best japan, scotch, irish whiskey brands
the spirits business

Even though we tried a lot of well-known whiskey brands, some of the best ones were made by smaller companies (some of which we had never heard of!) Most of the cost of a bottle goes to the goods inside, not to advertising. We have the best brands of each type of whiskey, whether it’s bourbon, rye, Irish whiskey, Scotch, or japan whiskey.

Best Whiskey Brands

Brand Chronicles

#1. Henry Mckenna Single Barrel 10-Year

This Henry Mckenna Single Barrel Bourbon is hard to beat. It was named “Best in Show Whiskey” in the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, one of the greatest honors bestowed upon any brand. Furthermore, this is only the second bourbon to get the honor.

Henry Mckenna is part of the Heaven Hill Distillery in Kentucky, which is also known for award-winning whiskeys like Elijah Craig Bourbon, Larceny Bourbon, and Pikesville Rye Whiskey. This particular bottle of Mckenna is made from a single barrel of bourbon that has been aged for ten years, yet despite the renowned number, the whiskey isn’t too pricey.

#2. Glenfiddich Time Re: Imagined Collection

We believe that all whiskey newcomers should, if possible, drink a top-shelf bottle to gain a comprehensive image of what whiskey can be. This Glenfiddich Time Re:Imagined Collection is an excellent method to do it. The bite has been reduced through maturation, allowing you to fully appreciate the whiskey’s delicate characteristics. Only 220 decanters of single malt Scotch whiskey are available globally, ranging from the 30-year-old ($3,000) to the rare 50-year-old mix ($50,000). 

On the 40-year-old ‘Cumulative Time’ bottle, we like the depth of flavor and oaky yet fruity aftertaste. We were also pleasantly delighted by the 30-year-old blend’s smoothness and complexity, as well as how nicely it complemented with gamey meat. 

Glenfiddich, which has been operating since 1887, is the world’s best-selling single-malt whiskey. The storied brand is a must-have in any whiskey connoisseur’s bar, and it’s well worth a try if you’re new to the spirit.

If you’ve been drinking whiskey for a while, you’ll know that every bottle from the Time Re:Imagined Collection is a darn good whiskey. Pick it up as a (very) excellent gift for fellow whiskey enthusiasts, or save it for special occasions (if you have the self-control).

#3. Uncle Nearest 1856 

Uncle Nearest 1856 has an intriguing backstory to match its quality flavor. Nathan “Nearest” Green, the brand’s namesake, was the first Black master distiller. Born into slavery, Green contributed to the development of contemporary Tennessee whiskey and passed on his skills to a potential student: Jack Daniel.

Uncle Nearest 1856, a Black-owned business, debuted in 2017 to recognize Green’s significance in American spirits. Despite being 100 proof, the whiskey is fragrant, floral, fruity, and exceptionally smooth (due to at least eight years of age). The whiskey community has given it high honors across the board, and we have to concur.

#4. Sia Scotch Whiskey

SIA Scotch whiskey was made by Carin Luna-Ostaseski for all of your ‘scotch-curious’ people out there. The goal was to dispel the myth that Scotch whiskey brands is only loved by ‘grandfathers’ around the world. She is also one of the first Hispanic women to own a Scotch whiskey brand, which was created through a crowd-funded Kickstarter campaign more than two years ago.

The end result is a stunning amber/gold-toned bottle of Scotch whiskey with honey, lemon, and smokey vanilla aromas. The drink’s delicate flavor is enhanced by its smooth yet refreshing finish, making it an excellent choice for first-time Scotch drinkers.

We recommend starting with this option neat or over ice before experimenting with your favorite Scotch-based cocktails. The SIA Glasgow Mule is our favorite, but the brand’s website also offers a variety of other drinks to sample.

Irish Whiskey Brands

#1. Celtic Cask

The Celtic Whiskey Store, which is one of the best-known whiskey stores in the world, says that the Celtic Cask is the best Irish whiskey brand of all brands. Scotsman Ally Alpine founded the whiskey retailer in Dublin in 2003. His retail store has now been crowned the “Best WhiskeyRetailer Worldwide” by World Whiskey Awards. The store was crowned the best non-Scottish Independent Bottler of the Year by the Independent Bottler’s Challenge as a result of the launching of the Celtic Cask portfolio.

The collection, which debuted in 2010, features specialized bottlings from unnamed suppliers. What they all have in common is that they are all single-cask expressions, a category Alpine introduced to the mainstream whiskey market. New releases in the Celtic Cask series sell out rapidly, raising the price of a bottle too far over $100. Each bottle of the Celtic Cask series, however, is unique, and to own one is to unquestionably own one of Ireland’s best whiskies.

