Special – Booze Reviews 1 Year Anniversary Award Show!

Wow, we made it a whole year. With ~58 Regular Reviews and ~6 Specials (Yeah you do that math it’s 52+ weeks suck it consistency) we’ve come quite a long way. Our tastes have changed, we’ve become as brutal as the job demands, and best of all? We’ve found a bunch of spirits and booze that just make life worth living.


So then to get on with it we’ll have the categories below with our winner (spoilers Blue Label does really well), runner-ups, and as well the worst of the bunch (so you know what to avoid). There will also of course be some “special rewards” for the liquors that deserve it. At the end I’ll have a list of all the nominees (aka every article and liquor we’ve reviewed) so you can easily find the others that didn’t make the cut and find out why.

Our first set of awards are strictly point based, that’s how we do our reviews and it’s sure as hell how we’re going to do our awards.


Best Initial Taste: Winner (Tied) – Johnnie Walker Blue Label//Cahkt – Category: 10//10, Overall: 8.98//9.6 – Now to be honest here Blue Label technically got an 11 in our minds, but we have here the 2 polars of taste, because Cahkt tastes like nothing (which it should) and Blue Label which tastes like a rainbow of scotch.


Runner-up(s) – Capt Morgan Pvt. Stock – Category: 9.1, Overall: 8.29

Worst – E&J VSOP – Category: 2.58, Overall: 2.76


Best After Taste: Winner – Cahkt – Category: 10, Overall: 9.6 – While Blue Label went down ever so slightly in aftertaste, Cahkt finished like it started – perfectly.


Runner-up(s) – Blue Label – Category: 8.75, Overall: 8.98

Worst – Effen – Category: 2.2, Overall: 4.27


Best Smoothness/Burn: Winner – Blue Label – Category: 9.75, Overall: 8.98 – No surprises here, 200 dollars gets you some damn good smoothness. And judging by Chivas and unattainable Cahkt it seems more money = smoother product.


Runner-up(s) – Cahkt//Chivas Regal 18yr – Category: 9//9, Overall: 9.6//8.19

Worst – Bacardi 151 – Category: 0, Overall: 5.46 *Note this is the only 0 we’ve ever given anything.


Best Smelling: Winner – Blue Label – Category: 9, Overall: 8.98 – This smells like a complex, rich, and fantastic tasting scotch – and it fully lives up to its smell. Bakon though does come close, because c’mon it’s friggen bacon man.


Runner-up(s) – Bakon – Category: 8.91, Overall: 7.47

Worst – E&J VSOP – Category: 1, Overall: 2.76


MANLIEST!: Winner (Tied) – Blue Label//Bacardi 151 – Category: 10//10, Overall: 8.98//5.46 – This really demonstrates the 2 ways we view manliness. On one hand there’s the refined classy gentlemanly aura, and on the other there’s the brutal chest hair growing lumberjack-bullrider.


Runner-up(s) – Bakon – Category: 9.21, Overall: 7.47

Worst – E&J VSOP – Category: 1.5, Overall: 2.76 *Note this isn’t girly, but it outright lies to you, and bold-faced lying is not manly.


Best In Mixing: Winner – Cahkt – Category: 10, Overall: 9.6 – Because there is no sense of a vodka here besides a faint creaminess then it’s obvious it mixes like a champ.


Runner-up(s) – Blue Label – Category: 9.875, Overall: 8.98

Worst – Wild Turkey 80 Proof – Category: 4.33, Overall: 5.97 – Now mixabilty is typically our highest scoring area, but leave to Wild Turkey to just be awful all around.

**Note we have specific drinks below


Best Value: Winner – Goslings 151 – Category: 8.7, Overall: 6.01 – On the converse we tend to be very harsh in value, because to us being good value isn’t just being worth your price, it means we want the deal of a century.


Runner-up(s) – New Amsterdam Gin – Category: 8.6, Overall: 6.43

Worst – E&J VSOP – Category: 2.92, Overall: 2.76


Highest Overall: Winner (Tied) – Cahkt//Blue Label – Overall: 9.6//8.98 – Now while Cahkt here has no recorded Aroma or Value score that is simply because DJ_Lvl has no nose, and this vodka was smuggled so we can’t ask about those kinds of things. (Note however that the smell is odorless – aka a 10, and apparently it costs like $10 in Russia so would have won anyway), but because of this we’re tying it with Blue Label which filled ever category and from the above awards it’s apparent these 2 shine as the best of the year.

