Whiskey cocktails are some of the most delicious and iconic in the world. More than any other type of cocktail, the quality of a good whiskey drink is dependent on the quality of the whiskey. If you fancy making a whiskey cocktail, investing in an excellent bottle is best to enhance the drink’s flavor.
But with so many options on the shelves, choosing which whiskey to use for mixing can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of some of the best whiskeys for mixing cocktails. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about whiskey and the best whiskeys for mixing.
Whiskey, or whisky, is a spirit distilled from fermented grain mash. The type of grain used and the distillation process determine the specific type of whiskey. The grain used in the mash can vary and often includes barley, corn, rye, and wheat. Each whiskey also ages in oak barrels, which adds unique flavor and color.
The spelling “whisky” is often used for Scotch and Canadian whiskeys, while “whiskey” is commonly used for Irish and American brands. However, the distinction is not always clear-cut, as there are exceptions to this rule.
Whiskey vs Scotch vs Bourbon
Although many use these three names interchangeably, each refers to a unique type of alcohol. Scotch and bourbon are both types of whiskey, but distinct differences exist in their production process and flavor profile. Scotch is often described as smoky or peaty, while bourbon has a sweeter taste with notes of vanilla and caramel.
When it comes to mixing drinks, not all whiskeys are created equal. The best whiskeys for mixing have a balanced and smooth flavor without too much heat or harshness. They should also have enough complexity and depth to enhance the flavors of the cocktail ingredients.
12 Best Whiskeys for Mixing
These are our selections for the twelve best whiskeys for mixing. Each of them brings something unique to the table.
This Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey has a distinct vanilla and caramel taste with hints of oak. This combination of flavors makes it an excellent whiskey to drink near. However, it would be best if you didn’t ignore Buffalo Trace when making whiskey cocktails.
It’s smooth and versatile, and the sweet notes of Buffalo Trace are a welcome addition to many different cocktails. I recommend using it to make a Sazerac or Banshee. The spicy and sweet notes of Buffalo Trace will help take these cocktails to the next level.
Jack Daniels is an iconic whiskey that is probably the most popular mixing whiskey in the world.
This Tennessee whiskey is smooth with a subtle smokiness and notes of caramel and oak.
It mixes well with sodas like coke and ginger ale. However, the Carmel and oak notes also pair well in more complex cocktails like a Godfather or Penicillin.
Jack Daniels is one of the most versatile mixing whiskeys on this list and is an attractive choice due to its versatility and affordable price.
Johnnie Walker is one of the most popular brands of whiskey. There are multiple colored labels of Johnnie Walker to indicate quality and price. The Black, Green, and Blue Labels are outstanding; you should drink them straight.
You should select the Johnnie Walker Red label if you want to make a mixed cocktail. This blended Scotch whisky has a smoky flavor with hints of fruit and spice. These notes are perfect in drinks like Scotch and soda or Rob Roy.
Bullet Bourbon is one of my favorite bourbons. It has a beautiful amber color, smooth finish, and notes of maple, nutmeg, and toffee. Each sip is deep, and you can almost lose yourself in this bourbon.
Due to this bourbon’s depth of flavor, people may prefer to drink it straight or on the rocks. But it holds its own when mixed in cocktails.
The smooth finish and notes of maple and nutmeg add a unique flavor to classic bourbon-based cocktails like a Mint Julep or Passion Fruit Bourbon Sour. This bourbon may be a bit expensive to mix, but this is perfect if you want to impress someone with a whiskey cocktail.
Glenfiddich is the best-selling single malt Scotch whiskey in the world, and their 12-year offering is an excellent option for mixing. Its light body and notes of pear and oak make it a versatile whiskey that pairs well with various mixers.
You can use it in classic cocktails like a Rusty Nail or Cinnamon Maple Whiskey sour. However, its smooth flavor allows it to shine when mixed with unexpected ingredients such as ginger beer or cola.
