When it comes to making a whiskey sour, you can go in a few different directions. If you’re feeling lazy, you can obviously go for sour mix and, well, whiskey. Easy-peasy. If you want a true whiskey sour, you’re going to be looking to egg whites and lemon to make up the body (and lovely foamy head) of the cocktail.
Either way, the overall flavor of the drink is going to come down to one thing: what whiskey you choose. A shitty whiskey is going to produce a shitty whiskey sour. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. All of the sour mix in the world isn’t going to hide that flavor.
To avoid finding yourself with a glassful of bad whiskey sour, we’ve settled on a list of the best whiskies for a whiskey sour. You’ll find your standard bourbon, but we’ve also included a rye, a Canadian, and an Irish whiskey, should you want to branch out a little bit.
For more than 200 years Jim Beam has been the classic bourbon, so the distillery is doing something right. Still crafted by Jim Beam’s great-grandson, the bourbon is cheap and good with caramel and light char notes, perfect for the inclusion in a classic cocktail.
Now in its 130th year, Four Roses is an icon of bourbon. As their standard offering, this bourbon offers up pear and fresh fruit on the nose and on the palate, both of which blend perfectly with fresh citrus. At the price, too, it’s hard to beat.
We continue our list with another gold standard of bourbon, Old Forester Signature 100 Proof. With a backbone that can stand up to a hurricane, the coffee, chocolate, and sweet fruit flavors of this bourbon sing in just about any classic cocktail.
For those looking for a little more Irish in their whiskey sour, Bushmills Red Bush gives drinkers a blend of triple distilled Irish single malt and fine Irish grain whiskey aged in first fill bourbon barrels. This leads to a medium-bodied whiskey with caramel and nutty flavors that contrast the citrus well.
With honey, almond, and pepper notes, Canadian Club offers another light option for a whiskey sour, with a dry, oaky finish. Canadian whiskies are known for their smoothness, a quality many seek in a simple cocktail.
Looking to turn up the whiskey sour a notch? Grab the Wild Turkey Rye 101. Wild Turkey 101 is nearly synonymous with Wild Turkey bourbon, but Wild Turkey Rye 101 will add the rye spice character (while maintaining the proof).
A blend of three Speyside single malt whiskeys, Monkey Shoulder is an approachable Scotch that’s incredibly easy to work with. Because of this versatility, it is a great place to start when you want to do a Scotch whisky sour.
Article originally published by Pat Evans on July 10, 2017. Last updated September 5, 2018, to include details of The Manual Spirit Awards 2018.