What Is The Best Whiskey For An Old Fashioned – Audio

The Old Fashioned is a classic drink and a time tested staple at cocktail parties. It’s a super simple mixture to make, but if you actually want your Old Fashioned to taste good, you gotta choose the right whiskey for the job.  

What is Old Fashioned?

An Old Fashioned drink comprises bitters, sugar, whiskey, an orange peel, and a big ice cube. This drink was conceived in 1806. Back then, this was a whiskey cocktail that people drank in the morning to cure themselves of headaches or nausea. Oh, how times have changed.

Old Fashioned cocktail recipe ingredients infographic.
What Is Old Fashioned – What Is The Best Whiskey For An Old Fashioned

What kind of whiskey is used in an Old Fashioned?

An Old Fashioned is typically made from rye or bourbon. Since bourbon has a higher proof, it is more commonly used. A high-proof drink will not lose its flavor when ice dilutes it. Bourbon also has a sweet taste, which mellows the bitters in the glass and complements the citrus taste of the orange peel. By contrast, an Old Fashioned made from rye tends to taste dry and thus will require more sugar to be added. 

What is the best whiskey for an Old Fashioned?

You may have heard of the old debate on which whiskey is best for an Old Fashioned. The answer is that it is entirely up to you. How you want your Old Fashioned to taste will dictate which whiskey to put in it. Different whiskeys have different tastes, so the best whiskey for you will be the one you think goes best with your Old Fashioned. 

What is the best rye whiskey for an Old Fashioned?

If you want an Old Fashioned with a spicy flavor, choose rye whiskey to make it. When choosing from the different kinds of rye whiskey, keep in mind that the cocktail you make with it must taste smooth. Here are our suggestions for the best rye whiskey to put in your Old Fashioned. They differ in price as well as subtle flavor notes

Top rye whiskies for Old Fashioned cocktail.
What Is The Best Rye Whiskey For An Old Fashioned – What Is The Best Whiskey For An Old Fashioned

Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey

Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey is the best budget rye whiskey and a staple in a bartender’s stock as it goes well with many kinds of drinks. While it has low proof, it still creates smooth Old Fashioneds with a more mellow taste. Whether making an Old Fashioned for yourself or a group of friends, this will be the most affordable option for you. 

WhistlePig Rye 10 Years

Whistle Pig Rye, which is made from 100% rye grains and aged for ten years in oak barrels, will give your Old Fashioned a unique taste. This whiskey is 100 proof, so it will pack a punch when used for your cocktail. It has a citrus flavor but doesn’t come off as sweet. What is prominent about it is its unique, smooth, spicy flavor. This is a good choice if you want to impress a group of friends. 

Lock Stock & Barrel Rye 16 years Rye

Lock  Stock & Barrel Rye is made from 100% eye grain and is double pot-distilled. It aged in American oak barrels for 16 years. Upon drinking it, you will taste its spicy and leathery notes. There will also be a hint of sweetness with some notes of baking spices such as nutmeg and clove. The price tag for this whiskey is high, but if you are looking for a top-shelf whiskey to add to your Old Fashioned, you won’t go wrong with this one. 

Sazerac Rye Whiskey 

If you want a fruity taste in your Old Fashioned without losing its spicy flavor, then you can go for Sazerac Rye Whiskey. It’s a perfect combination of fruity and spicy flavors. Its aroma is that of stone fruit and slightly toasted oak. 

Willett Family Estate Four-Year Rye

Willett Family Estate Four-Year Rye has a complex flavor and is made from a combination of high and low rye and aged for four years. Aside from its usual rye flavor, it also has botanical and floral notes. You can add sugar, syrup, and bitters to this whiskey to make a flavorful Old Fashioned. 

Wild Turkey 101 Rye

Wild Turkey is one of the classic options for high-quality rye whiskey. You won’t go wrong with it, as it comes from a distillery with 40 years of experience producing rye whiskey. You will find a lot of spicy and grainy flavors in this whiskey. It also includes hints of mint, apple, and oatmeal. Even though its alcohol content is high, it will not overwhelm you. 

Old Forester Rye

Old Forester Rye is another budget option that does not compromise on quality. Its flavor is complex, as its spicy flavor comes with hints of citrus, vanilla, and cinnamon. The high concentration of barley in its mash bill is what gives it its floral character. 

Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye

The first batch of Knob Creek won an award before it was made available to the public for purchase. Knob Creek is undoubtedly one of the best rye whiskies to use to make an Old Fashioned. It’s been nine years in the making. It has mainly smoky and spicy flavors from char and oak. But as you continue to sip, you will also taste dill, clove, and caramel hints. 

Old Hamer Straight Rye 

Old Hamer Straight Rye makes for a perfect mix for an Old Fashioned with a spicy flavor similar to Angostura bitters. You can find in its aroma hints of vanilla and maple. The vanilla and spicy flavors contribute to its pleasingly bitter taste. 

What bourbon should I use to make an Old Fashioned?

If you want a more in depth look, check out our article: What Bourbon Should I Use To Make An Old Fashioned.

The best choice for an Old Fashioned is bourbon, which has a smooth and balanced taste. It also comes with high proof, which makes it retain its flavor even after combining with the sugar and the bitters. Below are some of the best bourbons to put in your Old Fashioned. 

