You’ve done the wine. Your significant other isn’t interested in drinking your favorite high proof whiskey on the rocks. You’re tired of the hassle homemade bespoke cocktails bring. This year you’re ready for something different.
Being a whiskey drinker you’d like to stay in that wheelhouse, but this Valentine's Day, not only do you want to impress, but also delight with a unique offering. Forget the red wine finished bourbons and bourbon finished red wines. That was so 2020.
2021 calls for something outside the box.
Taste: Black coffee | Toasted vanilla bean | Slightly bitter | Mild oak
Our Take: One of the best ways to conclude a special dinner is with a cup of coffee. While that might be fitting on most occasions, on Valentine’s Day you might still be in the mood for more booze. Why not combine the two? With a growing number of coffee flavored whiskeys on the market, August Coffee Flavored Whiskey stands out for its natural tasting coffee flavor and not its sugar content. It will also likely send a jolt to your system thanks to its strong flavor, high proof, and caffeine level. If you love coffee and whiskey, this should do the trick. Be aware this does have limited availability so check out our alternative options below.
Alternative Applications: Make it a cocktail by adding some sugar cubes and bourbon cream poured over ice and topped with whipped cream. Or add caramel and make your own caramel macchiato.
Alternative Options: Oak & Eden Bourbon & Brew, Am-Pm Coffee Bourbon, Seven Stills Fluxuate
Taste: Rich vanilla | Salty caramel | Heavy cream
Our Take: A perfect balance of rich and sweet, bourbon cream makes for a delicious sip that can be served neat or over ice. At 30 proof, it provides a mild bite but is nicely offset by its sugary creaminess. It works best as a delectable after-dinner treat or as a slow sipper during a long movie. Move over Baileys, bourbon cream is the new cream king.
Alternative Applications: Bourbon cream root beer float, Coffee creamer
Alternative Options: Ezra Brooks Bourbon Cream, Black Button Bespoke Bourbon Cream, Nooku Bourbon Cream
Taste: Cardamom | Clove | Black pepper | Cinnamon | Citrus peel
Our Take: Looking to add some spice to your Valentine's Day night? Old Dominick Memphis Toddy is a nod to pre-Prohibition Memphis when Hot Toddy’s were king. Packing a flavorful punch with a rich tapestry of warming baking spices will certainly wake you up after a big Valentine's Day dinner.
Alternative Applications: Pour over cracked ice
Alternative Option: Barrelsmith Boulevardier
Taste: Cane sugar | Orange | Cherry | Lemon | Bitters | Vanilla oak
Our Take: Nothing beats making your own Old Fashioned (we prefer it with rye whiskey btw), but who wants to deal with that on Valentine’s Day? Notably it features Knob Creek Bourbon, which has just enough oomph to stand out among all of the acute flavors of an Old Fashioned. There are plenty of premixed Old Fashioned cocktails on the market, but it's the inclusion of Knob Creek and its inexpensive price that caught our eye.
Alternative Applications: Add a Montmorency cherry for pop
Alternative Option: High West Old Fashioned Barrel Finished Cocktail
Taste: Honey | Orange
Our Take: Premixed rock and rye cocktails have certainly attracted a following over the past few years thanks to their 20-something focused marketing. Even if you’re not in your 20s, Stolen X Rock & Rye makes for an enjoyable and straightforward sipper. Leaning sweet, but featuring a touch of baking spice and noticeable punch from its 80 proof, it's an all around easy sipper that you might have to be careful how much you put down.
Alternative Applications: Add a touch of orange juice
Alternative Options: Slow & Low
Taste: Black Cherry | Vanilla | Dark chocolate | Sweet | Slightly bitter
Our Take: Not exactly premixed but it's close. Simply adding 2 ounces of this whiskey to an ice-filled glass, then filling it with cola and garnishing with two cherries is about as easy as it gets to make this delicious cocktail. It’s not the most complex flavor profile and it’s definitely on the ultra sweet side, but the flavors all work extremely well together.
Alternative Applications: Make it a Manhattan by pouring over ice with a dash of bitters
Alternative Option: Traverse City American Cherry Edition
Taste: Juicy strawberries | Rye spice | Summer fruit
Our Take: You’re probably not likely to ever search for a 70 proof strawberry flavored rye unless it was a special occasion or you just want to get a little weird. That’s why it might be your perfect out-of-the-ordinary whiskey of choice on Valentine’s Day. Don’t expect to be blown away by its complexity, but relish in its affordability and the fact that it's strawberry rye whiskey. So strange, but maybe so right? We’ll let you decide.
