When it comes to choosing a great whiskey liqueur for mixing, there’s no shortage of choices on the market. We also know they may not appeal to everyone's ideal taste, due to added ingredients like spices, sugar and cream. While sweetened, flavored whiskeys like Fireball (you can easily make your own cinnamon whiskey at home) have captured the market, the world of whiskey-based liqueurs extends well past the spring break scene. And thank goodness they do!
Think original, with a difference
Let’s start with some of the classic whiskey liqueurs that most people have heard of: Drambuie, Baileys and Jim Beam, for starters. Drambuie is of Scottish origin, and includes honey, spices and herbs. Baileys includes Irish cream, sugar and cocoa flavorings. While Jim Beam dates all the way back to origins of 1795 in Kentucky, the standard bottle includes vanilla, honey and spices.
Many of the new whiskey liqueurs follow a similar pattern to the originals, producing some great combinations of ingredients along with an even better taste. While these drinks make for a sweeter taste than a traditional whiskey, all have different levels of sweetness. All of them are an easy enough try for a first timer wanting to taste something a little different.
Here are 5 whiskey liqueurs we recommend sampling
Whisky Advocate has compiled a set of whiskey liqueurs that are highly sippable and great for mixing. “While whiskey liqueurs are often snubbed by purists, they offer fans a chance to try something a little less serious, and can help show a newbie that maybe they might actually like whiskey.”
“Mixologists and consumers are already using cream-based spirits, from boozy coffee to milkshakes to classic cocktails.” Melinda Maddox, Old Elk Distillery production manager and beverage director tells Whisky Advocate. “My best advice for a skeptical drinker is to try it first—have a little fun in the kitchen making boozy French toast, whipped cream, or elevate your latte—the choice is yours.”
And the below liqueurs can liven up recipes that are already favorites. Spruce up a Black or White Russian with a coffee-and-whiskey liqueur, or give a classic whiskey cocktail like an Old Fashioned an even sweeter spin. While all of the liqueurs featured are good for sipping, they also offer complementary flavors to their whiskey base.
Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Rock and Rye—42%, $23
Slow & Low brings together rye whiskey, rock candy, honey, Florida-grown navel oranges, and Angostura bitters. This is a fairly low-sugar liqueur, with the equivalent of only about one sugar cube in a 2-ounce pour.
Kentucky Coffee—33%, $20
Like its name suggests, this flavored whiskey brings together Kentucky-distilled whiskey with coffee extract.
Middle West Spirits Bourbon Cream—15%, $25
Made from Middle West’s Michelone Reserve bourbon—a whiskey made from a mash of yellow corn, red winter wheat, pumpernickel rye, and two-row barley—and cream from Ohio dairies.
Nooku Bourbon Cream—17%, $31
Nooku is made from Old Elk Distillery’s 2 year old high-malt whiskey and dairy cream. The two are blended without any additional sugar, coloring, or flavors, and the result is completely shelf-stable.
Ole Smoky Bourbon Ball—17.5%, $25
This sweet treat blends Ole Smoky’s Tennessee bourbon with milk chocolate to create a drinkable version of the venerable chocolate and whiskey confection.Need a good quality whiskey to go with this list of liqueurs? If you’re a fan of great whiskey and elevated cocktails, check out RackHouse Whiskey Club. RackHouse scours the U.S. looking for the best craft distilleries with the most interesting stories to curate a unique subscription box filled with full-sized bottles of hard-to-find small batch whiskey. We’re building a community of premium craft whiskey drinkers. And you’re invited! Join us!