If your whiskey collection contains more than handful of bottles, you likely have brands you use solely for mixing and others that receive the grand title of “sipping whiskey.” These high-quality bourbons, scotches, and ryes are well-aged and free of congeners and other less-than-favorable additives. If you’re an aficionado, you already know what bottles we’re talking about — buttery, complex, flavorful whiskeys, well worth savoring.
Since we eventually get tired of session beers and tiki-style drinks, we tend to spend a fair bit of summer drinking whiskey neat (or on the rocks). So we’re always in search of smooth, sippable whiskeys that aren’t too heavy and don’t conjure the dark days of winter. Bartenders are on this same wave, so we asked a handful of our favorites to name their go-to “sippable” whiskeys for the dog days of summer 2020.
Kurt Bellon, general manager and beverage director at Chao Baan in St. Louis
An ice-cold bottle of Suntory Toki, great value and price point to always have in your freezer. Add some ice-cold Topo Chico and you are good to go.
Leo Morjakov, bartender at The Ebbitt Room at The Virginia Hotel in Cape May, New Jersey
My preference to have this summer is Lagavulin 16 year old. This scotch is smoky, smooth, and is great with a few ice cubes.
The Balvenie Caribbean Cask
Thomas Nesselhauf, bartender at Datz in Tampa, Florida
For me, that’s The Balvenie Caribbean Cask, which is aged for 14 years in traditional oak casks and then finished in casks that previously held Caribbean rum. The result is a remarkable single malt Scotch whisky with enough tradition, yet enough distinctiveness due to its aging process, to please both Scotch drinks and rum drinkers. Drink it by itself on the rocks or get it as an old fashioned.
Either way, it’s a sip and savor kind of drink.
Oban Little Bay
Nazar Hrab, beverage director at The Pineapple Club in New York City
Oban is a really good one. I usually use it for my Rob Roy on late nights. I’m going to go with Oban Little Bay. It’s well-rounded with rich chocolate, sweet caramel, and just a hint of warming spice at the end.
Highland Park Valkyrie
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This evening I’m sipping on Highland Park Valkyrie. This is a 18 year aged Highland Park. I will confess this is my second bottle of this one that I just opened. It has a smooth and polished taste and easy to enjoy neat. The finish has a subtle hint of smoke that makes it enjoyable for wide range of pallets. If you like a smoky peeps flavored whiskey this is the one. #HighlandPark18 #HighlandParkValkyrie #HighlandPark #Whiskey #WhiskeyGraham #WhiskeyLover #WhiskeyLoversOnly #peatywhisky
Melissa Reigle, beverage manager and head bartender at Byblos in Miami
Highland Park Valkyrie is great for the summer. This unique Orkney distillery produces excellent Scotches and this limited release is no exception. Honoring the deep Viking influence in the north of Scotland (it is said that the red hair originated here, not in Scandinavia). An impressive balancing act of fruit and smoke is perfect for telling tales of courage and honor and the greatest-fishing-trip-ever by the summer campfire.
High West Campfire
Zack Musick, beverage director at Merriman’s in Hawaii
In my opinion, there is only one clear answer to this question and that is High West Campfire out of Park City, Utah. A unique blend of Scotch, bourbon, and rye whiskeys. There is a very delicate smoky quality from the Scotch that compliments the fire without overpowering the bourbon or rye.
Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami
Glendronach Revival is a silky smooth, darker bodied Scotch with its big sherry finish coming from Spanish sherry casks.
Evan Hosaka, lead bartender at Electra Cocktail Club inside The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas
Definitely Monkey Shoulder for blended scotch, and Auchentoshan 12 Year for single malt Scotch. Monkey Shoulder was made for mixing in cocktails and is used in our frozen penicillin cocktail at Electra. Auchentoshan 12 is light, smooth and just the right amount of sweetness to end a summer night.
Jorge Centeno, chief spirits officer at the Deer Path Inn in Lake Forest, Illinois
Talisker Storm is a great summer Scotch because it has influences of the sea and notes of saltiness. Another great summer Scotch is Glengoyne 15 year, because it’s light — which is nice on a warm night.
Johnnie Walker Gold Label
Frantjasko Laonora, head mixologist at Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort in Curaçao
Johnnie Walker Gold Label. You immediately get delicious a honey and vanilla aroma with the first sip while different fruity notes start to develop on your palate making the Johnnie Walker Gold Label perfect to sip on during summer.
Sammy Norris, bartender at EVO Entertainment in Schertz, Texas
Glenfiddich is my favorite in mixed cocktail drinks. I am a fan of the classic Scotch whiskey sour. But, Glenfiddich 12 is also perfect, smooth, slow sipping summer Scotch whisky.
Sondre Kasin, principal bartender at Cote in New York City
My all-time best buy summer whisky is Talisker 10. This is a flavorful single malt with a lot of character and layers. Based in Scotland´s Isle of Skye , this is a distillery with a long history and tradition. Highly considered one of the best scotch distilleries on the market.
Talisker 10 is their intro-level whiskey, but it is still great, and it is not too expensive either. It has notes of smoke, salt, apple, black pepper, and orchard fruit. For me, a lot of scotches are too heavy on the vanilla, cinnamon, and peat. Especially in the summer, this can be too much. Talisker 10 still brings a lot of the classic Scotch qualities but is also light enough to be enjoyed in the heat. That salty quality also makes it perfect for the summer.