Liquor Laboratory

10 Best Dark Liquors Tasted & Ranked (2024 Updated)

Best Dark Liquor

Dark liquors beckon with their deep hues and complex flavors, enticing both the seasoned enthusiast and the curious explorer.

From the smooth embrace of aged bourbons to the intriguing smokiness of dark rums, each dark liquor boasts a few key things worth noticing.

As an experienced mixologist, I’ve had the chance to taste and experience an array of the best dark liquors. If you are new to drinking alcohol like dark liquors, keep reading.

Top 10 Best Dark Liquors You Shouldn’t Miss 

10. Captain Morgan – Original Spiced Rum

Bartender Making Cocktail Drink Using Captain Morgan - Original Spiced Rum

Average Price: Roughly $25.74 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 35% ABV

Nose: Warm spices, vanilla, and caramel

Palate: Smooth with a hint of sweetness and a balanced spice profile

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: As I took the first sip, I was immediately captivated by the flavors of the spiced rum.

“Sip the darkness, taste the legacy, embrace the spirit journey.”- Liquor Laboratory

Unlike light rum, this gold rum has a delicate sweetness and a balanced taste of cinnamon, clove, dried fruit, and toasted sugar that dances on my palate.

But what’s the best white liquor?

9. Skrewball – Peanut Butter Whiskey

Bartender Making Drink Using Skrewball - Peanut Butter Whiskey

Average Price: Roughly $31.89 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 35% ABV

Nose: Roasted peanuts, spiced vanilla, and caramel

Palate: Creamy peanut butter with oak undertones

Star Rating⭐⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: A sip revealed an indulgent delight of the flavored whiskey. The distinctive flavor is not as strong as rye whiskey because it has rich roasted peanuts, caramel, and spicey notes.

Also, it has a smoother flavor and is best served neat and with ice cubes.

8. Michael’s – Celtic Irish Cream

Michael's - Celtic Irish Cream

Average Price: Roughly $18.94 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 17% ABV

Nose: Rich Irish cream with hints of chocolate and vanilla

Palate: Creamy and smooth with a perfect balance of sweetness

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: The Irish whiskey has a creamy and smooth texture and is great served neat because of its strong flavors. It is a high-quality dark spirit with a beautiful dark color and notes of velvety chocolate and vanilla.

This dark liquor has distinct flavor profiles as it is aged in oak barrels (used bourbon barrels, not wine barrels).

It does not have high alcohol concentration than other popular dark liquors, but it has an intense flavor and beautiful caramel coloring that mixes great in warm cocktails.

7. Jack Daniels – Whiskey Sour Mash Old No. 7 Black Label

Bottle of Jack Daniels - Whiskey Sour Mash Old No. 7 Black Label

Average Price: Roughly $26.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV

Nose: Charred oak and caramel

Palate: Vanilla and toasted wood

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: This spirit is a legendary icon in dark liquors. The aroma of charred oak and caramel greeted my nose.

The Tennessee whiskey has a more intense flavor than blended whiskey, revealing vanilla and toasted wood notes in every sip. It is not a light liquor because distilled spirits like Jack Daniels have 40% ABV.

6. Canadian Club

Canadian Club Bottle Label

Average Price: Roughly $15.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV

Nose: Light floral notes with a touch of spice

Palate: Gentle and mellow with hints of oak and vanilla

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: Alcoholic beverages like Canadian Club flagship whisky have a richer flavor that is best consumed on tropical drinks.

Upon drinking, I noticed hints of oak and vanilla that you would not find in lighter counterparts.

5. Dewars – White Label Blended Scotch Whisky

Dewars - White Label Blended Scotch Whisky on Top of Wooden Barrel

Average Price: Roughly $27.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV

Nose: Honey, heather, and a touch of smoke

Palate: Caramel and a subtle smokiness

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: Dewar’s White Label is skillfully blended for sweetness and smokiness, and is typically full-bodied, thanks to its distillation process and aging process in oak barrels.

It is not light alcohol, and unlike other darker liquors, my tastebuds were treated with rich notes of caramel and a subtle smokiness.

