Five Great Whiskeys for Summer Sipping

Memorial Day might be the unofficial start of summer, but here in Portland, it feels like the season is already here. A string of warm, sunny days has put some liveliness in everybody’s step, and even the most average weekday is starting to feel a bit more like a vacation. And there’s no better time than the changing of the season to freshen up the whiskey cabinet. So, in the spirit of summer, here are five great whiskeys for hot afternoons, long weekends, beachside lounging, and all the other good stuff that comes with summertime.

Cardhu 12-Year-Old

When most Americans think of Scotch, they imagine an oily, fusel-rich liquid reeking of peat, perhaps sipped by a kipper-scented man wearing a bulky sweater in a dim pub in some blustery fishing village at the end of the road. This is not that kind of Scotch. Made in the Speyside region, Cardhu 12-Year-Old is famous for its light, delicate, floral flavor and mellow character. It’s also the most popular single malt in Spain, a country that knows a thing or two about warm weather.

Knob Creek Small Batch

A branded release from Beam at a budget-friendly price point, the Knob Creek Small Batch is both affordable and delicious whiskey. Bottled at 100 proof, this sweet, full-bodied bourbon is satisfying neat but stands up to mixing, making it the perfect summer cocktail base.

 Wild Turkey Rare Breed

As reported on Whiskey Reviewer, Jimmy Russell of Wild Turkey fame likes his Rare Breed not just chilled, but actually straight from the freezer. Take that, vodka. While freezing whiskey would be sacrilege coming from anybody but Russell, it’s actually pretty great, especially with a big, brash whiskey like Rare Breed.

West Cork 10-Year-Old Single Malt

This startlingly affordable 10-year-old Irish single malt evokes peach pie and shortbread cookies, with a slight waft of smoke. Light and airy, but not insubstantial, it’s perfect for draping over a few cubes of ice and accompanying you to the hammock on a Sunday afternoon.

Caol Isla 12-Year-Old Single Malt

What? Peated whisky in summer? Hear me out. While summer demands drinks that can cool and refresh, it also offers ample opportunity for lingering around campfires and barbecues as the sun goes down, a cool breeze teasing at your bare feet. Caol Isla delivers satisfying peat smoke in a feather-light format, with a satisfying, briny salinity. Perfect for camping, canoeing, or any other outdoor adventure.

About the author

Margarett Waterbury

Margarett Waterbury is a food and drinks writer based in Portland, Oregon. She's the managing editor of The Whiskey Wash, the managing editor of Edible Portland, and a regular contributor to local and national publications.