When it comes to alcohol, whiskey is king. Whether you enjoy American whiskey, Irish Whiskey, straight bourbon, or even a bold scotch, no liquor can compare. Recently, BroBasket, a company that specializes in customizable gift baskets, reached out and sent us one of their most popular gifts: The Ultimate Whiskey Sampler. Available for $99, the huge basket is loaded with popcorn, chocolate candies, a glass tumbler, and oh yea, 10 different types of whiskey. That's 10 different whiskeys to taste, rank, and enjoy.
While I do drink whiskey regularly, I am no means a connoisseur. My whiskey experience includes mostly shots of Wild Turkey or Old Forester followed by pickle juice. This gift basket was the perfect excuse to try a whole array of whiskey without breaking the bank at the local bar. And thus I decided to arrange a whiskey tasting to find the best-tasting whiskey.
The Quest To Find The Best Whiskey
After inviting some friends over and filling up with cheese and meats from the charcuterie board we gathered around the dining room table to taste-test each whiskey. I had built a tasting sheet and asked my friends and boyfriend to record their thoughts, what they tasted, and how well it ranked in comparison with the other whiskeys. By the end of the night, I would have the answer to my question and figure out which one is the best-tasting whiskey.
How to Host a Whiskey Tasting
When it comes to whiskey tasting (or whisky tasting) you only need a few things to elevate your tasting experience. First, start with a line-up of different whiskies. For us, we had 10 to select from.
Next, give every guest a tasting glass. This could be anything from a small snifter to a wine glass. It's okay if that's all you have on hand! When you taste whiskey for fun, glassware should be the least of your worries.
How to Taste Whiskey
Like wine tasting, every whiskey has its own flavor profile. Help your guests by printing a tasting guide like the one found here. It'll make it easier to identify flavors and spark conversation.
10. Johnnie Walker Red Label
The pioneer blend of Johnnie Walker, this Scotch whisky is considered the best selling scotch whisky sold in the world. Created in a distillery in Scotland, the blend is characterized by its smoky flavor.
It was that flavor that turned me and my friends off. Some tasting notes from my friends included, "Ashtray, campfire, and the guy I hooked up with in college that chain-smoked."
9. Johnnie Walker Black Label
Like the Johnnie Walker Red Label, Johnnie Walker Black Label is a Scotch whisky. The only difference is that the Black Label is a blend of whiskies aged for a minimum of 12 years. According to the Johnnie Walker website, this whisky is best served on the rocks or mixed with soda.
Just as above, we couldn't get past the overwhelming smokiness.
8. Bulleit Bourbon
This bold rye whiskey hails from Kentucky. Spicy and with a toffee and caramel flavor, Bulleit is usually pretty easy to find at the bar. In fact, it's the first whiskey I've ever tasted. We were sitting around the campfire a year ago when my boyfriend handed me a glass of Bulleit. Used to taking all liquors like a shot, I took it back fast. His eyes popped out as he realized what I had done. About 20 minutes later the alcohol hit like a brick.
7. Glenlivet 12 Year
A 12-year old Single malt scotch whiskey, Glenlivet is described as fruity and summery.
While we did catch hints of fruit and honey, some of us thought it tasted like the smell of fresh baby powder and rubber. Was it the best whiskey in our minds? Not quite.
6. Knob Creek
Served at 100 proof (50 abv) this Kentucky bourbon whiskey eludes notes of baked goods and a hint of Coca-Cola. This whiskey pairs well in an Old-Fashioned and even better with a splash of Coke.
5. Maker's Mark Bourbon
Earlier this year my boyfriend and I visited the Marker's Mark Distillery and got to try many of their products, including a small batch single barrel. The original Maker's Mark is great and while tasting we were able to pick up hints of vanilla and caramel.
We're getting close to the best-tasting whiskey but we aren't there just yet.
4. Macallan Double Cask 12 Year
A fully rounded single malt, the Macallan features a rich brown sugar and candied orange flavor. The whiskey is created with sherry casks, adding a rich undertone that is highlighted after every sip.
3. Jameson Irish Whiskey
Tripled distilled and aged in oak barrels for a minimum of four years, Jameson Irish Whiskey is a classic. It's great on its own but really lives up when used in an Irish coffee.
2. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Distilled in Kentucky, this Kentucky Straight Bourbon was so close to being our best whiskey and ended up as our best bourbon pick for the night. With hints of nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla, this sipper whiskey is great neat or mixed in a cocktail.
1. Glenfiddich 12 Year
We did it! We made it to the best whiskey! Hands-down, Glendiffich grabbed all out our hearts. The world's most awarded single malt Scotch whisky is matured in American oak and European oak sherry casks for at least 12 years and features honey and floral notes. It's beyond heavenly to drink.