When it comes to whiskey, we all play favorites—whether it’s the Maker’s Mark we’ve been drinking since college or our standard after dinner Macallan. But it’s time to expand the roster. Store shelves are now full of under-the-radar whiskies that deserve a place in your regular rotation. We asked our all-star team of Liquor.com advisors for their favorite undiscovered bottlings, which will soon become your new favorites.
BOURBON: Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon ($35)
For decades, whiskey fans had to buy their Four Roses straight bourbon abroad. But the spirit is back in the USA and Allen Katz, director of mixology and education at Southern Wine & Spirits, the largest distributor in the US, recommends the rich Small Batch Bourbon, which has notes of wood and fruit, and tastes great with a few ice cubes.
SCOTCH: Compass Box Hedonism ($105)
Scotland is famous for distilling single malts. But the country produces another aged spirit: grain whisky. It’s the secret ingredient in Scotch blends and is rarely bottled. Try Compass Box’s super-smooth, slightly sweet and very drinkable Hedonism. It’s a favorite of H. Joseph Ehrmann, owner of San Francisco bar Elixir.
IRISH: Redbreast ($50)
Jameson and Bushmills are the most famous Irish whiskies, but there’s another fine spirit from the Emerald Isle: Redbreast. It tastes more like cognac, with notes of apricot and apple. “It’s perfect for after dinner,” says Dushan Zaric, co-owner of New York City bars Employees Only and Macao Trading Co.
RYE: Templeton Rye ($40)
Rye whiskey is known for its spiciness and assertiveness. Templeton has the spirit’s signature flavor but is a “mellow rye,” according to Jim Meehan, the award-winning bartender at New York City bar PDT. It works exceedingly well in cocktails. Try Templeton in a Manhattan and you’ll never use bourbon again. Unfortunately, until late next year the brand is only available in Iowa and Illinois.
CANADIAN: Crown Royal Reserve ($40)
Next time you’re looking for a dram of whisky with hints of spice and oak made outside of the UK, master mixologist Dale DeGroff suggests you try the smooth Crown Royal Reserve. It can be sipped like Scotch, but DeGroff likes it in an Old Fashioned made with oranges and cherries.
JAPANESE: Hibiki 12-Year-Old ($60)
Suntory just started selling the blended Hibiki 12-Year-Old in the US last month. Taste it blind and you’d think the smooth, light whisky, with fruity notes hails from Ireland. “If you haven’t tried it, you’re in for a treat,” says David Wondrich, author of the award-winning cocktail book Imbibe! Get it now before everybody else discovers it.
Find and buy these and other great whiskies at Cask Store online.