As the heat of summer continues to beam down on many of us, some newer whiskey and bourbon drinkers have been asking what whiskey they can enjoy that won’t set them on fire. Today, I’m here to help you with that. This is my list of five low proof whiskeys that not only have, lots of amazing flavors but also won’t have you pouring sweat and passed out in your backyard…. unless you overdo it, so please drink responsibly! Included with each one is also what I feel is a great cigar paring that will be sure to enhance your entire experience. So sit back, relax, and lets enjoy a little Smoke & Oak!
86 Proof – SRP: $16.99
Located in Louisville Kentucky and owned by whiskey giant Brown Forman, Old Forester is one of the oldest whiskey brands in American bourbon and Whiskey history. The 86 proof expression is Old Forester’s entry proof whiskey and usually one of the first tried when someone goes for a pour of this brand. On the nose you get bananas, oak, brown sugar, and a light vanilla in the distance. On the palate, I get a banana nut bread flavor, caramel, charred oak, and a slight cherry on the finish. For a sub $20 bottle of whiskey, you can’t beat the flavors and complexity that Old Forester brings to the table.
Cigar Pairing Recommendation: Room 101 Farce Maduro
The oak, baking spices, and raisin notes that you get from this cigar brings out a lot of the banana and caramel note from the bourbon. The building of flavors increases and brings more depth to the finish of each.
90 Proof – SRP: $26.99
Coming in at a few proof points higher and from the hills of Cascade Hollow in Tullahoma Tennessee, Dickel Bourbon is one of the newest expressions from the George Dickel Distillery. An eight-year-old age stated whisky, this is the first-time fans have seen the word bourbon on a Dickel label. Still using the charcoal mellowing process, what makes this whisky different is the selection of the barrels. They hand select regular Dickel barrels that have more of the traditional bourbon notes instead of the typical Dickel flavors. On the nose you can find notes of the traditional caramel, sweet oak, and honey. On the palate you find an easy drinking whiskey with no harsh tones. Apple, honey, citrus, and a slight nutty note in the background. The finish is sweet with a short finish. The best part about this whisky to me is the lack of the normal mineral note that you usually find on most Dickel products
Cigar Pairing Recommendation: Drew Estate Undercrown 10
Dark notes of coffee, sweet tobacco, raisons, and dark chocolate, the Undercrown 10 brings flavors that pair great with the bright flavors of citrus and honey from the bourbon.
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked
90.4 Proof – SRP: $51.99
Still hovering around 90 proof we have Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. Owned by Brown Forman, Woodford Reserve sits on the oldest distilling site in the state of Kentucky. It is located Versailles on the grounds of the old Elijah Pepper distillery that was built in 1812. Woodford is known for their iconic triple copper pot stills that can been seen on most of the merchandise and able to be seen if you tour their distillery. The name Double Oaked comes from the process of taking their bourbon from its original barrels and putting it into a second barrel for almost a year to get its signature double oaked flavor. On the nose I find lots of caramel and pancake syrup, burnt marshmallow and banana. On the palate a heavy oak and vanilla. Notes of coffee and chocolate in the background. The finish is nice and long and drinks like a dream.
Cigar Pairing Recommendation: Cavalier Geneve Black Series II Viso Jalapa
The cigar brings you notes of black pepper, oak, nuts, and earth with a dark chocolate sweetness in the background that blends great with the oak and vanilla from the bourbon. Both have a medium to long finish that allow you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the flavors as the blend together.
Chattanooga Whiskey 91
91 Proof – SRP: $34.99
In 2011 two men, Tim Piersant and Joe Ledbetter, began researching the distilling laws in Hamilton County in hopes of being able to bring whiskey back to the people of Chattanooga. On October 14th of that year the “Would you drink Chattanooga Whiskey” campaign began to circulate all over social media and the response was a huge and resounding YES!!! The following year both men worked tirelessly trying to get the laws changed and in August of 2012 they started the Vote Whiskey Campaign to help rally support. In January of 2013 House Bill 102, Nicknamed “The Whiskey Bill” was Drafted and in May of that same year the bill passes the house with a vote of 57-31 and was signed into law on May 16, 2013 by Governor Bill Haslam making Chattanooga Whiskey the first legal distillery in Chattanooga in over 100 years.
Coming in at only 91 proof, Chattanooga 91 High Malt Bourbon is one of the most unique whiskeys on this list. With notes of malt, chocolate, caramel, and sweet tea on the nose and oak, malted milk balls, caramel, and citrus on the palate, this whiskey is sure to leave you coming back for more.
Cigar Pairing Recommendation: Matilde Renacer
With notes of sweet molasses, dark chocolate, and leather the Matilde Renacer pairs fantastically with the malty chocolate and citrus notes from the Chattanooga 91.
Four Roses Single Barrel
100 Proof – SRP: $43.99
Coming in at 100 proof, Four Roses Single Barrel is the highest proof whiskey on our list. Located in Lawrenceburg Kentucky, Four Roses combines two mash bills with five proprietary yeast strains to make 10 unique bourbon recipes. By being able to blend all of these it allows four roses the opportunity to create an almost unlimited number of flavor profiles. On the nose you get lots baking spice and black pepper from the higher rye mash bill, floral, and vanilla. On the palate you get a rich cherry, black pepper, vanilla, with a slight sweet caramel in the back ground.
Cigar Pairing Recommendation: Dissident Cigars Tirade
This cigar might be our strongest cigar on the list but it’s needed to hold up to the spice and black pepper notes from the Four Roses. Notes of Citrus, coffee, cinnamon, and black pepper matches this cigar matches perfectly with all of the flavors of the Four Roses. This is definitely something to enjoy after a nice steak dinner.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. If you have any comments, please leave them in the comment section below. I would love to hear what other low proof whiskeys and non-alchoholic alternatives that you like to drink during the summer months. Until next time, if you’re going to enjoy a little smoke & oak just remember, “Life’s too short, enjoy the good stuff”…. and do it responsibly!