In the world of flavored whiskeys, there are definitely more duds than diamonds. That’s because whiskey on its own is already pretty great. In general, adding any flavoring isn’t really going to enhance the experience. If anything, you’re going to end up with a sugary, candied-version of the whiskeys you know and love. Who needs that BS in 2020?
That being said, though there are a lot of missteps in the world of whiskey flavoring, there are actually a few worth trying. As Taylor Scoma, manager of Stacked in Portland, Oregon, says: “Finding a great flavored whiskey can be tough.”
With so many overhyped and over-sugared entrants in the field, we decided that an expert opinion or two was in order. That’s why we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us their go-to flavored whiskeys for sipping and mixing.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey
Cole Newton, bartender and owner at Twelve Mile Limit in New Orleans
I don’t think there’s a better flavored whiskey out there than Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey. It’s buttery, rich, and unexpectedly greater than the sum of its parts. I have a regular who drinks it 1:1 with rye whiskey for a sort of All-American Rusty Nail variation, but it’s good enough to enjoy on its own, or poured over pancakes.
Crown Royal Salted Caramel
Jay Oakley, bartender at B & O Brasserie in Baltimore
I’ve always been a Fireball guy. Fall and spices are kind of my thing, so a cinnamon whiskey is right up my alley. More recently, I’ve been really into Crown Royal’s Salted Caramel whiskey.
Rebel Yell Ginger
Lauren Mathews, lead bartender at Urbana in Washington, DC
I enjoy Rebel Yell’s Ginger whiskey. One of my favorite mixers with bourbon is ginger ale, and Rebel Yell takes that bite of ginger up a bit. It’s great for cold weather or even when you have a cold.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple
Erick Arce Martín, bartender at Bosque Bar at Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa in Costa Rica
I do like Jack Daniels Honey, a mix of Jack Daniels with honey liquor, because it has a nice sweetness, smooth finish and is useful to build complex cocktails or just a refreshing highball. I also enjoy Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple for the same reason.
Wild Turkey American Honey
Slayde Martin, bar operations Manager at Pescado in Rosemary Beach, Florida
Wild Turkey American Honey, no comparison. Real honey, real Bourbon, real flavors. Realistically, I never choose flavored whiskey, but I have had them all and American Honey is a clear winner for me.
Jim Wrigley, beverage manager at Kimpton Seafire in the Cayman Islands
Although I love the creativity and variety of new innovative products on the market every year, in this instance I’m a traditionalist. Drambuie has graced the liquor cabinet of folks the world over since the late 1800’s – Although they claim the recipe aged Scotch whisky, spices, herbs & heather honey dates back as far as 1745.
Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Rock and Rye
Benjamin Rouse, head bartender at Henley in Nashville
This is a tossup for me and neither of them is Fireball. The first would be Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Rock and Rye. This Rock and Rye is perfect for the all-around nip. The second is Old Dominick Hot Toddy. It is similar in flavor profile but has more of a sharp lemon citrus.
Bull Run Pinot Noir Finished Whiskey
Taylor Scoma, manager of Stacked in Portland, Oregon
The the Pinot Noir Finished American Whiskey by Bull Run Distillery is my absolute favorite. My love for drinking a whiskey that finishes like a red wine is by far the most Portland thing about me. There is no type of booze that I love more than whiskey and red wine, so when I tasted this wine flavored whiskey, I knew that I wasn’t alone.
Virginia Distilling Port Cask Virginia Highland Whisky
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I feel like I'm naturally gravitating towards this #whisky…not sure what it is though. The shiny #copper logo on the neck or the super cool looking label (love this color combo). Well, whatever it is Virginia Distillery Port Cask finished whisky piqued my interest, and I'm glad I was finally able to try it. . As soon as I cracked it open, I hear the lovely 'pop' cork sound followed by sweet dried fruit, honey, vanilla, and a tiny bit of spice. I picked up toffee, citrus, toasted oak and again very tiny bit of spice with medium finish. My impression…I think this is a great whisky and best of all I don't have to hunt for it lol. Additionally, the price is on point at less than $60 RRP. Go figure, why this whisky has won several awards and earned 93 points finalist in 2016 ultimate spirits challenge. . Anyhow, sharing is caring. I'd like to share my tasting experience with 3 lucky winners for my random #whiskysample #giveaway. I'm also going to give away Virginia Distillery logo'd #glencarin glass to enjoy your sample. 3 simple rules (sorry 48 CONUS only 😥): 1. First follow me 2. Write in comments below one thing you know about Virginia Distillery or the Port Cask finished whisky 3. Most important…tell me why you want a sample 😁. Easy peasy…the winner will be randomly selected on Friday, 3/16 morning at 10am CST. Have fun and good luck 🥃 . @emmastotz . . . . . . . #VADistilleryCo #VirginiaHighlandWhisky #BlendedMalt #HowDoYouWhisky #AmericanSingleMalt
Will Witherow, beverage director at Live Oak in Alexandria, Virginia
I really enjoy the Virginia Distillery Company Port Cask Virginia Highland Whisky. At Live Oak I recommend this to anyone ordering a chocolate dessert. On our menu we pair it with dark chocolate pieces as well.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire
Jose Medina Camacho, lead bartender at Automatic Seafood & Oysters in Birmingham, Alabama
If I’m going to drink (or mix with) a flavored whiskey, it’s going to be Jack Daniels Tennessee Fire. Drink it neat, on the rocks, or in a hot toddy. Perfect for everyone to enjoy.
Ichiro’s Malt Wine Wood Reserve
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Now in stock! The legend that is Ichiro’s Malt! In 3 different varieties and more on the way with the ever popular Mizunara, the tasty wine wood and the easy drinking malt and grain all currently here. Another fine selection of Japanese whiskies from the good folks at @casadevinos. #japanesewhisky #ichirosmalt #ichiros #maltandgrain #winewood #mizunara @ichirosmalt #thewhiskyboutique #425collins #whiskybar #whisky #whiskygram #ichirosmaltwinewoodreserve #ichirosmaltmizunara #ichirosmaltwhisky
Bryan Mayer from Azabu in Miami
My go-to flavored whiskey is Ichiro’s Malt (Aged in Wood Wine Barrel). That’s because it is super smooth, well-balanced and has some earthy notes. All around, a great subtly flavored whisky.
Writer’s Pick: Knob Creek Smoked Maple
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One of my favorite “cheap” Holiday-time Bourbons. Can’t drink it consistently because it’s so sweet but a bottle will last a fall/winter season and for a $29 bottle, you can’t beat it. Non-bourbon drinkers tend to like it and for how cheap it is, just try it! . . . #knobcreek #knobcreekbourbon #bourbonhunter #bourbonsecrets #bourbonreview #knobcreeksmokedmaple #goodcheapbourbon #worththerisk
Knob Creek is already one of my favorite bourbons for mixing. But, when you add in the subtle sweet, smoky flavor of this offering, you’ve really got something great. It’s the perfect flavored whiskey for an amped up Old Fashioned or Manhattan.