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15 Best Whiskeys for Whiskey Sour Cocktail (2022 Updated)

Last Updated on October 13, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Whiskey, citrus, and sugar – make classic Whiskey Sours. This beverage has countless possibilities to suit any taste preference.

Whether you don’t like egg whites or you want to add bitters and cherries on top, there are countless options to tweak this cocktail.

But the most important is choosing the type of whiskey to use. We have gathered the recommended list from our experts in case you need help to decide.

Read on to discover the best whiskey for Whiskey Sour. 

15 Best Whiskey For Whiskey Sour 

15. Nikka Days

Nikka Days bottle on a top of table

ABV: 40% ABV 

Average Price: Around $59.99 for 750ml

Why We Like It: Nikka Days is a blended type of whisky with a bright, fruity, and floral flavor with hints of smoke. This Japanese whisky has a smooth and creamy spirit, but it won’t overpower the other flavors in a Whiskey Sour. 

Nikka Days can be sipped alone or on the rocks, but it can give its full flavor potential when used in cocktails. You’ll probably love the complex and layered Nikka Days in your Whiskey Sour. Adding a quality cherry and good ice can improve the drink’s sensation.

14. Gentleman Jack

Gentleman Jack and a coktail drink with lemon

ABV: 40% ABV 

Average Price: Around $34.99 for 750ml

Why We Like It: This whiskey has a relaxed flavor and vanilla hints that will not overpower any Whiskey Sour. Jack Daniel’s Gentleman’s Jack is crafted with a unique process and is twice mellowed. 

It has a soft and silky texture and hints of smokiness because of its charcoal filtration process. So, it can create a smooth, easy-drinking Whiskey Sour mixed drink with crystalline sugar and fresh lemon juice mixture.

13. Rittenhouse

ABV: 50% ABV

Average Price: Around $28.99 for 750ml

Why We Like It: Rittenhouse is one of the top rye whiskeys to pair with Whiskey Sour. If you’re into higher proofs, this whiskey is a good option at 100-proof to shine through the cocktail. 

A Rittenhouse is a Bottled in Bond rye whiskey type, which means it is distilled in a single location for one distilling season. [1

Having complexity throughout the process makes this kind of whiskey bold and complex. It gives a signature spice and flavors cut through the sugar, bitters, and orange zest of Whiskey Sour.

12. Wild Turkey 101 Rye

Wild Turkey 101 Rye bottle with two glasses on side

ABV: 50.5% ABV 

Average Price: Around $25.99 for 750ml

Why We Like It: Wild Turkey 101 Rye has a different taste profile than a normal sweeter bourbon. It is a robust and round whiskey with spicy flavors and baking spices that stands out in the citrus and sugar mixture in the sour. 

This rye whiskey is aged in the deepest American white oak barrels. Tasting Wild Turkey has a bold impression, great spice notes, and peppery bite hints.

The whiskey’s sweet and bitter undertones pair well with Whiskey Sour recipes. 

11. Jameson Black Barrel

man pouring Jameson Black Barrel bottle on a glass

ABV: 40% ABV 

Average Price: Around $41.99 for 750ml

Why We Like It: This Irish whiskey is charred in an old method of revitalizing barrels resulting in deepened flavor. It’s one of the famous Irish whiskey brands that create richness and complexity in the whiskey. 

Jameson Black Barrel has unique richness and aromas. It has intensified vanilla notes and butterscotch aroma, but caramel notes dominate the taste. 

This type of whiskey is ideal for making an elegant Whiskey Sour variation of freshly squeezed citrus juice and simple syrup.

You can adjust the whiskey ratio depending on your preference for your Whiskey Sour cocktail. 

10. Old Forester Rye

Old Forester Rye bottle on the table

ABV: 50% ABV 

Average Price: Around $26.99 for 750ml

Why We Like It: Old Forester Rye is perfect for a fruit-based sour cocktail. This spicy rye has a nice amount of sweetness and oak. Old Forester Rye has a 100-proof that can hold up additional fruit flavors in sour cocktails. 

You can be creative with this type of whiskey. It has a unique floral flavor that balances the sharp spice of rye.

Old Forester Rye’s distinctive flavor profile makes it one of the best whiskeys for Whiskey Sour.

9. Johnnie Walker Red Label

JW Red Label bottle

ABV: 40% ABV 

Average Price: Around $35.69 for 1.0L

Why We Like It: Johnnie Walker Red Label is a blended scotch mix of single malt and single grain whiskey. [2]

You’ll get vanilla and oak hints in the mouth with creamy honey and fruity aromas. All flavor notes, including malted barley, develop into a long and smoky finish.

