What We’re Drinking: Our Favorite Whiskeys

Thirteen great bottles for your home bar

We’re big fans of whiskey in all its forms here at SAVEUR, so when we put out a call to our staffers to tell us about their favorites, we were overwhelmed with responses. Here are thirteen of our current obsessions, ranging from tried-and-true bottles we always keep on-hand to brand-new discoveries we can’t wait to add to our home bars.

Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey

I can almost taste the pure, clean Rocky Mountain snowmelt used in the proofing of Breckenridge bourbon. This high-rye content whiskey is produced in the Colorado Rockies in the highest distillery in the country, so instead of bold smoky-sweet, caramel-forward notes you’d expect from a bourbon, Breckenridge offers a silky smooth, almost vegetal taste, with a gentle tingle of a burn. It’s got a slightly bitter finish more reminiscent of an unpeated Scotch, making this surprisingly subtle, small-batch bourbon one of the best sipping whiskeys around. —Felicia Campbell
Breckenridge Bourbon, $39.99 for a 750-ml bottle at Binny’s

Pendleton Blended Canadian Whisky

A few years back, I walked into the upscale wine and liquor store around the corner from my apartment. I was looking for a go-to standard that didn’t break the bank and was as good tippled into my late morning coffee on weekends as it was in an after-work whiskey and coke—a tasty, easy-sipping whiskey without the familiar, harsh bite of Jameson or Bushmills, or the hefty price tag of Red Breast. The owner was behind the counter that day and after outlining what I had in mind, he pointed me away from the Irish selection and towards Pendleton. Retailing at around $30 for a 750-ml. bottle, I gave it a try and never looked back. I love Pendleton’s slightly sweeter, bourbon-like profile, with hints of raisins and toast and a rich flavor reminiscent of a pecan pie, with plenty of deep-caramel goodness. It’s become my own house whiskey, always on hand for a shot added to hot cider on chilly winter evenings, or when I’m making Irish coffee for Sunday brunch with friends. —Judy Haubert
Pendleton Blended Canadian Whisky, $26.99 at Drink Up NY

Angel’s Envy Bourbon

When I’m in the mood for whiskey, I usually prefer it on the rocks, but Angel’s Envy is one bourbon I love to sip neat. Finished in port barrels, it has plenty of maple syrup on the front (a friend described it, favorably, as tasting “like golden grahams”) with a barely smoky, sweet tea flavor, like lapsang souchong sweetened with maple sugar. The peppery, spicy finish keeps it from veering into too-sweet territory. And while $45 a bottle qualifies it as a “nice” whiskey in my book, it’s not so pricey that I feel like I need to be precious with it. —Laura Sant
Angel’s Envy Bourbon, $45 for a 750-ml bottle at Binny’s

Dark Horse Distillery Reserve Bourbon

This small-batch bourbon, made in Kansas City using locally sourced corn and rye, comes in sexy, hand-numbered and signed bottles—which I love—but it’s the smooth, smoky, leather-and-maple flavor, which owes its clean finish to copper still distillation (a process more typical in Scotch production), that makes this one of my favorite bourbons for sipping neat. —Felicia Campbell
Dark Horse Distillery Reserve Bourbon Whiskey, $52 for a 750-ml bottle at Vino Fine Wine and Spirits

Suntory Hakushu Heavily Peated Whisky

I am currently in love with Hakushu Heavily Peated. Like all Japanese whiskeys, it’s smooth and sweet, but with a deep smokiness that adds yang to the yin. —Betsy Andrews
Suntory Hakushu Heavily Peated Whisky, $150 at Astor Wines & Spirits

Balcones Rumble

While I know plenty of whiskey-loving Texans, this is the first Texas-made whiskey that I can say I love (and actually, add pretty much everything else made by Chip Tate and the Balcones team to that list). Made from a mash of wildflower honey, mission figs, and turbinado cane sugar, with Texas hill country spring water, Balcones’ Rumble isn’t exactly easy to categorize—it’s something between a mead, a whiskey, and an eau de vie—but it is a supremely drinkable spirit, fruity and sweet but not at all cloying. The yellow gold-colored spirit smells like a fresh garden, while on the palate you get gentle spice with notes of dried fig, citrus, brown sugar, and hints of rosemary. It’s perfect over ice, and I suspect it would play nicely with pear or apple in a cocktail. —Cory Baldwin
Balcones Rumble, $55.99 for a 750-ml bottle at Astor Wine & Spirits

