Summer is upon us and that calls for an easily made cocktail on a warm summer evening on the porch.  I like an Old Fashioned cocktail when it is made correctly. You can find some recipes at my blog on the old fashioned cocktail. In my opinion, you should never muddle fruit in the bottom of the glass. If you muddle the orange, the peel releases a bitter taste that I don’t like, the orange slice and cherry should be used as a garnish, but not muddled. A good whiskey is also needed. It needs to be a whiskey that is full bodied and flavorful so that it stands up to the sweetness of the simple syrup and the fruit. These flavors need to compliment the whiskey, not over power it. I have picked five whiskeys that make an excellent old fashioned cocktail. They are all full of flavor and have a higher proof. These whiskeys hold their own in the cocktail.

  • Henry McKenna Ten Year Old Bottled-in-Bond: This whiskey is a full bodied whiskey and at 100 proof, it stands up well to the other ingredients in the cocktail. It can be hard to find in the liquor store, but if you do find a bottle, pick it up for your next old fashioned cocktail.
  • Maker’s Mark Private Select: This whiskey makes an excellent old fashioned cocktail. The barrel stave selection will vary based upon who made the selection, but I have found that they all make great old fashioned cocktails. I have picked a bottle selected by the “Bourbon Board of Directors” from the old Party Mart liquor store. It is full bodied and has five roasted French mocha staves that give the cocktail a nice chocolate note. You can no longer get this bottle, but any other Private Select bottle will give your cocktail a lot of interesting flavors that you will enjoy.
  • Michter’s Sour Mash Whiskey: I love the caramel and butter scotch flavors in this whiskey. These flavors come through in the cocktail without making it too sweet. It is an excellent choice for an old fashioned cocktail.
  • Old Forester 100 Proof: This Bourbon has always been one of my favorite whiskeys for an old fashioned cocktail. The 100 proof version has a bit more caramel and apple flavor than the 86 proof expression of Old Forester. The cocktail is fruity as the result. Old Forester is easy to find and is very reasonably priced.
  • Kentucky Peerless Bourbon: Peerless has a low barrel entry proof of 107 and they bottle all their whiskey at barrel proof. This means the whiskey will be anywhere from 107 to 111 proof. This extra proof will gives the whiskey a full bodied flavor that works well in an old fashioned cocktail.

Try any of these whiskeys in your next old fashioned and you will be glad you did so. They are all great whiskeys that can be enjoyed neat as well as in a cocktail. Just remember that better whiskeys make better cocktails. These whiskeys are a bit more expensive than your 80 proof whiskeys that many people use to make old fashioned cocktails, but you will find that they also make better tasting old fashioned cocktails.

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller