If I want to spend less than $50 on a bottle:
- American Whiskey: Bulleit Rye (~$32.00) You haven't tried a rye? Light, delicious, and perfect for whiskey cocktails. Made from 95% rye mash, and widely considered best in class.
- Scotch Whisky: Glenmorangie 10yo (~$36.00) Your chance to own an industry leader, aged in oak casks that instantly transport you to American deciduous forest. Now made with 30% Astar blend, each vintage gets better and better. Light, unpeated, with lots of creamy citrus and heather.
- Non-whisk(e)y: Martinique Clement VSOP Rum (~$30): If I believed in the word "smooth", I would use it here, but since I don't I'll just say that this is bloody damned marvelous. If you think all good rum comes from a bottle with a pirate on it, think again. I guarantee you that you won't have this bottle long, but at $30 a bottle you can probably deal with that.
If I want to spend no more than $100:
- Ardbeg Uigeadail (~$90): Jim Murray's Single Malt of the Year in 2009, this is your chance to see what sherry maturation does to the "world's peatiest whisky". A cult favorite; a whisky that will leave you trance-like in its fumes, and will knock the pants off your guests. That is, assuming you'd want to see something like that.
- Glenmorangie Nectar D'or (~$68): Considered by fans of the distillery to be the finest expression of Glenmorangie's extra-matured single malts. Jim Murray once famously claimed it was one of the only whiskies that got the Sauternes finish right. This whisky is pure gold: cream, coconut, and unctuous, fruity sweetness. One of the kindest gifts I have ever received.
- Lagavulin 16yo ($72.00): If it's good enough for Ron Swanson, it's good enough for you. This classic expression from one of the most venerable distilleries on Islay is widely considered to be the straight-up smokiest of the Islay "peat monsters". It's also bloody genius. For those that want bragging rights.
These Gaelic names are crazy! If I could get whisky from two distilleries:
Browse Ardbeg and Glenmorangie. Completely opposite flavor profiles, completely amazing accomplishments in the art of distillation and maturation.
If I could add 3 commonly-found whiskies to my collection tonight:
- Ardbeg 10yo
- Glenmorangie Nectar D'or
- Bowmore 15yo Darkest