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Best Whiskey For A Manhattan

Whiskey drinkers will know that one of the best drinks out there is a Manhattan cocktail.

The first Manhattan, believe it or not, was made in the Manhattan Club, which is located in New York. It came to prominence in the 1880s.

Though the name of the person who made it is not known. It quickly became a very famous drink and today it is served all over the world.

For those that don’t know, it is quite a simple formula to make a Manhattan, it is a mixture of sweet vermouth, bitters and of course whiskey.

Normally a Rye or Canadian whiskey is used, though bourbon and Tennessee whiskey have also been used regularly through its conception.

One thing that has been argued about for over a century now is which is the best whiskey for you to use in Manhattan.

Luckily for you, to put an absolute conclusion on which is the best whiskey for you to use, we’ve devised a list that will hopefully take the decision making out of your hands.

A Classic Manhattan in a mixture of 2oz of whiskey, 2 dashes of bitter and 1 oz of sweet vermouth, this should give you the perfect mixture for the best tasting Manhattan that you can make on your own.

You can even garnish it with a cherry if you’re feeling really fancy, though this is not necessary.

Best Whiskeys for Manhattans – Our Choices

Jameson Aged 18 Years

Jameson is the leading manufacturer of Whiskey in the world and for good reason, with consistently good Whiskey it is no surprise that it sits at the top of the pile in terms of a well respected product.

As you can see it is aged in oak casks for 18 years, this is an extremely long time to age Whiskey but it does provide the Whiskey with an incredible scent and taste.

The reason that this is one of the best Whiskeys to use for a Manhattan is due to the incredibly smooth and mellow flavoring.

It tastes of toffee, fudge, vanilla and a tiny bit of sherry nuttiness, the smoothness of the whiskey makes it the perfect mixture.

If you’re not a consummate whiskey enthusiast, you will know that some whiskeys can really leave a mark on your taste buds, sometimes in a good way and sometimes in a bad way. Jameson finds the perfect blend in that regard.

Due to the aging process of the Jameson Whiskey it leaves a long lasting finish that you soon won’t forget. These include a woodish and spiced flavoring which will sit on your taste buds for the majority of your evening.


  • Leading manufacturer of whiskey so you know you are getting a good product
  • Incredible scent
  • Great taste.


  • A little on the expensive side.

Redbreast 12 Year Old Whiskey

This is a 12 year aged whiskey, which will bring out the flavoring tremendously. The aroma of the whiskey is something to be marveled at.

It is a spicy and fruity one with a wood note also, this will be from the maturing process. This makes it a great ingredient in terms of its use in a Manhattan.

It has a satisfying long lasting taste which will linger, this ensures that your palate will tingle with its blended balance of a spicy and creamy texture.

This may be the perfect choice for those who would not consider themselves a Whiskey connoisseur as Whiskeys can often be an acquired taste in general.

It is also an award winning Whiskey so you know for a fact that you are getting one of the best Whiskeys on the market. In 2010 it was named the Irish Whiskey of the year.

It scored 96 points, no doubt based off of its flavoring and scent that will get anybody excited for another glass.


  • Winner of the Irish Whiskey of the year in 2010 scoring a massive 96 points.
  • Incredibly long lasting taste that will dance on your taste buds, as well as an incredibly nicely scented Whiskey.
  • Aged for 12 years to bring the flavoring and scent out.


  • On the expensive side.

Balcones Rye Cask Strength Single Barrel Whiskey

Another award winning Whiskey is the Balcones Rye Cask single barrel Whiskey. In 2019 it won the Best American Rye Whiskey at the international Whiskey Competition.

It has an incredibly strong scent and strong flavoring.

It is aged in an oak barrel which will no doubt bring out a truly oaky flavor and scent that cannot be missed by any Whiskey lover. This makes it the perfect Whiskey for you to use in your Manhattan.

The nose of the Whiskey is quite a unique one in that you can pick up hints of buttered pastries, pecans, marmalade, cacao nibs and oiled leather, this really does make it one of a kind in terms of Whiskey on this list.

Once you have taken a sip of the Whiskey you will notice a strong chocolatey flavor that is also a mixture of oak and orange peel.

Once again these ingredients will suit perfectly with the rest of the ingredients for a Manhattan that if you are a Whiskey lover you simply can’t miss out on.