A blended scotch whiskey like Johnnie Walker Red Label is one of the best whiskeys for Whiskey Sours. Its bitter note and smokiness could be an excellent base for the sour treatment.

8. Bulleit Rye 

man holding Bulleit Rye bottle

ABV: 45% ABV 

Average Price: Around $32.99 for 750ml

Why We Like It: Bulleit is widely known for its bourbon whiskey. However, Bulleit Rye whiskey is one of the best whiskeys for a Whiskey Sour.

Even though it’s a sourced-out product, this unusual base spirit works great in a classic cocktail.

After five years of aging, Bulleit Rye gives oak hints, vanilla notes, and citrus. Its sweet and mild take from other rye whiskey makes it welcoming even for a first-time whiskey drinker.

7. Sazerac Rye

Sazerac Rye bottle

ABV: 45% ABV

Average Price: Around $33.99 for 750ml

Why We Like It: Sazerac Rye, also known as “Baby Saz,” is one of the iconic ryes made. This rye is aged six years in a cask and is also a straight rye whiskey.

Compared to a straight bourbon whiskey, rye whiskey is spicier and has a bolder flavor. 

However, Sazerac Rye is not spicy as many other ryes because it has a lovely balance of vanilla, caramel, and spice rye. It has a medium-long finish that ends with a touch of mint.

Its light to medium balanced flavors makes it one of the best whiskeys for Whiskey Sours. 

6. Fireball Cinnamon Whisky 

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky bottle on the table

ABV: 33% ABV

Average Price: Around $21.99  for 1.0L

Why We Like It: Fireball Whisky is a cinnamon whisky that tastes like cinnamon candy. It’s a mix of cinnamon flavoring, Canadian whisky, and sweetener.

Fireball Whisky has a low ABV of 66-proof. This low-proof doesn’t make it a legal whisky in Canada and America. But instead, it is classified as a flavored distilled liquor.

However, its sweet cinnamon and hot and spicy sensation perfectly fit the sour cocktail’s citrusy flavors. Fireball Whisky is a great option if you want a little burn for your Whiskey Sours.

5. Michter’s US1 American Whiskey

Michter’s US1 American Whiskey bottle on a table with background plants

ABV: 41.7% ABV

Average Price: Around $49.99 for 750ml

Why We Like It: Unlike bourbon whiskey, this American whiskey is aged in ex-bourbon barrels resulting in a rich flavor.

However, it can’t be called bourbon, as bourbon whiskey needs to be aged in new American charred oak barrels.

It’s made in small batches and has a deep butterscotch flavor and vanilla notes with a minimal burn. Its fruity notes and hints of sweet oak could blend well with the tartness and zesty flavors of the Whiskey Sour cocktail.

4. Widow Jane Oak & Applewood Aged Rye Mash Whiskey 

ABV: 45.5% ABV 

Average Price: Around $50.44 for 750ml

Why We Like It: The Oak & Applewood Aged Rye Mash Whiskey from Widow Jane is an American oak rye whiskey. Compared to traditional rye whiskeys, it has a soothing and fruity flavor profile from the applewood staves alongside oak. 

It has a vitalizing aroma of apple blossom and applewood smoke, perfect for citrus juice, frothy egg white, and simple syrup sour mixed drinks.

3. The Glenlivet Scotch Whisky 

The Glenlivet Scotch Whisky bottle on a marble counter table

ABV: 40% ABV 

Average Price: Around $51.43 for 750ml

Why We Like It: The Glenlivet is a single malt scotch whisky aged 12 years and double oak. It is first matured in traditional oak, then American oak cask. It’s a classic single malt that won’t break your wallet. 

The Glenlivet 12-Year-Old has fruity and summer-like aromas that will hook whiskey lovers. Its well-balanced taste of fruits, vanilla, and strong pineapple notes is an excellent mixture with Whiskey Sours.

2. Buchanan’s Scotch Whisky

Buchanan’s Scotch Whisky bottle with pineapple and jigger on the table

ABV: 40% ABV 

Average Price: Around $39.99 for 750ml

Why We Like It: Buchanan’s 12-Year Scotch whisky is a blended scotch whisky aged at least 12 years.

This award-winning scotch whisky is rounded and gentle but quite flavorful. It has the taste of vanilla, apricot other fruit flavors upfront.

Buchanan’s 12-Year Scotch whisky has a long, lightly sweet finish with a touch of medicinal notes. Its distinctive quality will complement the Whiskey Sour variations.

