The Old Fashioned is the perfect cocktail for those who want the whiskey to be the main event.
While there are a few other ingredients in the drink that might sweeten it up and add a bit of flavor, it still allows the whiskey to shine on its own.
To create the drink, you mix sugar, water, some bitters, and whiskey. However, you can’t just throw any old whiskey in the cocktail.
Since you are not adding too much extra flavoring to the cocktail, you will need to choose a good-quality whiskey. Otherwise, it will affect the flavor and body of the drink.
This guide will tell you what the best whiskey for old fashioned is. We will cover five different whiskies, so you can choose your favorite of the bunch.
If you are ready to make the perfect old fashioned, let’s get started.
Reviews of The 5 Best Whiskey For Old Fashioned
Best Overall: Woodford Reserve Rye Whiskey
The Woodford Reserve Rye Whiskey has a rich flavor profile with black pepper, mint, nutmeg, apple, honey, and tobacco.
This whiskey will have your mouth watering by just looking at its golden honey color. The whiskey is a bit spicy. You can taste notes of black pepper, cedar, rye, and cassia bark.
The best rye whiskey for an old fashioned, Woodford Reserve is sweetened with a hint of marzipan. You will also be able to taste almond, pear, and apple undertones.
You will get no shortage of flavor with this whiskey; additional notes you will taste are molasses, clove, rye, mint, honey, and sorghum.
Woodford Reserve Rye Whiskey also has a minty finish with hints of toasted and charred oak.
You won’t have to worry about getting a bitter aftertaste with this drink. The caramel and almond notes will stay on your tongue long after your last sip.
Lastly, the whiskey has no artificial coloring and comes from Kentucky, USA.
- Type: Rye Whiskey (45.2% ABV)
- Size: 700 mL
- Buttery and smooth taste
- No artificial coloring
- Made in the USA
- Rich flavor profile
- Great for Old Fashioned
- A bit overpriced
- The flavors may taste a bit unbalanced
Overall, this is a good rye whiskey for old fashioned. The mash bill consists of 53% rye, which contributes to its unique and soft flavor.
The aroma is also quite pleasant; you will smell some earthy tones like rye grain accompanied by fresh pears and apples.
There will be underlying scents of cloves, dark chocolate, and peppery rye spice.
If you are looking for a buttery whiskey with a smooth finish, this will be the bottle for you. With a mash bill of 53% rye, you will taste hints of sweet spice and apple on top of the other notes.
This whiskey has a vast array of flavors, making it the best whiskey for old fashioned cocktail.
Runner Up: Buffalo Trace Bourbon
Another whiskey from Kentucky, this Buffalo Trace Bourbon will be one of the smoothest you have tasted.
The bourbon has a long finish with hints of brown sugar and spice. It is a deep amber whiskey with an intricate mix of flavors, including mint, vanilla, and molasses.
Sweet to the taste, the bourbon will surprise you with its rich undertones of oak, dark fruit, toffee, and anise.
Many bourbon enthusiasts have also tasted hints of caramel and coconut, adding to the whiskey’s complex flavor profile.
Furthermore, this bourbon is from Buffalo Trace distilleries. The distillery has been making bourbon whiskey for over 200 years, so you are sure to receive a finely crafted product.
This is the best whiskey for old fashioned recipe with its sweet flavors and depth.
- Type: Bourbon Whiskey (40% ABV)
- Size: 700 mL
- Affordable price for the bottle
- Produced by a reputable distillery
- Rich flavor profile
- Smooth and long finish
- Perfect for old fashioned cocktail
- May taste young
- Does not taste as good when served neat
This is a bourbon that has impressed many whiskey enthusiasts. You won’t get a better flavor profile and smoothness for the price.
Buffalo trace bourbon has just enough body to be the perfect base for an old fashioned.
The whiskey has a very rich flavor profile and a long finish. Its main strength is how smooth it tastes. If you like your bourbon more on the sweet side, this will be a good choice.
The old fashioned cocktail recipe will also make it even sweeter and enhance its flavor.
