This article was produced in partnership with Tenjaku Whisky
We’re in the golden age of whiskey. It seems every week there’s a new limited-edition release or collaboration coming down the pipeline. We’d say hitting shelves, but some of these bottles are so elusive you’ll never actually find them in your local liquor store. We appreciate the thrill of the chase, but what we appreciate even more is palming a dram of liquid gold next to a crackling fire—warming our chilled, weary bodies from the inside out on a cold winter night. Sounds like heaven, right? Below, we’ve highlighted the best winter whiskeys to try this season, including bottles from a range of price points and varieties. Most are just a click away on Drizly and Reserve Bar, but others you’ll have to put in the work to find.
From Japanese expressions crafted from pure mountain spring water to peated Scotch single malts, bottled-in-bond Kentucky straight bourbons to double-barreled dessert whiskeys, these 50 winter whiskeys are begging to be bought.
50 Best Winter Whiskeys to Try This Season
1. Tenjaku Blended Japanese Whisky
Honored with a 2020 Best Japanese Blend Whisky Award from the Beverage Testing Institute, this premium blend from meteoric newcomer Tenjaku Whisky has two qualities never to be taken lightly with high-demand Japanese bottles: accessibility and affordability. It’s distilled in the city of Fuefuki—home to a source of pure mountain spring water, which lends Tenjaku its signature velvety-smooth texture. The production of this easy-drinking whisky begins with a careful selection of unprocessed corn-forward whiskies that are copper pot distilled using pristine natural spring water before aging in heavily-seasoned Kentucky bourbon barrels. The end result: a uniquely mellow sipper packing a sweet yet mild smokiness that’s perfect on the rocks or in a highball. The brand also makes a Pure Malt worth checking out.
2. Laphroaig Cairdeas
A complex and affordable crowd-pleaser, Laphroaig blended whisky is aged in second fill Ruby port barriques with a second batch of whisky aged in ex-bourbon barrels, then finished in red wine casks for roughly three years. All three processes shine in the final product. On the palate, tea notes quickly become buttery toast and strawberry jam before a soft finish of honey cream.
3. Lagavulin 16
The hallmark of Lagavulin’s portfolio and a standout in the peated and Islay whisky world, this 16-Year expression has an unexpected fruit character that comes through as you sip. Between the waves of peat and ocean spray, you’ll find baked apples, oranges, and a hint of cherry wood.
4. Michter’s Toasted Barrel Bourbon
If you love a single malt, this could be your new favorite. It’s spicy, earthy, and devilishly dark yet balanced and drinkable. The matured rye is finished in toasted barrels, which enhances the spice character and essence of smoke. You’ll also pick up hints of pencil lead, freshly sawn oak, raisins, and plenty of cinnamon.
5. Old Forester 1910
Part of the Old Forester Whiskey Row series, Old Fine Whisky double barrels ready-to-bottle Old Forester a second time in new barrels that’ve been scorched to the high heavens. The process lends plenty of toasty characteristics. The typical sweetness of burnt sugar and vanilla Old Forester is known for is elevated by coffee and dark chocolate notes, particularly on the finish. It’s a stellar dessert whiskey—a great way to cap off a big meal.
6. Westland Peat Week
As the name implies, Westland uses a heavy amount of peated barley in this single malt. It’s aged in new uncharred French oak casks for 50 months—bottled at 60 percent ABV. On the nose, you can expect leather, citrus, and smoke with plenty more smoke on the palate. Cinnamon and tobacco come through, but peat is the real show stopper here.
[Price varies; westlanddistillery.com]
7. Westward Stout Cask
We love winter whiskeys loaded with aromas of chocolate-covered cherries and nutty sweetness. On the palate, Westward Stout Cask is rich, silky, and syrupy, with tons of creamy vanilla fudge notes that’s balanced by a pleasant dryness, preventing it from feeling like a dessert whiskey.
8. BenRiach The Smoky Twelve
This Speyside distillery uses peated barley malt to render a distinct Highland profile to its whisky. It also takes advantage of an eclectic selection of casks from around the world to impart intricate flavors and smells. This expression is impressively complex, offering smoked vanilla, charred orange, and toasted almond on the nose with flavors of smoked oak and dark chocolate on the tongue.
