We live in the land of plenty, especially where whiskey is concerned. Here in the states, we specialize in everything from balanced bourbon and spicy rye to single malt versions that are really raising the spirits bar. For the whiskey admirer and appreciator, this is a fine place and time to be alive.
The market share for whiskey is remarkable, estimated to reach $20.75 billion in 2025 and growing every year. It hasn’t enjoyed the recent surges that things like agave spirits have, but it’s remained a reliable and increasingly popular sipper in America. Makes sense, given the heritage of whisky in the U.S. and the fine work of some of the most famous brands in the land.
Within the whiskey category, there are some great small-batch producers very much worth exploring. Some of the smallest distillers are making some of the most interesting liquid within the genre. But in terms of easy-to-access stuff, or the most popular whiskies around, there’s some quality to be enjoyed to. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular whiskies in the U.S.
The Whiskey Classics
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
When an American first learns about whiskey, there’s a good chance it’s a brand impression of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. United States whiskey would not be what it is today without it. It’s odd, in a way, because America prides itself on bourbon, but it’s Jack’s affordable price, iconic branding, and incredibly smooth profile that makes this a quintessential whiskey in America.
Jim Beam Bourbon
If it’s not Jack Daniel’s making its presence felt first, there’s a good chance it’s Jim Beam. A brand around since the late 1700s, Jim Beam is a staple on most bars thanks to its consistency and balanced approach to a palate.
The portfolio of Jim includes Booker’s, Basil Hayden’s, and Knob Creek, all incredibly popular and delicious whiskies in their own right.
The Whiskey Animals
Wild Turkey’s roots date back to the 1800s, but it was 1940 when it garnered its name. Then in 1954, Jimmy Russell joined the team as master distiller, a position he still holds today with his son, Eddie. Add to the experienced father and son duo actor Matthew McConaughey, who joined Wild Turkey as creative director several years ago.
The Wild Turkey brand is a quintessential bourbon brand with a great line of offshoots, like Russell’s Reserve, Rare Breed, and Longbranch.
The Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky could be the oldest continuously operating distillery in the United States. The distillery is a giant, majestic place, which has earned it a place on the National Register of Historic Places. The base bourbon, Buffalo Trace Bourbon Whiskey, is perhaps one of the best bang-for-your-buck bourbons on the market.
Buffalo Trace’s portfolio includes incredible expressions like Col. E. H. Taylor, W.L. Weller, and Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve.
Whiskey Heritage Staples
Four Roses is a unique distillery in that it creates all of its bourbons from up to 10 recipes. The distillery takes two separate mash bills and uses up to five yeast strains to create its recipes. Those
Old Forester claims to be the first bottled bourbon. True or not, the brand has a huge portfolio of bourbons available. The base is the 86-proof Old Forester Straight Bourbon Whiskey that is soft with vanilla notes.
The branding is subtle and streamlined, keeping the labels subtle and classic enough to accompany the liquid inside.
Another distillery that has earned a National Register of Historic Places designation, Woodford carries itself with a bit of an upscale vibe. The distillery claims more than 200 flavor notes are packed into the classic Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Whether a drinker can taste all of those is one thing, another is the ease in which the Woodford goes down.
Tasty Regional Whiskies
Hudson Whiskey is one of the oldest distilleries in New York, and a recently released Four-Part Harmony, a four-grain bourbon aged a minimum of 7 years, the oldest aged whiskey released by a New York distillery yet.
Utah isn’t exactly known for being a booze-loving state. But High West Distillery is putting out some of the finest spirits west of the Mississippi. The American Prairie Bourbon is a gem of a bourbon.
But the whiskey that really shines through in the world of craft spirits is Campfire, a blend of Scotch, bourbon, and rye whiskey. The smoky, yet light whiskey is worth grabbing if you see it.
Balcones was one of the first whiskies outside of Kentucky to make whiskey drinkers step back and say, “Wow.”
Now, Balcones’ Texas Single Malt Whisky is still a bottle people strive to grab and try when they can. But the Waco, Texas-based distillery continues to offer a delightful line of spirits, ranging from Texas Rye to Texas Rum.
Need more proof of great whiskey coming out of the American west? Frey Ranch is making some great offerings, made from estate grains and aged to perfection. If this suits you, check out the work from other western outfits, like Wyoming Whiskey and Woodinville Whiskey.
There you have it, some of the most popular whiskey brands to be enjoyed here in the states. They tend to be larger producers, but they’re still carving their own identities out within the lauded category. We’re excited to see what they turn out in 2023.
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