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.
Aberfeldy 12 Year ($43)
“Looking years back, this is the first scotch that I fell in love with and that in many ways made me a scotch drinker. To this day, it still always reminds me why I fell in love with it in the first place.”—Erick Castro, proprietor of Polite Provisions and Raised by Wolves in San Diego and Boilermaker in New York City.
Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend ($37)
“With a higher blend of sherried scotches and some nice smoke, the wicked fine blender John Glaser does it again.”—Abigail Gullo, bar manager and assistant general manager at Ben Paris at The State Hotel in Seattle
Dewar’s White Label ($26)
“Blended scotch gets a bad wrap in my opinion. But not only did it keep scotch alive as a category during Prohibition, in a Scotch & Soda, it’s exactly what I want in a dive bar or after a long day of making complicated cocktails. And at that price point for it’s quality, I’ll enjoy several bottles of Dewar’s almost more than an expensive single malt.”—Nathaniel Smith, creative director of bar and drinks at Travail Kitchen and Amusements in Minneapolis
The Famous Grouse ($28)Continue to 5 of 6 below.
Johnnie Walker Black ($36)
“It’s the best well-rounded scotch. With a rich mellow smokiness, this scotch tastes like candy to me.”—Ryan Schaeffer, operational bartender at Four Corners bars in Chicago