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10 Flavored Whiskeys Actually Worth Drinking, According To Bartenders

10 Flavored Whiskeys Actually Worth Drinking, According To Bartenders

You can say what you will about flavored whiskeys, but there’s definitely a market for them. Take a stroll down the aisle at your local liquor store or peruse an online retailer and you’ll find seemingly countless bottles. That being said, it feels like drinkers either love them or hate them. There’s no in-between. If the IPA is the cilantro of the beer world, flavored whiskey is the cilantro of the spirit world. Either it tastes amazing, or it’s a cloying, over-the-top mess.

“This is a much-maligned category, and for good reason,” says Brandon Ristaino, co-founder and beverage director at Good Lion Hospitality in Santa Barbara, California. “Most flavored whiskies are terrible and unworthy of your back bar or home bar.”

But, regardless of what Ristaino and anyone else believes, they’re not all bad. Just ask the countless people who purchase them. In fact, in the contemporary landscape, there are myriad well-made, nuanced, complex flavored whiskeys just waiting to be discovered. And, yes, even bartenders know this. They just know which flavored whiskeys are actually worth drinking.


Knob-Creek-Smoked-Maple-Bourbon

Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon

“I’m not a big fan of flavored spirits as I find it’s a lot easier to just flavor them yourself exactly how you like, but if you’re going to try one it should be something like Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon which uses flavors that compliment rather than obscure the whisky. It still works in a cocktail but can also be sipped or served over ice.” – Sly Augustin, bar owner of Trailer Happiness in London

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Ballotin-Chocolate-Toffee-Whiskey

Ballotin Chocolate Toffee Whiskey

“Ballotin’s chocolate toffee whiskey is a flavored whiskey worth trying. I was inspired by the flavor profile and recreated a milk bar cookie in cocktail form using this as my base. The chocolate and toffee flavors are not overpoweringly sweet and it doesn’t have a syrupy aftertaste like some flavored whiskeys leave.” – Inga Tantisalidchai, bartender at OLEA Cellar Craft Cook in Newport Beach, California

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Hotel-Tango-Shmallow-Toasted-Marshmallow-Bourbon

Hotel Tango Shmallow Toasted Marshmallow Bourbon

“Shmallow Toasted Marshmallow Bourbon from Hotel Tango. Flavored spirits often give me pause as they are associated with very cloying, artificial notes. The Shmallow Bourbon from Hotel Tango is a shining exception in my book. The rich caramel and toasted, creamy campfire notes ring so pure you feel transported to a crisp evening around the fire with friends. It stands happily alone as a unique sip and inspires the mixologist in all of us to create unique takes on classics.” – Alicia Leftridge, bar manager at The Graceful Ordinary in Chicago

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Jack-Daniels-Tennessee-Honey

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey

“I always keep a bottle of Jack Daniel’s honey whiskey on hand for classic hot toddies. Add hot water and lemon, sweeten to taste, and enjoy. It’s a blend of Jack Daniel’s and sweet honey liqueur, what’s not to love about that?” – Martin “Woody” Woodcock, bartender at Agua Caliente Casino in Palm Springs, California

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Proper-No-Twelve-Irish-Apple

Proper No. Twelve Irish Apple

“I just added the Proper Twelve Apple to our shelf and I could not be more pleased. The green apple really punches through without being cloying, and it’s really crisp and refreshing. Great for mixing with a little Frangelico for some apple pie vibes or just sipping over ice. I honestly can’t wait to heat it up next fall and sneak it into some cider.” – Kylie McCalla, bartender at Offshore Rooftop and Lírica at the Sable Hotel in Chicago

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Leopold-Bros-Rocky-Mountain-Peach-Whiskey

Leopold Bros. Rocky Mountain Peach Whiskey

“Leopold Bros Peach Whiskey. It’s not overly sweetened and only flavored with real peaches. Makes an incredible sour. Whiskey and peaches were pretty much made to be together in whiskey form and the folks at Leopold Brothers were kind enough to make it.” – Chad Michael George, bartender at The Crow’s Nest in Denver

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Skrewball-Peanut-Butter-Whiskey

Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey

“While I hate to admit it, Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey is delicious. When you think about peanut butter and whiskey, they share a lot of similarities: honey, caramel, and vanilla. I washed bourbon with peanut butter to make an Elvis cocktail once, but the amount of bourbon you actually lose in the process is remarkable. Screwball does an excellent job infusing this whiskey with pure, delicious ingredients to recreate peanut butter flavor and it still has a little whiskey kick to it.” – Sarah Clark, bartender at The Dearborn in Chicago

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Crown-Royal-Regal-Apple

Crown Royal Regal Apple

“Crown Royal Apple is a great example of a flavored whiskey done right. The sweetness is well balanced by the whiskey’s earthiness and it’s one of the few flavored whiskeys that produces a good mixed cocktail.” – Drew Dalton Russ, head bartender at Venteux in Chicago

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Jameson-Orange-Whiskey

Jameson Orange Whiskey

“Although I have not tried many flavored whiskeys, I like the Jameson Orange Whiskey a lot. I like orange anyway so that flavor mixed with a well-made Irish whiskey gives it a surprisingly smooth finish.” – Roderick Palamountain, bartender at Chart Room Bar in Key West, Florida

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New-York-Distilling-Mister-Katzs-Rock-&-Rye

New York Distilling Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye

“Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye, however, is a great option in this category of spirits and leans on a US historical style of whiskey liqueur for inspiration. It’s a blend of young rye whiskey, rock candy sugar, sour cherries, cinnamon, and citrus peel. I like to use it as a cocktail modifier, bringing some sweetness and whiskey goodness to a classic sour or old fashioned recipe.” – Brandon Ristaino, co-founder, and beverage director at Good Lion Hospitality in Santa Barbara, California

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