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What’s The Best Whiskey To Drink Straight? 17 Expert Picks for 2024

What Is The Best Whiskey To Drink Straight

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Drinking whiskey straight reveals a lot about your drinking experience because it allows you to appreciate the true flavor profile of the whiskey.

Some whiskeys are meant to be enjoyed in cocktails and poured over ice, while there are show-stopping bottles when consumed straight.

Let’s get to know what is the best whiskey to drink straight up. Keep reading.

Top 17 Sipping Whiskeys To Drink Straight

1. Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Buffalo Trace on desk

Average Price: Roughly $32.99 (Caskers)

Alcohol Content: 45%

Why We Like It:

Aged for almost a decade in new oak barrels at a Kentucky Distillery, Buffalo Trace bourbon shows off a delectable mix of flavors like butterscotch, caramel, and cinnamon. 

You can’t go wrong with this delicious sipping whiskey with its smooth finish. Aside from drinking it neat, you can consume it on the rocks or even in an Old-Fashioned.

“We deliver a variety of flavors to appeal to our customers’ range of tastes. We believe in not only a variety of tastes but a variety of ages ranging from three to twenty-three years”

– Harley Wheatley, Master Distiller of Buffalo Trace Distillery

Read: Why Buffalo Trace is Hard to Find

2. Colonel E.H. Taylor Straight Rye

Colonel E.H. Taylor Straight Rye on desk

Average Price: Roughly $309.99 (Caskers)

Alcohol Content: 50%

Why We Like It:

Aside from rye, this whiskey also contains malted barley. The aroma is full of dried fruits and black pepper with a touch of fresh dill.

With just a small sip, you can get an array of flavors, mainly sweet and savory. 

It has a terrific balance of dark spices with subtle caramel overtones. You’ll love its pleasing finish with an oaky dryness that stays long enough, full of smoothness. 

3. Westland Peated Whiskey

Westland on table with box and glass

Average Price: Roughly $59.99 (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 46%

Why We Like It:

Matured for three years in oak casks, you’ll get some smoky flavors with hints of coffee. And the finish brings up unique chocolatey notes.

Made from peated malts and other kinds of malts, the smoke coming from it makes this drink special. 

You can get the aroma of nuts, blood-orange peel, and roasted plantains. Also, the palate features roasted pistachios and herbs.

Read: Recommended Whiskeys On the Rocks

4. Johnnie Walker Blue Label

Johnnie Walker Blue Label on desk with box

Average Price: Roughly $185.99 (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 40%

Why We Like It:

This smooth, exquisitely blended Scotch whisky is made from the rarest and most exceptional whiskies. You can get velvety-breaking waves of powerful flavor.

One of the hidden secrets of this good sipping whiskey is the blend of dark chocolate, hazelnut, kumquats, sandalwood, and sherry, accompanied by hints of pepper and dried tropical fruits. 

The finish is long, lingering, and smooth with a perfectly balanced soft smoke, making it one of our favorites and best Scotch today.

Check out different Johnnie Walker colors here.  

5. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof on table with glass

Average Price: Roughly $70 (Flaviar)

Alcohol Content: 60.5%

Why We Like It:

Sipping Barrel Proof means experiencing bourbon in its purest form. This mouth-filling, deeply satisfying bottle of whiskey is incredibly smooth with an exceptional fruity palate.  

Featuring the taste of cinnamon spice, it will surely delight many drinkers. The finish is nicely layered, showcasing all flavors – fading slowly and then lingers as it cools. 

6. Forty Creek Barrel Select 

Forty Creek on desk with sour mash cocktail

Average Price: Roughly $27.99 (Caskers)

Alcohol Content: 40%

Why We Like It:

This Canadian whisky is aged from ex-bourbon barrels and new American white oak, creating a unique and full flavor profile.

Its robust and complex flavor stands with vanilla, honey, and cocoa hints. It completes a smooth, lingering, and memorable finish. 

This neat whisky is also best served over ice or mixed with cocktails with its smokey flavors.  

7. High West Campfire Whiskey

High West on table with glass

Average Price: Roughly $69.99 (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 46

Why We Like It:

This non-chilled filtered whiskey is a Scotch, bourbon, and rye whiskey blend. The inside is lots of pepper and smoky aroma, with a high proof of 92.

Moreso, the nose has floral and fruity notes with hints of light smoke and smoldering wood. 

The taste of vanilla, honey, and chai spices, among others, allows you to sip it straight. It also puts a unique taste twist on classic cocktails. 

8. Compass Great King Street Artist’s Blend

Compass Great King on desk with box

Average Price: Roughly $39.99 (Caskers)

Alcohol Content: 43%

Why We Like It:

This Scotch whisky is a blend containing a higher ratio of single malt to grain. So, whiskey drinkers like you can enjoy its well-rounded complexity, making it a straight drink. 

It has undertones that feature a fruity dessert, where vanilla flavors, spices, and baked apple creates a beautiful, indulgent emulsion.

