Fortunately, for those looking to diversify their cold-weather options, there are other spirits out there that can give you just as many wintry feels as whiskey. Several aged spirits provide similar aromas and flavors and can be substituted for unique spins on traditional whiskey cocktails.
“Whiskey can be overpowering,” says Reiniel Vicente, master blender of Bayou Rum, noting aged rum’s versatility as a sipper or alternative in an Old Fashioned. Other options for whiskey drinkers include tequila, brandy, and even gin.
The next time your trusty whiskey bottle runs dry, or you just feel like varying your routine, consider one of these five whiskey alternatives instead. You won’t be disappointed.
Rum: Bayou Rum Select
A rum that was pretty much made for whiskey drinkers, Bayou Rum Select is aged in American white-oak barrels formerly used for bourbon. Pour a glass neat and, if you didn’t know it, you might think you were sipping Kentucky’s finest, not a Louisiana-born rum. Its warm, fruity flavors are complemented by delicate notes of toasted oak.
Tequila: Casa Noble Single Barrel Extra Anejo
This aged tequila is aged in lightly charred, French oak barrels for a warm, rich flavor profile. The result is smooth, with none of the vegetal notes of unaged tequilas (or the bite of inexpensive bottles). Plus, it’s pretty cool that tequilero and Casa Noble founder Pepe Hermosillo signs and numbers each bottle personally.
One of the more interesting spirits to come out of Nashville’s Corsair label is this barrel-aged gin. Part of the “Experimental Collection,” the gin is aged for six months in charred American oak barrels previously used for spiced rum. The result is a clear spirit with an oaky, spicy flavor with hints of cinnamon, orange peel, and clove alongside traditional notes of juniper and coriander.
Copper & Kings makes its grape and apple brandies in Louisville, Kentucky, the heart of bourbon country. Part of its process includes “sonic” aging, meaning it plays rock music in the cellar to aid the maturation of its product. (Hey, whatever works.) Its Butchertown Brandy features a blend of distiller reserve casks and is aged in bourbon barrels. The result has a lot of the warm, round notes of bourbon, with hints of berries and other fruits woven throughout.
Cognac is a natural fit for whiskey fans. The traditional Cognac barrel-aging process, in Limousin/Troncais oak, brings out the sort of rich, caramel flavors most of us associate with whiskeys. Sipping a snifter from Cognac titan Remy provides notes of vanilla, caramel, and stone fruits.