Food & Drink

The Best Whiskey for Your Bar Cart

It's time to expand your palate to the other great whiskeys of the world.
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First things first: we've got nothing against scotch. It's just that the famous Scottish spirit seems to get the lion's share of the glory in the world of whiskey when there are so many exceptional whiskey styles and bottles just waiting to be discovered. Whether you're craving something sweet, spicy, or just looking to stretch your whiskey palate, here are the un-Scottish bottles of that deserve a place of honor on your bar cart.

Bourbon: Maker's Mark

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America's most iconic contribution to the whiskey world, bourbon has a rich, complex, faintly sweet flavor courtesy of its corn mash (all bourbon is required to be made from at least 51% corn) and aging in new, charred oak barrels. This classic bottle out of Kentucky is a prime example of the genre. Made in their historic distillery in Loretto, KY with additions of red winter wheat, it's crafted to be smooth on the palette with notes of caramel and vanilla; the ideal after-dinner nightcap.

More: How to Drink Whiskey Like a Pro

Bourbon: Basil Hayden's

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With a high proportion of rye in the mash to balance the sweetness of corn, this small-batch bottle out of Kentucky offers spicy undertones that will warm you up after a day on the slopes and pair well with warm-spiced cocktails—but won't blow you out of the water with alcohol-heat

More: The Best Bourbon Cocktails

Bourbon: Wild Turkey Longbranch

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For a different twist on the bourbon flavor profile, this bottle filters traditional Kentucky bourbon through Texas mesquite and oak charcoal (Texan actor Matthew McConaughey collaborated on the bottling) for a smooth finish with a hint of smoke that plays perfect harmony for those who can't decide between bourbon and scotch.

American Whiskey: Stranahan's

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While bourbon is iconic, American whiskey making doesn't begin and end with corn mash. For example, this single malt bottling; the first legal whiskey to be produced in Colorado. Made with local malted barley, the aging process in new American White Oak barrels (the same type used in bourbon aging) imparts a vanilla note that's offset by a creamy hint of butterscotch and and rich leather on the nose. 

More: Best Whiskey Decanters for Your Bar

American Whiskey: Jack Daniel's Gentleman Jack

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Looking for a smooth sip? It doesn't get much silkier than this 80-proof Tennessee whiskey which is processed twice through charcoal to impart supreme drinkability—even for those who don't normally go for a neat pour. 

Rye: Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey

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If you've ever fantasized about sipping a classic cocktail in a Prohibition-era speakeasy, this bottle of pot-distilled rye from New York distillery Tuthilltown Spirits offers a little of that old school flavor (without the risk of getting raided by the police.) Made with 100 percent locally-sourced rye whiskey, it's spicy flavor profile is pitch perfect in a signature manhattan cocktail.

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Rye: Knob Creek Straight Rye Whiskey

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Rye has been having a major moment on the whiskey scene, and this bold small batch rye will give you a sense as to why. Aged slowly in intensely charred barrels and then bottled at a potent 100 proof, this small batch bottle offers a hefty kick of peppery rye with hints of vanilla that can stand up to any other ingredients you might mix into your cocktails.

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Rye: Few Rye Whiskey

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Made from a blend of 70 percent rye with corn and malted barley, this crisp, spicy rye brings forward notes of deep red fruit thanks to fermentation with years from Loire Valley wine and aging in oak barrels.

Irish Whiskey: Jameson Irish Whiskey

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Perhaps the best known of all Irish whiskey, Jameson mixes Irish barley (both malted and unmalted) with French corn and ages the resulting tipple for a minimum of four years in a seasoned oak casks with a nutty hint of vanilla and a touch of dried fruit on the back of the palette. 

More: The Best Irish Whiskies to Try Now

Irish Whiskey: Knappogue Castle

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Designed to capture the distinctive flavor of Irish whiskey, this 12 year old single malt is distilled in copper pot stills and aged in oak casks that previously used bourbon. The malted barley offers a slightly spicy bight that gives way to a citrus note that's sure to excite any whiskey connoisseur.

Japanese Whisky: Yamazaki 12 Year Old Whisky

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Japan's first whiskey distillery, Yamazaki was opened by  Shinjiro Torii in 1923, but it wouldn't take over the world whisky scene until Jim Murray named it the best whiskey in the world in his Whiskey Bible in 2015. The flavor profile—less smoky than scotch, less sweet than bourbon—provides toasty malt notes and spice with just a hint for fruit. 

More: Why You Should Be Drinking Japanese Whiskey Now

Japanese Whisky: Nikka Whisky From The Barrel

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This complex Japanese whiskey comes from Nikka, a distillery founded in the 1930 by Masataka Taketsuru, a chemist who had studied distilling in Scotland and help craft Yamazaki's original style. Blended from up to 100 different batches, it brings a subtle fruitiness to the palette along with lots of wood notes and a hint of vanilla from former bourbon barrels.

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This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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