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21 Smoothest Whiskeys To Sip

Even if you’ve never had whiskey, it’s easy to tell the refined sip from whiskey that’s rough on the palate. In truth, many exquisite whiskeys are on the market, but some glide down the throat easier than others.

Bartender Serve whiskey, on wood bar

Look elsewhere if you enjoy bold expressions and sharply defined flavors that explode on the tongue.

However, if you love the mildest textures in an elixir that makes you down half a glass before you realize you’ve had your first sip – you’re at the right place.

Let’s check out the smoothest whiskey you can buy on the market, considering the ABV, age, ingredients, and distillation process.

Auchentoshan 21 Year Old

The Auchentoshan brand is unheard of by hobbyist drinkers, but true connoisseurs know the company’s distillery in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland.

In the Second World War, the Luftwaffe bombed the Auchentoshan distillery. Still, this setback didn’t affect the distillery’s whiskey production for too long.

The Auchentoshan 21-Year-Old is a triple-distilled beverage with 162 proofs or 81% ABV.

The sweet flavor results from long aging inside former sherry and Bourbon barrels for that smooth texture and sweet flavor.

I like this single malt for its floral hints of citrus, creamy vanilla, and tobacco on the nose. It’s silky smooth with a delicate floral finish.

Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask

Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask is a multiple award-winning Speysider aged in Caribbean rum casks, imparting extra warmth and sweetness into the whisky.

It’s no coincidence that the Balvenie 14 Year Old is the IWSC winner for Single Malt Whiskey 15 years and Under in 2017.

The beverage has a rich aroma featuring undernotes of tropical fruits, including creamy toffee and passion fruit.

You can’t doubt the smoothness of this whisky, with notes of mangoes, apples, and cream on the palate, with lingering hints of orange. 

The Speyside character of this Scottish distiller ensures that this scotch whisky will still have an incredible smoothness even without the Caribbean rum-cask finish.

Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Buffalo Trace Bourbon is a whiskey that pays homage to the Wild West pioneers and continues to manufacture one of America’s best whiskeys to date.

The slippery spice on the palate is best enjoyed neat, and you can tell the different aromas dovetailing together, including wisps of butterscotch and allspice.

This entry-level whiskey is less than ten years old. Still, it has a higher quality than other competing beverages – thanks to the rye spice and lengthy finish. Still, the flavor profile isn’t the most unique.

Buffalo Trace features rye, barley, and significant amounts of corn. It’s surprisingly rounded for a bourbon that’s less than 100 proof.

Bushmills 21 Year Old

There’s a reason why the Bushmills 21-Year-Old is the go-to beverage for whiskey lovers worldwide.

In addition to the triple distillation process, Bushmills uses three different casks – ex-oloroso sherry, ex-bourbon, and ex-Madeira in a two-year finish for that exquisite taste and texture.

This first-rate whiskey is at the top of Bushmill’s standard range, with a fruity sweetness that’s a jumble of orchard and tropical fruits, including apricots and pears.

40% ABV whiskeys offer less texture and flavor than I’d like, but this beverage is bursting with fruit and cream. It’s exceptional whiskey with a long-length finish.

George Dickel, 13-Year-Old Bottle-in-Bond

Jack Daniel’s gets all the attention as the number one Tennessee whiskey brand.

However, George Dickel offers authentic Tennessee whiskey as well. The 13-Year-Old Bottle-in-Bond is a limited release consisting of corn, rye, and barley.

In its third season, the Bottled in Bond features an oaky flavor profile. You’ll love the heady presence of tobacco, honeydew, and light maple on the nose.

The whiskey has a rounded balance and slight sweetness subdued by the darker flavors.

This whiskey’s flavors won’t blow your mind, but the texture is smoother than a snow cloud, with a vanilla finish that gently fades into mint.

Glenlivet 12 Year Old

Glenlivet 12-Year Old is the most popular single malt offering from the stables of the Glenlivet Distillery in Ballindalloch, Banffshire.

George Smith was the first Speyside distiller in 1824 when he founded the distillery. However, over half of Scotland’s distilleries are based there today.

The Glenlivet 12-Year-Old is America’s best-selling single-malt scotch and one of the most patronized worldwide.

Still, it’s entry-level, even by Speyside standards, and a starter whiskey for connoisseurs attempting their first romance with single malt scotch.

Ex-bourbon European and American oak casks offer a light scent of vanilla and malt on the nose, including undernotes of honey and red licorice on the palate.

Glenmorangie 18-Year-Old Extremely Rare

The best introduction to the Glenmorangie Prestige Expressions is the 18-Year-Old Extremely Rare.

This whiskey is aged in oak bourbon casks, maturing for 15 years before a three-year finish in ex-oloroso sherry barrels.  

Consequently, this highland scotch has a 43% ABV, resulting in a fruity, creamy, single malt that offers tangy undernotes of cinnamon, citrus, and stewed fruits.

