
  • Frothy When Shaken

Based on those facts, you’d expect to pay a little more for Knob Creek and that is certainly the case. I paid $26.00 for a 750ML bottle which is more than double the price of my every-day, Ezra Brooks Bourbon in the 1.75 Liter. Oh well, it’s always worth trying something better just to have that benchmark comparison. And, with Knob Creek whiskey, there really is no comparison to Ezra Brooks – it is far superior in every respect.

Knob Creek Tasting Notes

  • Exceptionally Smooth
  • Strong, Kentucky Bourbon Flabor
  • Buttery, with Hints of Apple
  • Smells as good as it Tastes
  • Frothy, when Shaken

The Ezra Brooks is only 80-proof and the minute I switched from that to the Knob Creek, I could taste and feel the extra kick of alcohol. In fact, I think this whiskey tastes best if you tame it down a bit with a splash or two of water. A bourbon this good, however, should definitely not be mixed with anything other than water. So, how can you make a good mixed drink with anything but water? This gave me a couple of Knob Creek recipe ideas.

Knob Creek Recipes

Knob Creek Manhattan

Knob Creek ManhattanNothing but Knob Creek Bourbon and a couple splashes of water, shaken vigorously in a stainless steel shaker, then poured straight up in a martini glass. Serve with a cherry as garnish. Manhattans are one of my very favorite drinks. You certainly can’t make a knob-creek Manhattan better by adding the usual sweet vermouth to it, so don’t dare even try.  The Knob Creek whiskey makes a very smooth Manhattan – and tasty.

Knob Creek Old Fashioned Cocktail

Knob Creek Old Fashioned CocktailOnce again, purely Knob Creek Bourbon, a little water and shaken with ice. Sound familiar? This time, pour straight into an old-fashioned cocktail glass. Please forgive the Cutty Sark glass. Note, the appetizing frothy head at the top of the glass? Knob Creek has a rich, golden ale appearance. Old Fashioned cocktails are normally topped off with a splash of club soda which gives them that ‘frothy’ effect. No need for club soda, bitters, sugar, or anything else when you make an old-fashioned with Knob Creek whiskey. Always drink Knob creek neat.

Give us your rating on Knob Creek Bourbon

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Tito’s Handmade Vodka

According to the reviews I’ve read, Tito’s Handmade Vodka is one of the smoothest, best-tasting vodkas you can buy. Tito’s also happens to be a completely, gluten free vodka. This is something that is important to anyone who has celiac disease or other, less-serious, gluten allergies. I paid $25.99 for the 1.75 liter of bottle at my near-Costco liquor store in Arvada, CO. $25.99 is more than twice what I normally pay for vodka. There is a reason I don’t pay too much for vodka and I think this short review on Tito’s will make that point.Tito’s Handmade Vodka Taste Test

I poured a small, neat shot of Tito’s into my martini glass and swigged it down at room temperature. My first impression was that Tito’s is an exceptionally smooth vodka – almost too smooth. Let me explain: Tito’s is so clean that the distinctive taste of ethanol is almost over-powering. It’s almost as if you’re sipping something at a chemistry lab. They say that extremely thorough distillation brings out the ethanol taste. This is consistent with the claim on the bottle that Tito’s is distilled 6 times. It is a very smooth tasting vodka with little burn going down, but is this a desirable trait in a vodka? Maybe, I’m no expert on vodka, but the extreme, ethanol flavor is bitter to me at the very tip of my taste buds and lingers way too long. Cheaper vodkas like Taaka tend to have a heaviness about them, that takes out the upper, tinge of bitterness at the very top of my palate. Still, I can’t blame those who prefer the overall smooth, light flavor of Tito’s and perhaps the distillation and clean taste will lead to a better feeling the next morning. Tito’s would obviously suit any mixed drink well. The other reason you might like Tito’s handmade Vodka is that it is gluten free.

Tito’s is a Gluten Free Vodka

While the distillation process of most alcohol greatly reduces the risk of gluten contamination not many of them claim to be 100% gluten free, but Tito’s does. Tito’s is distilled from corn which is gluten-free grain. If your a gluten allergy suffer, this might be the best reason yet, to buy only Tito’s vodka.

