The 12 Best Whiskeys

This distilled alcoholic beverage has a history longer than you might think. The Whiskey Rebellion of 1791 saw the drink gain popularity and praise in the United States of America, but the distillation process of whiskey dates back to as early as 1001 BC. These days, whiskey is considered an elegant drink. Ornate glass or crystal decanters house it, and its lucky owners pour it into delicate glasses. It is decadent, classy, and – most importantly – you look cool drinking it.

What’s not cool, though, is spending money on a drink that you end up not even enjoying! With all this time to develop the drink, multiple types of whiskey have been formed.

When purchasing your own whiskey, it can be slightly overwhelming to see all the different types and know which one to pick! They are all so different, and not everyone likes every type, so you need to choose your whisky carefully.

So, before we delve into the good stuff, let’s take a look at what the different types of whiskey are.

What Are the Different Types Of Whiskey?

Malt Whisky is made predominantly from malted barley, while grain whiskey can be made from any grain.

  • Single Malt Whiskey: If a whiskey label says it is a single malt, that means that it has only been made in one distillery, and has only been made from one type of malted grain.
  • Single Cask: If the whiskey is described as a single cask, it means that the whiskey in that bottle has come only from one single cask. If it is not described as a single cask whiskey, it is safe to assume that multiple barrels of whiskey – from multiple years – have been combined by the blender to achieve the flavor they are looking for.
  • Blended Malt Whisky: Blended malt whiskey is whiskey that has been made by mixing multiple types of single malt whiskey. That means that this whiskey comes from multiple distilleries, and is likely made from a combination of malted grains.
  • Blended Whiskey: If a whiskey is described as blended, that means that it has been made by mixing multiple different types of whiskey. This can include whisky from a variety of distilleries, and often a mixture of flavors.
  • Cask Strength or Barrel Proof: These types of whiskey are pretty uncommon, because only the highest quality – and most expensive – whiskeys are bottled like this. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on a barrel proof, that whiskey is undiluted and straight from the cask!
  • Single Cask or Single Barrel: Each of these bottles of whiskey has been taken from one single cask. The casks have not been mixed, and you can usually trace back your bottle to a specific cask number.
  • Bourbon Whiskey: This American invention is made from a combination of grains, the majority of which is maize. This type of whiskey is stored and aged in freshly charred barrels made of oak.
  • Corn Whiskey: These whiskeys contain a mix of grains but that mix is predominantly made up of corn. Most frequently, corn whisky has not been aged, or if it has it has only been aged in used barrels.
  • Rye Whiskey or Rye Malt Whiskey: This American type of whiskey is made from a grain mix that is predominantly rye.
  • Wheat Whiskey: This type of whiskey is made from a mix of grains that has at least fifty-one percent wheat.

OUR TOP PICK

Glenmorangie, The Original 10 Year Single Malt Scotch

EDITORS CHOICE

Dewar’s 15 Year Old The Monarch Blended Scotch Whisky

Dewar’s The Monarch Blended Scotch Whisky

BEST VALUE

Maker’s Mark 46 Bourbon

Maker’s Mark 46 Bourbon

OUR TOP PICK

Glenmorangie, The Original 10 Year Single Malt Scotch

This brand of Scotch whiskey is one of Scotland’s favorites – and for good reason. It is full of flavor, and has been aged to perfection.It is a single malt scotch whiskey, which means that it has been made in one Scottish distillery. This Glenmorangie whiskey is distilled in the tallest whiskey stills in the whole of Scotland, and matured by experts.

The height of the whiskey stills and their copper necks allow only the excess vapors to rise, leaving behind a well-rounded and pure spirit.

This whiskey is aged in high quality oak casks which are used a maximum of two times before being replaced. This ensures that the whiskey absorbs the oaky flavor from the casks, and that its quality is untainted. The flavors in this whiskey are delicate but delightful. One of the stronger notes is that of vanilla, which is carefully complemented by the fruity flavors of peach and orange.

For the well-practiced tongue, fragrant floral notes and a hint of coconut will also be detectable. This high quality whiskey can be found at bargain prices, yet we felt that its complexity is almost unbeatable.

