Best Under $: Buffalo Trace Bourbon
Region: Kentucky | ABV: 45% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Caramel, Sweet corn
Buffalo Traces eponymous bourbon really stands out from the pack in terms of flavor and price. If youre looking for a dependable bourbon for less than $50, give this one a try. Its unpretentious and flavorful, with an ABV that makes it stand up to being used in any cocktail. There are so many good bourbons from the distillery that are expensive and hard to find, and thats great for collectors. But for the average drinker, stick with this workhorse that is vibrant and bold.
The Glenlivet 18 Year Old
The Glenlivets master distiller Alan Winchester has made many fantastic whiskies over the years, none more significant or awarded than the 18 Year Old. Winchester shepherds this expression through several different cask types, including both first- and second-fill American oak and ex-sherry oak . Its an intense whisky, full of ripe citrus and winter spice flavor. The Glenlivet 18 has garnered virtually every award of note handed out in the spirits industry, and deservedly so. It may well be the most complete mass-market whisky of all.
What Is The Smoothest Scotch Whisky Single Malt Or Blended
Any whisky critic will tell you that a single malt whisky has a reputation for being a higher quality than blends or other styles of whisky. Single malt Scotch whiskies tend to be smoother than blends because of the pride taken in their craftsmanship.
The flavor and balance of single malt Scotch whisky is also easier for distillers to control from one single malt. Famous distillers will often have single malt Scotches at their flagship whisky one that speaks to the skill and professionalism executed by the distillers in their process.
There are, however, loads of blends out there are equally as smooth as single malts. Our favorite example of a top of the range blend is Dewars Double Double 32 Year Old. Blends are often a result of great creativity to achieve incredibly smooth textures. They are quickly becoming more popular among whisky experts.
In short, single malt Scotch is not necessarily your overall answer to the burning question, what is the smoothest Scotch whisky? A well blended Scotch will offer you just as great a smooth-drinking experience.
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The Lakes Whiskymakers Reserve No 3
Innovative whisky makers are at work the length and breadth of England now, and one of the most ceaselessly inquisitive of them is Dhavall Gandhi at The Lakes Distillery in beautiful Cumbria. This is a rich, indulgent and hugely promising single malt, matured in a mix of Pedro Ximénez, oloroso, cream Sherry and red wine casks. Sumptuous. Alc 54%
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The Macallan Triple Cask Matured 18 Years Old
This legendary single malt, formerly known as Fine Oak 18 Years Old, is an amalgam of spirits aged in a trio of different oak caskssherry-seasoned European oak, sherry-seasoned American oak, and American ex-bourbon barrels. Of the many brilliant expressions produced by the Macallan, Triple Cask Matured 18arguably, of coursebest exemplifies the identity of the brands core range: scotch that is exceedingly smooth, elegant, and adorned with disparate tastes that somehow come together in perfect harmony. Dominant flavors include rich dark chocolate, dried coconut, and orange, with subtle notes of vanilla, nutmeg, and wood smoke. Best enjoyed neat with a side of toasted marshmallows dipped in Pedro Ximénez sherry.
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You Can Gauge Smoothness By The Nose
When nosing a Scotch whisky, you can often tell what you are in for by looking for certain characteristics in the smell. Similar to sipping the whisky, if you pick up a lot of alcohol on the nose, the Scotch may not be a smooth experience.
A younger whisky will have way more alcohol on the nose than a Scotch that has sat in casks and barrels for more than 10 years. You may feel a slight burning sensation in your nose when smelling a young Scotch whisky. Feeling a slight nasal sting is usually a good indicator that the whisky you are about to drink is relatively young. Usually, young whiskies are not as smooth as older vintages. The nose of Scotch is another reason age and smoothness generally go hand in hand.
There are some exceptions as we have mentioned, for example, with blends. Here, smoothness depends largely on the combination of flavors and vintages. Fundamentally though, the individual components of the blend need to be crafted in such a way that smoothness is achieved.
Lets take the Ardbeg Uigeadail as an example of a great Scotch to nose. The distillery describes the aromas of this Scotch whisky as heady and smokey. The scents that come through are comparable to wood burning on a fire, dark mulled fruit, coffee, and a hint of sweetness such as that of a warm pudding.
So, what is the smoothest Scotch whisky? Any Scotch that smells simply delectable and doesnt burn your nose when you breathe in.
Best Single Malt: Knappogue Castle 16 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey
ABV: 40% | Age: 16 years | Volume: 750 ml
Knappogue Castle is an Irish whiskey to keep on your radar. A specialist in single malts, this is one of the few brands that focus solely on age statements. Each bottle clearly declares the minimum amount of time the whiskeys in that blend spent in the barrel, so whiskey drinkers are not left guessing. While the younger 12- and 14-year expressions are impressive and cost less, Knappogue Castles 16-Year-Old Single Malt is pure elegance.
One of the Twin Wood labels, this whiskey spends 14 years in ex-bourbon barrels. It then finishes the aging process in Oloroso sherry casks, which is immediately apparent on the nose when you open the bottle. Vanilla, malty woods, and a pleasing array of fruits infuse this smooth 80-proof whiskey thats a fantastic choice with or after dinner.