4. Plantation Original Dark Rum

Bottle of Plantation Original Dark Rum

Average Price: Roughly $17.99 (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV

Nose: Rich molasses and tropical fruits

Palate: Cocoa, spices, and a hint of sweetness

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: Plantation Original Dark Rum is an exquisite dark liquor that captivates from the first sip. The rich notes of molasses and tropical fruits filled the air as I savored the aromas of dark alcohol.

The flavors range from spiced vanilla and caramel, and unlike over-proof rum, it is easier to find in any liquor store.

We’ve got a list of our favorite cocktails with dark rum here.

3. Jim Beam – Bourbon Kentucky

Jim Beam - Bourbon Kentucky

Average Price: Roughly $16.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV

Nose: Vanilla, caramel, and oak

Palate: Bold and robust with flavors of toffee and a warm finish

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: Jim Beam Bourbon Kentucky is a true American classic among dark liquors. Dark liquor is not flavorless, unlike clear liquors, thanks to its aging in new oak barrels [1].

The vanilla and caramel are very evident and blend excellently in mixed drinks. But, really, what color is bourbon?

2. Black Velvet

Bottle of Black Velvet Canadian Whisky

Average Price: Roughly $22.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV

Nose: Mellow with subtle grain and caramel notes

Palate: Smooth and velvety with a gentle sweetness

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: Black Velvet Canadian whisky is a delightful dark liquor that deserves a toast. I like the mellow sweetness with subtle notes of grain and caramel of this dark spirit.

But what alcohol goes with coffee?

1. Woodford Reserve

Bottle of Woodford Reserve

Average Price: Roughly $34.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV

Nose: Rich and nutty with hints of dried fruit and spices

Palate: Vanilla, toasted oak, and a hint of peppery spice

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: Woodford Reserve is a distinguished dark liquor aged in charred oak barrels.

“I drink to make other people more interesting.” —Ernest Hemingway, Novelist 

It has a symphony of flavors, from dried fruit and spice to a hint of smokiness, culminating in a velvety and lingering finish.

Note: Each product was evaluated on its overall quality, flavor profile, complexity, smoothness, and overall enjoyment.

FAQs

What are dark liquors?

Dark liquors are a category of spirits like American brandy, Japanese whisky, Spanish brandy, red wine, and flavored brandy, typically aged in wooden barrels, giving them rich color and complex flavors.

What is the best dark liquor for no hangover?

Dark and light alcohol can give hangovers [2], but aged rum can be the best liquor for no hangover because of its lesser congeners. We’ve got our white rum and dark comparison here.

Is vodka light or dark liquor?

Vodka is considered a light liquor because it is clear liquor. Light liquors typically don’t undergo extensive aging in wooden barrels like dark liquors.

Is Hennessy dark liquor?

Yes, Hennessy is a dark liquor. It is a premium cognac aged in oak barrels and known for its deep amber color and complex flavor profile.

Why is Whiskey often considered one of the best dark liquors?

Whiskey, whether Scotch, Irish, or Bourbon, is prized for its complex flavors, ranging from smoky and peaty to sweet and oaky, making it a favorite among dark liquor enthusiasts.

What sets Rum apart as a top dark liquor choice?

Rum is known for its diverse flavor profile, which can range from rich and caramel-like to spicy and fruity, offering versatility in cocktails and sipping.

Why do people enjoy Brandy as a dark liquor option?

Brandy is valued for its smoothness and depth of flavor, often featuring notes of fruit, caramel, and oak, making it an elegant choice for sipping or mixing in cocktails.

What makes dark Tequila stand out among other dark liquors?

Dark tequila, particularly aged or extra añejo varieties, offers complexity and depth, with flavors of vanilla, oak, and caramel, appealing to aficionados of dark spirits.

Are there any cocktails that highlight the richness of dark liquors?

Yes, classic cocktails like Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Dark and Stormy, and Brandy Alexander are perfect showcases for the depth and complexity of dark liquors.

Key Takeaways

Throughout this exploration, we’ve encountered iconic spirits like Jack Daniel’s, Jim Beam, and Canadian Club, each showcasing its unique character.

However, Woodford Reserve is a standout choice in the excellence in the world of dark spirits. Its craftsmanship, refined flavors, and velvety finish make it a true connoisseur’s delight.

References:

  1. https://www.cnbc.com/2015/06/04/5-rules-that-make-it-bourbon.html
  2. https://www.britannica.com/story/why-does-drinking-give-you-a-hangover
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