geoffrey gauchet

2009 Top 10: Whiskeys Whose Names Have Birds or a Guy with a J in His Name

As 2009 is coming to a close, we begin to reflect on the year past and look forward to the year to come. Many different media outlets feature various Top XX lists regarding the previous year's achievements and they're usually pretty banal and regurgitated from the previous year. Well, this year I've decided to issue several Top 10 lists. These lists will likely have nothing to do with 2009 in any normally conceivable fashion, but I pay the bills around here, so I'll do what I please. Also, I have absolutely no schedule for when I'll put these out, so deal with it.

For me, 2009 was the year of whiskey (or whisky). It was the year I decided I liked Old Fashioneds and the year I started to drink scotch (rocks). Whiskey goes way back to the Chinese in the 1100s. It's been made by numerous cultures, but most notably Ireland, Scotland, and the US. The Japanese, Canadians, and the Welsh make a fair amount of whisky as well. There are subtle differences between them all, but one thing remains the same: they're all awesome. The majority of the world calls it "whisky" but the Irish and us Americans decided there weren't enough letters in the word, so we tossed an "e" in there. Probably has something to do with our English roots and their silly additional U's and using S's instead of Z's.

Disclaimer: I haven't tasted all of these, so I'll just go ahead and judge them on their name or how cool the label looks. Each whiskey has a different personality which makes them people and if they're going to be people, they need to learn how the real world works sooner or later.

10. Wild Turkey
I don't like Wild Turkey. But its name has a bird in it, so it made the list. Turkeys are for eatin', not for drinkin'.

9. Old Crow
This one sorta falls under both categories since it's distilled by Jim Beam. It's their crappy budget whiskey and it's not afraid to let you know from its taste that it's a crappy budget whiskey. However, in an economy and job market like ours, you're gonna need a lot of whiskey and it's gonna have to be cheap.

8. Jacob's Well
The name has something to do with this guy's well, but apparently Wikipedia thinks it's something from Jesus's time. Anyhoo, this whiskey is no longer available so it ranks on here because I can pretend that the whiskey was so overly bad ass that no single man could possible survive after drinking its awesomeness because it drove you into a psychotic frenzy and you would try to devour the bottle.

7. Eagle Rare
I like the name of this one. It's pretty manly. I picture some big burly woodsman walking into a restaurant and ordering a gallon of whiskey and then for his meal he orders "eagle, rare" but the waiter explains that the bald eagle is not only our national bird, but also endangered but the woodsman pounds his fists on the table (to which the other patrons turn and stare) and the woodsman yells "EAGLE, RARE!" And the waiter stammers and quickly runs off and then the woodsman eats a still-twitching Bald Eagle and a gallon of whiskey for dinner. Also, New Orleans-based company Sazerac acquired this brand in 1989.

6. Fighting Cock
I'm forgoing the obvious joke here and I'll just point out that the label for this bottle is AWESOME. It's like some sort of rabid phoenix/rooster creature that will KILL AND CONSUME ANYONE WHO COMES NEAR.

5. Jim Beam
Jim Beam has a pretty weak looking label. Boring and common. However, it's named for Colonel James Beam who, after single-handedly overturning prohibition with his fists he carved from redwoods he felled himself [citation needed], rebuilt the distillery and company himself. That's pretty awesome.

4. Woodstock
This is a Canadian blended bourbon, which means it's sorta like our bourbon, but colder. And higher up. Not a lot of information exists about this whiskey, so I have to assume it's either really secret awesome, or really well-known disgusting. Either way, it's a great feat. Shut up—Woodstock is a bird.

3. Jack Daniels
This was the first hard liquor I ever tasted. I remember it well—it was a humid New Orleans evening. I was a ripe 15 21 years old and I poured a small amount into a glass. I swished it around like I had seen in the movies. It smelled delicious and tasted like someone had lit a lit match on fire and tried to put it out with more fire.

2. Jameson
Ah, the Irish. A wonderful people, from whom half of my ancestry comes. This whiskey is part of many wonderful beverages, like Irish Car Bombs and the Three Wise Men. It's also the only whiskey of which I've ever seen my mother take a shot. Little-known fact: John Jameson was actually Scottish.

1. Johnnie Walker
My new friend. Johnnie Walker is a great scotch that tastes oh-so-smooth. He's one of the Three Wisemen as well. Johnnie Walker is more than just a great whisky, however. Johnnie Walker teaches us an important life lesson: that everyone is great in their own way, regardless of color; be it red, black, green, gold, or blue.


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