I like the beautifully crafted bottle, a befitting vessel for a somewhat luxurious whiskey.

Glenmorangie is an exceptional brand you’ll never forget after your first sip.

This 18-Year-Old Extremely Rare pushes the envelope of the distiller’s most distinctive qualities.

Knappogue Castle 1995

Knappogue Castle 1995 is arguably the lightest whisky you’ll ever come across.

It has a golden color, including a delicate nose and mouthfeel.

Irish whiskeys often have a more lightweight body than Scottish malts or American Bourbon; this whiskey isn’t an exception.

The candy-like aroma on the nose is saturated with green apples, toasty wood, and sweet vanilla.

In truth, this whiskey is a well-balanced dram, but the light body is an acquired taste.

Still, the clear finish is strong and short, with lingering hints of bitterness that balance out the palate’s syrupy sweetness. 

Redbreast 12 Year Old

The Redbreast 12-Year-Old is an entry-level malt distilled in County Cork, Ireland.

It’s a Single Pot Still unique to Ireland, consisting of unmalted and malted barley – the latter offering a spiciness and rounded mouthfeel that’s one of a kind in the whiskey industry.

The first nose is the standout part of this whiskey, featuring a medley of citrus, caramel, and dates, followed by roasted apples, grass, and cinnamon on the second nose.

You can buy this beverage for its aroma alone. Still, the taste is flavorful and silky, with afternotes of sweetness – thanks to the sherry barrel.

The GlenDronach Allardice

The GlenDronach Allardice is a masterful dram named after James Allardice – the distillery’s founder. It’s the authentic highland whiskey I enjoy the most in the Glendronach collection.

The maturation takes place in ex-oloroso sherry barrels sitting still for 18 years.

This process ensures a complexity of flavors that are balanced and easy on the throat no matter the time of year.

I like the dark red color, which offers a sherry sweetness on the nose with bright notes of fresh berries and Christmas cake. The long finish is vermouth with hints of dark fruit and spice.

Tomintoul 14 Year Old

Tomintoul, 14 Year Old, is the same fiery liquid as Tomintoul, 10 Year Old, only the former is aged an extra four years.

I drank a bottle of this last Christmas and clearly remember the nail varnish and peach note like yesterday.

This whiskey is gentle on the palate – it’s nice without the complexity I often find with most Speysiders that rely on sherry to enhance the flavor and sweetness.

The whiskey is fantastic to share with a novice because there isn’t a lot going on to put a beginner off.

Finally, the semi-dry finish makes it an excellent dram worth sampling in the summer.

Glen Moray Elgin Classic

I consider only a few affordable whiskies an excellent steal for quality and price, and the Glen Moray Elgin Classic is one such find. This malt has no reason to feel ashamed despite its simplicity.

It’s highly refreshing, clean as a whistle, smooth, and enjoyable while offering tremendous value.

Indeed, it’s a light summer malt – fruity, refreshing, and sharp crispiness that cuts like a knife.

I love the fruity nose that screams red berries and green fruit, including kiwis, grapes, and gooseberries.

A second sniff introduces light herbals like the freshness of winter mint.

The mouthfeel is smooth for 40% ABV, and the short finish emphasizes vanilla and toffee in a remarkable, excellently priced dram.

Aberlour 16 Whiskey

The Aberlour 10 Year Old was too sweet for my taste.

However, the Aberlour 16 Whiskey hits the right spot – thanks to an extra six years in an ex-bourbon barrel.

The nose is strong, almost intense, with the rich aroma of toffee and cinnamon.

Apples are very present too, and a touch of pears, perhaps? The fruity background is quite dominant, surprising considering that toffee hugs the limelight.

I enjoy the long finish that offers a smoothness worthy of this list. The Aberlour 16  is suitable for enthusiasts, with a soft spot for sweet whiskies.

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon is a thrice-yearly release from Heaven Hill Distillery – arguably the most prominent distillery in the United States.

Depending on the batch, the whiskey ranges from fruity to floral, including hints of coffee grounds and milk chocolate.

The amber-colored whiskey offers a hint of burnt apples and sweet vanilla on the first nose, followed by roasted grain.

The Bourbon is fiery – thanks to the 60.5% ABV and you can detect a hint of tannin, which does nothing to diminish the alcohol’s sting.

The proof is too high to enjoy the whiskey neat, and adding a dash of water opens up the aroma.

Five Brothers Bourbon

Five Brothers Bourbon is an exclusive blend of five differently-aged bourbons as a tribute to the Shapira Brothers, who established the distillery in 1935.

The mash bill age is five to nine years, each representing a founding brother.

This whiskey is 90 proof, featuring a touch of brown sugar and light tobacco on the nose.

A further sniff offers a faint whiff of oak and maple sugar candy. The overall fragrance is rich without feeling overpowering.

Five Brothers Bourbon offers a bouquet of sweetness, including honey, caramel, maple syrup, and vanilla.

