Tequila Blanco — Jalisco, MexicoTasted April 7, 2021Hands down the best ultra-budget Tequila on the market. This is super basic. Smells of agave with a whiff of ethanol though not bad for the bottom shelf. Taste is the same. Agave. That's it. Lasts for a few seconds then it's gone. Basic but drinkable. Medium-light ethanol burn. I don't mind it but I do drink a lot. Added an extra .75 points because this stuff is dirt cheap. Excellent value. Use this for your party bowls.
New Amsterdam Pink Whitney
Flavored Vodka — USATasted April 6, 2021I really wanted to like this drink but unfortunately I found it has a few major problems. You can't drink it straight, it's far too sweet for that and cloys easily. Chilling it does little to make it easy to sip. Only by drowning your glass with ice does this approach a good level of sweetness but it's so much ice required to make this mix work. Even then you're left with two problems. The first is that New Amsterdam vodka has a peculiar bitter after taste that just melds together with the bitterness of the pink lemonade making it a weirdly bitter affair despite the persistent sweetness. The second is that both ingredients, the vodka and pink lemonade taste cheap. It doesn't taste too artificial and I can see the appeal but it just wasn't the refreshing drink I was hoping for. Shame.
Maker's Mark Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATasted April 6, 2021I can't get a good handle on the smell. At times it smells wretched, like paint thinner and I'm not the only one of my friends that has commented on it. Other times it's quite pleasant if very simple, smelling of vanilla and corn. Where this Bourbon truly shines though is on the palate. The vanilla is kicks things off before giving you a surprisingly bready-flavor. Almost as if you just bit some fresh bread. Quite yummy! The mid to back palate is that of bitter chocolate before the vanilla finishes us off with just the slightest hints of oak. It's a very tame experience going down smoothly. Quite a great beginner bourbon and excellent candidate to be a daily sipper. Just wish the nose profile was a bit better.
Unflavored Vodka — PolandTasted April 5, 2021Pretty incredible bottom shelf vodka. Got the mini for .99 cents and a 750 mL goes for around $15. Strong grainy scent distinguishes this vodka from bottom shelf ethanol exercises. It's actually quite pleasant, at least as far as vodka smells go. Unlike corn vodkas which have a bit of a sweet if cheap taste this one has a grainy, well-rounded taste on the tongue. Somewhat metallic and bittersweet finish. At first I didn't like the bitter end but as I drank more of it the bitterness grew on me. Astringent is the perfect word for the overall experience albeit it isn't unpleasant and it has a nice mouth feel. Not super watery or oily. Very balanced. This isn't a vodka for everyone but if you're into good bitter flavors this is the way to go and an excellent vodka for the price. Excited to see how it does in a Bloody Mary.
Martell VS Single Distillery
Cognac — Cognac, FranceTasted April 3, 2021Absolutely lovely smell of red berries, maraschino cherries and grapes. Can't sense much else but honestly it has such a fine aroma I'm not mad. Pleasantly sweet on the tongue without cloying, the taste almost reminds me of chocolate covered cherries followed by the berries from the smell.The expert Review identified the berry as raspberry but I'm not entirely sold I'd narrow it down to that. Towards the mid palate you can taste some nice French Vanilla taste. The finish is magnificent with a nice oak and spicy finish that lingers without being unpleasant. Great price point too!
Cutwater Long Island Iced Tea
Ready to Drink — California, USATasted April 3, 2021On the fence about this offering. At first I didn't like it much at all with the tequila seemingly overwhelming all else. But as I sipped on not only did it began to grow on me but I began to appreciate the formidable 13% ABV. This gives you an instant buzz as any respectable LIT should. Unpacking the flavors the tequila, cola & citrus flavors are most prominent with the gin showing up at the finish. The spirits used are of the Cutwater brand so very decent if not outright spectacular and as far as an RTD goes this is actually pretty decent and actually even tastes better than some LITs I've had at less reputable dive bars. After finishing the can I realized what my gripe was. The cola was just on the flat side and a bit artificial. Given it's prominent role in the mix that's a bit of a shame, especially since more carbonation could have gone a long way. Nonetheless if you're looking for a quick way to get buzzed this is a great option and a cut above Monaco RTD's which are my go-to for instant buzz. Don't let my lukewarm review stop you from giving this a go. It gets the job done and definitely tastes as it should.
