Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

The Best Whiskey For Cocktails

Rebecca Hanlon
Last Updated: February 28th, 2023

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

When it comes to whiskey, there are many different types and brands to choose from. When selecting the best whiskey for cocktails, it’s essential to consider both the whiskey’s flavor and the drink’s overall desired effect.

In general, the best whiskey for cocktails is relatively light in color and has been aged for at least three years.

This allows the whiskey flavors to mellow and develop, resulting in a more complex and nuanced drink. For example, a bourbon whiskey will add a rich, smoky flavor to your cocktail, while a rye whiskey will provide a more spicy kick.

Cheaper whiskeys are often harsh and lack the depth of flavor that is necessary for a truly great cocktail. So when you’re looking to add a little something extra to your next drink, be sure to choose a quality whiskey that will elevate your cocktail to new heights.

Popular Whiskey Cocktails

whiskey cocktails

Many popular cocktails include whiskey as an ingredient. The Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail that includes whiskey, bitters, sugar, and a twist of citrus peel.

The Manhattan is another well-known cocktail that contains whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters.

The Whiskey Sour is a refreshing drink that combines whiskey with lemon juice, sugar, and egg whites. And the Mint Julep is a refreshing summertime drink made with mint leaves, sugar syrup, and bourbon.

Best Whiskey for Cocktails

Whiskey is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from grain mash. Whiskey is typically aged in wooden casks, which can impart additional flavor.

Various grains are used for different kinds of whiskey, including barley, rye, wheat, and maize.

The most common type of whiskey is bourbon, which is made with at least 51% corn. Scotch whisky is made in Scotland with malted barley.

Irish whiskey is made in Ireland with a blend of malted and unmalted cereals. Japanese whisky is made similarly to Scottish whisky.

Whether you prefer drinking whiskey neat or in a cocktail, there’s sure to be a drink to suit your taste.

While many different types of whiskeys are available, bourbon is a good option for most cocktails. However, what really counts is that the whiskey adds flavor and complexity to your drink.

If you’re looking for something a little bit different, try using rye or scotch in your drinks to add a spicy or smoky kick.

Best Rye Whiskey For Cocktails

Best Budget Rye – Bulleit Rye

bulleit rye

Most rye whiskey on the market today is made using rye mash, which gives the spirit its signature spicy flavor.

However, not all rye whiskeys are created equal when it comes to mixability. For our money, the best rye whiskey for cocktails is Bulleit Straight Rye Mash Whiskey.

This high-rye whiskey has a complex flavor profile that includes notes of oak, vanilla, and baking spices. But despite its bold flavor, it mixes well with a wide range of ingredients, making it an essential tool for any home mixologist.

Bulleit Rye earned the Double Gold and Gold Medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, a score of 95 points, and Extraordinary, Ultimate Recommendation from the Ultimate Spirits Challenge in 2014.

It achieved the Liquid Gold Award and a score of 96 in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2018.

Best Overall – Angel’s Envy Rum Cask Finished Rye Whiskey

angel's envy rum cask finished rye whiskey

Angel’s Envy Rye Finished in Plantation XO Rum Casks is one of the best. From the creator of Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Whiskey Advocate named this rye as one of the Top 10 Whiskies in the Summer 2013 Issue.

Angel’s Envy Rye was Finished in Plantation XO Rum Casks and is only released twice each year in the autumn and spring. The rum casks that were used for the whiskey were also used to age French cognac.

This adds an additional layer of complexity to the palate. It’s described by Caskers as “A collision of bold flavors as the raw, spicy rye mingles with the mellow sweetness of the rum, culminating in a unique spirit.”

Best Bourbon For Cocktails

Best Budget – Elijah Craig Small Batch

elijah craig small batch

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey is a great budget-friendly option for making cocktails.

This bourbon is aged for approximately twelve years and has a scent of sweet corn, honey, vanilla, and brown sugar. There are also notes on the palate of vanilla, molasses, fruit, and is overall well-balanced by hints of dry oak and cinnamon.

