How To Choose The Best Whisky For You
What are the different types of whisky?
Whisky comes in three main types. Single malt whisky is made with malted barley and aged in oak casks, giving it a distinctive aroma and flavour. Single malt whisky is made entirely with malt from a single distillery, without the addition of other grains. Scotch whisky, in particular, is known for its robust single malts, but this style of whisky is produced worldwide look in the right places and youll find Irish, Japanese and Indian single malts.
Grain whisky is produced using grains other than malted barley in the US, this is commonly maize or corn, producing the sweeter bourbon-style American whiskies. In Scotland and Ireland, unmalted cereals produce a lighter grain whisky, which can occasionally be found to drink on its own but is most often used in a malt whisky blend.
The most commonly-produced whisky is blended, made from a mix of malt and grain spirits. Since single malt whisky is labour-intensive and expensive to produce, blending with a grain generally results in a cheaper product. The addition of the lighter grain whisky also creates a smoother, less complex flavour that some may prefer, and that can be good for use in cocktails and mixed drinks.
Which whisky is right for me?
READ NEXT: These are the brandies you HAVE to try
Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky
Japanese whiskys have quickly grown in size and scale over the past couple of decades, becoming big enough to rival the old dudes in Europe and the U.S. Whiskey connoisseurs havent always been excited to branch out to a whole new continent, but theyve continued buying from Japan because the whisky has a rich sharpness and spice that cant be found elsewhere. Leading the charge from Japan is Suntory, a brand with three distilleries in the Chita Peninsula, Yamazaki and the Japanese Alps.
Suntorys Toki whisky is their best-seller with a very reasonable price tag and flavor that works on its own or in cocktails. The name, Toki, translates to time, and denotes the Tokis blend of variously-aged whiskys from each of Suntorys three distilleries. Tasters have noted the Tokis accessible lightness and flavors of oak, honey and vanilla.
Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch Barrel Strength
Every year, Four Roses releases a limited edition small batch bourbon whiskey bottled at barrel strength and non-chill filtered for that full Im drinking right out of the barrel experience. Each yearly release is made available initially in the fall for less than a hundred bucks, but prices quickly shoot up on the secondary market even before it wins all of its awards for the year. While the recipe varies each year in terms of age, mash bill and obviously taste, the three different years weve sampled have all delivered on the complex, full-bodied and surprisingly smooth experience weve come to expect from Four Roses. $85
Also Check: What Is Black Spiced Rum
Balblair 21 Year Old 1993 Gordan & Macphail Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Take everything thats great about the Balblair distillery and combine it with the centuries old Gordan & MacPhail bottling and distilling operation to get an idea of what makes this independent bottling of a two decade old Scotch whisky so special. The 53.4% ABV Highland whisky was bottled at cask strength after being matured in a first-fill Sherry butt from 19932014. Figs, plums, oak, raisins, rum and chocolate are just a few of the things this Sherry monster has to offer in terms of its evolving taste and aroma. If you can find it, this is one of the best Scotch whisky bottles to add to your collection for special occasions. $260
Aberlour A’bunadh Alba Single Malt Scotch Whisky
If you have been lucky enough to go to a whisky distillery then you may well have tried whisky straight from the cask. This Aberlour A’Bunadh Alba Single Malt Scotch Whisky is the closest we’ve got to that experience at home. It’s a beautiful dram, rich with apple and pear notes. It’s been matured in 1st fill American Oak barrels and that has added a sherbet sweetness to proceedings, too. This one is over 60% so you may want to mix with water – however you drink it, you will, like us, be savouring every last drop. Lovely stuff
Also Check: What Is The Biggest Bottle Of Vodka You Can Buy
Best Bourbons That Are Not So Obtainable
These are the bottles that may be either hard to get hold of because there isnt enough supply and they sell out instantly upon release or are too expensive for the average person to afford.
None of us has tried the likes of Michters Celebration or Pappy 25 so you wont find them on here and we have only tried the following in bars hence there are no bottle photos or full reviews to share as we dont do reviews based on drams tasted in bars.
Most of these would be in the top 10 bourbons of all time with a few from the obtainable list mixed in. Here they are in no specific order:
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.
You May Like: What Are Some Good Rum Drinks
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.
Ardbeg Uigeadail 959 Pts
Named for the loch that Ardbeg sources its pure water from, Uigeadail is a strong, peat driven whiskey with notes of smoke, leather, dried fruits and walnut oil. Courtesy of maturation in both old bourbon and sherry casks, the Ardbeg Uigeadail has a flavour of Christmas pudding, glazed smoked ham with a burst of clove-driven spice on the finish.
