Last Updated on June 15, 2022 by Lydia Martin
Scotch may be the top producer of whisky globally, but it is not the only one. There are also English whisky brands that started to emerge in the last few years, such as London Distillery Company. It is the first whisky distillery in London for a long time, producing English and rye whisky.
This article listed other producers of English whiskies, from single malts to single grains, reviewed independently by our group of experts.
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Top 11 English Whisky Brands (Must-Try)
The brand had already been making beer since the 14th century. But in 2013, their Copper House Gin won the “World’s Best Gin” at the International Wine & Spirits Competition, leading the company to turn to whisky-making.
Adnams Distillery proudly entered the whisky market in 2014 with the release of Single Malt Whisky. All the barley used in production came from East Anglian. Its makers also added spirits that went through aging using American oak casks for more complexity.
It has a lovely aromatic sweetness of fruit, vanilla, and white sugar. But the palate has more depth with flavors of apples, berries, kiwis, cherries, and cinnamon spice.
In 2015, Anno Distillery collaborated with Westerham Brewery to craft the first whisky in Kent County. Westerham Brewery is in charge of the fermentation, while the Anno Distillery in Marden is for the distillation process.
The blend rested in medium-charred bourbon casks for the next few years until the distillery released the spirit during World Whisky Day in 2019. It was a limited-edition release of only around 500 bottles making it more expensive than other brands.
It has a pale appearance, a lovely sweet caramel taste, and a long spicy finish.
Dan Szor established the Cotswolds Distillery in 2014, the same year that they also started distilling their Cotswolds Single Malt using locally grown barley. The Cotswolds Distillery eventually launched the region’s first whisky in 2017 after aging it in previously filled American oak casks.
Each bottle of Cotswolds Single Malt exudes a soft and fruity aroma with subtle spicy cereal notes. You can taste the beautiful texture and softness from the first sip that builds up to sweet citrus fruit, dark sugar, and baking spices flavors.
4. Filey Bay
Filey Bay is a brand under the Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery released in 2016 in a 700ml bottle containing 46% ABV. The company’s distillers sought the advice of the industry legend, Dr. Jim Swan, to help them craft Yorkshire’s first single malt.
The production combined column and pot still whiskies aged in Sherry and bourbon barrels. The casks impart a more flavorful profile to the whisky.
It has a tropical fruit smell with a touch of blackberry, fresh malt, and orange zest. The palate is creamy with a rich vanilla taste and a light brown sugar note, but the shot ends with baking spices and an oaky aftertaste.
5. Forest Whisky
Although most famously known for creating Forest Gin, this Macclesfield-based Forest Distillery also offers one of the best English whiskies in the industry. The distillers blended 100% malt whiskies aged at least eight years old and then finished the spirit using a 50-year-old Oloroso Sherry cask.
It comes in black English porcelain bottles glazed with actual gold, making it an interesting addition to your liquor cabinet.
Once you open the bottle, a gentle and dominating sweet smell of chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and buttercream will greet you. It has a delightful palate with oak, candied orange, toffee, and chocolate flavors counterbalanced by baking spices and black pepper.
Inspired by his fictional namesake, Samuel Gulliver explored various places in pursuit of bringing home the finest spirits and wines. He eventually ended up establishing his whisky company in 1747.
Gulliver’s 47 is a Single Malt Whisky produced eight generations later by Stuart Gulliver, Samuel’s descendant. It is distilled by The English Whisky Company in Norfolk and matured using bourbon barrels from the Jim Beam Distillery.
The nose is punchy with toasty oak, cinnamon loaf, and vanilla sponge aroma clouded with the smell of peat smoke. It introduces fruit and floral taste to the mouth and ends with a little butter and burnt toast flavors.
7. The Oxford Artisan Distillery
In July 2017, Tom Nicolson established The Oxford Artisan Distillery, most commonly referred to as TOAD, located at Oxford’s South Park. The distillery commits to crafting distinctive bottles of grain-to-glass spirits by designing and building their stills inspired by a rum distillery.
The distillery also uses an ancient variety of heritage rye, barley, and wheat, sustainably grown within the 50-mile radius of the TOAD area. It offers a 500ml bottle of Oxford Artisan 3-Year with 50% ABV for their single grain whisky.
