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The best whiskies to order online below $600

Stocking up for your home bar? Here's a rundown on what you should be ordering now.

By Tatum Ancheta
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First things first, is it whisky or whiskey? Well, It really depends on where the product is made. The mnemonic is – use whiskey with an 'e' if the country it is coming from has an 'e' in its spelling, for example, Ireland uses the 'e,' which was carried over to American whiskeys. Scotland doesn't use the 'e,' same as Japan, and Canada. 

Now, let's not boggle your mind with that and let's get to the liquid gold. Whisky was once thought of as something only older moneyed men drink, but, sorry dad, we're now adding up whisky on our top-shelf and even discovering new brands in the market aside from the usual whisky bottles that start with glens and J's. Today there's a growing younger market for whisky as the millennials have started to shift their tastes.

RECOMMENDED: Make some Super Highballs at home with this recipe   

Things you should know before buying:

Basic types of whisky

There are two basic types of whisky which originate from the key ingredients of malt and grain. Malt whisky is made from fermented mash produced from malted barley grain. Grain whisky is a whisky made by using at least one type of grain other than malted barley like corn, wheat, or rye. Now, if whisky is made only from one batch of grain mush from a single distillery, then it is called a 'single malt whisky'

Combined types

Blended malt is whisky made from a single malt grain that was made in several different distilleries, compared to blended whiskies that are made by mixing several types of malt, grain and other additives that impact the flavour of the drink.  

So, since everyone is stocking up their home bars, here are the best, but reasonably priced whiskies available in Hong Kong for delivery. (We will leave the higher end brands for another discussion.)

American whiskeys (Bourbon / Rye)

Bourbon barrel
Photo by Daniel Norris

Bourbon whiskey is made from a mash consisting of at least 51% corn and must be made in the United States. Rye is similar to bourbon, but it's made from at least 51% rye and mixed with barley or corn. These are five recommended bottles you should be stocking on your shelf.  

Bulleit Bourbon
Bulleit Bourbon

Bulleit Bourbon

Price: $365 

Bulleit bourbon from Kentucky is an American favourite and a bartender's go-to bourbon behind the bar. It's smooth and oaky, has a bright, zesty orange nose, with notes of vanilla, tobacco, and warming winter spices. It's great for your whisky sours, old fashioned, or just neat and on the rocks. 

Available at liquorland.com.hk 

Buffalo Trace
Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace 

Price: $388

According to Whisky Bible's Jim Murray, Buffalo Trace is one of the world's great whiskeys. It comes from the world's most awarded distillery – Buffalo Distillery, producers of some of the world's most sought after whiskies which includes the elusive Pappy Van Winkle. This whisky is sweet to the palate, with hints of brown sugar, oak, spice, and toffee. Sip alone or mix it in a cocktail.  

Available at hkliquorstore.com 

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Michter's Straight Rye
Michter's Straight Rye

Michter's Single Barrel Straight Rye Whisky 

Price: $598 

One of the top choices for bartenders when making a classic Sazerac cocktail. Michter's Straight Rye whisky is created with select American rye grain. It has notes of dark fruits, cinnamon, caramel, toast, rye bread, vanilla, with a touch of caramel finish. It is sweet and warming to the palate, great for sipping or making delicious cocktails. 

Available at thebottleshop.hk

Maker's Mark Bourbon
Maker's Mark Bourbon

Makers Mark 

Price: $398 

You must know this bottle as it is usually a regular house pour whisky in bars. It is fruity and rich with a familiar soft and sweet flavour, with notes of honey, hazelnut, oak, butterscotch, and vanilla. It's a great house staple, so you must have this on your shelf, excellent for mixing with sours or spirit-forward whiskey cocktails. 

Available at thebottleshop.hk

 

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Knob Creek Straight Bourbon 
Knob Creek Straight Bourbon 

Knob Creek Straight Bourbon 

Price: $488

A small-batch bourbon from Jim Beam that first appeared in the '90s. It carries that signature Jim Beam nuttiness with hints of caramel and brown sugar notes. A regular bar staple, the bottle is not too expensive and also not at all cheap. The liquid is great neat or to be used for old fashioned cocktails or a gold rush (whisky sour using honey). 