You May Like: Where Can I Buy Whiskey Barrels
Hakushu 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky
With gold or 1st place medals from the World Whiskies Awards, International Whisky Competition and Jim Murray himself in the Whisky Bible, Hakushu 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky is one of the most-awarded, best whisky contenders you can get your hands on for less than a hundred bucks. Unlike some other single malt options, this Japanese whisky has a fresh nose and a fruitier palate without veering into an area that makes it too sweet to drink over a rock or two. $99
Best Scotch Whisky: Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19 Year Old Whisky
Scotch whiskies made on the island of Islay are famous for their robust smoky profile imbued from the peat-fueled fire used to roast the barley. Ardbeg embraces that tradition and makes some of the finest bottlings for those who love a big mouthful of smoke. Traigh Bhan 19 is no exception.
This single malt is rich and smoky, but what elevates it to the next level is that through that peaty layer explodes a shimmering and intense pineapple note that radiates on your tastebuds and will forever alter the way you experience single malt Scotch.
ABV: 92.4 Proof | Age: 19 Years | Volume: 750 milliliters
Also Check: How Much Is 1800 Silver Tequila
Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey
% change: 6.3%
Place last year: N/A
Despite the challenges of tariffs and the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 was a picture of health across American whiskey for the most part, with most brands in growth including Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey variant. Its sales rose by 6.3% to 2m cases.
The drink is a blend of whiskey and honey liqueur. Brown-Forman added the expression to the Jack Daniels range in 2011, and it became the first flavoured whiskey to sell over 1m cases back in 2014.
Willet The Iron Fist Or The Velvet Glove 23 Year Old Rye
If there was any aspect of the world of whiskey that needs to finally have a book written about it, its the early single barrel expressions released when Willett came back in 2006 after almost four decades of being gone. Willetts The Iron Fist and The Velvet Glove are a pair of very different rye whiskies that were produced in tandem as independent expressions with similar age and alcohol statements. As some of the earliest expressions the brand released, these legendary straight rye whiskey bottles are just as hard to find as Pappy. If you manage to find a bottle of either, pick it up. If you manage to find both, we better be your first call after checking your line of credit. $2,300
Read Also: How Many Calories Are In Belvedere Vodka
Best Under $1: Glendronach 15 Revival Single Malt Whisky
Courtesy of Drizly
Best in Show Whiskey at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, GlenDronach Revival 15 Year Old is a stunning single malt. Discontinued in 2015, This Highland whiskys return has been much heralded.
Aged in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks, Revival spends at least a decade and a half asleep in the Spanish wood. When its finally time to wake the whisky, the lengthy nap has created a beautiful, dark dram, full of splendid fruity flavors as well as dark chocolate, honey, and a touch of mint. For single malt lovers, this bottle is an absolute must-buy, especially at the price point.
ABV: 92 Proof | Age: 15 Years | Volume: 750 milliliters
Sure, serious whiskey drinkers might scoff at the idea of a honey-flavored whiskey, but if youre making a hot toddy or a whiskey-based cocktail for someone who likes drinks on the sweeter side, Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey could be the ticket.
Technically, its a whiskey liqueur, as its honey liqueur blended with the iconic brands famed Old No. 7 Tennessee whiskey and bottled at 70 proof. The addition of honey gives it a natural sweetness thats both tasty and versatile. Mix it over ice it with some ginger beer and some citrus for a refreshing Tennessee Buck.
ABV: 70 Proof | Age: No Age Statement | Volume: 750 milliliters
Best Whiskies In The World For 2021
The time has come again when whisky experts huddle around and rile off notes of peppercorn and sweet honey, uncorking the very intricacies of the spirit in fantastic detail. This year, the International Whisky Competition saw a professional tasting panel made up of whisky, beer, and wine experts blind tasting a number of the worlds best drams and ranking them using a 100-point scale system. This time around, it was a Scottish icon that sealed the victory, with the Uigeadail release from Islay favourite Ardberg claiming the top spot this year, followed by a host of big-name distillers.
Also Check: How To Mix Coke And Whiskey
The 15 Best Whiskeys To Drink In 2022
From the simple combination of grain, water, and yeast, distillers yield a stunningly complex array of spirits. Were talking, of course, about the world of whiskey. And it is a veritable planet, with single nations producing myriad styles, and distillers planting flags in each of the metaphorical corners of the globe.
While its hard, if not impossible, to reduce each style and nation down to one definitive example, certain bottles serve as shining ambassadors for their categories. Catering to every budget, palate, and drinking occasion, here are 15 of the best whiskeys to drink in 2022.
The Worlds Best Whiskey
Best Single Malt Scotch: Oban 14 Year Old West Highland Single Malt Whisky
Produced in the small port town of the same name, Oban 14 Year Old delivers the rich, fruity profile commonly associated with Highland malts. With a spray of salty seawater and a wisp of smoke, this release also hints at the distillates more often produced on the Scottish Isles. Consider this a stunning and expressive single malt that offers the best of both worlds. Average price: $89.