This is one of the smoothest yet more affordable whiskeys you can find today. But what’s the best liquor you can drink straight?

9. Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Bourbon

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve on table with cocktail

Average Price: Roughly $51.99 (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 75.5%

Why We Like It:

This straight drinking whiskey brings a rich and warm collection of an array of flavors.

As a single barrel bourbon, it showcases a higher proof (60% alcohol content), so add a few drops of water to it. 

If you don’t want to cut the heat of the alcohol, you may feel delighted as you drink Knob Creek straight through.

Its slightly smoky, robust aroma showcases vanilla and caramel notes with a long and full finish.  

10. Laphroaig Quarter Cask

Laphroaig Quarter Cask on desk with cocktail

Average Price: Roughly $58.99 (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 48%

Why We Like It:

This excellent bottle is aged twice in Bourbon barrels and quarter casks.

You can expect a deep, complex Scotch whisky with hints of smoky peat and mild sweetness. The aroma has hints of coconut and banana. 

Then, the finish is really long and dries appropriately with spice and smoke. You can drink this Scotch neat or pour it with ice. 

11. Redbreast 12 Years

Redbreast 12 Years on table with sour cocktail

Average Price: Roughly $51.99 (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 40%

Why We Like It:

This Irish whiskey is a single pot still triple-distilled drink from the Midleton Distillery in Ireland.

The undertones of sherry with blends, including differently aged whiskeys from American Bourbon barrels to Spanish oloroso sherry casks. 

The more this Irish whiskey matures, the more sherry flavors come through.

Due to light hints of nutmeg and cinnamon, this Irish whiskey is smooth and very easy to sip, making it a good whiskey for drinking straight.

12. Rittenhouse Straight Rye

Rittenhouse on desk with sidecar cocktail

Average Price: Roughly $23.99 (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 50%

Why We Like It:

This straight drinking whiskey brings the spiciness you expect from a 100-proof whiskey.

What’s more interesting is that Rittenhouse is an affordable whisky, but it doesn’t mean it’s inferior in any way. 

It carries a distinct, spicy flavor with light plummy notes. You can enjoy it over ice, but it’s best to serve neat.

13. Bulleit Bourbon 10 Years Old

Bulleit Bourbon 10 Years Old on desk

Average Price: Roughly $39.99 (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 45.6%

Why We Like It:

Bulleit Bourbon charred American white oak barrels were set aside to mature for ten years.

It results in a perfect whiskey, creating a deep, rich, and smooth sipping experience. 

Deep russet in color with rich, oaky aromas, its long, soft, and smoky finish come with hints of vanilla and dried fruit.

It is an excellent straight whiskey made with corn, rye, and malted barley.

14. Woodford Reserve Bourbon

Woodford Reserve Bourbon on desk with glass

Average Price: Roughly $52.99 (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 45.2%

Why We Like It:

This Kentucky bourbon is triple-distilled and matured in two varying barrels. We recommend Woodford Reserve when you start drinking whiskey.

It gives a strong, delicious bourbon that will surely appeal to any whiskey enthusiast. 

Its unique aging process creates the best bourbon in Woodford Reserve Distillery. It blends 200 savory flavor notes from bold grain to sweet spices and floral notes. 

15. Yamazaki 12-Year-Old Whisky

Yamazaki 12-Year-Old on table with box and glass

Average Price: Roughly $210.99 (Caskers)

Alcohol Content: 43%

Why We Like It:

This single malt Japanese whisky brings exotic flavors to the glass, which is perfect for those palates looking for something more distinct.

You can get the flavors of ginger, coconut, and pineapple as you sip through this whisky. 

Known as the nation’s premier single malt whisky, Yamazaki 12 Year boosts complex aromas, making it a superior drink straight whiskey.

Aside from its rich flavors, it has a long finish with spicy notes of cinnamon and ginger. 

16. Balvenie DoubleWood 12 YO

Balvenie DoubleWood 12 YO

Average Price: Roughly $54.99 (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 43%

Why We Like It:

Balvenie DoubleWood is aged for at least 12 years on traditional casks, then in ex-Olorso sherry casks because aging in casks helps develop its rich flavor profile [1].

The single malt whisky is best enjoyed neat because of its distinctive character from two different wood types.

As we opened the bottle, the layers of honey, vanilla, sweet fruit, and sherry notes greeted us.

Balvenie DoubleWood has an excellent combination of nutty sweetness, sherry, and cinnamon spiciness on the palate, along with a lingering finish.

17. Jameson Black Barrel

Jameson Black Barrel Bottle with glass and  a Cigarette

Average Price: Roughly $36.99 (Total Wine)

Alcohol Content: 40%

Why We Like It:

Jameson Black Barrel is a crowd-favorite for its price point and tasting notes. It has more single-pot whiskey blended with grain whiskey than the original Jameson.

The double charring gives Jameson Black Barrel complexity and untold richness, making the Irish whiskey enjoyable to drink neat.