Bourbon selection guide for Old Fashioned cocktail.
What Bourbon Should I Use To Make An Old Fashioned – What Is The Best Whiskey For An Old Fashioned

Larceny Small Batch 

Larceny Small Batch is a smooth bourbon with a sweet and savory taste due to its caramel notes. Made from wheat, it has a rich mouthfeel to it that will make it a perfect match for your Old Fashioned. 

Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

If you are looking for an affordable yet high-quality bourbon, choose Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Its distillery has been in operation since the 17th century. This bourbon has a medium-bodied flavor with a hint of sweetness in the background. 

Four Roses Single Barrel

Four Roses Single Barrel, aged between four and nine years, has a smooth finish with a lingering finish. Even if it’s 100 proof, it has a surprisingly mellow finish. Whether you drink this straight or mix it up to make an Old Fashioned, its taste will leave you satisfied. 

Elijah Craig Small Batch

Another affordable option, the Elijah Craig Small Batch, is a bourbon with a spicy and smoky flavor. Its aroma is also unique, with fruity and minty notes. 

Maker’s Mark 46

Maker’s Mark 46 promises a bold flavor that will make for a smooth drink, whether alone or in an Old Fashioned. Its distinctive flavor comes from its innovative process for wood stave finishing. They used special French oak staves and aged them for eight years. 

Knob Creek 12

One of the classic pre-prohibition drinks, the Knob Creek 12, is a bourbon with a bold flavor and a smoky finish. This bourbon is considered one of the more elegant options for an Old Fashioned, with a full proof and a sweet note. 

Old Forester 100

A favorite of many bartenders, Old Forester 100 is a classic bourbon with a spicy and bold flavor. It was made from select barrels. Its aroma is a mixture of coffee, chocolate, and butterscotch notes. Its finish is light and sweet, making it a perfect ingredient for an Old Fashioned. 

Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon

The best way to drink Wild Turkey 101 bourbon is alone, but this does not mean it won’t be suitable in an Old Fashioned. Its distillery has been making it for six decades. While it has a slightly sweet taste, it finishes with a bold, satisfying flavor. 

Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight is one of the premium options for bourbon. Its distinct flavor comes from being aged for ten years. It has a bold taste with notes of almonds and cocoa. 

Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey 

Bulleit bourbon whiskey is made from a distinct blend of rye, corn, and barley malt. It is satisfying to drink this alone or in an Old Fashioned. Like other high-quality bourbons, it has a smooth and long finish with hints of oak, maple, and nutmeg. 

Is whiskey or bourbon better for Old Fashioned?

Still trying to tell the two apart? For a closer look, read up on the difference between bourbon and whiskey.

Bourbon is preferred to whiskey when making an Old Fashioned as it has a sweet and mellow taste. Whiskey has a spicy and bitter flavor, making it less popular. But of course, you can try both and see which one you prefer as an Old Fashioned. 

Whiskey vs. Bourbon comparison for Old Fashioned cocktails.
Is Whiskey Or Bourbon Better For Old Fashioned – What Is The Best Whiskey For An Old Fashioned

What type of whiskey is best for cocktails?

Bourbon is the best whiskey for cocktails because it is sweeter than other kinds. Its sweet taste makes it perfect for mixing with other ingredients to make a satisfying cocktail. Other kinds of whiskey are too bitter to be an excellent ingredient in a cocktail drink. 

If you want some more suggestions, check out our article outlining some good whiskey cocktails.

What are the frequently asked questions?

Making an Old Fashioned with whiskey or bourbon is a classic cocktail choice, but it’s not without its questions. It ultimately comes down to personal preference, but we have listed below some frequently asked questions that you might have.

Vintage style FAQ on whiskey Old Fashioned recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions – What Is The Best Whiskey For An Old Fashioned

What is the standard Old Fashioned recipe?

The standard Old Fashioned recipe includes mixing 2 to 4 ounces of bourbon with a pinch of sugar, 2 to 3 dashes of Angostura bitters, a few dashes of water, an orange peel, and a big ice cube. Mix these for no more than 30 seconds. 

What should you look for in a whiskey for an Old Fashioned?

With a few exceptions, you should look for a whiskey with at least 90 proof if you will use it for an Old Fashioned. It needs to be at least this high so that it can withstand the other flavors in the drink. 

How long does whiskey last?

You may be surprised to know that whiskey can even outlast you. Whiskey lasts for a very long time. Of course, to make this happen, you need to store it in a cool, dark place. Make sure to close it tight and store it upright. 

Can you use expensive whiskey when making an Old Fashioned?

Well, the answer depends entirely on you. If you have the money to spend, no one will stop you from using an expensive whiskey for your Old Fashioned. You can certainly enjoy the unique, bold flavor of your expensive whiskey in this cocktail. 


The Old Fashioned is a classic drink at parties and bars. The most common whiskey to use for it is bourbon, which has a mildly sweet flavor to it. There are many choices for bourbon whiskey to put in an Old Fashioned. Affordable bourbons do not necessarily mean that they are less satisfying in taste. Rye whiskey is the less popular option, but it is catching on in these times. When selecting rye whiskey, you can expect a bold and spicy flavor from your Old Fashioned. There are many kinds of bourbon and rye whiskey, and they all taste and cost differently.