I'm thirsty just writing this
December 23, 2012 12:26 PM   Subscribe

Alkies of AskMe! Please recommend me a scotch, rum, bourbon or other whisk(e)y for a man who loves dark beers.

A friend of mine loves rich, dark beers, and I want to get him a bottle of something harder for Christmas. He loves stouts, porters, and all of the stronger/imperial variants thereof. He doesn't really love other beers and drinks these more or less exclusively.

I would appreciate recommendations for any distilled spirit that you think would be good. He doesn't really drink hard stuff right now other than the occasional glass of Maker's. I was thinking maybe a good dark or aged rum?

I could spend $40-80 USD.
posted by Aizkolari to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a big fan of dark beers as well and stand behind Noah's Mill as my go-to Bourbon.
posted by starscream at 12:39 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would think, based on beer preferences, that your friend might prefer a smokey, peaty scotch. I like Oban a lot, Lagavulin is also a nice one. Basil Hayden is a very nice high end bourbon if you want to go that way. (either would be a gift I'd be very happy to receive!)
posted by supermedusa at 12:40 PM on December 23, 2012

Maker's is the bourbon with training wheels-- by far the most accessible bourbon. Upgrade him to Four Roses (more budget friendly, but only at the moment-- it's underpriced in general) or Woodford Reserve for good bourbon.

Bourbon is, IMO, also the most friendly to beer drinkers, and you'll find plenty of dark beers have served time in a bourbon cask.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:46 PM on December 23, 2012

Bourbon. Go a step up from Makers and get him Woodford Reserve, Bulleit, or maybe Knob Creek.
posted by Sara C. at 1:12 PM on December 23, 2012

My partner suggests Buffalo Trace as a good next step from Maker's.
posted by Carravanquelo at 1:13 PM on December 23, 2012

Your heart is in the right place, but may I recommend you get him the rum/whiskey/etc. that you like best? Because generally with alcohol, you give what the other person likes, not what you think they should like. If they love white Zinfandel, you get them the best damn white Zin you can, not a hearty red Zin. Same thing here. You're likely to be served whatever you give (since you aren't giving what he likes), so you might as well pick what you like to drink.

This is doubly true if you aren't sure about differences. There's a mighty big difference between a sweet, wheated bourbon (that would be Makers Mark) and smokey, peaty scotch. Like, a lot of people will drink one and absolutely not touch the other. Heck, there's a huge difference between bourbon and beer! Maybe he orders Maker's Mark just because it's an easy name to remember, has a distinctively cool bottle, and is available anywhere... hardly the markers of a die-hard bourbon lover (even though, yes, it is delicious).

So, what hard liquor do you like best? That's the one!
posted by Houstonian at 1:31 PM on December 23, 2012

So, what hard liquor do you like best? That's the one!

Just be careful here. I once bought my friend a bottle of Maker's for his birthday. Turned out he doesn't drink bourbon. After a year or so on the shelf he ended up giving it to me to drink, then took back the bottle because he liked having it on his shelf.
posted by InsanePenguin at 1:36 PM on December 23, 2012

(InsanePenguin: That was exactly my point.)
posted by Houstonian at 1:39 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Vizcaya rum is considered by my social circle of Gulf Coast sailors to be the rum to beat.
posted by zjacreman at 1:44 PM on December 23, 2012

It's not amazing, but if your friend likes Rogue Dead Guy, they make a whiskey as well as their beer. And they will mail it to you.
posted by Phredward at 1:57 PM on December 23, 2012

Used to be bourbon saleswoman here. The description of dark beers and the fact that he already likes Makers Mark makes me think he might be interested in a more obscure bourbon called Angel's Envy. It is bourbon that's been aged in port wine barrels and it has a very distinctive taste. Not everyone likes it because it is just a touch syrupy-sweet, but I think a stout and porter drinker might enjoy it greatly.

