If there’s one type of iconic alcohol that’s stood the test of time over the years (and by years, we mean centuries), it has to be whiskey. To add to this, whiskey is the type of beverage that’s suitable for just about any occasion.
Whether you’re celebrating a milestone birthday, a work promotion, or even the past life of a loved one, there’s always a time and a place for whiskey. Heck, you don’t even need a reason to celebrate to crack open a bottle of your favorite bourbon.
So, what are the top 10 whiskeys worth investing in today? If you’re a serious whiskey lover, this is the blog for you.
Worldwide Whiskey Types
If you’ve yet to broaden your taste buds to the many different variations of whiskey from across the globe, there’s no time like the present. While some might argue that there’s nothing better than a good old American bourbon, others will argue that you haven’t lived until you’ve tried a true Scotch whiskey.
Here are the different whiskey types worth knowing (and trying):
This type of whiskey is well-known for its smokey yet sweet notes on the tongue. It’s also one of the best whiskeys you can find to sip on — neat or over ice. You’ll find that most old fashion cocktails include American bourbon because of its smooth, easy-drinking flavor.
As you may have guessed, bourbon is also called American whiskey and is a corn-based alcohol. It’s generally aged in oak barrels, hence the smokey flavor, and most variations include an 80 proof alcohol or more. Check out https://www.hootenyoung.com/ for some great American whiskey.
If you’re a country music fan you may know this popular tune by none other than Chris Stapleton. Well, there’s a reason why he croons over Tennessee whiskey. While it’s technically a form of bourbon, many Tennessee-based distillers might tell you otherwise.
The difference is that Tennessee whiskey goes through a charcoal steeping process, before aging in barrels. The result is an extra smooth, mellow, creamy-tasting whiskey.
This is also an American-based whiskey with a name that speaks for itself. The core ingredient behind this type of whiskey is rye. It goes through the same process of aging in oak barrels, but it has a far spicier, zingy flavor. It’s the perfect type of whiskey for cocktails such as Manhattans.
Believe it or not, but America is not the birthplace of whiskey. But rather, the British Isles, Scotland, and Ireland were among the first forefathers to create whiskey as we know and drink it today (albeit with a touch more refinement).
In Ireland, the process of whiskey making includes yeast-fermented grain mash of malted cereals, which is then aged for three years or more in wooden casks. The end result is a fine, extra-smooth whiskey liquor that the Irish are vehemently passionate about.
It goes without saying that Scottish whiskey is some of the best in the world. Scotland is also the birthplace of this golden delicious liquor and the first records of production date back as far as 1494.
In Scotland, they also spell ”whiskey” without the ”e”. The term originates from the Gaelic words ”uisge beatha”, which literally means ”water of life”. So this should hint at just how important whiskey is to the Scottish.
Scottish whiskey production includes grain or malted barley, and the aging process takes no less than three years, in specific oak casks. The flavor of Scottish whiskey is unparalleled. It’s comparable to bourbon, but also has rich salted caramel undertones.
Now, if you’re a whiskey fan you may already be familiar with a few Japanese variations of whiskey. But generally, many people are unfamiliar with the fact that Japan produces some of the most amazing whiskey in the world, too.
While Japan did not begin exporting its own whiskey until the 21st century, its variations are strikingly dry and smokey. They also use peated or double-malted barley in their whiskey production and a very similar distillation process to the Scots.
The Top 10 Whiskeys Worth Adding to Your Collection
Before we dive into the top whiskey performers, there are a couple of terms to familiarize yourself with if you’re a bit of a whiskey amateur.
When it comes to single malt whiskey, this means that the whiskey comes from one large, single distillery. It’s not the product of a single batch or barrel, but one, singular distillation process. While it’s Scottish in tradition, many brands across the globe use this term and process today. Single malts are best for drinking neat.
Blended whiskey includes a number of different types of whiskeys in one batch, such as grain-based and malt-based whiskeys. These types of whiskeys are usually best for cocktails.
1. The Best Single Barrel: The Henry McKenna 10-Year
If there’s one brand name that truly shines when it comes to bourbon, it’s Henry McKenna. If you’re looking for a fine, smooth-drinking bourbon, you can’t go wrong with the 10-year Single Barrel. It even won the title of Best in Show Whiskey in 2019 at the World Spirits Competition.
This brand is well-known in Kentucky for its array of award-winning whiskeys. The 10-year Single Barrel is also very affordable, despite its many impressive years of aging.
