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12 Best Vanilla Whiskey Brands To Try (2024 Updated)

Best Vanilla Whiskey

Vanilla is one of the most popular flavors in the world, but did you know that it also works well in whiskey?

It gives the spirit a sweet, rich flavor reminiscent of vanilla ice cream or pudding.

Luckily, vanilla whiskeys are readily available to satisfy a drinker’s cravings. Read on and check our top picks for the best vanilla whiskey options.

Top 12 Best Vanilla Whiskey To Try

12. Larceny Small Batch

Bottle of Larceny Small Batch on Top of a Table

Average Price: around $30 per 750 ml

Alcohol Content: 46% ABV

Why We Like It: Larceny small-batch bourbon has a rich, complex flavor profile with notes of vanilla, caramel, oak, and spice.

It is well-balanced and smooth, with a long straightforward finish that lingers on the palate.

As a wheated type of bourbon, it is mellow and smooth. The notes of vanilla are easily identifiable and satisfying.

11. Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition

Close Up Shot of Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition Bottle

Average Price: around $30 per 750 ml

Alcohol Content: 50% ABV

Why We Like It: Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition is great value for your money. You get a decent blend of Scotch at its price range that packs a punch.

This Scotch blended whisky achieves its subtle signature flavors of vanilla and spice by using American Sherry oak casks, which you must try.

10. Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

Bottle of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

Average Price: around $60 per 750 ml

Alcohol Content: 45.2% ABV

Why We Like It: As its name suggests, this whiskey is aged in two different oak casks, which gives its deep layers of vanilla, toffee, butterscotch, and toasted oak notes.

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked has rich and depth flavors thanks to its double maturation process. It’s perfect for sipping neat or enjoying a classic cocktail.

9. Garrison Brothers Small Batch Texas Bourbon

hand holding bottle of Garrison Brothers Small Batch Texas Bourbon

Average Price: around $85 per 750 ml

Alcohol Content: 47% ABV

Why We Like It: This bourbon whiskey proves that not all satisfying whiskey can be only made in Kentucky or Tennessee.

Garrison Brothers small batch offers a bold and unique flavor profile.

It has robust and compound notes that will never bore your every shot. This bourbon embodies the saying, “everything is bigger in Texas.”

Read: The Best Salted Caramel Whiskeys

8. Hudson Bright Lights Big Bourbon

Hudson Bright Lights Big Bourbon

Average Price: around $50 per 750 ml

Alcohol Content: 46% ABV

Why We Like It: Hudson Bright Lights is a grain-forward whiskey aged at least three years.

The whiskey is made in New York with high-quality corn and is considered the pride among locals.

Though the whiskey might be young for some experienced drinkers, it has rich notes of vanilla from the nose to the finish.

7. Noah’s Mill

Noah's Mill Bottle on Top of a Barrel

Average Price: around $61 per 750 ml

Alcohol Content: 57% ABV

Why We Like It: Noah’s Mill is a small batch bourbon whiskey aged for at least four years in American white oak barrels.

It has a high alcohol content, giving it a bold flavor profile.

It has a deep amber color and a rich, sweet flavor with hints of vanilla, caramel, and spice. The high alcohol content makes it perfect for sipping neat or on the rocks.

6. Wyoming Whiskey Bourbon

Wyoming Whiskey Bourbon Bottle on top of a billiard table

Average Price: around $45 per 750 ml

Alcohol Content: 44% ABV

Why We Like It: Wyoming whiskey is a great example of a high-quality, vanilla-forward whiskey you can rely on.

It has a unique and rare flavor profile with a reasonable price tag.

Wyoming is a great option for those looking for a delicious and affordable vanilla whiskey that stands up to other bigger brands in terms of uniqueness and value.

5. Maker’s Mark 46

Maker's Mark 46 Bourbon Whisky Bottle and a Glasses

Average Price: around $43 per 750 ml

Alcohol Content: 47% ABV

Why We Like It: This whiskey is an upgraded and modified version of the standard Maker’s Mark whiskey, enhanced to have a deeper and richer profile.

