We all have our favorite booze—that spirit we reach for time and time again. The converse is also true—there are spirits we refuse to imbibe no matter what the scenario. Most of the time, there’s a good reason for that bias. Maybe it was a rough night in college or a poorly made cocktail, but there’s probably a first-hand experience that feeds your hatred for a particular spirit.
It’s time to let that hatred go. It might be hard to believe, but just because you imbibed a few too many screwdrivers made with a $10 handle of vodka, doesn’t mean you should write off all of vodka for the rest of your life.
The same goes for tequila, gin, rum and bourbon. You might believe that you’re not a gin person, but we think there’s a gin out there so smooth, it will win you over. Ditto tequila, rum and bourbon. There are alternatives to overly juniper, pine tree flavored gin and set-your-throat-ablaze tequila. The key is sifting through the myriad brands to find the right one for you.
Luckily, we’ve done a lot of the work for you (tough job, I know). Here are a few of my favorite spirits that are so smooth, I think they’ll win you over.
Gin: Nolet’s Silver
There’s more to gin than just the gin and tonic. Available nationwide, this gin from the same Holland-based family that brought us Ketel One Vodka, is floral and fruity without the usual over-the-top juniper flavor profile. The juniper is there, it just doesn’t aggressively sit center stage. The crisp and fruity flavors of peach and berries are the first flavors you’ll notice in this 47.6% gin that is just as good in a cocktail as it is on its own.
Tequila: Suerte Reposado
Sometimes tequila gets a bad wrap. People think of it as a shot or margarita spirit only. One of the hottest spirits in the cocktail world, there’s so much more to tequila than many people realize. Suerta Reposado is an easy drinking, smooth option. This tequila is rested in white oak bourbon barrels for seven months until it takes on a rich, butterscotch like flavor and a light vegetal character. The result is a sipping spirit with none of the harsh burning associated with most cheap tequilas.
Bourbon: Woodford Reserve
Bourbon isn’t just for Southern gentleman. It’s a spirit for everyone. Woodford Reserve is a great choice because of its complex yet balanced presentation across the “Five Areas of Bourbon Flavor” — Sweet Aromatic, Fruit and Floral, Spice, Wood and Grain notes. “Our limestone water adds a minerality that aids in the formation of a floral character,” says Master Distiller Chris Morris. “Our proprietary yeast strain creates a complex array of fruit characteristics during fermentation.” Their distillery’s unique triple distillation process using only copper pot stills helps bring all of these flavors forward. “Maturation in our own custom designed barrels from our own cooperage makes sure that Woodford Reserve has rich, sweet aromatic notes like caramel, vanilla, butterscotch, maple syrup, chocolate and honey as well as a range of fine oak character.”
Vodka: Purity Vodka
Vodka isn’t just for screwdrivers and poor choices these days. For those fearful of harsh vodkas, Purity is for you. Founder and master blender Thomas Kuuttanen loves his vodka. He considers it to be the most pure vodka in the world. The certified organic, ultra-premium vodka is a labor of love that combines both historical and contemporary innovation to create a smooth, pure, vodka that is distilled thirty-four times. During this time, 90% of the liquid is lost, leaving one of the most natural, pure vodkas in the world. This Swedish made juice is perfect for vodka cocktails or on its own, chilled for sipping.
Rum: Sailor Jerry
Sailor Jerry is not only an iconic brand, it’s also a great rum for those who don’t consider themselves to be “rum people”. The rum that bears the name of iconic American tattoo legend, Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, has been growing across America’s dive bars, cocktail bars, and music venues since the mid 2000s. “What is available on back bars and cocktail lists across the U.S. is what was created,” says Sailor Jerry National Brand Ambassador Paul Monahan. Sailor Jerry is a 92 proof, bold, spiced rum that honors sailors and the godfather of tattooing with a cult following of enthusiasts like no other. “It’s an unconventional spiced rum story, with one of a kind events all over, created to pay homage to an iconic American tattoo artist, and it’s growing double digits every year.”