15 bartenders name the best scotches to mix this winter


Of course we enjoy a nice glass of single malt whiskey or Scotch whiskey warming up on a cold winter night. But sometimes we prefer the change of pace of a warm winter grog, a rusty nail, or a godfather. Fortunately, there are plenty of high-quality, reasonably-priced scotches out there with flavors well suited to winter cocktails.

When it comes to the aforementioned flavors, scotch offers two very different mixing possibilities. You can go with smoked whiskeys to build your penicillin, Rob Roy, or blood and sand. Or you can grab a bottle of Sherry Scotch Whiskey and use these deeply resonant flavors of plums, holiday spice, orange, and chocolate to create an old-fashioned, sour, or toddy scotch.

To help you find the best possible options, we asked 15 bartenders to share their pick of the best Scotch whiskeys to mix with this winter. Keep scrolling to see all of their selections.

Harleston Green Blended Scotch Whiskey

Harleston Green

Kimberly Schow, Bar Manager at the Dryce Hotel in Fort Worth, Texas

ABV: 40%

Average price: 13 $

Why this whiskey?

At the Dryce Hotel, we currently use Harleston Green Blended Scotch in our cocktails, and we love it because of its smoothness and ease of mixing. You can’t go wrong with a rusty nail or scotch and soda to warm you up on a winter night.

Johnnie Walker Black Label Blended Scotch Whiskey

Johnnie Walker Black Label Blended Scotch Whiskey
Johnnie walker

Juliana Ortiz, Food and Beverage Manager at Vinoy Renaissance in St. Petersburg, Florida

ABV: 40%

Average price: 28 $

Why this whiskey?

Johnnie Walker Black Label is one of the most popular scotches customers demand for winter cocktails, and for good reason. It’s full bodied and the perfect balance of sweet, spicy, fruity and smoky in one sip and mixes well.

Blended Scotch Whiskey Dewar’s White Label

Blended Scotch Whiskey Dewar's White Label
Dewar

Nick du Mortier, Senior Mixologist at Bar Pendry in Chicago

ABV: 40%

Average price: 25 $

Why this whiskey?

Dewar’s White Label will always play well in cocktails. It’s one of the few scotches I drink that makes me crave its subtle lemon and honey flavors. Toss it with some freshly squeezed lemon juice, balance it out with some chamomile tea and citric acid honey syrup, and you’ll feel like you’ve crossed the fifth corner of spring.

Talisker 10 Single Malt Whiskey

Talisker 10 Single Malt Whiskey
Talisker

Aaron Ramirez, head bartender at Mr. C Beverly Hills restaurant in Los Angeles

ABV: 45.8%

Average price: $ 65

Why this whiskey?

My favorite scotch to mix with is a Talisker 10. It has a peaty, smoky flavor that makes it the perfect choice for a penicillin shot or godfather cocktail. All in all, this is a fairly full and complex addition to winter cocktails.

Laphroaig 10 Single Malt Whiskey

Laphroaig 10 Single Malt Whiskey
Laphroaig

Christopher Devern, Head Bartender at Red Owl Tavern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

ABV: 43%

Average price: $ 62

Why this whiskey?

Laphroaig 10 years is my choice. This classic Islay single malt adds warm complexity to cocktails like a penicillin. Smoke and peat in winter are a great way to warm up. Also, try adding half an ounce to an old one to bring it to a new level of complexity.

Lagavulin 16 Single Malt Whiskey

Lagavulin 16 Single Malt Whiskey
Lagavuline

Sean Ingenthron, bartender at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa in Carlsbad, California

ABV: 43%

Average price: $ 80

Why this whiskey?

My favorite Scotch whiskey to mix during the winter months is Lagavulin 16. It comes from Islay and carries heavy flavors and peaty aromas with it. These heavily smoky, wintry profiles are perfect for an old-fashioned Islay when paired with rich sugar and Creole bitters.

Glenmorangie X Single Malt Whiskey

Glenmorangie X Single Malt Whiskey
Glenmorangie

Mark Phelan, Director of Beverages at 16 ″ On Center in Chicago

ABV: 40%

Average price: $ 38

Why this whiskey?

Glenmorangie X is a recent addition to the Scottish landscape. When our team blind tasted it along with other value-oriented options, it was the unanimous favorite. It has a body and richness that holds up well in both stirred and brewed cocktails. Plus, it’s a single malt compared to a blended scotch, so it’s a good sip on its own.

