The Best Bourbon To Pair With Every Drake And Kendrick Diss Track

Rap beef is serious business. The long-simmering animosity between two of rap’s biggest stars, Drake and Kendrick Lamar, has finally come to a head — resulting in scathing diss tracks, countless memes, and even some violent real-world consequences. Because the verbal conflict has taken a bit of a dark turn, it’s probably advisable that all parties involved have a drink or two.

Yes, Kendrick is known to mostly abstain from alcohol and Drake has famously dubbed himself “Champagne Papi,” but the occasion really seems to call for bourbon. And one with some edge.

Bourbon’s boldness pairs perfectly with the brashness of the barbs each emcee sent to his opponent. And spirits are really best appreciated when they match the mood you’re trying to set. While the conflict is at a temporary standstill, you’re probably looking to catch up on every twist and turn, and there’s truly no better way to absorb all the animus and keep score than with the perfect pour.

Follow along for the best bourbons to pair with every Drake and Kendrick Lamar diss track.

Kendrick Lamar “Control” with Booker’s Bourbon

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ABV: 62.25%
Average Price: $125

The Diss: “Control” August 12th, 2013

Prior to Kendrick Lamar’s now-infamous “Control” verse, he and Drake seemingly shared a pretty warm relationship. That all soured when this song was released back in August of 2013. Mentioning Drake by name — among several other of his contemporaries — Kendrick challenged the entire rap game by saying, “What is competition? I’m tryna raise the bar high. Who tryna jump and get it? You’re better off tryna skydive.”

The Whiskey: Booker’s Springfield Batch, 2024-01

Booker’s is infamous for being the very first barrel-proof bourbon to hit the market in 1988. At the time it was an incredibly bold move, but it set the stage for the trend toward ever-higher ABV’s in American whiskey that persist today. Booker’s Springfield Batch 2024-01 is the first release from the brand in 2024 and will be followed by three more batches this year.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Marked by a floral aspect at first before exhibiting the trademark hazelnut quality that Booker’s is known for, this is a high-heat pour that doesn’t nose like it.

Palate: Once tasted, the interplay of floral flavors and nutty notes are elevated by the emergence of oak tones, allspice, and brown sugar.

Finish: The finish finds even more allspice and a touch of sage as the floral notes begin to crest and take control of the tasting experience.

Bottom Line:

This is the perfect pairing because only Booker’s can match Kendrick’s boldness in releasing “Control” back in 2013 when that particular class of rap stars was much more friend than foe.

Kendrick Lamar “Like That” with Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon

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ABV: 46.5%
Average Price: $130

The Diss: “Like That” March 22nd, 2024

Yes, there were several thinly veiled shots exchanged between the rappers in the interim between “Control” and “Like That”, but while he didn’t actually say Drake’s name on this record — it was his most direct diss in over a decade making this the natural follow up to that first shot. In the song, Kendrick spurned the olive branch that Drake’s new bestie, J. Cole, extended on their collaboration “First Person Shooter.” In that song, J. Cole claimed that then rap game’s “Big 3” included himself, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar.

Rejecting the praise, on “Like That” Kendrick said “motherf*** the Big 3…it’s just big me.” which set the ball in motion for this recent back and forth.

The Whiskey: Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon

Blanton’s is known as “the Original Single Barrel Bourbon” and as such it’s become one of the most wildly popular bourbons on the market today. Each bottle is the product of a single barrel, meaning each bottle will taste slightly different.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The aroma of candied maple, caramel, and vanilla ice cream jumps out of the glass right away. The mellow sweetness plays well against a backdrop of well-aged oak and fresh clove.

Palate: On the palate Blanton’s has a mellow baking spice presence, with clove and cinnamon leading the way, and rich caramel rounding things out. Nuance is provided by supporting sweet flavors like vanilla ice cream, brown sugar, and flaky pastry notes.

Finish: On the finish is where the gentle oak tones become most evident and they gently recede with the help of gooey butterscotch.

Bottom Line:

“Like That” is an upbeat song that became Future, Kendrick, and Metro Boomin’s first number-one single, and likewise Blanton’s is a runaway success too. The song is a bit light on lyrical sparring and Blanton’s is a bit light in the ABV department, making it easy to enjoy how fun both of them are.