Available at hkliquorstore.com

Scotch whisky

Scotch whisky barrels Photo by Elevate on Unsplash
Photo by Elevate

Scotch whiskies are among the most sought-after bottles in the world. There are many different styles coming from various regions. Like wine appellations of France, it's regional whiskies – Highland, Island, Speyside, Lowland, Islay, Campbeltown – have distinct flavour profiles: fruity, nutty, peaty, and smoky. And like wine, there are a lot of brands from various distilleries.  

Copper Dog Blended Malt Whisky
Copper Dog Blended Malt Whisky

Copper Dog Speyside Blended Malt Whisky (Speyside)

Price: $378 

They say that Copper Dog sums up everything good about Speyside because it packs a combination of eight single malts from the region. The liquid in this bottle is, well, yummy. Packed with fruity orchard flavours, honeyed-sweetness, hints of toffee, citrus, and creamy fudge, it will keep you wanting more. The liquid is so versatile that you can use it for any whisky cocktail, but it can also be enjoyed neat or with ice.  

Available at hkliquorstore.com

Duthies Campbeltown Malt Whisky
Duthies Campbeltown Malt Whisky

Duthies Campbeltown Region Blended Malt Whisky (Campbeltown)

Price: $411

There are not many distilleries in Campbeltown today, but it used to be a whisky capital of the world with over 30 distilleries, but most have already closed down. As of late, a few bottles have been showing up in the whisky scene that have aroused curiosity in the drinking crowd. This particular bottling has an interesting oily character, medicinal, with hints of the sea, spices, and smoke. Try this one with an oyster pairing! 

The bottle is available at whiskyhongkong.com.hk

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Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve
Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve

Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve (Speyside and Highland)

Price: $458

Well, here's a J, but a good J, we just can't pass on the creamy honeyed blended Scotch from Johnnie Walker. The Gold Label Reserve is a blend of Speyside and Highland whiskies, it is malty, with notes of toffee, caramel popcorn, fudge, butterscotch, and faint smoke. Mix this up as a highball or serve it with ice and garnish with an twist of orange peel. 

Available at watsonswine.com

Caol Ila, whisky
Caol Ila

Caol Ila 12 Year Old (Islay)

Price: $500 

Caol Ila is the liquid that gives Johnnie Walker its smoky-peaty finish. If you're a JW drinker, you will recognise the familiar peatiness when you sip a Caol Ila. The whisky's smoky note is refined and won't give you the usual ashtray-type peatiness from other bottles. It is light and fresh, with gentle floral notes, pear, toffee, and vanilla. It packs a long finish which makes it great for nightcap sipping. Some would argue against using it in cocktails, but the peaty notes make a great whisky sour, or to be used as the top Islay whisky for a Penicillin (whisky, lemon juice, honey-ginger syrup topped with a smoky whisky). 

Available at theraremalt.com

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Auchentoshan Single Malt Whisky
Auchentoshan Single Malt Whisky

Auchentoshan 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky (Lowland )

Price: $538

One of the recent releases from Auchentoshan distillery. The bottling has notes of cereal-sweetness, the nose of tropical fruits (guava and mango), and flavours of barley, cocoa, and a long dry oaky finish. Try it for a Manhattan, cobbler, or sour cocktails. 

Available at hkliquorstore.com

Aberfeldy 12 Year Old Single Malt
Aberfeldy 12 Year Old Single Malt

Aberfeldy 12 Year Old Single Malt (Highland)

Price: $568

If you're familiar with Dewar's blended whiskies, you might have already tasted the notes of Aberfeldy as it is its base whisky. This bottle is easy to love; it is creamy, with notes of sherried fruit, nutty nougat, vanilla, espresso bean, and a hint of smoke. Enjoy it neat or in an old fashioned – for which it's great – but try using honey instead of sugar to highlight it's yummy sweet note. 

Available at hkliquorstore.com

Japanese whisky

Japanese whisky
Photo by Changyoung Koh

One of the most elusive bottles in the whisky market today since Yamazaki whiskies became famous around the globe. The price point of Japanese whiskies just keeps growing, especially now that distilleries stopped releasing the aged statement bottles as their whiskies currently ages in casks. We've rounded up a few great bottles that are still in an affordable range. 

Kaicho Original Japanese Blended Whisky
Kaicho Original Japanese Blended Whisky

Kaicho Original Japanese Blended Whisky 

Price: $398

A Japanese blended whisky made on the slopes of Japan's iconic Mount Fuji. The whisky uses clear waters coming from the snow-capped mountain. The finish is a bit short, but you can expect floral notes, a bit of sandalwood, honey, and apricots on its profile. 

