Best Whiskeys Ranked 2021: Smoothest Single Malt, Grain & Blended Brands

(September 2021 Review)

whisky in glass infront of fire
Originally Posted December 15, 2020

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Looking for the best whiskeys this year? Or do you want to learn more about how to pick what type to go for? Whatever your interests, we’ve got all the details you need to make an educated decision.

Whisky has been admired for centuries as a popular tipple in and around the British Isles. Amazingly, it dates as far back as the 15th century. Thanks to various immigrants and empires, whisky soon made itself clear under the umbrella of three well-known types:

  1. Peaty in the form of double-distilled Scotch whisky
  2. Smoother as triple-distilled Irish whiskey
  3. The sweeter bourbon-style whiskies that were made in the good old USA

Even though the drink dropped out of favour for a brief time during the late 20th century, whisky has of late pulled ahead of vodka as the most popular liquor in the UK, and a decent range of malts and blends can be found in most local pubs.

How to Pick the Right Whisky?

What whisky types do you get?

You will find there are three fundamental types. Malt whiskey is made of malt and aged in oak, with a flavour and taste that is renowned. Malt whisky is made exclusively from malt right within a single distillery, without adding any other grains. Specifically, Scotch whiskey is known for its strong and unique malts that can be found all over the world.

It is a case of looking in the right spot, and you will surely find Indian, Japanese, or Irish single malts.

In the United States, this is usually corn or maize, making the sweeter bourbon-style American whiskies. Whiskey is manufactured from grains rather than malted barley. If you want a lighter grain whisky, then you should look for brands that are made from unmalted cereals.

The most widely created whisky is blended and made from a combination of malt and grain spirits. Seeing that single malt whiskey requires a large amount of work and is costly to make, mixing with a grain leads typically to a cheaper product. A more spicy, less complex taste is often produced with the inclusion of the lighter grain whiskey that some would like, and that can be ideal for use in cocktails and blended drinks.

Blended malt whiskies are less commonly seen, and are only made using malted barley, but may blend malts from more than one distillery. Usually, this provides a distinctive mixture that is more difficult to produce than a malt-grain blend and comparatively cheaper than a single malt.

Single pot whiskey relates to Irish whiskey made using a combination of unmalted and malted barley (and occasionally other grains), offering a somewhat more peppery experience opposed to single malt.

You will find single or mixed malts in cask strength, meaning the whisky is distilled directly from the cask in which it was aged without being filtered. Usually, cask-strength whiskies contain between 60-65 percent alcohol by volume whereas traditional whisky is around 40 percent. Therefore, people need to drink it with water.

What is the best whisky for me?

Scotch-style single or distilled malt whisky has a full-bodied taste that is perfect for refined sipping. A single scotch’s flavour varies from astringent to a near caramel flavour. Peated malts feature a nearly chewy, smoky flavour that requires an acquired taste.

It’s worth your while to try several malts from different places – if you don’t like a peaty Highland malt, then maybe a soft Speyside with a hint of sweetness would be more acceptable to your palate. It is prudent to add a spatter of water to bring out the taste and flavour of your tot – a method that is regularly referred to as “releasing the serpent.”

You may want to add either ginger ale or Coke with your whiskey to bring about a with smoother, less smoky blended whisky aroma. Doing so will please your palate much better than just a single malt. You can always keep a bottle or two of the finest whisky in the back of your cocktail cabinet for visitors to enjoy.

Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey

Bulleit provides a strong kick to the senses with its peppery rye flavour and that playful extra 5 percent ABV. The whisky is revered as a Kentucky-style bourbon. Rich and engaging with a citrusy aftertaste of cinnamon, you can drink Bulleit right from the flask, and it also blends mixes well. If you’d like it or not, it’s a punchy and rugged whisky that brims with a rich, oaky aroma of vanilla, spice and pepper flavours.

Key Reflections

  • Bulleit Bourbon’s subtlety and versatility come from its unique combination of corn, rye, and barley malt, together with unique blends of natural Kentucky limestone-filtered water and yeast.
  • The colour is medium amber, with sweet oak and mild spiciness aromas.
  • The whisky features nutmeg, oak, and maple tones.

