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Ah, whiskey: the quintessential backcountry libation. It packs enough punch ounce-for-ounce to meet most weight-savings criteria, while also satisfying the most sophisticated of palates. After a long, hard day on the trail a few sips of whiskey in camp can help with relaxation and sleep. If things get really rough, it can also act as a morale booster. When everything is soaked through and even your sleeping bag is uncomfortable, it’s nice to have some whiskey on hand to lighten the mood.
These five whiskies are perfect for the trail—they’re good quality, but not so expensive that they need to be coddled. And with three bourbons and two single-malt scotches, there’s something for everyone.
Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Aged 9 years
Nose Maple sugar, toasted nuts, oak
Taste Oak, caramel, and fruit
Finish Long and smooth, but with more kick than most
Our take Knob Creek meets the sweet-spot of price and quality. Consider putting a little water in this one to help open it up and mitigate the higher proof.
Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Aged 8 years
Nose Caramel, toasted nuts
Taste Vanilla, toffee, candied fruit
Finish Smooth and lingering
Our take For the price, Buffalo Trace has a classic profile that is very drinkable and smooth.
Highland Park Single Malt Scotch Whiskey
Aged 12 years
Nose Heather-honey, peaty, smoky
Taste Rounded smoky-sweetness, malty
Finish Sweet and lingering with heathery notes and subtle smoke
Our take Highland Park is approachable for a smoky and peated scotch (read: not overbearing), and our scotch newbies didn’t think it was all that offensive, win-win.
Laphroaig Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Aged 10 years
Nose Huge smoke, seaweedy, “medicinal”
Taste Surprising sweetness, hints of salt, layers of peatiness
Finish Lingering, smoky
Our take Laphroaig is big, bold, smoky, and heavily peated. We think it pairs well with a campfire, just sayin’.
Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon
Nose Spicy, fruity, sweet oak, caramel
Taste Creamy, mellow, ripened red berries, rich, spicy, well-balanced, moderately sweet
Finish Soft, smooth, pleasantly long
Our take Four Roses does not publish an age for this bourbon because it’s a “blend” of four, which themselves are “mingled.” The flavor profile has a lot going on but has a delightful finish.