Whiskey price

13 bartenders name their favorite whiskey sips of 2021

We’re weeks into 2022 and even though we’re looking first and foremost instead of dwelling on the past, we can’t help but think back to some of the best food and drink we’ve tried in the last year. Previously, we asked some bartenders and bar pros to tell us their favorite bourbon sips of 2021. Today, we turn our attention to their absolute favorite whiskey sips of the past year.

This means our scope is a bit wider this round – we’re talking single malt scotch, bourbon, rye, blended scotch, Irish whiskey, American single malt and various other varieties of whisk(e) there from all over the world.

Our panel of bartenders threw in some great whiskeys that we think you’ll enjoy. Some are available at your local liquor store, some are limited releases, and some are hard-to-find and expensive unicorn bottles. All is well.

Keep scrolling to see all of their picks!

Redbreast 27 Irish Whiskey

robin

John “Fizy” Fitzpatrick, Spiritual Advisor at Warren American Whiskey Kitchen in Delray, Florida

ABV: 53.5%

Average price: $640

Why this whisky?

As a Fitzpatrick, I am definitely a fan of my Irish whiskey. I had the opportunity to try Red Breast 27 last summer and didn’t know what to expect. When I first tasted it, I was completely taken aback by the unusual flavor in a most amazing way. Orange zest, cinnamon, vanilla and more dried fruit come together like no other whiskey I’ve ever tasted.

Dare I say I enjoyed it more than my beloved Midleton Very Rare? Let’s just say it’s one of the most unique and delicious whiskeys I’ve ever had the opportunity to taste. Simply extraordinary.

Closest Uncle 1856 Tennessee Whiskey

Closest Uncle 1856 Tennessee Whiskey
closest uncle

Joseph Samuel, bartender at Billy Can Can in Dallas

ABV: 50%

Average price: $55

Why this whisky?

I’ve tried a lot of Uncle Nearest lately. They’ve won quite a few awards and I love their story. It’s caramel up front with a wheaten rye finish. Of the two, my pick is Uncle Nearest 1856. This award-winning 100-proof expression is a blend of Tennessee whiskeys aged eight to 14 years.

Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese Whiskey

Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese Whiskey
Nikka

Daniel Yang, head bartender at the Electra Cocktail Club in Las Vegas

ABV: 45%

Average price: $73

Why this whisky?

The grand prize for Best Whiskey of 2021 for me still goes to one of my all-time favourites, Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky. With a high mash bill, this Japanese whiskey uses the Coffey distillation process to give us light grain notes that aren’t too complex, while offering spice and a hint of smoke.

A wonderful transition to Japanese whiskey for those who love bourbon, definitely a winner.

Glenmorangie Signet Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Glenmorangie Signet Single Malt Scotch Whiskey
Glenmorangie

James MacInnes, bartender at Klaw in Miami

ABV: 46%

Average price: $189

Why this whisky?

The single malt Scotch won the trophy for me this year. I’ve always tried to be impartial when it comes to tasting spirits, but there’s something about the way the Scots distill. Glenmorangie, in particular, impressed me with their Signet bottling. A

Attempting and successfully capturing the roasted flavors of espresso beans and chocolate in a glass, this whiskey truly leaves an impression on the most adventurous drinker.

Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Bourbon Whiskey

Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Bourbon Whiskey
bison track

Subhash Sankar, Head Mixologist at Alaia Belize in San Pedro Town, Belize

ABV: 53.5%

Average price: $1,777

Why this whisky?

This bourbon whiskey is bottled almost barrel proof. Just a touch of Kentucky limestone water is added after a decade of aging. Rich, yet sweet, this bourbon takes a back seat to none. A sweet vanilla nose with caramel, pecans and oak wood with a soft, mellow flavor made up of robust wheat, cherries and oak. It has a long, smoky wheat finish with notes of fruit, spice and oak tannins.

Caol Ila 30 Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Caol Ila 30 Single Malt Scotch Whiskey
Caol Ila

Josue Villacis, head bartender at MILA restaurant in Miami

ABV: 55.1%

Average price: $740

Why this whisky?

