RANKED! The Mandatory 10 Best Whiskeys
For the uninitiated, the world of whiskey might seem really complicated. There’s bourbon, rye, Japanese whisky, Scotch, and many more styles. Even these categories have varieties. A good example is single malt Scotch and blended Scotch. Confused yet?
Well, don’t worry. If you’re open to it, you can easily learn all about the various forms of whiskey (or whisky) and the subtle (and not so subtle) nuances that separate them. You can read all you want about the processes involved in the distillation of each, the ingredients used, and the countries they’re produced in, but there’s really only one way to learn about them and that’s by actually drinking each whiskey variety.
To help you with your discoveries, we decided to make a helpful list of our top 10 favorite whiskeys. We tried to be diverse in our picks with various forms of the spirit. Check them all out below.
Photo: krisanapong detraphiphat (Getty Images)
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Tennessee Whiskey: George Dickel Barrel Select
Everyone knows Jack Daniel’s, but rival George Dickel is quickly becoming the go-to distillery in the Volunteer State. Its Barrel Select is aged from 10 to 12 years and only 10 barrels are selected by the distiller to be bottled. The result is a small-batch whiskey with hints of vanilla, allspice, honey, and toffee.
Photo: George Dickel
Peated Scotch: Ardbeg Uigeadail
The Inner Hebrides island of Islay is home to some of the most well-known Scotch distilleries in the world. Many of the offerings from these are peat smoked and honestly not for everyone. That’s why Uigeadail is such a great gateway into this world. It’s aged in bourbon and sherry casks to add just the right amount of sweetness to the smoke.
Bourbon: Four Roses Single Barrel
When it comes to bourbon, you can’t go wrong with Four Roses. We’ll enjoy Four Roses Yellow Label all day. But, if we’re upping the ante, we’re all in on Four Roses Single Barrel. It’s well-balanced and full of honey, vanilla, and fresh corn sweetness.
Photo: Four Roses
Canadian Whisky: Lot 40 Rye
Historically, Canada didn’t get a ton of respect in the whisky world. That’s changed in the past few years thanks to bottles like Lot 40 Rye with its super high rye content (90 percent) and smooth, velvety flavor with a nice kick of peppery heat.
Photo: Lot 40
Blended Whisky: Chivas Regal 12
Like Dewar’s, Johnnie Walker, and The Famous Grouse, Chivas is all about blended Scotch whisky. Its award-winning 12 Year is full of dried fruit, vanilla, caramel, and honey flavors.
American Whiskey: Michters US-1 Unblended American Whiskey
Michter’s makes a really good bourbon (go buy that, too). But you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t also pick up a bottle of its American whiskey. This sweet, mellow, easy drinking whiskey is a bargain at any price.
Rye Whiskey: Redemption Rye
It’s safe to say the rye whiskey section at your local liquor store has grown in the past decade. One of the best brands of the rye boom is Redemption with its flavors of dried fruits, Christmas spices, and peppery heat.
Photo: Redemption Rye
Japanese Whisky: Suntory Toki
If you’re only going to buy one Japanese whisky, make it Suntory Toki. The reasons are simple. It’s perfectly suited for sipping on its own with its blend of malt and grain whiskies. But, there’s no better whisky in the world to mix into a highball. Refreshing, sweet, and perfect.
Photo: Beam Suntory
Irish Whiskey: Teeling Small Batch
Teeling has made a name for itself in the last decade in the Irish whiskey world. One of its best offerings is its Small Batch whiskey. It’s aged in rum casks to give the malty grains and rich character a subtle sweet kick.
Scotch Whisky: The Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean Cask
Sure, it might seem like a cop-out to select a Scotch whisky that was aged in rum barrels, but we don’t care. The Balvenie 14 is not only a perfect gateway whisky for Scotch novices, it’s a spirit you’ll continue to drink for years.
Photo: The Balvenie