It's August, and that means it's time to start planning your tailgates and determining what value you'll add to Vandyville this fall. Will you be whipping errant frisbees into parked cars playing KanJam? Playing interminably long games of beer pong because the wind won't cooperate? Taking up three tents worth of space with cornhole?
No matter what your choice, you need a fair share of party liquors to take full advantage of the breezy fall days ahead of us. Vanderbilt will host teams like Georgia, Missouri, and Texas A&M in 2015, leaving us with plenty of opportunities to turn the city's western border into Nashville's biggest cookout when Saturdays roll around. And while brats, burgers, and lobster are staples at any Commodore tailgate (#VandyLifestyle), some choice booze is the salt that seasons our experience in Vandyville.
To help prepare you for this year's games, we've instituted a new series of articles here at Anchor of Gold. Booze Fight! (tm) pits two authors against each other in a battle over their preferred alcoholic beverages. Categories are chosen at random and span the spectrum between refreshing summer ales and low-alcohol radlers to bottles of liquor that the police are willing to fight you for.
In our last Booze Fight, Hamm's beat out Modelo Especial by a narrow 33-29 margin to claim the title of preferred gas station beer. Today, we turn back to the commentariat to find out which cheap North American whiskey is the top choice for your tailgate.
This week's category: Canadian whiskeys for under $15
Despite the option to scour the United States for a quality bourbon that won't bust your wallet, each competitor headed north of the border to figure out which moose-based poison is Canada's finest. Christian because he prefers it. Andrew because he can't abide the drinking of any bourbon purchased for under $15 unless it was stolen.
The Author: Christian D'Andrea
The Choice: Black Velvet Reserve
The Price: $10.99 for a handle. WHY DO WE NEVER SEE BLACK VELVET ON EPISODES OF INTERVENTION?
A single word can make a tremendous difference when it comes to a product. It's the difference between a sensible and boring vacation in regular Virginia or a week touring the finest meth labs that West Virginia has to offer. While the addition of an extra word typically makes products worse - "New" Coke, Michelob "Ultra", "New" England, "Bud" "Light" "Lime." Black Velvet Reserve, aged eight years in the Canadian wilderness, bucks that trend.
A warm glass of standard Black Velvet is God's way of reminding you that you evil exists in this world. It's a blunt hammer to the mouth, forged from the depths of hell and carrying the ancient memory of the thousand fires it was born in through its aftertaste. Birds will not land when it is being poured nearby. It's liquid in the glass whenever Frank Semyon goes on a four-minute monologue stolen from the pages of a freshman screenwriting seminar.
A chilled glass of Black Velvet Reserve, on the other hand, is a tiny galaxy of flavors inhabited my aliens that just want to make you happy. It carries the inherent smoothness of a Canadian whiskey and smells like the sound of children laughing at a birthday party. Where the original Black Velvet was intended to be sloughed up with RC cola at your undergrad parties, the Reserve is worthy of sipping on the back porch of the double-wide trailer you just bought with your earnings from the fish cannery. Each draw tastes like hard work. If you squint hard enough when you put the glass to your lips, you can see a chorus line of angelic Rockettes, kick-lining this drink down your throat. There's a sweet caramel gilding to the oak, barrel-aged taste that doesn't belong near any $11 whiskey. It's rich and creamy and leathery, like sipping the sweat from Sean Connery's neck.
Wait. Not that.
The Color: What? Are you serious? It looks like whiskey. It's brown.
The Nose: It smells like mall Santas, minus the peppermint mist of candy cane that is ubiquitous with the season.
The Taste: Delightful.
The Verdict: I fully understand that I'm going up against a bourbon snob. That's fine. I'm confident that even the biggest southern douche would sign over his boat shoes and collared shirt in a bet over whether or not he or she enjoyed BVR. It's not a Kentucky bourbon, but it's a smooth whiskey that goes above and beyond its MSRP. Plus, when I get halfway through a handle I can add some apples and cinnamon and create a tailgate shot that will keep me warm through a Wisconsin/Maryland trainwreck during these cold Madison Novembers.
Time For Christian to Stop Talking
The Author: Andrew VU '04
The Choice: Canadian Mist
*Even classic British literature cannot class up the horse shit night I'm about to have...
The Price: $7.99 for 750ml of Canadian Moose Poison (not on sale)
Price with 2 liter of RC Cola: $8.98 (somehow unaccountably still not on sale)
Christian, you ignorant slut. When you first posed this challenge weeks ago to the Anchor of Gold writing staff, the response was *crickets*. Defiant crickets who weren't about to poison their innards for your general amusement.
Then, a week later, you asked again. My response, verbatim:
I can do a whiskey fight, but I am emphatically against all cheap whiskeys. If you would like to argue for one, and I can tell you why you are wrong, that's fine. I'd like my kidneys to keep working, please and thank you.
Further, the last time I did a battle with horse poison... well, I wrote about it, but other than that, would like to be rid of that day.
Then, you pointed out that I basically have the rest of the week off, the lady friend is visiting her parents... and it was drink up or be alone with my thoughts. I instantly saw the horror of my own existence.