Shop for this bottle at hkliquorstore.com

suntory old whisky
Suntory Old Whisky

Suntory Old Whisky 

Price: $480

This bottling has been a popular release from Japan since the 1940s. A reasonably priced bottle, one of the affordable ones in Japanese whisky lines as most would fall over $1000. The whisky is medium-bodied, nutty with notes of spice. Great for sipping but no one is stopping you using it for cocktails! 

The whisky is available for delivery at hkliquorstore.com

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Nikka from the Barrel
Nikka from the Barrel

Nikka from the Barrel 

Price: $480 

A show-stopper, this small bottle brags a lot of awards under its belt. The blend combines both single malt and grain whiskies from the Miyagikyo and Yoichi distilleries which give it a very complex flavour profile. Expect an elegant balance of butterscotch, coffee, oak, spices, hints of chili and cloves, a bit of earthiness, smoke, and sea salt. Enjoy it neat or with ice.

Buy a bottle at theraremalt.com

Suntory Toki
Suntory Toki

Suntory Whisky Toki

Price: $580

From the makers of Suntory's three distilleries – Yamazaki, Hakushu, and Chita – Toki has become a favourite among cocktail makers since it launched in 2016. Expect notes of green apples, honey, hints of peppermint, herbs, ginger, pepper, oak, and spicy finish. Great for whisky highballs, add a bit of ginger to highlight it's punchy notes.  

Available at theraremalt.com 

 

Irish whiskey

Irish whisky barrels K Mitch Hodge
Photo by K Mitch Hodge

Now one of the fastest-growing spirits in the world, Irish distilleries are popping up all over the Emerald Isle. Some historians say that the Irish actually added the 'e' on whisky to stand out from substandard whiskies in the 19th century. Today there are a lot of award-winning brands rising in the market, here are a few bottles that are still below $600. 

Teeling Small Batch Blended Irish Whiskey
Teeling Irish Whiskey

Teeling Small Batch Blended Irish Whiskey

Price: $420

This bottling is finished in rum casks! Expect notes of orange blossoms, spice, vanilla, herbs, vanilla fudge, and subtle rum notes of molasses. It has a refreshing, unique floral and herbal finish. A great whisky to sip for summer that makes excellent mixes for cocktails. 

Try to catch the gift pack promo from this site, to get free glasses. Or buy from a bottle at thebottleshop.hk

Glendalough Double Barrel Irish Whiskey 
Glendalough Double Barrel Irish Whiskey 

Glendalough Double Barrel Irish Whiskey 

Price: $340

A single grain Irish whiskey, Glendalough Double Barrel is matured in bourbon barrels before ageing for six more months in Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks. It is rich in vanilla notes, caramel, dried fruits, and baking spices. It makes us want to make an ice-cold cinnamon maple whisky sour. 

Buy it thebottleshop.hk or take advantage of the free flask promo from hkwhiskystore.com

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Bushmills Black Bush
Bushmills Black Bush

Bushmills Black Bush Whiskey

Price: $378.00

An award-winning bottle from Bushmills, the whisky is a darker Irish blend aged in Oloroso sherry casks for around 8 to 10 years before blending with the grain whisky. Expect notes of apple pie, red wine, and liquorice. Try this one with an Irish coffee!

Available at hkwhiskystore.com

Lambay Small Batch Blend whisky
Lambay whisky

Lambay Small Batch Whiskey

Price: $598

Named after Lambay Island off the east coast of Ireland, the whisky was aged in two barrels, initially in bourbon casks then finished in Camus Cognac casks. The whisky has notes of honey, orange peels, with cinnamon and chamomile finish. Try for sipping, or better yet, do what we did, mix it with ice cream, trust us, you won't regret it. 

Bottles are available at hkwhiskystore.com or take advantage of winenthingshk.com's current sale price of $390 

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Kilbeggan Traditional Irish Whiskey
Kilbeggan Traditional Irish Whiskey

Kilbeggan Traditional Irish Whiskey

Price: $360.00

An approachable Irish whiskey, distilled in a pot still that is over 180 years old! This bottling is smooth, malty, with notes of cereals, hazelnut, barley, and hints of smoke. It's a bit short in the finish so enjoy it neat to savour the flavours.

Available at hkwhiskystore.com

Now prep some cocktails!

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