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The 12 Best Whiskeys for an Old Fashioned (2023)

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who like an Old Fashioned, and those who don’t. In most cases, those who drink Old Fashioned cocktails regularly have a particular, ardent preference in the type of whiskey their drink is made with.

And since the Old Fashioned is basically booze, sugar, Angostura bitters, and ice, the whiskey matters. A lot. Not to overwhelm — since whiskey can do that — the main factors we’re looking for are either a bourbon that isn’t too sweet, a rye that isn’t too spicy, and a whiskey that’s sufficiently high proof and dry to withstand both the sugar cube and ice dilution. Bear in mind, since an Old Fashioned is a mixed drink, you don’t wanna break the bank on either bourbon or rye. When looking for the best whiskey for an Old Fashioned, buy decent, but don’t buy extravagant — save those bottles for thoughtful sipping.

Here are the best whiskeys for making Old Fashioned cocktails.

Four Roses Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon

“Small batch” may not be a legal term, but what you’ll find in the Four Roses bottle will taste spot-on. Caramel, butterscotch, undercut by spice and a prickle of red berries.

Jim Beam White Label Bourbon Whiskey

Considering it’s been made with the same formula since the late 18th Century, it must be pretty good. Not as deep as other bourbons, but consistent, smooth, and spicy — maybe the ideal affordable whiskey for the Old Fashioned cocktail.

Rittenhouse Straight Rye Bottled-In-Bond

Here’s some truly affordable rye character. A bit more pluck than a classic bourbon, with distinct notes of pepper and subtle fruit to round it out. Oak notes, with caramel and spice, edge out a dryer finish. A bracing spirit, capable of holding its own against sugar cubes, water, or just a long day.

Old Overholt Straight Rye

Old Overholt is certainly the stuff Don Draper drinks (at least once), but it’s also just a great entry-level rye, affordable (should be under $20) but not weirdly “cheap,” with balanced and a bit less prickly, rye notes swirling around a smoother body.

Sazerac Rye

Rich, lustrous, exotic, spicy — you can kind of keep complimenting this rye for a while and it won’t get embarrassing. Sip before you mix, and drink the Old Fashioned you make with it slowly.

Widow Jane Oak & Apple Wood Aged Rye

Brooklyn’s Widow Jane adds a proprietary spin to its rye whiskey by introducing applewood staves into the barrels during maturation. The finished spirit has rye-forward aromas complemented by a hint of cornbread, while the palate delivers sweetness and spice, with a bitter dark chocolate finish, perfect for a complex Old Fashioned.

Elijah Craig Small Batch

Elijah Craig Small Batch serves an enjoyably refined, nuanced drinking experience for a bottle that can easily be found for less than $30. It starts out with vibrant, fruity aromas and tingling rye spice. As you move onto the palate, the influence of oak adds further depth and layers of flavor, culminating in a toasty finish where all the flavors come together as one. Its 94 proof strikes a real sweet spot, making this a quality but affordable weekday sipper you can absolutely enjoy neat.

Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond

Robust enough for classics like the Old Fashioned, this whiskey offers tons of character, from the crack of pepper on the nose to a distinctly sweet and fruity palate. This isn’t the bottle you pull off your shelf to impress friends but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking individual charm or appeal — and you certainly can’t argue with the $15 price tag.

Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Don’t confuse this with Eagle Rare Single Barrel — that’s likely better to sip on its own (since it’s not a blended bourbon, just the “one time only,” idiosyncratic expression of a barrel). But Eagle Rare 10 Year will give you one of the more luxurious experiences of a bourbon Old Fashioned, with a subtle depth of flavor that wouldn’t (shouldn’t) be expected for the price.

Buffalo Trace Bourbon

A balance of corn and rye, with more corn (sweetness, caramel, vanilla notes) after aging. You’ll get a smooth Old Fashioned with some subtle hints of spice. An added bonus: this is often the bourbon craft cocktail bars use for their traditional Old Fashioned.

Wild Turkey 101 Rye

Well rounded, with a sweet profile, notes of fresh herbs and savory spices add an extra dimension to its profile. At 101 proof, it’s more than capable of holding its own in an Old Fashioned.

Starward Nova Single Malt Australian Whisky

Drawing inspiration from Australia’s brewers and winemakers, this whisky’s malted barley mash uses brewer’s yeast for fermentation, while the finished double-distilled spirit ages in red wine barrels sourced from the Yarra and Barossa valleys. The end result is a single malt that serves vibrant red fruit and baking spice notes, which arrive in bold but balanced proportions. Granted, it’s not technically an American whiskey, but this bottle ranks among the best liquor for an Old Fashioned.

The article The 12 Best Whiskeys for an Old Fashioned (2023) appeared first on VinePair.

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