Just getting started exploring the big, wide world of whiskey? Mash & Grape has got your back. Here are ten of the top whiskey brands no whiskey lover should be unfamiliar with.
One of the icons of American whiskey, Wild Turkey makes a wide range of bourbon and rye whiskeys. Wild Turkey Rare Breed Rye and Wild Turkey Longbranch Bourbon are highlights, but don’t sleep on plain old Wild Turkey 101, a neighborhood bar staple for a reason. We also love the Russell’s Reserve series, a collection of small batch and single barrel straight bourbon and straight rye whiskeys named for father-and-son Master Distiller team Eddie and Jimmie Russell that highlight particularly good collections of casks.
Crown Royal traces its history back to 1938, when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Canada. It was the first time that reigning English monarchs had ever visited the nation. To commemorate the occasion, a spirits entrepreneur designed a suitably royal whisky–Crown Royal–featuring a cut-glass bottle and signature purple bag with golden details. That whisky stuck around much longer than George and Elizabeth did, growing into the most popular Canadian whisky brand in the world. Today, you can enjoy the standard Crown Royal bottling everyday, or reach for Crown Royal’s Noble Collection when you’re in the mood to drink like a king or queen.
Jim Beam is a legend of Kentucky Bourbon. Based in Clermont, Kentucky, the brand was founded in 1795. Its master distiller, Fred Noe, is the seventh generation of the Beam Family to hold the title. We love Jim Beam Single Barrel and Knob Creek Small Batch Bourbon, but the brand’s Booker’s–a highly sought-after limited edition cask strength bourbon–is probably the most iconic bottling from this brand.
If you can only drink one blended Scotch brand, you should drink Johnnie Walker. This historic brand from Scotch whisky juggernaut Diageo is one of the world’s most popular whiskies. Unlike single malts, which are made at one single distillery, all Johnnie Walker releases are a blend of whiskies from multiple distilleries. Some, like the entry level Red Label, have no age statement, while others have age statements that reflect the youngest whisky in the blend (Johnny Walker Black Label, for instance, has an age statement of 12 year). It’s very much work exploring the upper reaches of this range, including Johnnie Walker Green Label, a blended malt, and Johnnie Walker Blue Label, a super-premium luxury blend.
This family-owned Kentucky-based distillery is proud of the fact that it produces every major style of American whiskey, including bourbon whiskey, rye, wheat whiskey, and corn whiskey. Some of its best-known brands are Rittenhouse Rye Bottled-In-Bond, Old Fitzgerald, and Larceny, but we also love Pikesville Rye and cult-favorite corn whiskey Mellow Corn.
Have you gotten on the American single malt train yet? It’s not too late. This burgeoning category may be inspired by global single malts like Scotch, Irish whiskey, and Japanese whisky, but the best producers are bringing a distinctly American approach to their whiskeys made entirely from malted barley. Westward Whiskey in Portland, Oregon, takes its inspiration from the city’s remarkable beer culture. The brand’s flagship Westward American Single Malt is distilled with ale yeast and aged in new, charred oak casks. It’s also a benchmark in the category.
As the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, this brand from Brown-Forman is a touchstone for Kentucky heritage. Every bourbon fan should be familiar with their core Bourbon and Rye releases, but we also love the higher end Woodford Reserve Batch Proof Bourbon selections, which showcase this delicious bourbon at a higher strength. And, of course, there’s always the commemorative Kentucky Derby bottlings, each one adorned with a beautiful painted label of the event itself.
We’re living in a renaissance of Irish whiskey, with new brands popping up seemingly every day. But it’s worth starting with some of the icons of the category. Redbreast is a classic for a reason. This Irish pot still whiskey is made from a mix of malted and unmalted barleys, all distilled at a single distillery. The brand has several noteworthy releases, including its core Redbreast 12 Year Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, its 12 Year Cask Strength, and its Lustau Edition, which is finished in sherry casks.
Jack Daniel’s might be the first brand of whiskey most people are introduced to. Sitting on virtually every back bar in the nation, this Tennessee Whiskey is an easy-drinking standby (and, of course, the perfect companion to Coca-Cola). But there’s more to Jack Daniel’s than the ubiquitous Old No. 7. The brand’s Single Barrel and Gentleman Jack releases show off a more refined side of the brand.
Located in Waco, Texas, Balcones is an award-winning American distillery founded in 2008. It’s part of the modern wave of craft distilleries focused on local grain and flavor , and a classic example of whiskeys aged in hot climates, which often gives them rich, robust oak character and a deep mahogany color in just a few short years. Start with the brand’s True Blue 100 Proof Corn Whiskey, which is made from a heritage blue corn variety local to the state of Texas. Then dive into their Texas Single Malt, which is pot distilled entirely from malted barley.
Ready to keep exploring? You can shop a huge selection of whiskeys from around the world at Mash & Grape, then sit back and relax while they’re delivered directly to your door. Like surprises? Join our Whiskey club and let us do the shopping. Every month, you’ll receive a delicious bottle of a whiskey we just can’t get enough of.