Also, the bottle is absolutely gorgeous. A set of feathered wings is outlined on the back side and you can see it through the bourbon. It's right around 80 dollars, I think.
posted by sunnichka at 2:01 PM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva would fit the bill. Dark, heavy, sweet and absolutely divine.
posted by veryape at 2:13 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

If he likes hearty stouts, you might try him on scotch. Not necessarily an Islay malt right away--those are the smokiest and peatiest--but perhaps a Highland or Speyside malt. Glenmorangie? Oban? Ben Nevis has a few really great malts on the sweeter side.

Or you could always go with a nice blended. Maybe Johnnie Walker Black or Green. Not Red, as that's the low-end stuff and not terribly good, and not Gold or Blue unless you're feeling really generous.* But you can usually find Black for about $40-50 and Green in the $75 range.

*Both of those are usually held behind the counter at liquor stores, if they're in stock at all. A fifth of Johnny Walker Blue generally runs north of $200.
posted by valkyryn at 2:20 PM on December 23, 2012

We are a family of very dark beer lovers and also fans of Islay (sp?) scotches, which are dark, rich, and kind of....volcanic? They taste like someone set fire to mud. The current house favorite scotch is Ardberg Ugedahl (helpfully butchered spelling!) which retails for about $75 and is easily available and it's great and it has a fancy presentation. House favorite bourbon is Knob Creek, which retails around $35 and smells like what you'd get if you set fire to a cowboy and a bag of oranges.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:25 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

He might like the Bowmore 15 Darkest. It's an Islay that's been sherry-casked for a couple of years. It's a much softer smoke/peat than other Islays, and has a sweetness not unlike Maker's, though more complex. For some reason, I feel like if he likes Old Rasputin (I do), he'll like this Bowmore (as do I).
posted by rtha at 3:41 PM on December 23, 2012

Nthing that the Rogue brewery (which makes some yummy dark beers) makes some good spirits - whiskey and gin for sure, maybe others? - that might be good for crossover. Otherwise, bourbon!
posted by ista at 4:12 PM on December 23, 2012

Black rum is the bomb diggity and I think its dark richness is a lot closer to stout than peaty whiskey is. (I have only one data point: me. I like stout and I'll have nothing to do with peaty whiskey.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:02 PM on December 23, 2012

Rum - Thomas Tew. Distilled in Newport, RI, just like the rums of the golden age of pirates. A rich and complex molasses flavor. If he doesn't like molasses, avoid like thee deadly plague.

Bourbon - Get a Tennessee whisky instead. Jack Daniels has the complexity a distilled spirits newbie is after.

Scotch - Tricky. If he likes the raunchier, harder porters, go for Laphroaig 10. If he's into the smoother, subtler dark beers, Glenfiddich 18 is the way to go for someone starting out.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:07 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love stouts and porters, but I tend not to drink harder stuff. That said, I found rum to be the most drinkable of the lot. Some friends gave me a bottle of Captain Morgans Special Reserve, and the vanilla and spice to it is quite nice. The best rum I've had was Zacappa, which I had a sample of at duty free while waiting for a plane. It's the thing that made me realize there was a hard liquor I might enjoy.

That said, I can't stand scotch. I've tried some really, really good stuff (Highland Park 21, some high end Japanese scotches) and they all tasted like wet dirt to me. I had Makers Mark recently, and I think it's something I could become accustomed to, though it laid me out the next day.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:32 PM on December 23, 2012

I would recommend a bottle of Booker's. It's really good bourbon and you can get it in a cool looking wooden gift box. I actually bought one of these for a bourbon lover in my family this year.

Here is what it looks like.

I found it at a liquor store in KY for about 50 bucks.
posted by adustum at 2:51 PM on December 24, 2012

As someone who loves stouts and porters and prefers them to all other kinds of beer, I wanted to add to people saying to trust your own taste rather than try to guess what he'll like - while there's an obvious similarity between the harsh taste of an imperial stout and a peaty scotch, it won't necessarily transfer. I'd love the stout but I simply can't drink peaty whiskeys and I prefer the extremely un-peaty Redbreast.
posted by 23 at 1:37 AM on December 25, 2012

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