Titos Handmade Vodka Tasting Test

Tito’s is exceptionally smooth, but to my mind it really doesn’t taste all that good. If ethanol tastes good to you, Tito’s handmade gluten free vodka might be just what you want.

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Platinum Vodka

platinum vodka
platinum vodka

Platinum vodka may look like one of those expensive Polish or Russian Vodkas, but how does it taste? It didn’t take me very long to find out. I discovered the Platinum at Costco’s liquor partner store just yesterday while looking for my favorite, Ruskova. I found this instead: Platinum brand Vodka, in a big, 1.75 liter bottle for only $12.99. The icing on the cake was the free sample of Cinnamon whiskey that was tied to the top of the bottle. But more on that later. Back to Platinum:

Platinum Vodka is Smooth

Don’t think for one minute that Platinum is one of the best vodkas just for it’s name and pretty, blue bottle. On the other hand for a $13.00 1.75 liter package, it’s certainly a decent vodka. I removed the cinnamon whiskey sample from the lid, twisted off the blue cap and poured about a half ounce in my stainless steel shaker. I always drink vodkas warm when first sampling them. The Platinum had a very noticeable alcohol-burn to its nose, but the front taste was not nearly as bitter and harsh as I expected. It went down rather smoothly and had a very crisp, pepper taste with just a bit of vanilla to it as it rounds out going down. I’d rank this maybe a tad below the Ruskova Vodka, but clearly better than Taaka.

Who Makes Platinum Vodka

Platinum vodka is actually made by the makers of Taaka Vodka, so I suppose you could say this is their upgraded model. The bottle advertises that it has been distilled 7 times which is surely an improvement over the Taaka which has no indication at all that it’s even been distilled a second time.

Light Taste – Doesn’t Overpower

I dropped a couple of olives in a glass; poured in a couple of ounces of Platinum and shook it vigorously with crushed ice. I enjoyed the first martini and the 2nd one was even better. Platinum does not have a whole lot of taste, but it is bright, crisp and relatively clean for such a bargain-priced vodka.

 See the Rest of Our Vodka Ratings

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El Zarco Tequila

el zarco tequila reviewI’ll confess that the cool looking bottle at my local liquor store is what conned me into buying and trying a 750ml bottle of El Zarco Tequila (Silver). I went to the liquor store to get a bottle of Taaka Vodka. Being that I already had some Camarena left at the house, I wasn’t really shopping for Tequila. The El Zarco silver tequila comes in a cool-looking, blueish-clear bottle. It is obvious from the print on the bottle that says, “Made with Blue Agave” that El Zarco is not made a 100% Agave tequila. It might also be obvious from the $10.99 price tag if I hadn’t had other good, 100% Agave tequilas in the past like Tres Alegres. Even most persnickety tequila snobs will admit that Tres Alegres is an excellent value. Unfortunately, Tres Alegres is very hard to find.

El Zarco Silver vs Reposado

I bought the Silver bottle of El Zarco thinking it was something different than the unimpressive reposado, Camarena I already had sitting at home. In general, the silver tequilas taste smoky and dry to me where-as the reposados have a sweeter, buttery, more caramel-like flavor. I’m not sure I like mixing a silver tequila with any type of margarita mixes because it might over power the flavor. I prefer the reposado or blancos for making margaritas – but putting a really good tequila into a mixed drink seems like a waste of money to me. There are plenty of partial-agave tequilas that are perfect for making mixed tequila drinks with and any of them that I have ever tried are much better than Jose Cuervo Gold or Silver. Okay, so the silver, El Zarco might be an exception. Since it is not a 100% Agave tequila perhaps, I thought, it might go pretty good in a strong, margarita with real lime juice and only a splash of triple-sec, Cointreau, Gran  Marnier or whatever else any of us might prefer in our margs. I was anxious to taste it by itself to see if I could tell it was not made from 100% agave. The bottle advertisement claims that the El Zarco is double-distilled, making me hopeful that this might be a pretty smooth sipping tequila even if it is a made-for-mixers, partial-agave, silver.

