Bartenders Name the 7 Most Underrated Whiskeys

teeling whiskey
Teeling Whiskey, Dublin, Ireland | Flickr/Tony@tonyisme
Teeling Whiskey, Dublin, Ireland | Flickr/Tony@tonyisme

There's a tendency for drinkers to stick with a go-to whiskey, which is great and all, but also means you're missing out on a whole world of great brown liquor. In the interest of diversifying your palate, we reached out to bartenders from the country’s best whiskey bars and asked them what they thought we should be drinking more of that we aren’t already. Pour yourself a glass of your favorite whiskey, then get ready to ditch it for something else.

old grand dad
Flickr/Jason Weaver

Old Grand-Dad 114 proof

Price: $24.99
“My daily drink, and what I use at the bar, is the Old Grand-Dad 114 Proof, 6-year-old high rye bourbon [note: high rye means the bourbon has a lot of rye in its mash which lends it a “hotter” flavor]. It’s hot, but with a lovely mouthfeel. It’s good just with some big ice, and stands up in cocktails.
-Justin Simko, Husk (Charleston, SC)

Teeling Single Grain

Price: $59.99
“I try to give customers something unique, something they haven’t had. Teeling is a new distillery -- it just opened in the heart of Dublin [in 2015], in the Liberty, where all the whiskey used to be made. They’ve got a lot different whiskies out, but this is the one that I’m having a lot of success with: Our Irish whiskey drinkers have been repeatedly ordering it because of its unique flavor, and bartenders love it. There’s a lot of strong spice from the grain, but it’s aged in California wine barrels, which add florals and red apples and other fruits flavors."
-Anton Quin, Mac McGee's (Decatur, GA)

henry mckenna
Flickr/Steven Depolo

Henry McKenna Bonded

Price: 28.99
“Henry McKenna Bonded 10 Year is one of the last great expressions that still maintains an age statement, and at under $40 it’s a fantastic value."
-Bill Thomas, Jack Rose Dining Saloon (Washington, DC)

Evan Williams Single Barrel

Price: $31.99
“If you're (looking for) things that don't get the collectors up in a frenzy, like Pappy or Willetts and aren’t too expensive, then Evan Williams Single Barrel. Heaven Hill, the distillery, has always been a great source of quality whiskey at a fair price, and the single barrel Evan Williams is no exception. Rarely seen on shelves, this little gem will surprise you once you consider the price tag.
-Jamie Boudreau, Canon (Seattle, WA)

heaven hill

Heaven Hill

Price: $10-$12
“Heaven Hill 6yr white and green labels: They're only available in Kentucky and Southern Indiana, and there are fewer bottles of this made each year than Pappy. The white label is 6yrs old and 100 proof and only costs $12 retail; the green label is 6yrs and 90 proof and is only $10 retail. These bourbons are so delicious and inexpensive I'm amazed people aren't driving to Kentucky just to get a case and bring it home with them."
-Matthew Landan, Haymarket (Louisville, KY)

Old Grand-Dad Bonded

Price: $21.99
“My go-to for underrated whiskeys: Old Grand-Dad Bonded. It’s a great workhorse, with a high rye content that makes it great for cocktails: it’s not too sweet, and can even stand in for a rye whiskey. It’s pretty young, but it’s 100 proof; the high alcohol content complements the maple and the rye that comes with it. Really, it’s the same juice that’s in Basil Hayden [also made by Jim Beam]. It’s just younger, and has a lot of wood on it despite its age. The 114 proof Old Grand-Dad is a great whiskey at well, if you can find it. About 90% of it stays in Kentucky.”
-Andrew Davis, Odette (Florence, AL)

La Mesa Wine & Spirits
La Mesa Wine & Spirits

Mellow Corn

Price: $25
“Mellow Corn -- like, seriously. I know there has been articles written on how this spirit is underappreciated, but it still hasn't gotten into the public consciousness. It's a delicious, affordable corn whiskey that is bonded*. Bonded whiskey has an advantage over others with its enforced rules. Yeah, the bottle looks like it could be part of a Mattel toy collection, but don't be deceived. Inside is an excellent spirit at 100 proof, which can give you a fun drinking experience either in a cocktail or by itself.
-Jordan Felix, The Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library (Portland, Oregon)

*A bonded whiskey is most known for being 100 proof (50% alcohol). More specifically, it must come from a single distillery and be made in a single distillation season, and be aged for at least four years.

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Alex Frane likes whiskey, and writing about it provides a great excuse to try some. See what he's trying now at @franiacdrinks.