BartendingFood & Drinks

What Is Bottom Shelf Whiskey? (Explained With Examples)

What Is Bottom Shelf Whiskey?

The staple of any bar, bottom-shelf whiskey is the workhorse of the liquor world. The bar scene is filled with whiskey drinkers, and bottom-shelf whiskey is often their drink of choice.

One may argue that bottom-shelf whiskey is cheap, but that’s not always the case. Some people prefer the taste of bottom-shelf whiskey.

But what exactly is it?

Bottom-shelf whiskeys are generally made with lower-quality ingredients and are not aged for as long as premium brands. This results in a less complex flavor profile, making them less expensive. While they may not be as refined as their pricier counterparts, they can still be enjoyable to drink.

We’ll explore what being listed as bottom-shelf whiskey means and some of the most popular brands in this category.

What Does It Mean To Be Bottom Shelf?

What Does It Mean To Be Bottom Shelf?

When whiskey is referred to as a bottom shelf, it simply means that it is one of the less expensive options on the market. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the whiskey is of poor quality but is not as refined as the more expensive brands.

A few factors contribute to a whiskey’s position on the shelf.

Quality of the Ingredient

One of the main differences between top-shelf and bottom-shelf whiskeys is the ingredients’ quality.

Bottom-shelf whiskeys are generally made with lower-quality grains, which results in a less complex flavor profile.

The ingredients used in a whiskey will directly impact its taste, so it’s important to choose wisely if you’re looking for a particular flavor.

Ageing Process

Another factor that contributes to a whiskey’s shelf position is the length of time it spends aging.

Top-shelf whiskeys are usually aged for a more extended period, allowing the flavors to develop and become more complex. On the other hand, bottom-shelf whiskeys are typically aged for a shorter period, resulting in a less refined flavor.

While age is not the only factor determining a whiskey’s quality, it plays a role in its placement on the shelf.

Price

Of course, the price is the main difference between top-shelf and bottom-shelf whiskeys.

Top-shelf whiskeys are generally more expensive due to the higher quality of the ingredients and the long aging process.

Bottom-shelf whiskeys, on the other hand, are less expensive because they are made with lower-quality ingredients and are not aged for as long.

Popularity

Have you ever wondered why some whiskey brands are always sold out while others seem to sit on the shelves for months?

It all has to do with popularity. The more popular whiskey is, the faster it will sell.

While one may argue that top-shelf whiskeys are more popular because they are of higher quality, that is not always the case.

Plenty of popular bottom-shelf whiskeys are just as well-loved as their premium counterparts.

Popular Bottom Shelf Whiskey Brands

Popular Bottom Shelf Whiskey Brands

A few brands of bottom-shelf whiskey stand out from the rest.

These brands are popular for various reasons, but they all have one thing in common: they offer great value for the price.

Here are some of the most popular bottom-shelf whiskey brands:

Old Crow

Old Crow is a famous brand of bottom-shelf whiskey that has been around since 1835.

It is made with low-quality grains and is aged for a shorter period than premium brands. This results in a less complex flavor profile, making Old Crow one of the most affordable whiskeys on the market.

While it may not be the best-tasting whiskey out there, it is an excellent option for those on a budget.

Jim Beam

Jim Beam is another famous brand of bottom-shelf whiskey.

It is made with a blend of low-quality grains and is aged for just four years. Because of this, Jim Beam’s flavor profile is less complex than that of premium brands, but it is also one of the most reasonably priced whiskeys.

Jim Beam, like Old Crow, is a fantastic choice for individuals on a limited budget.

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey is a bottom-shelf whiskey brand known for its high alcohol content. It is made with a blend of low-quality grains and is aged for just four years.

The taste is less complex than premium brands, but the high alcohol content makes Wild Turkey a popular choice for those who want to get drunk quickly.

Takeaway

A few factors contribute to a whiskey’s shelf position, including the quality of the ingredients, the length of time it ages, and the price.

Top-shelf whiskeys are generally made with higher-quality ingredients, aged for a more extended period, and are more expensive. On the other hand, bottom-shelf whiskeys are made with lower-quality ingredients, aged for a shorter period, and are less expensive.

While age, quality, and price are all important factors to consider, the most important factor is your personal preference. There are plenty of great-tasting bottom-shelf whiskeys out there, so don’t be afraid to experiment until you find one you like.