What To Do With That "Bad" Whiskey? Header

What To Do With That “Bad” Whiskey?

In Banter by Jeffrey Schwartz7 Comments

Recently, I had someone approach me saying they bought a whiskey they didn’t like and asked if I could recommend a good cocktail they could make with it. This is more common of a question than you’d imagine. I believe it stems not just from buyer’s remorse but also that money was spent, and indeed there must be a way to salvage it.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: There is a big difference between a whiskey that is slated to be a “mixer” and one that is just not palatable.

My skills don’t lay in making cocktails. In fact, I’m a bit of a cocktail idiot. If you want a good cocktail coach, I’d recommend speaking to Erin Petrey, Bourbon & Banter's Cocktail Editor. (Check out her video cocktail series.I can, however, still give some sound advice. To do that, we have to step away from the whiskey world a bit and go into the more general culinary field.

I have a handful of friends who are chefs. Some do it professionally; some are just damned good with a stove and whatever ingredients they have around. But, when it comes to booze, they all have one universal rule. If you don’t enjoy drinking the wine or spirit you have, don’t use it as an ingredient in food because you’re not going to like it that way, either.

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One thing I excel at is occasionally ignoring the advice of people I trust. I believe I get that from my mother. I love my mother dearly, but when she asks for my opinion on something, it is like the wedding scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail when the King of the Swamp Castle gives his guards instructions to confine the prince to his room and not let anyone in.
Okay, in reality, she’s not as bad as that, but she’ll ask for opinions and either tell you that you don’t know what you’re talking about or worse, she’ll do the exact opposite of what you just recommended. I don’t do the former. I will do the latter every so often.

Another talent I lack is putting together a complicated meal. I can make certain things like, say chili or a stew. I can also tell you that I’ve ruined those simple dishes using whiskey I wasn’t a fan of, and the truth is the only thing I ever tasted in those meals was the flavor of the whiskey I didn’t like, just like my chef friends suggested.

Now come full circle back to what to do with whiskey you don’t like. Don’t try to hide it in a cocktail unless your planned cocktail is whiskey and Coke, because nothing else you do will mask the taste of the whiskey you already don’t like, which means you’re not going to enjoy your cocktail, either.

Life is too short to try to salvage a whiskey you don’t want to drink. So, don’t. Give it away to a friend who might like it, or if you can’t, pour it down the drain. But, don’t punish yourself simply because you spent money on something you don’t like.  Cheers!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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Known throughout Wisconsin (and now the world) as Whiskeyfellow, Jeff was a late-bloomer to the Wonderful World of Whiskey. At the suggestion of his wife, he started with Scotch and was hooked. He was under the impression that he was happy. A friend asked him several times to try Bourbon, and he eventually gave in, only to fall completely in love with it. Those first steps started him on his #DrinkCurious adventure that led him to #RespectTheBottomShelf. Jeff now relishes many types of whiskeys, ranging from the super-affordable to the super-premium and everything in between. Aside from simply sipping and writing about it, Jeff now enjoys spreading the whiskey gospel by hosting educational tasting events.
Read Jeff's full profile.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz

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Known throughout Wisconsin (and now the world) as Whiskeyfellow, Jeff was a late-bloomer to the Wonderful World of Whiskey. At the suggestion of his wife, he started with Scotch and was hooked. He was under the impression that he was happy. A friend asked him several times to try Bourbon, and he eventually gave in, only to fall completely in love with it. Those first steps started him on his #DrinkCurious adventure that led him to #RespectTheBottomShelf. Jeff now relishes many types of whiskeys, ranging from the super-affordable to the super-premium and everything in between. Aside from simply sipping and writing about it, Jeff now enjoys spreading the whiskey gospel by hosting educational tasting events. Read Jeff's full profile.

  • Lee says:

    It’s also good for fighting off skunks!

  • Barry says:

    Used some of our bad buys to clean our dry erase board where we keep our top 5 performers from repeat appearances in our blind bourbon tastings. That way, at least, they are still contributing to our bourbon life in some way. 😉

  • Jeffrey Schwartz says:

    I’ve had several folks comment with suggestions (mostly by social media) and this may be the most innovative one yet. Cheers!

  • David says:

    Jeffrey, I see the comments online about “bad” bourbon and I agree with what you put with one addition. To separate “bad” from “not my preference” or “cheap” we need to quantify. I say if 90% of people who taste a “bad” bourbon agree that it is bad, then it is bad and you are right- there is no easy way to hide the horrible experience. The ones that I have tried that are bad baffle me as to how anyone could enjoy them. BTW none of them came from a big distillery. There was a wide release of a product from NY that was universally considered bad. Luckily there is more good bourbon out there than bad.

    • Jeffrey Schwartz says:

      absolutely. I’m talking about really bad, undrinkable stuff. Thankfully there’s not a lot out there, but yes, I’ve been in the “WTF were you thinking?” mode with some of them.

  • Bill J says:

    I have a different question. What if you get a bottle of a high profile product that you’ve enjoyed for years and it’s bad? Fortunately this has only happened twice and I’m 65 years old.
    I was in the high end restaurant business for years and would occasionally find a “corked” bottle of wine. I have purchased 2 different brand bourbons within about 5 years that I would swear are “corked”. Mind you I have had the said bourbons for years particularly since one is an all time favorite. Both have cork stoppers. One is now very difficult to find so it’s obviously in high demand. Curious as to what you think? I’ve kept them and wonder if it’s something the distillers would want to look at?