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The Best Whiskeys For Your Holiday Season Hot Toddy

When it comes to cold-weather cocktails, it’s really hard to beat the classic and simple hot toddy. This combination of whisk(e)y (usually Scotch), hot water, lemon juice, and honey is not only delicious and warming, but it may also ease the effects of the common cold.

We’re not kidding about that. Lemon, honey, and hot water have been known to ease cold symptoms. While the alcohol doesn’t help, it’s not a cocktail without your favorite rye, bourbon, or Scotch whisky. Besides, while booze as a pain “killer” is a lie, booze as a pain distracter is 100% real.

We want to help you pick the right whiskeys for your soon-to-be favorite fall, winter, and early spring cocktail, so we made a list of eight of the best whiskeys to mix into a warming, simple hot toddy. If you need a recipe, we’ve got you covered there, too.

Ardbeg An Oa

ABV: 46.6%

The Story:

Named for the Mull of Oa on the island of Islay (where Ardbeg is produced), this just might be the most well-rounded offering from the famed distillery. It’s matured in Pedro Ximénez sherry butts, charred virgin oak barrels, and ex-bourbon casks.

Tasting Notes:

After the first nosing, you’ll quickly realize this is a different kind of Islay malt. Instead of just peaty-smoky, you’ll be treated to scents of brown sugar, dried cherries, and almonds. The first sip is filled with caramel cake, orange peel, and sugary vanilla.

It all ends in pleasing warmth with a nice gulp of peat smoke.

Bottom Line:

If you’re a bourbon fan looking to try Scotch in your hot toddy, this is the bottle for you. The smoke and sweetness work in unison with the other ingredients.

Wild Turkey 101 Rye

ABV: 50.5%

The Story:

When most people think of Wild Turkey, they don’t think of rye whiskey. But if you’re looking for straight rye to mix into your hot toddy instead of the usual Scotch whisky, you could do much worse than Wild Turkey 101. It’s high proof, subtly smoky, well-balanced, and guaranteed to warm you inside and out.

Tasting Notes:

Before you pour this whiskey into your hot toddy, give it a nice nosing to get acquainted. The first sniff brings you aromas of spicy cinnamon, charred oak, and just a hint of peppery spice. From the first sip, you’ll be treated to notes of maple syrup, baked apples, caramel, and cooking spices. The finish is long, warming, and ends with a pleasing hit of white pepper.

Bottom Line:

If you’re looking for a high proof, spicy whiskey to pair with the soothing ingredients of a hot toddy, make it Wild Turkey 101.

Tullamore D.E.W.

ABV: 40%

The Story:

If Irish whiskey is more your thing, Tullamore D.E.W. makes a great base for your hot toddy. It’s triple distilled, crazy smooth, and matured in a combination of oak casks, ex-bourbon barrels, and sherry butts. The result is a complex, easy to drink whiskey well suited to the combo of lemon, honey, and hot water.

Tasting Notes:

If you nose Tullamore D.E.W., you’ll find the aromas of dried fruits, caramelized sugar, and sticky toffee pudding. The first sip brings you sweet sherry, cinnamon, buttery shortbread, and cover honey. The finish is long, subtly warming, and ends with more caramel and vanilla.

Bottom Line:

Some of the choices on this list are as high proof as they are high in spice or smoke. If you’re looking for a mellow, more subdued hot toddy, Tullamore D.E.W. is for you.

Glenmorangie The Original

ABV: 40%

The Story:

There’s a reason Glenmorangie’s flagship 10-year-old Scotch whisky always makes the list for best whiskies. It’s matured in first as well as second fill American white oak casks for a total of 10 years. The result is a velvety smooth, creamy, subtly sweet whisky as suited for slow sipping as mixing (into a hot toddy).

Tasting Notes:

Take a whiff of this expression before taking a sip or mixing with it. If you do, your nostrils will fill with subtle tropical fruit flavors, cooking spices, and dried fruits. This well-balanced whisky begins with sweet vanilla, and caramelized sugar, before moving on to the cinnamon, brown sugar, and just a hint of coffee beans.

