Welcome to our “Monthly Picks” series! Each month we will pick ten easy-to-find whiskey selections that we either really enjoy, or that we think are drastically overlooked.
Our recommendations will be diversified across all different kinds of whiskey. Bourbon, scotch, Irish, Japanese, the whole gang will make themselves known in our recommendations. So, hopefully, this becomes a series that helps you discover new and fun bottles!
1) Rabbit Hole: Dereringer
Finishing bourbons is a hard gig. There’s a fine line between taking too much away from the core bourbon and not giving it enough time to actually complete the desired profile.
However, Rabbit Hole Dereringer walks this line perfectly.
The finish doesn’t overpower the bourbon, but it adds a nice fruity and sweet depth of flavor that makes it great on its own, in a cocktail, or cooked into a dish that needs a nice sweet and earthy punch.
2) Blue Note: Juke Joint
Blue Note is a newer player in the scene but has made a splash in the whiskey community to great effect.
They have become a shelf staple, and their more aged expressions have won more than a few fans for the brand. Their recent surge of Juke Joint barrel picks have been met with great enthusiasm and can be found in most serious whiskey stores.
Deliciously earthy with a little roasted peanut note in addition to sweet bourbon undertones make this an easy recommendation.
3) Laws Whiskey: Four Grain Bourbon
Laws Whiskey House focuses on creating honest heirloom grain whiskey that gives proper attention to each step of the distillation process.
Their four grain bourbon has a lot of character and comes in multiple expressions for the many different palates and preferences that can be found in the whiskey community.
Their base expression is great for newer drinkers looking for an easy sipper. The cask is great for people looking for flavor amped up to eleven and a strong body. The bonded, my personal favorite, is a great middle option for those who want something truly unique and balanced.
4) Benriach: The Smoky Ten
Benriach’s The Smoky Ten is the little brother to The Smoky Twelve that won one of the best whiskeys last year in Whiskey Advocate. The twelve is what got me into scotch in the first place, but the ten is also incredibly delicious.
It has nice, heavy smoke flavors without the peat. This makes it much more approachable to those who might find the peat flavors present in some scotches to be a bit overwhelming. However, the multiple cask finishes, one of them being in virgin charred white oak barrels, give it fruity and bourbon-like notes that make it a great “first scotch.”
5) Elijah Craig Rye
Elijah Craig is an incredibly popular name in the bourbon community. And, as of late, they’ve expanded their line to encompass some of the most popular expression trends.
The rye is a solid entry in our opinion.
Rye whiskey can be a little intimidating for someone who hasn’t ventured far out from bourbon, and they can be a little more temperamental. Sometimes the spice is difficult for those with developing palates, but the lower proof and the sweeter characteristics rotating around and earthy rye-spice core makes it a great bottle for both new and veteran enthusiasts alike.
6) Highland Park 10 Year
Highland Park is a well-known scotch brand, and their 10 year is a great balance of approachability and flavor.
Highland Scotches typically don’t have the same peated profile as some other regions, making it an easy and approachable pour. It has great smoked barley and wood-spice notes that will mimic some of the notes found in American whiskey while still having a great and smoky profile.
7) Nikka Whisky From The Barrel
Japanese whiskey can be very similar to the smoked barley notes found in scotch. That’s because Takatsuru, the father of Japanese whiskey, studied in Scotland and apprenticed under scotch distillers.
Nikka’s higher proof amps up the flavor and keeps a nice balance of spice, body, sweet, and smoky flavors. This balance has won fans over worldwide and makes it a definite recommendation for something you should keep on your shelf.
8) Smooth Ambler: Old Scout (Indiana)
Old Scout is an incredibly delicious bourbon. The fact that it’s readily available is another boon for why it’s made it into December’s list.
Big sweet and earthy bourbon flavors pair nicely with spice and wood flavors. The lower proof makes it a little more universally approachable and makes it a great sipping whiskey for fall and winter.
9) Michter’s: American Unblended
This is one of my personal favorite daily drinkers.
Michter’s delicious American Unblended Whiskey is huge on flavor and really highlights the classic whiskey notes that Michter’s has become so well-known for.
Big notes of wood spice, tobacco, baking spices, baked caramel, and undertones of vanilla make this a great and flexible pour that would be at home on your shelf.
10) Compass Box: The Spice Tree
This was one of the earlier scotches that I picked up.
Compass Box has made a bit of a splash in the scotch scene by offering premium blended scotches. They are moderately priced, going from around $60 to upwards of $150 depending on the expression. The blending, however, gives them a lot of flexibility to create unique expressions centered around a specific flavor profile.
While each one is unique, this one is a nice balance of light and flavorful, offering drinkers a great mild scotch that keeps some classic whiskey flavors with supporting roles of smoke and malt.
Greg Sinadinos started his spirits journey writing a whiskey periodical for Fine Tobacco NYC Magazine. He began answering review requests under a social media page he named “Whiskey Culture,” which quickly merged with Greg’s passion for connecting with others and his interest in history.
Today, Greg travels the country not just looking for great whiskey, but also exploring the history and individuals that the whiskey community is founded upon. He has authored “Whiskey History From Around The World” and is the host of “The Rickhouse” web series.