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
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Work work work, finally decided sit down and relax some good old fashioned bourbon. Nothing special about Elijah Craig Small Batch, just a good every day pour of what bourbon should taste like. #bourbon #whiskywednesdays #whiskywednesdays #whiskeygram #elijahcraigsmallbatch #elijahcraig #heavenhilldistillery #heavenhill #bourbonporn
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
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One of the first bourbons that I ever had was Evan Williams black label. When I picked this guy up, I wasn’t expecting a ton, but it is extremely solid for $17 for a bottle. It’s my favorite bargain bourbon. What’s your favorite bottle under $20? —————————————————⠀ FOLLOW: @whiskey.chase ⠀ 🔶⠀ #fortheloveofthechase ⠀ —————————————————⠀ 🔶⠀ #whiskeychase #bourbon #heavenhill #bottledinbond #evanwilliams #evanwilliamsbourbon #evanwilliamsbottledinbond #bourbonheritagemonth #30daysofbourbon #30daysofbourbonchallenge #cheers #whisky #whiskey #liquor #drinkstagram #whiskeylover #nashville #nashvillewhiskey #thebourbonleague #tennesseewhiskey #bourbons #bourbongram #kentuckybourbon #instawhiskey #instabourbon #bourbonlife #bourbonlover
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
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Monday Ward Special 12/2/19 1oz Old Overholt Rye & 1/2 pint Lagunita's IPA $7 ALL NIGHT LONG!!! . . . . #NYC #LES #lowereastside #eastvillage #manhattan #newyorkcity #whiskey #bourbon #rye #americanwhiskey #canadianwhisky #scotch #singlemalts #japanesewhisky #taiwanesewhisky #indianwhisky #irishwhiskey #NewAndLimitedWhiskey #whiskeybar #whiskeyflights #nyctavern #nycbestbars #happyhour #nychappyhour #oldoverholtrye #lagunitasipa #whiskeyspecial #beerwhiskeycombo #whiskeymonday
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
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Sorry I’m a day late, I was traveling all day yesterday. However, I figured I would do a review on my favorite Tennessee whiskey, and no it’s not Jack. It’s from @georgedickel with their George Dickel No. 12. Now while this whiskey does go through the Lincoln County filtering process, filtered with sugar maple charcoal, Dickel does it different. Instead of slowly dropped through, Dickel sits in a vat for a few days with the charcoal before being drained. This, to me, creates a smoother and more well rounded whiskey. On the nose there’s notes of corn, vanilla, and a bit of butter. On the palate there are notes of vanilla cream, oak, and nutmeg. The finish is a nice medium length finish with notes of that vanilla cream and oak rounding out a delicious pour. Whether it’s neat, over ice, or in a cocktail. To me, George Dickel No. 12 is the superior Tennessee Whiskey. But, I always like to keep these things a conversation, so let me know what you think. And as always, cheers 🥃. #whiskey #tennessee #tennesseewhiskey #whiskeyporn #whiskeyreview #smoothastennesseewhiskey #georgedickel #georgedickelwhiskey #georgedickeldistillery #georgedickelno12 #mustang #american #americanwhiskey #thewolfofwhiskey #the_wolf_of_whiskey #whiskeygram
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.