9. GlenDronach Port
GlenDronach has become one of the most renowned producers of sherry-casked single malts in Scotland. This whisky matures in the distillery’s signature Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks, then enjoys a second maturation in port pipes from the Douro Valley in Portugal. As far as winter whiskeys go, this is a wonderful holiday spirit: fruit cake on the tongue with lots of raisin and citrus, followed by caramel, oak, and cocoa powder—with a nice hit of heat at the end.
10. New Riff Winter Whiskey
New Riff is a limited-production distillery, and that limit is set by special access to an aquifer, which gives them only so many gallons of water a day for use in distillation. The good news: The bourbon coming out of this distillery is already incredible at just four to five years. The brand’s Winter Whiskey is bottled in bond without chill filtration and aged at least four years using raw and malted oats, plus roasted chocolate malted barley. It beautifully balances spice and cocoa.
11. Law’s Cognac Foeder Finished Four Grain Straight Bourbon
This unique bourbon is made from four grains: corn, wheat, barley, and rye. Because each has its own optimal cooking temperature, it takes six and a half hours to marry the grains and malts together. The whiskey is then aged in newly charred American white oak barrels, rendering aromas of stewed fruit and black tea on the nose. Tasting notes include spiced apple butter, toasted wood, and raisin.
12. 291 Distillery Bourbon
This bourbon nabbed the 2019 Innovation Award at the SIP Awards World Spirit Competition. Crafted from a bourbon sour mash, distilled in a copper pot still, aged in charred American white oak barrels, and finished with toasted Aspen wood staves, this is Colorado in a bottle. Anticipate cherry, vanilla, and spice tasting notes.
13. Balvenie Caribbean Cask
Just a few short months in ex-rum barrels imparts rounded notes of toffee, fruit, and oak. Hints of lime and pineapple, almond, and tons of vanilla impart tropical flair. This is one of Scotland’s best whiskies—and among our favorite single malts.
14. Macallan 18
It’s hard to beat this sherried beauty. Single malt whisky is matured in hand-picked, sherry-seasoned oak casks. Upfront, there’s an air of red fruit and a touch of cinnamon. Toasted oak, spice, and cocoa give way to a finish of dried fruits and orange zest.
15. Stranahan’s Sherry Cask
Forty-year-old Oloroso sherry casks from the Andalusia region of Spain are bold enough in flavor to penetrate Stranahan’s whisky during the aging process. At the beginning, it’s rich and dessert-like with cherry pie, raisins, and walnuts, plus a hint of leather echoing in the background. By the end, it’s syrupy and warm, with brown sugar, caramel, and toffee notes.
16. Four Roses Small Batch Reserve
With a blend of bourbons ranging from 12 to 19 years of age, Four Roses Small Batch Reserve edges right up to the cliff of deep, resiny wood flavors, but pulls it back with controlled, youthful notes of fruit and vanilla cream. Master Distiller Brent Elliott really outdid himself.
17. Woodford Double Double Oaked
Woodford Reserve adds its matured Double Oaked Kentucky straight bourbon to lightly charred new oak barrels for an additional year. The double-wood finish doesn’t add any new flavors, but rather enhances its sweet, aromatic notes and gives it a spicier characteristic. You get rich maple syrup, butterscotch, marshmallow, and hickory smoke on the nose with warming clove, chai tea, cherry, cranberry, and blackberry jam on the tongue.
[Price varies; woodfordreserve.com]
18. Frey Ranch Rye
The brand’s farm-to-glass reputation is thanks to the Frey family’s own grain farming and distilling efforts. As if its four-grain signature bourbon wasn’t delicious and well-rounded enough, they’ve started cranking out a limited number of single barrels. The team chooses choice barrels from the aging warehouse to lend exceptional characteristics to its rye. Barrel #22 and #420 won double gold at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
19. Old Overholt Bonded
If you’ve ordered a cocktail with rye whiskey in a decent bar in the last few years, chances are good it was Old Overholt. It’s a well-rounded, flavorful rye that’s not too spicy (something rye whiskey is known for). Old Overholt Bonded is a slightly higher proof, boasting more caramel and spice notes, which is crucial when crafting an old fashioned or Manhattan.
20. Few Cold Cut Bourbon
Few took its 93-proof stunner—a charred-oak-aged bourbon made of corn, northern rye, and a bit of malt—and cut to proof from cask-strength to 46.5 percent ABV with cold brew coffee. It enhances the original flavors of vanilla, chocolate, dried fruit, spice, and mint with sweet notes of coffee ice cream.
