30 Top Whiskey Brands In 2021: Origins & Tasting Notes

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Whiskey is a top choice for many when it comes to alcoholic beverages. Unlike other liquors, it offers a wide variety of flavors and aromatic notes. This blog post will look at some of the top whiskey brands that are worth knowing!

Our Top Picks

A bottle of High West Campfire Whiskey
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Most Distinct Flavor - High West Campfire Whiskey

• Aged 4 to 8 years
• Perfect for Old Fashioned

Smoothest - George Dickel Barrel Select Whiskey

• Charcoal mellowing
• Vanilla and spice tasting notes

A bottle of Elijah Craig

Most Unique - Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey

• Stored in sugar barrels
• Notes of baking spices and chocolate

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1. Speyburn Bradan Orach Single Malt Scotch Whisky

A bottle of Speyburn Bradan Orach - Image by https://www.speyburn.com/

ABV: 40%
Tasting Notes: Green apples, honey, lemon, vanilla

In Gaelic, the term in Speyburn Bradan Orach means Golden salmon. One of the best whiskey brands, this product is incredibly complex with a lot of depth at its low budget price. 

It is not listed by age which suggests that it is reasonably young compared to the other items. Those who are looking to make the most of whiskey without investing at all will appreciate this. 

This whiskey is easy to drink and has a far more complex value to its price range, especially in its light and mild offering.

2. Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky

 A bottle of Balvenie

ABV: 40%
Tasting Notes: Black pepper, raspberries, cinnamon, and milk chocolate

Balvenie is known for being soft and especially pleasant with a cigar. It is an after-dinner classical malt with a richness and complexity from its second distillation in sherry casks. 

It has produced top-end Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey since 1962 and has built up a reputation as a distillery over the years. Make an old-fashioned cocktail with the addition of marmalade and the flavors of orange peel for a perfect afternoon drink.

3. Johnnie Walker Blended Whisky

A bottle of Johnnie Walker
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ABV: 40%
Tasting Notes: Hazelnut toasted, oak sandalwood, tobacco, orange zest

Johnnie Walker is the original blended best scotch whisky. It was created by grocer John Walker in his Scottish hometown of Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire. Since then, it has become one of the most popular brands worldwide. 

In 2016 alone, their annual sales reached an estimated 223 million 700 ml bottles (156 million liters).

4. Glenfiddich Scotch Whisky

A bottle of Glenfiddich

ABV: $40
Tasting Notes: Spirity, orchard fruit, malty, honey

Glenfiddich, a single malt Scotch whisky produced by William Grant & Sons in the Scottish burgh of Dufftown in Moray, is world-renowned for its quality. It has been awarded more times than any other single malt scotch whiskey at International Spirits Challenge. It is also one of World Whisky’s Top 10 Best Sellers!  

The meaning of Glenfiddich comes from Scottish Gaelic, "Valley of the Deer," which is why they have a stag logo on their bottles.

5. Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch Whisky

A bottle of Glenmorangie

ABV: 40%
Tasting Notes: Oak spice, fruit, cinnamon

Glenmorangie is a traditional whisky that's been distilled in the Scottish Highlands for over 150 years. Glenmorangie distillery, founded in 1843 and known as one of Europe's most modern malt houses, has earned its reputation by combining tradition with innovation to create an innovative spirit like no other.

6. Pike Creek Canadian Whisky

Pike Creek Canadian Whisky

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ABV: 42%
Tasting Notes: Brown sugar and molasses

Pike Creek whiskey is aged in barrels that have not been in controlled climates. This means the whiskey is exposed to Canada's dramatic temperature fluctuations and increases the interactions between wood and alcohol.

Entrepreneur John Corby purchased a gristmill in 1855. And in 1859, he opened his first whisky distillery, which continued to grow ever since releasing Pike Creek Whisky on Christmas 2012.

7. Redbreast Single Pot Irish Whiskey

A bottle of Redbreast

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ABV: 40%
Tasting Notes: Spicy, creamy, fruity, sherry, and toasted

Redbreast is a single-pot still Irish whiskey that is made by the centuries-old Dublin spirits merchant Gilbey’s. 