Drake “Push Ups” with Elmer T. Lee

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ABV: 45%
Average Price: $330

The Diss: Drake “Push Ups” April 19th, 2024

A low-quality version of Drake’s diss “Push Ups” initially leaked online on April 13th but in April 19th it was released in fully polished CDQ form. On the song, Drake took Kendrick Lamar to task but also directed some of that heat at The Weeknd, Metro Boomin, and Rick Ross for their respective slights.

The Whiskey: Elmer T. Lee

Elmer T. Lee is the man most often credited with “inventing” single-barrel bourbon. While Blanton’s was released first, due to its runaway success the Buffalo Trace Distillery decided to release Elmer T. Lee soon thereafter.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Honey, graham crackers, and wood chips are the notes most evident on the nose. It’s generally restrained, but very focused on those three well-refined notes.

Palate: On the palate there’s plenty of honey-drizzled baklava to go with a touch of toffee, white peach, and youthful oak.

Finish: The finish is short, but reiterates the sweetness found first on the nose and again on the front end of the palate.

Bottom Line:

While it wasn’t the strongest call to arms in the war-of-the-words, “Push Ups” signaled that the battle was on. Following up the commercial success of “Like That” was no easy task, and made more difficult by the still-unexplained leak of “Push Ups” but you can argue that Drake was simply emulating the lightness of Kendrick’s jabs with this one.

That’s similar to how Elmer T. Lee is a light follow-up to Blanton’s.

Drake “Taylor Made Freestyle” with Hancock’s President’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey

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ABV: 44.45%
Average Price: $180

The Diss: “Taylor Made Freestyle” April 19th, 2024

Suddenly anxious to engage in the battle that Kendrick Lamar started over a decade prior, Drake took the “Back to Back” route by releasing “Taylor Made Freestyle” shortly after the official release of “Push Ups” hit the web. He raised a few ethical concerns by utilizing AI to use Tupac and Snoop Dogg’s voices in verses for the song.

The Whiskey:

Hancock’s President’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey is, to many people, a retread of Elmer T. Lee which itself is a retread of Blanton’s. All three bourbons feature the same mash bill at varying proof points and in the same single-barrel format.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Hancock’s has a touch of nuttiness and a bit more earthiness than its two contemporaries but still showcases notes of maple, honey, and vanilla extract on the nose.

Palate: On the palate this bourbon tacks a bit austere, with a lean mouthfeel. Some toasted coconut flakes can be found beneath the layer of caramel and youthful oak top notes.

Finish: On the finish there’s a bit of nuttiness that reemerges along with more youthful oak. Otherwise, it’s a rather straightforward sipper.

Bottom Line:

You could make the argument that producing Hancock’s is more trouble than it’s worth. Bourbon fans have warmly embraced both Blanton’s and Elmer T. Lee, but Hancock’s is the little brother that you pick for your team just because you’re friends with its more popular older brothers. Similarly, “Taylor Made Freestyle” was a tepid response that Drake eventually removed from the internet under the threat of legal action from Tupac Shakur’s estate.

Kendrick Lamar “euphoria.” with George T. Stagg Bourbon

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ABV: 67.5%
Average Price: $970

The Diss: Kendrick Lamar “euphoria.” April 30th, 2024

The Whiskey: George T. Stagg Bourbon 2023

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Black cherry, rich oak, and Aleppo red pepper flakes come bursting out of the glass. Some molasses, brown sugar, and faintly mesquite notes add intriguing layers to the complexity of the aroma.

Palate: On the palate it begins with the syrupy sweetness of cocktail cherries but is then transformed by a touch of leather, cinnamon, and charred red peppers. The texture is viscous and full of high-octane which, once it settles down, serves to introduce a multitude of robust flavors.

Finish: The finish holds a faint bit of smokiness and barrel char to go with black pepper and a ton of toffee. It lingers long after the last sip which makes savoring it even more enjoyable.