With its notes of caramel and vanilla, it is the best bourbon whiskey for old fashioned.
Alternative: Bulleit 10 Year Old Bourbon
The Bulleit 10 Year Old Bourbon has a rich profile with undertones of vanilla and cinnamon, making it the best whiskey for old fashioned drink.
This bottle has an age of 10 years, which accounts for its hints of leather, cherry, and spice. The oak barrel infused layers of creamy vanilla and toasty flavors into the bottle.
Bulleit 10 Year Old Bourbon has an intense finish; you will taste dark fruit and rye spice all topped with a woody flavor.
This bourbon has a light, sweet aroma that you will appreciate before taking your first sip. If you let it sit for a bit, you may even notice some smoky notes.
The aging gives this bourbon a much-needed depth that brings out caramel, oak, and spice notes.
The mash bill consists of 4% malted barley, 28% rye, and 68% corn. Finally, this is another bourbon that comes from Kentucky, USA. There is no added coloring.
- Type: Bourbon Whiskey (45.6% ABV)
- Size: 700 mL
- Aged for ten years
- Intense flavor profile
- Rich and spicy
- Has hints of vanilla, cinnamon, and dried fruit
- The flavor is not as complex as some enthusiasts would like
- The wood flavor dominates the finish
When you consider the age, this bourbon is a great deal. If you are more inclined to dark, intense, and spicy flavors, this will be the drink for you.
This is a good whiskey for old fashioned since it has a range of flavors such as vanilla, oak, cherry, and spice. The old fashioned recipe will add the perfect amount of sweetness.
You may also notice notes of butterscotch, pepper, coconut, and citrus in the bourbon.
This bourbon has a good amount of depth and an amazing mix of aromas and scents.
Alternative: Wild Turkey 101
Wild Turkey 101 is one of the best-selling bourbons on the market. It is one of the best whiskeys for old fashioned with its notes of mint, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, hazelnut, and toffee.
Peppery aromas will fill your nose on the first sniff, accompanied by sweet toffee, rye, and caraway seed.
However, be warned; you may experience a strong whiff of alcohol that overpowers the other scents at first.
After letting the scents sit for a while, the alcohol scent will dissipate, leaving you with a well-balanced collection of sweet aromas.
The whiskey has a long and spicy finish. It can have a bit of a dry aftertaste hanging on for a bit, but you will soon taste spice and pepper notes.
Wild Turkey 101 has a lot of body and hits the spot with its strong spice.
- Type: Bourbon Whiskey (50.5% ABV)
- Size: 700 mL
- One of the best-selling bourbons on the market
- Rich flavor with lots of body
- The flavor profile consists of mint, nutmeg, clove, hazelnut, cinnamon, and toffee
- Produced by a reputable distillery
- Dozens of 5-star reviews
- It May have a burning (ethanol) taste when you first drink it
This bourbon has just the right mix of sweetness from the corn and spiciness from the rye. If you are looking for a well-rounded bourbon for a good price, this will be your best bet.
Hundreds of people rave about this bourbon, and for good reason.
The complexity of the notes in this whiskey is unlimited; you will be able to notice a new flavor each sip.
You will have no problem drinking this whiskey with its smooth and velvety notes.
Since the whiskey is good enough to drink neat, it will taste amazing in an old fashioned.
Pick this whiskey up if you are looking for a next-level cocktail with the perfect balance of sweet and spicy.
The teaspoon of water in the old fashioned recipe will really open this palette up and will make for a one-of-a-kind drink.
One last note about Wild Turkey 101 is that if you are a true beginner bourbon enthusiast, this may not be the best brand to start with.
The drink will have a bit of a kick that will be too strong for some.
The bold alcoholic taste is what draws some people to the brand while it pushes away others.
Alternative: Eagle Rare 10 Year Old
One of the best whiskeys for old fashioned, this Eagle Rare 10 Year Old bottle won’t disappoint with its woody flavor. This bourbon whiskey is from the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky.
