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We Asked Bartenders To Name The One Whiskey You Should Sip All Winter

No matter where you live in the country (okay fine, excluding Hawaii), you’re going to want a nice whiskey these next few months to warm your bones from the winter chill. Even if you don’t have to worry about lake effect snow, it’s always nice to put on a pair of sweats and binge your favorite Netflix show while you sip on a bottle of bourbon, Scotch, or rye.

Hector Acevedo, owner and operator of Spanglish Craft Cocktail Bar + Kitchen, prefers a very specific style from “The Emerald Isle.”

“I live in Miami, so our winters are mild, at best,” he says. “Down here, you need a whiskey that’s versatile — like Proper No. 12 Irish whiskey. It’s the perfect whiskey in the winter months, cold or mild. You can sip it neat on cool nights or make a refreshing punch. The possibilities are endless.”

Of course, there’s a whole world of whiskey possibilities for winter warming at your local liquor store or bottle shop. That takes a little navigating (even for experts). That’s why we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us the one whiskey they’ll be drinking all winter long from now until the first hint of spring in March.

Michter’s Toasted Barrel Bourbon

Scott Kollig, beverage director of Rye Street Tavern in Baltimore

Michter’s Toasted Barrel Bourbon is the only answer. Toasting and charring are not the same, and very few distilleries will go through the nearly cost-prohibitive expense of toasting a barrel first. This allows for a deeper flavor as the barrel sugars are more accessible. The whiskey is simultaneously mellow-yet-intense and has an incredibly long finish. It is delightful neat, with one cube, with more cubes or (maybe this is blasphemous) even as a shot.

I could never get tired of drinking this one.

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon

Brian Krux, mixologist and bartender at Topnotch Resort in Stowe, Vermont

In order not to break the bank, I like to keep my everyday whiskies under $30. Elijah Craig ‘Small Batch’ fits the bill. At 94 proof this Heaven Hill bourbon is perfect for sipping neat or mixing into a cocktail.

Side note: Elijah Craig was a Baptist minister in Kentucky in late 1700’s and is credited with inventing bourbon.

Westward Single Malt Whiskey

Nick Detrich, co-owner of Jewel of the South in New Orleans

Westward Single Malt for its deliciousness and versatility. It’s a single malt scotch-style whiskey out of Oregon that delivers in old-fashioneds, toddies, neat, and on the rocks.

Perfect for a one bottle whiskey bar.

Balcones 100 Proof Rye

Mike Raymond, owner of The Cottonmouth Club in Houston

When it comes to winter warmers, I’ve been really enjoying the Balcones 100 Proof Rye. With earthy chocolate notes to keep you warm through the winter months.

Glenmorangie Signet Scotch Whisky

Amy Wong, bartender at King Tide Fish & Shell in Portland, Oregon

If I could spend the winter months only drinking one whiskey, it would be Glenmorangie Signet. It has delicious coffee and chocolate notes that are perfectly suited for mid-winter sipping.

Booker’s Bourbon

Ron Manlapid, bartender at Menlo Tavern in Menlo Park, California

If I had to pick only one whiskey to drink all winter long, it would be Booker’s Bourbon. This highly sought-after barrel-strength bourbon is known to warm the soul when the cold weather hits.

Knob Creek Bourbon

Jay Oakley, bartender at B&O American Brasserie in Baltimore

This is a tough question as there are many great whiskey options for winter. That being said, I’d go with Knob Creek. The combination of dark chocolate with caramel is all I need to feel warm during the winter.

Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey

Michelle Hamo, bartender at Brabo Brasserie in Alexandria, Virginia

Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me to drink in the winter. Anyone with an opinion about Conor McGregor or spirits produced by a celebrity likely just rolled their eyes. That said, it’s not a bad whiskey; just different. It is surprisingly light for a whiskey, with a light golden hue and bits of green.

The flavor is floral, fruity, citrus, slightly acidic, with just a touch of smoke. It’s fun, easy to drink, and relatively economical.

Starward Two-Fold Double Grain Whisky

Rob Hall, bartender at Dusek’s Board and Beer in Chicago

I think Starward Two-Fold Double Grain Whisky is a great all-purpose whisky that can get you through the winter. It’s perfect in spirit-forward cocktails like a Boulevardier or an old fashioned but has enough flavor to still stand out in shaken cocktails too. And if you’re a fan of wheated whisky, you will dig it neat.

Most importantly, it’s a great value if you’re going through multiple bottles while sharing with friends over the holidays.

Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Rebecca Edwards, bar manager at Tavola in Charlottesville, Virginia

Buffalo Trace. It’s one of the best easy drinking whiskeys. Smooth-yet-wonderfully-complex. Also, it gives me fond memories of the winter when my husband and I first started dating. There was no Buffalo Trace in to be found in our town, so he drove an hour away and brought back ten bottles for us to spread out over the winter months.

GlenDronach Allardice

Daniel Burns, manager and lead bartender at Elixir in San Francisco

The GlenDronach Allardice would be my desert island whisky if said island were covered in snow. I’m a sucker for all things Oloroso and this whisky does not disappoint. The 18 year old Allardice is a perfect cold-weather sipper.

Wild Turkey Rye

Lauren Mathews, lead bartender at Urbana in Washington, DC

Wild Turkey Rye is a bottle that I’m constantly re-buying for my home bar. It’s just a great sipper and also goes really well in classic cocktails, especially Hot Toddies. Pretty much a perfect winter whiskey.

High West Campfire Whiskey

Paul Sanchez, general manager of Alma Cocina Latina in Baltimore

I would never want to limit myself to just one whiskey to drink over the winter months, but if I had to choose just one, I would spend my nights sippin’ on a double rocks glass of High West’s Campfire Whiskey. The smell of smoldering wood brings back so many childhood memories for me and this whiskey delivers just that.

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