Copperpot’s Whisky Buyer’s Guide Vol. 3

Sam @ Copperpot Bar

Copperpot’s Whisky Buyer’s Guide Vol. 3


The final installation of our Whisky buyer’s guide focuses on drams from much, much farther afield. We’re going to start with rich, buttery American whiskies and then finish on some incredible Japanese expressions.

I suppose, before we dive into American whiskies we ought to have a chat about mixers. We strongly believe that whatever you do with your booze is completely up to you, and that drinking a whisky on its own isn’t for everyone. The only thing we will say, is that you’re going to struggle to tell the difference between some of these if you drown them in cola. Our advice would be to try them in a cocktail, of which there are plenty of recipes on our blog, try them neat, over ice and then finally with cola to see what works for you.

After all, it’s your whiskey, you enjoy it in the way you like best.

Now, by far the most famous of the American whiskies, at least here in Europe is Jack Daniel’s. We’re certainly not here to bash JD, it’s a great product and will likely be the gateway for many, many Europeans discovering American whiskey. What we’d like to show, however, is that there’s a lot more to stateside whiskey than Jack. Below, we’ve picked a few of what we consider to be standout drops that wont break the bank.

Carrying on from what we’ve said above, this category is realistically for someone who enjoys the following:

  • Jack Daniel’s

  • Jack Daniel’s

  • Jack Daniel’s

Obviously there are plenty of people who enjoy other American whiskies, but the vast majority of people who will benefit from this part of this article will be buying for a JD drinker so without further ado, here’s a few suggestions:


Woodford Reserve

How much is it?

Approx £30

What’s it like?

Wonderfully versatile, this really is a whiskey that can do everything. It’s equally at home on the rocks, as a boilermaker with a beer, mixed into a cocktail or even with cola, there really isn’t anywhere this doesn’t shine.

It’s got great complexity, body and balance at an amazing price so it’s a fantastic first foray into new American whiskies as well as a great staple to come back to time and again.


Rittenhouse Rye

How much is it?

Approx £35

What’s it like?

Rittenhouse has been our preferred choice of rye whiskey for years now. Rye brings a wonderful, rich spice to any whisky in which it’s used and straight rye is the spiciest and most exciting of all. Bottled at a sock-rocking 50% ABV it’s got some real guts so perhaps cut your measures down a little if you’re used to regular 40% stuff.

Rye is an old-fashioned style of whiskey, and as such this is a fantastic way to explore a new take on something you thought you knew.


Elijah Craig Small Batch

How much is it?

Approx £40

Whats it like?

This is an opulent drop if there ever was one. Similar in style to the Woodford Reserve we mentioned earlier but with a slightly higher corn content, it’s big and creamy with lots of apple strudel and honey qualities. It’s a little weightier on the palate than the two we’ve mentioned previously and as such would be a great choice for someone who prefers their whiskey straight or with a cube or two.

It’s not all softness and delicacy though, there’s plenty of spice and complexity here for those who go looking for it however.

Now, as ever, it’s time for something a little bit expensive and something that’s not a whiskey at all.


Pappy Van Winkle (any expression)

How much is it?

£70 upwards

What’s it like?

Pappy Van Winkle is a little bit legendary. Produced and released in famously small batches, it’s nigh impossible to get hold of. People queue for hours in the states to get their hands on a bottle, and bars contact their regulars when it comes into stock. As such, pricing will be based on how much there is when you try to get hold of it, we’d love to give you a definitive number but we simply can’t.

The expressions range from a 10yr Old Rip Van Winkle, all the way up to an ancient 23 year bottling. Any of these are considered real collectors items. Having been lucky enough to try them all, we can safely say that they live up to the hype. Staggering complexity, rich mouthfeel and an exquisite finish make this a feature of any whiskey drinker’s bucket list.


Remy Martin VSOP

How much is it?

Approx £35

What’s it like?

Brandy has gone out of fashion of late, partly due to the simply staggering prices attached to some of the older Cognacs. Remy Martin VSOP however is really the gold standard for affordable cognac, it’s soft and smooth with a huge range of floral notes you simply wont find in a grain spirit.

It’s a much gentler beast than the whiskies you’ll find in this guide but it will hit all of the bases a whiskey drinker wants it to with an added touch of class.