The long finish leaves a lingering sweetness that will excite the senses of whiskey enthusiasts on the hunt for sweet Bourbon.

Eagle Rare 10 Year Old Bourbon

If you enjoy sipping bourbon, the Eagle Rare 10 Year Old Bourbon is an excellent choice for smooth drinking.

Eagle Rare is a Kentucky straight bourbon that is aged for 10+ years.

On the nose, this bourbon offers notes of complex toffee, orange peel, honey, herbs, and leather. The taste is described as bold and oaky, with notes of candied almonds and rich cocoa.

I personally prefer bourbon over other types of whiskey because of its sweeter and smooth taste, and this is one of my favorite bottles.

Pikesville Straight Rye

Maryland used to be a rye whiskey production hub before prohibition, and the Pikesville Straight Rye is the last remaining rye brand from the state.

After the closure of Majestic Distilling Corporation in Maryland, the whiskey brand passed through several hands.

Bernheim Distillery is the current producer of this whiskey in faraway Kentucky.

Pikesville Straight Rye offers a mix of spicy and sweet notes, including cinnamon apple, cherry syrup, and rye spice.

There’s a lovely amount of heat in the finish that creeps slowly down the throat.

This whiskey is exceptionally smooth, but the price could be a little lower to offer fantastic value.

Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Rye

You’d need help to do better than Russell’s Reserve 6-Year Rye if you’re looking for a gentle rye whiskey.

Russel’s Reserve is authentic rye whiskey in the Kentucky tradition and offers a 45% ABV.

The six-year aging opens up the scent of oak and vanilla on the nose, revealing subtle hints of bubblegum. I like the overall smell – an excellent way to prepare for the sip.

Russell’s Reserve’s mash bill is  51% rye – like all rye whiskeys. Still, the malted barley offers a silky mouthfeel on the palate.

You’ll also detect undernotes of almond butter and spearmint on the tongue.

The whiskey is an easy sipper with a medium finish that hints green peppercorn. 

West Cork 8-Year Single Malt

I’ve sampled a few bottles from West Cork Distillers. But the West Cork 8-Year Single Malt is up there with its very best releases.

The maturation takes eight years in ex-American bourbon barrels – flame charred to offer a hint of smokiness on the nose.

You can tell the fruit even though it’s slightly restrained, allowing other elements to shine.

West Cork 8-Year-Old is a fantastic alternative to other highly-priced whiskies.

Look no further if you want great-tasting Irish single malt at an affordable price.

Knob Creek 12-Year Bourbon

Knob Creek 12-Year-Old Bourbon was a limited edition whiskey released in 2019 before joining the Knob Creek collection a year later.

This Bourbon has a 50% ABV and is one of the most affordable high-aged bourbons you can find on the market.

The aroma is reminiscent of dark sweets, pie crust, and pumpkin spice on the nose, including a hint of ethanol.

The heady scents dovetail together, a fantastic opening to start the sip.

The extra maturation in the cask pays rich dividends on the palate, with undernotes of marshmallow and vanilla on the tongue.

I like the medium finish, which underscores the dram’s cask strength.

Henry McKenna Single Barrel

The Henry McKenna Single Barrel uses a similar mash bill to other Heaven Hill whiskey brands.

This single barrel certainly meets the Bottled in Bond standards.

I’m amazed how the scent immediately assaults the nose, with hints of wood pine and brown sugar.

There’s a slightly metallic scent that underwhelms, but it’s not so bad.

Seasoned oak and vanilla take center stage, but the notes are balanced by a hint of rye spice and caramel, resulting in a smooth mouthfeel – thanks to the 50% ABV.

Enjoying this whiskey with water deepens the sweetness on the palate, which is great for connoisseurs averse to dry whiskey.

Tell us your favorite whiskey from this list, or comment and let us know what we missed!

If you’re looking for other impressive bottles, check out the most expensive whiskeys!


Leave a Reply
  1. Rocco…. You must taste the McClintock Rye and their other offerings! They are amazing and just starting to be discovered. They’re located in Frederick, MD and need to get added toyour list of the best out there.
    Check them out, they won’t disappoint. Just went there for the 1st time over the Holidays and did a tasting.

  2. Henry McKenna is the best on the list. Yet I find Redbreast 12 yr should be on the list. Very old St. Nick is another.

  3. Glad Red Breast made the list. I have turned many people on to it and they really love it. The 21 year old is also very gamification.

  4. In the US and Ireland they spell it “Whiskey” In Scotland and the rest of the world they spell it “Whisky”. Balvenie is a “Whisky”

  5. I can’t believe Dalmore didn’t make the list. The 15 year old is fantastic and so is the king Alexander lll.
    Also, I had the green label, rabbit hole bourbon, which I thought was really smooth, I have a bottle of the black label rabbit hole, which I haven’t tried yet and hoping it will be as good as the green

  6. The Green/Yellow/Red Spots are my favorite Irish Whiskeys and Whistle Pig the best American, especially the Smokestock.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.