Bottom Line:

George T. Stagg is often considered one of the best, if not the best, bourbons of all time. It is generally one of the boldest bourbons on the market each year and that reputation for exceptional quality and prototypical bourbon brashness has made it a classic in every way. In the same vein, Kendrick Lamar’s “euphoria.” is a scathing takedown that deserves a place among the best diss tracks in rap history — right up there with “Ether” and the West Coast classic, “Hit ‘Em Up.”

Kendrick Lamar “6:16 in LA” with Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon

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ABV: 54.1%
Average Price: $65

The Diss: Kendrick Lamar “6:16 in LA” May 3rd, 2024

Taking a page right out of Drake’s playbook, Kendrick released two records back-to-back with “6:16 in LA” hitting his Instagram page in the early hours of May 3rd. Seen at the time as a “bait” record, intended to goad Drake into rushing a response and preempt a more pointed attack, “6:16 in LA” is a strong diss track and a quietly impressive song in its own right.

The Whiskey: Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon

Rare Breed is a batched evergreen product for Wild Turkey. Clocking in at a hefty 116.8 proof, Rare Breed was Wild Turkey’s triumphant answer to the rising popularity of barrel-proof bourbon.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Honeysuckle, bright red cherries, and cinnamon rolls serve to delight the senses after a single whiff of Rare Breed. Given some time to sit, you’ll find well-aged oak, clove, nutmeg, and toasted almonds all elevate the aroma profile of this bourbon.

Palate: The flavors in this whiskey are very clear and well-developed with each of the nosing notes coming through on the palate. Those flavors are bolstered by a bit of cooked apple and pie shell for a robust yet clearly defined cavalcade of flavors.

Finish: Lengthy and lingering, the finish on Rare Breed is deceptively delicious in that it deftly balances sweetness and spice — leaving you wondering which one will last the longest. The answer is typically the spice.

Bottom Line:

For the song “6:16 in LA” Kendrick Lamar achieved several feats at once — laying a trap, producing a high-quality record, and applying real pressure on his opponent in a single swoop. For its part, Rare Breed Bourbon also proves to check a lot of boxes. Rare Breed is a display in exceptional quality — capable of beating bourbons three times the price in blind tastings — but it’s also a case study for affordability and availability with its sub-$100 price point and ubiquity on liquor store shelves making it such an underrated success.

Drake “Family Matters” with Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon

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ABV: 59.5%
Average Price: $90

The Diss: Drake “Family Matters” May 3rd, 2024

Facing a growing deficit, Drake swiftly responded to Kendrick’s early-morning assault with “Family Matters.” The beginning of the song was teased on the tail end of “Push Ups” indicating that Drake was indeed prepared for what would come but the impressive diss track also incorporated plenty of new information and some direct responses to “euphoria.” and “6:16 in LA.”

The Whiskey: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon Batch A124

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon is often seen as the standard bearer for high-quality, well-aged, cask-strength bourbon. The A124 Batch of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof was aged for 10 years and 9 months — an all-time low for the expression — but at 119 proof it still packs plenty of heat.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: A medley of walnuts, brown sugar, and clove make up the key aroma notes in this bourbon. Given a few waves of the hand, the ethanol dissipates and further aromas of cinnamon and vanilla fill the air.

Palate: On the palate is where the brown sugar and walnuts really make their presence felt. Balancing that earthiness with some warm sugary notes works well and leaves enough room for some slight herbaceousness and baking spice — think cumin and bay leaves — to punch through.

Finish: On the finish is where those baking spice notes like black pepper, cumin, and bay leaves become more evident, along with the punch of ethanol that warms your chest after each sip. There’s also a gentle kiss of cinnamon and baked apple on the finish that makes it enjoyable to revisit time and time again.

Bottom Line:

Despite the fact that it isn’t as harmonious as previous releases of Elijah Craig — with the stellar C923 batch coming to mind — Batch A124 still lives up to its reputation as an exceptional cask-strength bourbon. Likewise, Drake’s “Family Matters” is a bit unfocused — as he continued to take the “20 v. 1” sentiment that he mentioned on “Push Ups” to heart. He ceded precious ground in the beef by taking on so many opponents at once — reserving almost equal venom for his former collaborator, The Weeknd, as he does for Kendrick Lamar.

