15 Best Sipping Whiskey for Beginners

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Whiskey is one of the most refined and most exploratory alcoholic drinks. A single sip has so many tasting notes and so many aspects that it can trigger hours-long conversations and discussions. 

However, whiskey isn’t a drink to be messed with, as it has a pretty substantial dark side. To be able to enjoy whiskey properly, you need to know a thing or two about the spirit in general. If you are a newbie in the whiskey department, you should get yourself started friendly and easy. 

No matter how gentle the whiskey is, it will always have a particular bite in the end and will always burn, so you should expect that no matter which brand you choose.

The lower-end whiskey brands tend to be more aggressive, and the higher-end is smoother and subtler. 

Also check: 15 Best Bourbon for Beginners

Top 15 Sipping Whiskeys for Beginners

What you need to be mindful about is the bite and the aggressiveness, as that’s what you want to avoid as a beginner.

However, there are harsh whiskeys that an educated whiskey enthusiast would call potent and assertive, while a beginner would call them merciless and too sharp, which is where the difference between an experienced and an inexperienced pallet lies. 

If, after you have tried more than a few whiskeys, you decide that harsh is what you want, feel free to explore that side of whiskey, but it is never a good idea to start from there.

In the beginning, you should go with gentle, smooth, sweet, and aromatic whiskeys so as to explore them safely without getting the wrong impression about the spirit itself. 

In the following article, I will give you a list of the best 15 sipping whiskeys for beginners to help you narrow down your choices and set you up for a smooth sailing. 

More: 15 Best Sweet Whiskeys To Sip On

1. 1792 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 


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Aged for eight years in oak barrels, this whiskey is smooth and velvety, deep-flavored, with shades of honey and deep amber color.

Great for beginners, it is perfectly balanced, combining notes of sweet corn, rye, vanilla, and barley. It is very seductive to look at and even more attractive to sip. 

Although this is a bourbon that is known as rougher than regular whiskey, don’t worry about this one, as it is sweeter and gentler than other bourbons. It starts gently with vanilla notes, and it gets grainy and more complex as it unravels toward the middle. 

The finish is smooth but spicy, so be prepared for a few seconds of harshness, but nothing you can’t handle. 

More: 30 Best Smoothest Whiskey

2. Ballantine’s 17-Years-Old Blended Scotch 


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This is an exceptionally smooth whiskey, aged for 17 years in oak barrels. It is deep and very charismatic. This whiskey exhibits very expressive fruity and smoky notes, whereby the vanilla note is constant from the beginning until the end of the sip. 

This is an excellent whiskey for beginners, as it is a classic scotch whiskey with all the milestones in the sip, but it is a toned-down version of the spirit. So, you will feel all the markings of the scotch but balanced and suited for an untrained palate. 

It starts softly with deep vanilla notes, slowly fading to give space to the fruity and smoky tones mid-palate. It finishes smoothly, leaving a sweet aftertaste and a warm burn. 

3. Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey


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Tasting like fruits and toffee, this whiskey ages for 14 years in oak barrels. The fruity notes are very visible, while the toffee tones get more under the spotlight mid-palate.

The aging period shapes this spirit into a smooth and refined drink excellently suited for beginners. 

The finish is expectedly smooth, with a touch of spiciness and a hint of white pepper. The burn is warm and mild, making this whiskey a great starting point for your whiskey journey.

4. Elijah Craig 12-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 


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This by-the-book bourbon specimen is an excellent initial lesson in your whiskey training course. Although it is a classic bourbon, it isn’t as harsh as you would think. It is a classic, and for a good reason too. 

It has a certain depth of flavor and is an excellent slow sipper, not only for beginners but for experienced bourbon lovers too. 

It has subtle notes of vanilla and toffee, which aren’t that expressive, but the harshness is toned down as well. The long aging period does the trick, as the 12 years this spirit spent in the barrel really did make it wiser. 

5. J and B Blended Scotch Whiskey 


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This whiskey is a blend of 40 single-grain and malt whiskeys encompassing many traditions, crafts, and a whole lot of whiskey wisdom. It combines flavors of mixed grains and apple freshness, and it is known as the whiskey that doesn’t bite. 

Therefore, it has rightfully deserved a spot on this list. It includes more than a hundred tasting notes, making this whiskey exceptionally exploratory and very complex.

However, when you sip it, as a beginner, you will think, “no bite,” and that is enough to start you off the right way. 

6. Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey


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Aged for nine years in oak barrels, this is definitely a very smooth whiskey. It is bold, assertive, and yet, gentle and considerate. It is very flavorful and highly aromatic, deep, and substantial. This whiskey includes notes of oak, caramel, and vanilla. 

It starts easily with vanilla flavors and exhibits the oak and caramel further along. The finish is spicy and peppery, so expect a little twinge. Nevertheless, it is very smooth, leaving a delicious aftertaste.

7. Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whiskey 


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Tasting explicitly like wheat, this whiskey is very flavorful, gentle, and soft, making it an excellent sipper for beginners.

It has noticeable notes of vanilla, caramel, and dried fruits. It starts with the mandatory vanilla flavors, bringing you deeper, showing its fruity and caramel tones. 

It finishes smoothly and gently on a sweet note. The wheat sweetness wraps up the sip, all the way from the beginning until the very end, creating a gentle and soft experience. 

