The Best Whisky Brands
Why should you care about the most popular whiskey brands?
Whiskey is one of the world’s most popular and complex spirits. It is the drink of choice of millions of people around the globe. There are many types and varieties available, the most popular of which are Scotch, Irish, Japanese, Canadian, and American (bourbon and Tennessee whiskey).
Whether you are an experienced whiskey drinker or someone who is just getting to know this brown elixir, you should know who consistently makes the best whiskey. Luckily, we did the research for you. We hope you enjoy our list of the world's most popular whiskey brands.
If you really love whiskey, come check out our list of the best whiskey of the month clubs.
Jim Beam is a household name that needs very little if any introduction. It is among the best-selling spirits in the US, as well as one of the most recognizable American whiskey brands abroad. The story of this famous bourbon began back in 1795 when the Böhm family produced the first casks. Today, Jim Beam is one of the world’s most popular bourbons.
There are a number of different levels of quality that are produced under the Jim Beam name. The most widely available is the "white label". This is what you'll find at local grocery stores and mass retailers. This 80 proof whiskey is aged four years in new charred barrels. The most exclusive or premium whiskey produced by Beam is the "Distiller's Masterpiece". This is one of the best bottles of whiskey available today. You will definitely want to make clear ice at home if you plan to drink this on the rocks.
Jim Beam also produces rye whiskey, liqueurs and a "white whiskey" that is aged in uncharred barrels. As well as some bourbons that are marketed under different names like Knob Creek.
Jack Daniel’s is among the most popular whiskey brands around. In fact, it is top-selling American whiskey in the world. It hails from Lynchburg, Tennessee, and it’s one of the state’s most famous products. It all started back in 1875 when Jack Daniel opened his distillery. The company quickly rose to prominence and remains at the top to this very day.
There are roughly 15 different Jack Daniel's whiskey products on the market. The most popular and recognizable is the Old Number 7 or "black label". This is an 80 proof bourbon that the company prefers to label Tennessee Whiskey.
Are you looking for higher proof whiskey? Jack Daniels can accommodate. They offer whiskey that with as much as 70% abv or 140 proof. The quality, consistency, and variety from Jack Daniel's make them one of the best whiskey brands in the world.
Without a doubt, one of the top Scottish brands, Johnnie Walker is hugely popular on the other side of the Atlantic as well. It also claims the title of the best-selling Scotch around the globe. The whiskey has been around since the early 1820s (sold under the Walker’s Kilmarnock Whisky moniker), though it only took its current name in 1908.
The quality of Johnnie Walker scotch whiskey is designated by the label color. Starting with the red label, primarily used in mixed drinks, all the way up to the ultra-premium whiskey blue label. There are 12 different grades distributed by this popular whiskey brand. They dominate global scotch whisky sales in many of the categories they produce.
Even with the massive scale of their whiskey making operation, Johnnie Walker's whiskeys regularly win awards at blind tastings around the world.
Second only to Johnnie Walker, Ballantine’s is one of the top-selling Scotch whiskey brands around the globe. With a history of almost two centuries long, Ballantine’s is regarded as one of the finest brands around. Today, the company is owned by the French company Pernod Ricard and enjoys a huge reputation in Europe (especially Southern Europe) and East Asia.
Ballantine's offers the whiskey drinker eight versions of their famous Scotch. The bottlings are aged in barrels from 12 years all the way to 40 years. They are also marketed with specific characteristics highlighted like the "honey and vanilla finish" promised in their 30-year blend.
Hailing from the land of the Chrysanthemum Throne, Suntory is among the leading brands of Japanese whiskey. It is considered by many as the country’s finest. The Suntory Company was founded back in 1899 and is currently one of the most successful distilling and brewing companies in the world. They own a huge portfolio of businesses but still focus on creating world-class whiskey. Check out prices for Suntory products here.
The SuntoryBeam holding company is also responsible for the Jim Beam brand mentioned above, along with Maker's Mark, and Old Grandad whiskey. But the premium Suntory Japanese whiskey is the key to making this one of the most important whiskey brands in the world.
Wild Turkey is one of the most famous brands of Kentucky bourbon. The company is headquartered just outside of Lawrenceburg, KY, and is currently owned by Campari Group. Though its heritage traces back to 1869, the Wild Turkey whiskey didn’t acquire its name until 1940. Introduced in a controversial 2011 marketing campaign, “Give ‘em the Bird” is still the company’s slogan.
This popular whiskey brand offers roughly 15 variations on their popular bourbon. You can buy bottles from 81 proof all the way to the 110 proof Russell's Reserve Single Barrel. Wild Turkey bourbon has played a role in American popular culture as the favorite whiskey of many famous movie and tv characters.
Jameson Irish Whiskey
One of Ireland’s most popular whiskey brands, Jameson also enjoys a great reputation in the Americas and Asia. Since Irish whiskey’s revival in popularity during the last decade of the 20th century, Jameson has been the fastest-growing brand of whiskey in the world. It was introduced back in the 1780s and quickly rose to prominence. Today, the Jameson brand is owned by Irish Distillers.
The people at Jameson created over 20 different versions of their popular whiskey. Some of these are only available when you visit their distillery, but many are available for delivery from Drizly.
Jameson Irish Whiskey has a truly fascinating history that includes a rise to world whiskey dominance. It's a fun read if you are interested in history.
Hugely popular in Europe, US, and East Asia, Chivas Regal is a Scotch whiskey made by Chivas Brothers. It was one of the favorite drinks of the members of the Rat Pack, most prominently Frank Sinatra. The blend was introduced back in 1801, while the Strathisla Distillery (home of Chivas Brothers Company) was founded 15 years earlier in 1786.
Chivas offers 12 versions of their popular whiskey. These are aged from 12 to 25 years. The most exclusive versions are "Chivas Regal The Icon" and the "Royal Salute 38 Year"
The Famous Grouse
The Famous Grouse is one of the most prominent brands of Scotch whiskey. The Grouse was introduced in 1896 and, owing to its exceptional quality, became an instant classic. The word “Famous” was added in 1905. Today, it is regularly featured on various lists of the best whiskey brands and enjoys a great reputation around the world.
Justerini & Brooks is a London-based company, famous for being the supplier of spirits to all British monarchs in the last 250 years. Their J&B blended Scotch whisky is one of the best-selling Scotch blends in the world, as well as one of the most popular whiskeys in the American market. Today, J&B is owned by Diageo.
Crown Royal Canadian Whisky
Crown Royal is a brand of blended Canadian whisky. It was introduced by Seagram back in 1939 in honor of King George VI’s visit to Canada. The blend was introduced to the US market in 1964, where it became an instant favorite and remains the top-selling blend of Canadian whisky to this day. In 2000, Diageo purchased the Crown Royal brand from Seagram.
Dewar’s Scotch Whisky
Dewar’s is one of the most famous brands of blended Scotch whisky. The company was founded in 1846. By the turn of the 20th century, it’d become one of the leaders in the global market. In the US, the best known Dewar’s is the White Label which has been in continuous production for over a century.
Some people like to relax with a glass of blended Scotch, while some prefer a shot of bourbon. The smooth Irish whiskeys, as well as the single-malt Japanese varieties also enjoy huge popularity. On the other hand, if you don’t have your favorite style of whiskey or brand, this list might a good place to start your quest for the best whiskey. We want you to know who the most reliable and popular whiskey brands are before you order your next glass or buy your next bottle.
Let us know if you disagree with our list or if you think someone is missing from this list of the best whiskey brands. Cheers!