The Whiskey At A Glance

  • Country: Scotland
  • Distillery: Glenmorangie
  • Alcohol Content: 43 percent
  • Age: 10 years
  • Alcohol Type: Single Malt
  • Most Prominent Flavor: Vanilla

EDITORS CHOICE

Dewar’s 15 Year Old The Monarch Blended Scotch Whisky

Dewar’s 15 Year Old The Monarch Blended Scotch Whisky

Dewar’s is a highly-acclaimed brand of whiskey, and is well respected worldwide. They have been making whiskey under the Royal Warrant for Whisky since 1893 – well over one hundred years. The best thing about this whiskey is that it has been double aged. Both sherry casks and bourbon casked are used to house this whiskey, so that it picks up the aromas and flavors of multiple casks before eventually being bottled at the ripe old age of fifteen. The regal name of this scotch is matched by its integrity; it is full of flavor, and has a soothing rounded texture. The aroma of this whiskey is divine. You will smell the spiciness of the sherry picked up from the sherry casks, and also get a waft of apple.

As you hold the whiskey in your mouth, the first flavors you will detect are walnut and spiced sherry.

As it lingers, we noticed that it leaves a toffee vanilla flavor on your tongue, before turning to sweet fruitiness and earthy tones.

The Whiskey At A Glance

  • Country: Scotland
  • Distillery: Dewar’s (a mix of others, as it is a blended whiskey)
  • Alcohol Content: 40 percent
  • Age: 15 years
  • Alcohol Type: Blended Whiskey
  • Most Prominent Flavor: Spiced Sherry

BEST VALUE

Maker’s Mark 46 Bourbon

Maker’s Mark 46 Bourbon

This bourbon whiskey is made in one of Kentucky’s most prized distilleries. Maker’s Mark are renowned for their whiskey’s smooth finish, and the bottle’s signature red wax seal. This whiskey undergoes a wood-stave -finishing process when it is at cask strength; when it is still undiluted, Maker’s Mark inserts 10 wooden staves into the barrel.

These staves are made from French oak, and are freshly seared to give the whisky a woody flavor.

Once the staves are inserted, the barrel is placed in a limestone cellar to age for a further nine weeks. Compared to most other whiskies, this drink is not that aged. Although that can mean that the flavors are not as intense as some older whiskies, it does allow the 46 Bourbon to stay free of any bitterness that can develop in old whiskies. When you bring this whiskey close to your nose, you will sense a mix of sweet toffee and fresh wood, from the staves. Once in your mouth, the flavors are soft at first, and gentle on the tongue.

After a moment, though, you will get a hit of spice, and likely taste nutmeg and cinnamon. The cinnamon is highlighted by a hint of apple, before it transforms into a sweet flavor that is typical of bourbons.

The aftertaste we experienced was earthy, but fresh – which we put down to the stave process.

The Whiskey At A Glance

  • Country: United States of America
  • Distillery: Maker’s Mark
  • Alcohol Content: 47 percent
  • Age: Around 6 years
  • Alcohol Type: Bourbon
  • Most Prominent Flavor: Toffee and Spices

RUNNER UP

Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique Single Malt Whisky

Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique Single Malt Whisky

Whoever purchases this whisky is very fortunate. This Taiwanese whiskey has won countless awards and is recognized by whiskey drinkers across the world as a great spirit. It is cask strength, which we now know means that it is undiluted and has been bottled straight from the cask. It is pure and decadent.

The casks that the whisket is aged in are high-quality American oak casks. Before being filled with the whiskey, the casks themselves undergo a long aging process.

Firstly, Kavalan only uses oak that has been grown slowly to make the casks. This is because slow grown oak tends to release more flavors and improve the smoothness of the whiskey once it is inside, and reduces the bitterness of the tannins.

Once the oak has been grown, it is aged and seasoned outside in the fresh air for at least two years! Then, once the casks are formed, they are used to mature both red and white wines.

By doing this, Kavalan makes sure that the casks have absorbed the fruity flavors on the wines, so that they can add an oaky fruitiness to the whiskey’s flavor. After they have been used to store wine, the insides of the casks are shaved.

The casks are then toasted lightly over a natural wood fire, to open up the fruity flavors that the wine has left behind.

Following this, the casks are charred in order to release flavors that have been locked within the wood, such as vanilla and caramel.

Only after all these steps have been taken does Kavalan add the whiskey to the casks.

Compared to whisky made in regular whiskey casks, we could tell that the flavors of this whisky were much more complex and deep. The cask process really does make a difference!The natural fruitiness and spices that seep from the casks give this whisky an aroma filled with apple and caramel, as well as spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, which complement the fruity tones perfectly.