Any whiskey connoisseur will know this bottle for its full body. What it lacks in richness, it makes up for with sweetness. You will taste hints of white pepper, grass, ginger, honey, apple, and caramel.
This bourbon was aged for ten years in oak which brought out notes of leather, oak spice, vanilla, and red fruit.
The aroma is exquisite; you will smell decadent flavors of sweet maple syrup and flamed orange peel.
- Type: Bourbon Whiskey (45% ABV)
- Size: 700 mL
- Produced by a reputable distillery
- Has a rich aroma of maple syrup and orange peel
- Full body and sweet flavor
- Smooth finish
- Slightly overpriced
This whiskey has a full set of flavors when served neat. If you use this bourbon in an old fashioned cocktail, the flavors will open up even more and provide a full, rich and complex taste.
If you like to search for new flavors every sip, you will not be disappointed with this bourbon.
The sweetness is matched with notes of dark fruit and walnuts with a vanilla-infused finish.
Something to note about this whiskey is that it does not have a smokey flavor; it is on the sweeter side.
Using this in an old fashioned will make it even sweeter, so only purchase this bourbon if you prefer a more light and sweet taste.
Whiskey For Old Fashioned FAQ
Is Rye or Bourbon Better for an Old Fashioned?
When it comes to what whiskey to use for an old fashioned, it will depend on your personal preference.
Rye and bourbon have distinct tastes and flavor profiles; an old fashioned with bourbon will taste much different than an old fashioned with rye whiskey.
Rye mash consists of rye, while bourbon mash consists of corn. Rye will have a more spicy and dry taste, while corn will have a sweeter and full-bodied taste.
Typically, rye whiskies are much more intense than bourbon whiskies. Many bourbons will be sweet and will typically have hints of vanilla.
If you are in the mood for a more peppery, bolder old fashioned, use rye whiskey. If you are looking for a lighter-bodied drink that is sweet, use bourbon.
The best rye whiskey for old fashioned will be Woodford Reserve Rye Whiskey (number one on our list). Buffalo Trace Bourbon is the best bourbon for an old fashioned (number two on our list).
What Is the Smoothest Whiskey To Drink Straight?
Not in the mood for an old fashioned? Grab a smooth whiskey and drink it straight.
What It Means To Drink Whiskey Straight
You may have heard different terms such as straight, neat, or straight up. To a beginner whiskey enthusiast, these terms can be confusing.
To drink whiskey “straight” can mean two things. Some people say straight when ordering a drink neat, while others say straight to refer to straight up.
We will explain both “neat” and “straight-up” to avoid confusion.
When you order a drink neat, it means that the bartender will serve you a single liquor without any extra contents added to the drink, such as ice, mixers, or water.
The drink will be at room temperature.
On the other hand, ordering a drink straight up will mean that the bartender will shake your whiskey in a shaker with ice to dilute it a bit.
They will then pour the chilled drink into a stemmed glass. The drink will have no ice.
Smooth Whiskies To Drink Straight
Many people love smooth whiskies due to their sweet flavor. Smooth whiskey will also have a soft texture, making it more enjoyable to drink straight.
Smooth whiskies also tend to have a more blended, well-rounded taste. You will also rarely feel a sharp burn when drinking smooth whiskey.
Here are some of the smoothest whiskies:
- Balvenie DoubleWood – This whiskey ages for 12 years in an ex-bourbon cask. The cask gives it a wide range of flavors, including cinnamon, nuts, dried fruit, vanilla, and nutmeg.
- Suntory Hakushu – The Suntory Hakushu is another 12-year-old whiskey. Coming from Japan, the bottle is more expensive than others on the market. However, its unique and exotic aroma will be worth the extra money. You will taste a range of undertones in this whiskey, including toasted barley, almonds, barrel char, and herbal fruit.
- George Dickel Bottled in Bond – This whiskey comes from Tennessee and is aged for 11 years. The whiskey is so smooth since it is filtered with maple charcoal. Not only is this one of the smoothest whiskies, but it has a range of flavors such as baked apple, vanilla, cinnamon, blood orange, and candied pecan.
