Whisky has always been a refined, premium drink – something that keeps you company after a busy day or heightens the beauty of your home bar.
This spirit is considered to be a collectible for two reasons. Firstly, people collect rare whisky that is high in demand and use them as investment pieces. Secondly, whisky collectors collect bottles based on their individual preferences, be it from a specific distillery, a whisky aged in a specific type of barrel, bottles that are of a certain age, and so on. The collector’s curation often makes these collections rare and unique, and eventually, the demand for them shoots up.
whats a good whiskey
Whisky is a worthy investment if you’re able to get your hands on rare, premium-quality whisky. Much like stocks and gold, this spirit now offers good returns, provided that there’s a high demand for that particular type of whisky bottle in the market.
If you’re wondering what are the factors that make a particular whisky bottle a good collectible, read on.
- Limited Edition
Pretty much a no-brainer – limited-edition whisky bottles are produced in only a handful of numbers, so having one in your collection is quite a big deal. If you’ve come across a single cask release, bag it right away without a second thought. They are quite difficult to come across and are generally a hit at auctions. The name of the brand and the quantity produced in the batch also matter a lot, so be sure to do your research beforehand.
If you’re just starting out with your whisky collection, this would be a great beginning. In case you wish to sell it in the future, you can expect its price to go up much higher. And if you’re keeping it purely as a luxury collectible, then you can relish the joy of owning a rare whisky.
Some brands sell premium whisky collections to attract customers, and these collections tend to get sold out quickly. You can choose to buy an entire collection or a small part of it. Chances are, someone who has half the collection would want to possess the complete series, and they’ll be willing to offer you a higher value if you take your whisky to an auction.
And if you have sound knowledge of whiskies, you can collect some bottles by yourself following a particular sequence of your preference. If there’s a demand for it, you’ll be able to sell off the collection for a handsome amount!
- Consider the Cask/Barrel
The cask or barrel in which the whisky has been aged is a point to consider. Some types of casks are rarer than others, so their values will differ accordingly. For example, sherry casks are a rarity. If you find a bottle that represents a unique cask finish, it would make for a great collectible – they tend to have more complex flavors.
And in case you’re looking for something rarer, collecting Japanese oak casks would be a great idea. They are quite scarce, and connoisseurs would be ready to pay well to get their hands on one of the bottles.
- Official Bottling
For starters, you can choose official bottlings of whiskies, branded directly by the distillery. However, in recent times, there is a growing demand for independent bottlings as well, because they are quite difficult to come across.
- Inactive Distillery
Another good option is to look for whiskies produced by distilleries that are no longer active. They are super rare because the distillery won’t be making these bottles any more. While they are definitely not easy to come across, in case you happen to have one in your possession, be sure that its value will only go up.
Good whiskey drinkers have been categorized as mature, confident, and intellectual individuals who appreciate the beauty of life.
With so many options of whiskey brands, it could get really tricky to choose the best whiskeys. However, those who are lovers of the brown liquor usually know their stuff, and this expert guide can help lead you towards redemption.
In this article, we have compiled a list of the best whiskeys, perfect for all occasions. We have also gone out and sampled most of them (a hard task, we understand), so enjoy!
Our favorite whiskies of 2022
Aberlour A’Bundah – Batch #70
The 2022 award-winning Whisky is a handmade creamier single malt scotch from start to finish. With aromas of mixed spices, the Speyside, full-bodied whisky is sure to give that absolute treat that you deserve. Aberlour A’Bundah – Batch #70 came first in the 2022 International Whisky Competition and will definitely make more waves with its rich and exotic taste. If you want to taste the best, start from the top.
A mouthful of this jaw-dropping spicy and fiery scotch will give you its rich, smoky, and delicious flavors. Ardbeg Ardcore’s strong spicy, and savory smell will seduce you to have your first taste. It has lingering delicious notes of treacle toffee, soot, and smoke with a sweet as its aftertaste. Overall, Ardberg Ardcore is one whisky you should definitely list among the tops.