Once on the tongue, the whisky explodes with a creamy vanilla flavor, and a hint of strong coffee.

The fruity flavor remains, though, and the vanilla is joined by a dash of berry flavors. The fruity flavors are what remain once the whiskey has been sitting in your mouth for a while, and you get a final kick of that wine-infused oak.

The Whiskey At A Glance

  • Country: Taiwan
  • Distillery: Kavalan
  • Alcohol Content: 57.1 percent
  • Age: Not Provided
  • Alcohol Type: Single Malt Whisky, Cask Strength
  • Most Prominent Flavor: Fruity oak

RUNNER UP

Ardbeg Uigeadail Scotch Whisky

Ardbeg Uigeadail Scotch Whisky

Ardbeg is located in Scotland’s stunning Hebridean Islands, and has been an established distillery for over two hundred years!

Ardbeg is known for its strong yet well balanced whiskeys. This particularly whiskey is praised for its marriage of sweet and savory notes. If you’re a big fan of sweet and salty popcorn, this might be your type of whiskey. This single malt whisky may come from one singular distillery, but has managed to incorporate myriad flavors. It is peaty and sugary on the nose, but also gives off a scent of coffee.

When you first drink this whiskey, you will notice sweet flavors of fruit and honey. These flavors are then joined by a strong peaty taste and a smokiness that comes from the barley.

The last thing we tasted was a delicious caramel undertone that worked alongside the coffee flavor to make the lasting taste smooth and well balanced. As this whisky is made on an island, you can detect hints of the Scottish sea air in its flavors – the natural saltiness makes it fresh and exciting.

This saltiness is combined with the sweet taste of sherry, which seeps into the whisky while it is aged in sherry casks.

This combination of flavors that the whisky absorbs from its surroundings is what gives it that great sweet and salty combo! We love it!

The Whiskey At A Glance

  • Country: Scotland
  • Distillery: Ardbeg
  • Alcohol Content: 54.2 percent
  • Age: Around ten years
  • Alcohol Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  • Most Prominent Flavor: Salty sherry

RUNNER UP

Kilchoman Machir Bay Islay Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Kilchoman Machir Bay Islay Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Kilchoman is one of Scotland’s smallest distilleries, but its size does not reflect its quality. It resides on Islay, an island in Scotland, and the sea surrounding the distillery certainly influences the whisky’s flavors. This single malt scotch whiskey is matured in both casks that have previously stored bourbon, and cakes that have been used to mature sherry.

The two types of cask combine to give the whiskey a range of rich and sweet flavors, which are complemented by the influence of the salty sea air.At first glance, the Machir Bay whiskey emits citrussy scents, which are paired with a smokey vanilla tone.

When sipped on, this whiskey releases a torrent of fruity flavors, such as raisin and berries, which are all accompanied by the smokey flavor that joined the vanilla at the first taste.

The lingering flavor is that of sweet fruits that remind you of sherry. We also detected a biting saltiness when we had had the whiskey in our mouths for a while, which is a testament to the distillery’s natural surroundings.

The Whiskey At A Glance

  • Country: Scotland
  • Distillery: Kilchoman
  • Alcohol Content: 46 percent
  • Age: Not specified, but likely between 5 and 7 years
  • Alcohol Type: Single Malt Scotch Whiskey
  • Most Prominent Flavor: Smoked fruit

RUNNER UP

Aberlour A’Bunadh Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Aberlour A’Bunadh Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

The Aberlour distillery gives this whisky a strong fruity flavor by aging it in unique Spanish sherry casks, and by bottling it at cask strength. That means that this whiskey is pure and undiluted, making its flavors strong and deep. When you first bring your noise to the A’Bunadh, you will get an almost festive note – we were transported to Christmas day!

The fruity influence of the sherry casks makes it smell like Christmas pudding. Who wouldn’t want that in drink form? The spirit-soaked fruit is joined by a hint of spice, predominantly cinnamon.

The next spice to open up is ginger, which adds to the cinnamon to give this sherry a buttery biscuit flavor. Vanilla tones complement the spices, and bring it to a woody, fruity close. This whiskey is perfect for the holiday season, and will go down alongside the Christmas desserts!

