We Asked Bartenders To Shout Out Their Favorite ‘Summertime Whiskeys’

Last week, we wrote about the best bourbons for summer. Today, we widen the net a little further. We’re talking about all whiskeys — from Scotch to rye to bourbon to Irish whiskey to Japanese whisky — that fit the summer season. Tommy Tardie, founder of Fine & Rare in New York City, is a huge advocate for whiskey this time of year.

“For me, it’s a great time to open up some of the lighter, softer, sweeter bottles I may have been sitting on during the colder months,” he notes.

The bartenders we know agree with Tardie. So we asked a handful of our favorites to tell us the best whiskeys to sip when the temperature rises.

Widow Jane American Oak Aged Rye

Raul Marin, bartender at Attico Rooftop Lounge in Philadelphia

Widow Jane American Oak Aged Rye is top-notch because, although not what you might think of when you think of a rye, it has some subtle tropical fruit notes. Being from Mexico, I always try to highlight those sorts of tropical flavors when I can

Woodford Reserve Wheat Whiskey

Caleb Kimbley bartender at The Beehive in San Francisco

A whiskey that pairs with the seasonal harvest, hot summer days, and cool nights is Woodford Reserve’s wheated whiskey — a tropical oasis of flavors that arouses the senses.

Dewar’s White Label

Danny Caffall, lead bartender at The Mansion Bar in Dallas

When it comes to mixable whisky, it’s hard to beat Dewar’s White label. Top it with soda and garnish with lemon twist. Done. You’ll be drinking this simple cocktail all summer long.

Green Spot

Zack Musick, beverage director at Merriman’s in Hawaii

I always go with Irish whiskey during the summer months because it tends to be the smoothest option in the whiskey family and it also happens to be delicious. My personal favorites are Green Spot and Red Breast.

Knappogue Castle 12 Year

Kenneth McCoy, chief creative officer at The Rum House in New York City

Knappogue Castle 12 Year Irish Whiskey is a crisp and full-flavored Irish whiskey with mellow biscuit and peppery notes. It is lighter than most and sophisticated, making it refreshing to drink in the summer months neat, on the rocks, or as a foundation in a long cocktail where its delicate fruitiness and spice complement almost any flavor profile.

The Macallan 12

Robert Swain Jr., owner of OnTheRoX Bartending Services in the British Virgin Islands

The Macallan Single Malt Whisky is a very heavy hitter in the whiskey world. Poured on the rocks, it’s almost like eating iced cinnamon rolls. Silky smooth on the tongue with a plum sweetness.

Yamazaki 12

Tommy Tardie, founder and owner of Fine & Rare in New York City

Japan’s Yamazaki produces some exceptional whiskey that works well during the hot, even humid summer days. Yamazaki 12 or Toki served neat, over an ice cube or even in a highball makes for a great afternoon refresher. Its sweet floral and citrus notes pair perfectly with summer weather.

Tullamore D.E.W. Rum Cask

David Powell, brand ambassador at Hudson Whiskey

I tend to like lighter-bodied spirits as the weather warms up, so I’d say something Irish would probably be the best direction to go during the summer. Tullamore D.E.W. has an XO Rum cask finished whiskey that would fit perfectly in that lane. It’s a really approachable whiskey that plays really nicely in shaken drinks as well.

Jim Beam

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

Summer is a time for simple, timeless whiskeys. That’s why I opt for Jim Beam. If I’m going to rock a classic for the summer vibe, I’m going to grip and rip a bottle of Beam.

Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Rock & Rye

Tim Wiggins, co-owner and beverage director of Yellowbelly in St. Louis

Some may hate me for this, but I highly recommend Rock & Rye. It is essentially an old fashioned in a bottle, so it is crushable and super delicious to drink in the summer heat. Straight whiskey in the summer heat can be tough, a little sweetness and spice make it just right.


Todd Johnston, beverage director at Thompson Nashville

Nobody is judging so live your own life. This is plenty of reason to hit the consistent summer go-to whiskey, Jameson. Irish whiskey is typically triple-distilled giving it a lighter and more approachable characteristic, great for the hot summer months.

Rittenhouse Bottle In Bond Rye

Brock Schulte, bar director of The Monarch Bar in Kansas City

Rittenhouse Bottled In Bond, is my favorite rye whiskey, it comes from Heaven Hill and for me, it just screams quality. It is well priced so if you are out in the heat you can drink more and not hit your pocketbook too bad.