The Best American-Made Whiskeys For A Rough And Tumble Winter

We write about bourbon so often that it’s easy to forget about the other great whiskey styles coming out of the United States. Rye has seen a bit of a resurgence in recent years and there’s always love for Tennessee whiskey. Hell, in the last decade alone, places like Texas, Chicago, Oregon, and Utah have all become whiskey hotbeds.

New entrants to the scene include Evansville, Illinois’ FEW Distillery and Chicago’s Koval. Yotam Bloom, beverage manager at Refinery Rooftop in New York City, prefers the latter’s single barrel rye whiskey for winter sipping.

“One of my absolute favorites is Koval Single Barrel Rye,” he notes. “Rather than the kick you get with some rye whiskies, Koval Rye has a subtle, and refreshing taste. With a light spice finish, this charred oak barrel whiskey is pure rye.”

We asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us their go-to American whiskeys and they definitely didn’t disappoint. Their choices came from all over the country and, yes, they definitely included some bourbons.

Elijah Craig Small Batch

Jef Tate, head bartender at Janitor’s Closet in Chicago

When it comes to American whiskeys, you have to go with bourbon. I like Elijah Craig Small batch. Great profile that still stands out in a cocktail.

Evan Williams Bottled in Bond

Seth Weinberg, head bartender at Bourbon Steak in Nashville

Evan Williams Bottled in Bond is a great value for sipping. It might be the only Bottled in Bond Bourbon that retails for less than $15. Bottled in Bond are legally 50% ABV and aged at least 4 years, so that is a lot of bang for your buck.

Old Forester Statesman

Kala Brooks, curator at Top of the Monk in Asheville, North Carolina

Old Forester Statesman. Even with over a million barrels in the rick in Louisville, Old Forester only picks barrels with the greatest exposure to heat to make the Statesman. It has a really great balance of heat and spice, and is released at 95 proof, perfect for sipping.

High West A Midwinter Nights Dram

Amanda Swanson, Head Bartender at Fine & Rare in New York City

High West A Midwinter Nights Dram, hands down. I mean, it’s right there in the name! This beautiful American Whiskey from Utah tastes like Christmas and is only released in these particular months. It has all the characteristics of classic American whiskeys, with some added baking spices and some figgy jamminess that help capture the essence of the season.

Michter’s US 1 Kentucky Bourbon

Dean Hurst, mixologist at Berns Steakhouse in Tampa Bay, Florida

When I see the words American Whiskey, I immediately think of Michter’s. This is the bourbon that broke the rules to make a unique offering for the US whiskey market. This whiskey is all about the quality of the spirit off the still, barrel selection, and thoughtful aging.

Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey

Rob Guimaraes, manager at Etch in Nashville

I’m in Nashville, so it’s hard not to love the Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey. The broken history (thanks, Prohibition) dating back to 1867 is recaptured using the same mash bill as the original TN whiskey. The story of Nelson’s revival alone is enough to get you excited, but the 91 proof juice with smoky-toasted graham cracker and cinnamon-spiced apple notes is a happy over-performer.

Maker’s Mark Bourbon

Stefan Seecharran, head bartender at Brasserie Saint Marc in New York City

When going for an American choice; Maker’s Mark Bourbon is my go-to. A classic Kentucky bourbon, it’s rich complex and faintly sweet.

Westward Single Malt

Sarah Briggs, beverage director at Renata in Portland, Oregon

Westward Single Malt. This is by far my most favorite whiskey coming out of the PNW. Westward does a great job representing our city with its exceptional detail to the beer that it then distills into spirit. The juice is all malty goodness with a dash of brown butter and honey on the nose. And the palate is just as balanced! You can still taste the beer it was made from plus vanilla, clove and almond.

Old Overholt Rye

Jamal Granger, bartender at The Williamsburg Hotel in New York City

I’m a cheap date, so Old Overholt Rye is what I live for with or without a crisp lager on the side. Bonus points for being the oldest American Whiskey.

High West Rendezvous Rye

Evan Moore, beverage director at Cut DC in Washington, D.C.

Rendezvous Rye from High West is a very intense, sweet and concentrated rye with more than enough spiciness to keep it balanced. Made in Utah, somewhat ironically.

George Dickel No.12

James Sharp, bar manager at Cross-Eyed Critters in Nashville

I love the whole George Dickel line. My go-to is always the Number 12, but if you can get your hands on the Bottled In Bond you can really impress your whiskey loving friends.

Koval Single Barrel Rye

Yotam Bloom, beverage manager at Refinery Rooftop in New York City

I am a fan of small-batch distilleries, but picky when it comes to ryes. I was pleasantly surprised by this bottle’s finish — which also has hints of maple. Plus, it is the first small batch distillery in Chicago since prohibition times. Support the little guy.

High West Double Rye

Jim Bulmash, lead mixologist at Monk’s Flask in Asheville, North Carolina

A go-to for me at home and behind the bar at Monk’s Flask right now is High West Double Rye. It’s got a nice bit of spiciness but is balanced out with just the right amount of sweet. A fine whiskey for both sipping and use in cocktails.

Michter’s Kentucky Straight Rye

Anthony Merlino, beverage director at Bergamo’s in New York City

When it comes to American-made whiskeys, I enjoy drinking Michter’s Rye. I love it in a classic Manhattan and it’s also nice to sip on its own.