The Whiskey At A Glance

  • Country: Scotland
  • Distillery: Aberlour
  • Alcohol Content: 61.2 percent
  • Age: Not specified, but likely between 5 and 7 years
  • Alcohol Type: Single Malt Scotch Whiskey
  • Most Prominent Flavor: Spiced fruit

RUNNER UP

Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Bourbon

Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select Bourbon

Woodford Reserve is our second Kentucky-based distillery on our list. It hasn’t been around for long, but has grown in popularity and success rapidly.

Woodford Reserve uses limestone water to make their whiskey, which gives it a natural fresh taste. They even make their own casks to age the whiskey in. A lot of care and craftsmanship goes into each bottle. The aroma of this Bourbon is creamy with hints of spices and smoked cocoa. At first taste, it is packed with coffee tones and oaky influences, and reminded us of rum slightly. The lasting tones are of smoked oak and grains.

The Whiskey At A Glance

  • Country: United States of America
  • Distillery: Woodford Reserve
  • Alcohol Content: 43.2 percent
  • Age: Not specified, but likely around 5 years
  • Alcohol Type: Bourbon Whisky
  • Most Prominent Flavor: Smoked oak

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Kavalan King Car 40th Anniversary Limited Edition Selected Wine Cask Matured Whiskey

Kavalan King Car 40th Anniversary Limited Edition Selected Wine Cask Matured Whiskey

This next competitor has it all; the looks, the creaminess, and the fruitiness. Our favorite thing about this whiskey – although it was delicious – was the gorgeous glass decanter it came in.

If you want to look and feel like a classy Whiskey connoisseur, this will do the trick. This single malt is limited edition and very in-demand, so you’d be lucky to get your hands on some.What gives this whiskey its depth is its casking process. This whiskey is not stored and matured in any old barrel, but in exclusive high-end red wine casks. The whiskey absorbs the fruity notes that seep out of the wooden cask, and gains dark fruit undertones. The undertones are perfectly offset by a rich and creamy toffee flavor that Kavalan have developed. Alongside the tender sweetness in this whiskey’s flavor, there is an elegant trace of tobacco and cloves, which elevate the taste and round off the texture brilliantly. The spiciness of the clove and tobacco hit your tongue after it has been smothered in the creaminess of the toffee flavor, before finishing with the character of a balanced red wine.

If you have a well-practiced palate, you might also detect a hint of charred oak from the casks.

The Whiskey At A Glance

  • Country: Taiwan
  • Distillery: Kavalan
  • Alcohol Content: 56.3 percent
  • Age: Not specified, but likely around 5 years
  • Alcohol Type: Single Malt Whiskey
  • Most Prominent Flavor: Toffee

RUNNER UP

Glenmorangie Signet Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Glenmorangie Signet Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

This beautifully bottled whiskey comes from the same distillery as the first whiskey on our list.

The distillery, which we now know has the tallest whiskey stills in all of Scotland, has combined some of their best and rarest whiskeys from their archives to create this showstopper.

Each of the whiskeys used in this bottle has been matured in high-end designer casks, giving the flavor of the end product depth and oakiness. What we loved about the Signet whiskey was the rich and powerful chocolate tones in the palate. Glenmorangie has used a roasted chocolate malt that perfectly enhances the other flavors in the drink. The aroma of this whiskey is tantalizing. Sweet orange and fruit notes are underscored by a faint waft of cocoa.

At first taste, the rich chocolate is blatant but delicate, and is offset by a spicey taste of coffee and a hint of the charred wood of the cask.

Once held in your mouth, the whiskey releases a burst of citrus, which brings the dark chocolate flavors out even more. The aftertaste is divine.

The Whiskey At A Glance

  • Country: Scotland
  • Distillery: Glenmorangie
  • Alcohol Content: 46 percent
  • Age: Not specified, as it is a combination of rare whiskeys
  • Alcohol Type: Single Malt Scotch Whiskey
  • Most Prominent Flavor: Chocolate

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Penderyn Welsh Malt Whiskey

Penderyn Welsh Malt Whiskey

Welsh whiskey may not be the most famous type, but it should certainly not be overlooked when you are choosing a new bottle. This Penderyn malt is one of the best in the Welsh market, and for good reason. Penderyn have opted for copper stills, and have a two stage casking process. The whiskey is first matured in bourbon barrels, and then in Madeira wine casks.

The bourbon casks lend the whiskey sweet notes and a syrup-like texture, while the wine casks give it a strong fruity influence. To the nose, this whiskey emits fruity scents of raisins and a toffee-like sweetness.

