The Popular Selling Whiskey Brands in the USA

The Best-Selling Whiskey Brands in the USA

Whiskey only gets better over the years, much like a complex puzzle being gradually solved. The understanding of this drink, akin to unraveling a mathematical proof, also comes with time. They say that there is no such thing as bad whiskey; there are whiskeys that simply fall into a different category of flavor profile. This article is very brief about the most popular and best-selling brands of whiskey in the United States, each with its signature appeal.

Some common types of spirits, such as gin and vodka, are so popular and well-known around the world that they have become real brands in various countries and territories. However, quality and original whiskey, especially rye whiskey and blended scotch, stand out in their unique production methods and flavor profiles. These drinks are produced in different parts of the world, and some countries are constantly vying for the top spot in this field.

There is no end to the discussion about popular whiskies and their special features: every brand, from Islay’s Lagavulin to single malt scotch whisky, has its palette of tastes and its adherents. An article would only be enough to list the most famous and popular brands of whisky, and the list is far from exhaustive, touching only lightly on the main characteristics of the various brands and the differences between them.

Whiskey is an international drink; it can be made in any country as well as sold. Today the market presents not only famous brands and varieties of whiskey from Scotland, Ireland, the USA, and Canada but also beverages from Japan. Such countries as India, Australia, and Taiwan also produce whiskey, but mainly for domestic consumption.

America is one of the three largest manufacturers of whiskey. American whiskey, known for its golden color and pleasant softness, leaves a long sweet aftertaste, distinguishing it from other categories.

But before we go to the list of the best-selling whiskey brands in America, let’s talk a little about the history of this wonderful drink and why the classification matters in understanding its complex and diverse world.

A bit of a history

History USA Whiskey Brands

Whiskey is beverage of high strength with a smoky aroma, fragrant taste, and a pleasant pure color of various shades.It is obtained from various grains by stoking, fermentation, distillation, and long aging in oak tanks.

The main classic raw materials used are:

  • barley (Scotland);
  • barley malt (Scotland, Japan);
  • rye (Ireland, US, Canada);
  • corn (US, Canada);
  • wheat (U.S., Canada).

According to some reports, the history of whiskey origins can be traced back to the 15th century. The first mention of “living water” was found in the history of the Celts, where the drink was called uisge beatha (in Latin aqua vitae). Over five centuries the Celtic term gradually changed (uisce, fuisce, uiskie), until it became the familiar name of whiskey.

The adoption of a law regulating quality in Britain in 1860 helped stabilize the technology. This led to an unprecedented increase in production and a simultaneous improvement in quality, the birth of many current brands and grades, and the emergence of elite and collectible varieties.

Today the main exports come from Britain, Ireland, the United States, Canada, and Japan, which have theirdistinctive characteristics of production. So for the Scottish product, the main raw material is still malted barley dried on peat and the aging is practiced next to the seashore in oak barrels.

American whiskey called bourbon is usually made from corn. The light Irish drink has a refined flavor and smokeless aroma, while the Japanese one is less smoky and “peaty” than the one from Scotland.

American whiskey is different from Scottish and Irish whiskey. The recipe for the drink was brought to the United States by immigrants from Europe, but over time it has undergone many changes. Almost all of them occurred by accident or due to some peculiarities.

The biggest difference in taste comes from the original raw material. The rest of the world mostly makes whiskey from malted barley. In America, they replaced it with corn. It was not because of a desire to be different, there were problems with the “right” grain on the continent. The chosen product enriched the taste of the drink, so the producers are not planning to give it up even now when there are more opportunities.

Moreover, many distilleries age the drink in charred oak casks rather than the usual ones. Curiously enough, this feature also came about by accident. Once there was a fire in a large bodega. Tanks were damaged and there was no way to replace them. Whisky was kept in partially charred barrels. It turned out to be a good influence on the drink’s taste. So now the containers are especially smoked by fire.

Classification

Classification whiskey

All varieties of the legendary drink have a common principle of production – the distillation of grain wort. Different types of grains can be used asraw materials: barley, corn, wheat, or rye.

  1. Malt (malt) – made in classic distillation cubes from malted barley. The main types are:

Single malt – produced at a particular distillery from a single barrel (single-barrel, single cask) or blended from different tanks, and prepared (up to 40%),

undiluted (50-60%) or cask strength (up to 65%, cask strength);

blended single malt (vatted malt) – made at various distilleries, the label indicates pure malt or blended.