You May Like: Where Can I Buy Green Spot Irish Whiskey
Auchentoshan Three Wood Single Malt Scotch: Best Single
Price: £38 |
An exceptionally smooth-drinking triple-distilled Lowland Scotch, Auchentoshan Three Wood is matured in bourbon, Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez casks to bring a mellow, fruity flavour thats worth savouring. Rich and very slightly sweet, with no peaty smoke, this is possibly the nearest fine whisky comes to the taste of Christmas pudding in a bottle. If more astringent malts have left you thinking you dont like Scotch whisky, give this one a try before you give up.
Key specs Alcohol content: 43% Bottle size: 70cl Country of origin: Scotland
Best Japanese Whisky: The Hakushu Single Malt Japanese Whisky Aged 12 Years
The youngest and most available expression from Suntorys Hakushu line, this release still arrives with a hefty price tag but such is the nature of shopping for high-quality Japanese whisky. Stump up for a bottle and rest assured that the liquid inside will deliver considerable consolation. Delicately peated, this single malt serves tantalizing smokiness that weaves wonderfully among savory notes of herbal green tea. Orchard and stone fruit provide a robust, attractive, fruity core. Average price: $204.
You May Like: Where Can I Buy Pyrat Rum
Naked Grouse Scotch Whisky: Best Blended Malt
Price: £26 |
A no-nonsense blended malt from the makers of The Famous Grouse, this is a smooth but robust all-malt whisky matured in sherry casks. Rich, heavier than a grain/malt blend and with a slightly sweet aftertaste, Naked Grouse comes in a clean and unfussy bottle that we find rather attractive. At £19, its also great value.
Key specs Alcohol content: 40% Bottle size: 70cl Country of origin: Scotland
Best Bourbon: Henry Mckenna Single Barrel
Courtesy of Drizly
Region: Kentucky | ABV: 50% | Tasting Notes: Caramel, Vanilla, Cinnamon
Bourbon aficionados have to become familiar with a whole bevy of inscrutable terms”age statement,””bottled-in-bond,””single barrel”but even the casual imbiber who doesn’t know all the definitions would have to conclude it’s impressive if a whole bunch of them show up on the same bottle. Produced at Heaven Hill Distillery, the Henry Mckenna Single Barrel is the only extra-aged, bottled-in-bond, single-barrel bourbon currently available today. If that doesn’t impress you, it was also named “Best in Show” at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, due in no small part to its generous palate featuring notes of caramel, butter, cinnamon, and vanilla.
Region: Speyside, Scotland| ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Raisin, Vanilla, Spice
Among an abundance of single malt scotch to choose from, with various regions showcasing different styles and flavors, The Balvenie stands out as one of the best. The distillery was an early adopter of cask finishes with its DoubleWood 12, which is matured in ex-bourbon barrels and finished in sherry casks.
Read Also: What Is Absolute Vodka Made From
Glenfarclas 40 Year Old Single Malt Scotch $430
The Glenfarclas distillery is one of the few left in Scotland that is still family owned and managed, producing a high class sherry influenced whiskey using only spring water, malted barley and yeast. Now in the hands of the fifth and sixth generation members of the Grant clan, its 40 Year Old Single Malt Scotch added in 2010 is one of its most impressive offerings to date.
Winner of Best Speyside Whisky at the World Whisky Awards back in 2011, this mature single malt has oft been referred to as a little dram of heaven and is a spectacular dark amber with red hues in color.
In his official tasting notes, family member George S Grant describes its scent as reminiscent of relaxing in an old leather armchair while eating walnuts and chocolate covered raisins.
Its rich and complex array of flavors include orange, burnt brown sugar and dry cocoa beans as it moves impressively from sweet to a dry finish.
Best Japanese Whisky: Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt Whisky
Courtesy of The Whisky Exchange
In recent years, the world has fallen hard for Japanese whisky there simply isnt enough to go around, so it can be a bit tricky to get your hands on a bottle. The great thing about Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt is that you can still find it on shelves. Its a brilliant drinklight and full of subtle complexity.
Named for Masataka Taketsuru, the father of Japanese whisky and the labels founder, this expression is blended for balance. Malt plays off notes of apple and butterscotch, while a spicy note flickers across the palate. Its no wonder Jim Murray named it the best Japan has to offer.
ABV: 86 Proof | Age: No Age Statement | Volume: 750 milliliters
Cornerstone Rye is Wild Turkeys fourth release in its limited-edition Masters Keep Series, and to be quite frank, its hard to believe it hasnt all been snapped up yet. Master distiller Eddie Russell concocted this expression using a secret stash of 9- to 11-year-old ryes.
Sure, its a bit on the pricey side, but a bottle is well worth the splurge. Big notes of vanilla, apple, honey, pepper, and oak make it a decadent mouthful. It has a substantial feel as it swirls around the tastebuds as well as a long, sweet, spicy finish.
ABV: 109 | Age: 9 Years | Volume: 750 milliliters
You May Like: How To Make Good Gin And Tonic