Caol Ila 30 years old is my choice. It’s just not what you expect from an Islay with deep spice and light peat as it opens up tropical fruit. It really is next level. I suggest you give it a try if you ever get the chance.

Whiskey Seven Stills 1.21 Gigawatts

Whiskey Seven Stills 1.21 Gigawatts
seven pictures

Robert McCarthy, bartender at Seven Square Taproom in San Francisco

ABV: 47%

Average price: $40

Why this whisky?

1.21 Gigawatts by Seven Stills has delicious notes of chocolate, coffee and hazelnut with a hint of spice. This whiskey was first an imperial oat stout which was then distilled and aged in new charred American oak barrels.

Barrell Dovetail Whiskey

whiskey dovetail barrel
Barrel

Christopher Devern, head bartender at Red Owl Tavern in Philadelphia

ABV: 61.45%

Average price: $80

Why this whisky?

Barrell has been making some very experimental and interesting whiskey lately. One of them was the Dovetail version, blending whiskey that had been finished in a variety of casks, including rum, port, and cabernet. At around 124 proof, I recommend pouring over a large cube or adding a drop of water to open it up and bring out the range of flavors.

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof Tennessee Rye Whiskey

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Barrel Proof Tennessee Rye Whiskey
Jack Daniel

Mark Phelan, Beverage Director of 16″ On Center in Chicago

ABV: 60-70%

Average price: $299

Why this whisky?

I’m a huge fan of Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Proof Special Releases, and their rye release this year reminded me of their team’s impressive talent. It has a huge mouthfeel, rich notes of dried fruit and toasted cinnamon, and is surprisingly balanced at such a high proof.

It’s a memorable sip from a crazy, wacky year.

Navazos Palazzi Palo Cortado Single Cask Whiskey

Navazos Palazzi Palo Cortado Single Cask Whiskey
Navazos Palace

Ally O’Keefe, bartender at The Bower in New Orleans

ABV: 52.5%

Average price: $100

Why this whisky?

It was such a unique whisky. Made from 100% Spanish corn but aged in traditionally dry sherry casks, I didn’t know what to expect. The bouquet was presented with freshly cut wood, butterscotch, caramel and creme brulee. On the palate, this whiskey was warm, buttery and exceptionally smooth, with notes of sweet red fruits, Medjool dates, figs, caramel pudding, sautéed mushrooms and brown sugar.

It was earthy, a bit funky and yet dessert-like. Absolutely delicious.

Harleston Green Blended Scotch Whiskey

Harleston Green Blended Scotch Whiskey
harleston green

Jonathan Howard, bartender at Audrey’s in Nashville

ABV: 40%

Average price: $26

Why this whisky?

The best sip of whiskey I had in 2021 was the Harleston Green Blended Scotch due to the incredible number of cocktail options it contains. From the first moment I tasted it, my mind raced with possibilities for interesting flavor combinations. It has very nice notes of honey, spring flowers and warm spices that help to please the palate all around.

Sagamore Spirit Straight Rye Whiskey

Sagamore Spirit Straight Rye Whiskey
Sagamore Spirit

Justin Wilson, head bartender at Kimpton Sylvan in Atlanta

ABV: 41.5%

Average price: $41

Why this whisky?

Sagamore Spirit Straight Rye from Baltimore. It is very easy to drink with notes of vanilla, earthy spices and honey that stand out on the palate. I really enjoyed this one.

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye Whiskey

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye Whiskey
bison track

Alejandro Mendoza, restaurant and bar manager at the SLO Hotel in San Luis Obispo, CA

ABV: 64.75%

Average price: $800

Why this whisky?

I had the opportunity to try this one a few weeks ago and I was not disappointed. A perfect tribute to the man who is credited with one of America’s most famous cocktails, the Sazerac. The flavors that stand out in this one are figs, caramel, clove and mint.

It’s hard to find, but a must if you can.