There are few things as smooth and refined as a well-made whiskey. There are many great whiskeys out there, but some are easier to drink than others. Here are 10 of the smoothest whiskeys available, perfect for sipping neat or on the rocks. If you’re a fan of bold, char-driven Barrel Proof expressions or are looking for maximum flavor in every sip, this guide probably isn’t for you. If you’re looking for something that’s easy to sip and enjoy at the lake with good friends and family, or just to kick back with after a long day, we’ve got you covered.
What Makes a Whiskey ‘Smooth?’
The major contributing factor to how “smooth” or easy to drink a whiskey is is its alcohol by volume. The ABV is a measure of the alcohol content in a beverage and is expressed as a percentage. A whiskey with a low ABV will be less intense and easier to drink than a whiskey with a high ABV. In general, whiskeys with an ABV ranging between 40%-45% are considered to be low-proof, while those with an ABV of 50% or more are considered to be leaning towards high-proof. It is worth noting, however, that exceptions exist. Well-made whiskeys with higher ABVs can still be easy to enjoy – factors like barrel-entry proof and dilution can come to play as well.
Another factor that can affect a whiskey’s “smoothness” is its age. A younger whiskey is often more likely to be harsher and more astringent than an older whiskey. This is because the longer a whiskey ages, the more time it has to filter through char in the barrel and develop complex flavor notes. So, if you’re looking for a smooth and easy-drinking whiskey, you should look for one with a low ABV and/or an aged flavor profile.
The different types of grain used in the production of whiskey can have a significant impact on the final product. Corn, for instance, tends to produce a sweeter-tasting whiskey, while rye grain provides a more spicy flavor. So, when it comes to choosing a smooth and easy-to-drink whiskey, it all comes down to personal preference. Some people might prefer the sweet taste of bourbon, while others might prefer the spiciness of rye.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to what you like best. We’ve put together a list of the top 10 smoothest whiskeys based on ABV, age and style.
Eagle Rare 10 Year Bourbon
Eagle Rare 10 Year is a highly acclaimed bourbon aged 10 years. It earned the title of “Best Bourbon” at the 2013 International Wine and Spirits Competition and won a Gold Medal at the World Whisky Masters in 2017. Eagle Rare used to be much easier to find, no doubt a victim of its own success, but when it’s available, it’s an easy bottle to justify picking up.
Tasting notes describe it as having a golden honey color, with an aroma of gentle toast, fresh tobacco and bananas; notes of chocolate, almonds, melons, raisins and dried fruits and a subtle vanilla undertone on the palate, which are complemented by a subtle vanilla undertone; and a long finish, with hints of roasted nuts and corn.
If you’re looking for a high-quality bourbon to add to your collection, Eagle Rare 10 Year is a great option. Find it at ReserveBar.
Knob Creek 12 Year Bourbon
If you’re looking for a smooth whiskey that packs a flavorful punch, Knob Creek 12 Year is a great option.
This award-winning whiskey has notes of toasted nuts, vanilla bean and oak, with a palate filled with dried fruits, maple syrup and a rum sweetness. It leads to a finish marked by a woody, cinnamon spice, evergreen and caramel. And at 100 proof, it’s sure to satisfy even the most discerning whiskey drinker.
So if you’re looking for a top-quality whiskey that won’t break the bank, Knob Creek 12 Year is definitely worth checking out. Find it for $73.49 at Drizly.
Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon
Elijah Craig’s Small Batch bourbon is a smooth, well-rounded whiskey that has been aged for about 12 years. This gives it a rich flavor profile that is punctuated by notes of oak, vanilla and caramel. The long aging process also results in a very smooth finish, making it a great choice for sipping neat or on the rocks.
At 94 proof, it is also slightly higher in ABV than some other bourbons, which contributes to its robust flavor. Thanks to its quality and flavor profile, this bourbon was named the “Best Bourbon Aged 10-12 Years” by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. A sub-$40 whiskey, this is a great value buy.
Whether you are a bourbon aficionado or just exploring the world of whiskey, Elijah Craig’s Small Batch is definitely worth a try. Find it for $34 at ReserveBar.
Old Elk Straight Bourbon
Old Elk’s Straight Wheated Bourbon Whiskey is one of the top 10 smoothest whiskeys available. It is made using the Slow Cut process, which results in a fuller, deeper, and smoother spirit.
This expression has won numerous awards with the most notable being a Gold Medal at the New York International Spirits Competition. Tasting notes reveal oak, toffee, vanilla ice cream, caramel, and floral notes on the nose, with cream, toffee, vanilla, toasted almonds, and clove on the palate. The finish is smooth and slightly warming with caramel and milk chocolate notes.
This whiskey is bottled at 92 proof. Find it for$55 at ReserveBar.
Heaven’s Door Double Barrel
If you’re looking for a smooth whiskey that packs a punch, Heaven’s Door Double Barrel is a great choice. Picking up the highest recommendation from Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal, this 100-proof whiskey is a blend of two straight bourbons that were aged for a minimum of seven years. This aging process results in a smooth, well-rounded flavor with notes of vanilla, oak and honey.