- The GlenDronach Allardice – The GlenDronach is one of the best on the list since it is aged for 18 years in a Spanish Oloroso sherry cask. There are hints of brown sugar, pineapple, blueberry, rum, blackcurrant, hazelnut, and maple syrup. If you are looking for a versatile drink, this will be the whiskey to get.
What Alcohol Do You Use for Old Fashioned?
Whiskey is the alcohol you use for an old fashioned.
People will typically use American whiskey, which will either be bourbon or rye whiskey.
American whiskey usually is less expensive, sweeter, and less smokey than other kinds of whiskey.
These factors are what make the liquor appealing to use for cocktails.
Since an old fashioned does not add a lot of extra flavor to the whiskey, using American whiskey will make the cocktail more smooth and less bitter.
What To Pair With an Old Fashioned?
Now that you have the perfect whiskey for an old fashioned, it is time to find something to pair the drink with.
Before we get into the specific foods you can pair with an old fashioned, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- If you are intimidated by the concept of pairing whiskey with certain foods, start with something you love. Dozens of whiskey enthusiasts want to start pairing the right foods with certain drinks. However, if you are just starting, the process can be a bit confusing. Experts say to simply start with a dish you love and go from there. A high-quality meal will almost always go well with a whiskey, no matter what kind it is.
- Try to incorporate smoke into your cooking when drinking a bourbon old fashioned. Bourbon does not have a lot of smoke, to begin with. When you add smoky flavors to your meal, it will go perfectly with the charred oak barrel flavors that bourbon has.
- Try to highlight the whiskey or food, not both. Your meal may become overpowering if you try to make both the whiskey and food the star of the show. Try to focus on one or the other and accommodate from there. For instance, if you pick one of your favorite whiskies with a variety of bold flavors, plan a meal that will bring out the opposite flavors.
- Desserts will usually always go well with a bourbon old fashioned. If all else fails, pick up a chocolate cake and eat it alongside your favorite bourbon. Decadent desserts will always taste great with bourbon, especially sticky toffee pudding.
Now let’s take a look at what foods you can pair with an old fashioned.
- Pork chops – thick-cut pork chops with a balsamic sauce will pair perfectly with the cocktail’s sweetness.
- Roasted almonds – one of the best snacks that pair well with the drink’s zesty flavors is roasted almonds. Add some paprika and orange to the nuts to achieve the perfect flavor.
- Duck – If you haven’t tried duck before, this will be a good opportunity. The old fashioned will bring down the duck’s gaminess and draw out some sweeter flavors, making the meal a bit tastier.
- BBQ chicken wings – Who doesn’t love chicken wings? The next time you make yourself an old fashioned, throw some chicken wings on the barbecue. Bourbon will go best with this meal.
- Wedge salad with blue cheese dressing – Make yourself an iceberg wedge salad and top it off with bacon. Add some blue cheese dressing as well. The bacon will add just the right amount of smokiness to a bourbon old fashioned.
- Chocolate Pie – Pick up a rich chocolate pie to unlock some hidden flavors in your favorite whiskey.
- Deviled eggs with pecans – Top some deviled eggs with toasted pecans and pimento cheese to create the perfect mix of flavors.
Several whiskeys will go great with an old fashioned.
If you want a more intense or smokey old fashioned, go with rye whiskey.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a sweeter drink, use bourbon in your old fashioned recipe.
Woodford Reserve Rye Whiskey will be a great rye whiskey for the old fashioned.
Go with Buffalo Trace Bourbon for a smooth and sweet cocktail or Wild Turkey 101 if you want a full-bodied drink with hints of different spices.
When you are figuring out what to pair with an old fashioned, there are a few things to keep in mind.
If you are drinking a bourbon old fashioned, try to cook a meal that incorporates some smoky flavors. Bourbon is on the sweeter side, so the smoke will balance it out.
Almonds, pecans, pork, and chocolate desserts will also pair well with an old fashioned. If all else fails, pair the drink with your favorite meal.