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Laphroaig 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch

After a big dinner, my dad always pours himself a glass of single malt whiskey as a digestif, or, as he calls it, a “grease cutter”. As I got older, he would offer me his glass and invite me to take a sip. At the beginning, the whiskey never made it to my mouth—I’d stick my nose in, take a whiff of the fiery, peaty liquid and immediately hand it back. But slowly, I learned to love the complex, smoky flavor that is the trademark of Islay whiskeys. When I moved into my own apartment, I knew I needed my own bottle to have on-hand in case of heavy meals or cold nights. Laphroaig 10 year, the scotchiest of scotches, epitomizes that deep peat flavor that is the hallmark of the Islay whiskeys I learned to love with my dad. —Marshall Bright
Laphroaig 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey, $95 for a 750-ml bottle at 1-877-spirits.com

Garrison Brothers Distillery Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Garrison Brothers Distillery, the first legal whiskey distillery in Texas, produces handsome bottles of some of the most boldly flavored bourbon I’ve tasted. The aroma of fresh corn and brown sugar belies the front-end burn of smoky oak char and rich caramel, which gives way to the sweet grain finish of the organic corn mash. It’s currently only distributed in the Lone Star State, so I plan on sipping mine neat and slow until it becomes available countrywide sometime in the next year. —Felicia Campbell

Larceny Bourbon

At just around $25 a bottle, this smooth, wheated bourbon definitely has a new, permanent place in my home bar. While it’s one of the sweeter bourbons I’ve tried recently, it’s also one of the most well-rounded, with notes of burnt sugar and crème brûlée giving way to a slight minerality on the finish. The use of wheat as the secondary grain instead of rye lends it a softer, nuttier flavor that makes it a great sipping whiskey. —Laura Sant
Larceny Bourbon, $22.50 for a 750-ml bottle at BevMo

One and Only Buckwheat

The aptly named One and Only Buckwheat isn’t technically a whiskey (to be called whiskey, it must be distilled from grain, which buckwheat is not), but it deserves a spot on any whiskey aficionado’s shelf. Made from 80% buckwheat, and, as far as I can tell, the only spirit of its kind in the United States, it’s one of those drinks that makes you scratch your head and go back for a second sip. Earthy aromas give way to flavors peppery and sweet, with notes of barley, cane sugar, and vanilla. A weird and wonderful addition to the American craft spirits scene, Buckwheat is best enjoyed straight up and shared with friends who can join you as you speculate on the tasting notes: some fruitcake maybe? Or cereal? —Marshall Bright
Otay Buckwheat Spirit, $37.99 for a 375-ml. bottle from Worldwide Wine & Spirits

Brenne French Single Malt Whisky

A sweet, butterscotchy, creamy single malt that picks up a defined fruity note from a finish in Cognac casks, I wasn’t expecting to like Brenne; turns out, I love it. At first sip it’s basically a glass of bananas foster: woodsy and rich, a pronounced tropical fruit note and a sweet alcohol burn both tempered by a smooth, cool vanilla ripple. After a drop of water and a few minutes in the glass it opens up into something sultry and complex, spice and fire in equal parts. All the cool things seem to be coming from France these days; Brenne is no exception. —Helen Rosner
Brenne French Single Malt Whisky, $56.99 for a 750-ml at drinkupny.com

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky

My guilty-pleasure bar order this past winter may very well sound like it’s coming from a college co-ed—Fireball whisky and ginger ale—but this seemingly lowbrow spirit has found a warm spot in my heart. The label sports a fire-breathing figure with head ablaze and advertises “whisky with natural cinnamon flavor.” The 66-proof liquor does have serious spice—akin to that of my other two heady cinnamon favorites, Wrigley’s Big Red gum and Ferrara Pan Red Hots candy—that tickles your nose and makes your eyes wince slightly with the burn. Mixed with ginger ale and ice, Fireball’s heat is tamed, its sweetness tempered, and it manages to warm you up while simultaneously cooling you down. —Judy Haubert
Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, $15 at BevMo