What Is The Best Whiskey? Top 5 Spirits Most Recommended By Experts

If you’re diving into whiskey for the first time, it can be hard to know where to start. Whiskey is an extremely versatile spirit that can be found all over the world and is used in a variety of cocktails. Whiskey is mainly categorized by the type of grain it is derived from and the time and type of vessel it is aged in. The aging process can give whiskey unique flavors and notes that greatly impact your tasting experience. The best whiskey should have balanced but complex flavors that can be mixed well in cocktails but still smooth enough to drink alone.

Hopefully, you are among those whom alcohol can bring out the best in. A recent study found a sixth of participants (17%) admit that they feel like “the best version of themselves” when drinking alcohol. Plus, 49 percent admit to utilizing that classic liquid courage by taking a shot before stressful events like funerals and job interviews. Although it can take the edge off, you may not always want to show up buzzed when meeting with your boss.

As long as you are drinking responsibly, making a cocktail can be a great way to unwind. Plus, decking out your home bar allows your inner bartender to emerge and be creative with concocting craft drinks from the comfort of your home. However, it may be daunting for beginners when choosing quality bottles to stock the liquor cabinet. Below, we have listed some tips for whiskey connoisseurs new and old for choosing a top-notch bottle based on your flavor preference.

How to Choose the Best Whiskey:

  • Smoke Lover: Seek out an Islay Scotch – intense peat, seaweed, bonfire notes. Expect boldness, depth, and a lingering smoky finish.
  • Bourbon Fanatic: Classic wheated bourbon offers smooth caramel, vanilla, spice. Barrel proof expressions boast bolder oak, leather, dark fruit. Explore options based on desired sweetness and intensity.
  • Rye Adventurer: Spicy rye packs a peppery punch, balanced by citrus, oak. Choose full-bodied for fiery spice, or subtler versions with floral, honeyed notes.
  • Japanese Explorer: Delicate Japanese whisky sings with ripe fruit, citrus, subtle oak. Single malts offer elegant balance, while blends showcase harmonious complexity.
  • Budget-Conscious Connoisseur: Irish whiskey delivers smooth honey, apple, oak at friendly prices. Richer options offer toffee, pear, caramel. Choose based on desired smoothness and flavor profile.
  • Cask Finish Curious: Consider the impact of finishing casks! Speyside malts finished in rum casks acquire tropical fruit, brown sugar notes. Toasted oak barrels soften rye’s spice with honeyed sweetness. Experiment and discover unexpected flavor combinations.

Remember, these are just a starting point. Don’t be afraid to explore smaller distilleries, regional specialties, and limited releases. The world of whiskey is vast and waiting to be savored!

If you want to try some of the best whiskey, StudyFinds has researched the most recommended brands across a variety of price ranges to help you start. Our list is made up of the most common finds across 10 expert sources. Already have a favorite whiskey? Let us know your pick in the comments below!

The List: Best Whiskey, According to Experts


1. Uncle Nearest 1856 Tennessee Whiskey

Uncle Nearest is a nickname for Nathan Green, one of the founding fathers of Tennessee whiskey. It is said he was an enslaved man who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey. “This whiskey is quite versatile — it makes a fantastic whiskey sour but is also wonderful on the rocks, where the whiskey’s luxurious apricot-and-caramel notes really shine through,” says Food Network.

Uncle Nearest 1856 Tennessee Whiskey
Uncle Nearest 1856 Tennessee Whiskey (unclenearest.com)

Tennessee whiskey is made from corn and aged in new charred oak, then filtered through a maple charcoal filter to smooth it out. The Spruce Eats mentions, “A blend of whiskeys between 8 and 14 years, sumptuous caramel, dried fruit, and a hint of cinnamon make 1856 a must-have for your bar.”

Rolling Stone explains this whiskey’s claim to fame: “A Black-owned brand, Uncle Nearest 1856 launched in 2017 to honor Green’s importance in American spirits. The whiskey is fragrant, floral, fruity, and incredibly smooth (thanks to at least eight years of aging) — despite the fact that it’s 100 proof. It’s been well-received by the whiskey community with top marks across the board, and we have to agree.”

2. Johnnie Walker Blue Label

Johnnie Walker Blue Label is one of the most well-known higher end scotches. It is smooth with notes of peat, ginger, dark chocolate, and orange. “As one of their more expensive bottles, the flagship Blue Label is a blend of only the rarest of Scotches, though the brand doesn’t provide an exact age for the whiskies in the bottle,” mentions Delish.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label whiskey bottle
Johnnie Walker Blue Label (Photo by Oskar Kadaksoo on Unsplash)

A bottle of this velvety whiskey is expensive, so be prepared to only crack it open for special occasions or celebrations. But the flavor is well worth the price. According to Luxe Digital, “The Blue Label is the brand’s most prestigious blended whisky, coming in with a higher price point that’s more than worthy of the flavors to follow. With a rounded nose and the brand’s signature spiciness, expect sweetness and an explosion of flavor from the first sip. Blue Label is known for being a velvety whisky, so enjoy flavors like hazelnut, toasted oak, sandalwood, and tobacco while drinking it neat.”

3. Henry Mckenna Single Barrel

Henry McKenna is the only extra-aged, bottled-in-bond, single barrel bourbon currently available today. Bourbon is corn-based and aged in new charred oak barrels. Liquor reports “Bourbon aficionados have to become familiar with a whole bevy of inscrutable terms—’age statement,’ ‘bottled-in-bond,’ ‘single barrel’—but even the casual imbiber who doesn’t know all the definitions would have to conclude it’s impressive if a whole bunch of them show up on the same bottle.”