  1. Grain – made in continuous distillers from any grain.
  2. Blended – a combination of malt and grain.

The US classification:

  • Bourbon – more than 51% corn in the original raw material and new barrels are used for aging.
  • Corn – more than 80% corn.
  • Rye – more than 51% rye.
  • Malted rye – more than 51% malted rye.
  • Wheat – more than 51% wheat.
  • Blended – more than 20% straight whiskey with the addition of neutral spirits.
  • Tennessee Bourbon – produced in Tennessee and refined with a maple charcoal filter.

Any bourbon is American. However, not every whiskey made in the U.S. can be labeled bourbon by the manufacturer. It is worth understanding such subtleties to choosedecent drink. The basic classification divides the drink into 2 large groups:

  • Straight – true bourbon, which contains at least 51% corn. Aging is more than 2 years, and no extraneous additives are allowed.
  • Blended – a blend of straight, neutral alcohols and colorings.

The first type of bourbon meets the standards enshrined in U.S. law. It is called “honest”. After distillation, it is poured into special barrels at a strength of no more than 62.5%. The manufacturer himself decides how many degrees bourbon gets when bottling – most importantly, not less than 40%. If the aging period of the drink does not exceed 4 years,information about the youth of the drink must be written on the label.

The blended type of American whiskey is considered second-rate. It does not belong to the bourbons, the standards are not regulated.

Types of American whiskey

Types of American whiskey

The subtleties of production imply another important classification of American whiskey into 5 main types:

  • Bourbon | Bourbon. The most popular whiskey in the United States. About the requirements for the drink, we wrote above.
  • Wheated Bourbon. The same drink, but must contain at least 49% of the grain.
  • Rye Bourbon. Another type of bourbon, but the corn is replaced by rye.
  • Corn whiskey. More corn than the classic variant (80%), and the aging is irrelevant.
  • Tennessee whiskey. This is the type to which the legendary Jack Daniels belongs. It is essentially a bourbon that is run through maple charcoal before being casked.

Top Selling Whiskey in the USA

Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey

Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey

Jim Beam is the leader among classic bourbons. It is based on corn. One of the most popular products of the brand, White Label blended, has a touch of rye alcohol in addition to the base. This adds a special aroma and taste to the beverage. In 2007, the famous Jim Beam bourbon was officially awarded the status of the national liquor of the United States. It is also considered the best in the world. The most affordable version is the classic 4-year-old, and the more status-oriented – is Black Label (8 years of aging). The company’s lineup includes several exclusive premium varieties, as well as unusual bourbon: apple, honey, rye, and cherry.

Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey

Jack Daniel’s whiskey has been created under unvarying conditions: the mildest water, the best grains, and an incredibly thick charcoal filter which has ensured the whiskey’s dizzying success for over 100 years. Its aroma is unmistakable: spices, cocoa, and a subtle whiff of walnut. The perfect combination of price and quality of the product. The best-selling American whiskey. Until 1941 the company produced ordinary bourbon. However, the government appreciated the drink’s special filtration technique. It gained the right tostatus by its geographical origin. That is why Jack Daniels is called Tennessee whiskey.

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey

Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey

Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey

Knob Creek Bourbon is a whiskey named after a small creek that runs south of the distillery, the same creek that ran when Abraham Lincoln was a child. Booker Noe, a 6th generation Beam, and master distiller deservedly created Nob Creek to reflect the strength, flavor, care, and patience that definitely prevented bourbon prohibition. The bottle’s appearance is very reminiscent of the handcrafted and turn-of-the-century feel of bourbon. It looks like a bootlegger’s flask with a painted newspaper on the label, reminiscent of the old decades-old distillery custom of wrapping bottles in the newspaper.  Nob Creek embodies the bold flavor that has made Kentucky famous for its bourbons.

Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey

Four Roses Bourbon

Four Roses Bourbon

Four Roses is a bourbon that has more admirers in Europe than in its home country. Four Roses – a product of teamwork between Americans and Scots. Four Roses Bourbon is made in Kentucky, according to U.S. regulations. However, it is bottled in Scotland. Four Roses Single Barrel Four Roses Bourbon is the only Bourbon producer that uses five proprietary yeast strains combined with two different types of “mash” (grain mash) to produce 10 batches of bourbon spirits, each with itsunique character, spiciness, and rich fruit flavors.

Four Roses Bourbon

Black Velvet Canadian Whisky

Black Velvet Canadian Whisky

This drink is the undoubted leader among Canadian whiskeys and it is sold in 50 countries around the world. For the first time, Black Velvet was released in 1951, but under a different name – Black Label. Today you can find on the market Black Velvet of Canadian and American analogs. Although they are both produced in the same distillery, very different in taste. Because the American version is bottled in the U.S. and is adjusted to their taste standards. Black Velvet is strikingly mild and very easy to drink.  In the aroma and flavor of this whiskey, you can find a combination of caramel, vanilla, and coconut in company with flowers, a pinch of pepper, and sherry notes.