Jameson is THE Irish whiskey. You can find the iconic green bottles in bars across the world.
This Irish whiskey is triple-distilled for a smooth finish with notes of vanilla, oak, and spice. This whiskey is delightful neat, or on the rocks.
However, it also makes a great mixing whiskey due to its unique flavor and affordability. I think you can use Jameson in practically any cocktail that calls for whiskey. However, I find it particularly good in Irish Coffee or Jameson & Ginger.
Jim Beam is another iconic Kentucky Bourbon that is well-known worldwide. It is the perfect balance of quality and cost. Its notes complement the ingredients in cocktails, but it is not so expensive that you feel bad mixing it.
This Kentucky straight bourbon has a balanced taste with hints of oak, vanilla, and caramel. Unlike other bourbons, Jim Bean has more rye in the mash, giving it a unique taste. The heavier rye flavor is ideal for a Manhattan or Mint Julep. The rye flavor adds depth and complexity to these iconic cocktails.
Old Grand-Dad is not the highest quality whiskey on this list, but it might provide the best value per dollar. This Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey has a strong flavor profile with notes of oak and caramel.
Its strength and bold taste make Old Grand-Dad an excellent choice for cocktails like the Old Fashioned or Boulevardier. Its affordability also makes it an outstanding option for large parties or events where mixing drinks in bulk is necessary. Overall, Old Grand-Dad is a solid choice for mixing.
Wild Turkey 101 is one of the strongest whiskeys on this list, coming in at 50.5% alcohol. It’s made in Kentucky, making it a bourbon whiskey. Wild Turkey is aged for six years, giving this whiskey a unique flavor profile of oak, spice, and caramel with a smooth finish.
The high alcohol content makes this whiskey more challenging to mix. It can overpower weaker ingredients, but the smooth finish of Wild Turkey 101 is delightful in a cocktail if you mix it correctly.
I think the best way to overcome the strength of Wild Turkey 101 is to mix it with citrus ingredients. The smooth finish of Wild Turkey 101 and the spicy notes are perfect for Old Fashioned and Manhattans. The citrus notes of these two drinks can compete with the strength of Wild Turkey 101.
Laphroaig is one of the most famous and unique scotch whisky brands. It is made on the island of Islay, with a distinct taste influenced by the ocean air. Due to the unique qualities of its distillation, it’s also more expensive. It is absolutely worth the cost.
Laphroaig has a robust smoky taste with notes of seaweed and iodine. This flavor profile does not mix well with all cocktails. It is a bit of an acquired taste.
It’s best for mixed drinks that can stand up to its bold taste, like a Scotch & Soda or Rusty Nail. Don’t be afraid to experiment with this high-quality Scotch.
Sometimes I almost feel bad opening a bottle of Maker’s Mark. The melted wax on each bottle is a piece of art. It is slightly stronger than some other whiskeys on this list and is distilled to 90-proof. Despite the higher alcohol content, Maker’s Mark has a delightful flavor and is pleasant to drink.
This small-batch bourbon has a smooth flavor with notes of vanilla and caramel. The higher alcohol content and the caramel notes are a welcome addition to a Bourbon Milk Punch or Hot Toddy.
Suppose you are planning on making bourbon cocktails for a large group of people or a party. Evan Williams Black Label is the perfect whiskey. Make no mistake; this whiskey is a budget bottle. However, it has a classic bourbon taste, and you can add it to practically any whiskey cocktail and get great results.
This Kentucky straight bourbon has a smooth taste with apple, ginger, and allspice notes. You can make most whiskey cocktails with Evan Williams Black Label, but I am a big fan of it in Winter Whiskey Sours or Brown Derbys.
You can use the Evan Williams White Label if you want something more potent. The White label is 100 proof, and although it is incredibly strong, it retains all the appealing flavor notes of the black label.
Check out these 12 best whiskeys for mixing when preparing for a relaxing night at home or when preparing for your next cocktail party. Who knows, you may find a new favorite!