El Zarco Tequila Tasting Notes

From my first sniff of the El Zarco Tequila Silver, I instantly suspected it might have more of an alcohol-burn than the pleasant, smokiness of a good, 100% De Agave, silver tequila. My first taste didn’t prove me wrong. There is some nice smoke and agave flavor once you get past the alcohol burn, but it is clearly inferior to a 100% agave nectar tequila. Though there is a little butteryness to it, the El Zarco tequila just lacks the thickness and cream of the real thing. I decided to put some of the El Zarco into my stainless steel shaker. I squeezed some lime juice and put a couple of lime slices in with the tequila and a few ice cubes; shook and made a martini with it. The result was a decent, not great silver tequila martini. Last, I decided to try El Zarco with a complete, marg using the lime juice and triple sec. The result was a mediocre margarita. El Zarco is an average silver tequila; good, not great – but nothing bad or offensive about it either. I’d certainly try El Zarco reposado for making Margs if I could find a 1.75 liter bottle of it at a sub-$20 price. I’d give El Zarco 3 stars for the price. El Zarco is not so bad that I won’t enjoy drinking it. I would imagine that the bottle of El Zarco will be gone by the time I get around to reviewing my next tequila.

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Camarena Tequila

camarena tequilaCamarena tequila might not be a premium tequila brand, but it is not a discount, bargain-basement tequila brand either. I paid about $30.00 for a 1.75 liter bottle of Familia Camarena Reposado tequila at the famous and massive Apple Jack liquor store in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. For a huge liquor store, Apple Jack only has a good, not great tequila section. The name Camarena isn’t familiar to me and I”m surprised I haven’t seen this tequila somewhere else.  When shopping for margarita-making brands of tequila, my budget is usually $20.00 and under. I’ve found some very good tequila, including the Rancho Alegre Silver and Reposado which are made from 100% agave and sell for around $19.00 per 1.75 liter bottle. Unfortunately, most liquor stores don’t carry Rancho Alegre tequila, thus an opportunity arose for trying a new brand. Most stores don’t carry the Camarena tequila either. In fact, I was not going to find a tequila made from 100% agave at Apple Jack in my price range, so the Camarena was the next best thing. The attractive Camarena tequila bottle caught my eye because it had a bright orange tag with a 94 rating by Wine and Spirits.  If the rating is accurate then a tequila with a score that high should be good enough for sipping by itself, while cheap enough for consuming large margaritas. Could the Camarena hold up to that promise? I usually prefer the less expensive reposado over the similarly prices silvers or blanco tequila because they have a fuller, woodier flavor. I had to admit, though, the Camarena seemed very light for a repasado tequila – almost yellow and certainly not the dark, amber color of some of the other reposado tequila brands I’ve drank, much less something like a 3-year old extra anejo tequila. Well, every now and then, it is worth it to go beyond my budget by as much as 33% or more, just to try something new and supposedly better than the other tequila brands I’ve reviewed. So, onto my actual impressions of Camarena tequila.

Is Camarena Over-rated?

Is the Camarena reposado tequila as good as Wine and Spirits lofty, 94 rating? In a word, no. I think a 94 rating is much too high for any tequila in this price range, much less the Camarena which I’ve had better. The best thing I can say about Camarena is that it is dry and smooth . Certainly light years better than Cuervo Gold Tequila which doesn’t even deserve to be called, tequila.  Camarena is almost too dry. The first sip of this light gold tequila gives me just a little tease of the agave and smoky wood than quickly fades into the flat, disappointing burn of the alcohol taste. I notice little or no sweetness from the nectar. The Camarena seems to lack a little soul, but it also lacks the unpleasant punch of some of other tequila brands in this price range. If you’re not overly fond of the complexities of tequila flavor, but enjoy margaritas or sunrises, the Camarena will suit your tastes and budget just fine.