8. Monkey Shoulder Blended Whiskey 


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Sweet, creamy, and malty, this is a great sipper for beginners as well as more experienced whiskey drinkers who like the softer side of the spirit.

Gentle all over, it starts particularly gently with vanilla and caramel tones that keep unraveling and getting more and more complex, enhanced by the fruity notes in the middle. 

The finish is very smooth and creamy, almost buttery. The burn is gentle and warm, leaving you with a delicious and chocolaty aftertaste. Each new sip tastes a bit different as the flavors mix with each other, creating a new experience. 

9. Colonel E.H. Taylor Straight Rye 


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This is a peppery, spicy, and edgy spirit for those of you who are inclined toward experimentation. Although it can be a little too much for a beginner, this whiskey is still worth a spot on this list, as it is very flavorful, and it may just appeal to an untrained palate. 

Even though it is a bit bolder and rougher compared to the rest of the whiskeys on this list, it isn’t extreme; it is well-balanced.

It starts with subtle notes of vanilla, only to continue toward a rye-flavored mid-palate, galloping toward the peppery but very smooth finish. 

The burn is a little stronger, so be prepared to chase each sip with water to milden it and tone it down. 

10. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey


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Aged for seven years in oak barrels, this whiskey is smooth, gentle, woody, and fruity. With its velvety, almost creamy consistency, it exhibits its fruity and floral notes in given moments when their time comes. 

It starts with floral and vanilla notes, getting more complex as it further develops. Mid-palate, it tastes like dried fruits, wood, and oak, preparing you for the grand finale, which is its smooth and buttery finish, tasting like white pepper. 

It is gentle and soft overall, with firmly set points of expression. It is an excellent sipping whiskey for beginners and a great first lesson. 

11. Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey 


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This exquisite and complex whiskey found its place on this list because it is soft, aromatic, and flavorful. It combines notes of caramel, vanilla, orange zest, cherry, smoke, and oak. It starts with vanilla tones, and it continues to add new flavor notes as it deepens further. 

It goes on to exhibit the cherry, orange zest, and caramel, and right before it finishes, it shows the smoky and oaky notes. The finish is smooth, as you might expect from a whiskey of this class, with a flavorful burn and a tasty aftertaste.

12. Four Roses Gold Label


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The Four Roses Gold Label is known as one of the softest and gentlest whiskeys, which is why it is excellent to begin your whiskey journey with. Combining fruity and explicitly floral notes, it is mild and very flavorful. 

You can feel its gentility all the way through the sip, which ends with a very smooth and gentle finish.

Some would say that this whiskey is the Waldo of the whiskeys, being that it is very discrete and it doesn’t stand out as much as other whiskeys do.

However, it is a matter of taste, and for those who like milder and gentle tastes, this Waldo stands out just fine. 

13. Crown Royal


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Crown Royal is a Canadian whiskey brand intended for royalty. First crafted as a courtesy to the British royal couple, it has become a synonym for refinement, quality, and smoothness.

This deep-flavored whiskey has fans among the more experienced whiskey enthusiasts, as well as among those who have just started their journey. 

It exhibits notes of vanilla, oak, and nuts, covered overall in the magic that only Canadian whiskey can bring. The finish is very smooth but assertive, leaving a substantial burn, but perfectly balanced and very tolerable. 

If you want to start your whiskey journey with the very best, this is the way to go. 

14. Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey


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Jack Daniels is an institution in the whiskey world and is, therefore, a compulsory lesson for beginners.

Not that there aren’t other whiskey brands that have established in the whiskey world as much as Jack Daniels did, but they are better suited for an experienced palate rather than a beginner’s. 

The Tennessee Honey expression is an excellent starter. It is very smooth, expressively flavorful, and very fragrant. When I say it tastes like honey, I mean it really tastes like honey. It has the standard whiskey vanilla notes, but the honey and smoky tones are the dominant ones here. 

It is full-bodied and exquisitely delicious, easy to drink, and gentle enough to start with it but assertive enough so that you never forget it. It is the perfect combination of gentility and character and a great first lesson. 

15. Tullamore Dew


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Soft, balanced, herbal, earthy, and sweet, this is an excellent starter lesson for the inexperienced palate. It has all whiskey markings, and tasting it broadens your palate and your knowledge. In a single sip, you will be tasting several whiskeys, a classic one, an herbal one, and a sweet one. 

It is very soft and gentle, flavorful from the beginning to the end of the sip, and quite complex, so if you are looking to explore, this should be your poison. 

What Is The Smoothest Whiskey For Beginners?

When you begin exploring the whiskey world, smooth is what you want. Luckily there isn’t only one smooth whiskey you can begin with. Buffalo Trace, Four Roses Bourbon, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Suntory Toki, Bulleit Bourbon, and Tullamore Dew are among the smoothest whiskeys for beginners. 

What Whiskeys Are Good To Drink Straight?

Buffalo Trace – Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Balvenie Double Wood Scotch Whiskey, Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Redbreast 12 Years, Forty Creek Barrel Select, and Yamazaki 12-Year-Old Whisky are among the magnates of the neat sipping whiskeys.

Chad Smith

Meet Chad Smith, a seasoned bartender with a passion for mixology. He's the founder of Tin Roof Drink Community, a blog where he shares expert tips, creative recipes, and fosters a vibrant community of cocktail enthusiasts and aspiring bartenders. Join Chad as he takes you on a flavorful journey through the world of drinks. Cheers!

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