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Back in 2009, something funny happened on the way to the scotch closet. Everyone ran out of money. Suddenly, dropping $50-$200 on a bottle of booze was a lot, and bourbon became the drink of choice for financial traders and cool guys alike. To figure out the best way to get a handle all this red-blooded awesomeness, we hit up Ethan Kelly of NYC's Brandy Library. He picked out a starting lineup of whiskeys that anyone can get down with, a tasting flight of soft bourbons, cocktail ryes, and spicy power whiskeys. As for how to drink them, Ethan says to drink them how you like them. If you need help though, he'd refer you to his mentors down South, where they recommend you drink it "quickly." Hit the jump to see what Ethan Kelly had to say about each of these bourbons, and why you should have a sit-down taste test with each...


Jim Beam Black Label-8 Year, 750ml
Price: Around $23 per bottle
Ethan of Brandy Library NYC says: "This is a personal soapbox of mine, I'm a huge Beam fan. Everyone wants to hate on the big distilleries, but this bourbon is the red-headed stepchild of the Jim Beam line. Jim Beam white is four years old, and this is the 8. It has all the body and character of your oaky bourbons, and Jim Beam puts pride in this. When people think about bourbon, they have preconceptions, but this is as good as anything out there. If you put it up blind, it will come out on top. Put that in a dressed-up bottle? It will sell at double the price."


Eagle Rare Single Barrel 750ml
Price: Around $24 per bottle
Ethan of Brandy Library NYC says: "Eagle Rare is a single-barrel bourbon that is very approachable and drinkable. If you're easing into bourbon, this is a real soft way to get in, but it still has structure and body to it."


Rittenhouse Rye 750ml
Price: Around $20 per bottle
Ethan of Brandy Library NYC says: "This is your standard issue, American rye whiskey. It is 100-proof, and should be your cocktail whiskey. Put it in a Manhattan or a Sazerac and it's going to stand up. It's strong, so it can mix up and dilute, but still pop off. You'll find this coming in under $25, and you can drink it straight, but it really shines in a cocktail."


Hudson Baby Bourbon 375ml
Price: Around $35 per bottle
Ethan of Brandy Library NYC says: "The Hudson Baby Barrel is technically made on what's called a farm distillery. It has really taken off lately because locavores and this whole organic thing has taken off. This is from upstate New York, and it's good, but it's not cheap. It's $35 per bottle, but it's a half bottle (350ml). Don't mix this one. If you're mixing this with cola or ginger ale, you're wasting it. There is a lot going on here, so if you want to taste bourbon from all angles, this is the one you sip and taste. If you are a bourbon drinker, and you want to take your boss out for a drink, this is where that falls in. You don't drink Maker's and ginger with the CEO of your company. Well maybe you do, but that depends on your company."


Wild Turkey Rare Breed 750ml
Price: Around $40 per bottle
Ethan of Brandy Library NYC says: "Wild Turkey's higher-tier whiskeys are known in the right circles, but in a lot of circles, Wild Turkey still scares the shit out of people. But that's not really fair. Wild Turkey is a strong whiskey, but it is a great whiskey all the way through the line. As you go up through the brand's tiers, there are different aging methods, but through and through, this is a great drink for someone with a spine. It's wholly unapologetic. This is how they make it, and that's what they're going to do. Wild Turkeys are dry, spicy, and rich. Give one of these higher-tiered ones a try—it's not what you remember."