Alternative Applications: Merry Berry Martini
Alternative Options: Pennington's Vanilla Rye, Pennington's Peach Apricot Rye
Taste: Dark chocolate | Bitter | Chocolate malt balls
Our Take: Chocolate whiskey isn’t exactly common and nether is Kings County Distillery. Previous batches (which you can still find online) included Mast Brothers Chocolate, current batches from the distillery include ground cacao bean husks from Raaka Chocolate in Brooklyn. Acting as perfect after dinner dessert whiskey or digestif, its rich dark chocolate notes should hit the spot just right.
Alternative Applications: Make it a cocktail by adding some sugar cubes and bourbon cream poured over ice along with a pop of whipped cream.
Alternative Option: Prichard's Double Chocolate Bourbon
Taste: Cinnamon | Cola | Slight nuttiness | Fig | Semi-sweet chocolate
Our Take: Landing among the top 3 in our Best American Whiskeys of 2020, Breckenridge Rum Cask Finish is quite the unlikely surprise sip. Of the many rum finished whiskeys we tasted, Breckenridge Rum Cask Finish rose to the top of the pack with an incredibly rich and flavorful pour. Breckenridge Rum Cask Finish takes finished whiskey to exciting new and unexplored directions, and as a result is way too much fun to drink. If you’re looking to spice things up on Valentine's Day night, Breckenridge Rum Cask Finish will do just that.
Alternative Applications: Add a dash of cola and serve with rocks.
Alternative Options: Angel’s Envy Finished Rye, Redemption Rum Cask Finish
Taste: Candied fruit | Caramel | Vanilla | Botanical | Touch of heat
Our Take: We said we weren’t going to feature a wine finished bourbon, but we lied. Sorry, but you just don’t come across a rosé finished bourbon, well...ever. The high task Penolope Bourbon took on marrying a rosé wine with bourbon was no small order. It wasn’t easy, yet the end result is a whiskey that highlights its rosé accent along with its bourbon base beautifully. It’s an easy sipper on a night that deserves it, and it asks less of the drinker compared to many wine finished bourbons that come off too strong.
Alternative Applications: On the rocks or put the bottle in the freezer for additional crispness.
Alternative Option: Hillrock Solera Aged Bourbon
Taste: Montmorency cherries | Vanilla | Leather | Light oak | Sweet
Our Take: If you’ve ever tried to infuse your own whiskey or think simply dumping a jar of Montmorency cherries in a whiskey will produce the same results, you’ll probably end up with something drastically different. The key is to add more flavor to the whiskey than a barrel finish typically would, while still retaining the characteristics of the base whiskey. Montmorency cherries have to be a devilish infusing agent as they are quite powerful in flavor. If you’re looking for something on the sweet side at a decent proof (two different proofs are available) that tastes more natural than a liquorer, Traverse City American Cherry Edition and Traverse City Barrel Proof Cherry Whiskey are a very fun place to start.
Alternative Applications: Add mint leaves, lemon wedge and a dash of straight bourbon.
Alternative Option: Traverse City American Cherry Edition (70 proof), Or go the opposite of cherry with Virgil Kaine Ginger Infused Bourbon
Taste: Walnut | Cocoa | Cedar | Pomegranate | Slight clove | Dark brown sugar | Coffee
Our Take: Nocino liqueur is traditionally produced in Italy and is created with unripe walnuts that are still soft in their husks. Watershed Distillery creates their own version of Nocino and finishes it in their used bourbon barrels. These barrels are then used to finish their barrel strength bourbon. This one-of-a-kind finished bourbon is not only delicious, but manages to create something exciting and quite dramatic too.
Alternative Applications: Heavy on the rocks with a dash of club soda.
Alternative Option: Watchershed Barrel Finished Nocino Liqueur
Robert Mondavi Bourbon Barrel Aged Chardonnay
Taste: Pineapple | Peach | Vanilla | Caramel | Light oak
Our Take: There has been an explosion of wine finished in bourbon barrels over the last few years. It’s really almost comical how many there are. The strange thing is though the majority of them are red wine, which aligns with more bourbon finished in red wine barrels than white. The case can certainly be made that red wine and bourbon pair better together than white wine. How about this Valentine's Day you put that to the test and try a white wine finished in a bourbon barrel? There are far fewer to choose from but a few of the major value wine makers offer one. If you really want to get crazy this year, also grab a red wine finished in bourbon barrels and directly compare them. That gasp you’re hearing is from wine enthusiasts everywhere.
Alternative Applications: None. Just drink it as is.
Alternative Options: 1000 Stories, Cooper & Thief
Some products included in this article were given as samples at our request for this article.