Eggnog is most often spiked with either brandy, rum, or whiskey, but which liquor makes the best eggnog? The only way to find out is to make eggnog and taste the three options side-by-side. Of course, this will be a matter of personal opinion, but the conclusion from this test is that brandy is the most suitable choice for eggnog.
Each of the three spirits has its own flavor profile and makes an excellent addition to the creamy, sweet, comforting taste of eggnog. And yet, there is something special about brandy that makes it stand out. Rum was a very close runner-up in this eggnog showdown. What's most interesting is that brandy and rum are the traditional choices for eggnog, having made an appearance in the holiday drink for a few centuries.
While we may lean toward the classic taste, there are many liquors in the world and a lot of eggnog to drink. One style or brand of whiskey may really impress your taste buds, and tequila and vodka are not out of the question. With a flurry of eggnog recipes to explore, discovering the best eggnog pairings is a nearly endless (and quite enjoyable) pursuit.
For the brandy eggnog, Korbel VS was the brand of choice, and it produced a perfectly balanced drink. This eggnog had a nice sweetness in every sip, which paired admirably with the creamy egg base. It has a catchy, lively flavor with more depth than the others and a nice, warm brandy note that doesn't hide behind the eggnog (nor was it overwhelming). This eggnog is almost floral and a real delight to drink. You might even say that it can turn any anti-eggnog person around.
Mount Gay Eclipse was used in the rum eggnog, and it was right behind brandy. Yet, in direct comparison, the rum fell a little too much into the background. While it was very subtle, it was a bit more pronounced on the back end than the brandy. Overall, the eggnog was delicious and just sweet enough so you could taste that there was alcohol beyond the creamy egg mixture.
Originally, the whiskey eggnog was a bit disappointing. Jim Beam Black Label was the initial bourbon for this taste test, and it certainly made an interesting eggnog. The flavor was captivating at first, then the novelty wore off, and it quickly became too much.
Unwilling to let whiskey off the hook because the category is so vast, the eggnog challenge called for another round. This time, the original brandy and rum choices were pitted against the sweeter bourbon of Maker's Mark and the spicier High West Double Rye Whiskey.
No matter which style, whiskey does make the most flavorful eggnog because the spirit's profile pops out of the drink. Maker's Mark created eggnog more in line with the brandy version; it simply added a whiskey kick. It is quite tasty, and there would be no hesitation to make it again.
The rye whiskey turned out to be equally impressive but in a different way. Here, those spicy rye notes sprang out of the eggnog and tantalized the tongue. It was fantastic and an exciting taste experience, though it's not a two-round drink. One was enough for the evening.
Top-Shelf Isn't Necessary
Eggnog is a thick drink, though the flavor is not terribly heavy, and the liquor you pour will make an impact on the cocktail's taste. You don't have to spend a lot of money, but the best eggnog comes from mid-range brands. Like Korbel, there are also some excellent budget-friendly options. Select spirits that you enjoy in other mixed drinks, and you'll have a good foundation.
Which Liquor Will You Choose for Eggnog?
This is all a matter of personal taste, as is eggnog in general. Which spirit you prefer may not fall in line with these results. Hopefully, however, this gives you a good starting point for your own eggnog adventures. Do a taste test for yourself: choose two or three spirits and a simple, quick eggnog recipe.
A few tips to help you along:
- Be sure to include brandy or cognac in your tasting. Consider it the control liquor of the group; you'll be surprised at how well it works.
- Avoid white rum because it's too light and transparent. Instead, choose a gold or aged rum. For a fun twist similar to rye whiskey, go with spiced rum.
- For the best of both classics, pour both brandy and rum, splitting them equally in the eggnog.
- Try at least two styles of whiskey. Remember that whiskeys vary greatly from one style to the next and even within each style. Your experience may mimic this test where you're disappointed in one whiskey but intrigued by another.
- Don't rule out tequila. This can be very delicious, particularly if you add a little sherry, though you will want to choose either an añejo or reposado tequila.
- Vodka? Try vanilla vodka or a homemade infusion with some seasonal spice like cinnamon or ginger.
- Most eggnog recipes can work with any of the three common spirits. Once you discover your personal preference, try it in another version of eggnog alongside the liquor the recipe recommends.
Most importantly, have fun with your eggnog taste test. It's not a bad experiment to take part in, so grab a few nog-loving friends and start shaking!