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Russian Standard Vodka

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russian standard vodkaRussian Standard Vodka (Original) is one of three different vodkas made by the same company. Russian Standard Platinum and Russian Standard Imperia Vodka are the two upper-end, pricier vodka choices from the same distillery which I have not yet tried. Russian Standard, like any premium Russian vodka is distilled from Wheat. While the original Russian Vodka maybe the cheapest of the three, it is still priced in the range of premium and popular vodkas like Stoli and Monopolowa. I paid $25.95 for a 1.75 Liter bottle of original Russian Standard. You can expect to see it priced between $23.00 and $32.00 at your favorite, local liquor store. I’ll confess to two things prior to buying this: One, I was attracted by the interesting looking bottle, with Russian Calligraphy; supposedly named for Peter the Great. The bottle alone makes for good, drink conversation. Two, I didn’t actually pay $25.95. The liquor store was closing and I happened to be shopping at a most opportune time with liquor being sold at 50% off of shelf price. I paid about $13.00 for my first, 1.75 Liter bottle of Original Russian Standard . As someone who enjoys $20.00-and-under vodkas like Svedka and Ruskova, I was anxious to try an original Russian Standard Vodka at a most unoriginal price.

Russian Standard Vodka Tasting Notes

I expected good things from such a tasty looking bottle, and my first sip of original, Russian Standard Vodka, did not disappoint. When sampling new, vodka I like to pour a couple of sips worth at room temperature directly into my martini glass. The Russian Standard Website recommends that you drink their vodka at a temperature between 41 and 44 degrees Fahrenheit. Sampling at a slightly warmer, room temperature in my opinion, makes the aromas and taste more noticeable. Russian Standard original has a very light, crisp and almost transparent nose. There is very little of that ‘natural-gas’ spirit aroma of other vodkas. First sip is thin, high and what the New Amsterdam Vodka wishes it was: Crisp, yet not overly thin-pitched and bitter. Russian Standard Vodka does have a bite, and a mild burn going down, but finishes very smoothly. I took a couple of shots and poured it into my stainless steal shaker with 4 ice cubes. I plopped an olive in my martini glass and did the usual ritual: Shook the vodka vigorously until my fingers were on the verge of frost-bite from the freezing stainless steel and my right arm was about to fall off. I poured the ice-cold, frothy vodka into a martini glass enjoying the way the shadowy olives formed steam inside the icy, transparent liquid. The colder temperature tamed the frontal bitterness of the vodka significantly. As a martini, Russian Standard is crisp, clean and sugar-like with very light overtones of vanilla and almond. Russian Standard vodka has very little caramel or other darker, earthy tones.  Russian Standard is not a complex vodka, but it is infinitely enjoyable and drinkable as a martini and would go very much unnoticed in a desirable way as a mixer. The entire, first martini went down smoother than any other vodka I have ever had. I have to score this one a little bit higher than my previous favorite; Svedka.

Final Rating: 91

Delicious, thin, clean vodka with a light first bite, but a sugary, crisp vanilla finish which makes you crave your second martini.  Russian Standard is the best I’ve had for under $26.00.

  • Taste: 91
  • Smoothness: 91
  • Character: 80
  • After Taste: 91
  • Mixer: 95


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New Amsterdam Vodka

New Amsterdam VodkaHow do you rate New Amsterdam Vodka?  

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[Total: 4 Average: 3.8]

It’s not because I like Cheap Vodka that I couldn’t wait to try New Amsterdam Vodka. For me, really cheap Vodka is Taaka. There are better vodka brands that are still considered cheap by vodka drinkers, where-as Taaka is considered downright undrinkable by some. So how does New Amsterdam Compare? I thought very highly of New Amsterdam Gin and numerous friends agreed that it is a great gin for the price, so this is one I looked forward to trying and because it is priced about 50% higher than Taaka, I anxiously expected it to be notably better than what I would personally consider a, cheap vodka. So, how does New Amsterdam Stand up to a  cheap vodka and for that matter, a better one?

