This may be the best bottom-shelf whiskey you have never heard of. I had not known of its existence until about a month ago when one of our local supermarket chains, Best Market, went out of business and had a clearance sale on liquor. I noticed a bottle of Henderson Whiskey for $8.99 and figured for that price, it was worth a try. If sub-par, I could use it in mixed drinks or cook with it (I make an amazing Brussels Sprouts with brown sugar and whiskey).
I ended up being pleasantly surprised. So much so that I returned the next day to buy the remaining bottles but someone had beat me to it. Fast-forward: I was just at the liquor store today in one of my limited outings aside from work, looking for a cheaper handle of whiskey to keep around “just in case” during these trying times, and they had a handle of Henderson for $17.99. So I snatched it up.
This is not a whiskey that will blow you away. You would not pull out a bottle to impress your friends. Some may label it more on the weaker side, but that lack of bite makes it perfect for easy sipping on the rocks or use in a Old Fashioned with some good bitters, quality simple syrup, and cherry. I probably would not drink it straight, but then again, would you prefer a smooth cheap whiskey or one that will burn your throat? When you think of bottom shelf whiskey, Canadian Club, Seagram’s, Rebel Yell, Old Crow, Heaven Hill, and Fleischmann’s come to mind. Henderson is better than all of them, though perhaps not quite as good as Evan Williams at that price point.
Their website is pretty spot on with describing it: in between a bourbon and a Canadian whiskey. It seems they have won a couple of awards for best “value whiskey”. The name Henderson, they say, comes from a bootlegger named Henderson from the Prohibition Era, but that seems to be just a character they created to give it some backstory. Whatever the case, give it a try. For the price, you cannot go wrong. I’ve had expensive whiskeys that were less pleasant than this. Solid C+.