TASTE

Eggnog Taste Test: The Best Liquors For Spiking Your Holiday Drink

We found the magic combination.

12/05/2017 11:54 EST | Updated 12/07/2017 13:05 EST

Eggnog, like the holiday parties at which it is so often served, can be unbearable without alcohol. Even a sip of virgin eggnog can smother your mouth and throat with treacly sweetness for hours. But the spicy flavor and airy texture of distilled spirits cut straight through even the gummiest and most saccharine of eggnogs, transforming a vile concoction into the perfect drink for December.

But what kind of liquor should you use for spiking your eggnog? Almost everyone agrees that brown liquors are the way to go, but beyond that, the consensus breaks down. Bourbon, cognac and dark rum each have vocal adherents, while others vote for some combination of two of those, or even all three. (Martha Stewart is in the “all three” camp.)

Faced with such differing opinions, HuffPost Taste decided to hold a Cocktail Taste Test to settle the question once and for all. We bought a great deal of Trader Joe’s Egg Nog — the nationally available store-bought eggnog that scored highest in our Taste Test a few years back — and mixed it with various kinds of alcohol, then served it to a panel of HuffPost tasters to see which one they liked most.

After we tallied up everyone’s scorecards, one thing was clear: the best way to spike egg nog is to use two, and only two, kinds of liquor. Scroll down to see the full results of the taste test.

As always, the brands included did not in any way sponsor or influence the outcome of this taste test.

 

  • The Contenders
    Justin Woiwode/The Huffington Post
    We spiked Trader Joe's Egg Nog ($2.99) with Buffalo Trace bourbon ($25), Courvoisier VSOP cognac ($36), Appleton Estate Reserve rum ($38), and combinations thereof. For each drink, we used one part liquor for every five parts eggnog, a ratio we decided upon in a pre-taste test trial run. We found that any more alcohol tended to dominate the drink and any less was borderline imperceptible.
  • 1. Cognac & Rum
    Justin Woiwode/The Huffington Post
    Score: 8.6

    Tasters Said: "Good balance." "Big, sweet flavors." "The liquor balances out the milkiness of the nog. Dare I say delightful?" "A smooth, natural mix. The winner!"
  • 2. Cognac & Bourbon
    Justin Woiwode/The Huffington Post
    Score: 6.5

    Tasters Said: "Tastes rich, lush, and luxurious: perfect for Christmas." "Hard to taste the booze. I would recommend this to a novice nogger." "Nice and balanced." "A standout." "I feel like this one would get me the most crunk at a holiday party."
  • 3. Rum & Bourbon
    Justin Woiwode/The Huffington Post
    Score: 6.4

    Tasters Said: "Great nutty notes." "Middle of the road." "Very weak but tasty." "Subtle flavor." "A little too sweet for my taste." "Cinnamon notes."
  • 4 (Tie). Bourbon Alone
    Justin Woiwode/The Huffington Post
    Score: 5.5

    Tasters Said: "Nice smoke. Lots of caramel." "A bit strong for my taste." "Bold." "The booze overpowers the drink as a whole." "Packs a punch!"
  • 4 (Tie). Cognac Alone
    Justin Woiwode/The Huffington Post
    Score: 5.5

    Tasters Said: "Not a great aftertaste." "A bit artificial tasting." "Sort of a nutmeg flavor." "Nice balance." "I don't necessarily hate it. Doesn't burn going down."
  • 6. Bourbon, Cognac & Rum
    Justin Woiwode/The Huffington Post
    Score: 4.4

    Tasters Said: "There's a lot going on here -- maybe too much?" "Too strong of a flavor." "I can definitely taste the spice." "Not my favorite, but I'm also not gagging."
  • 7. Rum Alone
    Justin Woiwode/The Huffington Post
    Score: 2.5

    Tasters Said: "Not super stoked on this." "Astringent and alcohol-forward, with notes of plastic." "Weird taste." "Boozy." "Has a bite to it." "The liquor is overwhelming."
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