Ringing out the New Year with New Amsterdam Vodka

New Amsterdam Tasting Notes

To me, tasting Vodka is often like hearing musical notes on a staff. Each flavor has its own pitch. The darker, heavier ones are lower on the staff and the crisper, light and thin ones, are higher up on the staff. I Must say that New Amsterdam is a very high-pitched Vodka. It has a very crisp, thin bite to its nose and rings crisper and more bitter on the very first sip. If this does not sound like a ringing endorsement, it is not a bad one either. New Amsterdam has an adjustment period where you have to convince yourself that the thin bitter front isn’t going to go down too harshly. This Vodka is not overly harsh going down, but it does have a very shallow, thin bite that burns the top-end of your palate. It is crisp, thin and sweet, yet not much in the way of complexity or character. I believe that some people rate vodka on how little flavor it has. While Taaka is a truly cheap vodka I think it actually has more character and flavor than the New Amsterdam vodka at nearly half the price. I won’t mistake character and complexity for being an un-smooth vodka. I’ve come to appreciate the darker nose; vanilla, butter, rum and caramel in vodkas like Pearl or even the bargain-based bottom end Taaka. If Taaka and Pearl Vodka are a low A, then the New Amsterdam vodka is a high C above the treble-cleff staff. New Amsterdam is tinny, thin and crisp; not overly smooth, but not overly harsh. New Amsterdam doesn’t make a great martini because its front-end is just too darn bitter for sipping. New Amsterdam Vodka, I project, would make a very good mixer with any type of juice or sweetener because it is too light in flavor to overpower anything that you put in it. Cranberry juice would very easily mask its bitter front end. I also think that New Amsterdam Vodka would make a very good Cosmo when used with Leopold Bros Cranberry Liquer.

New Amsterdam Vodka Rating: 73

  • As a Martini: 68
  • As Shots: 72
  • As Mixer: 78
  • As a Cheap Vodka: 74
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Youngs Double Chocolate Stout

Youngs Double Chocolate StoutA four pack of Youngs Double Chocolate Stout in the 16.9oz cans found it’s way to my home by mistake. I was at a beer and wine store looking at the dark imported beer when I grabbed a 4-pack of the Youngs Stout, thinking I was getting an unusual variety of Guinness. It is close, but not quite the same. This one is made in England. While the size of the can and familiar rattling of the plastic ball is the same as Guinness, the most notable difference is chocolate. I don’t mind hints of dark chocolate and coffee in my stout beers, but I was a little put off by the label which indicates that chocolate flavor is intentionally added to the brew. I prefer beers where the hints of dark chocolate flavoring comes as a natural result of brewing process and aging in the barrel. See my review on Bourbon Barrel Stout. To be honest, I would not have bought the Youngs had I read the label more carefully and had I known it was only 5.5% alcohol as opposed to the hefty 10.3% alcohol level of premium beers like Bourbon Barrel Stout and Woodcutter # 5 by Odell brewing in Fort Collins. England is a good distance away from Fort Collins, Colorado and so is the taste of this interesting beer.

Tasting Notes

The pouring and appearance of Youngs Stout is very similar to Guinness and in the way that the foamy head sticks to the inside of your glass. The aroma of Youngs might make you think you’re about to drink a chocolate milk shake from McDonalds. Milk chocolate, more than beer is the first thing I imagined before the beer touched my lips. While the actual taste of Youngs is a bit chocolaty, it really does taste more like a good dark beer than a chocolate milk shake. The Chocolate Stout has a pleasant, smooth and light taste of vanilla, milk and caramel along with a hint of hershey-like instant chocolate flavoring. It is really not bad, especially if you are a milk chocolate lover and don’t mind it being artificially introduced into your beer. Many of the beer snobs online described a lactose taste in this particular creamy stout beer. I would agree with this perception. Overall, it’s a good beer, but is it a hit?

Ratings: 84 / 100

From 1 – 100, I give Youngs Double Chocolate Stout an 84. It is good, overall, but the chocolate flavoring make it a little bit too sweet for me to consider it among my favorites dark beers or preferred next to a black patent malt.

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Leopold Bros Cranberry Liqueur

leopold bros cranberry liqueurI was recently given a bottle of Leopold Bros Cranberry Liqueur for Christmas. I love to try new liquors, so needles to say, the cork on the cranberry liqueur only lasted until the same evening I brought it home and popped it open for a sample. Though I am not a fan of sweet type drinks or liqueurs, they do have their place; either for mixers or sipping on a cold, winter evening. Leopold Bros is a small batch distillery in Denver, but the cranberry liqueur is made from real cranberries from New England. I was impressed with the 20% alcohol rating on the bottle and thought this might be something I could enjoy either as a splash in my vodka martinis ala cosmopolitan or mixed with bourbon whiskey for a tangier tasting Manhattan. Of course, it can also be drank straight which is how I tried my first sip.

