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To most people cheap whiskey brings to mind images of some scraggly, poorly-washed individual named Rooster Cogburn or Dirty Pete sitting on the corner of 56th and 6th, wallowing (or reveling) in their own drunkenness and filth. Now, I wouldn’t actually want to venture a guess as to what would make someone a cheap whiskey expert, but having stared at the bottom of many a variety of plastic half-gallon bottles, I feel qualified to share some knowledge discovered during one of my many escapades that ended with me shirtless and vomiting.
There are only two ways to drink this brown paint thinner: in a mixed drink or straight from the bottle, the latter being the preferred method. To help you choose the best whiskey, I’ve developed a rating system to compare the variations of our favorite cheap liquor.
Price: Cost of a handle in the tri-state area
Bottle Hangover Index: This ranks the severity of your hangover after drinking a fifth in one sitting, with the scale ranging from most severe at 10 to mild at 1.
Gag Reflex Index: This index describes your desire to gag when drinking the whiskey straight out of the bottle, on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being undrinkable out of the bottle and 1 being just a remarkable burning sensation.
Classiness Index: Just kidding, none of this hobo juice is classy.
Based on my personal experience, I made the decision to never drink cheap Scotch again, however others have yet to make my mistakes. In general, though, Scotch is not exactly cheap, since the production techniques for Scotch are inherently expensive. But still, some less than desirable batches are out there for your drinking (dis)pleasure.
My grandfather used to drink this stuff back in the day when men were men and women didn’t speak until spoken to. The stuff is alright, but if you have too much of it, you’ll probably go colorblind.
Hangover Index: 7.5; could be worse.
Gag Reflex: 4.5; drinkable.
This is the swill that put me off of the cheap stuff. It’s the worst hangover I’ve had since Old Crow. A buddy of mine suggested it and I haven’t spoken to him since. If I somehow became a 911 operator one day, and he called, I’d hang up.
Hangover Index: 10; one of the worst in my life.
Gag Reflex: 7; I can’t even look at the stuff without wincing.
I have seen this stuff come out of a brother’s nose on first sip.
Hangover Index: 9; the second-worst in my life.
Gag Reflex: 6.5; it feels like it should only be drunk from a mason jar somewhere deep in the woods of West Virginia.
Honestly, this stuff is actually pretty good. This scotch is single malt unlike the others on this list, which are blended. I think it’s so expensive on account that it’s only aged for the minimum of 3 years.
Hangover Index: Never finished a bottle, actually. I’ll get on it.
Gag Reflex: 3; rather good, I’ll still drink it.
If frat juice didn’t already mean that yellowy-brown liquid that pledges mop up, I’d say it could be bourbon’s nickname. Did anyone else get it put in their sippy cups, or am I the only Irishman here? Anyway, typically made in Kentucky (but doesn’t have to be) of at least 51% corn, bourbon makes for the best and the worst of America along with bringing out the worst in the best of Americans (and more than a few foreigners in my experience).
Seeing as it’s the best and the worst, I have a love hate relationship with the crow. It’s produced by the Jim Beam Distillery and is essentially young Jim Beam. Back in the day, The Crow was America’s best-selling bourbon and a favorite of Ulysses S. Grant, and that guy knew his liquor. Unfortunately, the old recipe was not maintained. This was what I was drinking the first time the campus police and I had a difference of views on what is and is not okay to demolish. Try the reserve and the regular.
Hangover Index: 4-10; be cautious.
Gag Reflex: 7; start with mixing.
A cheap whisky that is not cheap enough. I can’t really tell the difference between Beam and Old Crow.
Hangover Index: 5
Gag Reflex: 6
It’s a rather a good bourbon and is highly respectable. Well, it’s not the most respectable, but it’s decent. It’s distilled by Heaven Hill along with Evan Williams.
Hangover Index: 5; it’ll knock you on your ass with the best of them
Gag Reflex: 3.5; it’s by far the most drinkable
This is a solid knock-off of Jack Daniels. With some Ginger ale, it’s fantastic. It doesn’t have much personality but it does have lots of body, just like that freshman you keep hooking up with. Try the 1783 in particular.
Hangover Index: 3; It’s a good bet, really.
Gag Reflex: 2; doesn’t taste like much
Awesome? Yes. Good for holding while singing “Sweet Home Alabama”? Definitely. Drinkable? Ha, no.
Hangover Index: 5 if you can finish enough of it.
Gag Reflex: 9; ever been kicked by a bushwhackers horse in the throat?
This is some fantastic stuff. It makes you want to go fight the British. Try the 100 proof.
Hangover Index: 5
Gag Reflex: 6; but the 100 proof is 9, in a ‘puts hair on your chest you little bitch’ sort of way.
Seagram’s Seven Crown
Made by CocaCola as of a few years ago, Seven Crown is good for making 7&7 (Seagrams 7 and 7Up), or a solid whiskey sour. The VO is less harsh since it’s made with less rye.
Hangover Index: 6; never get hammered on whiskey sours, they leave you with the worst hangovers
Gag Reflex: 7
Just don’t go there, really, just walk away. Just walk away.
It’s not the most common drink, that’s for sure, but it’s good every once in a while. Drink it warm, it goes down faster.
Here’s your best-bet rye. It’s the only one I can recommend.
Hangover Index: 3
Gag Reflex: 7; it’s very harsh and has to be watered down or drunk warm, leave the bottle by a campfire for a while and drink straight.