Whether you are planning an event or just restocking your cabinet, choosing high-quality spirits is a must. With so many different brands out there it is not always easy to tell what is good and what is just popular. In this piece, I am breaking down the most favoured alcoholic beverages and giving you the top tips to choosing the best in each category.
When it comes to vodka most people think it is just for mixing. True Spirit connoisseurs, however, offer some great tips to choosing a premium vodka that you will enjoy tasting in your cocktails.
- Cost – You do not need to spend a lot to pick up a bottle or more of high-quality vodka. There are quite a few brands that are even in the $10-$15 range while the more expensive ones can be found at around $30. Still, compared to tequila these prices are very reasonable.
- Flavour – Vodka has a very signature taste that some people enjoy. Others prefer to use a flavoured vodka to take away some of that potency. Flavoured vodkas come in a wide range from fruity to spicy and even marshmallow.
- Proof – The alcohol content will affect the price and flavour of your vodka. The more alcohol the stronger the vodka taste. While cheaper vodkas tend to have lower alcohol content.
- Preparation – This is an important element to consider as distillation has a huge effect on cost, flavour, and finish of a quality spirit.
Similar to vodka, Gin has experienced a bit of a reputation for having an unpleasant flavour unless mixed. Today, the huge growth amongst millennials who are enjoying gin in and out of cocktails, are proving that Gin has come a long way.
Despite its popularity, Gin actually originated in Holland where the plant that provides its signature Juniper berry flavour hails from. Today, there are so many incredible flavour profiles as Gin provides a lovely backdrop to almost every herb, fruit, botanical, and essence. For the best Gin brands you want to look for the following features:
- Botanicals – too few and your Gin may be flat too many and it can easily get overpowered. Each botanical should complement the other while showcasing the Gin not hiding or fighting with other flavours.
- Distillation – For the best flavour and smoothest finish, look for distilleries like Willem Barentsz, who are committed to only producing distilled small batches. This guarantees a fine finish that should be enjoyable enough to drink neat.
- Know your guests – with its growing popularity, understanding what different gins offer and what your guest prefer is always important. Most will enjoy a dry gin for Martinis, a flavoured Gin, such as Mandarin & Jasmine for cocktails, and a special formula or Rye and Wheat for the perfect neat fix.
Some of the best gin brands out there today will be served at local restaurants and bars alongside cheaper options. Don’t be shy to ask your waiter or bartender to show you the bottle and tell you a little bit about the flavour profile and distillation. Better yet do your research and choose places that carry high-quality Gin, for a spectacular evening out.
We have covered clear liquors up until now but no list would be complete without Whiskey. Whiskey is actually a general term that refers to any liquor created with a grain mash. Depending on grain the colour, flavour, and aroma will differ considerably.
Scotch Whisky must be made in Scotland, otherwise, it is not Scotch. This popular spirit features malted barley and other grains all distilled in a copper pot. Unlike Gin and Vodka, the maturing process plays a large role in whiskey distillation. Scotch should mature for at least three years.
Single vs. Blended
Single malt refers to one that has been made from barley and water in a pot. This allows a nice backdrop for different flavours. Blended on the other hand are two single malts blended together. This creates a smoother and more varied whiskey.
Use these tips to choose the top spirits and best gin brands as well as vodka and whiskey brands. Get ready to have a lot of people want to come over often.