Le Dalmore 12 Single Malt Whiskey

Le Dalmore 12 Single Malt Whiskey
The Dalmore

Marla White, Head Bartender at Lona Cocina & Tequileria in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

ABV: 40%

Average price: $ 65

Why this whiskey?

The Dalmore 12 is my favorite. The aging of this scotch is very interesting and makes it a complex single malt. The first stage of aging takes place in American white oak ex-bourbon barrels. Then it is transferred to 30-year-old sherry casks. The sherry mixed with the flavors of peat brings warmth and terroir that will warm up your cocktails during the winter months.

Aberlour 12 Single Malt Whiskey

Aberlour 12 Single Malt Whiskey
Aberlour

Robert Kidd, manager of the Cavalier’s bar in Wilmington, Delaware

ABV: 43%

Average price: 40 $

Why this whiskey?

Having a good peaty scotch tape to work with in the winter seems like the perfect solution. Personally, I find this flavor profile to be a bit overwhelming. I am using Aberlour 12-Year instead. Aberlour is not peaty and has nice notes of caramel, dried fruit and a touch of nutty from the Oloroso sherry casks in which it is finished. If you want to add that smoke to your drink, just try spraying a layer of peaty scotch tape on your drink or rinse glass.

This will give you a supple smoke that will let other flavors pass through.

Highland Park 12 Single Malt Whiskey

Highland Park 12 Single Malt Whiskey
Highland park

Lee Noble, Senior Mixologist at Art in the Age in Philadelphia

ABV: 43%

Average price: $ 50

Why this whiskey?

Highland Park 12 is a great whiskey on its own, mixed with a Scottish cocktail, or replaced with bourbon or rye in a classic whiskey cocktail recipe. Full, round flavors, like heather honey and vanilla with some citrus, along with a sweet smoky profile, make this a versatile single malt to blend with this season.

The Famous Grouse Smoky Black Blended Scotch Whiskey

The Famous Grouse Smoky Black Blended Scotch Whiskey
The famous grouse

John Tran, manager of BluSky Restaurant & Bar in Anaheim, California

ABV: 40%

Average price: $ 27

Why this whiskey?

I love that this scotch is very affordable, so I don’t feel guilty about making it a winter cocktail. Throw yourself in a cocktail of blood and sand and enjoy the peat singing a sweet melody with the support of other spirits in the mix and this cocktail is to love.

Scotch whiskey mixed with monkey shoulder

Scotch whiskey mixed with monkey shoulder
Monkey shoulder

Zach Wilks, Bartender at Anthony’s Chophouse in Carmel, Indiana

ABV: 43%

Average price: $ 35

Why this whiskey?

For winter cocktails, I always use Monkey Shoulder. It is a blended scotch from the Speyside region with great richness that complements cocktails and gives a touch of vanilla and subtle fruit aromas. It’s a great way to add an interesting new dimension to too many common whiskey cocktails.

The Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask Single Malt Whiskey

The Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask Single Malt Whiskey
La Balvenie

Vanessa Consiglieri, manager of the Botanico Gin & Cookhouse bar in Coconut Grove, Florida

ABV: 43%

Average price: $ 80

Why this whiskey?

My favorite scotch to mix with during the winter months should be The Balvenie 14-Year-Old Caribbean Cask, as it’s very well balanced and works well in a variety of cocktails. I also appreciate this pure scotch or on the rocks for its soft and warm notes.

Pig’s Nose Scotch Whiskey Blend

Pig's Nose Scotch Whiskey Blend
Pork

Andres Bedoya, bartender at Apothecary 330 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

ABV: 40%

Average price: 25 $

Why this whiskey?

If I mix with scotch in winter, I prefer to use mixed scotch. My biggest discovery was Blended Scotch Whiskey from Pig’s Nose. It’s not sweet or smoky, just the perfect blend that’s great to use in a penicillin and many other cocktails.

Ardbeg Wee Beastie Single Malt Whiskey

Ardbeg Wee Beastie Single Malt Whiskey
Ardbeg

Cassie Stockbridge, bartender at the lobby bar of the Godfrey Hotel in Boston

ABV: 47.4%

Average price: $ 45

Why this whiskey?

The Scotch Sour is a classic cocktail perfect during the long winter months. Ardbeg Wee Beastie is my scotch of choice to mix in this drink. The crisp, tangy initial taste complements the smoky, peaty finish to make this cocktail unlike any other sour whiskey you’ve ever tasted.

About Ethel Nester

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