Top 13 Whiskey Brands for Beginners

Start your whiskey adventure with these brands

There is a whole wide world of whiskey waiting to be discovered by you out there.

This shouldn’t be an intimidating prospect, however. The chance to try new whiskeys for the first time is a cause for celebration and truly exciting.

Even though whiskey has a reputation as being a harsh, complicated spirit that should be drunk in particular ways, you can drink it as you wish.

Yes, it is true that the flavor profile of whiskeys can be complex. But, you will quickly come to terms with what you like and do not like, especially with the right bottles. 

If you’re a novice whiskey drinker or a complete beginner, we are here to help you. Below is a list of top-quality whiskeys to try. From bourbon to single malt scotch, we have the full spectrum covered.

Once you try these spirits, you will soon become a whiskey connoisseur and start recommending the best bottles to your friends and family. 

Best Whiskey for Beginners

  1. Buffalo Trace
  2. Four Roses Bourbon
  3. Jack Daniels Black
  4. Tullamore Dew
  5. Suntory Toki
  6. Bulleit Bourbon
  7. The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14
  8. Johnny Walker Red
  9. 1792 Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon
  10. Crown Royal
  11. Jameson Irish Whiskey
  12. Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky
  13. Hibiki Japanese Harmony

Buffalo Trace

A bottle of Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey
A bottle of Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

This first whiskey is brewed in Kentucky and contains hints of vanilla, oak, and caramel. This is a delicious one to try if you have never drunk whiskey before.

This is very mellow and inviting, giving you more than enough reason to try a few fingers of it, either neat or with some cubes of ice – introducing Buffalo Trace.

Four Roses Bourbon

This drink is not only very smooth, but it also goes very easy on the wallet, with a bottle costing you no more than around $20.

Four Roses Bourbon is great to have with a mixer, so if you want to bring out the diet Coke or Pepsi, you’d hardly even notice you were drinking whiskey.

For those of you who are a little intimidated by the strong taste of whiskey, Four Roses Bourbon is light enough to let you enjoy the traits of the spirit but not enough to burn your throat. 

Jack Daniels Black 

Jack Daniels Whiskey Bottle

For the true taste of mellowing charcoal, Jack Daniels Black Label stands out from the rest. Iconic and beloved by loyal whiskey fans around the world, Jack daniels Black is available just about anywhere.

Add a touch of Lynchburg lemonade with this bourbon and you’ll be in a state of delicious bliss. 

Bottled at 40 percent alcohol by volume (ABV, 80 proof), Jack Daniels Black boasts robust vanilla and licorice flavors blended with a delightful oaky taste.

Topped off with a subtle sweetness, Jack Daniel Black pairs famously with Coca-Cola to create the famous “Jack and Coke.” An ideal choice for any whiskey beginner. 

Tullamore Dew

Tullamore Dew blended Irish Whiskey

This next whisky is another very fruity one, using ex-bourbon and ex-sherry butts to create a much softer and more exotic taste.

Tullamore Dew, an Irish whiskey, is a lot lighter than a lot of other brands that you can get.

This is one that a lot of people describe as an entry-level whiskey, as it is not too overpowering making it ideal for any beginner.

Suntory Toki

Suntory Toki Whisky

This next whisky is one from Japan, so you might be looking to fork out a little more than usual for a bottle of this.

However, considering the delicious and smokey taste of Suntory Toki whisky, we reckon it would be worth a special treat for yourself. 

This has a very sweet and honeyed taste and texture, the perfect profile for any newbie whisky drinker. 

Bulleit Bourbon

Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey

Time to bite the bullet and experience the quality that Bulleit Bourbon has to offer.

This brand of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey is made at the Bulleit Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky as well as the Bulleit Distillery in Shelbyville, Kentucky.

Characterized by its high rye content (higher than most bourbons at around 28%), Bulleit Bourbon is left to age for six years before being bottled at 45% abv (90 proof).

Its equal overlays of caramel, vanilla, and orange zest match perfectly with the notes of cherry, smoke, and oak.

With rich aromas but a light depth, beginners will love the spiciness that bounces off the sweeter notes of Bulleit Bourbon. 

The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14-year-old

The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14-year-old

This Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14-year-old whiskey has been described as successfully straddling the difference between scotch and bourbon.

This is a very light scotch that has been designed for sipping, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble chugging this one down.

You also don’t need a mixer to enjoy this one meaning this is a great first step into the world of neat whiskeys.

Johnny Walker Red Scotch Whisky

Johnny Walker Red Scotch Whisky

The pioneer blend by Johnny Walker, this whisky is popular with new drinkers as well as the most experienced.

As a beginner, you do not want something that will blow your head off. Thankfully, Johnny Walker Red offers hints of vanilla sponge and caraway that goes down a treat. 

Soft and gentle, this scotch whisky’s palate sports sour apple, white pepper, vanilla cream, and a sweet grain that combine into a perfect combination of caramel and toffee sweetness.

Finishing with a touch of fruit is the icing on the cake with Johnny Walker Red. 

1792 Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon

1792 Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon contains notes of baking spice, vanilla, and oak, making it a great starter whiskey for those that might be slightly too squeamish for the punch of the oak.

This is a great flavor to simply sip, with a well-rounded flavor that gives you everything that you need for a warm and relaxed feeling.

Crown Royal

Crown Royal Canadian Whisky

Here is the most famous of all Canadian whiskies – Crown Royal.

