There’s a time and a place for shooting shots of whiskey at your local dive bar. If you’re having a night out or want to experience a buzz fast without much care for flavor, we say party on. However, when you’re drinking an entire shot of whiskey all at once, you’re missing out on the flavor of the whiskey.
Some types of whiskey are best sipped, so slugging down shots is a waste of your taste buds, money, and, most importantly, whiskey. Sipping whiskeys are aged longer, and you’ll have a much better time sipping them as opposed to shooting them.
That said, it’s important to understand what makes a good sipping whiskey a good sipping whiskey; not every bottle is meant to be sipped. Thankfully, that’s what we’re here for. We’ll take you through the best sipping whiskeys, what makes a sipping whiskey special, and anything else you need to know about having whiskey in a glass.
Read on to learn everything you need to know below.
What You Need to Know About Sipping Whiskey
Several factors separate a sipping whiskey from a whiskey you pour into a shot glass and drink instantly.
The most important factor is the age of the whiskey. You always hear about liquors being aged for several years or increasing in value the older they get, and while it’s the opposite of what to expect with most food and many other drinks, aging alcohol makes the flavor smoother.
Plus, for whiskey, sitting in an oak barrel for a handful of years can add layers of complexity to the flavor that makes it more palatable on the rocks or with a hint of garnish. Still, that doesn’t mean that all sipping whiskey needs to be aged for 5 to 10 years; leaving whiskey in barrels for too long will often result in a flavor that some people dislike.
Another category to consider is how much the whiskey costs. When you walk into a liquor store and see a 15-dollar bottle of whiskey, there’s a good chance that it will turn your taste buds upside down if you try to sip it. While price isn’t a big indicator, sipping whiskey is generally more expensive.
Sipping Whiskey: An Overview
Sipping whiskey comes in many bottles. While most people start with bourbon (which is a mash bill of 51% corn, Scotch whiskey and some Japanese whiskies are also meant to be sipped. Therefore, it’s important to know what makes a sipping whiskey so tasty; this way you can experiment with different brands and types.
One of the most common sipping whiskeys is bourbon whiskey, which is aged in charred oak barrels that give it a hint of vanilla and caramel flavors. It’s usually aged for a few years and has a smooth taste; it’s great with an orange slice, sugar, and some ice.
Another common sipping whiskey is rye whiskey. A rye whiskey is made with 51% rye mash, but if you want the best rye whiskey for sipping, look for blends that are more than 90% rye whiskey. Rye whiskeys are unique because of their spicy flavor profile.
When it comes to sipping whiskey, you can’t skip Scottish or Irish whiskey. Scottish whiskey, known as scotch, is made in Scotland and consists of a combination of malt and grain whiskey from several different distilleries.
Additionally, scotch can be a single-malt, which is made with a mash from one distillery – it usually tastes like bourbon but with more sweetness. Irish whiskey, on the other hand, is made in Ireland, and it has a unique flavor profile that’s more on the fruity side. It’s typically made with barley.
We also have to include an honorable mention for Japanese sipping whiskey. You can find single-malt Japanese whiskey or a whiskey that’s from a handful of distilleries. Typically, a Japanese sipping whiskey has a dry and smoky flavor.
Canadian whiskey also deserves an honorable mention and rises to the occasion with a smooth flavor and warming sensation that can keep you cold, even through a Canadian winter.
How to Choose the Best Sipping Whiskey?
Choosing the best sipping whiskey comes down to your flavor preferences and budget. This is what will help you choose between the many styles of sipping whiskey. That aside, there are also some other minor factors to consider.
We’ll start with your flavor preferences. Always consider the flavor when shopping for a good sipping whiskey. If you want something fruity or sweet, you’re better off with Scottish and Irish sipping whiskey. On the other hand, if you want something dry and smokey, bourbon whiskey or Japanese whiskey is the best option. There’s also an option for people who like a little spice in their lives, which is rye whiskey.
The next factor to consider is the cost. Typically, the more expensive the better. More expensive whiskies have been aged for longer periods, which results in a smoother flavor; you don’t want to make your shot face every time you take a sip.
What Does Sipping Whiskey Cost?
Sipping whiskey varies greatly in price. On the low end, some whiskey can cost as little as $40 but expect to pay well over $100 for the best sipping whiskey if you’re getting after the best flavor. That said, the 40-dollar bottle isn’t a bad option if you’re looking to get started, as long as it’s the right $40 bottle.
Moreover, when it comes to 100-dollar bottles of whiskey, you have to know what you’re paying for. For example, you don’t want to pay $150 for a corn whiskey if you prefer a rye whiskey. Therefore, it’s not all about the cost.
Where Can You Buy Sipping Whiskey?
A good sipping whiskey can be found in most bars and liquor stores – even your local dive or sports bar should have sipping whiskey. Most classier establishments, halls, and other up-scale venues will also include several types of sipping whiskey. When you’re at your average bar, however, your options may be limited to what they have in stock. You’ll also have to ask for the specific whiskey that you’d like.
Additionally, sipping whiskey is available online through reputable retailers like Speakeasy. We carry several types of sipping whiskeys that can meet a wide range of flavor palates, so don’t be afraid to take the plunge!
The Best Sipping Whiskey
Finding the best sipping whiskey depends on your budget, flavor preferences, and experience drinking whiskey straight. Learn about some of our top picks to get you started below.
Frey Ranch Bottled-In-Bond Straight Rye Whiskey
Tasting Notes: Smooth, Spicy, Caramel Corn, Vanilla Custard, Caramel Candy, and a Slight Nutty Taste.