Tasting Notes

I will confess that I didn’t take much time to smell the cranberry liqueur before taking my first sip. As a result, I quickly got a taste somewhat reminiscent of Robitussin cough syrup. It was not all that bad, so I took a step back; cleared the fumes, and swished the cranberry-colored liquid in my glass. My nostrils were filled with the very deep and pleasant sensation of fresh cranberries. Ahh..much better. The next sip tasted as cranberry-like and delicious as its aroma. I loved it. Leopold Bros Cranberry Liqueur would make a great holiday shot or served over ice in a highball glass. It is rich and tart, but very satisfying and refreshing. I immediately though of how well this would go with Vodka in a Cosmopolitan. Instead of diluting the vodka with straight cranberry juice, why not blend it with an alcohol distilled from real cranberries for a much heartier, more robust and tastier Cosmo? I think this cranberry liqueur would also go very well shaken with and poured over crushed ice in a small, whiskey glass. But, there is one other way to enjoy Cranberry Liqueur.

Strong Drink Recipe using Leopold Cranberry Liqueur

I thought bourbon would be the perfect match for a rich, tart and tangy cranberry liqueur and my instincts didn’t disappoint me.

New Recipe for your Martini Glass


  • 1 Part Leopold Bros Cranberry Liqueur
  • 2 Parts Bourbon

Shake ingredients with crushed ice and pour into your martini glass. Add a cherry or orange slice.
Not sure what you’d call this drink, but the

    Leopold Bros cranberry liqueur

mixes really well with Bourbon. A bourbon cranberry splash is a great way to warm up on a cold winter day or evening.

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75 South Whiskey

75 South Whiskey

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[Total: 6 Average: 2.3]

75 South is a lower-shelf, blended whiskey. I picked up a 1.75 Liter bottle of this at a Safeway store in Tucson, Arizona while my wife was shopping for wine for Thanksgiving dinner. I’ll be honest, when I checked out of the store, I still wasn’t sure if I was holding a bottle of bourbon or scotch. The label didn’t exactly go out of its way to explain what this brownish liquor was, either. The bottle simply read, Blended Whiskey.   At $10.99 for a 1.75 Liter bottle, I figured it was a bargain whatever it was and I can drink either bourbon or scotch so the 75 South was worth sampling. The label, 75 South, sort of hinted to me that it tastes a little bit more like something from Kentucky than say, Scotland. There is a section of Interstate 75 South that runs through Tennessee,Kentucky,Georgia and Florida. Does that geography have something to do with its name? The whiskey looked a little darker in color which also made me think of the richer, darker taste of bourbon. I tend to gravitate more towards heavier whisky in the colder months of the season, so I wouldn’t mind having a bottle of bourbon on hand.

75 South Tasting Notes

This is a cheap, blended whiskey so don’t expect me to be overly descriptive. The nose of 75 South definitely suggests bourbon flavor. It is caramel-like with a hint of oak wood and sherry. The front of it tastes like bourbon; maybe a little thinner and with just a hint of maple. I expected the 75 South to have an awfully short-lived and harsh finish, but that wasn’t the case. To be sure, it has a thinner palate than Jim Beam or Maker’s Mark, but it not entirely unsmooth. For the price, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy 75 South for mixing or sipping on the rocks. I rarely like cheap whiskeys unless it’s scotch for mixing Rob Roys, 75 South is actually a bourbon like whiskey that I can enjoy by itself.

75 South Final Rating: 79

On a scale of 1-100, I’d give 75 South whiskey a 79. Prior to this short write-up, I read another, less favorable review which had 75-South rated at 67 out of 100. I don’t understand such a harsh rating on a blended whisky that is not harsh at all. For only $2.00 more, I’d rather drink Ezra Brooks, but 75 South is not a bad tasting whiskey at all.

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