The double-barrel whiskey is the result of a collaboration between renowned musician Bob Dylan and Master Blender Ryan Chetiyawardana. The bottle depicts distinctive iron gates that were created by Dylan in his studio, Black Buffalo Ironworks. The iconic gates were handcrafted from objects discovered across America.
It’s also a relatively affordable option for those looking to explore the world of smooth whiskeys. Find it for $52 at ReserveBar.
Evan Williams Bottled In Bond Bourbon
Evan Williams Bourbon is a world-renowned Kentucky Straight Bourbon that is known for its high quality and unique flavor profile. The Evan Williams Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon is the No. 2 selling Kentucky Straight Bourbon brand in the world and has received numerous awards for its outstanding taste and quality.
The Evan Williams Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon is 100 proof and follows the exacting standards of a Bottled-In-Bond product; aged for at least four years, distilled in one season at one distillery and under U.S. government supervision. Evan Williams Bourbon is bright gold in color with aromas of caramel with hints of vanilla, oak and barley.
The taste features citrus on top of vanilla and black pepper notes. In 2019, Evan Williams Bottled-In-Bond received a Gold Medal and Consumer’s Choice Award from the SIP Awards. It’s also one of the absolute best value buys out there, retailing for a mere $17.99 at Drizly.
Five Brothers Bourbon
Five Brothers Bourbon is a solid, middle-of-the-road bourbon. At 45% ABV, it’s got a good alcohol content that makes it perfect for sipping neat or on the rocks. It’s not too complex, which makes it easy to drink, but it still has enough flavor to make it interesting.
It’s a great choice for any bourbon drinker, and works especially well in cocktails. If you’re looking for a good, all-purpose bourbon, Five Brothers is a great option. Find it for $59.99 at FineCask.
Larceny bourbon is produced by Heaven Hill and uses wheat as the secondary grain rather than rye. This gives it a smoother flavor than your average bourbon. Larceny is a small batch bourbon, made using no more than 100 barrels and bottled at a slightly higher 92 proof.
The result is a delicious, smooth bourbon with a slightly sweet taste that is perfect for sipping neat or enjoying in a classic cocktail. Find Larceny for about $33-$40 at MiniBar.
Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Rye
Bottled at 90 proof, Russell’s Reserve Rye features notes of almond and allspice. Its crisp, lively taste works in a smooth, complex palate. The high-proof rye is made with a mashbill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley. It is aged for a minimum of six years in new American oak barrels before being bottled at its natural color. A lot of drinkers unfairly assume that all rye is spicy or hard to enjoy unless you’re a “true enthusiast”. Russell’s does a great job of demonstrating how flavorful and easy to enjoy rye whiskey can be. Despite it making up a tiny portion of their overall distilling
Non-chill filtered, Russell’s Reserve Rye drinks a higher viscosity than most other rye whiskies on the market. This allows you to enjoy all the flavor notes that the spirit has to offer. Find Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Rye for $51 at ReserveBar.
Buffalo Trace Bourbon
Buffalo Trace Distillery has been making bourbon whiskey the same way for more than 200 years. In tribute to the mighty buffalo and the rugged, independent spirit of the pioneers who followed them, this distillery created its signature Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
Buffalo Trace Bourbon is a deep amber whiskey with an aroma of vanilla, mint and molasses. It is sweet with notes of brown sugar and spice. This whiskey finishes long and smooth with serious depth.
The Bourbon has received rave reviews from some of the top experts in the field. Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible calls it “one of the world’s great whiskies,” while Wine Enthusiast Magazine describes the finish as “long and lush.” If you’re looking for a top-quality, well-priced bourbon whiskey, Buffalo Trace should definitely be at the top of your list. Find Buffalo Trace for $34.99 at Drizly.
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What whiskey is the smoothest? ›
- George Dickel Bottled In Bond.
- Jameson Irish Whiskey.
- Knappogue Castle 1995.
- Laphroaig 10 Year Old.
- Redbreast 12 Year Old.
- The GlenDronach Allardice.
- Tomintoul 14 Year Old.
- Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
- Kessler Whiskey. 4.4 out of 5 stars. ...
- Darby's Reserve Rye Whiskey. 3.8 out of 5 stars. ...
- Jameson Irish Whiskey. 4.8 out of 5 stars. ...
- Bernheim Original Wheat Whiskey. ...
- Jim Beam Black Extra Aged Bourbon Whiskey. ...
- Darby's Reserve Rye Whiskey. ...
- Powers John's Lane Irish Whiskey. ...
- Slow & Low Rock & Rye Whiskey.
Is Crown Royal top shelf? Crown Royal is a top shelf whisky; their finer varieties are as fine as any other whiskys in the world.Is Jameson a smooth whiskey? ›
Jameson is distilled three times.