21. Widow Jane Decadence
When you really want to indulge, reach for this bottle. Widow Jane upped the ante on its 10-year bourbon by finishing it in barrels previously used to store maple syrup from Crown Maple, an artisanal syrup producer in New York’s Hudson Valley, to craft a deliciously rich, smooth whiskey that serves up notes of sugared pecans, vanilla, and (of course), maple syrup.
22. Legent Bourbon
Legent is a unique bourbon that combines distilling traditions from Kentucky and Japan. The company begins by distilling bourbon according to a historic recipe from master distiller Fred Noe. The spirit is then aged in either sherry or wine barrels to impart spicy, fruity undertones, then Shinji Fukuyo, chief blender at Suntory, combines these aged bourbons with straight bourbon to create Legent. This process creates a well-rounded, complex pour that has the richness of bourbon with the bright, long-lasting finish common in Japanese whiskies.
23. Stagg Jr.
An homage to George T. Stagg, an icon of nineteenth-century American whiskey distilling, Buffalo Trace’s Stagg Jr. is aged for almost a decade and bottled unfiltered. It’s a hearty, robust bourbon with notes of chocolate and brown sugar balanced by a pleasant spiciness. Get a bottle while you can—the latest batch didn’t meet the distillery’s standards and wasn’t released this fall.
[Starting at $100; drizly.com]
24. Thomas S. Moore Cabernet Cask
A product of the Barton 1792 distillery, the Thomas S. Moore lineup of whiskies are all cask-finished. The bourbon is aged in oak barrels for several years, then placed in cabernet sauvignon barrels for a few more. The wine barrel aging helps the spirit acquire notes of dark fruit that pair well with the rich caramel and vanilla flavors typical of bourbon.
25. Peerless Double Barrel Bourbon
To make its Double Oak bourbon, Peerless puts the spirit through two rounds of aging, each in a separate oak barrel (hence the name). The result is a bourbon with added flavor complexity and a richer mouthfeel. There’s lots to explore in every sip: Notes of sweet oak, orange zest, and cedar on the nose give way to honey and cinnamon, and a sweet, toasted oak finish.
26. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof
One of Elijah Craig’s top-tier bottles, this highly decorated barrel-proof bourbon is uncut and unfiltered—about as close as you can get to the barrel without becoming a master distiller yourself. It serves up notes of vanilla, caramel, and butterscotch balanced with black pepper and cinnamon. The smooth, layered finish will keep you coming back for more.
27. Uncle Nearest 1856
Uncle Nearest distillery launched in 2017 and was named in honor of the first Black master distiller in the U.S., a man named Nathan Green, a.k.a. Uncle Nearest. The 1856 expression is a blend of several whiskies, each between eight and 14 years old. It starts out bold and spicy before mellowing into something sweeter, “like biting into an oatmeal raisin cookie,” according to the brand.
28. Jack Daniel’s No. 27 Gold
A cut above your typical Old No. 7 Jack, the distillery’s No. 27 Gold whiskey is aged in oak, charcoal filtered twice for increased smoothness, and finished in maple barrels, which gives the spirit a richer finish and its name (the maple wood has a bright golden color).
29. Dickel Bourbon
A 90-proof bourbon that’s aged eight years, Dickel serves up sweet notes of vanilla followed by bright, fruity flavors of cherry and orange, balanced by richer notes of toffee and oak. Although George Dickel mostly offers Tennessee whiskey, this affordable, flavorful bourbon is a standout in the brand’s lineup.
30. Jura 18 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Jura 18 Year Old follows a unique process that imparts unique flavors not often found in Scottish whiskies. The spirit is aged in American white oak bourbon barrels, then finished in French red wine barriques, which imparts added richness and strong fruit flavors—caramel and cooked raspberries, for example. The result is a notably full-bodied whisky that’s smoky and sweet.
31. Starward Tawny Single Malt
A limited-edition release from Australia’s Starward distillery, Tawny Single Malt is an ideal dessert whiskey. The brand starts with its twice-distilled single malt (made with Australian barley and brewer’s yeast for a Down Under twist) and matures it in fortified wine barrels. That process creates a luscious spirit with loads of sweet, rich fruit flavor and a balanced, spicy finish. Serve it neat after hosting a big meal—but only if you really like your dinner guests.