Aside from the intense aroma of creamy toffee, fudge, and butterscotch, the Black Barrel boasts smooth sweetness, vanilla, caramel, and baking spice.

Related Posts:

What’s A Sipping Whiskey? 

Sipping whiskey is a drink enjoyed by many for its smoothness and mellow finish on the palate and throat [2].

In fact, not only bourbons are the best sipping whiskeys, like most of us know–  there are Scotch and rye, too. Check out the best whiskeys in the world here

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What’s the best whiskey to drink for beginners?

The best whiskey to drink for beginners is the Buffalo Trace bourbon.

It is a sipping whiskey with enough smoothness on both palate and the finish.

This whiskey is smooth, well-balanced, and easy to drink with sweetness, perfect for beginners not accustomed to strong tastes. 

What is the best whiskey type to drink straight?

One of the best whiskeys to drink straight is the Redbreast 12 Years. It is matured in sherry casks and made from unmalted barley.

It also boosts the flavor complexity with a silky smooth and balanced taste of spicy, fruity, sherry, and toasted barley. 

How do you drink whiskey straight?

To drink whiskey straight, choose your glass and pour the whiskey first. Then, inhale the scent; take a moment to enjoy its aroma.

Take a sip and allow the liquor to flow over your tongue before letting it slip smoothly down your throat.

Go slowly, and don’t add too much water (optional).[3]

Is it okay to drink whiskey by itself?

Yes, it is okay to drink whiskey by itself.

It allows you to taste the pure flavor profile of the whiskey and is the simplest way to consume the spirit.

Does straight whiskey give you a hangover?

Yes, straight whiskey will give you a hangover because it contains alcohol and congeners.

Congeners irritate the brain’s tissues, giving you a worse hangover despite the limited quantities [4]. 

What is the best affordable whiskey to drink straight?

Forty Creek Barrel Select is the best affordable whiskey to drink straight.

This Canadian whisky has a full flavor profile and complex flavors you can enjoy without breaking the bank.

Is Glenfiddich a good whisky?

Yes, Glenfiddich is widely regarded as a good whisky. It is a well-established single malt Scotch whisky brand with a history dating back to 1887. Glenfiddich is known for its quality craftsmanship and a range of expressions that cater to various palates.

It has received numerous awards for its single malts, and its consistent popularity among whisky enthusiasts attests to its reputation as a good and reliable choice in the world of Scotch whisky.

Which whiskey has no smell?

All whiskies, including bourbon, Scotch, and others, have distinct aromas influenced by the ingredients used, the distillation process, and the aging conditions. Claiming a whiskey has “no smell” would be inaccurate, as the aroma is an integral part of the tasting experience.

However, individual perceptions of smell can vary, and some whiskies may have more subtle or mild aromas compared to others. Factors such as the type of grain, distillation method, and aging process contribute to the unique fragrance of each whiskey.

Is Jack Daniels a real whiskey?

Yes, Jack Daniel’s is a real whiskey. It is a well-known brand of Tennessee whiskey produced by the Jack Daniel Distillery. Tennessee whiskey, including Jack Daniel’s, undergoes a unique filtration process known as the Lincoln County Process, where the whiskey is filtered through sugar maple charcoal before aging.

This process imparts a distinctive character to the whiskey, and Jack Daniel’s is recognized as one of the most iconic and widely consumed whiskey brands globally.

Which whisky has a good taste?

The perception of a “good taste” in whisky is highly subjective and varies among individuals. Different whiskies appeal to different palates, and preferences can range from smoky and peaty Scotch whiskies to sweeter and more approachable bourbons.

Popular brands such as Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Macallan, Maker’s Mark, and Woodford Reserve are often praised for their balanced and enjoyable taste profiles.

Exploring different styles and expressions is the best way to find a whisky that aligns with personal taste preferences.

What is the #1 ranked whiskey?

The title of the #1 ranked whiskey can vary depending on the source and the criteria used for ranking. Whisky awards and rankings are often subjective and can change from year to year.

Some well-regarded whisky competitions include the World Whiskies Awards, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. It’s recommended to explore recent reviews and rankings from reputable sources to identify current top-performing whiskies.

As of my last update in January 2022, specific rankings may have changed.

So, What Is The Best Whiskey To Drink Straight

The best whiskeys to drink straight should have ultimate smoothness and no complex aftertaste.  

However, there should not be an estimation for taste when it comes to whiskeys.

Colonel E.H. Taylor Straight Rye, Johnnie Walker Blue Label, and Yamazaki 12-Year-Old Whisky are some expensive yet great bottles to try neat.

But if you want the best whiskey to drink straight, you can never go wrong with the Buffalo Trace bourbon in both tasting notes and price point.

It is a versatile distilled spirit that shows off fantastic tasting notes that you can enjoy with mixers, ice, or on its own.


  1. The Effects of Aging on Liquor
  2. What Defines a Sipping Spirit? Experts Weigh In
  3. How To Drink Whiskey
  4. The role of beverage congeners in hangover and other residual effects of alcohol intoxication: a review
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