Liviz-Vodka johnnie-walker-blue-label-fmt

Runner-up(s) – Capt Morgan Pvt. Stock – Overall: 8.29

Worst – E&J VSOP – Overall: 2.76


Most Pageviews: Winner – Effen – Category: 934, Overall: 4.27 – Showing that the worst things often get the most press. Though we’re actually okay with Effen getting the most views, because that means more people have heard our warning against ever, ever buying this.


Runner-up(s) – Sailor Jerry’s – Category: 694 views, Overall: 6.7

Worst – Yamazaki 12 yr – Category: 18 views, Overall: 7.21 – Guess no one cares for Japanese scotch.


Best Pricing: Winner – Wodka – Category: $10, Overall: 5.88 – It costs ten dollars and nearly gets a 6 overall? Why did Wodka say we were shit again? Either way at 10 dollars a bottle while this isn’t the best in terms of value (though it sure as hell ain’t bad) it is the cheapest buy for a 750 even beating the garbage that is Gordon’s


Runner-up(s) – Gordon’s – Category: $11, Overall: 4.67

Worst – Blue Label – Category: $200, Overall 8.98 – C’mon you knew this was coming, hell we debated tying it with Cahkt because that costs about $300 bucks in airfare.


Vodka Drinks:

Best Vodka Martini: Winner – Skyy – Category: 7.8, Overall: 6.16

Best White Russian: Winner – Russian Standard Platinum– Category: ~9, Overall: 7.08

Best Screwdriver: Winner – Hammer + Sickle – Category: 8.8, Overall: 7.25 – Text

Best Vodka Tonic: Winner – Russian Standard Platinum – Category: ~9, Overall: 7.08

Gin Drinks:

Best Gin & Tonic: Winner – Tanqueray Rangpur – Category: 8.75, Overall: 7.22

Best Red Baron: Winner – Tanqueray – Category: ~9, Overall: 7.65

Best Martini: Winner – Tanqueray – Category: ~8, Overall: 7.65 *Note Bombay Sapphire makes a much better Martini, but we’ve yet to review it since it was stolen at the Lost Cosmonauts release party.

Rum Drinks:

Best Rum & Coke: Winner – Gosling’s 151 – Category: 9, Overall: 6

Best Dark & Stormy: Winner – Capt. Morgan Pvt. Stock – Category: 8.5, Overall: 8.28

Best Rum w/ Rocks: Winner – Capt. Morgan Pvt. Stock – Category: 9.3, Overall: 8.28

Tequila Drinks:

Best Tequila + Lime: Winner – PAAATTRRROOOOOOONNNNN – Category: 8.1, Overall: 7.01

Best Tequila Sunrise: Winner – Milagro – Category: 9.125, Overall: 7.2

Scotch Drinks:

Best Scotch on the Rocks: Winner – Johnnie Walker Blue Label – Category: 9.875, Overall: 8.98

Best Godfather: Winner – Chivas Regal 18yr – Category: 9.25, Overall: 8.19

Best Rusty Nail: Winner – Johnnie Walker Black Label – Category:NR, Overall: 7.14 – We didn’t record it at the time, but Black Label really does make a good rusty nail.

Whiskey Drinks:

Best Whiskey on the Rocks: Winner – JD Single Barrel – Category: 8.25, Overall: 7.21

Best Whiskey & Coke: Winner – JD Single Barrel – Category: 7.33, Overall: 7.21

Best Old Fashioned (Bourbon): Winner – Ezra Brooks – Category: 8.375, Overall: 6.855



Okay before we go onto the opinionated awards we busted out some math here for 2 awards – First the best point to dollar value. Aka we divide its points by its cost and award the highest percentage. The second being the most middle of the middle, where we used a combination of median and deviation to see what the most mediocre thing is this year.


Best Point to Dollar Value: Winner – Wodka – Category: 58.81%, Overall: 5.88 – Heh, decimal points. Now the top 3 here are Wodka, Ezra Brooks, and New Amsterdam – and frankly I’m not surprised. Because when you’re looking for good stuff that costs less than the tolls to get into Boston then you’d go with the above three.


Runner-up(s) – Ezra Brooks – Category: 52.73%, Overall: 6.86

Worst – Blue Label – Category: 4.49%, Overall 8.98 – Poor Blue Label, it didn’t even stand a chance, sure it got a couple 10’s and 9’s, but at that price?