32. Brenne Ten
French whisky? Don’t knock it ‘til you try it—specifically this bottle. This single malt is distilled twice and aged at least six years exclusively in French Limousin oak and cognac casks for a unique flavor profile. In the glass, it gives off warm aromas of your favorite bakery (think creme brûlée and burnt caramel). On the palate, it imparts interesting notes of banana and tropical fruit balanced with cinnamon and clove.
33. Angel’s Envy Cask Strength
A legendary expression, Angel’s Envy Cask Strength has earned numerous accolades, and each year’s release has its own unique variations. It’s finished in port wine barrels for intense flavor. Even though it’s 120 proof, it’s a surprisingly easy sipper, with strong notes of cherries on the nose and palate along with salted chocolate and orange peel.
[Price varies; angelsenvy.com]
34. Glenrothes 18
After 18 years inside sherry and seasoned oak casks, this Scottish single malt emerges with a beautiful natural straw color and plenty of flavor, including notes of orange and vanilla on the nose and sweet pear, vanilla, and spicy ginger when sipped. Capped off with a smooth, mildly peppery finish, there’s a lot to like about this bottle.
35. Bruichladdich Octomore
Peat lovers, take note: This is a limited-edition bottle that needs to be on your radar. Bruichladdich describes the Octomore as “super heavily peated,” so you know you’ll get tons of earthy flavor with each sip. Since the first release in 2002, each edition of this cask-strength whisky has been the result of bold experimentation. Octomores have a strong focus on local, raw ingredients and explore how terroir can influence the flavors in your glass.
[Prices vary; bruichladdich.com]
36. Bowmore 12
A flagship Islay scotch from the island’s oldest distillery (licensed in 1779), Bowmore 12 offers firm expressions of the rich smoke and peaty notes for which the region is renowned—without overwhelming the palate. This whisky is often tapped as a favorite “entry level” single malt (a.k.a. affordable). Expect smooth, generous flavors of vanilla and orange blossom honey with a slightly ashy finish.
37. Hakushu 12 Year
Produced by the most hallowed name in Japanese whisky, Suntory, this soft, crisp single malt conveys its distillery’s heavenly location at the foot of Mount Asayo in the country’s Southern Alps—home to some of the purest water on the planet. Aged with mountain breezes and infused with lofty forest aromas, this is a more delicate spirit, not to be confused with Hakushu’s later forays into heavily peated bottles.
38. King of Kentucky
Never mind Brown-Forman’s more plentiful brands (Jack Daniel’s, Early Times, Woodford Reserve). No more than 2,000 bottles (about 30 barrels) of this 14-year-old distilled bourbon made their way out of Kentucky with a June 27, 2006 distill date and a charming “Batch 3” label. Expect a comforting nose of dried cherry and a palate of caramel and maple syrup, followed by a sweet and earthy finish. But first you’ll have to find the bottle—and fork over a lot of cash.
39. Little Book Bourbon
This is what happens when 13-year-old Canadian rye, 8-year-old Kentucky straight rye, and 40-year-old Canadian whisky are playfully introduced by an eighth-generation Jim Beam Master Distiller (Freddie Noe) and served to the world’s most discerning—yet adventure-seeking—whiskey nerds. Surprising, fresh, and a tad tangy, the whiskey’s floral, fruit character turns up on the nose and finishes with buttery, caramel flavors alongside rye-forward spice. Fans of this creative U.S.-Canada blend describe Little Book as “heretical” and “weirdly good.”
40. Yamazaki 25
If you can bear the four- or five-figure price tag for a re-released classic from Japan’s oldest single malt distillery, look no further than this deeply matured masterwork from chief blender Shinji Fukuyo that’s as balanced as it is complex. Aromas of apple blossom, citrus, and sandalwood lead to a resonant palate of apricot, walnut, and just the right amount of smoke.
41. High West Midwinter Night’s Dram
High West‘s full-bodied rye whiskey takes on rich, overripe red fruit notes, from currant and plum to cherry and fig. It’s a bold, warming dram perfect for an after-dinner, fireside treat.
42. Wyoming Whiskey Outryder
Hot chocolate, yeast biscuits drizzled with dark molasses, honeyed hay, and roasted cumin in brown butter is how the makers at this outlier Western whiskey brand (the first legal distillery in the state of Wyoming) describe Outryder. The rye-forward, 100-proof bourbon hybrid is made from two mash bills featuring all Wyoming grains. High-pH water from a nearby limestone aquifer lends added texture and minerality that’s earned Wyoming Whiskey numerous awards and comparisons to distant Kentucky brands.
43. Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye
News traveled fast about this formerly underappreciated Canadian whisky when it earned “Whisky of the Year” status from Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. Produced in Calgary with a mash bill of pure Alberta-grown rye, this five-year cask strength whisky offers notes of butterscotch, vanilla and dried fruit with just the right amount of spicy, black pepper finish.
44. Paul John Christmas Edition
While molasses is a key ingredient for many Indian whiskies, which technically classifies them as spirits given that whisky can only be made from grains, Goa-based Paul John Classic Select Cask’s use of malted barley will naturally attract single malt purists seeking something unmistakably tropical in their next dram. Fruity and malty aromas are followed by a generous amount of honey and licorice mingling with malted barley, spiced oak, and juicy Demerara tones. Winter whiskeys don’t get more festive than this.
45. Glenmorangie Signet
As the story goes, the light bulb went off for this rousing single malt and 2020 World Whiskies Awards Gold winner when a Glenmorangie creative director was savoring a cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee—and thought, hmm. Inspired to create the closest approximation in Scotch terms, it would take years to nail a single malt with spiraling mocha flavors, tiramisu tones, and exactly the right espresso-ish intensity imagined during that moment. But here it is—one of our favorite $200-range whiskies—a swirl of dark chocolate, toasted hazelnut, butterscotch and that hard-won coffee rush, all in a tumbler.
46. Bushmills Rare Cask
47. Midleton Very Rare Barry Crockett Legacy
Single pot still whiskey owes more to Barry Crockett than any other whiskey maker in history. As the master distiller at Midleton from 1981 to 2013, he was the only person still crafting the style in the entire country. Thanks to him, the distillery has maintained generous stocks to supply Spot Range, Redbreast, Powers, and other brands. Funnily enough, its flagship Midleton Very Rare is a blend that includes pot still along with grain whiskey, but the Irish oak-finished Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach series and Barry Crockett Legacy are both 100 percent single pot still. The latter is one of the finest examples of the style ever to be produced.
48. Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye
Created in 1939 as a welcome gift when the Royal couple King George VI and Queen Elizabeth became the first reigning monarchs to visit Canada, Crown Royal has always had a loyal following among dedicated Canadian whiskey drinkers and felt purple bag collectors. Five years ago the famed brand’s Northern Harvest Rye upped its status even higher after receiving World Whisky of the Year honors in Jim Murray’s annual tome, The Whisky Bible. Crown Royal’s inaugural blend contained over 50 whiskies, many of which were used to blend Northern Harvest Rye 75 years later. Here, gentle oak tones mix with butterscotch and spiced vanilla followed by a smooth and creamy finish.
49. WhistlePig Double Malt Rye 18 Year
WhistlePig was founded in 2007 on a farm near the shores of Lake Champlain in Vermont by Raj Peter Bhakta. His goal: Establish the nation’s first farm-to-bottle single-estate distillery. Fast forward to today and WhistlePig is now growing fields of organic rye on a 500-acre farm. The brand’s oldest expression to date comprises a mash bill of 79 percent rye, 15 percent malted rye, and 6 percent malted barley. Distillers kickstart the fermentation process by malting a bit of their yearly harvest, gently opening the grain so yeast can more easily break down sugar to alcohol. The rye matures for 18 years in virgin oak; as such, vanilla and oak gradually appear on the tongue.
50. Cedar Ridge Bourbon
Doubling as a winery, Cedar Ridge became the first Iowa-licensed distillery since Prohibition when it opened in 2005. And in a state famous for corn production (bourbon’s choice crop), you can bet there should be some pretty inspired whiskey-producing potential here too. “Fine craftsmanship is a true reflection of Iowa’s mentality of doing the best with what nature gives them,” notes the Swisher-based distillery. “No temperature control aging, minimal waste, and that Midwest resourcefulness put production first—favoring quality over quantity.” Holding to those principles, Cedar Ridge’s signature Iowa Straight Bourbon bursts with an aroma of roasted corn that’s pretty tough to miss. Palate notes of rich caramel and stone fruit follow, along with a lingering finish of oak and clove.
[Price varies; cedarridgewhiskey.com]