Tomatin Cask Strength Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Tomatin Cask Strength Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky 70 cl
36 Reviews
Tomatin Cask Strength Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky 70 cl
  • Golden syrup, orange and lemon, pears, walnuts and ginger biscuits
  • Marzipan, burnt sugar and toasted malt loaf
  • Chestnuts, polished leather, vanilla flavoured tobacco

The clean, single malt aged in sherry and bourbon casks for extra layers of flavour, this softer offering includes undertones of vanilla and caramel. It is an outstanding choice for laid back sipping immediately after dinner or when sitting by the fire on a wintry evening. Seeing that the whisky features a strong 57.5% ABV right out the bottle, you need to dilute it with water before drinking.

Key Reflections

  • This is a very tasty sweet clean malt packed with flavour if you love the clean and full flavour of a superior malt then this is one we would highly recommend.

Naked Grouse Blended Malt Scotch Whisky

Naked Grouse Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, 70 cl
3,122 Reviews
Naked Grouse Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, 70 cl
  • At Naked we believe in doing things differently. We live naked and we're not tied to conventional whisky rules. Our whisky is made for celebrating that liberating moment when you can get back to the real you, the Naked you…
  • Changing the possibilities of whisky enjoyment, we’ve created a unique blend of the world’s finest single malts, extra-matured in ‘Naked’ first-fill sherry casks (Naked because its their first time filled with whisky).
  • Convention says we need tasting notes. There’s certainly layers of rich & fruity flavour, however we’d rather let you decide… We think it’s delicious and simply made to be enjoyed. With such a unique and versatile flavour, you don’t have to be restricted by the usual whisky ‘dos and don’ts’. So go on, dare to be different… enjoy Naked YOUR way!

The no-fuss blended malt from the brewers of The Famous Grouse, this happens to be a flowing but full-bodied all-malt whisky aged in sherry casks. Rich, more substantial than a grain or malt blend and with a slightly sweet aftertaste, Naked Grouse comes in a clean and unfussy bottle that we consider pretty attractive. At less than £20, it’s also a great value.

Key Reflections

  • Full-bodied sherry cask only blended malt with no unpleasant young grain whisky to spoil it.
  • Mellowing layered flavours along with the ideal volume of warmth
  • It’s a tea-coloured substance that has a zesty aroma. The taste is smooth plus it has a characteristic spicy aftertaste at the same time that is not as sweet tasting as its famous cousin.

Auchentoshan Three Wood Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Auchentoshan Three Wood Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 70cl
423 Reviews
Auchentoshan Three Wood Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 70cl
  • For a Scotch that's as rich and elegant as it is lively and versatile, try Auchentoshan Three Wood.
  • Triple distilled for extra smoothness — most distilleries only distil twice — Auchentoshan Three Wood is a mellow and complex dram. After distillation, it's left to age in a variety of oak barrels: including American oak bourbon and Spanish Oloroso sherry casks. The third type of barrel was previously used to age Pedro Ximenez sherry, a thick and syrupy sweet dessert wine. This combination of wood brings plenty of rich and sweet flavours to the mix.
  • The Auchentoshan distillery likes to do thing differently. Based in the urban sprawl of Glasgow, rather than in the picturesque Scottish countryside, it's surrounded by a lively and ever-changing cityscape. This inspires the creation of whisky that's free from conventions. Great for mixing as well as drinking neat, Auchentoshan Three Wood is easily adaptable — a typical Glaswegian. This rich, golden bronze lowland whisky tastes like fruit, syrup and hazelnuts with just a touch of spicy cinnamon and zingy lemon. With toffee and sherry flavours picked up from its time in barrel, this urban single malt makes a cracking Auchentoshan & Ale.

