The Best Whiskey Picks, Straight from a Pro
There's no shortage of stellar whiskeys today. From our home-grown spirits to offerings from Scotland and Japan, these are our picks for the best whiskey in the world.
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Whiskey has seen a major boost in popularity, thanks in part to the revival of classic cocktails like the Old-Fashioned. There’s scotch and bourbon, of course, but we can’t forget about rye whiskeys or the gorgeous whiskey coming out of places like Japan.
Looking for the best whiskey out there? We’ve rounded up our most-recommended spirits.
With a higher percentage of rye in its mash bill compared to other options on the shelf, High West’s Rendezvous is a best bet for rye lovers. Loaded with cinnamon, caramel, vanilla and fruit notes, this Utah-based distillery has perfected the art of making bold and flavorful ryes.
Rendezvous is exactly what you need to take your Sazerac to the next level!
For bourbon on a budget, you can’t go wrong with Four Roses. It’s smooth and mellow with lightly spiced fresh orchard fruit notes, making this bourbon a perennial award-winner. Its price point also makes this the perfect bourbon for splashing into your cooking and baking.
While the highlands and islands of Scotland are the go-to for many scotch lovers, Auchentoshan is proof positive that the lowlands should never be overlooked when it comes to world-class single malts. This Glasgow-based distillery is known for being the only one in Scotland to triple distill their scotch, which gives the whiskey a lighter, more delicate flavor. The 18-year is wonderfully complex with layers of vanilla, toasted sugar and a hint of florals but remains light on the tongue.
There’s more to Tennessee whiskey than Jack Daniels and George Dickel. Nelson’s Green Brier needs to be on your radar! The 108 is pure caramel, butterscotch and baking spice in the glass. This small-batch whiskey is available only at the distillery, but if you ask us, that’s a terrific excuse to make your way to Tennessee. Look for classic Volunteer State food while you’re there.
If neat bourbon is more your speed, look no further than Blanton’s Original Single Barrel. Beautifully balanced with heady aromas of dried citrus peel, vanilla bean, caramel, nutmeg and a touch of honey, you’ll want to savor this Kentucky bourbon on its own or perhaps on the rocks. It ages in oak for 6 to 8 years before making its way into the company’s iconic barrel-shaped bottles.
The resounding success of Suntory’s Yamazaki 12-year-old offering helped make Japanese whisky a household name among whiskey drinkers. Relatively light, it tastes of candied orange, cranberry, vanilla, ginger and clove, with a subtle tropical fruit note. It’s developed quite the cult following, making it difficult to track down, but it’s worth the search. If you’ve been searching for an introduction to the marvelous world of Japanese whisky, the Yamazaki 12 is definitely it.
Love rye? Canada is home to some outstanding premium ryes like the incredibly nuanced Lot 40. This Canadian rye whisky was actually discontinued for a brief period of time before people’s love of this spirit encouraged its return. And thank goodness for that! Made in a single pot still, Lot 40 boasts plenty of that dry, spicy rye flavor mixed with a hint of vanilla caramel, florals, pepper and cardamom. It’s our go-to when we’re mixing up Manhattans.
Peat may not suit everyone’s tastes when it comes to whiskey, but those who love it know the best examples come from the island of Islay. For a generous dose of peat, turn to Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte line. Those characteristic smoky and brine notes blend seamlessly with toffee, vanilla bean, fig, pepper and walnuts. Port Charlotte is peaty for sure but stays approachable with its smoky sweet flavor. It’s a killer after dinner tipple to sip, but a glass of Port Charlotte with choice pickings straight off the grill is a legendary pairing, too.
Spot Whiskey is one of the few Irish distilleries to use a single pot still to craft its well-balanced spirits. The excellent Green Spot is aged for 7 to 10 years in new and used bourbon casks, giving this mellow whiskey lovely baking spice and toasted oak notes layered over green apple and barley. It’s a winner in these Irish cocktail recipes. It used to be nigh impossible to get outside of Ireland, though you’ll now find Green Spot around the States. Sláinte to that!
A well-made blended scotch is magnificent. You needn’t look any further than Chivas Regal’s 18-Year-Old Blended Scotch for confirmation of the fact. It’s terrifically smooth with layer upon layer of dried fruits, toffee, dark chocolate and heady oak spice. It’s no surprise the 18-year consistently picks up awards! It’s the perfect introduction to the world of premium blended scotch.