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Lagavulin 16 Years Old
The most celebrated of the five whiskies in the Lagavulin range is the stuff of legend, for peats sake. Peat, of course, is the lifeblood of Islay whisky, and theres nary a dram produced on that scotch-soaked isle that is as peat-forward as Lagavulin 16. Its a smoke show, simple as that. Okay, maybe not so simple. Theres a bit of sweetness to this whisky, and some seaweed and bacon notes, as well. Mouthfeel is slightly oily, the juice chewy. Its the spiritual kin of the Shetland sweaterstylish, full of texture, and a source of great warmth.
Glenmorangie Grand Vintage Malt 1991
Photo: Courtesy of Glenmorangie
The fourth limited release in Glenmorangies much-ballyhooed Bond House No. 1 Vintage collection, Grand Vintage Malt 1991 rates among Glenmorangies legendary director of distilling, Dr. Bill Lumsdens finest achievements. Lumsden is a leading pioneer in wood finishing, and here he combines two vastly different whiskies to yield one damn tasty dram. One parcel, finished in Oloroso sherry casks, offers sweetness and spice, while the other, drawn from burgundy casks, delivers earthy, truffle notes. Opens with a burst of fruity flavors intermingled with chocolate, apples and raspberry. The mouthfeel is round and spicy, and the whisky finishes with a refreshing citrus zest. Named Whisky of the Year and Best Highland Single Malt at the esteemed 2019 International Whisky Competition.
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Irish Whiskey Jameson Caskmates
Alongside Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey is full of rich history in distilling and spirits, as theyre one of the first countries that commercially sold the liquor to the public.
You can really taste the experience of Irish Whiskey in every shot. But were willing to bet that the person youre introducing the whiskey to doesnt care too much about its history , so lets focus on the taste for now.
Jameson Caskmates is a great Irish Whisky to get started with. Its different from the usual Jamesons, as Caskmates batches are aged in ex- beer barrels including stout barrels or IPA barrels..
This provides an added malty, fruity flavor that you normally wouldnt find in your typical whiskeys. If you want to offer something with extra flavor instead of going for the smoothness, then Jameson Caskmates is a good choice.
Benriach The Smoky Twelve Single Malt Scotch Whiskey
The common wisdom regarding peated Scotchthose smoky, often medicinal whiskies made with barley that’s been dried over a peat-fueled fireis that you either like them or you dont. But if in the past youve been turned off by a briny, Band-Aid-scented single malt from Islay in the past, H. Joseph Ehrmannproprietor of Elixir in San Franciscorecommends giving the peated expressions from Speyside distillery BenRiach a chance.
“As much as I like a big, classic peat bomb, I love it even more when peat is used strategically to create a whisky that is utterly balanced like a perfect cocktail,” he says. While definitely present, the smoke in BenRiachs The Smoky Twelve doesnt overwhelm the notes of orchard fruit and baking spice.
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Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey
Flavoured whiskeys are not for everyone and not every bottle produced is worth noting. But heres an exception. This is an amazingly smooth whiskey with a little bit of sweetness thanks to the honey liqueur that is blended with the famous Tennessee whiskey. Easy on the wallet, this is a good place to start experimenting with a great American classic. Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey sips very well on its own and also works fabulously in an old-fashioned, manhattan or whisky sour.
Darkness 8 Year Old: Best Sherry
Price: £50 | Buy now from Master of Malt
This mysterious brand is produced at an unnamed distillery somewhere in Speyside and the result is an outrageously drinkable whisky. It may only be an 8 year old single malt whisky at its core, but those eight years have been spent maturing in bourbon barrels and then followed with a further three months in deliberately bijou octave Oloroso sherry casks to imbue as much complexity and flavour as possible.
The sherry influence isn’t quite as intense as with some whiskies we’ve tasted, but the result is impossible to dislike. There’s a rich, vibrant surge of flavour bursting with sherry, spice, orange peel and amaretto, all underpinned with a gentle sweetness which results in a whisky that’s dangerously drinkable. For the money, it’s one of our favourites – and a stunning dram to boot.
Key specs Alcohol content: 47.8% Bottle size: 70cl Country of origin: Scotland
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Widow Jane Oak & Apple Wood Aged Rye
Brooklyns Widow Jane adds a proprietary spin to its rye whiskey by introducing applewood staves into the barrels during maturation. The finished spirit has rye-forward aromas complemented by a hint of cornbread, while the palate delivers sweetness and spice, with a bitter dark chocolate finish, perfect for a complex Old Fashioned.
The Balvenie Doublewood 12 Year Old
The Balvenie is a great distillery. Like at Springbank, every phase of whisky production takes place at The Balvenie. Their core lineup is diverse enough to satisfy most palates, with bottles showcasing sherry, bourbon, port, and rum, and peat week releases that crank the smoke. And while other distilleries are removing age statements to cut corners, The Balvenie has been doubling down on incredible, aged offerings like Tun 1509, which releases yearly in small quantities and should be on your wishlist. The Balvenie DoubleWood is 12-year-old whisky thats spent nine months in ex-Oloroso sherry casks and makes for a great intro to the distillery at a fabulous price.