Remarkably smooth drinking that is triple-distilled and aged in Oloroso, bourbon, and Pedro Ximenez casks to bring a mellowed, fruity taste that’s worth savouring. Slightly sweet and rich, with no peaty smoke, this is perhaps the nearest fine whisky to be compared to a Christmas pudding in a receptacle. If the far more astringent malts make you believe that you do not enjoy Scotch whisky, give this brand a try prior to giving up.

Key Reflections

  • Sherry casks for a complex whisky with sherry, toasted hazelnut, rich fruit, and chocolate flavours.
  • It is aged in three cask types, from American Bourbon to Spanish Oloroso as well as Pedro Ximenez Sherry.
  • Superb dram. Adequately balanced. It’s a lovely sweet dram.
  • Striking rosy colour

Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whisky

Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whisky, 70cl
743 Reviews
Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whisky, 70cl
  • This historic single pot still Irish whiskey used only to be available in Dublin grocer Mitchell's, but now has spread across the world to huge acclaim.
  • A non age statement Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey comprising of pot still whiskeys aged between 7 & 10 years. The whiskey has matured in a combination of bourbon and sherry casks.
  • Nose : Fresh aromatic oils and spices with orchard fruits and barley on a background of toasted wood

A warm, age-long single-pot whiskey, smooth with velvety vanilla hints. Made with a mix of malted and unmalted barley, Green Spot was, up until recently, only made available at the distiller’s Dublin store, and production is still restricted to 12,000 bottles per year. Therefore, if a person has a few buddies you’d like to wow, a bottle of the Green Spot should make all of them very happy.

Key Reflections

  • Fresh aromatic spices and oils along with barley and orchard fruits on a background of toasted wood
  • Full spicy body. A hint of cloves along with the fruity sugariness of green apples rounded off with toasted oak.
  • Lingering flavours of barley and spices – A delicious blend of malt, toffee, and fruit
  • Finish: Creamy, age-long finish, vanilla.
  • Strongly suggest you give it a try if you take pleasure in redbreast, but don’t expect it to be the same.

Penderyn Welsh Malt Whisky

Penderyn Welsh Malt Whisky, 70cl
1,306 Reviews
Penderyn Welsh Malt Whisky, 70cl
  • Distilled in our unique copper pot still, matured in bourbon barrels and finished in rich Madeira wine casks.
  • Crisp and finely rounded, with the sweetness to balance an appetising dryness. Notes of tropical fruit, raisins and vanilla.
  • Winner of the Best World Whisky, Gold Medal at the 2012 International Whisky Competition

Welsh whisky or commonly referred to as “wisgi” is a real drink, and a tasty one also. The wisgi custom ended up being reinvigorated in Wales in the beginning of the 2000s, which is now increasing in popularity outside of its motherland. This welcoming, mild whisky with notes of vanilla is Penderyn’s most popular single malt, while other offerings from the distillery come with the peatier Celt and the jammy port wood-finished malt.

Key Reflections

  • It was distilled in a unique copper pot still, aged in bourbon barrels and polished off in rich Madeira wine casks.
  • Carefully rounded and crisp, along with the sweet taste to complete an appetizing dryness. Hints of raisins, tropical fruit, and vanilla.

Laphroaig 14-Year-Old 2004 – Chieftain’s Single Malt Whisky

Laphroaig 14 Year Old 2004 - Chieftain's Single Malt Whisky
1 Reviews
Laphroaig 14 Year Old 2004 - Chieftain's Single Malt Whisky
  • Laphroaig Whisky
  • Cardboard Tube
  • 70cl / 700ml

Laphroaig is not a dram for everybody, considering its peculiar ample taste. It features a complex combination of smoky sweetness, pine and honey notes, and delivers a rich body taste that’s extensive and silky on the palate. This lovely limited edition 14-year-old Islay malt is a nifty way of treating yourself if that feels like your sort of stuff.

Last update on 2021-09-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Adam Brown

Adam Brown

Growing up it was very much a beige oven based meal which pushed me into learning how to cook more exotic dishes. I have a love for most food especially Thai and BBQ which led me to create the Smoke Guys website. I hope you find my reviews and guides helpful and I'm always open to hearing any suggestions you may have.
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