No wonder it's so smooth: The Irish whiskey is distilled three times in copper stills to insure its smoothness. Good things come in threes, according to Jamo. They also offer a “Triple Triple” bottle that is not only triple distilled, but triple cask matured.
- Buffalo Trace. This first whiskey is brewed in Kentucky and contains hints of vanilla, oak, and caramel. ...
- Four Roses Bourbon. ...
- Jack Daniels Black. ...
- Tullamore Dew. ...
- Suntory Toki. ...
- Bulleit Bourbon. ...
- The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14-year-old. ...
- Johnny Walker Red Scotch Whisky.
“Speyside in particular is a great starting point as the whiskies here are beautifully accessible with notes of fruits and fresh floral aromas. It's home to half of Scotland's distilleries and brands such as The Glenlivet, Aberlour, Strathisla, Chivas, Glenburgie and Ballantine's. Cask type is another option.What whiskey gives the least hangover? ›
Teeling Irish Whiskey
Thanks to its 46% ABV, it's less likely to cause a hangover than other whiskeys on the market.
Generally speaking, you'll find bourbon to be a smoother drink than whiskey. For those new to whiskey drinking, bourbon is a great place to start. Rye, barley, or wheat-based whiskey can be slightly harsher, whereas corn used to make bourbon helps to make it sweet.Why does Crown Royal come in a bag? ›
Crown Royal was first created in 1939 to honor a visit to Canada by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. It was packaged in the bags to make the presentation to the king and queen more regal, and they ended up keeping it.What is a top shelf drink? ›
(adj.) The highest quality — and therefore most expensive — bottles of alcohol available. Most bars will keep these bottles on the literal top shelf, versus the cheaper “well liquor” that is kept within reach. An order with one of these brands, such as a Bombay Sapphire Martini, is a supercall (see Supercall).
Is Crown Royal a smooth whisky? ›
Created to celebrate a visit from King George VI & Queen Elizabeth in 1939, Crown Royal is full-bodied, yet delicately smooth and creamy, with hints of oak and vanilla.Is Jack Daniel's or Jameson better? ›
Which one is right for you? It depends on what you want in a whiskey. Jameson is probably your best bet if you wish to be smooth and easy to drink. Jack Daniel's is worth a try if you're looking for a sweet dram after dinner.Is Jameson a top shelf? ›
Anyone in search of a good Irish whiskey will appreciate Jameson. It's of premium quality and is exceptionally smooth. It's also modestly priced, although it's a top-shelf whiskey.Which is smoother Scotch or Irish whiskey? ›
But the biggest difference between Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey is the distillation process. While both spirits are distilled liquors, Scotch is distilled twice to Irish whiskey's thrice. This extra distillation gives Irish whiskey a smoother finish and some say make it the best in the world.What is the smoothest whiskey without burn? ›
- Auchentoshan 21 Year Old.
- Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask.
- Buffalo Trace Bourbon.
- Bushmills 21 Year Old.
- George Dickel 13-Year-Old Bottle-in-Bond.
- Glenlivet 12 Year Old.
- Glenmorangie 18 Year Old Extremely Rare.
- Knappogue Castle 1995.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label: Best tasting whisky
A popular choice for whisky novices and experts alike, Johnnie Walker takes the crown again and again for its unrivaled spirits. It's the world's most widely distributed brand of Scotch, which means it'll be a success no matter what occasion you bring it out for.
Jun 27, 2022. “A small mouthful of a drink” is a sip in formal terms. To be considered a great sipping bourbon, the spirit must be something special on the palate, not just one note. It must be complex and resonate throughout the sip. The build-up from the smell, taste and lingering finish should complement each other.What is the hardest whiskey to drink? ›
Bruichladdich X4 Quadrupled Whiskey
184 (92% alcohol). Made in: ScotlandBased on the 17th-century method of quadruple distilling, Bruichladdich's X4 is billed as the most alcoholic single malt ever made.
Once again, Jack Daniel's takes the top spot in the world's biggest-selling world whisky contingent. The Brown-Forman-owned American whiskey brand saw volumes grow by 2.7% last year to reach 13.4m cases, up from 13.3m the previous year.
"Hard liquor contains more alcohol than beer or wine, making it more dangerous for your liver," continues Coleman. "A single shot of 80-proof hard liquor contains about 15 grams of alcohol and most shots contain even more alcohol than this." Another alcoholic beverage also takes a considerable toll on your liver.
What's the smoothest whiskey or bourbon? ›
- Maker's Mark 46.
- Angel's Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
- Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
- Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon.
- Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
Jameson Irish Whiskey
When it comes to the kind of whiskey for the least amount of hangovers, Irish whiskey is the way to go. This is because Irish whiskey is triple distilled.
Bourbon tends to have sweeter, more mellow characteristics, with vanilla, oak, caramel, grain, nutmeg, and cinnamon notes. Scotch has a sharp, distinct flavor that's more of an acquired taste than bourbon. You'll find that blended Scotch is smoother and maltier with a spicy finish.