First produced in 1939 to celebrate King George VI’s visit to Canada, you can choose from 50 different elegant and smooth whiskies from this brand. With so many variations to choose from, you are truly spoiled. 

Aged in white oak barrels, Crown Royal whisky is then chosen when it reach the peak maturity. The result is a delicately smooth and creamy spirit with pleasant hints of oak.

The sweet taste of vanilla is a highlight of Crown Royal helping it go down smoother than many other whiskies on the market. 

Jameson Irish Whiskey

Jameson Irish Whiskey

If you like your whiskey with a vanilla twang, then we would definitely suggest that you try this world-famous one.

Jameson Whiskey has been described by whiskey experts as a ‘gateway whiskey’, with a light and sweet texture, you’ll be able to easily down a few of these.

This whiskey is also a great complement to light American beers meaning you can enjoy the odd one in between a few cheeky beers on the weekend. Go on, you deserve a treat.

Maker’s Mark Bourbon

Maker’s Mark Whisky

Since opening its distillery in 1953, Maker’s Mark Bourbon whiskey is still made in its original, most traditional way.

Whether you’re in the mood for a full-flavored, smooth bourbon to sip neat or need something a little more spicy to add to a cocktail, Maker’s Mark bourbon whiskeys have you covered. 

Rich and fruity, there are plenty of alluring notes of mixed peels, sliced honey, a hint of malmsey hazelnut, and a tinge of fruit pleasantly acting as a backbone to the toasty oak flavors on show.

Combined with a rich and full palate, Maker’s Mark Bourbon provides notes of spice and rye, some nut oil, barley malt, butterscotch, and vanilla. It’s hard to find a more interesting flavor profile when starting your whiskey journey. 

Hibiki Japanese Harmony

Aptly named Harmony, this Hibiki Japanese blended whisky is made from malt whiskies from the Hakushu and Yamazaki distilleries in Japan.

Drawn from 5 separate types of casks that include Sherry casks, Mizunara oak casks, and American white oak casks, Hibiki Japanese Harmony has a distinctly light finish. 

With wafts of orange, honey, and light oak, this blended whisky will impress any whisky expert. It has a nose of green apples, red berries, and various layers of rich honey.

Its palette simply blossoms with hints of melted butter and caramelized dates. Its warm, oak spice is delicious on the rocks and a great choice for any whisky newbie. 

What Goes Into Whiskey?

Now you have seen our list of whiskeys that are perfect for any beginner, it might be worth discussing the various kinds of whiskey and how they can affect you.

Read on as we discuss the various methods of making whiskeys, as well as the final taste, and overall flavor of different kinds of whiskeys.

Scotch Whisky

This whiskey is distilled in Scotland, which is a legal qualification for this stuff to be given the name Scotch. It comes in 5 different subgenres: malt, single malt, blended malt, blended malt grain, and blended scotch whiskey.

This whiskey is made from malted barley or grain and has a much more punchy and sour flavor than other types of whiskey. This is brewed in the barrel for a minimum of 3 years.

Irish Whiskey

Irish whiskeys are made from yeast-fermented grain mash or a mash of malted cereals. It takes a minimum of 3 years to reach maturity.

It has a very smooth finish and is often enjoyed neat.

European Whiskey

This next type of whiskey has various categories and brands within it that we don’t have the page space to discuss here.

It is distilled from fermented grain mash and contains barley, corn, rye, and wheat. This is aged in a wooden cask for around 3 years and has a very distinctive oaky finish.

Bourbon Whiskey

This next whiskey, Bourbon, has a slightly softer finish and might definitely be a starting point for most whiskey novices. This is made from corn and does not contain many additives.

This is a great drink for anyone who is watching their calorie intake, being very lean on carbs, unlike beer or wine.

Tennessee Whiskey

This is very much like bourbon whiskey, except that it is only brewed in the grand old state of Tennessee.

The main difference between this and bourbon is the filtering system. Tennessee whiskey uses charcoal, which is what accounts for its distinctive smokey taste.

Rye Whiskey

This next whiskey is very fruity and spicy, with a rye content that can go no lower than 51%. It is mainly manufactured and distilled in North America and it has to age in a barrel for at least 2 years.

Japanese Whisky

This next whiskey uses double peated barley and malt, aged in a wooden cask. This whiskey is drier and smokier than a lot of other whiskies that you can find on the market.

Needless to say, this one is primarily distilled in Japan and can be imported to Europe and America for a very high price.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Difference Between Jack Daniels and Irish Whiskey?

Well, aside from the different brewing methods, Jack Daniels is a lot smoother than Irish whiskey, with the latter having much more of a bitter kick to it.

We would recommend that you buy Jack Daniels over the Irish Whiskey, as we think it is a lot smoother and more palatable to beginners.

You can also get smaller bottles of the Jack Daniels, which might make you more inclined to try it.

In Summary 

So, there you have it. That’s a list of some of the best whiskies that you can find on the market. Now that you know the difference, you might be able to make a more educated guess as to what you want when you are purchasing your next spirit.

With so many whiskeys to choose from on the market, it can be confusing. However, we hope our list above has helped you on your journey to finding a whiskey that you will fall in love with.

You will probably have to try various kinds before you finally decide which one is your preferred type. So, all that’s left to say is, enjoy your whiskey-drinking experience! 

Interested in learning a bit more about the world of wine? Take a look at our guide on wine for beginners!

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Written by Brian N

Brian has been an influencer in the food and beverage industry for over 20 years. He not only loves to eat and drink at restaurants on a regular basis, he also knows the business inside and out.