Dewar’s Double Double
Critic tasting note: “If a Scotch whisky could smell plush and velvety, this Pedro Ximénez-finished blend would be it. Chocolate-covered raisins, peat smoke, cigar lounge, licorice, chamois leather, and charred oak staves. The palate is smooth, delicate, and finely tuned with syrupy prune, raisins, plum, raspberry, strawberry, 70% dark chocolate, peppercorn, ginger, clove, and a hint of smoke. This showcases lip-smacking, intricate blending on the oldest Dewar’s available. Editors’ Choice” – 94/100, Whisky Advocate
The best whiskey brands you should try out now
Henry Mckenna Single Barrel 10-Year
- Category: Bourbon
- Region: Kentucky, United States of America
- ABV: 50%
Henry Mckenna Single Barrel bourbon is an award-winning liquor from Heaven Hill Distillery, Kentucky. In 2019, this classic Kentucky bourbon won the “Best in Show Whiskey” award at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. This is the highest honor for any whiskey brand.
Particularly, this bottled-in-Bond whiskey originates from a single barrel of bourbon that has undergone an aging period of 10 years. This bourbon provides a smooth, delicious, structured flavor profile and is not as expensive as some other top-quality bourbons.
Glenfiddich 21 Year Gran Reserva
- Category: Single malt scotch
- Region: Speyside, Scotland
- ABV: 40%
This exquisite, traditional whisky has been patiently matured for 21 years at the distillery. A sip of this rum is a great step towards discovering the untapped glory of the whiskey world. Finished in Caribbean rum casks, this single malt scotch whisky combines hints of banana, figs, rich toffee, new leather, and oak.
Glenfiddich is a staple in standard whiskey bars and a great option for whiskey newbies. Also, the 21-year bottle of Glenfiddich is currently the world’s best-selling single-malt whisky. Therefore, it could be the perfect gift to share with old-time whisky lovers if you have been seeking one. Better still, grab a bottle for yourself and tuck it away for future special occasions.
Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye
- Category: Rye whiskey
- Region: Kentucky, United States of America
- ABV: 59.8% knob creek
In 2018, this Straight Rye whiskey was honored with the “Best Rye Whiskey” at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Longtime whiskey lovers cannot but confess this as one of their favorite whiskey brands.
The Kentucky straight Rye brand also bagged an award in the March 2019 World Whiskies Awards. The “Cask Strength” label and an ABV of 59% depict this liquor’s strong taste. It has a pronounced level of rye spiciness and an underlying taste of a blend of oak and vanilla. You may want to go slow on this one, enjoying each sip as the flavor unpacks on your palate.
The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Years Old
- Category: Scotch whisky
- Region: Scotland
- ABV: 43%
The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 is one of many arrays of Sherry Oak’s single malt whiskies matured in specifically selected oak casks. These screened casks provide the liquor’s rich gold color, rich woody spice, and a fruity flavor as the liquid matures with time. Once filled, the maturing spirits are stored up in the chosen casks for 12 years, after which they become worthy of the Macallan expression.
This brand was established in the 1820s and is one of the first few to mass-produce single malt whiskey.
Further, it gives off a malt, brown sugar,
Jefferson’s Ocean Aged at Sea Bourbon
Jefferson’s employs an uncommon aging process for their whiskey and has obtained maximum results over the years. It all began with Jefferson’s Master Blender, Trey Zoeller, in 2008 while aboard a Kentucky-native ship.
Trey watched his whiskey swirl around in his glass due to the constant rocking motion of the waves. He thought about the results of bourbon barrels aging at sea from the obvious natural factors that will speed up the churning process.
The combination of the extreme sea weather fluctuations with the constant rocking of the bourbon barrels increases the interaction of the liquid with the wooden barrels. So, after spending 8 years undisturbed in a secluded place on land, the barrels are loaded onto the OCEARCH vessel and left to age at the mercy of the sea for an additional 5 to 10 months!
