Of all the bourbon on the LCBO’s well-stocked shelves, three bargain bottles stand out. We humbly suggest you commence your hoarding.
Since white spirits are a faux pas after Labour Day, it’s time to turn our attention back to brown liquor. Fortunately, the LCBO is ready for us. With a selection of some 30 brands of bourbon currently on shelves, it’s all stocked up for the return of cool weather and cozy drinking. And hidden among this bounty are a few bottles that offer major value.
When ferreting out the bargain liquor that lurks behind cheesy labels, serious bourbon geeks pay attention to the mash bill—the recipe that lays out the specific proportions of corn, malted barley, and rye or wheat. Even though what goes into the barrel isn’t the only factor in how the bourbon comes out (proof and aging are the other biggies), it’s still pretty darn important. That’s why the mash bill can be a divining rod for hidden liquid gold.
We’d recommend Old Grand-Dad to start—at $34.30, it’s nearly $18 cheaper than its premium eight-year-old cousin, Basil Hayden’s. To some tastes, both are a little mild, but legions of devoted Basil fans will be interested to know that the exact same high-rye mash bill is used to make both 80-proof bourbons. Three-year-old Grand-Dad is a toddler by comparison, but with bourbon, age isn’t everything. Many tipplers may even prefer the spicy sharpness of the cheaper, younger version.
Fans of Blanton’s should look into Ancient Age ($32.70), which is a solid, smooth, and sweet three-year-old. True, it’s not quite in the same league as Blanton’s or Elmer T. Lee, both single-barrel premium offerings made from the same mash bill, but it’s eminently suitable for mixing in a bourbon sour.
Old Charter 10-year-old ($34.20) is made from the very same mash bill as Eagle Rare and will save the bourbon enthusiast almost $14. It’s a touch rougher around the edges than the single-barrel, higher-proof Eagle Rare, but it makes up for these slight shortcomings with a kitschy bottle that’ll look mighty nice on your reclaimed-wood bar stand.
Hustle in to score one of these gems: They’re at the LCBO in limited quantities and for a limited time, and they also happen to be the subjects of soon-to-be-discontinued rumours. There’s bound to be fire under all that smoke—with premium brands selling so well, there’s little incentive for distillers to continue releasing bargain bourbon.