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Bartenders Name The Best Blended Whiskeys For Mixing Summer Cocktails

If you’re a fan of whiskey, you probably really dig seeing the words “single malt” on the label of a bottle. This means the bottle is a malt whiskey (or whisky) that comes from a single distillery. The Macallan, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet — single malt expressions from those brands have long inspired a very particular pleasure in drinkers.

You might not naturally be as keen about seeing the words “blended whiskey” (or “blended whisky”) on a label, but if you enjoy mixed drinks, it’s time to rethink that. A blended whiskey is made from different styles of whiskey (usually grain and malt) blended together. It can also contain neutral grain spirits, coloring, and flavoring — which is why some people shudder at the phrase. But some of the most well-known and well-respected brands (including Johnnie Walker, Dewar’s, and Hibiki) are blends and the style is perfect for mixing into cocktails. It’s rarely rough and often typified by a balanced flavor profile.

To find some blends you should invest it, we tapped some of our favorite bartenders. Here are their favorite blended whiskies for mixing drinks.

Kilbeggan Single Grain Irish

Jason Turon, beverage director / partner at Millburn Standard in Millburn, New Jersey

When summer hits, and it’s a beach day or vacation time, I really enjoy starting my day (or afternoon) with an Iced Irish Coffee. Through the years of experimenting with different whiskeys, I find that the Kilbeggan Single Grain Irish Whiskey is my number one choice. We currently feature the Kilbeggan Single Grain Iced Irish Coffee on our new cocktail-to-go menu at the Millburn Standard, and it’s a hot item! The Kilbeggan has such full body and flavor, with a perfect subtle bite that brings the whole drink together. You can taste the whiskey, but it doesn’t intimidate the drink. For a warm summer day, it’s a perfect way to wake up.

Added bonus: you can build it, shake it and drink it in a regular thermos. (and it really helps take the edge off from the night before).

Suntory Toki

Sondre Kasin, principal bartender at Cote in New York City

For a great blended whisky that is great for cocktail mixing, I would get the Suntory Toki. Nothing fancy but an overall great Japanese whisky for mixing cocktails or as an highball. This is a blend of the three distilleries that are owned by Suntory. On the palate, you’ll find notes as apples, almonds, grapefruit, and herbs. When making whisky cocktails you want a well-balanced whisky that is not too smoky or strong. This is an elegant and easy-to-drink whisky that works great in most summer cocktails.

Fistful of Bourbon

Jennifer Jackson-Keating, co-owner of Island Culture Tiki Bar in Pensacola, Florida

Fistful of Bourbon — a new value-driven blend of five straight bourbons that’s complex enough to drink alone but is easily mixable in your favorite cocktail. It’s also created by William Grant & Sons who have been blending whiskey for over 100 years. Our summer go-to recipe: “Sunset Lemonade” 1.5 oz bourbon, .5 oz strawberry puree, 4oz lemonade. Shake and serve over ice.

Jameson Irish Whiskey

Eva Al-Gharaballi, bartender for the Datz Restaurant Group in Tampa, Florida

Jameson blended Irish whiskey is a bartender’s best friend. Sipped on with ginger ale or showcased in a strawberry mint smash Jameson has no limits to the crisp flavor it adds to any summer cocktail.

Crown Royal

Dean Powers, restaurant and bar manager at Shore Lodge in McCall, Idaho

Summertime is when the living is easy, kind of like what’s in my glass. Crown Royal is a super light Canadian blended whisky that goes great with ginger ale or ginger beer.

The Famous Grouse

Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami

Famous Grouse is a budget bottle that can definitely star in some warm day Scotch and sodas. They’ll go down refreshingly smooth. And isn’t that what summer is all about?

Kilbeggan Small Batch Rye

Robert Sickler, bartender at Finn’s Manor in Denver

I’m a big fan of the Kilbeggan Small Batch Rye, as its wonderfully approachable yet complex and well suited for a vast array of cocktails as well over ice or as a refreshing, clean shot with friends.

Writer’s Picks:

Chivas Regal 12

Like Dewar’s and Johnnie Walker, Chivas is in the blended whisky business. If you’re going to buy a bottle of this iconic brand to mix with, you can’t go wrong with Chivas Regal 12. The name might sound too fancy to use in cocktails. But this rich, smooth whisky is full of honey, green apple, and caramel flavors and stands up well in mixed drinks.

Dewar’s White Label

When talking about blended whiskies to mix with, you have to mention Dewar’s White Label. Made from 40 different malt and grain whiskies, it’s sweet, fruity, and perfect for drinks like The godfather and penicillin.

Ballentine’s Finest

You may have heard of Ballentine’s (or you might not have) in the past and never really gave it a chance. Well, now you should. Like Dewar’s White Label, this whisky is made up of 40 different malt and grain whiskies that come from four different regions. It’s well-balanced, unique, full of honey sweetness, and subtly smoky.

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