Henry Mckenna Single Barrel
Henry Mckenna Single Barrel (heavenhilldistillery.com)

With notes of caramel, butter, cinnamon, and vanilla, and an award for Best in Show at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, this bottle is a steal. You can find it for cheap on some sites. “This specific bottle of Mckenna comes from a single barrel of bourbon that’s been aged 10 years, but despite that prestigious number, the whiskey isn’t too expensive at all,” adds RollingStone.

4. Barrell Craft Spirits BCS Gold Label Dovetail

Most blended whiskey is made from grain-neutral spirits, but Barrell uses only whiskey. They focus more on reliability and quality in distilling methods than novelty. Tasting Table mentions “the brand’s releases quite naturally vary based on the source whiskeys involved, the result tends towards sweetness, such the notable Batch 32, with tasting notes that read like a walking tour of a dessert buffet.”

Barrell Craft Spirits BCS Gold Label Dovetail
Barrell Craft Spirits BCS Gold Label Dovetail (barrellbourbon.com)

Gold Label Dovetail is 131.54 proof and made up of whiskeys aged in port, rum, and Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. “The finished product is powerful and so generous, coating the palate with warm honey and suggestions of molasses, steeped golden raisins and brown sugar. Lingering notes of dried and fresh figs as well as chocolate ganache, black-cherry compote, and pear butter linger for a full minute,” writes Food and Wine.

Maxim also loves this brand’s Vantage bottle. “Mizunara casks, made of extremely rare Japanese Mizunara wood, impart deep woody, spicy notes that play nicely off French and toasted American Oak casks. It’s an approach that seems to state that fortune favors the bold.”

5. Redbreast Kentucky Oak Edition

This unique whiskey is triple distilled in copper pot stills and aged in American Bourbon barrels and Spanish Oloroso Sherry butts. It is then finished for a minimum of four months in hand selected, air-dried American Oak from the Taylor family farm in Kentucky. Inside Hook finds “the combo certainly enhances the wood and vanilla notes, while the hints of dark fruit, nutmeg and cinnamon still wonderfully linger.”

Redbreast Kentucky Oak Edition
Redbreast Kentucky Oak Edition (redbreastwhiskey.com)

The notes of sweet vanilla and wood spice infused into the liquor are reminiscent of the South’s charm. According to Maxim, “What do you get when you take an Irish whiskey and age it in Kentucky bourbon barrels? Well, a groundbreaking whiskey, for starters, and the first release in a series of American Oak-aged whiskies from Redbreast.”

Another honorable mention brought to light by both Rolling Stone and The Spruce Eats is their Redbreast 12-year for those “looking to try your first serious Irish whiskey or in need of branching out,” says Rolling Stone.

What’s the difference between whiskey, scotch, and bourbon?

While our list focuses on whiskey in general, scotch and bourbon are both types of whiskey that often get confused. Here is a chart comparing the differences between the three:

Feature Whiskey Scotch Bourbon
Grain Any grain Malted barley only At least 51% corn, remaining can be wheat, rye, or barley
Production Varies by type and region Made in Scotland with specific regulations Made in the US, aged in new charred oak barrels for at least 2 years
Flavor Wide range Malty, sometimes smoky Sweeter, with corn, vanilla, caramel, and oak notes

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

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About the Author

Elsa Lee

Elsa is a freelance journalist, copywriter, and marketer based out of the Los Angeles area. She has been writing for 7 years.

The contents of this website do not constitute advice and are provided for informational purposes only. See our full disclaimer


  1. For crying out loud, please do learn the difference! Scotch is whisky NO ‘E’ ! Other, inferior, whiskeys are spelled whiskey WITH AN ‘E’.
    Simple really but so difficult for journalists to understand.

    1. Japan and Canada also spell it without an E. It has nothing to do with superiority and everything to do with how certain regions have traditionally spelled it.

  2. You’ve listed couple of bourbons as whiskies…and one of the whiskies is Jhonny Walker? Who are the experts that you consulted with exactly? XD

  3. What is this even for a BS list.

    Find somebody with actual knowledge of whisky.

    Nobody will ever say Blue Label (let alone these others) belong in this list..

    1. Make Whiskey for a living. Henry Mckenna 10 yr. Bottled in bond was whiskey of the year 2021 and is very highly regarded, so I wouldn’t say none of them on the list. Red Breast is also an Amazing Whiskey, but I have not had the one mentioned in this article.

      1. Have had the entire range of JWalker’s whiskys, including the uber expensive BL anniversary special. Once you get beyond the gold label, they all taste a lot like cognac, even with the same texture and aromas. Probably acquired from the barrels they were aged in.

  4. The study referred is biased and already commented by medical peers about the flaws:

    Our findings, that lifetime alcohol abstainers report the highest level of mental well-being and quitting alcohol improves mental well-being among women, suggest caution in recommending that moderate drinking could improve health-related quality of life. Instead, quitting drinking may be associated with a more favourable change in mental well-being, approaching the level of lifetime abstainers.”


  5. It’s funny how people think they know what is the best overall for other people, the difference between whiskey and bourbon . I believe that the best whiskey or bourbon in the world is what you as your personal taste and preference is the best. Just drink what you like and enjoy your friends or a sunset, or like me with a fishing pole in my hand. Enjoy and relax, that’s how I was taught growing up in good ole Kentucky.

  6. All these liquors are made with amalayse or enzymes. Both which are far worse for one’s health than alcohol alone. There’s only one internationally award liquor with an all natural fermentation and ingredients. Iowa Legendary Rye. Aka Al Capone’s favorite liquor recipe. Get to know and you will drink nothing else.

  7. Terrible list. You suggest a $200+ bottle of blended 40% abv whisky for first timers? So many great si gle malts under 60$. Deanston virgin oak, glenmorangie 14, bunnahabhain 12, and so many more. Drink some whisky before writing about whisky.

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