That said, “Family Matters” does an admirable job of protecting his reputation while taking fresh digs at Kendrick Lamar’s credibility.

Kendrick Lamar “Meet The Grahams” with Frey Ranch Farm Strength Uncut Bourbon

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ABV: 60%
Average Price: $76

The Diss: Kendrick Lamar “Meet The Grahams” May 3rd, 2024

The third(!) diss track of the day, “Meet The Grahams” was released less than an hour after Drake’s “Family Matters.” On the hard-hitting, low-tempo track, Kendrick takes aim at Drake’s family, hurls his ugliest accusations yet, and goes so far as to wish death on his Canadian counterpart. He also proved that his previous diss track “6:16 in LA” was indeed a well-laid trap, though aspects of the song’s veracity have since been called into question.

The Whiskey: Frey Ranch Farm Strength Uncut Bourbon

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Leather and cinnamon bark really lead the way on the nose of this bourbon and they’re supported by the scent of buttered croissants and date syrup.

Palate: The flavors in Frey Ranch Farm Strength Bourbon really scream “boldness.” There’s corn pudding, tropical fruit chunks, and tobacco leaf but there’s also a heavy dose of ethanol which takes some getting used to. In addition to that intriguing array of flavors, there’s a truly robust and viscous texture to the bourbon that forces you to sit up and dissect it.

Finish: On the finish there’s even more heat as charred red pepper skin fuses with honey and more grain-forward corn notes.

Bottom Line:

Frey Ranch Farm Strength Uncut Bourbon is deceptively challenging, with corn-forward sweetness on the front end masking the heavy dose of ethanol and surprising depth of flavor found at midpalate and on the finish. Frey Ranch’s Farm Strength offering makes for such a perfect pairing with Kendrick Lamar’s “Meet The Grahams” because it is undeniably complex and deeply tied to the concept of family.

The family behind Frey Ranch Distillery has been farming since 1854 and distilling for 20 years, and all of that experience is on display in every bottle of their unique grain-forward bourbons.

Kendrick Lamar “Not Like Us” with Redwood Empire Cask Strength Pipe Dream Bourbon

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ABV: 55%
Average Price: $70

The Diss: “Not Like Us” May 4th, 2024

As the latest diss in the ongoing battle, “Not Like Us” called Drake’s alliance with Atlanta rap artists into question over a booming beat that showcases the signature California rap sound. Reminiscent of an N.W.A. record from the 90’s, Kendrick’s embrace of the regional sound on the catchy track resulted in commercial success with the song breaking Spotify’s streaming record by becoming the most streamed American hip-hop song in a single day with 6.59 million streams.

The Whiskey: Redwood Empire Cask Strength Pipe Dream Bourbon

Redwood Empire’s Cask Strength Pipe Dream Bourbon is aged for a minimum of 4 years and takes the brand’s already excellent bourbon and raises the stakes courtesy of an increase in ABV.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Aromas like toffee, barrel char, and the leather from a baseball glove are immediately evident on the nose. There’s a touch of smokiness hiding in the background as well as some caramel that emerges after a few swirls in the glass.

Palate: On the palate there’s a lovely green apple note to go with honeyed pecans, aged oak notes, and accents of nutmeg.

Finish: The finish on this whiskey doubles down with more baking spice and oak before relenting with some of the toffee from the nose and a sweet albeit slightly tart green apple note to close.

Bottom Line:

As the final nail in the coffin (for the time being) “Not Like Us” proved to be a surprise hit with the thumping West Coast production from DJ Mustard resonating with many fans. The best bourbon produced in California, Redwood Empire’s Cask Strength Pipe Dream, is not only fiery and full-bodied, but through the brand’s Trees For The Future initiative, they also give back and elevate their local community.

With Kendrick Lamar’s “Not Like Us” firmly planting the flag for the classic California sound, it can be said that he’s also elevating the region that has strongly supported him throughout his career. Though there were also scattershot disses from the likes of J. Cole, Rick Ross, and Metro Boomin — whose #BBLDrizzy challenge inspired a host of inventive covers — the spirited clash is at a standstill…for now.