What is the best-tasting alcohol on the market? That’s almost impossible to answer. The best tasting liquor is very, very subjective. Some of us prefer the neutral burn of a killer vodka, others the bite of a dram of whiskey, others the sweet spice of a rum, and others still full-on candy-forward taste of liqueurs. Some of us love it all.
Choosing one liquor to call the best is not an easy thing to do. In fact, we’d argue it’s not even really necessary since we all like whatever we like. Still, it’s an interesting question if you look at from a wider lens. What do the masses like to drink? What is beloved near and far?
For an answer to that question, we popped over to Ranker to see what the great surging crowds have to say. 17,500 votes later, a top ten emerged. We have to say, there are a lot of surprises on this list. Yes, there’s whiskey and rum and all that but also some deep cut bottles like absinth and limoncello show up in the top ten. Meanwhile, bourbon is nowhere to be found. Yet another reminder that the masses are weird.
Wow. Just, wow. Absinth is a strong choice for any list. The green fairy is renowned for its heavy-hitting ABV that’ll put you on your ass if you’re not careful.
Yes, there’s wormwood in this elixir but not enough to make you hallucinate. It really is just the high alcohol volume that gets you super lit. The taste of this one is alcohol burn tempered with notes of herbal licorice, anis, and wood. It’s surprisingly complex under all that burn.
Can’t-miss bottle: Pernod Absinthe, buy it here for $89.99.
Ah, Limoncello. The Italian liqueur is like a ray of smooth sunshine in a glass. Served ice cold it almost goes down too easily.
Can’t-miss bottle: Gioia Luisa Limoncello, buy it here for $29.99.
The grain alcohol is re-distilled with an array of aromatic botanicals built around a juniper backbone. Which botanicals exactly varies in whichever region the gin is being made, making this a very versatile spirit with deep nuance. The more balance in the herbs, the better this is going to be, and the best gins stand up on their own merit without any mixers needed.
Can’t-miss bottle: The Botanist Islay Gin, buy it here for $39.99.
A great Cognac is a ray of French sunshine in a bottle. You should be transported to French lavender fields in full bloom on a sun-kissed summer day.
The aroma of apple orchards should never be too far away. The oak, sweetness, and spice are always there but only as whispers, never shouts. This is a great bottle of booze that we’re surprised isn’t in the top five.
Can’t-miss bottle: D’USSE Cognac VSOP, buy it here for $79.99.
6. Flavored Vodka
Okay, this is a little hit-and-miss. More often than not, when we think flavored vodka, we think some jacked-up-on-sugars concoction with “berries” or “orange.” Those bottles have their place.
However, one of the best “flavored vodkas” out there — that’s also sugar-free — is chili pepper vodka. The layer of hot spice adds a beautiful dimension to vodka’s already bell pepper essences. It’s like a spicy surprise that’ll help cure a common cold (while getting you tipsy). Plus, you’ll never build a better Bloody Mary.
Can’t-miss bottle: St. George Green Chile Vodka, buy it here for $32.99.
5. Scotch Whisky
Scotch is has a lot of variation to it. There are the blends which tend to lean towards mild spiciness with hints of a distant moor in the mist. Then there are the Single Malts that can be as smokey as a chimney on a rainy day or as brisk as a sea breeze with waves crashing nearby. There’s a lot going on, is what we’re saying, and a lot to love about this type of whisky.
Can’t-miss bottle: Naked Grouse Blended Scotch Whiskey, buy it here for $33.99.
4. Irish Whiskey
Ireland is not far from Scotland geographically but very far where whisk(e)y is concerned. Irish whiskey is just a wholly different beast.
Irish whiskey tends to err more towards the floral, nutty, and pip-fruited orchards. Yes, you can find smoky peat here and there but that’s on the fringe and not the backbone of the style. Irish whiskey is probably the most quaffable whiskey out there, making this an easy top five booze.
Can’t-miss bottle: Redbreast 15 Year Irish Whiskey, buy it here for $99.99.
Liqueurs are often sweet. Then, sometimes, they’re bitter. Then, again, they can be fully herbal. And, sometimes, they’re a combination of all of the above.
This is where herbs can create medicinal spirits to cure everything from the cold to the flu with just a nip. This is where coffee comes into play in alcohol form. This is also where a lot of overly sweet sips of alcohol your grandma probably loves comes into play. Whichever avenue of liqueurs you choose, it’s good to have a few on the shelf to add a little variety to your bar and cocktail selection.
Can’t-miss bottle: Kahlua Liqueur Mexico Especial, buy it here for $19.99.
Good ol’ vodka. The neutral spirit is one of the greats.
It’s in that neutrality that vodka shines with the masses. You can do anything with vodka. You can take a shot without much effort. You can use it as a mixer in pretty much anything from a martini to a vodka soda (or coke) to a Cape Cod or Cosmo. This is versatility in a bottle and it’s cheap. All wins.
Can’t-miss bottle: Chopin Polish Potato Vodka, buy it here for $23.99.
We love rum around these parts. The sugar cane spirit jettisons the sugars during the distillation process but leaves the essence of that sweet plant behind giving you the best of both worlds: Sugar-free and sweet.
Add in some mellow aging in oak to add in nuances of spice, vanilla, and florals and you have a great bottle of booze that works wonders. This is the bottle of liquor that pirates sailed the high seas for. This is the booze that writers were fueled by. You can’t beat a great tasting rum.
Can’t-miss bottle: Diplomatico Exclusiva Rum, buy it here for $39.99.