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The Best Whiskey For A Manhattan – Top 10 Picks

Will Beck
Last Updated: February 28th, 2023

A Manhattan is a classic cocktail and continues to be one of the most popular drinks ordered at bars today.

The trick to making a great Manhattan is picking a good whiskey. There are many different types of whiskey, so it can be challenging to choose the right one. However, there are a few things to remember when choosing the best whiskey for a Manhattan.

First, it is essential to consider the overall flavor of the whiskey. Some whiskeys are more fruity, while others are smoky or spicy. Second, consider the strength of the whiskey. A more potent whiskey will provide more kick, while a weaker whiskey will be more smooth and mellow. Third, the price can make a huge difference.

There is no need to spend a fortune on whiskey that will be used in cocktails, but it is good to choose a quality option. With these things in mind, anyone can find the best whiskey for a Manhattan that suits their tastes. We will help you pick out that perfect whiskey!

A Brief History of The Manhattan

the manhattan cocktail

The Spirit of York details the origins of the Manhattan, which can be traced back to the early 1880s. The earliest known written mention of the drink was in an article published in September 1882 by the Sunday Morning Herald in Olean, New York.

In this article, the ingredients (whiskey, vermouth, and bitters) and the now-known name of the drink were mentioned. However, other names, like Jockey Club Cocktail and Turf Club Cocktail, were said, making the article a bit unclear.

The first detailed recipe for the Manhattan cocktail was printed 2 years later in 1884. This was featured in O.H. Byron’s book called “The Modern Bartenders’ Guide”.

The recipe called for 3 parts whiskey, 1 part sweetened vermouth, and a few dashes of bitters. Since then, the Manhattan has become one of the world’s most famous cocktails, and there are now many different variations of the drink.

Best Whiskey For A Manhattan

There are a lot of great whiskeys out there, but not all of them are well suited for a Manhattan. When it comes to this classic cocktail, you want a whiskey with a good balance of sweetness and spice.

Below is a list of ten whiskeys that best suit a Manhattan Cocktail.

Angel’s Envy Bourbon

angel’s envy bourbon whiskey

Aged for four to six years and finished in port casks, this bourbon has a deep, complex flavor that is perfect for a classic cocktail like the Manhattan.

With a 43.3% ABV, it has enough kick to stand up to the vermouth while still allowing the flavors of the other ingredients to shine through.

With a score of 98 points from Wine Enthusiast and five stars from F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal, you can be sure that you’re getting a high-quality spirit.

Four Roses Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon

four roses small batch kentucky straight bourbon
Image: Anthony

When it comes to making a Manhattan, Four Roses Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a great option. This whiskey is made by blending four unique bourbons, resulting in a complex and well-rounded flavor.

It has a spicy aroma with hints of cedar, cloves, and cinnamon. On the palate, you’ll find notes of red plums, apples, and berries, balanced by hints of peppercorn and toasted rye.

The finish is smooth and soft, with a touch of vanilla. This bourbon compliments the mixers used in a Manhattan really nicely, and will definitely impress your guests.

Green Spot Irish Whiskey

green spot irish whiskey
Image: Brian Moen

If you’re looking for something exceptional, try Green Spot Irish Whiskey. This whiskey is aged for nearly a decade, and its rich flavor profile is sure to add a touch of sophistication to your drink.

The aroma of butterscotch, caramel, honeyed oak, pine, and orange comp, and the palate features notes of citrus, tart apples, plums, and apricots. The finish is smooth yet slightly spicy, with a touch of cinnamon and ginger.

Even though the whiskey is on the pricier side at around $50, this is a whiskey that’s definitely worth the splurge.

Teeling Single Malt Irish Whiskey

teeling single malt irish whiskey
Image: Dominic Lockyer

This whiskey is made from a unique blend of whiskeys aged up to 23 years in five different wine casks: sherry, port, Madeira, white Burgundy and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The result is a whiskey with palate boasting flavors of vanilla, cloves, fresh cookies, and lemon tart, and leads to a finish accented by long, sweet notes of wine tannins and dry oak.

Trust us, this is one whiskey that will make your Manhattan shine.

Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey

jack daniel's old no. 7 tennessee whiskey

For a classic manhattan, you can’t go wrong with Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey. Its signature smoothness results from charcoal mellowing, where each drop passes through handcrafted charcoal over a period of 3-5 days.