#2. Connemara

Peat is most commonly associated with Scotch whiskey, yet Connemara is a peated Irish whiskey that combines the best of both cultures. Connemara is, in reality, one of the only peated Irish whiskies on the market, and the only one that is widely available.

Peated whiskey is made from barley that has been infused with the smoke of burning peat or soil. This method infuses tastes of soil, brine, and smoke into the finished spirit, making it distinct, powerful, and robust. This aggressiveness complements the delicate essence of Irish whiskey brilliantly. The peat complements and enhances the milder, more subtle aromas of malted barley to create a whiskey that is inviting and complex.

Connemara’s 12-year expression elevates this nuance, as the punch of the peat is balanced by a lengthier maturity, resulting in an even more balanced spirit that is as delightful as it is brawny. Connemara’s final bottle is the Cask Strength, a beautifully robust whiskey with undiluted strength and naturally sweet honey.

Connemara is one of the top Irish whiskey brands that produce good whiskey at a reasonable price, and the distinction of being a peated Irish whiskey is a wonderful way to broaden your pallet for the spirit.

#3. Knappogue Castle

Knappogue Castle in County Clare was in ruins in the 1960s. That was before Mark Edwin Andrews bought the medieval edifice, repaired it, and turned it into a symbol of one of Ireland’s best whiskies. The term “knappogue” is Irish Gaelic for “hill of the kiss,” and it symbolizes the whiskey’s sweet, silky, and delicate nature.

The Knappogue portfolio contains single-malt expressions aged 12, 14, and 16 years old, as well as limited edition bottles. The iconic 12-year-old is aged in ex-bourbon casks, the 14-year-old in both bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks, and the 16-year-old for 14 years in bourbon casks before finishing in sherry for two years.

Knappogue is one of the long-lasting Irish whiskey brands as they are distinct due to the temperate climate in which they are produced. Because of its habitat, the whiskey can take on the character of the cask more quickly and steadily, resulting in richer flavor in a shorter amount of time. All the same, you can tell that these Irish whiskies may have years longer than the average because of how quickly they’ve got older. Knappogue is the best when you take it neat, and the high cost of a bottle is fair.

#4. Spot Whiskey

The runner-up on this ranking devotes its whole operation to single-pot still whiskies, the most traditional and distinct type of Irish whiskey. Spot Whiskey was created in 1805 by Irish rebel William Mitchell as Mitchell & Son, a wine-buying and selling enterprise. The business began bonding whiskey in 1887, and its casks that had previously held fortified wine were the ideal vehicle for maturing its single-pot still whiskies.

The Spot collection extends from the 7-year-old Blue Spot to the 15-year-old Red Spot, with each bottle named after a hue. However, between are three expressions of Green Spot, Gold Spot, and Yellow Spot, each of which is matured in a variety of casks including French and Spanish wine, bourbon casks, and others. Green Spot is the brand’s most prestigious expression, a blend of single-pot stills matured between seven and ten years in bourbon and sherry casks.

Spot Whiskeys are arguably the best instances of beauty in simplicity, with each profile being plain and well-matured with classic taste characteristics from the barrels in which they are aged. While the cost of spot whiskey can range widely depending on the quantity of the bottle, this particular brand has a reasonable cost and is among the finest Irish whiskies money can buy.

Japan Whiskey Brands

#1. Nikka Whiskey (Asahi Group)

Nikka is a whiskey company in Japan that makes the best Japanese whiskies of all brands. It is part of the Asahi Group, a multinational beverage firm. Asahi, like Suntory, is one of the leading Japanese beverage firms, with well-known brands like “Asahi beer,” “Calpis (Calpico),” and “Mitsuya Cider.” Nikka Whiskey is the company name when it comes to whiskey, and as of 2018, it has a market share of roughly 25%, making it the second largest in Japan.

The history of Nikka whiskey is fascinating. The first factory director of Yamazaki whiskey (Suntory) was the originator of Nikka whiskey. Following that experience, he founded his own company in 1934. Nikka whiskey was originally introduced in 1940. They currently have two primary distilleries: the Yoichi Distillery near Otaru, Hokkaido, and the Miyagikyo Distillery in Miyagi prefecture.

Nikka whiskey is available in 14 different varieties, ranging from single malt to grained and blended whiskey. Some of its most popular whiskey labels include “Black Nikka,” one of Japan’s best-selling blended whiskies; “Taketsuru,” which has received numerous international accolades; and their distinctive “Nikka Coffey Grain whiskey.”

#2. Mars Whiskey

Mars whiskey is the next item on our list of whiskey brands in Japan. This is the whiskey brand name for the Kagoshima prefecture company Hombo-Shuzo. Although not as huge as the last two companies on this list, Mars whiskey is popular among other whiskey brands lover in Japan.

