Which Whiskey is Best? (Part 1)

Bruichladdich Rocks Scotch DetailBefore we begin, let me just say that I am completely aware that I am jumping into a hornet’s nest.  Whiskey is something that people (including myself) are very, very passionate about, and the geographical segments that we identify the world’s greatest drink by have even more biased fans.

That being said, what is the best type of whiskey; American (including bourbon), Canadian, Irish, Scotch, or other international varieties?

I pose this question because, well, I don’t know.  Clearly this is just as subjective as asking somebody whether Coke or Pepsi are better, but everyone seems to have an opinion anyway.  So why not see what you, the readers, think is best.  I’m also going to post the question on Facebook and Twitter, and I will follow-up next week with the general consensus.





  1. Ryan, well, I can’t give you a positive answer but I can give you a negative one: which are NOT best:

    Canadian is NOT the best: up to around 9% “other” ingredients are allowed. And, well, it’s just not very good either 😉

    Irish is NOT the best: they triple-distill and blend away to get as far away from the character of the whisky as possible. Thus, they do not embrace the whisky and so they are not the best.

    Among the other contenders, I think whoever is embracing their whisky and not trying to cover it up or pump out mass-volume crap is the best. There are some in each category doing it the right way, and some in each category doing it the wrong way. (yes, I know, some of the Canadians and Irish do it the right way to… credit where credit is due).

    So I guess that’s my answer: whoever is doing whisky the right way, embracing their local “terrior” is the best whisky.

  2. Scotch is better if you’re looking for “terroir” – the taste of a place; how it smells and feels. No other category has such a tremendous range of mood, feeling, flavor, and regional style. Also, at its many various peaks malt whiskeys from Scotland achieve tremendous deliciousness in a tremendous range of flavors from honeyed to fruity to floral to sherried to smoky and/or earthy peaty.

    That being said cheap scotch is atrocious and cheap bourbon tends to range from acceptable to amazing. The same $22 that would barely buy a swill like J&B that I would simply flush buys bourbon gold like Elijah Craig 12 which gives the finest spirits in any category a run for it’s money.

    In this respect bourbon is like Italian food in Italy and scotch is like French food in. France. French food scales the highest heights, but unless you’re on the heights is pretty lousy. Italian food is always good and often even humble meals are amazing and memorable.

    On the other hand a great Cognac is sooo…

  3. Hey, other Ryan, we crossed posts but they dovetail well. I totally agree that Canadian and Irish generally aim for “sweet and simple” via the methods you identify. They can be nice simple drams – buy are not contenders for the highest heights (except maybe Midleton’s Very Rare – the lone standout Irish). It’s between scotch and bourbon and scotch wins on terroir and ultimate interest but bourbon wins on value and has amazing standouts that can equal all comers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.