The resulting difference between this unique aging process introduces a complex drink that every whiskey lover must try out. A richer, hyper-churned, light brown sugar and caramelized bourbon are obtained from the process. It has a slight tobacco smell and an overall smooth texture that satisfies its drinker.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost & Rare Whiskey
- Category: Scotch whisky
- Region: Scotland
- ABV: 46%
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost & Rare can be termed the best-blended scotch out there. It is important for a whisky lover to taste some luxury whisky like this once in a while. The unraveling process of goodness from different flavors would enrich your mentality as you roll the whisky in your mouth.
The Blue Label Ghost and Rare is indeed a masterpiece- a perfect blend of 8 rare whiskies, including three ghost whiskies. The result of this crafty distillation process introduces a smooth scotch with a splash of fruitiness and a smoky finish.
Further, this exceptional whisky gives a memorable sipping experience with its blend of dark chocolate, sandalwood, hazelnut, hints of dried fruit, and pepper.
High West Campfire Whiskey
- Category: American whiskey
- Region: Utah, United States of America
- ABV: 46%
High West Campfire is one of the most distinctive and delicious blended malt scotch. Although this drink is a blend of Rye, Bourbon, and Scotch, it identifies as American because it hails from Utah.
That said, this liquor provides a blend of sweet taste (from bourbon), floral, fruity spice (from Rye whiskey), and gentle smoke from peated Scotch. You can serve it neat and cold for a memorable evening or cocktails.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof
- Category: Bourbon
- Region: Kentucky, United States of America
- ABV: 60.4%
This sharp-taste caramel and butterscotch whiskey is a unique proof of the purest form of Bourbon’s deliciousness. Its producers ensured that they produced it without chill-filtering. Uncut and straight from the barrels, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof will give you the ultimate liquor drinking experience.
This is one barrel-proof whiskey every whiskey connoisseur should try out. A taste of this American drink will rein its rich flavors in and leave a pleasant lingering taste. You can add some water or ice to cool down the proof if it’s too strong for you.
Wild Turkey 101 Rye
- Pros: Bold, lingering sweet, spicy finish. Complex flavor
- Cons: Not always available
Best Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Michter’s US1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon
- Pros: Great value for its price, great for most occasions.
- Cons: Just a tad too sweet
Best Japanese Whisky
Kujira Ryukyu 12 Year Whisky
- Pros: Natural sweet aroma, smooth taste, complex, sweet flavor
- Cons: It is costly
Best Canadian whisky
Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye
- Pros: Signature smooth taste, sweet, matured, spicy flavor
- Cons: It is just a tad too intense a drink for some drinkers.
What is the difference between Whiskey and Whisky?
This is an old-age debate you should be aware of.
In general, whiskeys or whisky are varieties of distilled liquors that are produced from a fermented mash of cereal grain and stored in old oak barrels. Some of these cereal grains are grains of rye, wheat, corn, and barley malt.
Hence, the name — whiskey (or whisky) is derived from the type of cereal grain used during the distilling process and the production location.
Now, whiskey (with an “e”) is any variety of distilled liquors produced in America and Ireland. Whisky (without the “e”) is one of these distilled liquors that hails from several other countries like Canada or Japan.
Equally important, there are two categories of Whiskey — straight and blended.
Straight whiskeys are either not mixed with anything else or could be mixed with other whiskeys but from the same distiller and distillation period.
Blended whiskeys combine various whiskey products from different distillers and distillation periods. Blended whiskeys can even have their flavor profile from fruit juice.
Also, blended whiskeys generally have a milder, less pronounced taste than the characteristic straight whiskey flavor.
What are the different kinds of whiskey?
There are a bunch of whiskey bottles most whiskey lovers are familiar with. As a new whiskey drinker, knowing these options may narrow your search toward finding the best whiskey brands.