1. Harlem Standard American Whiskey

ABV: 45% ABV 

Average Price: Around $48.99 for 750ml

Why We Like It: Harlem Standard Straight American Whiskey is a higher-proof mixture of light whiskey and rye bourbon.

This American whiskey has a full body, and floral aromas lead to a smooth sweetness of fudge and fine oak. 

It has notes of fruits and a hint of vanilla cream, ideal for Whiskey Sours having a slow and sweet burn from the whiskey

History of Whiskey Sour 

The first written proof of the Whiskey Sour appeared in 1862 from The Bartenders Guide by Jerry Thomas. [3] However, ’Sour’ had existed for many years before the publication.  

It started in the middle of the sea when sailors had long trips for months. Traveling by sea was hard in the 1800s, particularly finding clean water and having scurvy.

Given the common disease sailors might get, they began to search for a way they had on the ship.

The sailors mixed their whiskey or rum with lemon or lime juice to get their vitamin C. Their sour drink would not only quench thirst but was life-saving in their long sea journey.

Related Post: Recommended Honey Whiskey Brands

The Secret to Making the Best Whiskey Sour

Proper Acidity

Everyone’s taste preference is different, but the proper acidity will create a perfect version of Whiskey Sour. Acidity plays an essential role in cocktails like Whiskey Sour. 

You don’t want to overpower the tangy lemon juice, or the lack of citrus will taste sugary sweet. So, the proper acidity is the key to balancing the sourness of a Whiskey Sour.

Whip It Good

Putting an egg white to your Whiskey Sour is optional. But those who put whipped egg whites find it creamier.

A frothy egg white gives the drink a rich, creamy texture. Also, whipped egg whites are flavorless, which might lessen the tartness of the citrus. 

Moreover, a perfectly whipped egg white makes a fancy smooth foam that adds to the presentation of your Whiskey Sour.

High-Quality Whiskey

A high-quality whiskey can give the full flavor of smokiness or the peppery bite you’re looking for in a drink. There are many high-quality whiskey options, such as rye whiskey, blended, and scotch. 

But remember, the quality of the whiskey you choose will significantly change the flavor profile of Whiskey Sours.

Right Sweetness 

The right sweetness will make a perfect Whiskey Sour, along with balanced acidity. Simple syrup (or maple syrup) is usually added because it dissolves faster than sugar.

However, sugars taste better, so it might depend on what you want to work on. 

Some whiskeys have a naturally sweet taste, and too much sweetness might ruin the cocktail. So, the right amount of sweetness might vary depending on the whiskey you use. 

Best Whiskey Sour Recipe 

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Total Time: 3 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 2oz whiskey
  • ¾ oz fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 1pc egg white (optional)
  • Dash of Angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry (or lemon peel), for garnish

Instructions:

Put the whiskey, lemon juice, egg white, maple, or simple syrup in a cocktail shaker and shake for 30 seconds without the ice.

Add ice into the shaker and shake again. Strain the mixed drink into rocks or cocktail glass.

Garnish with a dash of Angostura bitters and top with Maraschino cherry or lemon peel.

Serving: 1

FAQs 

What kind of whiskey is best for Whiskey Sour?

Whiskey Sours are often made with bourbon whiskey for a sweeter sour. But, you can use other types of whiskey to create different flavors of whiskey sours, from whiskey-sweet to spicy and spicy to smoky.

Can you make Whiskey Sour with Scotch whisky?

Yes, you can use scotch whisky in making Whiskey Sour and turn it into a Scotch Sour cocktail. However, in making this cocktail, you might skip the sweeteners.

The citrusy of lemon, frothy egg white, and the sweetness of scotch alone make Scotch Sours.

Conclusion 

Selecting the right whiskey for your Whiskey Sours will vary on your taste buds. Bourbon is the usual liquor base for Whiskey Sour. But scotch and rye whiskies could make a distinctive twist on your Whiskey Sour.

Scotch or peated whisky adds smokiness to the cocktail, while you’ll get a spicier sour with rye whiskeys. 

Adding egg whites is at your discretion, but it will certainly add a creamy texture to your cocktail. But no matter what you prefer in making your Whiskey Sour, a little adjustment will go a long way.

References:

  1. https://www.foodandwine.com/cocktails-spirits/what-does-bottled-in-bond-mean 
  2. https://www.seriouseats.com/what-is-single-malt-scotch-what-is-blended-whisky 
  3. https://cocktails.fandom.com/wiki/Jerry_Thomas%27_Bartender%27s_Guide

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