The Middle of the Middle: Winner – Evan Williams – Category: Median of 5 with Derivation of .64, Overall: 4.81 – Just looking at the scores and it’s easy to tell that Evan doesn’t sway too wildly from its score of 5, and we all can agree that it’s just so mediocre it deserves the middle. We are quoted from the article of calling it whisky brand whisky and it truly deserves that title.


Runner-up(s) – JD Black Label – Category: Median 5.49 with Derivation of .98 Overall: 5.42 – This is just about as middle of the road here, but it got some good points in manliness making it a runner-up.



Okay well then the following awards are chosen by us the four reviews at our secret retreat last week to the Chilean Mountains. These awards were either determined by scoring votes from amongst ourselves, or through heated discussions.


Best Looking Bottle: Winner – Hammer + Sickle – From the impressive shape, the frosted glass, symbol of communism, and the beautiful square cap I’d be willing to say that no bottle will ever look as great as Hammer + Sickle


Runner-up(s) – JD Single Barrel// Blue Label – JD looks like the decanter you’ve always wanted, and Blue Label’s presentation in box and the nice blue Johnnie Walker bottle make this a close match.

Worst – Effen – Now I can see some art student or some new-age Ikea designer thinking that Effen’s bottle looks nice and modern. To those individuals please sit back down because the adults are talking. Effen is actually the only bottle we’ve thought was so bad we defaced it with markers (cleverly adding an ol to the end making it Effenol).


Best Literature: Winner – Highland Park 12 yr – Our first review and the back text still sticks in our mind. Quoted here: “Highland Park takes its name from the High Park area on the outskirts of Kirkwall Orkney, where in 1798, Magnus Eunson began distilling illegal whisky. A local smuggler, Magnus would hide the forbidden spirit under the pulpit of the church.” Now I’m not lying to you Highland Park is not my choice of a single malt, but it was brewed illegally by a smuggler named Magnus who hid it under a church. That’s just fantastic


Runner-up(s) – Cahkt//Bacardi 151 – This was tough, but we decided to tie the two because both are similarly awesome, Cahkt does well because it tell us this: “клссическая русская водка, изготовлена из высококачественного зернового спирта и мягкой питьевой очищенной воды. состав: вода питьевая исправленная, спирт этилоый ректификованный “экстра”, сахарный сироп.” Which basically says that moar Russian text on the bottle = moar better vodka. On the other hand Bacardi 151 states: “All 151 proof rum may flare up and continue to burn when ignited, possibly with an invisible flame. Do not pour directly from bottle near flames or intense heat. Do not remove or puncture the flame arrester in top of bottle. Removing the flame arrester may cause the content of the bottle to become ignited and intense flaming will occur.” Which is basically saying that stand the fuck back because I’m about to light this shit up like it’s fourth of the July Christmas.

Worst – Kellan – Now we’ve seen quite a bit of wank-y bottles, but we decided Kellan takes the cake for how egregiously it lies to us. Quoted:“Carefully distilled to achieve perfection, matured in the finest selection of American Oak Casks and blended under the careful eye of its master distiller.Kellan Irish Whiskey…flawless quality” – Perfection? Finest? FLAWLESS QUALITY? Excuse me motherfucka back the hell up because these are words that shouldn’t even be breathed in the same sentence as you. You may not be the worst of the worst, but you sure as shit ain’t even close to flawless fuckin quality.


Best Picture: Winner – Gentlemen Jack – Now at Booze Reviews here we try to get a good shot with every bottle we have (and are disappointed when we have to use stock imagery), but we’ve done quite a few really great shots over the past year. So when we sat down to decide at first it seemed a tough choice, and then all at once it wasn’t. Between the real gun, the ammo and clip on the side and the tie in the background it was clear which booze got the best image.


Runner-up(s) – Kraken – This one though took some debate but we decided the 3 piece set of the Kraken going from empty in water, to a note referencing a bad movie, to it’s filled dark state was one of our better ideas in terms of imagery.


Most Hated: Winner – E&J VSOP – As you can see by the above scores this is basically a no-brainer. Our hatred of E&J has left us bitter and angry and we’re not sure when our wounds will heal enough to have us try another brandy. We half-debated on rating E&J as a cooking aid rather than a spirit (which is how we finished off the bottle.)


