‘Tis the season for a big, boozy glass of egg nog. While the creamy and eggy custard drink isn’t for everyone, it is a classic sipper in this snowy season, brimming with winter spices, that aforementioned creaminess, and a nice kick of alcohol to take the edge off the whole season. That means it’s time for a blind taste test and ranking off all the boozy, ready-to-drink egg nogs you can find in the liquor store.
For this tasting, I grabbed six standard bottles from my local Total Wine in Kentucky. I’ll admit up front, not every region’s local brands are on this list. This is about the main brands that you see nationwide. Beyond that, I did grab a big bottle on a Costco run — I wanted to see how Costco’s version stood up to classics from the likes of Heaven Hill and Buffalo Trace. You know, the places that are known for making amazing booze. (Note: your booze-free grocery store egg nogs are not present below.)
Our lineup today is the following:
- Kirkland Signature Traditional Holiday Egg Nog Liqueur
- Misunderstood Oat Nog
- Winterhaven Farms Egg Nog
- Evan Williams Original Southern Egg Nog Bourbon
- Benchmark Old No. 8 Brand Egg Nog
- Two Stars Egg Nog
I ranked these according to taste, which means I was looking at how these stood up as egg nogs and not just as creamy liqueurs (which is what most of these are based off of). I was looking at creaminess, nutmeg focus, overall winter spiciness, depth of flavor, booziness (too much alcohol?), and sweetness (too much? too little?). All of these factors are what make or break a good nog. Get a bad batch (or bottle in this case) and you might be off the stuff for life.
Sound good? Let’s dive in!
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Part 1: The Tasting
There’s a sense of sourness on the nose that’s a bit offputting from the jump. There is a sense of creamy cinnamon as well, but not much else smell-wise. The palate is light and not overly creamy with a hint of nutmeg and a splash of booze. The end gets super sweet and turns into pink bubblegum on the finish.
This is not good. I wouldn’t even make french toast with this shit.
There’s some clear nutmeg on the nose with a hint of oatmeal cookie. The palate has a note of allspice with the nutmeg and a thin raw oatmeal cookie dough vibe next to wet cinnamon sticks and very light buttercream. Overall, this wasn’t very boozy at all.
This was fine. Clearly, it’s a grain-based drink as the creaminess was almost non-existent.
This is boozy on the nose, in a good way, with a creamy sense of vanilla white cake and maybe a whisper of winter spice. The palate is so creamy with a burst of vanilla that has a middling spice vibe and more sweet vanilla to the point of being like frosting. The end is like taking a vanilla soft-serve ice cream to the face.
This is a sweet vanilla bomb.
Rummy spice with a hint of raisin, nutmeg, and allspice leads the way on the nose with a hint of orange and clove. The palate leans into a rum and brandy with a hint of vanilla bourbon next to vanilla cream, burnt orange, a smidge of almond, and maybe some hazelnut with a nice dash of winter spice. The end stays pretty creamy with a sweet sense of nuttiness and spice.
This was classic from top to bottom.
A medley of fresh nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, and allspice berries leads to an almost 5-Sprice vibe next to a creamy sense of buttercream on the nose. The palate is super creamy but not overly sweet with bourbon vanilla and a fresh gingerbread taste. The end is long and smooth and leans more towards the spices in a fruit cake than the sugars.
This is really nice and classic too. It’s also a tad more complex and not as boozy as the last one.
This smells like a fresh cinnamon cookie on the nose with a touch of vanilla buttercream and solid levels of rumminess. The palate has a nice sense of gingerbread and freshly cooked pancakes with butter, pancake syrup (the high-fructose corn syrup kind), and a whiff of nuttiness counter by nutmeg and clove. The end is sweet and easy with a deep creaminess and clear nutmeg spice.
This was pretty good but a little thick.
Part 2: The Ranking
6. Kirkland Signature Traditional Holiday Egg Nog Liqueur — Taste 1
Average Price: $10 (1.75l bottle)
Costco’s Kirkland Signature Egg Nog “Liqueur” is made out in California. The nog is a mix of “real dairy cream” with whiskey, spiced rum, and brandy.
Don’t buy this.
5. Misunderstood Oat Nog — Taste 2
Average Price: $30
Misunderstood Whiskey is probably best known for its Ginger Spiced Whiskey, which admittedly sounds very “holiday season” too. Basically, they take that whiskey and combine it with dairy-free oat “milk” made from sustainably sourced oats.
This was fine. If you’re in need of a vegan option at your holiday bash this year, definitely stock up on this. But in my experience, people who are vegan aren’t like desperately pining for the chance to drink egg nog again.
4. Winterhaven Farms Egg Nog — Taste 3
Average Price: $9
This Pennsylvania mainstay is made with 100% double cream, fresh eggs, and a dash of winter spice. That’s mixed with rum, brandy, and whiskey according to, get this, “an old family recipe.”
This was a vanilla bomb. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it’s not really that egg-nog-y either — it really tastes more like bourbon cream liqueur that’s been rebranded for the holidays. Still, this was far tastier than the last two.
3. Two Stars Egg Nog — Taste 6
Average Price: $12
This ready-to-drink egg nog is made according to “the old Southern recipe” that Two Stars has on file. The nog is made with a creamy custard base that’s enriched with “Kentucky bourbon, fine brandy, and Caribbean rum.”
This was pretty good. It was very much a boozy egg nog with a decent spiciness. The only reason it’s a little lower is that it was a tad sweet (comparatively).
2. Evan Williams Original Southern Egg Nog Bourbon — Taste 4
Average Price: $10
This is a spiced cream liqueur that’s cut with sweet Kentucky bourbon, blended bourbon, brandy, and rum from Heaven Hill (which makes several labels for each category). If you drink whiskey cream liqueurs (Bailey’s, Carolan’s, etc.), you’ll have a general idea of where this bottle fits.
This was a nice and boozy nog with a real nutmeg-forward egg nog vibe. Overall, this hits the spot.
1. McAfee’s Benchmark Old No. 8 Brand Egg Nog — Taste 5
Average Price: $8
This egg nog from Buffalo Trace’s budget brand, McAfee’s Benchmark, is all about the creaminess. The creamy custard is cut with Buffalo Trace’s Benchmark Old #8 Bourbon and that’s it.
This had the best balance of alcohol kick, nutmeg (and winter spice), and creaminess that was, most importantly, not overly sweet. There’s sweetness, sure, but it felt tied to the natural creaminess of the nog and not from added high-fructose syrup.
Part 3: Final Thoughts
There was a big difference between the top three and the bottom three. I’d say, you can easily count on the top three on this list. The bottom three? Just skip those.
And if you want the nitty-gritty breakdown of the top three, you really want to go with Benchmark or Evan Williams. They’re classically tuned boozy ready-to-drink egg nogs. If you’re looking for more kick in your nog, go with Evan Williams. If you’re looking for a little more spice balance, then go with Benchmark. Either way, you’ll be in for a boozy holiday treat.