The company acquired Redbreast in 1980 and moved production to their Bow Street Distillery. This is also the place where the Jameson whiskey was also being produced. The whiskey’s 100% pot has been an exclusive blend of both malt and grain whiskies that have matured for at least 12 years before bottling!

8. Highland Park Single Malt Scotch Whisky

A bottle of Highland Park - Image by https://drizly.com/

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ABV: 43%
Tasting Notes: Biscuit, caramel, chocolate, citrus, dried fruit, honey, malty, rich, round, smoky, smooth

Highland Park 12-Year-Old is one of the most celebrated whiskies in Scotland, with its legendary Orcadian peat balanced by maturation in sherry-seasoned oak casks. 

The whisky showcases a vibrant range of aromas and flavors that can satisfy any palate: creme brulee, fresh tangerine, charred peach, and smoked kindling. 

It has been regularly honored as an award-winning spirit at liquor competitions because of its uncompromised quality. This whiskey makes the perfect toast on any occasion - whether you're celebrating or commiserating!

9. Buchanan's Master Blended Scotch Whisky

A bottle of Buchanan’s
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ABV: 40%
Tasting Notes: Sweet with orange, mandarin, dried fruits, nuts, oak, cereals

The Double Gold Medal-winning Buchanan's Master Blended Scotch Whisky is made from a carefully selected blend of the finest whiskies from Scotland. Produced by imported malts, this drink will celebrate any occasion with its rich character and full finish. 

This 80 proof whisky stands out among other blended Scotches in worldwide competitions, including the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, where it won Double Gold!

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10. Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch Whisky

A bottle of Glenlivet
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ABV: 40%
Tasting Notes: Pineapple, pear, toasted cereal, and honey

The Glenlivet distillery is a Scottish institution featuring one of the oldest legal distilleries in Scotland and producing some highly well-liked single malt Scotch whiskey. 

Established during the 1820s on a site that has been host to production since medieval times, it survived both world wars unscathed. Still, it was forced into closure for four years by an international embargo against Anglo-American trade, which took effect after World War II.

11. Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey

A bottle of Teeling

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ABV: 46%
Tasting Notes: Smooth, sweet, woody

Teeling's Irish whiskey is here to challenge the convention of what an "Irish Whiskey" can be. The brand consists of hand-selected casks that are given a much longer maturation process in ex-rum barrels, which imparts a smoother character and unique flavor profile on the liquid. 

Small batch whiskeys are bottled at 46% with no chill filtration. This liquor’s unique taste and expression are influenced by the high alcohol percentage used in the production and fermentation.  

12. Bunnahabhain Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

A bottle Bunnahabhain

ABV: 46.3%
Tasting Notes: Malt chestnut, stewed raisins, mixed spices, leather, nutmeg, and smoke

Bunnahabhain is an Islay distiller established in 1881 and has won many awards over the years. This premium brand is known for its stylish flavors and complex yet subtle notes that match almost any meal and food. 

Despite the liquor’s strong tasting notes, people who enjoy an even sweeter profile can likely take advantage of Bunnahabhain’s whiskey that has been aged for 25 years. What makes this alcohol even better is that the lingering finish will stay long beyond the last gulp of the bottle.

13. High West Campfire Whiskey

A bottle of High West Campfire Whiskey
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ABV: 46%
Tasting Notes: Vanilla, toffee, cinnamon, and nutmeg

High West Campfire Barrel Aged Whiskey is not your average whiskey. Made from a top-secret blend of bourbon, rye, and peated Scotch whiskies ranging in age between four to eight years old, this bottle is aged in white oak barrels along with second-use bourbon barrels for the perfect finish.

And if you're feeling adventurous, then try it straight up, or add some water before serving! You can also make classic cocktails with High West like an Old Fashioned or Manhattan by adding liqueurs such as maraschino cherry juice, Cognac brandy, and bitters. Now that's a helluva drink!

14. Four Roses Bourbon Whiskey

 A bottle of Four Roses
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ABV: 40%
Tasting Notes: Pear and apple

Four Roses is a Kentucky-born and bred bourbon whiskey, with the distillery dating back to 1910. The building where the liquor is fermented and bottled was constructed in Spanish Mission-style architecture preserved for future generations on the National Register of Historic Places.

15. Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky

A bottle of Suntory Toki Whisky

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ABV: 43%
Tasting Notes: Orchard fruits and thyme honey

Recent Japanese whisky booms have struck North Americans, and Suntory Toki started gaining traction with the mainstream. This whiskey combines the white oak case malt of Hakushu Chita whisky and Yamazaki’s white oak cask malt.

Suntory Toki has a light flavor with fruit honey and citrus notes, making it ideal for cocktails. Every bottle is prepared from various periods, thus giving the liquor a name that means “Time” in Japanese.

16. Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch Whisky

ABV: 43%
Tasting Notes: Smoke, decay, salt, charcoal, leather

Laphroaig is a Scottish single malt whiskey named after the land area at the head of Loch Laphroaig on Islay. It has been awarded as Prince Charles' favorite Scotch by him during his visit to this "Duchy" in 1994. The 15-year-old age statement was also one he liked best, so it became his go-to bottle for any occasion.

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17. Hakushu Japanese Whisky

A bottle of Hakushu

ABV: 43%
Tasting Notes: Toasted barley and almonds

Straight from the untouched forests, soft and crisp waters, and mountains of the Southern Japanese Alps, it is no wonder that Hakushu is a "green" whisky. 

Created by Keizo Saji's dream for a new type of whisky made in distinct taste, this unique flavor has been preserved for over 100 years through master blenders like him who have strived to keep its purity intact.

18. Lot No. 40 Canadian Whisky

Lot No. 40 Canadian Whisky
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ABV: 43%
Tasting Notes: Earthy, woody, vanilla, and oak

In 1858, the Booth family set up a still in Canada and distilled rye. Michael Booth now has recreated this recipe for his Canadian whisky: Lot No 40. 

The name comes from the land where they made their first batch of whiskey over 150 years ago. It is no wonder that he pays homage to tradition with a traditional recipe passed down seven generations ago!

19. Old Forester Rye Whiskey

A bottle of Old Forester Rye Whiskey

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ABV: 50%
Tasting Notes: Sweet and bitter with caramel, vanilla, bread, oak, and a shred of orange

Old Forester Rye comprises 65% rye, 20% malted barley, and 15% corn. The high percentage of barley allows for a natural fermentation process that avoids artificial enzymes found in many other ryes. In comparison, the generous dose of malt yields an interesting floral character that balances out the sharp spiciness characteristic of this type of grain. 

Old Forester makes its proprietary yeast strain known to the consumers and every single barrel and bottle before it's bottled, so you know exactly what goes into your drink!

20. George Dickel Barrel Select Whiskey

A bottle of George Dickel Barrel Select Whiskey

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ABV: 43%
Tasting Notes: Vanilla, spice, and charcoal

With only 10 barrels produced and hand-selected by Master Distiller John Lunn, this small-batch whiskey is a treat for the most discerning palates. The unique aging process and charcoal mellowing give this whiskey a smooth finish that stands in its class with hints of vanilla, spice, and charcoals.

 

21. Oban Single Malt Scotch Whisky

A bottle of Oban Single Malt

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ABV: 43%
Tasting Notes: Citrus, pears, seaweed, ropes, and sea salt

Oban Single Malt Scotch Whisky is the most prestigious of Scotland's whiskies, crafted from one of the oldest and most legendary distilleries in what was once a sleepy port city. 

Before it became a huge whiskey production company, Oban started as a bustling seaside resort, thanks to its founders John & Hugh Stevenson setting up their brewery there back in the 1790s. Now, the name ultimately turned into today's famous Oban Distillery.

22. Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey

A bottle of Pikesville Straight Rye

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ABV: 55%
Tasting Notes: Orange peel, smoke, sea salt, and honey

Maryland's rye whiskey refuses to be forgotten. Once a booming industry, the brand was shuttered by prohibition in the 1920s. Inspired by their predecessors’ success through tough times and years of hard work, Heaven Hill resurrected Pikesville Straight Rye Whisky after Prohibition ended. 

