Bourbon, scotch and whiskey that's sweet instead of oaky?
March 29, 2012 1:31 PM   Subscribe

Bourbon, scotch and whiskey that's sweet instead of oaky?

I find virtually every whiskey to be so oaky and bitter that it's simply unpalatable to me.

So, I'm looking for a spirit in the whiskey family that's sweet instead of oaky.

Yes, I know I could just mix a cocktail, or just stick with rum. But I'm looking for a base whiskey with a different profile.
posted by Cool Papa Bell to Food & Drink (43 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried Irish whiskeys? Most of them are not oaked, and Jameson's in particular is on the sweet side.
posted by briank at 1:34 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bourbon is typically on the sweeter side. Try some Bulleit, it's a great value for mixing that's not difficult or offensive.
posted by kcm at 1:35 PM on March 29, 2012

Scotch: Glenrothes, Dalwinnie.

Bourbon - try Elijah Craig.
posted by subtle-t at 1:36 PM on March 29, 2012

Best answer: This one was much too sweet for me - I don't like the sweeter whiskeys, but it might work for you.

Jack Daniels' Tennessee Honey, however, is bloody fantastic. It's bourbon with a bit of honey liqueur, so it's not "sweet" in the way of sweeter whiskeys, it's actually sweet. Totally replaces bourbon and coke for me.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:36 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Canadian Whisky--I'm thinking of Crown Royal specifically--tastes on the sweet side to me.
posted by Paquda at 1:36 PM on March 29, 2012

I find ryes in general to be a bit more sweet than most.

You could also forgo whiskey and try brandy.
posted by General Malaise at 1:36 PM on March 29, 2012

To echo Paquda - Canadian whiskys are almost all ryes.
posted by General Malaise at 1:37 PM on March 29, 2012

Woodford Reserve is my general recommendation for a sweeter bourbon, but my personal favorite is the Bulleit Rye neat with a splash of water. It really brings out the sweetness and flavor.
posted by Jawn at 1:38 PM on March 29, 2012

Midleton Very Rare, an Irish whiskey made by Jameson, is sweet and SOOOOOO good. Pricey though.
posted by Boogiechild at 1:45 PM on March 29, 2012

Crown Royal is my choice.
posted by Jurbano at 1:46 PM on March 29, 2012

The Bourbon Observer is a good blog for bourbon reviews. I think if you take a flip through it will point you to the right brands.
posted by subtle-t at 1:50 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

When I'm hunting for a scotch, I'm usually not looking for something that I would describe as sweet, really... so I'd probably lean towards the bourbon spectrum (I've found the bourbons I've tried to all be what I would consider sweet) or try a Canadian whisky, as the General and Jurbano suggest. Remeber to try a little bit of everything when figuring out what you do and don't like - nobody has your tastebuds but you!
posted by Yzerfan at 1:54 PM on March 29, 2012

Maker's Mark. Bourbon is typically known as being sweeter.
posted by uncannyslacks at 2:03 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

You might like Cabin Fever. It's made with maple syrup. It's actually pretty delicious and not as weird or gross as it sounds, but more than just a little gets to be too much.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:03 PM on March 29, 2012

For scotch, try Glenrothes.

For Irish, Redbreast 12 or 15.
posted by Kafkaesque at 2:11 PM on March 29, 2012

Whiskeys are made with different ratios of corn, rye, and other grains. In general the more corn, the sweeter. Bourbon is high in corn.
posted by willbaude at 2:17 PM on March 29, 2012

I was going to suggest Southern Comfort, but apparently that's not even made with real bourbon anymore, just "whiskey flavoring." So...I guess George Dickel is probably the sweetest bourbon I usually keep on hand, although there are probably sweeter ones out there. Dickel's pretty nice, though.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:28 PM on March 29, 2012

Mmmmm... Bourbon.

I really love Bulleit, Temperance and Buffalo Trace. The Kirkland brand bourbon is pretty good too.
posted by anoirmarie at 2:31 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maker's Mark for bourbon.

Bunnahabhain 12yo for Scotch (the 18yo is REALLY peaty, but the 12yo was described by Michael Jackson as a "desssert scotch").
posted by IAmBroom at 2:43 PM on March 29, 2012

Glenmorangie Nectar D'or is definitely sweeter for a scotch.
posted by jetlagaddict at 2:48 PM on March 29, 2012

New York Apple Whiskey.
posted by jcrcarter at 2:50 PM on March 29, 2012

Excellent scotch suggestion in Dalwhinnie. As for bourbon, I recommend Pure Kentucky
posted by smirkette at 2:50 PM on March 29, 2012

Dalwhinnie's one of the driest malts I know, subtle-t.

Sweet Scottish whiskies: Glengoyne (it's unpeated), Invergordon (single grain, so basically a Scottish bourbon).
posted by scruss at 2:51 PM on March 29, 2012

I found Caol Ila unpeated to be both sweet and sharp. Clynelish is sweet and kind of fruity and the distiller's edition from Oloroso casks is richer still which might be more in line with what you're looking for. I do like very peaty whiskies though so the sweetness I'm tasting is relative to the likes of Laphroaig.
posted by freya_lamb at 3:18 PM on March 29, 2012

Scapa 16, made, as the woman who first introduced it to me, "by three guys in a shed on the Orkneys". This is actually possible to find fairly widely, but it's not that cheap.

Tobermory is a bit harder to find---some years it doesn't get off the island (and they don't seem to have a webpage). It is a soft, sweet drink, well worth the trouble to seek out. Larger shops will often have it, though it's not available at the duty free at Heathrow, sadly.

