What sounds better than a smooth glass of whiskey paired with 8-10 inches of snow? If nothing else, you can use the liquor as an excuse not to shovel.
With the rise of craft cocktails, whiskey now comes in many unique combinations of aromas and flavors. Think: smoky, spicy and sweet-tasting whiskeys, or some other variety that entices your refined palate.
We’re here to break it all down and direct you to some of the best whiskeys money can buy.
The Different Typesof Whiskey, Explained
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Who actually knows their whiskeys and who just pretends to know?
With scotch to bourbon and everything in between, we don’t blame anyone who’s pretending. It can get pretty confusing.
The good news is we’ve done our homework and we’re ready to do some explaining. Hopefully, this will help when your whiskey-obsessed friend goes off on a tangent about some 100-year-old whiskey fermented in an Irish castle.
Before we get too far into the bottle, it’s important to get a better understanding of the varying compositions of whiskey.
Here are the common ones:
- Single Malt: made exclusively with malted barley, water and yeast
- Grain: made with corn, wheat or both
- Blended: a combination of single malt and grain ingredients
Scotch is notoriously potent, savory and rich — in both flavor and tradition.
A good scotch is made within Scotland, and each region has its own signature flavor and taste.
- Lowlands: light, mild-bodied
- Highlands: light and fruity, with a hint of spice
- Islay and Campbelltown: smoky and peaty, with flavors inspired by the sea
- Speyside: sweet, rich flavor
American whiskey comes in a few different versions, the most popular one being bourbon. It’s aged in charred oak barrels and has sweeter, less smoky tones, whereas scotch and Irish whiskey lean more on the peaty side.
Irish whiskey has just as rich a history as scotch, though the flavors are quite different. Most tend to lean on the lighter, fruitier side. Irish whiskey has much less of a smoky flavor compared to most scotches.
Most Irish whiskey has a blended composition and is triple distilled in a copper pot. It takes a really long time to make, so every sip should be thoroughly enjoyed. This is not a liquor that’s meant to be thrown back.
Japanese whiskey is smooth and delicate, with hints of honey. It’s reminiscent of the flavors found in the Scottish Lowlands and Speyside, but mostly made with a single malt composition.
Japanese whiskey does not have a long history, but it is made with impressive technology and innovation, making it quite popular among whiskey drinkers.
The Best Whiskeys
1. BULLEIT BOURBON
- TYPE: KENTUCKY STRAIGHT BOURBON
- PRICE: $43
Bulleit bourbon is especially spicy, with a high rye content of 28%. It has other flavors stemming from Kentucky limestone-filtered water and the charred American oak barrels.
2. LAGAVULIN 16-YEAR-OLD SCOTCH WHISKEY
- TYPE: SCOTCH WHISKEY
- PRICE: $119
This whiskey leans on the pricier side, but this aged perfection in a bottle is worth it. Let’s just say it’s a guaranteed nod of approval from any whiskey lover.
It has intense smoky and peaty flavors that have been fermenting for the past 16 years. Impressive!
3. NIKKA COFFEY GRAIN JAPANESE WHISKEY
- TYPE: JAPANESE WHISKEY
- PRICE: $71.99
This bottle is made by Masataka Taketsuru, otherwise known as the mastermind behind Japanese whiskey. With this bottle, you’ll taste hints of vanilla, caramel, wafers and dried fruit. It’s an extremely unique blend.
4. POWERS GOLD LABEL
- TYPE: IRISH WHISKEY
- PRICE: $35
Powers Gold Label is an excellent and affordable option. The brand has been making whiskey for the past 230 years, so it’s safe to assume they make a quality bottle of booze.
It has flavors of cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, vanilla and orchard fruits, with a honey, woodsy finish. This blend of flavor is unique to Ireland and their fermenting techniques.
5. JOHNNIE WALKER BLUE LABEL
- TYPE: SPECIAL EDITION SCOTCH WHISKEY
- PRICE: $2,012
We’re mentioning this one just for fun, as it’s over $2,000. However, if that’s in your budget and you feel like splurging on a ridiculously luxurious whiskey today, go for it!
Johnnie Walker is a notoriously well-known and luxurious whiskey brand. It only has a few editions within its portfolio, Blue Label being one of them. This limited-edition bottle is exclusive, delicious and well-made — everything a high-end whiskey should be.
Some of the most popular whiskeys are Japanese single malts, a classic scotch and any sort of Kentucky bourbon.
You can purchase any of these options at varying price points, from $20 classics to $100 distilled, fermented splurges. Whichever whiskey you choose is guaranteed to provide a pleasant experience that warms you up on the coldest winter day.