At first taste, this whiskey is crisp, but the sweetness of the madeira influence complements the dryness nicely.

The taste that lingers is tropical, and a hint of vanilla sticks to your tongue.

The Whiskey At A Glance

  • Country: Wales
  • Distillery: Penderyn
  • Alcohol Content: 46 percent
  • Age: Not specified, as it is a combination of rare whiskeys
  • Alcohol Type: Blended Malt Whiskey
  • Most Prominent Flavor: Raisins

RUNNER UP

Green Spot Single Pot Irish Still Whiskey

Green Spot Single Pot Irish Still Whiskey

Next on our list is an elusive and limited whiskey. Green Spot only produce 12,000 bottles of this stuff a year, so it’s a bit of a treat. Surprisingly, though, it is pretty affordable. The whiskey is comprised of a mix of malted and unmalted barley, and is matured for between 7 and 12 years. Part of its maturation is done in a sherry cask, which gives the whiskey a sweet and light fruitiness. At first smell, this whiskey is oaky and mildly spicy. The strongest smell is of tropical fruit, including pineapple and papaya. This makes the first taste fresh and fruity, and reminded us of a morning fruit smoothie!

A kick of ginger spices up the flavor and goes nicely with a finishing taste of honey.

The Whiskey At A Glance

  • Country: Ireland
  • Distillery: Midleton
  • Alcohol Content: 40 percent
  • Age: Not specified, but likely between 4 and 7 years
  • Alcohol Type: Blended Irish Whiskey
  • Most Prominent Flavor: Tropical fruits

Best Whiskeys Buying Guide

Whenever you are looking to invest in any product, there are some aspects of the product you need to consider.

Before purchasing a bottle of whiskey, the process is the same, and you must compare different types to find out what is worth your money, and which you will enjoy the most.

The 12 Best Whiskeys

Flavors

The most important thing to consider when buying a new bottle of whiskey is the flavors you would like it to have.

This list includes a range of flavored whiskeys, that are spicey, sweet, fruity, dry, and more. To make sure you enjoy your bottle, try to find the whiskey that is full of flavors you know you will enjoy.

If you have a particularly sweet tooth, for example, you might like a whiskey that has been partly matured in a bourbon cask, or which has notes of honey.

If you are a big wine or sherry drinker, you can choose a whiskey that has been infused with the flavors of wine or sherry.

For the spice lovers, there are plenty of whiskeys with a kick that will certainly satisfy your taste buds. Once you have in mind the flavors you like, it will be easier to narrow down your whiskey options.

If you have a friend or family member that’s hot on whiskey, get them to let you try some of theirs before you buy your own!

Price

As with any product, whiskey is available at a variety of prices. If you are new to whiskey, and are unsure as to whether you will like it or not, perhaps the best option for you is to invest a small amount the first time around.

Whiskey can be expensive, so the last thing you want to do is spend lots of your hard earned money on a drink you don’t even enjoy!

If you are more attuned to the tastes and tricks of whiskey, though, and you have a clearer idea of which type you will like, it might be worth splashing the cash on a whiskey that tickles your fancy.

The whiskeys on this list cover a wide range of budgets, so there is definitely something for everyone here.

Aesthetics

Part of the art of drinking whisky lies in how cool it looks. Although it may not be the most important thing to consider, the bottle of whiskey you buy is likely going to be sitting around your home for a while – depending on how quickly you drink it!

Whiskey comes in bottles of all shapes and sizes, so it is important to find one that you love the look of and would be happy to have on display.

From rounded bottles to tall and slender carafes, and from simple labels to fancy wax seals, whiskey bottles are available in an array of styles, and there’s something out there for everyone.

Best Whiskeys – Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Whiskey Should I Pour For Each Serving?

This decision is completely up to you. We strongly recommend, though, that you don’t help yourself to a pint of this stuff, unless your liver is made of steel and you are immune to hangovers! The usual serving for whiskey is around 1.5oz per person.

How Long Does Whiskey Last?

When unopened, whiskey lasts pretty much forever. Once it has been opened, it can stay drinkable for any length of time between six months and two years, so it’s best to check with the specific brand.

What Does It Mean If Whiskey Is Served Neat?

Neat whiskey is just plain whiskey that is served in an empty glass. The alternative is whiskey on the rocks, which is whiskey served with some ice.

Mandy Winters