It's a little bit more obscure, but my hands-down favourite whiskey is the 1998 cask strength from the New Zealand Whisky Company. It can only be had from the distillery and is now getting pricy, but it's like drinking honey refined to its essence. It's what Whisky liqueurs should taste like, but never do.
posted by bonehead at 3:43 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

To echo Paquda - Canadian whiskys are almost all ryes.

They're called Rye more out of convention than actual fact, as most Canadian whiskeys are based on corn spirits.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:50 PM on March 29, 2012

Oh, also, if you can find it, the rye from Okanagan Spirits of BC is a light spicy rye with sweet notes. It was formerly known as McLoughlin & Steele Rye Whisky, and seems to still be available in the BC Liquor stores by that name, though the distillery has stopped producing it under that name. We were able to get a few bottle by writing to them, apparently they're going to relaunch it again soon under a new name, but you can get it now from them directly. Their Canados (crab apple calvados) is well-worth trying too.
posted by bonehead at 3:53 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Drambuie, yum yum.
posted by superfish at 3:59 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh oh! I know this one! (well mostly on the bourbon - southern state whiskey side)

I'm in the same taste palette, my bourbon of choice is Rowan's Creek (link to wikipedia becauase I can't reach the sight right now) which has a nice complex flavor while still maintaining a very nice smoothness (I like smooth more then sweet). If I can't find that I'll lean towards Basil Hayden's (of the top shelfs) or Makers. I also tried Dickel No. 12 Tenessee Whiskey lately and found that quite palatable for a $20 bottle (Rowan's is about $35).

Note I'd stay away from Bookers or Rowan's expensive sibling Noah's Creek both have a lot more smoke and oak.
posted by bitdamaged at 4:46 PM on March 29, 2012

I'm a smoky scotch guy, but my dad is a sweet scotch guy and he swears by the Balvenie DoubleWood. It's not my style, but it's good. Might be for you.
posted by Scientist at 4:47 PM on March 29, 2012

I meant to say: I would say that Balvenie DoubleWood is about as sweet at rum and not terribly smoky, oaky, or peaty but is still recognizably scotch and still definitely good scotch.
posted by Scientist at 4:49 PM on March 29, 2012

I have been liking Woodford Reserve a lot lately. Very mellow, sweet boubon, and pretty easy to find.
posted by St. Sorryass at 5:09 PM on March 29, 2012

Elijah Craig 18 tastes like honey and unconditional love.
posted by weaponsgradecarp at 6:24 PM on March 29, 2012

Rittenhouse Rye has a definite molasses-y flavor - it's my favorite spirit to drink straight.
posted by twoporedomain at 7:41 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding Buffalo Trace bourbon. It's not at all bitter or oaky--it tastes smoothly autumnal, with a touch of maple? Delightful. It's perfectly pleasant to drink neat, on the rocks, or in mixed drinks (my favorite is to mix it with fresh pressed cider for a Stonewall). At my house, we also drizzle it over good vanilla ice cream for a treat. Even my self-avowed whiskey-hating friends love it.
posted by anonnymoose at 8:54 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Balvenie was mentioned above, but the 21-year PortWood is sweeter than the DoubleWood. Also, as I've mentioned previously, try the Auchentoshan Three Wood.
posted by Rat Spatula at 8:57 PM on March 29, 2012

Prichard's Double Chocolate Bourbon. It's really unbelievable, and exactly what you're looking for.
posted by raisingsand at 9:42 PM on March 29, 2012

Best answer: Most of the flavoring in a whiskey comes from the aging process.

You could try an unaged whiskey. I like Woodinville White's sweet and has a bit of a sharp bite but it's quite lovely, IMHO.
posted by luneray at 6:24 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

superfish has a point-- you might be in the market for a whisky-based liqueur such as Drambuie. There's also Yukon Jack and any of the newish honey-bourbons.

And there are plenty of sweet or moderately sweet whisky or bourbon-based cocktails-- The Old-Fashioned and the Manhattan are largely moderated by the dry vermouth and the bitters, but the Sazerac and the De La Louisianne are more desserty.

And as luneray suggests, you could try some white whisky, which has never touched oak. I like Midnight Moon, based on a geniune 'shine recipe, on ice, but I wouldn't hesitate to drink Woodinville White Dog or some of the new Washington whiskies cropping up since the distilling laws changed a few years ago (and a few years before that in Oregon-- Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey, anyone?).

Just a warning on white whisky-- it has its own form of drunk, one that creeps up and then swallows you whole. Mild hangovers, though, if any.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:52 AM on March 30, 2012

I can't drink the stuff myself because it's TOO sweet, but you might love the Wild Turkey American Honey.
posted by jbickers at 7:20 AM on March 30, 2012

The answers here vary a lot in terms of their definition of "sweet". There are definitely lots of scotches adn bourbons that go for a rounder, carmely taste, but you might find that that doesn't get rid of what you see as the excessive bitterness of the main offerings. It's worth trying both Drambuie, which is literally sweet and has a little orange-rind edge (but is scotch whiskey underneath) and B&B, which is a blend of brandy and a sweet liquor (Benedictine) -- it has a pleasant herbal taste.

Good luck!
posted by acm at 7:48 AM on March 30, 2012

I don't like wine and spirits with a pronounced oaky taste at all either. Bourbons are pretty much right out for me beyond a wee taste. I despise Canadian whiskey. But I sure can drink a lot of Tullamore Dew.
posted by desuetude at 8:44 PM on April 2, 2012

Response by poster: Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey is wonderful, thanks for the suggestion. It's exactly what I was imagining I wanted. I also tried the Woodinville Whiskey, as the distillery/tasting room is literally a block from my office; up until this thread, I hadn't heard of it. The Woodinville was very, very good; that's next on my list to buy.

But goddamn, the Tennessee Honey tastes dangerous. I could like this too much.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:44 PM on April 2, 2012

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