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Oct 1, 2011 07:52 AM

If I like certain beers, will I like certain liquors?

I've never been much of a liquor drinker. But a lot of people who I respect love some liquor, and talk about them knowledgeably. I'm always open to new and wonderful taste experiences.

I like very hoppy beers. One friend suggested that if I liked hoppy beers, I would like scotch; I have no knowledge of scotch at all.

I also like porters and stouts, and many trappist beers. I even like geuze and lambics (the ones without fruit) which are unusual likes.

So.... any suggestions?

Or should I stick to the wonderful world of beer?

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  1. I would make a distinction between liking liquor straight (either neat or with just ice) or in a cocktail. IPA's are hoppy and, for the most part, dry. I do think that you might find scotch appealing. Also you might like rye, bourbon or rum. Bourbon and rum tend to be slightly sweet. If you plan to drink them straight, you'll want to buy better brands.

    Once you consider cocktails, there is a huge world. You like both dry and sweet beers, so I would be hard pressed to guess what you'll like. I might start with a straight-forward sour, like a daiquiri (rum, lime, sugar).

    I would suggest buying some nips at the liquor store and seeing which ones you like. Once you have a toe-hold on your preferences, you can start exploring and branching out. Or get yourself to a good bar and put yourself in the hands of a good bartender.

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    9 Replies
    1. re: EvergreenDan

      For cocktails, I do like Caiprinhas and mojitos, esp. if they are not too sweet. I may try to find a good bar.

      More to explore!

      1. re: plf515

        Where are you located? We may be able to suggest some really excellent bars. Both for cocktails, and for trying fine spirits.

        1. re: JMF

          I am on the upper west side of Manhattan.

          1. re: plf515

            I would say to start not with Scotch, but with a decent bourbon. American whiskey can be much more approachable to someone new to spirits. Scotch can be pretty hard to get to know at first. Go to a beer bar like dba downtown (41 1st ave bet. 2nd & 3rd). They also have a good whiskey selection, both American and Scotch (and Irish.) try a few bourbon on the rocks like Woodford Reserve, Four Roses small batch, Bulleit, etc.

            Personally, after years of appreciating spirits I feel that American Bourbon and Rye are my favorite whiskeys. But I do love a good gin or brandy. I drink all spirits on the rocks, or with a good splash of water, because I find that they need water to open them up so you can appreciate the flavors that are concealed at high alcohol.

            1. re: JMF

              Oddly enough my experience was exactly the opposite, I liked single malt Scotches from the first time. , my first bottle was Highland park 12 yr (though it took me a couple tries to enjoy the peat bomb Islays), while at first I did not like Bourbon much at all.

              Over time I have swung the other way, and actually enjoy a good strong Bourbon like Elijah Craig or a good rye more than the milder Speyside or Lowland Scotches. My favorites are still the peat/smoke bomb Islays though, and Talisker.

              1. re: ncyankee101

                I have a sensitive palate in some ways and Scotchs sometimes put me off on the under 12-18 year spectrum because I can taste some of the higher alcohols and acetone that most folks can't. Most Scotch is pretty dirty from a distilling viewpoint and that's why it needs 10-12 years age on it to clean it up. I have seen people get turned off of whiskey because they caught those same tones in Scotch.

                Of course I judged a large American artisanal whiskey tasting and got a few with tones of acetone and other nasty chemicals from the heads that longer aging or more conservative distilling would have taken care of.

                1. re: JMF

                  I must not have a very sensitive palate, which is why I seem to need the strongest tasting liquors to keep my interest. Islay Scotch, demeraran rum, mezcal. I can't add water or ice to some Scotches - especially Glenlivet 12 - or they just taste like water to me.

                  I do like some of the stronger tasting Bourbons on ice, such as Old Weller 107 or WT Rare breed. But most liquor I tend to drink neat.

                  1. re: JMF

                    Actually I should qualify that statement about my palate, I do seem to be overly sensitive to tartness as I almost always find that lime dominates in recipes and I have to cut it by about 1/3 to get it in balance.

                  2. re: ncyankee101

                    Same here. Scotch drinker for my years and couldn't warm up to bourbon. Now bourbon is my go to spirit

        2. I would just try different cocktails/spirits and see what you like.

          1. I will disagree a bit with the notion that brown spirits somehow reflect the base flavor profile of an IPA. That style of beer is indeed dry and feature the bitter, floral, herbal, sometimes almost piney essence of the hops. To me, that is most reminiscent of the flavors dominant in gin. Whiskeys seem closer to more malty styles of beer.

            1 Reply
            1. re: MGZ

              On the other hand I have a friend who loves very hoppy beers and doesn't like gin at all. He does like Scotch and Bourbon though.

            2. A nice Rye Whisk(e)y [Templeton Rye] brought me back to spirits again about five years ago.

              1. Rye would be my first suggestion as well, though as the comments above note, there's really not an exact equivalent of hoppiness in spirits.

                I think cognac/armagnac/good brandy is not nearly popular enough these days, and may be worth exploring if you like the Belgian ales - there's something comparable in the round flavor undertones.

                If you like mojitos, a good aged rum (with or without lime) can be a revelation.

                2 Replies
                  1. re: plf515

                    Good luck ... I think due to your sophisticated beer palate, you'll find several spirits to your liking.