For starters, American whiskey is of three main kinds. They are Bourbon whiskey, Rye whiskey, and Tennessee whiskey. Each of these whiskeys differs in taste, ingredients used for processing, and distillation process.
Bourbon has won the hearts of many whiskey drinkers because of its smokey flavor and sweet taste. Often referred to as “American whiskey,” Bourbon gets its smokey flavor profile from being aged in new charred oak barrels.
With a mash bill of at least 51% corn, it is safe to say that Bourbon whiskey is mostly corn-based. You can enjoy it the way it is or mixed in an old-fashioned style.
Some say Tennessee whiskey is another Bourbon, but the distillers would always disagree. They both have sweet flavors, but you can make one in America, while the other is exclusive to the state of Tennessee. Another common feature of Tennessee and Bourbon whiskey is that they both have a mash bill of 51% corn.
In addition, Tennessee whiskey is made through the charcoal steeping process. This process, called the Lincoln county filtration process, makes Tennessee whiskey possess a smoother texture and a refined, sweeter taste than Bourbon.
So technically, Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey are almost identical, but not exactly the same.
Rye whiskey has a mash bill of at least 51% Rye and is known for its spicy flavor and peppery sting at every sip. Like Bourbon, this drink undergoes the same aging process in new charred oak barrels.
Scotch whisky is made from Malted barley, grains, and oak casks (also known as ex-bourbon barrels or ex-sherry casks). This Scotland-made whisky is arguably one of the best out there, with a flavor like that of Bourbon. Scotch whisky also has a smokey flavor from an aging process of not less than three years in oak casks.
Scotch whisky is strong because it undergoes just two distillation processes. Despite numerous Scottish distilleries, there is only about 10% single malt scotch whisky in the single malt whisky market.
Japanese whisky is modeled after the Scotch whisky — only smoother. It emphasizes a blending combination of whiskies from different barrels to produce a standard liquor. Japanese whisky may be drier, smokier, and even peatier than blended scotch.
Unlike Scottish whisky, Irish whiskey is triple-distilled, providing a smoother spirit texture. Also, Irish whiskey is aged in wooden casks for a minimum of three years, using barley and malt as primary ingredients.
As its name implies, Canadian whisky is produced in Canada and is known for its 100% Rye and grain blend. The manufacturing process involves fermenting each grain and distilling them before they mature. Next, the grains are blended to produce the liquor.
Canadian liquor has a lighter and smoother texture than American liquor.
You can differentiate American whiskey from others with its barrel age. The law commands American whiskeys to be aged in charred new oak barrels while others use aged barrels.
How we picked the best whiskey brands
The taste of whiskey is subjective — your opinion about how good a bottle tastes is probably correct, just like ours is. Thus, we looked at three other crucial factors determining how well you would enjoy sipping yours.
Factors to consider searching for the best whiskey in the world
We believe these key factors differentiate and help you enjoy a good whiskey.
Aroma and taste — A good whiskey should be able to give off a characteristic aroma when approached with the nose. Instead of an excessive alcohol smell, the smell from a whiskey bottle should have an appealing particular blend of aroma.
Experts say that whiskey with an exaggerated odor of alcohol most probably is of low quality.
Further, the first sip from your whiskey glass should provide a general perception of such a brand. You don’t have to be an ancient whiskey lover before you can feel the particular appealing taste of a bottle. If you feel numb or anesthetized from your first sip, your mind won’t be conscious enough to enjoy it. This is customary for whiskey with high alcohol integration.
Price — The most expensive whiskey brands are believed to provide the best quality. Hence, if you desire delicious-sipping-whiskey moments, you may have to invest in getting a quality brand. Getting one of these may require drinking a little and enjoying your moments. This is far better than gulping glasses of cheap liquor and endangering your liver.
Availability — Several top-quality whiskeys are extremely hard to find or to purchase. We have highlighted some of those that can be found online.