The whisky has a familiar pepper spice aroma and a taste of sourdough bread, butter, and herbal notes.
8. Sacred Peated English Whisky
This whisky is a London-based Sacred Spirits Distillery product, established in 2008 by Ian Hart. He has complete control over every production step of this product, and he also decided to use vacuum distillation instead of the usual pot still methods.
This award-winning Peated English Whisky contains 48% ABV and has a rich presence of nutty flavors. Its satisfying, thick, and vicious profile results from aging the whisky in used bourbon barrels and finishing it in sherry casks.
The name suggests a well-balanced smokiness with an intense chocolate taste and sherried sweetness on the palate.
9. The English Whisky Co.
It is England’s first registered whisky distillery in over a century . The company began distilling in 2006 at the St. George’s Distillery, located in Norfolk and founded by James Nelstrop.
And in December 2009, The English Whisky Company started releasing impressive whiskies sourcing locally grown barley and other ingredients from within England. Their Triple Distilled Whisky, bottled at 46% ABV, is a category winner at the World Whiskies Awards and even gets recognition from Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.
It is a light and smooth expression with aromatic notes of condensed milk and anise. The palate has balanced flavors of butterscotch, bitter dark chocolate, and vanilla custard.
10. The Lakes Distillery
Just over the border from Scotland, the Lakes Distillery has its base on a farm next to the Lake District, Cumbria. Aside from their Whiskymaker’s Reserve, the Lakes Distillery also produced the Steel Bonnets. It is an innovative liquor and the world’s first combination of Scotch malt and English single malt whisky .
It is a tasty and creamy spirit that the World Whiskies Awards recognized in 2019 as the “Best English Blended Malt (No Age Statement).” The whisky has a full-bodied flavor with notes of ginger, nutmeg, and vanilla wrapped in a sweet, comforting woodsmoke.
11. The Norfolk Nog
This single grain whisky is another interesting offer from The English Whisky Company. In addition to releasing single malts, the company also distilled grain liqueurs and whiskies under the “Norfolk” brand at the St. George’s Distillery.
The Norfolk Nog is a blend of the company’s award-winning English Single Malt and cream, resulting in a delicious and light creamy note. You can also taste the chocolate and coffee notes that build into citrusy and subtle herbal flavors after sitting the liquid in your mouth for a while.
What’s An English Whisky?
English whisky is a liquor made in England using fermented grain mash. The history of whisky production in England is not as extensive as in Ireland or Scotland. But there are records of distilleries in the country from as early as the 1700s.
However, the financially favorable Scotch production led many distilleries to move their businesses to Scotland. And at the early years of the 20th century, Lea Valley Distillery closed, marking the country’s century-long slumber in the whisky business.
In the past decade, the opening of East London Liquor Company, headed by Tom Hills, and London Distillery Company started to revive whisky production in England’s capital.
Is There A Requirement To Be Called An English Whisky?
No, there are no requirements to be called an English whisky. Contrary to Scotch Whisky regulations, English whisky distilleries have more freedom to craft their spirits. They can use any type of cereal like oats, barley, wheat, and rye, then age the blend in other wood casks aside from oak.
Despite that, the companies must meet the definitions listed in the EU Regulation of 2008, such as having a minimum bottling alcohol content of 40% ABV. There is also a pending application for Geographical Indication to protect English whisky products from cheap imports imitating the spirit.
Is whiskey popular in England?
Yes, whiskey is popular in England. It is among the top whiskey consumers worldwide, along with Japan, India, France, and the United States .
Is English whisky the same as Scotch whisky?
No, English whisky is not the same as Scotch. Both spirits followed almost the same regulations, but one major difference is that Scotch must only use oak casks during its aging process.
England offers the best English whiskies despite resting for more than a century in making the spirit. The popularity of their neighboring distillers, such as Irish Whiskey and Scotch, made the English people heavily rely on imports rather than distilling locally.
However, in recent years, the whisky industry in England started to reawaken with new distilleries opening in different parts of the country. The list includes the Lakes Distillery located in Lake District, Cumbria; the East London Liquor Company in Bow Wharf; the Cotswolds Distillery; and the London Distillery Company.
Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.