Bourbon has a cult following like no other spirit, and fans of the American whiskey are usually pretty diehard about the brand and style they like to imbibe. And while some folks say they don’t like scotch because it’s “too smoky” or “too peaty,” there are a plethora of bottles on the market that will please even the most sensitive palates. If you or a friend are a fan of sweet, rich bourbon and looking to get into the scotch world, these five bottles are the best place to start.
There are two ways that this Speyside scotch will appeal to bourbon drinkers. First, it’s bottled at cask strength, which will taste rounder and more familiar because many popular bourbons are higher than 80 proof. Secondly, because Aberlour A’Bunadh is finished in Spanish oloroso sherry casks, it has a sweeter, creamier taste that bourbon drinkers will find familiar, with just the right amount of smoke. Expect notes of orange, black cherries, ginger and dark chocolate on the palate.
Just looking at this whisky’s deep amber color and pleasantly round bottle makes us think of bourbon. Buchanan’s 18 Special Reserve is a blend of 15 different whiskies that have each aged a minimum of 18 years in ex-sherry barrels. It’s silkier and more delicate than most scotches with rich aromas of chocolate, cocoa and toffee. Bourbon drinkers will love the flavor profile of red plum, orange and roasted nuts, with a honeyed oak and vanilla finish.
This sweet and complex whisky is named Nectar d’Or, or “golden nectar,” for a reason: It’s aged in ex-bourbon casks for 10 years before it’s finished in Sauternes dessert wine casks. Because there’s so much sugar present in the Sauternes wine-making process, these sweet notes eventually make their way into the whisky to create a sweet, luscious scotch that’s difficult to turn down. On the nose, you’ll experience lime and orange rind with traces of coconut and nutmeg. The warm palate brings notes of ginger, nutmeg, lemon meringue and honey with a long white chocolate finish.
Glenfiddich malt master Brian Kinsman ages this whisky for 14 years in ex-bourbon casks, but what comes next is especially unique. The copper liquid is then finished in new charred American oak barrels from The Kelvin Cooperage in Louisville, Kentucky, to impart a vibrant flavor that both scotch purists and bourbon enthusiasts will love. Vanilla, baked apple and cinnamon on the nose give way to flavors of creamy toffee, woody spices and toasted oak. A long, lingering sweetness mellows the whisky’s smoke for an extra smooth finish.
There’s a rum for every whiskey drinker, and this single malt scotch proves the two can walk hand-in-hand. The Balvenie Caribbean Cask is first matured for 14 years in traditional barrels before it’s finished in casks that previously held malt master David C. Stewart’s own blend of West Indian rums. Balvenie fans will recognize the scotch’s smooth honeyed character with creamy toffee and fresh fruit on the nose. The taste is round and warm with flavors of vanilla and sweet oak that linger softly on the palate.