They had been storing extra-aged barrels in prime Kentucky warehouse locations for six long years before releasing it onto an award-winning market as Maryland's last standing rye whiskey distillery since 1947.

23. Buffalo Trace Bourbon

A bottle of Buffalo Trace Bourbon

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ABV: 45%
Tasting Notes: Anise, dark fruit, mint, sweet, vanilla

The power of a buffalo is not to be underestimated. They carved paths through the wilderness that led American pioneers and explorers to new frontiers such as Kentucky's Buffalo Trace Distillery. The company makes whiskey with this same process for over 200 years. 

In tribute to their heroics and the rugged spirit of those pioneering after them, they created their signature bourbon in honor of these mighty beasts - Buffalo Trace Bourbon Whiskey.

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24. Glendronach Single Malt Scotch Whisky

A bottle of GlenDronach

ABV: 43%
Tasting Notes: Sherry, dark fruit leather, and brown sugar

The GlenDronach is the perfect way to indulge in a rich, robust Scottish beverage. The distillery has been around since 1826 and continues James Allardice's tradition of maturing their whisky for up to thirty years in Spanish sherry casks from Andalucía. 

They have mastered the art of Scotch maturation that boasts of deep color and complex flavor profiles. The unique tasting hints of this whiskey have won them recognition as one of Scotland's most esteemed breweries today!

25. Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon

A bottle of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

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ABV: 45.2%
Tasting Notes: Vanilla, dark caramel, hazelnut, apple, fruit, and spices

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked is a unique bourbon that has been matured twice. The first time it was aged is in handcrafted new white oak barrels, and the second time by using an innovative and modern approach through a different barrel.

The Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is aged in another barrel before toasting and charring it lightly just enough to create a smooth, full-bodied experience with a long finish.

26. Bowmore Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Bowmore Single Malt Scotch Whisky

ABV: 40%
Tasting Notes: Bold, zesty lemon and smoke with a touch of honey

Bowmore is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. Their No. 1 Vaults, located within a legendary old warehouse and have been maturing Scotch whisky for over 240 years, were home to some of the world’s earliest whiskies. 

They hand down traditions that were started back during those early days when Bowmore first began its journey into liquid history as pioneers among Scottish craftspeople who crafted an art form now enjoyed by people from all corners of the world.

27. Glen Moray Scotch Whisky

A bottle of Glen Moray

ABV: 40%
Tasting Notes: Oak, walnut, grist, citrus, and lemon sponge

Glen Moray distillery is a Speyside scotch whisky producer and has been around for over 100 years. Situated on the banks of the River Lossie in Elgin, it was sold in 2008 by Glenmorangie Company Ltd to La Martiniquaise after being up-and-running since 1897.

28. Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey

A bottle of Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey
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ABV: 45%
Tasting Notes: Maple, oak, and nutmeg

The Bulleit Bourbon is one of the world's best-selling whiskey brands. It was initially made in 1887 by Augustus "Gus" Bulliet, a retired sea captain turned distiller who searched for years to perfect his recipe. He then created America’s first premium bourbon experience that would be unparalleled anywhere else in the country or abroad.

His masterpiece has been called “the gold standard among Bourbons," with its signature taste derived from three grains - rye, corn, and barley malt - along with unique strains of yeast and pure Kentucky limestone-filtered water.

29. Wild Turkey Bourbon Whiskey

A bottle of Wild Turkey

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ABV: 50.5%
Tasting Notes: Peppermint spice, wood, and alcohol

Wild Turkey whiskey started hitting the markets in 1855 when Austin Nichols & Co., a wholesale grocer, set up shop in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. That company eventually took over what would become Wild Turkey Bourbon - one of the top-selling whiskey brands in America today!

30. Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey

A bottle of Elijah Craig

ABV: 47%
Tasting Notes: Baking spices and chocolate

Elijah Craig was an innovator in the world of whiskey distillation. In 1789 he became the first to age his whiskey in new charred oak barrels, which some claim is due to a fire that improved their taste or from storing them inside former sugar barrels.

Conclusion

We hope that you enjoyed this list of the top whiskey brands worldwide. If you are looking for some great-tasting whiskeys, any one of these options should do the trick! 

Did we miss anything? Which brand is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

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