2. The Most Balanced: Iwai Tradition Whisky
If you’re looking to test your tastebuds and try out Japanese whiskey, you can’t do much better than the Iwai Tradition Whiskey, made at the Mars Distillery, in Japan. This definitely falls into the top 10 Japanese whiskey variations.
This distillery has made a real name for itself and has churned many incredible whiskey variations since its humble beginnings in 1949. For a taste of well-balanced Japanese whiskey with hints of peat, smoke, and fruit, this is a go-to.
3. The Best Bourbon: Old Fitzgerald 14-Year Bourbon
For all those die-hard bourbon fans out there, the Old Fitzgerald is one for the record books that you just have to add to your whiskey collection. If you have yet to try out bourbon, then there’s no better place to start than with the Old Fitzgerald 14-year Bourbon.
As a medium-bodied whiskey, you can expect a smooth, buttery, and roasted nut flavor, with hints of dark fruit and edges of yeast on the tongue. It’s the perfect clean and robust bourbon for sipping (neat, without ice!).
4. The Best Rum-Influenced: The Balvenie 14-Year Caribbean Cask Whisky
As mentioned earlier, blended whiskeys may include other whiskey variations or even hints of other types of alcohol, such as rum. But bear in mind that this whiskey is not actually blended with rum alcohol, but rather, aged in rum barrels.
This rum-aged expression of whiskey is one of the best blended variations on the market today. With its incredibly smooth, delicate flavor and floral hints of vanilla, thanks to the rum, you’ll wonder why you haven’t tried blended whiskey sooner.
5. The Best Sherry-Influenced: Nomad Outland Whisky
This is yet another hybrid-esque whiskey that could convert even the most staunch single-malt devotees. As a product of an ingenious collaboration between González Byass of Spain and master distiller Richard Paterson, its beautifully crafted and well-balanced flavor profile will win you over.
Matured in sherry butts, then aged in Pedro Ximenez casks, it has all the soft, fruity notes of sherry, but the full-bodied flavor or whiskey.
6. The Best Rye: Templeton Rye 10-Year Reserve
For a more traditional take on whiskey, you want to opt for this aged beauty. It’s also one of the top 10 rye whiskeys on the market today. With its beautifully deep hints of cherry, nutmeg, vanilla, and pepper, this rye variation is simple, yet complex, approachable, but robust.
If you’re a well-versed whiskey drinker, this is for you.
7. The Best Scotch: Glenfiddich 14-Year
No whiskey top 10 list would be complete without a mention of Glenfiddich. There’s nothing more traditional or satisfying than a good scotch. And if there’s one Scottish brand you can always rely on to deliver it’s Glenfiddich. This 14-year aged whiskey offers incredible notes of toffee, tea, honeycomb, and even jasmine nectar.
It’s an expertly-made, fine whiskey that you can enjoy over ice or neat — preferably sat next to a crackling wood fire.
8. The Best Pound-for-Pound: Four Roses Small Batch Select
For an intriguing whiskey to add to your collection, you want to opt for the small batch selects. And this variation by Four Roses distillery in Kentucky does not disappoint.
As a blend of 6 different whiskey recipes, it might sound over-the-top, at first. But after the 6-year aging process, this small batch select reveals intense flavors of apricot, berry, winter spice, and even a touch of grassiness.
What’s even better than the flavor is the glossy, velvety texture.
9. The Best Gift: I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon 15-Year
Now, if you’re not exactly a whiskey lover yourself or maybe you are, but want to gift a good bottle to someone close to you, then this is a great option. It’s the ultimate marriage of all things good in a bourbon.
And with the 15-year aging process, you’ll taste intense notes of spice, toffee, stone fruit, and even the flavor of the oak barrel. If you have a loved one that really appreciates good whiskey, this is yet another go-to.
10. The Best Bargain: Old Forester 86 Bourbon
You’ll find that most bartenders rave and recommend this whiskey. Not just because of its pleasant aroma, and flavors of rye, caramel, and candied orange. But because of its affordable price point.
In short, it’s one of those whiskeys you can order neat, at the bar, shrug off the price, and not grimace at the taste!
Helpful Lifestyle Content at Your Beck and Call
Whether you’re new to the whiskey world or enjoy your fair share of tipple, these top 10 whiskeys are worth adding to your collection. Or, simply trying out for the first time to whet your whiskey appetite.
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