The additional French oak staves allow it to absorb more vanillin extract from the wood for more vanilla-forward notes to satisfy your palate.

4. Jim Beam Vanilla Bourbon Whiskey

Man Holding Bottle of Jim Beam Vanilla

Average Price: around $18 per 750 ml

Alcohol Content: 35% ABV

Why We Like It: There’s something about the combination of vanilla and bourbon that works so well together, and Jim Beam Vanilla bourbon whiskey is a great example.

Jim Beam Vanilla is a classic, affordable option for a light vanilla-flavored whiskey you can binge on for a whole night.

The 35% alcohol content means it’s not too strong, and the flavor is spot on – not too sweet, with just the right amount of vanilla.

3. Henry McKenna Single Barrel

Bottle of Henry McKenna Single Barrel

Average Price: around $70 per 750 ml

Alcohol Content: 50% ABV

Why We Like It: When most bourbon brands lost their age statement, Henry McKenna Single Barrel bottle-in-bond is still here for you. [1]

Whether you’re a bourbon enthusiast or just a vanilla lover, this will live up to your expectation.

The whiskey is aged for ten years in oak barrels, which gives it a rich flavor profile that includes notes of oak, vanilla, and caramel.

2. Litchfield Distillery Vanilla Bourbon

Vanilla Bourbon by Litchfield Distillery

Average Price: around $53 per 750 ml

Alcohol Content: 43% ABV

Why We Like It: Litchfield Distillery Vanilla bourbon is a delicious sipping whiskey that would be perfectly neat or on the rocks.

This whiskey is infused with Madagascar vanilla extract for a profound and deep vanilla flavor you couldn’t possibly resist. [2]

Even at 86 proof, this whiskey is smooth, mellow, and full of flavors. It’s an easy sipper but also perfect for cocktails. Check out the best bourbons for vanilla extract here.

1. Crown Royal Vanilla 

Close Up Shot of Crown Royal Vanilla Bottle

Average Price: around $30 per 750 ml

Alcohol Content: 35% ABV

Why We Like It: Crown Royal is famous for its exquisite flavored whisky series that are exceptionally good. Its vanilla-flavored whiskey offers a smooth and bursting vanilla flavor.

“Batch base is the secret of Crown Royal’s condensed milk mouth-feel.”

– Andrew MacKay, Master Blender

At its average price tag of around $30 (Drizly), consider it a steal to experience royal quality at an affordable price.

*Average prices are based on Drizly online. Prices may vary in local liquor shops.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is vanilla whiskey sweet?

Vanilla whiskey can indeed have a sweet flavor profile, but it ultimately depends on the specific brand and how it’s made. Vanilla notes in whiskey are often derived from aging in oak barrels, where the spirit picks up flavors from the wood, including vanilla. Additionally, some whiskey brands may incorporate natural or artificial vanilla flavors during production to enhance sweetness and aroma.

However, not all vanilla whiskeys are necessarily sweet. Some may have a more balanced flavor profile with hints of vanilla alongside other flavor notes such as caramel, oak, spice, and fruitiness. The sweetness level can vary depending on factors such as the whiskey’s mash bill, aging process, and any additional flavorings or additives used.

What does vanilla whiskey taste like?

Vanilla whiskey typically has a smooth and mellow flavor profile with pronounced vanilla notes. The taste can vary depending on the specific brand and how the whiskey is made, but common flavor characteristics of vanilla whiskey may include:

Vanilla: The dominant flavor in vanilla whiskey, derived from aging in oak barrels or added vanilla flavorings.

Caramel: Sweet caramel notes complement the vanilla, adding depth and richness to the flavor profile.

Oak: Whiskey aged in oak barrels may exhibit subtle oak flavors that enhance the vanilla notes and contribute to a smooth mouthfeel.

Spice: Some vanilla whiskeys may have hints of spice, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or clove, which add complexity to the flavor profile.

Fruitiness: Depending on the whiskey’s mash bill and aging process, you may detect fruity undertones such as apple, pear, or cherry, which can complement the vanilla and other flavors.