Finally, we wanted to give an honourable mention to a couple of excellent Japanese whiskies. Japanese whiskies incorporate centuries of Scottish know-how and whisky making techniques, incorporating the classic Japanese qualities of refinement and technical brilliance.

Any liquid which is aged for a decade in any given place will come away with aspects of that place indelibly marked into its flavour profile and these are no exception. Whilst heavily populated, Japan is home to places of beautiful, untamed nature and these whiskies carry that with them from distillery to glass.

Unfortunately, drinking Japanese whisky is an expensive past-time, so our selection is going to aim to steer you towards good value for money, whilst still showcasing excellent liquids. There’s loads out there, but these are a good place to start.

We’re not going to give you a “if you like this then you’ll like these” section for Japanese whiskies as they have a tendency to delight and fascinate drinkers of all types and any of these will make a brilliant gift. Generally speaking, they have more in common with Scotch than perhaps Bourbon or Irish, but if you’ve liked anything we’ve written about previously then you’ll like something below.


Suntory Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve

How much is it?

Approx £55

What’s it like?

Yamazaki is probably the most recognisable name in Japanese whisky, it was the first expression that really came to the fore when we were still behind the bar every single day. Aged in a wide variety of oak with a mixture of peated and non-peated malts there’s a lot going on here.

There’s notes of red berries as well as tropical fruits which are supported by a subtle smokiness (nothing like you’d find in an Islay) and all of these flavours sit around a subtle, honeyed malty centre. You could drink bottles and bottles of this and never have it quite figured out. We definitely recommend it.


Suntory Hibiki Harmony

How much is it?

Approx £65

What’s it like?

A descendant of the whisky advertised by Bill Murray in the movie “lost in translation”, Hibiki Harmony is a wonderfully rounded liquid. Partially aged in plum wine casks, there’s plenty of depth and stone fruit flavours although the overall flavour profile is perhaps a little lighter than the Yamazaki mentioned previously focusing on more citrus and chocolatey notes it’s a little more easy-drinking.


Togouchi Blended

How much is it?

Approx £40

What’s it like?

This is a quite different style of Japanese whisky in that the malt whisky comes from Scotland and the grain whisky comes from Canada to be blended in Japan to a Japanese palate. This is the lightest, cleanest liquid in our Japanese section, dealing in subtlety and delicacy rather than big, punchy wood or grain flavours. Notes of almond and gentle vegetal notes make this really different from anything else on offer.

This is truly a modern whisky of the world, and a wonderful example of what the meeting of cultures can do for some of our best-loved traditions.


Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt

How much is it?

Approx £55

What’s it like?

The final whisky of our whisky buyer’s guide comes from what we would consider to be Japan’s second whisky producer, Nikka. This is another blend but couldn’t be farther from the Togouchi above. If the Togouchi deals in lightness and delicacy, the Taketsuru is far darker with flavours of rich stone fruit, tobacco and coffee.

This is what we would call a late-night dram, perfect for the end of a heavy dinner or at the business end of an event or party.


We know that the sheer variety of whiskies available can be intimidating, doubly so if you aren’t a whisky drinker yourself so we hope that our whisky buyer’s guide has helped clear away some of the mystery surrounding them. We’d love to write more of these guides in future but if you have a specific request then get in contact and we’ll see what we can do.

We are looking to put out a shiny .Pdf version of this guide over the next couple of weeks. It will be sent out first to subscribers on our mailing list and then released to everyone else afterwards. Feel free to print it or maybe include it with the bottle of Whisky you chose as a gift.

We’d love to know what you think of our whisky buyer’s guide, you can let us know across social media platforms using @copperpotbar. If you bought a gift using our guide and the recipient loved it, we want to hear about it too!!

As much as we love writing, our calling is in events and consultancy, so if you know a drinks business or bar that needs a new menu, an event putting on or managing send them our way. Even better if you’ve got a party coming up and you want to really pull out all the stops we’re here to help. You can enquire through the website or contact Sam directly on Sam@copperpotbar.com.

Enjoy your dram, whatever it might be.

Sam and Copperpot Bar

Photo Credit: Adam Wilson

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