Black Velvet Canadian Whisky

Wild Turkey Bourbon Whiskey

Wild Turkey Bourbon Whiskey

Wild Turkey is brewed from selected varieties of corn on the yeast, the recipe of which is a secret of the family owners. The unusual brand name was invented in 1940 by friends of the brewery owner, who were avid wild turkey hunters. Although the company itself has existed since 1870. Wild Turkey is a bourbon with a mild flavor of excellent quality.Wild Turkey whiskey has a refined harmonious taste with hints of caramel and vanilla. It has notes of maple syrup, fruit, and spices. In the caramel flavor, nuances of honey, toffee, and burnt oak are easy to read. In the range, you can find bourbon for cocktails with reduced strength and classic bourbon, which is recommended to be drunk pure or with ice.

Wild Turkey Bourbon Whiskey

Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky

Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky

Maker’s Mark is a premium bourbon. The company does not work for quantity, but for quality and status. They produce no more than 19 barrels of premium whiskey a year. As a rule, the aging of bourbon is 5-7 years. Makers are guided by taste, not by time limits set by someone else. That is why Maker’s Mark has that very oily, slightly viscous consistency, and a slight aroma of fruit and honey. Red winter wheat is used for production. It is aged in American oak barrels. The composition has hints of oak and notes of exotic fruits.

Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky

Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey is one of the most popular Canadian brands. Liqueur whiskey with a heavy dose of cinnamon. The recipe for this whiskey was invented by a Canadian chemist, as a cold remedy. The taste of this liquor is hotand peppery, it is also called a fireball. Of course, it is better to drink it in winter, as it warms up instantly. It is strong and bitter, but great. You can drink it like tequila, lit on fire, and in cocktails, it’s good too. Whiskey has a surprisingly mild, sweet, classic taste withrich cinnamon notes and a slight burning.

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky

Crown Royal Canadian Whisky

Crown Royal Canadian Whisky

The legendary Canadian whiskey, the creation of which was timed to coincide with the visit of English monarch George VI in 1939. The best masters of Seagram’s have worked on it. It contains about 50 of the best whiskies with varying degrees of maturity. Industrial-scale production of Crown Royal didn’t begin until 1964, but it was an incredible success. A beautiful bottle in the form of a cut diamond with crowned cap in a velvet blue case could not leave anyone indifferent. Today the Crown Royal brand is owned by Diageo.

Crown Royal Canadian Whisky

Ballantine’s

Ballantine's

Ballantine’s is a blended whiskey, which is one of the top five global sales. The brand unites 6 kinds of whisky with aging from 3 to 30 years. The compositions of the blends are invariable and kept strictly confidential. Perhaps the most famous product in the brand’s lineup is Ballantine’s Finest, which is made from a few dozen malts and four-grain spirits. Despite the low price of the drink, it has an excellent smell and taste.

Ballantine's

Chivas Regal

Chivas Regal

Chivas Regal is a well-known luxury brand that is represented by a series of quality blends of 12, 18, and 21 years old. One of the leaders of whisky from Scotland. It is in the top 10 whiskies of many countries. The remarkable composition of flavors combines spicy notes, honey, and fruit. Different variants of aging and prices – every fan will find a drink to his liking.

Chivas Regal

Jameson Irish Whiskey

Jameson Irish Whiskey

The superior taste of this Irish whiskey is achieved through careful triple distillation. The brand creator always wanted to create the perfect product and it seems he succeeded. The bouquet of blended whiskey contains notes of cream, toffee, and ginger. Jameson is one of the oldest brands of blended Irish whiskey. The drinks are prepared by triple distillationand matured in sherry casks, which gives them a soft taste with a bouquet of delicate aromas. The taste of the drink is somewhat reminiscent of ginger ale, with notes of marmalade and creamy toffee.

Jameson Irish Whiskey

Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky

Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky

Johnnie Walker is a record-breaker in world sales, one of the most popular whisky brands not only in America but all over the world. There are 7 Johnnie Walker labels: a casual and inexpensive Red, a soft 12-year-old blend of more than 40 spirits Black, its smokier counterpart Double Black, a blend of 4 malts Green, the most honeyed and smoky 18-year-old Gold, rare and produced in limited quantities Blue; and also the brainchild of the company, which appeared in 2011, 18-year-old author blending Jim Beveridge – Platinum.The company was founded in 1867 by Johnny Walker’s son. More than 130 million bottles are produced per year. Today the brand Johnny Walker is owned by the British company Diageo. It is the largest manufacturer of premium drinks.

Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky

The Macallan Scotch Whiskey

The Macallan Scotch Whiskey

The only whisky producer who made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for selling a collectible vintage Macallan Fine & Rare whisky for £250,000. The Macallan distillery was founded in the 18th century and gotofficial permission to produce whisky in 1824, one of the first in Scotland. For the production of this brand of whisky, a special sort of barley is used which is characterized by low yield. Small copper distillation stills ensure a dense taste of whiskey. The drink is aged in oak sherry and bourbon casks.

The Macallan Scotch Whiskey

Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey

Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey

Woodford Reserve brand receives prestigious awards in its field every year and is celebrated by experts. Woodford Reserve premium bourbon is aged in oak barrels for at least 6 years. It has a unique taste that always recognizesaromatic vanilla, a little bit of bitter chocolate, burnt caramel, and creamy crème brûlée. The design of the bottle makes it a great gift and a full-fledged contender for a private collection.

Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey

Canadian Club Whisky

Canadian Club Whisky

Canadian Club is a brand, which appeared in Canada, but later came under the control of American producer Beam Suntory. The history of this brand has almost 150 years, and the brand is known for the fact that it was the favorite drink of Al Capone himself. A distinctive feature of the production is that the drink is aged after blending, not before. Canadian Club is loved for the presence of rum notes in the whiskey bouquet; in addition, in this drink meadow grass and straw can be clearly heard, flavored with anise and resinous oak barrel. The bouquet is harmoniously complemented by a pleasantly sweet aftertaste with cinnamon notes.

Canadian Club Whisky

Evan Williams Bourbon Whiskey

Evan Williams Bourbon Whiskey

Evan Williams – a popular brand of bourbon known since 1783. A pure American classic. It has several prestigious awards to its credit, including the title of Whiskey of the Year 2011. This bourbon will appeal to those looking for a quality drink at a reasonable price.

Evan Williams Bourbon Whiskey

Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey

Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey

Craft whiskey from Kentucky, the recipe of which has not changed for 175 years. A characteristic feature of the drink is a high content of rye in the grain mixture. Due to this, in the soft, expressive taste of this bourbon notes of oak and vanilla are intertwined with hints of orange peel.

Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey

The Glenlivet Scotch Whisky

The Glenlivet Scotch Whisky

The Glenlivet is a single malt scotch, which is considered the benchmark for Scottish single malt. The youngest drink in the line is 12 years old. The 15-year-old scotch of this brand has received not only widespread acclaim from fans but also many status awards. The 21-year-old The Glenlivet is the collection’s favorite, bottled in numbered bottles.

The Glenlivet Scotch Whisky

Dewar’s

Dewar's

One of the most famous in the world – not for nothing Dewar’s is in the top 10 whiskies in the world. During the whole time of its existence, it has collected several hundreds of awards. Its unique taste smacks of honey, a light fruity aroma is present in every bottle. The aroma is vanilla, something reminiscent of sweet toffee, mingling with tugging honey, and hints of peach, apple, and woody motifs. It leaves a characteristically sweet aftertaste on the lips. Dewar’s brand has won over 400 different awards and medals during its existence.

Dewar's

Bell’s Whiskey

Bell's Whiskey

Quite a popular brand from Scotland. In the blend of the product, there are malt and grain spirits. The history of the company dates back to the middle of the 19th century when the famous blend appeared. Today the product is exported to more than 100 countries making it one of the most famous drinks. Bell’s Whiskey is a blend of 35 malt and grain spirits. The history of the distillery where Bell’s brand appeared dates back to 1825, but the blend itself appeared in 1863 and was originally called Extra Special Old Scotch Whisky.

Bell's Whiskey

Southern Comfort American Whisky

Southern Comfort American Whisky

Southern Comfort” is a premium whiskey-based liqueur with moderate sweetness and sufficient strength, which makes it popular among both men and women. This drink has a unique combination of real fruit, charming spices, and aromatic whiskey. Created in New Orleans, it is the epitome of freedom, possibility, and originality. Southern Comfort is a unique and versatile liqueur that offers you endless combinations.