Overall, vanilla whiskey offers a well-rounded and approachable flavor profile that appeals to a wide range of palates. It’s often enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or as a key ingredient in cocktails that showcase its unique flavor characteristics.

What Are Some Whiskeys Known for Their Vanilla Notes?

Several whiskey brands are known for their pronounced vanilla notes, either from the aging process or through the addition of natural or artificial flavorings. Some whiskeys renowned for their vanilla characteristics include:

Buffalo Trace Bourbon: Buffalo Trace Bourbon is celebrated for its smoothness and complex flavor profile, which often includes prominent vanilla notes alongside caramel, oak, and spice.

Maker’s Mark Bourbon: Maker’s Mark is known for its signature red wax seal and distinctive flavor profile, which features rich vanilla flavors complemented by caramel sweetness and hints of oak.

Woodford Reserve Bourbon: Woodford Reserve Bourbon is recognized for its balanced flavor profile, with pronounced vanilla notes mingling with hints of toasted oak, caramel, and spice.

Bulleit Bourbon: Bulleit Bourbon offers a bold and spicy flavor profile with underlying vanilla sweetness. The whiskey’s high rye content adds complexity and depth to the vanilla notes.

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey: Jack Daniel’s is known for its smooth and mellow flavor profile, which includes subtle vanilla undertones alongside caramel, toasted oak, and a touch of sweetness.

These are just a few examples of whiskeys known for their vanilla notes, but many other brands and expressions also feature prominent vanilla flavors. Whether enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or in cocktails, vanilla whiskey offers a versatile and flavorful drinking experience appreciated by whiskey enthusiasts worldwide.

Which Whiskey Brands Offer a Distinctive Vanilla Profile?

Several whiskey brands are known for their distinctive vanilla profiles, either due to their aging process, mash bill, or the addition of natural or artificial flavorings. Some whiskey brands renowned for their pronounced vanilla characteristics include:

Elijah Craig Bourbon: Elijah Craig Bourbon is celebrated for its rich and complex flavor profile, which often includes prominent vanilla notes alongside caramel, oak, and spice.

Four Roses Bourbon: Four Roses Bourbon offers a wide range of flavor profiles across its various expressions, but many include distinct vanilla flavors that are well-balanced with floral and fruity undertones.

Jim Beam Bourbon: Jim Beam Bourbon is one of the best-selling bourbon brands globally and is known for its approachable flavor profile with prominent vanilla notes, complemented by caramel sweetness and hints of oak.

Bourbon Cream Liqueurs: Several bourbon cream liqueurs, such as Buffalo Trace’s Bourbon Cream or Evan Williams’ Bourbon Cream, feature a creamy texture and prominent vanilla flavors that make them popular for sipping or mixing in cocktails.

Southern Comfort: While not a traditional whiskey, Southern Comfort is a whiskey-flavored liqueur known for its sweet and smooth profile, with pronounced vanilla notes that appeal to many drinkers.

These are just a few examples of whiskey brands that offer distinctive vanilla profiles, but many others may also feature prominent vanilla flavors depending on the specific expression and production methods.

What Makes a Whiskey Stand Out as Having the Best Vanilla Flavor?

Several factors contribute to making a whiskey stand out for its exceptional vanilla flavor:
Quality of Ingredients: High-quality grains, water, and yeast used in the production process can contribute to a more flavorful and complex whiskey with pronounced vanilla notes.

Aging Process: Whiskeys aged in charred oak barrels tend to develop rich vanilla flavors from the interaction between the spirit and the wood. Longer aging periods can enhance the intensity and depth of the vanilla profile.

Barrel Selection: Whiskey barrels vary in their char level, age, and previous contents, all of which can influence the development of vanilla flavors in the whiskey. Careful barrel selection and blending can enhance the vanilla profile of the final product.

Distillation Technique: The distillation process can impact the concentration and intensity of flavors in the whiskey, including vanilla. Master distillers may employ specific techniques to maximize the expression of vanilla notes in the final product.

