Whisky Highballs

Author: Andrew Huber
A test so nice we did it twice – how else can you determine the best whiskies and waters for a highball cocktail unless you test both separately? Here’s how it worked: we took one control whisky and made 19 cocktails with 19 different waters, then we took a control water and did the same thing with over two dozen different whiskies to find out the best possible ingredients for this simple, classic beverage. Be sure to check out the full list of whiskies and waters we tested as well, because while we could only name a few winners in this particular matchup, we still did the hard work of reviewing each one. Who knows, your new favorite drink could be waiting there for you to discover!

4th Place: Ernest Goes to the Bar

4th Place: Ernest Goes to the Bar

Photo Credit: Tastings.com
Blended Scotch whiskies are always a safe bet; not too peaty, not too sweet, nice and smooth. But what makes blends crowd pleasers served neat can end up too understated in a whisky and water, but much like it's namesake,The Shackleton Blended Malt Scotch Whisky is a bold and daring whisky whose rich, grassy flavor is only enhanced by the addition of H2O. Shackleton's aroma is a dessert cart – buttered apple cake, caramel, and banana-oat cake, and it's flavor is the spice rack that made them – cinnamon, toasted nits, and cacao. These cozy, comfy flavors make it the perfect whisky for a Rob Roy, which as I'm sure you already know is just a Scotch Manhattan, so substitute Shackleton for bourbon in our Manhattans Mastered recipes and enjoy!

3rd Place: Taiwan on Tonight

3rd Place: Taiwan on Tonight

Photo Credit: Tastings.com
Wait, what? A Taiwanese whisky? Yes, Kavalan Distillery Select Single Malt Whisky is indeed mashed and distilled in Taiwan, and island in East Asia. It seems strange at first, but considering the incredible things happening with whisky in Japan, (like the phenomenal, 91-point-rated Nikka From the Barrel Japanese Blended Whisky) and the unquenchable thirst for whiskey in the ROC and mainland alike, it makes perfect sense. And it also makes perfect sense that Kavalan incorporated local flavors into this distinctive blend, with aromas of sea spray and flavors of Chinese five-spice powder among many others. All in all, this robust whisky adds a tropical twist to an Old Fashioned, and may even usurp cognac as the perfect accompaniment to a fine cigar.

2nd Place: A Whisky of Regal Standing

2nd Place: A Whisky of Regal Standing

Photo Credit: Tastings.com
Chivas. It has long been the default Scotch to serve when you're not quite sure what your guest likes, and our tasting notes from the test reflect that. Balanced, mild, smooth, and palate-pleasing were all terms used by our judges, but make no mistake, Chivas Regal 12 Year Blended Scotch Whisky is no boring whisky. In front of it all is a nose of lavender and lemon custard. Behind those smells, there are decadent tastes of mocha and spiced frosting, finishing with delicate oak and honey. The addition of a top quality water only enhances those deceptively modest characteristics, and the addition of another old favorite, Drambuie, can make a delightful Rusty Nail.

1st Place: A Speyside Standard

1st Place: A Speyside Standard

Photo Credit: Tastings.com
Our first place winner needs no introduction. Anyone who has tried Scotch has probably tried The Glenlivet 12 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky, and they probably loved it. And what's not to like? Since 1824 their master distillers have been perfecting their craft, creating a mild yet herbal single malt, with powerful aromas of pear, heather, and chamomile-ginger tea. Taste-wise, Glenlivet is no slouch either, evoking thyme, tangerine, and that most Scottish of desserts, buttery shortbread. All of these combine to create what our judges called 'A concentrated, complex highball' with 'the power and complexity of a stellar single malt in a refreshing, crushable cocktail.' In a word: 'superb.'

4th Place: Ernest Goes to the Bar
3rd Place: Taiwan on Tonight
2nd Place: A Whisky of Regal Standing
1st Place: A Speyside Standard
Whisky Highballs
A test so nice we did it twice – how else can you determine the best whiskies and waters for a highball cocktail unless you test both separately? Here’s how it worked: we took one control whisky and made 19 cocktails with 19 different waters, then we took a control water and did the same thing with over two dozen different whiskies to find out the best possible ingredients for this simple, classic beverage. Be sure to check out the full list of whiskies and waters we tested as well, because while we could only name a few winners in this particular matchup, we still did the hard work of reviewing each one. Who knows, your new favorite drink could be waiting there for you to discover!

4th Place: Ernest Goes to the Bar

4th Place: Ernest Goes to the Bar
Photo Credit: Tastings.com
Blended Scotch whiskies are always a safe bet; not too peaty, not too sweet, nice and smooth. But what makes blends crowd pleasers served neat can end up too understated in a whisky and water, but much like it's namesake,The Shackleton Blended Malt Scotch Whisky is a bold and daring whisky whose rich, grassy flavor is only enhanced by the addition of H2O. Shackleton's aroma is a dessert cart – buttered apple cake, caramel, and banana-oat cake, and it's flavor is the spice rack that made them – cinnamon, toasted nits, and cacao. These cozy, comfy flavors make it the perfect whisky for a Rob Roy, which as I'm sure you already know is just a Scotch Manhattan, so substitute Shackleton for bourbon in our Manhattans Mastered recipes and enjoy!

3rd Place: Taiwan on Tonight

3rd Place: Taiwan on Tonight
Photo Credit: Tastings.com
Wait, what? A Taiwanese whisky? Yes, Kavalan Distillery Select Single Malt Whisky is indeed mashed and distilled in Taiwan, and island in East Asia. It seems strange at first, but considering the incredible things happening with whisky in Japan, (like the phenomenal, 91-point-rated Nikka From the Barrel Japanese Blended Whisky) and the unquenchable thirst for whiskey in the ROC and mainland alike, it makes perfect sense. And it also makes perfect sense that Kavalan incorporated local flavors into this distinctive blend, with aromas of sea spray and flavors of Chinese five-spice powder among many others. All in all, this robust whisky adds a tropical twist to an Old Fashioned, and may even usurp cognac as the perfect accompaniment to a fine cigar.

2nd Place: A Whisky of Regal Standing

2nd Place: A Whisky of Regal Standing
Photo Credit: Tastings.com
Chivas. It has long been the default Scotch to serve when you're not quite sure what your guest likes, and our tasting notes from the test reflect that. Balanced, mild, smooth, and palate-pleasing were all terms used by our judges, but make no mistake, Chivas Regal 12 Year Blended Scotch Whisky is no boring whisky. In front of it all is a nose of lavender and lemon custard. Behind those smells, there are decadent tastes of mocha and spiced frosting, finishing with delicate oak and honey. The addition of a top quality water only enhances those deceptively modest characteristics, and the addition of another old favorite, Drambuie, can make a delightful Rusty Nail.

1st Place: A Speyside Standard

1st Place: A Speyside Standard
Photo Credit: Tastings.com
Our first place winner needs no introduction. Anyone who has tried Scotch has probably tried The Glenlivet 12 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky, and they probably loved it. And what's not to like? Since 1824 their master distillers have been perfecting their craft, creating a mild yet herbal single malt, with powerful aromas of pear, heather, and chamomile-ginger tea. Taste-wise, Glenlivet is no slouch either, evoking thyme, tangerine, and that most Scottish of desserts, buttery shortbread. All of these combine to create what our judges called 'A concentrated, complex highball' with 'the power and complexity of a stellar single malt in a refreshing, crushable cocktail.' In a word: 'superb.'