You made me look into the void. You bastard.
Well, if you have to drink cheap whiskey, Canadian is the only way to go. Let me explain: all Canadian whiskey is basically just Coke sweetener, so you might as well buy bottom shelf. In other words, the only reason to drink that blended swill is you're down to your last $10, and you want to Canuck up some Cola before you start signing up as a test subject for scientific experiments of dubious origin posted on your student union cork board. I just can't do that with Bourbon. Not in good conscience.
Canadian whiskey is whiskey in the same sense that Donald Trump is a presidential candidate. Can it call itself that? Technically, but only the worst and/or dumbest Americans prefer it to something of substance.
Bourbon distillers are required to use virgin barrels. When they're done aging their whiskey, they sell the used barrels either to craft breweries to make delicious bourbon barrel stouts (and just okay bourbon barrel ales) or ship them off to distilleries in Scotland to age Scotch whiskey. Then, after the Scotch is bottled, the barrels are shipped off to Canada to various herds of moose and men named Gord to use for their substandard corn, rye, and barley whiskeys.
In olive oil terms, Bourbon is Extra Virgin, Scotch is Virgin, and Canadian is that shit they pack tuna in and/or use for stripper wrestling.
Further, Canadian whiskey claims to be a "blended whiskey," causing most people to think it's different whiskey barrels from the same distillery blended together and then proofed with water (like most middle shelf bourbons). Just like people who think Trump was bold in saying John McCain was not a war hero, people who believe this are ignorant of the facts. No, Canadian whiskey is usually a proprietary blend of straight rye, corn, and barley whiskeys MIXED WITH PURE MOTHERFUCKING GRAIN ALCOHOL, so, you know, you can't say it's not flammable.
Canadian Mist boasts that it's "aged 36 months." You know a whiskey's going to suck when the company talks about its age the same way that horrible woman you work with talks about her ugly toddler who keeps getting hoof in mouth disease at daycare.
As such, I see your "keep it under $15" challenge and I raise you negative $6. I would raise you negative $7, but I'd sooner get kicked in the dick by Carey Spear than drink this nonsense without cola.
The Color: Your mom's idea of whiskey. "I don't want it to be too dark," your mom says. "I just used the Crest White Strips." And like everything your mom approves of, it's terrible looking, and you instantly realize you've made a bad life choice.
The Nose: You've probably heard of "The Angel's Share" and "The Devil's Cut." Canadian Mist smells like "The Atheist's Portion," as it smells like nothingness, and after you sniff it, you lose all sense of wonder of what is to come after.
The Taste (in a shot glass): White Chocolate Raisinets and rubbing alcohol. Seriously.
The Taste (in a pint of RC Cola): Exactly the same as a Crown and Coke, because all Canadian Whiskey is the same, no matter the cost. Listen, you can literally drink yourself to death on less than a sawbuck (depending on tax). And it tastes exactly like that time you spent over $100 on Crown and Cokes for that lazy eyed stripper who kept telling you her son had the same hair color you have. Stop complaining and drink.
The Verdict: Just lift the lid and pour this shit in your Super Big Gulp of RC Cola. Drink until you're able to convince yourself Coach Mason will have this team turned around in year two. Stop before you think they've got a real shot to make a bowl game if things break correctly, or you just might die. If you do it right, you won't even taste your organs dissolving. Well, there will be a hint of that.
Counterargument: Christian D'Andrea
Here's what I know about Canadian Mist.
1. It's my mom's preferred whisky. She once threw an in-law out of the house for spending too much money on scotch. The beverage in question? A 750ml bottle of J&B.
2. Since it's prevalent in my home, it's been the staple of a drinking game my terrible friends and I invented called Conception. I'll spare you the 10 page rule book that covers the ceremonial aspects of the event, but the basic gist is that every time you lose a game, you add a different 25-year old terrible liqueur to your drink...which starts with Canadian Mist and warm Coke. Canadian Mist is such an afterthought that we prefer to add creme de menthe, cinnamon vodka, and something called Tava to it rather than just drinking it plain. That's damning testimony.
3. Eat shit. We're getting four wins this season.
Counterargument: Andrew VU '04
*If you're going to drink like a freshman with a death wish, you might as well eat accordingly.
Yeah, I agree. That's pretty much my entire argument. It's terrible, but all Canadian whiskey is terrible. If you can't spend $30 or so on a quality bourbon, just sack up and drink Coke flavored moose poison until you stop worrying about your own death for a bit.
I'm definitely a bourbon snob, and this is beyond terrible, but I've had like 5 pint glasses full of this while writing, so damn it, it's effective. Admit it... I saved you $2. $3 without the cola (not recommended).
You're not winning this one.
p.s. Four wins, eh? Sounds like someone has imbibed just the right amount of moose poison...
(Pours another. Contemplates calling people up at 1am to tell them off about things that happened 10 years ago. Sips. Ponders. Apropos of nothing, doesn't former FSU QB "Christian Ponder" sound like a dating site for bi-curious members of the cloth? Yes. Yes he does. Pours another.)