When it comes to whiskey, there are countless brands to choose from. Some people prefer their whiskey smooth and mellow, while others like it bold and smoky. The best whiskey brands are those that have stood the test of time, with a rich history and a loyal following. These brands are known for their quality and consistency, and are often sought after by whiskey enthusiasts around the world.
For those who appreciate the finer things in life, exploring the world of whiskey can be a truly satisfying experience. Whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or a curious novice, there’s always something new to discover. The best whiskey brands offer a wide range of flavors and aromas, each with its own unique character and appeal. From the rich, complex notes of a single malt scotch to the smooth, caramel flavors of a Kentucky bourbon, there’s a whiskey out there for everyone.
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. Maker's Mark is a perfect sipping whiskey; a snifter savored over a cold night will warm you to the bones.
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.
Buffalo Trace Bourbon is legendary. The distillery is the oldest of its kind in the United States and makes bourbon so delicious it was exempt from Prohibition. The Franklin, Kentucky-based brand claims more awards than any other distillery. Buffalo Trace's bourbon earned the title of "Distillery of the Year" for seven years. Buffalo Trace has a warm, inviting flavor. The bourbon tastes of brown sugar, toffee, and spices.
Woodford Reserve is so indelibly linked to the American story that the distillery is now a historical landmark. The company began producing superior whiskey in 1812 in Versailles, Kentucky. Woodford Reserve makes 11 unique bourbons. The classic blend tastes warm and rich. Drinkers note caramel, toffee, spice, and citrus notes in each sip.
Bulleit is a little younger than the other whiskeys on this list but doesn't allow youth to prevent it from making its Mark. The brand emphasizes sustainable practices without sacrificing quality. Located in Shelbyville, Kentucky, Bulleit whiskey continues to distinguish itself, winning multiple awards for its beautifully crafted liquors. The distillery produces four types of whiskey. Bulleit is a mellow, smooth bourbon, ideal for sipping. The whiskey carries notes of oak, maple, and nutmeg.
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.
Jack Daniel's may just be the most recognized name in whiskey. Jasper Daniel opened his brewery doors in 1866. This historic moment marked the creation of America's first registered distillery. The company survived the Great Depression, Prohibition, and World Wars. Jack Daniel's currently makes ten consistent whiskeys, with myriad seasonal and limited editions. Jack Daniel's goes down easy. The whiskey tastes of bananas, nuts, caramel, and creme anglaise.
The Kentucky landscape is littered with distilleries. It takes a great deal to stand out in such a crowded marketplace, but Blanton's innovative approach to bourbon elevates it above the masses. The distillery forever altered bourbon's face when it entered the scene with single-barrel whiskey in 1984. Blanton's created the bourbon, which most companies now produce. The company makes our whiskeys, all of which heavily feature vanilla, oak, and honey tones.
When Chris Stapleton sang about the virtues of Tennessee whiskey, George Dickel may have been on his mind. The award-winning distillery, established in 1964, is the second largest in the state. George Dickel produces ten bottles of whiskey. The bourbon appeals to those who prefer sweeter spirits; the whiskey tastes strongly of caramel, coconut, and vanilla.
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.
Crown Royal's regal beginnings led to the creation of one of the world's most beloved whiskeys. Canadian distillers crafted the bourbon in 1939 to honor King George VI and Queen Elizabeth's visit. Crown Royal now makes 13 different whiskeys. The original remains a gold standard, a smooth sipping whiskey with hints of oak and vanilla.
Elijah Craig was a polymath who shaped the face of modern whiskey. The innovator created the process of aging bourbon in charred barrels, a method widely embraced today. Craig, an enslaver and nobody's idea of a great guy, started distilling whiskey in 1789. His bourbon continues to win awards and charm drinkers. The smooth, sweet whiskey contains citrus, caramel, and vanilla notes. The mild concoction sips easily and pleasantly.
Evan Williams opened his Kentucky distillery in 1783. The distillery knows a good thing when it sees one and hasn't strayed far from Williams's methods, recipe, or business model. Evan Williams makes 11 whiskeys, many of which are flavored or seasonal editions. The signature straight bourbon is oaky, with vanilla and spice notes.
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 name Johnnie Walker sparks recognition even in non-whiskey drinkers. The iconic brand began blending bourbon in 1865, launching one of the most impactful whiskey dynasties. Located in Kilmarnock, Scotland, Jonnie Walker produces 18 unique blends, including special editions. The distiller's original and beloved black-label whiskey sips beautifully—the spirit tastes of honey, caramel, vanilla, and citrus.
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.