There are so many different kinds of whisky out there for us to choose from. I remember trying to choose the right bottle for mixing, and the amount of options are daunting.
Therefore, I have composed a list of 11 popular and affordable whiskies that are great for mixing with soda or in a classic cocktail.
There are many more great options, but all of these are super popular and chances are that you already have one of the whiskeys from the list. Before diving straight in, let’s go over what boxes a whiskey should tick to be called one of the best whiskeys for mixing.
What makes a whiskey good for mixing
To keep this nice and short, a whiskey should have a light and refreshing taste when you are trying to create a mix with similar properties. The whiskey should be affordable and you should be able to easily order the whiskey online or at your local liquor store.
Next, I would say that the whiskey is not one that you buy for its specific taste at a premium. While the character of the whiskey certainly shines through when mixed in a cocktail or with a mixer, fine nuances get lost.
Finally, before we start with the list, I want to say that there is no wrong way to drink whiskey! Whiskey snobs often have a strong unchangeable opinion when it comes to mixing (expensive) whiskey. Well, make sure you like what you drink and drink what you like, cheers!
1. Jack Daniels
By far the most popular whiskey to mix is Jack Daniel’s. Further down in the list there definitely are more surprising choices, but this is a classic and has been for many years. Jack and coke is an entire drink in itself, and at a reasonable price point of around $30 per bottle it sure is a great choice.
The most popular drinks to mix with Jack Daniel’s are Coke, ginger ale, sour mix and lemonade. Jack Daniel’s can also be used in cocktails like an Old-Fashioned or a Manhattan, for this additional ingredients are necessary.
2. The Famous Grouse
The first Scotch on the list is an extremely popular blend called The Famous Grouse. They have been a staple in Scottish supermarkets for years but are available world-wide. At a little over $20 per bottle this is an extremely affordable whisky that is super popular for mixing.
Bottled at 40% alcohol, the Famous Grouse is a mass produced and rather young whisky. This makes it cheap but not really suitable to be drunk neat. However, the fruity and light character of the whisky is perfect to mix with ginger ale or in cocktails.
3. Johnnie Walker Red Label
The brand Johnnie Walker is extremely popular and I’m sure you have heard from them before. They have multiple colored labels that differ in taste, quality and price. While the black, blue and green label are all more suitable to drink neat/with ice, the red label is made to be mixed.
This bottle will set you back around $25 and is readily available world-wide. When mixing you can try all the common mixers that I will probably be repeating for a couple of more times throughout this page.
Common drinks to mix with Johnnie Walker Red Label are soda, ginger ale, cola, green tea and even something like ice tea will do the trick.
4. Buffalo Trace
Up forth is a great straight Bourbon that you could enjoy neat but it can also be used in a cocktail or mixed drink. The bottle costs around $35 so its not too expensive and inexpensive enough to not make you feel sad that you are using it to create a cocktail.
The taste of this Bourbon that you will be able to notice when using it for mixing is a spicy, sweet flavor that comes from the aging in fresh oak wood barrels. The brown sugar and vanilla will be a joy in any cocktail like Old Fashioned or in a Manhattan.
5. Four Roses
Another delicious whiskey that many people recommend for mixing is a Bourbon called Four Roses. At just under $30 per bottle it’s a great choice for you to create your cocktails and refreshing mixed drinks.
The brand itself dates back to the late 19th century, and the bottle from the picture is released for the European and Japanese markets. In the USA I’m sure you’ll find the recognizable roses stuck on another great blended bottle.
6. Wild Turkey 101
Would you believe it if I told you the 101 in the name stand for the proof of this whiskey! The Wild Turkey 101 is bottled after at least 6 years of aging at 50,5% alcohol. I have to admit that this is a quality whisky that I personally find a bit too expensive to mix, as the price of a bottle currently lies around $40.
However, this particular whisky is loved by many bartenders all around the USA when it comes to mixing. It might be a bit premium, but the lovely smooth Bourbon really shines through (could also have to do with the 101 proof). Overall, this bottle needs to be on the list as it would not be complete without it.
7. Jim Beam
Arguably one of the most recognizable bottles or Kentucky straight Bourbon. The Jim Beam white label is one of the most affordable bottles of Jim Beam and is priced at around $25.
This particular bottle of Jim Beam has a rather high percentage of rye in the mashbill which is actually preferred when making an Old-Fashion. Next to this, the price is another huge factor why this bottle of whiskey is perfect for mixing.
The classic Kentucky Bourbon flavor profile will make this Jim Beam perfect to mix with your known mixers that we named before.
8. Monkey Shoulder
One of the most popular Scotch blended malts is Monkey Shoulder. The iconic bottle occupies many shelves around the globe. Enough about the bottle, why is this whisky suitable for mixing? At $35 it’s a little more expensive than other bottles on this list, but many people still keep a bottle of it in their cabinet as their favorite mixing whisky.
It’s a combination of several Scotch single malts from the Speyside region. The specific whiskies used are not known for sure, but the character of Monkey Shoulder is similar to a classic Speyside whisky: fresh, fruity and sweet. Overall, great for mixing.
I have to be honest here, this whisky is my personal least favorite blend on this list. I have tasted it neat and the sharp edged caused by Teacher’s being a young whisky really shined through. However, this was not their “Highland cream” variation, which actually gets great feedback from many people who have tried it.
At under $25 it has a great price, and renowned whisky critic Jim Murray has actually awarded the Teacher’s Highland Cream with 90 points in his Whisky Bible. I have yet to try this whisky, but many people use it to create delicious mixed drinks and at its price it needs to be on this list!
10. Maker’s Mark
The icon bottle of Maker’s Mark is a treat to look at, and a bottle costs $35. It’s a Kentucky straight Bourbon that is made in the distillery that still maintains that they distil the whiskey to the lowest proof of any distillery in the USA. Because of this they claim that the flavor stays richer compared to other distilleries who distil to a higher proof.
The whiskey is bottled at 45% alcohol and has a rich and full flavor profile that will shine through when you are making a mixed drink or cocktail. In a video uploaded on the whiskey tribe Youtube channel the Maker’s Mark with coke is well appreciated. This is the video I’m talking about:
Finally I have chosen to add a more expensive Scottish single malt to the list. This Laphroaig costs around $45 which is noticeably more than the other whiskeys on this list. I have added this one because it has a really strong and dense peat smoke to it, which could be really interesting when mixing.
In the video above, they talk about a smokey coke where they mix Ardbeg and Laphroaig with coke. I have tried this and do agree it is an interesting flavor.
The real reason this bottle is on the list is because it is ok to experiment with different flavors and whiskeys. People may find mixing single malt Scotch is a no-go, but if you like it than you should go for it.
How to make an Old-Fashioned
Finally, I want to leave one final interesting resource here on this page: a proper tutorial on how to make an Old-Fashioned. I personally can not make one, I still have to practise many times before mine is getting there so I could not show you. So, this is a great example of a skilled bartender creating an Old-Fashioned.
The recipe from the video can be improved by using a bigger ice-cube but those are details. In general I enjoyed the video and think that the bartender explains it well.