It’s barbecue season and as anyone who’s ever participated in a really great barbecue knows—with great barbecue comes great responsibility. That responsibility isn’t just to provide high-quality smoked and fire-cooked meats for hungry friends and family. No, it goes beyond that. You can stuff all the smoked meat down your gullet that you want, but without a great beverage to accompany it, it could all be for naught (okay, not really—because grilled meat is better than practically everything—but follow us on this one). Beer is a great accompaniment to any outdoor grilling session—ice cold, crisp, refreshing—but sometimes that doesn’t cut it. You need something stronger, more fitting of the sacrifice that the cow or pig or whatever currently sitting on the grill gave you. In times like this, you need whiskey. Better than that, you need multiple and smoky whiskies.
We’ve put together a list of whiskies worthy of your ultimate barbecue. These spirits are bold in flavor and able to stand up to anything you can throw on the grill.
The one to go for if you’re strictly a Scotch person. Peated, as many Scotches are, this whiskey out of Washington State will with eyes closed, make you think you’re drinking Scotch. The smokiness carries through from nose to finish, giving the drinker a pleasant experience through and through. If you’re not into peaty flavors, but are looking for an entry point, this whiskey could be the one. ($80)
The name basically says it all. How could you not want this (one of, if not the world’s first) mix of straight rye, bourbon, and blended Scotch whisky at your next barbecue? The smokiness of the scotch goes really well with the bourbon sweetness and the spicy notes delivered from the rye. You’ll get hints of tobacco or pipe smoke as well as the more traditional smoke flavors that come from the peat. ($54)
For scotch drinkers, the idea of smoking malt over something is nothing new, but while many Scotch distilleries utilize peat, Del Bac smokes their malt over mesquite, giving their aged whiskey (their core offering) a wonderful Southwestern flair while retaining many of the same characteristics that Scotch drinkers find enjoyable about their own spirit. ($46)
Another whiskey that basically screams “I’m from the Southwest.” More than that, though, this offering from Balcones is wearing a ten-gallon hat, announcing to the world that it isn’t just from the Southwest, it’s from Texas. This corn whiskey is smoked using Texas Scrub Oak, which gives it a very barbecue-y nose and palate. If you want something sweet, salty, meaty, and smoky, this is the one to pick up. ($80)
If you couldn’t guess what the heart of this whiskey was going to be, you either have been drinking too much or not enough. The barley for this spirit is split into three groups and smoked with three different items—peat in the traditional Scottish style, cherry wood, and beech wood. No matter how you try it, the smoke flavors dominate this whiskey in the best way possible. ($50)