What is the smoothest whiskey to sip?

Whiskey connoisseurs are always on the hunt for the smoothest sip of whiskey. With so many options on the market, it can be tough to determine which whiskeys truly have an exceptionally smooth flavor and mouthfeel. To find the smoothest whiskey, you need to consider factors like aging, proof, mashbill, and more. Read on to learn about how these factors impact smoothness and see recommendations for the top smoothest whiskies to enjoy neat or on the rocks.

How Does Whiskey Get Smooth?

Whiskey gets its signature smoothness primarily through aging. As whiskey sits in barrels over months and years, it takes on flavor from the wood while also becoming smoother. Here are some of the key ways that aging makes whiskey smoother:

  • Oxidation – As whiskey interacts with tiny amounts of oxygen in the barrel, harsh flavors get oxidized and mellowed out.
  • Evaporation – Over time, some of the alcohol evaporates, leaving behind a whiskey with a gently rounded mouthfeel.
  • Integration – The flavors have time to marry and integrate for a smooth, melded flavor profile.
  • Particle Softening – Harsh grain particles from the mashbill soften and smooth out over time.

While longer aging doesn’t automatically make a smoother whiskey, when done right it can help smooth out a whiskey’s rough edges. Many of the smoothest whiskies on the market are aged for 10+ years before bottling.

How Proof Impacts Smoothness

The alcohol by volume (ABV) or proof of a whiskey also impacts how smooth it tastes. Here’s how proof influences smoothness:

  • Higher proof whiskies tend to have more burn and spice which can overpower smoothness.
  • Lower proof whiskies around 80-90 tend to have a gentler mouthfeel and showcase smooth flavors.
  • Cask strength and barrel proof whiskies are not diluted, so smoothness depends on barrel aging quality.

While there are plenty of excellent high-proof whiskies, lower proof whiskies often have a leg up when it comes to delivering a supple, mellow sipping experience.

Mashbill Matters Too

The types of grains used in a whiskey mashbill also affect its smoothness. Here’s a quick look at how common whiskey grains impact smoothness:

  • Corn – The high corn content of bourbon makes it sweet and smooth.
  • Wheat – Wheat whiskeys are creamy and soft on the palate.
  • Rye – The spicy bite of rye provides flavor but can clash with smoothness.
  • Barley – Malted barley adds body but little smoothness on its own.

With this in mind, whiskies with a high corn or wheat content tend to be smoother than high-rye mashbills. But as always, aging and proof play key roles as well.

Top 10 Smoothest Whiskey Recommendations

Ready to discover some delightfully smooth whiskies? Here are 10 of the top recommendations for an utterly smooth sip.

1. Michter’s Small Batch Bourbon

This bourbon is aged for around eight years, giving it plenty of time to mellow out. It is bottled at a relatively low 91.4 proof to maintain smoothness. The high corn content also lends a sweet, silky quality.

2. Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select

As a Tennessee Whiskey, JD undergoes extra maple charcoal mellowing before aging. It’s bottled at 94 proof for balance. The extra aging in single barrels yields outstanding smoothness.

3. Johnnie Walker Blue Label

This premium blended Scotch whisky gets an exceptionally smooth finish from older, rare casks in its blend. The blend of single malts and grain whiskies creates a supple, mellow flavor.

4. Bushmills 16 Year Single Malt

Aged in ex-bourbon and sherry casks, this Irish whiskey has lovely fruit and vanilla depth. The 16-year aging gives it pure smoothness in texture and taste.

5. Glenmorangie 18 Year

This Highland single malt Scotch spends a full 15 years in bourbon casks and 3 years in Oloroso sherry casks. Extended maturation makes it divinely smooth.

6. Elijah Craig Small Batch

This budget-friendly bourbon offers smoothness well above its price range. The corn-focused mashbill and oak barrel aging let it sip smoothly at 94 proof.

7. Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

Despite having some rye, this Canadian whisky is surprisingly smooth. It spends extra time in the barrel to achieve refined texture and flavor.

8. GlenDronach 18 Year Allardice

Double barrel maturation in Oloroso and PX sherry casks provides this Scotch with rich fruit smoothness. It has sublime form and feel.

9. Redbreast 12 Year

From Ireland, this triple-distilled pure pot still whiskey is aged in oloroso sherry casks. It is vibrant yet gentle on the palate.

10. Blood Oath Trilogy Blend 3

The team at Lux Row hand selects well-aged bourbons for the Blood Oath blends. The third release excels in delivering ultra-smooth character.

How to Best Sip a Smooth Whiskey

To fully appreciate a glass of smooth whiskey, follow these tips on how to sip and savor it:

  • Pour a neat whiskey into a tulip or rocks glass. Use a dark glass to see the colors.
  • Warm the glass by cupping it in your hands; this releases the aroma.
  • Slowly nose the whiskey 2-3 times to detect subtle scents before tasting.
  • Take just a small sip first, just enough to coat your mouth.
  • Move the whiskey around your tongue and cheeks to sense the mouthfeel.
  • Finally, swallow and exhale through your nose to experience the finish.
  • Add just a few drops of water or an ice cube to open up flavors as desired.
  • Take your time with each step to fully savor the smoothness.

Following this process lets you fully engage with a super smooth whiskey. The more practice you get, the better you’ll become at detecting smooth subtleties.

Smooth Whiskey Cocktails

While best neat or on the rocks, smooth whiskey also shines in a few mixed drinks. Here are some favorite cocktails that let the whiskey’s texture take center stage:

Old Fashioned

Just whiskey, bitters, sugar, and orange come together for boozy smoothness.


This style cocktail highlights whiskey with sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters.

Mint Julep

Muddle mint, sugar, and water then mix with whiskey for refreshing smoothness.


Similar to a Negroni but with rye or bourbon instead of gin for added smoothness.

Whiskey Sour

This shaken cocktail balances smooth whiskey with lemon and simple syrup.


When you’re looking for a relaxing, flavorful whiskey experience, smoothness is key. Low proof, high corn mashbills, and extensive barrel aging deliver the most mellow, supple sipping whiskies. Savoring top choices like Michter’s Bourbon or Johnnie Walker Blue neat allows you to fully engage with the smoothness. And cocktails like Manhattans and Sours let you enjoy smoothness in a mixed drink expression. With an understanding of what creates smoothness and which bottles deliver, you can stock your bar with the ultimate smooth sipping selections.

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