Since 1949, Mars Whiskey has been making whiskey. Local whiskey brands were popular in Japan during the 1960s and 1970s.

The Shinshu Distillery in Nagano and the Tsunuki Distillery in Kagoshima are the two main distilleries for Mars whiskey. Their product portfolio includes three single-malt whiskies and eight blended whiskies. They also offer three different brands of brandy.

Popular brands include “Cosmo,” their top single malt brand, as well as their blended brands “Twin Alps” and “Shinshu.”

#3. Kirin

Another significant beverage firm follows on our list. Kirin, together with Suntory and Asahi, is one of Japan’s three major beverage businesses, featuring well-known brands such as “Kirin beer,” “Fire Coffee,” and “Gogo no Kocha.” When it comes to whiskey, it began later than its main competitors, with a smaller brand range. Their whiskey brands, on the other hand, have great popularity among whiskey fans in Japan.

Kirin began producing whiskey in the 1970s with the launch of their first brand, “Robert Brown.” The Mt Fuji Distillery in Shizuoka is the major distillery.

Some of their well-known trademarks are “Robert Brown,” “Fuji,” and “Riku.”

Scotch Whiskey Brands

#1. The Macallan Whiskey

The Macallan is the best of all Scotch whiskey brands. It comes in at the tail end of our list of all-time greats. The brand boasts unique expressions up and down the price spectrum, including the most expensive whiskey ever sold, and is about as near to smooth and balanced perfection as top-shelf Scotch whiskey can come.

We’ve grown to appreciate the brand’s offshoot expressions, such as their recent Harmony Collection, which was inspired by Arabica and which we adored. The brand is still one of our favorites, but recent headlines about The Macallan’s mixed medium release show that the Speyside classic isn’t afraid to go big (literally). To fully explore this brand, you’d have to go down a rabbit hole of limited-edition one-offs and special releases, but we’ll save you the trouble: if you’re wealthy, start with the 18-Year Sherry Oak Cask and work your way up from there. If you aren’t wealthy, save up for a bottle of 12 Year and enjoy it.

#2. Glen Moray

Glen Moray is a top whiskey of most brands if you place to go for traditional Speyside Scotch. For almost 120 years, the distillery has been producing exceptional single malts on the banks of the River Lossie in one of Scotland’s oldest towns. The business is based on passion, and the finished whiskey has an immaculate sense of balance and consistency.

“Glen Moray 18 Year Old is a dram often overlooked because of its great price point, people often assume it’s not good!” says whiskey specialist Emma Cookson. But, thanks to some clever purchasing reductions by the large chains, it’s actually one of the best single-malt Scotch whiskies to get your hands on at a reasonable price. It’s a terrific age-statement whiskey to have in the collection since it’s fruity and fragrant, and it’s excellent for enjoying plain or combining in a cocktail.”

#3. Bunnahabhain

While we’re still wandering around scotch whiskey brands, let’s visit another of the island’s few operating distilleries. Bunnahabhain has been in the game since 1881, releasing a small number of fundamental statements as well as the occasional one-off. It’s also a favorite of whiskey expert Emma Cookson, who characterizes the 12-year-old as follows.

“If you have a sweet tooth like me, this must be on your list.” Don’t allow the lengthy Gaelic name fool you; this whiskey ) is an iconic Islay single malt scotch whiskey that is actually unpeated (not smoky!) and, thanks to its coastal location, the sweetness of the sherry cask is offset by a lovely salty note, making it complex but also quaffable. “There’s a reason this whiskey is a cult favorite,” whiskey expert Emma Cookson remarked.

What Is Most Expensive Whiskey?

Isabella’s Islay Usd 6,200,000. The most money you can spend on whiskey is on a bottle of Isabella’s Islay. The reason that a bottle of this whiskey costs more than $6 million is that it comes with a glass.

Suntory is one of the most popular and well-known Japanese whisky brands, along with Nikka.

What Is the Difference Between Scotch Whiskey and Irish Whiskey Brands?

The main thing that makes scotch and Irish whiskey different is the ingredients. Scotch whiskey is made from corn, rye, or wheat. Irish whiskey is made from barley. The length of time it takes to make Irish whiskey vs. Scotch whiskey brands is another big difference.


I hope you found this list useful. Whether you are a whiskey expert or just starting out on the fascinating path of learning about whiskey. If you are of age and enjoy Japanese whiskey, there is no need to pass on some of these. Some distilleries on this list provide tours, which will be an interesting addition to your visit to these places.


  1. Tastingtable
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  3. Manofmany
  4. Rollingstone
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