Attention to Detail: Attention to detail throughout the production process, from grain selection to bottling, can contribute to a whiskey’s overall flavor profile, including its vanilla characteristics.

Ultimately, what makes a whiskey stand out for its vanilla flavor is a combination of these factors, along with the skill and expertise of the master distiller in crafting a well-balanced and flavorful product.

Are There Any Single Malts or Scotch Whiskies Known for Their Vanilla Notes?

While bourbon and American whiskeys are typically associated with prominent vanilla flavors, some single malts or Scotch whiskies also exhibit notable vanilla characteristics, often influenced by the aging process or barrel selection. Some single malts or Scotch whiskies known for their vanilla notes include:

Glenmorangie Original: Glenmorangie Original is renowned for its smooth and approachable flavor profile, which often includes distinct vanilla notes alongside floral and fruity undertones.

Balvenie DoubleWood: Balvenie DoubleWood is aged in both traditional oak barrels and sherry casks, resulting in a complex flavor profile with pronounced vanilla sweetness, complemented by hints of spice and dried fruit.

Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old: Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old is known for its gentle and honeyed character, with subtle vanilla notes that add depth and richness to the flavor profile.

Highland Park 12 Year Old: Highland Park 12 Year Old offers a balanced blend of sweet and smoky flavors, with underlying vanilla notes that contribute to its complexity and smoothness.

Auchentoshan American Oak: Auchentoshan American Oak is matured exclusively in American oak barrels, resulting in a whiskey with prominent vanilla and coconut flavors, along with hints of citrus and spice.

These are just a few examples of single malts or Scotch whiskies known for their vanilla notes, but many others may also feature pronounced vanilla characteristics depending on the specific expression and production methods employed by the distillery.

What Factors Should I Consider When Choosing the Best Vanilla Whiskey?

When selecting the best vanilla whiskey, several factors can influence your decision:
Flavor Profile: Consider the balance of flavors in the whiskey, including the intensity of vanilla notes alongside other flavor characteristics such as caramel, oak, spice, and fruitiness.

Aging Process: Whiskeys aged in charred oak barrels tend to develop rich vanilla flavors. Longer aging periods can enhance the intensity and complexity of the vanilla profile.

Brand Reputation: Research the reputation of the whiskey brand and its production methods. Brands known for quality and craftsmanship are more likely to offer exceptional vanilla whiskey.

Personal Preferences: Take into account your own taste preferences and the intended use of the whiskey. Some people prefer sweeter whiskeys with pronounced vanilla notes, while others may prefer a more balanced flavor profile.

Price: Consider your budget when choosing a vanilla whiskey. While some premium brands may offer exceptional quality, there are also more affordable options available that still deliver excellent flavor.

By considering these factors, you can choose a vanilla whiskey that aligns with your preferences and offers a satisfying drinking experience.

What is the best whiskey for vanilla extract?

When choosing a whiskey for making vanilla extract, it’s essential to select a high-quality whiskey with a smooth and mellow flavor profile that won’t overpower the vanilla. Bourbon whiskey is a popular choice for making vanilla extract due to its rich and sweet flavor profile, which includes prominent vanilla notes.

Some bourbon brands that work well for making vanilla extract include Buffalo Trace, Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, and Elijah Craig. These bourbons offer balanced flavor profiles with pronounced vanilla characteristics that can enhance the flavor of the extract.

However, any whiskey with a smooth and mellow flavor profile can be used for making vanilla extract, so feel free to experiment with different brands and expressions to find the one that best suits your preferences.

Key Takeaways

There are a variety of vanilla whiskeys available on the market, so finding the best one for you may require some trial and error.

The best vanilla whiskey should have a smooth, creamy texture but not be too overwhelming. Find something that tastes more natural rather than too artificial.

Finally, take into account your budget when selecting a vanilla whiskey. Many great options are available at different price points, so choose the one that fits your needs.

References:

  1. What are “Bottled-in-Bond” Spirits and Why Should I Care?
  2. Very Vanilla: A Guide to Vanilla Types — From Madagascar to Mexican
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