You know who knows best which bottles to buy? The people who pour and sell drinks—that’s who. We asked dozens of top bartending and spirits industry professionals to tell us which bottles they love and why.
Heads up: The numerical order below is not organized by importance or quality; it’s an alphabetical list, not a ranking. Prices are averages and can vary from state to state.
“If you like peaty scotches, this is your go-to. It’s an amazing scotch known for its intense smokiness, but it’s complex at the same time.”—Tomas van den Boomgaard, beverage manager at The Langham, Chicago
“It's a beautiful blend that's 50 percent malt and 50 percent grain at 50 percent ABV. It's a really interesting blend—a lot of sherry influence, dried red fruit, toffee and even some peat. I think a lot of people trying this for the first time wouldn't even think it was a blend.”—Brian Means, bartender at San Francisco's Mina Group
“It’s a really fantastic high-quality blended scotch. John Glaser won the innovation award multiple times ,and this explains why.”—Willy
“The curve of the neck, the simple colors and the blue sleeve contribute to an aesthetically and ergonomically delightful pour, and I guess it doesn't hurt the product inside is an absolutely lovely example of the more approachable Speyside style. It looks right at home on the shelf at the cabin.”—Peder Schweigert, general manager at Minneapolis' Marvel Bar
“It’s a beautiful single malt with a flavor profile going from orchards to gingerbread.”—Willy
“It’s a very well-established brand and for good reasons. This scotch is very well-balanced with the right amount of fruity, spicy and floral notes. It’s a big bang for your buck.”—Van den Boomgaard
“This blended whisky has a high amount of single malt, giving it plenty of body to stand up to mixing and elegant enough to drink on its own.”—Schweigert
“This scotch is perfect for those that like a peaty yet balanced scotch. Cracking open a bottle of Laphroaig is like walking through a Christkindl market with the smell of roasted candied nuts in the air with slight hints of vanilla and anise.”—Gil Izaguirre, beverage director at Chicago's Honey's
“What a bargain! It tastes of honey with a medium finish.”—Verdi
“I've always loved Talisker 10-year-old, but as whiskey stocks get tighter, it sure is nice to taste the quality of Talisker whiskies without the sticker shock. This blend has undisclosed Talisker whiskies of different ages and slightly less peat than the 10-year-old. The creaminess and tropical fruit remind you why Talisker is a favorite among even the hardest to please malt snobs.”—Neal Bodenheimer, owner and bartender at New Orleans' Cane & Table and Cure
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