New Amsterdam Vodka
Unflavored Vodka — California, USATasted April 1, 2021For the price you could do a lot worse. Yet for just a few more dollars you could buy Smirnoff and get an overall better if much more neutral product. It smells strongly of rubbing alcohol yet on the mouth it is fairly smooth. Like Smirnoff this has a texture approximating water albeit this feels oiler and unlike Smirnoff it doesn't finish with a subtle but sweet corn taste but rather a surprisingly harsh and lingering bitterness. Nonetheless that bitterness may not be bad. As the expert Review notes, this may actually enhance some of the spicier Bloody Mary recipes and I will go on the record as saying it makes for more interesting vodka and tonic. All in all a solid cheap vodka that works well when you want a touch of bitterness. Unlike Smirnoff though I wouldn't drink this neat or with just soda water so objectively it's a lesser product though it has its niche. Popov, Smirnoff and New Amsterdam rightfully dominate the bottom shelf vodka market.
Bacardí Gold Rum
Gold Rum — Puerto RicoTasted April 1, 2021This is an extremely weird alcohol. It definitely tastes better than Bacardi Superior which is an exceedingly simple offering. On the nose it smells of caramel, vanilla, and fruit. It also has a more interesting taste with nice woody undertones, a stronger molasses profile than it's white brethren and sugar and caramel rounding out the experience. It definitely packs more of a boozy punch than the Superior but that's not necessarily a good thing. The time in the barrels definitely gives it more character but it hasn't been in the barrels long enough for the flavors to really develop and set in. In a cocktail I imagine that the faint flavors melt away by the other ingredients which functionally wouldn't make it too different from it's White counterpart. There are other offerings, including Bacardi 8, that are able to provide a more robust sipping experience. Which leaves me wondering what role is this supposed to play? If I want something more sophisticated to sip on, why not shelve out $5-7 more dollars for another offering or $10 for the 8 year which has a profoundly more refined experience to savor? Hell, if I want something more boozy why not just add a touch more of Bacardi Superior? I don't want to say this is a bad product because it isn't. It's very drinkable and offers some welcome complexity lacking in Bacardi Superior. It just sits at a weird angle where it's not the best mixer, sipper or shot. I enjoyed drinking it but it isn't a product I'm compelled to have.
Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka
Unflavored Vodka — USATasted March 29, 2021Vodka is already hard enough to review as it's meant to be a neutral, blank slate spirit. Smirnoff is even harder to review because not only is it so ubiquitous, but it leads the pack of cheap vodkas. Do you review it compared to its other cheap brethren or, given it's pervasiveness, against the backdrop of all vodkas? That's no easy question to answer let alone when you consider that Smirnoff is truly one of the most characterless vodkas on the market. Given vodka's lack of flavor texture sticks out. Smirnoff quite literally doesn't have any texture. You could almost be forgiven for mistaking it for water. There is a hint of sweetness towards the end betraying that it is made from corn. I actually didn't know what it was made from until I tasted it and the faintest trace of corn caught my attention. But really, this is remarkably neutral especially for the price point. I will note there is some bitterness at the end as well with a medium lingering burn, the only indicators this is alcohol and not just sweetened water. All in all Smirnoff isn't a bad vodka. It just can't really differentiate itself or bring anything to the table. That may not be a bad thing at all. After all, vodka is *meant* to be neutral. Put this thing in the freezer and you can take shots to your heart's content. At this point whether you spend more money just depends on how much you want to lessen the burn when it goes down.
Jack Daniel's Old No. 7
Tennessee — Tennessee, USATasted March 29, 2021What can possibly be said about Jack Daniel's that hasn't been said before? It's an iconic brand and many people's first taste of what Whisky can do. Though technically not a bourbon it has the characteristic sweetness that defines the category to the point many people are surprised to find out it isn't technically one. But does it hold up? The answer is a bit mixed. This is a no-frills whisky. Don't expect any complexity, subtle flavors or anything challenging, though it is by far more sweet than it's competitors, no doubt contributing to its legendary status. On the nose you get vanilla & caramel with the smell of corn being the most prominent. It tastes almost exactly like what it smells though the standout taste is that of candied corn. I wasn't kidding when I said this is a very sweet whisky. It is a bit rough around the edges though as the sweetness can't quite hide some of the burn. Still, this is always a fun drink to have on hand. Nonetheless it does feel pricey. Similar bottom shelf brands probably have more or less to offer for $5 or so dollars less. At this price range that is a fairly meaningful distinction. Personally I will never turn down some Jack's and quite enjoy it but I will concede that when I buy it I do feel like I'm spending just a tad more than I should for what I'm getting.