Southern Comfort American Whisky

Buchanan’s Scotch Whisky

Buchanan's Scotch Whisky

Buchanan’s Scotch Whisky is one of the first five Scotch whiskies which became world famous at the end of the XIX century. The founder of the brand James Buchanan created his famous blend from the spirits matured in oak casks for not less than 12 years. Under his leadership, a small distillery grew in twenty years into an industry giant with facilities far beyond the UK. The brand is popular all over the world and in Latin America Buchanan’s is in first place in sales among the premium segment whiskies.

Buchanan's Scotch Whisky

Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey

Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey

The world’s first peanut butter whiskey was released by the California-based brand Skrewball. This product has all the hallmarks of a good whiskey, which is subtly complemented by notes of peanut butter but does not dominate.

The authors of the drink are the Yeung spouses who own OB Noodle House and Bar 1502 in California. In the beginning, they simply mixed whiskey and peanut butter. When locals appreciated the idea, Steven and Brittany decided to patent the formula and produce peanut whiskey under the brand Skrewball.

Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey

Seagram’s 7 Crown American Whiskey

Seagram's 7 Crown American Whiskey

Seagram’s is the first Canadian whiskey produced by blending. The founders of this Canadian brand were an English family who built a distillery to produce drink in 1857. Today, it is one of the largest companies, the products of which can be seen in every corner of the world. Whiskey Seagrams were loved for their taste and unusual flavor. More than a hundred different varieties of whiskey are used for the preparation of the drink, matured for six years or more in oak barrels. The aroma of the whiskey is rich with tons of grain, sweet apricots, oak shavings, and lemon. On the palate, you will be able to feel the pleasant accords of honey, caramel, marmalade, and fruit.

Seagram's 7 Crown American Whiskey

FAQ

How to choose whiskey?

How to choose whiskey?

Experts recommend what to pay attention to, so as not to make a mistake when choosing. The main criteria are:

  1. Variety – influences the prestige and price of the product. The most common and affordable option is considered blended, the best – malt.
  2. Region of production – presented on the label on the back or labeling:

“Scotch” – Scotland;

“Whiskey” – Ireland;

“RYE” – Canada;

“Bourbon” – United States.

  1. Ageing – calculated from the age of the youngest spirit before bottling. Well-known brands usually “infuse” between five and 10 years. Young varieties do not have the best taste, so before buying you should think carefully about the advisability of financial expenditure.
  2. Price – the calculation often includes packaging (especially gift packaging) and brand name. For yourself, it is better to take the average market price of the products of famous manufacturers. With the help of the Internet, you should check the prices in different stores, and if there is a significant discount, you should not exclude the possibility of counterfeit products, which are harmful to your health.
  3. Consistency – a visual assessment of the purity, the presence of sediment, turbidity, and foreign impurities. During the selection process, you can shake the contents in the bottle to observe the slow flow of the liquid on the walls due to the viscosity and viscosity.
  4. The taste and aroma may vary according to the production and the variety, with the following characteristics being observed:
  • No pungent smell of alcohol;
  • A slight hint of malt and oak barrel;
  • Not burning soft taste with a warming aftertaste.
  1. Composition – presented on the label and requires careful study. The main component should be either grain alcohol or a natural blend without chemical additives or impurities.

How to drink whiskey?

How to drink whiskey?

There are several rules that true connoisseurs of this drink recommend adhering to:

  • Look – splash one-third in the glass and enjoy the hue, which is darker the longer it’s aged in an oak barrel.
  • Smell – unwind the drink in a tulip glass and hold it up to your nose for a not-too-strong inhalation of the aroma.
  • Savor – take the first sip and appreciate the long and pleasant aftertaste.
  • Sip – usually, whiskey is served with ice cubes or an extra glass of cola, lemon juice, and water to mix.

Strong varieties (up to 60%) are typically diluted to avoid numbing the receptors. Conventional products (up to 43%) are drunk pure or diluted as desired. Single malt non-diluted brands are recommended to be drunk undiluted.

How to drink bourbon?

How to drink bourbon?

True connoisseurs drink the best American whiskey only pure. Of course, it should be premium bourbon matured for 4 years or more. It is poured into a glass with a thick bottom: a tumbler or a rox.

If the bourbon is young, it is customary to add ice and sometimes a little water. This smoothes out the excessive harshness of the drink.

“Old Fashioned” is the most popular bourbon cocktail. The taste of American whiskey perfectly emphasizes the bitter, orange zest, and sugar syrup. The cocktail is served in a glass with the same name. It is also customary to drink whiskey with ice from the “old fashion” glass.

Based on bourbon other popular cocktails known all over the world are also prepared:

  • Manhattan;
  • Whiskey Sour;
  • Boulevardier;
  • Kentucky Mule.

Video

Menu