Whiskey has inspired everything from poetry to country songs. The warming spirit predates all of us; the Scottish and Irish began distilling whiskey around 1000 AD using grain mash instead of grapes for alcohol.
Any drink with that sort of longevity warrants a second look. The spirit is polarizing, but those who enjoy whiskey don’t just like the spirit; they love it.
We take a look at the most popular whiskey brands and help you choose where to dip your toe in.
Best Whiskey Brands
This article looks at the histories and flavors of these superior whiskey brands:
Bill Samuels used a 170-year-old family recipe to establish Maker's Mark in 1953. The distillery remains in family hands, passed from one generation of Samuels to the next.
The Maker's Mark distillery sits in scenic Loretto, Kentucky. The company produces six distinct bourbons; however, the classic blend remains untouchable. The whiskey is rich and layered, with vanilla, caramel, cinnamon, and apple notes.
Paul Jones created Four Roses in 1884. The distiller named his whiskey in honor of his wife, who expressed her willingness to marry him by wearing a four-rose corsage.
The bourbon inspired by their love outsold every other brand in the United States during the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. Seagrams purchased the company, and Four Roses ping-ponged ownership several times over the years.
Four Roses make four unique bourbons. The whiskey is mild, tasting of pear and apple, with honey lending the spirit a hint of sweetness.
Angel's Envy sets itself a pretty high bar to clear. The name promises divinity, and Angel's Envy delivers.
The Henderson family began making the bourbon as a small, private project. Angel's Envy's unique approach to whiskey quickly earned the distillers a fan following. The Hendersons age the bourbon in different wine barrels, infusing the spirit with flavors seldom found in bourbon.
Angel's Envy sips smooth and easy. The mildly sweet bourbon carries hints of chocolate and vanilla.
Wild Turkey is possibly Kentucky's greatest contribution to American culture. The Ripy brothers founded the bourbon company in 1869 in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Wild Turkey represented Kentucky at the Chicago World's Fair, entwining the brand with American history.
The distillers make fourteen bottles of bourbon. Classic Wild Turkey is an ideal sipping whiskey. The liquor tastes of caramel, toffee, vanilla, and spice.
Knob Creek changed the face of whiskey in 1992. The Clermont, Kentucky distiller can honestly claim to make the world's best rye whiskey, determined by the 2016 International Wine and Spirits Competition.
Knob Creek makes powerful bourbon designed for savoring. The distiller's seven whiskeys make delicious cocktails but are best enjoyed alone.
Knob Creek tastes of maple sugar, almonds, and vanilla. The bourbon isn't ideal for beginners, but it's a can't-miss for aficionados.
Whistle Pig, practically a baby compared to most whiskey brands, leans heavily into innovation while maintaining respect for tradition. The company began the process of distilling in 2007, finally opening its doors in 2015.
Whistle Pig sits in a 150-year-old dairy barn in Shoreham, Vermont. The distillers make twelve distinct whiskey bottles.
Whistle Pig whiskey combines the best elements of spicy and sweet—the bourbon tastes of peppercorns, caramel, and vanilla.
Nobody knows whiskey like the Irish, and no Irish company knows distilling better than Jameson. The titular John Jameson began producing high-quality bourbon in 1780, forever impacting whiskey as we know it.
Jameson produces six bourbons. The bottle that put the distillery on the map tastes strongly of herbs, hops, and citrus.
We rarely associate whiskey with Japan; however, Suntory goes a long way toward remedying that. Shinjiro Torii founded the distillery in 1923, hoping to create a spirit infused with Japanese nature and culture.
Suntory isn't beholden to the traditional methodology associated with whiskey distilling. The company produces five uniquely Japanese whiskeys.
Suntory's original whiskey is citrus and apple forward, with lingering notes of almond, vanilla, and white pepper.
The Macallan is grammatically challenging but worth the effort. Alexander Reid opened the distillery doors in 1824. The North East Scotland establishment helped set a standard for single-malt whiskey.
The Macallan produces seven regular whiskeys and several limited releases. The original blend is a warming, cozy spirit, ideal for sipping—the whiskey tastes of fruitcake, pear, raisins, and cloves.
Now that you know the best whiskey brands on the market, grab your ID, head to the liquor store, start sampling, or simply revisit an old favorite. These whilskies are sure to delight fans and novices alike.
Did we skip your favorite whiskey? Tell us which one or about any other Roundup product you love!
I have always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. My restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time I turned 17 I was serving tables, and by 19 I was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.
In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, I opened my first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.