Our Rating: 5 Stars
Frey Ranch Bottled-In-Bond Straight Rye Whiskey is one of the best bottles you can get at its price point. For less than $100, you get a 5-year-old whiskey that delivers a smooth flavor you can sip without any ice or additives. In fact, Frey Ranch was recognized with a Double Gold medal from the San Francisco World Spirit Competition. This medal is a testament to the brand’s high-quality 100% winter cereal rye mixture.
Frey Ranch Bottled-In-Bond Straight Rye Whiskey is also good in a cocktail. Whether you want to go the Old Fashioned route or mix it with another beverage, it has enough spice to stand out. While it’s a great whiskey, the cereal rye flavor can be too potent for some rye whiskey drinkers. It’s also not as smooth as some of the most expensive whiskeys around, which is why it’s not exactly top-shelf.
- Great taste for the price
- Double Gold winner at the San Francisco World Spirit Competition
- 100% rye
- Good straight or in a cocktail
- The cereal rye can be too potent for some whiskey enjoyers
- Not top-shelf quality
Whiskey in the Wild
Tasting Notes: Infused With Chocolate, Black Elderberry and Vanilla Extracts
Our Rating: 4 Stars
Whiskey in the Wild is a unique whiskey that’s made in Canada. In accordance with Canadian laws, this whiskey is aged for three years in 700 millimeter barrels (or smaller). This gives the whiskey a smooth flavor with hints of chocolate and black cherry. While this is perfect for people who enjoy a sweet and fruity whiskey, it’s not ideal for people who want a dry or smoky flavor.
Flavor aside, it comes with a flask for you to take with you on the go, helping you dive into the Canadian spirit of adventure; just made it to the summit of a mountain after a long hike? Your flask of Whiskey in the Wild has you covered and will take the chill right out of your body.
- Comes with a flask
- Aged for three years
- A great outdoor whiskey
- The fruity flavor isn’t for everyone
Westward Whiskey Cask Strength
Tasting Notes: Cask-Strength and Potent Flavor, Tastes Like Whiskey Without the Additives
Our Rating: 4
Westward Whiskey Cask Strength is a cask-strength whiskey that will knock your socks off. Essentially, a cask-strength whiskey has no additives, so you get 100% pure whiskey. While it’s smooth to sip, its high alcohol content will have you feeling the buzz fast. This isn’t for everyone, but for a seasoned whiskey sipper, you can’t go wrong with Westward Whiskey.
Flavor aside, the brand is well-known in Oregon for brewing delicious beer, so they have a reputation you can trust. Everything is also done locally in the United States, which makes it a true single-malt American whiskey. The only drawback is that it doesn’t have enhanced flavors like some other whiskey and it might be too strong for some people.
- Made locally in Oregon as a true single-malt American whiskey
- Cask strength with raw flavors for seasoned whiskey drinkers
- Made from a seasoned team of brewers who began distilling, their experience with barley is unmatched
- Too strong for unseasoned whiskey drinkers
- Not the most flavorful whiskey
Proof: 114.4 (Varies on Release)
Tasting Notes: Smooth and Silky; Starts With a Ripe Cherry and Chocolate Flavor Followed By Bitters, Vanilla, and Caramel.
Our Rating: 4
In the market for an award-winning whiskey? If so, The Saint is one of the best whiskey choices you have. While it’s expensive, its flavor is worth every penny, and it tastes so smooth that it’s hard to believe that it’s a barrel-proof whiskey.
While The Saint is one of the best whiskey products to come from Florida, it’s not for everyone. It might be too strong for some whiskey lovers, especially if you just want a slight buzz while you’re sipping. The proof also varies with each release, so you don’t always know what you’re getting.
- Barrel-strength for people who enjoy a kick to their whiskey
- Smooth for such a high-proof whiskey
- Too strong for some whiskey-lovers
Hootin Young 15 Year Barrel Proof American Whiskey
Tasting Notes: Baked Apple Tart, Candied Apricots, Maple Syrup Finish
Our Rating: 3 Stars
Hooting Young 15-Year Barrel Proof American Whiskey is one of the smoothest sipping whiskeys you’ll ever taste. Its mash bill contains 99% corn and 1% barley and it’s distilled at 189 proof and bottled at 125 proof. If you’re looking for a strong whiskey to sip, this is one of the best options.
This whiskey is also special because it was discovered by Master Sommelier George Miliotes, who has pioneered some of the top-rated whiskey blends on the market.
If that’s not enough, this whiskey has been aged for 15 years and it’s meant to honor the soldiers who fought in 1993. The only drawbacks of this whiskey are the price tag and the flavor profile might be too strong for some whiskey lovers.
- Aged for 15 years
- Honors soldiers who gave everything they had in 1993
- Distilled at 189 proof
- Smooth and delicious flavor
- Flavor isn’t for everyone
Get the Best Sipping Whiskey Today!
Look, there’s a time and a place for knocking back shots with your friends, but let’s be real, that’s not very classy. Whether you’re at a nice work event or want to seem like you can handle the taste of straight liquor, sipping whiskey is there for you. It’s the best way to fit in with the crowd who drinks their liquor straight, but without sacrificing the taste of a good, stiff drink.
The more you drink sipping whiskey, the better it gets. Feel free to get settled on a whiskey that you like, and then branch out to other blends – you’ll never know if you love something until you give it a try.
Also, for anyone who thinks it’s crazy to sip straight whiskey, don’t worry, we also have something for you. Start with a bourbon old fashioned. It’s one of the best ways to start sipping whiskey.