This process not only gives the whiskey its unique flavor but also makes it more mixable than other brands.

The Black Label is also a great choice at 40% ABV, which will help to stand up to the vermouth and bitters. And finally, the no. 1 best-selling whiskey in the world is sure to please even the most discerning of drinkers.

The Balvenie DoubleWood

the balvenie doublewood
Image: jthornett

When it comes to mixing up a classic Manhattan, you can’t go wrong with The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

This rich, complex whisky is matured in American oak casks previously used to mature bourbon, before being finished in European oak casks previously used to mature sherry.

The result is a beautifully balanced whisky with aromas of citrus, honey, and vanilla, and notes of red fruits (particularly berries and plums) on the palate, along with hints of sherry, caramel, and butterscotch. The finish is long and sweet.

At around $60, it’s a bit of a splurge, but it’s definitely worth it

Sagamore Spirit Rye Double Oak Rye Whisky

sagamore spirit rye double oak rye whisky
Image: Maryland GovPics

Sagamore Signature Rye Whiskey is the way to go for a truly unforgettable drink. This unique whiskey is made with two barrels – the first aging the spirit for four years before it’s placed into a second oak barrel with new toasted staves.

The result is a whiskey with full flavors of caramel and dark vanilla, and colors that radiate amber and warm chestnut.

It’s perfect for any special occasion and sure to please even the most discerning of palates.

Michter’s US-1 Kentucky Straight Rye

michter's us-1 kentucky straight rye
Image: Seth Anderson

If you’re looking for a flavourful, unique whiskey to make your Manhattan, look no further than Michter’s US-1 Kentucky Straight Rye.

Made from a mash of fresh, rye grains that are sheared before fermentation, this whiskey is distilled through a copper-pot still and matured in charred, American oak barrels.

The barrels are then heat-cycled in a warehouse, which forces the wood to expand and contract as the temperature rises and falls.

This process creates a smooth, well-rounded flavor that is perfect for any Manhattan lover.

Knob Creek 9-Year-Old Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey

knob creek 9-year-old small batch bourbon whiskey

Knob Creek Bourbon is another excellent whiskey for a manhattan. It has an extremely high ABV at 50%, meaning it will stand out well in a cocktail and has a rich, sweet, and full-bodied expression.

Knob Creek Bourbon takes its name from the small water source, Knob Creek, that ran through President Abraham Lincoln’s childhood farm.

Booker’s vision for Knob Creek Bourbon was that of an honest, quality bourbon that could meet the standards — strength, flavor, care, and patience — of bourbon made before Prohibition distressed the industry just decades earlier.

Today, Knob Creek continues to craft quality bourbon using time-honored methods passed down from Booker himself. So if you’re looking for the best whiskey for a Manhattan, look no further than Knob Creek Bourbon.

Lost Republic Straight Rye Whiskey

lost republic straight rye whiskey

If you’re looking for an exclusive whiskey to add to your home bar, Lost Republic Straight Bourbon is definitely worth seeking out, although bottles are limited.

A former California winemaker makes this small-batch bourbon, and its flavor profile is unlike any other on the market.

The bourbon is sourced from distilleries in Indiana, Tennessee and California, comprising 75% corn, 21% rye and 4% barley. It’s then aged for three years and two months in 53-gallon new American oak casks that have been exposed to a #2 char.

The result is a smooth, complex whiskey with notes of Meyer lemon, allspice, biscuits and jam, honey and vanilla. And at 45.5% ABV, it’s sure to pack a punch.

So if you’re looking for something special to sip on neat or use in a cocktail, be sure to give Lost Republic Bourbon a try.

Best Whiskey For A Manhattan – Conclusion

In the end, it all comes down to personal taste. Many different whiskeys would make a great Manhattan, so don’t be afraid to experiment until you find the perfect one.

With such a wide variety available on the market today, there’s no reason not to mix up a few Manhattans at home and find your favorite combo.

If you are interested in other cocktail mixes check out our guide to the best Whiskey for a Highball or an Irish Coffee!

About The Author

Will Beck

Will is a true digital nomad, taking his work on the road at every opportunity. His first love is coffee, with whiskey a close 2nd. He loves nothing more than enjoying a perfectly brewed coffee with spectacular scenery whilst he coordinates behind the scenes of the Drink Stack blog!

Just so you know, if you click on a product on and decide to buy it, we may earn a small commission.

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