For a traditional rye, Smith recommends Knob Creek, which is more oak-heavy than most other ryes and will make you feel like you're drinking something much older.
"This won best in class for a high-rye bourbon and it only costs $35. When revealed after the competition, judges were amazed that their favorite was a Woodford Reserve," Smith says. "People were saying that they had a new respect for Woodford and that these blind tastings are real eye-openers."
Wild Turkey Russell's Reserve 10 Year Old
Smith calls out the crowd-pleasing nature of this Wild Turkey batch (we can't vouch for Maximus, but he's always hard to please). "It goes great with chocolate and malt balls," he crows.
What makes this Scottish single malt special is that the smoke flavor isn't as heavy as others of its class. "The light hint of smoke makes this whiskey incredible," Smith says.