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Bartenders Name The One Bottle Of Whiskey You Need This Summer

We can go back and forth about whether whiskey is a summer spirit for hours. Sure, when it comes to “fresh” cocktails most people think of lighter spirits like vodka, gin, and tequila this time of year. But would you really like to sip on a glass of vodka or gin while you sit around a campfire? We don’t think so.

We’ll save our vodka for mid-afternoon vodka sodas and our gin to be mixed with tonic water. Then, as the evenings progress, we’ll bring out the whiskey to warm us up or for mixing whiskey-based highballs.

If you’re going the whiskey direction this time of year, we want you to purchase the bottles that will speak to the season. That’s why we decided to ask some of our favorite bartenders to tell us the one expression of whiskey we absolutely need for summer 2020.

Widow Jane American Oak Rye

Patrick Donnelon, bartender at Suraya in Philadelphia

Widow Jane Rye is the perfect summer rye, it brings a subtle pepper spice to any of your favorites. One summer cocktail I love is the rattlesnake — a traditional rye sour with lemon and egg white. The honey notes in this expression temper the spice perfectly for highballs and Kentucky mules, too, if you’re going for a lighter summer sipper.

Stranahan’s Diamond Peak Whiskey

Hay Culham, beverage manager at Bonsai at Hilton Pensacola Beach in Pensacola, Florida

Stranahan’s Diamond Peak. A hard to find little gem. With notes of caramel, espresso, and spicy chocolate, this goes down way too easy. Pour straight from the bottle or over one cube, this whiskey won’t disappoint.

Basil Hayden’s Bourbon

Samara Rivers, founder of the Black Bourbon Society

Basil Hayden’s is a great light whiskey for the summer. It’s easily approachable, not too strong of a proof, and you can sip it all day without having to add water or ice. It also mixes great in a cocktail without overpowering the other flavors in the glass.

Angel’s Envy Bourbon

Piero Procida, bartender at The London West Hollywood in Los Angeles

Angel’s Envy would forever top my list. Being a Scotch guy, it was hard for me to switch over to spicy and peppery bourbons, but Angel’s Envy is a nice middle ground. I could actually enjoy without burning off my taste buds. It is truly unlike any of the other bourbons that I have ever tried. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of good bourbons out there, but if you’re looking for something on the softer-sweeter side, you will not regret this.

The port barrel finishing helps give this expression the incredible maple, tangerine, and vanilla flavors so distinct in this bourbon. It’s one of the fastest-selling bourbons at our hotel.

Old Grand-Dad Bottled In Bond Bourbon

Lenny Eckstein, co-founder and head distiller of Deerhammer Distillery in Buena Vista, Colorado

As an everyday drinker, my summer pick would be Old Grand-Dad — Bottled in Bond. It’s a classic from Jim Beam that is never hard to find on the shelf, and the quality of this bourbon really stands up at the $20-something price point.

Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon

Ryan Negley, whiskey fellow at Boulder Spirits in Boulder, Colorado

I’ve got two, actually. Each with their own purpose, but I’ll never not have a bottle of Four Roses Small Batch or an Old Grand-Dad Bonded in my home. They’re both “comfort” whiskeys for me. Also, they’re perfect for summer sipping.

Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky

Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami

Toki from Suntory is my highball whisky of choice. Especially if you have a nice, softer soda water which will help the already smooth spirit roll across your palate. Throw in a twist of lemon and you’ve got it made.

Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch Whisky

Anna Mains, brand ambassador for Monkey Shoulder

They say that we can’t be everything to everyone, but Monkey Shoulder can. Monkey Shoulder is my go-to brand for any season, but especially the summer. It is just as great in a pina colada as it is neat. It’s amazing in frose (trust me), and it’s amazing in a boulevardier. Its smooth, approachable flavors make for one hell of a highball, and if you aren’t (high)ballin’ all summer, can you really even say you summered?

Writer’s Picks:

Old Forester 100 Proof Bourbon

If you’re looking for a whiskey to sip while you sit around a summer campfire, look no further than Old Forester’s 100 proof offering. This spicy, rich, complex bourbon will warm you up on a chilly summer evening.

Jim Beam Black Bourbon

If you’re a bourbon fan looking for a reasonably priced whiskey to mix into a highball, Jim Beam Black should be on your list. At less than $20 this “extra-aged” bourbon is full of caramel sweetness and a mellow finish that makes it suitable for slow sipping when you’re tired of mixing cocktails with it.

Buffalo Trace Bourbon

There’s a reason this bourbon is the brand’s flagship. It might not be as flashy as some of the brand’s other offerings, but it was aged for over 8 years and is well suited for mint juleps or sipping over a large piece of ice this time of year.