The number one question we get asked is this: "What whiskey should I use in an Eli Mason Old Fashioned?"
Julian Van Winkle once famously said "The better the whiskey, the better the cocktail." In fact, our friends at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee used to purchase single barrels of Pappy Van Winkle 15 year to use in their house cocktails. Let me make one thing clear: I DO NOT ARGUE WITH JULIAN AND BLACKBERRY FARM. 😘 That being said, the correct answer to the question is "The whiskey YOU like!"
The truth is, God made us all with different taste buds. I LOVE some whiskeys that my friends hate, and vice versa! Different strokes for different folks, amiright??!? Some folks prefer bourbon, and others prefer rye whiskey. If you enjoy making your Old Fashioneds with Pappy, and you have shelves full of those 15 year old beauties, THEN DO IT. If you prefer a finished whiskey like Angel's Envy, AWESOME. If you love using a bottom shelf low-proof gem like Evan Williams 1783, then YES YES YES. You do you, and I promise you that Eli Mason will always support YOU.
That being said, in our home, we keep a few "house whiskeys" on hand for making delicious cocktails. If you're still exploring different things to see what you like or don't like, maybe try one of these bottles on for size. Our four "go-tos" are classic and delicious, and pretty easy on the pocketbook. In order of proof, here they are.
Buffalo Trace / Frankfort, KY / 90 Proof / $30
Buffalo Trace is as classic as bourbon gets. Coming in at 90 proof, it is complex and delicious, full of caramel and vanilla and just a hint of spice. It's consistently in the 7-8 year age range, making its $30 price tag a dad-gum bargain. Since it weighs in at just 90 proof, consider increasing the mix-to-whiskey ratio from 2:1 to 2.5:1 or even 3:1 if you're feeling a little froggy.
Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond / Bardstown, KY / 100 Proof / $20
Generally speaking, Bottled-in-Bond whiskeys provide a great value for bourbon lovers. Aged a minimum of 4 years and bottled at 100 proof, Evan Williams BiB is a delicious mid-to-bottom-shelfer that delivers consistent flavor every single time. The extra proof doesn't hurt either. For $20, it's a steal.
Rittenhouse Rye Bottled-in-Bond / Bardstown, KY / 100 Proof / $25
There's that Bottled-in-Bond label again, this time coming with a delicious rye whiskey from the same distillery that brought us Evan Williams (Heaven Hill). Listen, sometimes you want to spice up your Old Fashioned, and if you're in that kind of mood, reach for this classic rye whiskey that should be readily available at your local bottle shop. Creamy butterscotch, dried fruit like plums, mmmmmmmm you are going to love this one. For $25ish, don't pass it up.
Wild Turkey 101 / Lawrenceburg, KY / 101 Proof / $25
There's just something about that dang turkey that speaks to my soul. Jimmy and Eddie Russell, the father and son team at Wild Turkey, well, I'm not sure they can make bad whiskey. On the contrary, they have made some of my favorite whiskeys of all time. Their classic 101 offering is considered a "high-rye bourbon," being comprised of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley. That means it's going to deliver traditional bourbon flavors, with a little "edge" to it. At 101 proof and a $25ish price tag, WT101 is a bottle you should always consider keeping in the cabinet.
I'd love to hear from you! Comment below and let me know what your favorite whiskey is to use in an Old Fashioned. Cheers, y'all!
Christopher H. Thomas / Managing Partner / Eli Mason