Runner-up(s) – Kellan – Overall there are a couple things below this in terms of scoring, but we hate Kellan for another reason. We in our slightly naivety thought to try an Irish Whiskey; however we have been raised on Jameson, and it would seem for good reason. We thought bah only Americans and Canadians make bad whiskey that isn’t “bottom shelf” So we choose Kellan which was mid-shelf, and boy did it kick our faces in. Justice and the Buffalo consumed a fair amount of this just to make it go away, and it killed them. We hate Kellan, and those who make it please die slowly for us.


The Eurotrash Award: Winner – Skyy– We went back and forth between this and Effen, but at the end of the day nothing is more harmonious with bad Eurotrash bars than Skyy, and even though we like it – it will never appear in our bar.


Runner-up(s) – Effen – While Milagro has more of the look of Skyy, we felt Effen was more Eurotrash-y between the “hip” look and the fact that it’s called Effen which makes sluts and guidos giggle because swearing, and Effen doesn’t even acknowledge this fact saying Effen means “wheat”.


Best Website: Winner – Sailor Jerry’s – They talk about drinking manly rum, there’s the great stories of Norman Collins a famous tattoo artist (which the site features cool designs of.) And they have a pinup calender here that features lovely ladies with tattoo art and themed costumes. The site does have a few flash-y elements but it’s minimal, and most of all the site still looks professional as well.

Sailor Jerry Rum

Runner-up(s) – Balvenie – Balvenie has a very well done website, and everything looks clean and crisp. They’re here though because of what they have on their site. After signing up (duh it’s free), you get access to a virtual whisky shelf, which let’s you record notes of whiskies you’ve sampled and how you feel about it. They actually go a step further and send you a similiar whisky tasting notebook, but as a pocket guide. I received such a guide, but since Justice is more a Balvenie fan than I, I gave it to him.

Worst – Ezra Brooks – While the flash overdone garbage done by most sites is bad, this is just awful. Typing in Ezrabrooks.com brings you to another site enitrely, and worst of all? It’s not a real site Ezra is treated as a footnote, which isn’t at all what it deserves.


Best Twitter: Winner – @Tanquerayusa– Now there’s a fine balance here between being using and abusing a twitter, Bacardi, Sailor Jerry’s and few others are very prolific to the point where I skim over them. Tanqueray is infrequent enough and they mix it up between self-promotion, telling people to drink it up, and quotes like “Famous last words: My tabs open, and A gentleman picks up the tab and calls for the cab” – Now tbh Hendrick’s has them beat hands down, but we haven’t reviewed that yet.


Runner-up(s) – @KrakenRum – Kraken Rum is just funny to follow because it’s about squids and octopuses.

Worst – @RealWodkaVodka – This is more an obligatory award, while yes Wodka’s twitter is actually fairly good, because they called us out as shit, and because once people started blowing up over it they backpedaled real quick we have to put them here.


Island Awards – This one is separated by Name, because the idea is that if we were stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash, and a crate of only 1 brand of booze was safely recovered what would we want that to be? (Not including Blue Label, because duh)

William Henri Neve the IV’s Choice – Gosling’s 151

The Buffalo’s Choice – Auchentoshan 12yr

Justice’s Choice – Pvt. Stock

DJ_Lvl’s  Choice – Hammer + Sickle


Fan Favorite – Winner – Kraken – Kraken was a clear favorite on the FB (esp. during the original posting.)



The Development Hell Award – Wine Review – What was originally given to Lee on Christmas came out in June thanks to Mr. Neve. Now we do try to have a 1-2 month backlog, but it became a running gag that Lee was busy writing said article.



Least Efficient Bottle – Tenampa Azul – This bottle is the most infuriating thing in the world, and we thought it deserved a special award for being such a colossal fuck up.



Most Likely to Beat your Wife Award – Kellan – Because not only are you a poor Irish potato farmer who beats your wife often, this whiskey has actually angered you with its awfulness, and today she gets 3 slaps instead of the standard 1.



Most likely to make Erik Ferris go to Space Mountain – Black Label – Now we thought maybe Jameson would be a better fit here, but since we haven’t reviewed that, and the fact that when Erik looks at Black Label he remembers Space Mountain we choose this. Black Label is also the winner in making DJ_Lvl go to Splash Mountain – which is a euphemism for vomiting all over the place.



List of Nominees (By order of publication)



For an updated look at Scores visit our statistics page.

Well folks I hope you’ve enjoyed the preceding year of booze (we have), and we look forward to another year bringing you the best and worst spirits that money can buy.


Cheers mates.



I am the Buffalo editor and curator of Honest Booze Reviews

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