The finish is long, very warming, and ends with a final kiss of candied orange peel.

Bottom Line:

You’ll be happy you bought this reasonably-priced Scotch. You can mix it into a hot toddy or spend the rest of the fall and winter sipping it. You’ll be completely happy either way.

The Famous Grouse

ABV: 40%

The Story:

We could easily fill the whole list of hot toddy whiskies with blended Scotches. But instead, we only picked one. The Famous Grouse is a great pick because it’s consistently mellow and finished in both sherry and bourbon casks to give it an extra hint of sweetness that pairs perfectly with the ingredients in a hot toddy.

Tasting Notes:

Normally, you might not nose a cheap blended whisky. If you do, you’ll find hints of dried orange peel, butterscotch, and creamy vanilla. The first sip is mellow and memorable with notes of cinnamon, charred oak, and rich caramel. The finish is long, smooth, and ends with a nice hit of clover honey.

Bottom Line:

The Famous Grouse is as cheap as it is reliable. You always know what you’re going to get for your $15 or so. It’s smooth, rich, and perfect for mixing.

Buffalo Trace Bourbon

https://www.instagram.com/p/CAopC4lHC6K/

ABV: 45%

The Story:

The flagship bourbon of Buffalo Trace is so named for the majestic bison that encountered by American pioneers. While there are a lot fewer buffaloes in 2020, this well-rounded, complex, always-mellow whiskey is widely available and perfect as the base for your hot toddy.

Tasting Notes:

While a bargain bourbon, Buffalo Trace deserves a nosing before sipping it or mixing it into a hot toddy. You’ll be delighted to find hints of molasses cookies, brown sugar, and cinnamon. The first sip is filled with charred oak, leather, sticky toffee pudding, and dried fruits. The finish is long, warming, and ends in a nice final flourish of cinnamon spice.

Bottom Line:

If you’re a fan of bourbon, you probably already have a bottle of Buffalo Trace in your liquor cabinet for mixing and slow sipping. Throw some in a hot toddy and enjoy the complexities of the sweet corn flavors mixing with the honey and lemon.

Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon

ABV: 45%

The Story:

This complex whiskey is a blend of a handful of small-batch bourbons, each specifically selected by its master distiller. While the overall flavor changes subtly based on each batch, it’s always filled with high-corn bourbon that’s a well-rounded combination of sweet, rich, and malty.

Tasting Notes:

Enjoy a nice nosing before you mix or sip this whiskey, where you’ll be met with a large dose of toasted caramel, subtle spicy rye, and cinnamon sugar. From the first sip, you’ll get hints of sweet cream, caramel, sweet corn, and cooking spices. The finish is long, full of pleasing heat, and ends with sweet toffee and charred oak.

Bottom Line:

You might pay a little more for this bottle, but you won’t mind. It’s a great bottle to add to your collection and the sweet corn and charred oak flavors work well with the other hot toddy ingredients.

George Dickel Rye

ABV: 45%

The Story:

This super high rye (95%) whiskey is spicy, sweet, and well-suited for hot toddies. Just like the rest of the whiskeys at George Dickel, it’s charcoal-mellowed to create a truly smooth, easy to drink, yet spicy rye whiskey.

Tasting Notes:

Give it nosing before taking a sip. Surprisingly, the spicy rye is subtle while hints of charred oak, sweet vanilla, and dried orange peel are prevalent. The first sip brings hints of toasted marshmallow, caramel, and cinnamon. The finish is long, dry, and ends with a kick of cracked black pepper.

Bottom Line:

If you’re looking for great rye to mix into a hot toddy, George Dickel Rye is a perfect choice. Especially if you’re under the weather. It’s a well-rounded whiskey that gives your hot toddy the extra kick of peppery heat to really clear the sinuses.

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