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Best Overall: Henry Mckenna Single Barrel
Region: Kentucky | ABV: 50% | Tasting Notes: Caramel, Honey, Vanilla
From Heaven Hill Distillery, this Henry Mckenna bourbon was named “Best in Show” at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and with good reason. Aged in oak barrels, this bourbon is the only extra-aged bottled-in-bond single barrel bourbon available and offers a smooth, sumptuous, structured flavor profile.
Xania Woodman, bar manager and lead bartender at O.P. Rockwell Cocktail Lounge & Music Hall, describes the 10-year-old bourbon as rich and buttery, “like butterscotch candy,” but with an appreciable bite. And for all its attributes, the price point isn’t as exorbitant as some other celebrated bourbons. âIt just goes to show you,â says Woodman, âthat an astronomical price doesn’t necessarily indicate actual quality.â
Smooth Whiskeys For Beginners
Lets face it whiskey isnt for everyone. Sure, it may have some flavor in it, but for the most part, its a hard drink, and it doesnt go down as easily as many other liquors in the market. That’s exactly why we’re going to talk about smooth whiskeys for beginners.
Many people would prefer other hard drinks over whiskeys, such as tequila or even vodka, crazily enough.
And lets not forget the alcoholic beverage everyone loves beer. Theres not much to hate about beer as a whole, and Id bet you that your average person would, more likely than not, rather have a beer than a whiskey any day of the week.
Thats not to say that whiskey is inferior to beer, or any other alcoholic drinks for that matter. In fact, theres a lot to talk about when it comes to whiskey.
There are different variants of whiskey, based on the country of origin or based on the ingredient in the rye mash . They’re all good, and you’ll have to try a couple before you figure out which one suits your tastes best.
I used to be really into bourbon. Then it was rye. Now I’ve only got Scotch in my house.
If I had to choose one single whiskey to recommend for beginners, it would be Maker’s Mark bourbon. It’s easy to fine, relatively inexpensive, and drinking bourbon sounds cool. It’s a smooth whiskey with a little bit of sweetness to it , so a very cool and tasty whiskey for beginners.
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Best Japanese: Hakushu 12 Year Old
Region: Yamanashi, Japan | ABV: 43% | Tasting Notes: Green apple, Citrus, Smoke
Japanese whiskey, particularly from Suntory, can be very costly and hard to get, but this bottle from the Hakushu distillery in the Japanese Alps is phenomenal. It features crisp notes of unripe melon and apple, along with just a hint of smoke. This 12-year-old whiskey makes a delicious highball, although you might want to save this to sip. Lynnette Marrero, bar director for Llama Inn and Llama San NYC, calls it delicious, grassy, a little smokier than other Japanese whiskeys.
Whisky Beginners Dont Fear Heres How To Pick The Best Whiskies To Start
Theres a literal world of whisky out there, but while we know thats cause for celebration it can also be a daunting prospect particularly if youre new to the category. Whats what? Where to start? What to try?
To get you on your way weve put together a guide with the help of Greg Dillon, Editor of the ever-excellent whisky blog GreatDrams and Whisky Wizard at The Dram Team. It details several of the most important styles of world whisky and whos likely to enjoy them, and includes product recommendations for each.
Just want the list? Heres whats on Gregs essential whisky list:
There is also an abridged, embeddable version you can share on your own site if you like. The snippet is available at the end of the page.
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Johnnie Walker Gold Label
Frantjasko Laonora, head mixologist at Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort in Curaçao
Johnnie Walker Gold Label. You immediately get delicious a honey and vanilla aroma with the first sip while different fruity notes start to develop on your palate making the Johnnie Walker Gold Label perfect to sip on during summer.
Kilkerran 12 Year Old
Longrow has been distilling Islay-style single malt at Springbreak since 1973. This is double-distilled and aged in bourbon and sherry barrels. These bottles are hard to come by, and carry a high price tag, but are worth picking up to explore Campbeltowns take on peated Scotch.
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Which Is Smoother Scotch Or Whisky
Scotch is actually the same as whisky. The difference is that Scotch is made in Scotland and whisky can be made anywhere. Bourbon is another style, but this is typically made in the United States of America.
The three top whiskies were using as examples here are all Scotch whiskies. As weve mentioned, a lot of Scottish identity is embedded in the creation of beautiful Scotch. Many distilleries have been handed down through generations of Scottish families.
Scottish distillers have spent years perfecting their craft and the quality of their Scotch. For this reason, many whisky enthusiasts will argue that Scotch is the smoothest whisky to drink and it is a world favorite.
Just like you, readers, the Scottish were probably asking themselves what is the smoothest Scotch whisky we could possibly create?. As a result, years of perfecting the art of distilling came to be.
However, any good connoisseur will tell you that your own preference will give you the best experience of whisky or Scotch that you could ask for. Many people enjoy different aspects of whisky. Some may like lighter blends, and some may like single malt bold flavors.
So when asking which is smoother, Scotch or whisky? The short answer is that its up to you! Dont be afraid to experiment and try out loads of different Scotches and whiskies to work out which qualities you prefer.