This bourbon was called the “Best Bourbon Aged 10-12 Years” by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, making it a great option for those looking for a high-quality bourbon without

Best Overall – Old Forester 1910 Old Fine Straight Bourbon Whiskey

old forester 1910 old fine straight bourbon whiskey

Old Forester 1910 Old Fine Straight Bourbon Whiskey is an excellent choice for making cocktails. Even with such a high percentage of ABV at 46.5%, it has a well-rounded flavor that is perfect for mixing.

Whether looking for a sophisticated cocktail to impress your guests or a simple mixed drink to enjoy at home, Old Forester 1910 Old Fine Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a solid choice.

The interlaced layers of buttercream, sticky toffee, cedar, and apricot give it a unique flavor that will stand out in any drink. The finish delivers notes of charred oak and clean spice that make this bourbon suitable for any occasion.

Best Irish Whiskey For Cocktails

Best Budget – Jameson Irish Whiskey

jameson irish whiskey bottle

This iconic Irish whiskey is always distilled three times and has been consistently aged for four years, even before there were any aging requirements.

The whiskey’s distinctive taste profile makes it an excellent choice for use in cocktails. Its versatility means it can be used in both classic and modern drinks, such as the whiskey sour or Jameson and Ginger.

Jameson is floral when smelled and boasts hints of caramel notes combined with vanilla and almonds. The finish is smooth with notes of sherry and sweet fruit.

Best Overall – Writers’ Tears Copper Pot Irish Whiskey

writers' tears copper pot irish whiskey

Writers’ Tears Copper Pot Irish Whiskey is a gold medal winner at the International Spirits Challenge in London.

It is one of the highest-rated Irish whiskeys in Jim Murray’s Iconic “Whiskey Bible” and was featured in Ian Buxton’s publication “101 Whiskeys to try before you die.”

This whiskey has a pot still base with flashes of apple, hints of vanilla, and honey on the nose. The palate is gently spiced with ginger and butterscotch with notes of toasted oak.

The finish is long and elegant, with subtle milk chocolate and almonds notes.

Best Scotch Whisky For Cocktails

Best Budget – The Famous Grouse Smoky Black Scotch

the famous grouse smoky black scotch

There are a lot of scotch choices out there, but when it comes to using it in cocktails, you want to go with something that won’t get lost in the mix.

The Famous Grouse Smoky Black Scotch Whisky has just the right balance of smoke and flavour to give your drink that extra boost.

It’s also a great value – you can find it for around $30 online or at your local liquor store. And if you’re looking for some expert approval, this scotch has earned high marks from the Ultimate Spirits Challenge and Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

So next time you’re making a scotch cocktail, reach for the Famous Grouse Smoky Black – you won’t be disappointed.

Best Overall – Ardbeg’s Wee Beastie 5-Year Old Single Malt Scotch

ardbeg's wee beastie 5-year old single malt scotch

Ardbeg’s Wee Beastie 5-Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky is an outstanding choice for anyone looking to use scotch in cocktails.

It has a 47.4% ABV, which is higher than most scotches on the market, making it perfect for adding a little extra kick to your drink.

The nose is bright and herbal, with vanilla, pear, black pepper, and honeyed ham notes. The palate brings chocolate, smoked bacon, eucalyptus, and aniseed to the table, and the finish is long and salty with lingering cocoa and cured meat notes.

At $50.99, it is one of the more expensive scotches on the market, but its unique flavor makes it worth the price.

Best Whiskey For Cocktails – Conclusion

If you’re looking for a great whiskey to use in cocktails, we recommend any of the whiskeys listed above. They all have a smooth flavor that will complement most cocktails nicely.

So next time you’re shaking up a drink, be sure to reach for one of these whiskeys!

About The Author

Rebecca Hanlon

Rebecca has been a blogger for over 5 years, before that enjoying a number of jobs to fund her passion for travel. She's taught English as a foreign language, a part-time Barista, a waitress, and a tour guide.

Leave a Comment