The chocolatey flavor is mixed with mature citrus that will leave you taste buds tingling. It has a dry finish of tannin and spice just to add that extra kick that all great Whiskeys have. Like stated earlier this truly is a one of a kind Whiskey.


  • Very unique tasting Whiskey
  • Award winning Whiskey
  • Aged in oak barrels.


  • A little on the expensive side.

Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey

The alcoholic volume of Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey is 40% which if you follow the correct measurements above will be perfect to bring out the flavor of this very tasty Whiskey but, should be drunk with caution as you will notice the effects fairly quickly after consumption. Jim Beam (see also: Jim Beam vs Jack Daniels)is aged for 4 years in oak barrels, this allows it to taste smooth and refined.

The Jim Beam Whiskey will produce a vanilla aroma which can be very easy on the nose, This adds to the allure of a Manhattans classy persona.

It really is a sophisticated person’s drink. If sophistication is your goal then a mixture of Jim Beam’s finally aged Whiskey is the one for you.

It also is a fairly inexpensive whiskey in comparison to some others so you won’t feel like you’re paying for something overpriced.

Whiskey can often be expensive due to the persona of it, luckily Jim Beam is fairly inexpensive and with its impressive taste and aroma you really can’t go wrong.


  • Jim Beam provides a great tasting Whiskey
  • Jim Beam is also an incredibly lovely scented Whiskey
  • Inexpensive in comparison to some other Whiskeys.


  • It is 40% in alcoholic volume and so should be drunk moderately, drinking too much Whiskey can cause serious damage to your body. For that reason it is with the highest recommendation to drink responsibly.

Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey

Again an incredibly famous whiskey that you’ll be sure to find at a local retailer is Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey, it is a sweet smooth whiskey which makes it again another great choice for you to try with an old fashioned.

To achieve the smoothness of this whiskey it is mellowed through a 10 foot sugar maple charcoal. This really is what gives it its smooth tasting persona.

They also craft their own barrels for the Whiskey to mature in.

That normally might sound like nothing important but with regards to Whiskey it is one of the most important aspects in what can turn an average tasting Whiskey into a great tasting whiskey.

The maturing process is what will truly bring out all the flavorings.

The sweetness and smoothness of this whiskey really does make it a great combination with the rest of the ingredients for a Manhattan and given that it is one of the best selling Whiskeys in the world you really shouldn’t struggle to find it anywhere. At an extremely affordable price no less too.


  • One of the best selling whiskeys of all time
  • Sweetness makes it perfect for a Manhattan
  • Very affordable


  • No mention of the scent of the Whiskey.

Buyers Guide


The scent of a Whiskey is an incredibly important thing to consider when deciding which is the best Whiskey for you to use in your Manhattan.

The reason for that is that it adds to the allure of the Whiskey. Everybody knows that Whiskey is an acquired taste but a good smell is almost universally a good smell, just like a bad smell is almost universally a bad smell.

There’s not a ruling saying that Whiskey has to smell a certain way but whatever scent you are going for you want to be able to achieve that.

The scent is often manufactured in the Whiskey’s aging process. Leaving the Whiskey to distill in a barrel will bring out what scent you are going for.

Like stated this is highly important for Whiskey drinkers and when it comes to making a Manhattan, one of the more sophisticated cocktails out there, this cannot be a feature that is swept under the rug for that reason whatever Whiskey you select you want to make sure that the scent of it is one that really tingles your nose hairs.


Taste cannot be forgotten about obviously, after all it is at the end of a day a drink and one of the most important aspects for any drink is that it tastes nice.

Nice is obviously subjective but that doesn’t make it any less important, whatever the taste is of a whiskey it will need to be a healthy blend of things such as oaky flavorings and also a little bit spicy.

The spice adds a perfect amount of kick to your cocktail that certainly can’t be forgotten about, or at least shouldn’t be forgotten about.

For that reason when it comes down to selecting the perfect Whiskey for your Manhattan you want to make sure that it does in fact have a lovely taste.

Like stated Whiskey can be an acquired taste and isn’t always something enjoyed by everyone but for those who do love a good Whiskey they will know that this really is something that needs to be considered.


The finish of the whiskey is a little different than that of the initial taste, the finish is the lasting effects that the whiskey has on your taste buds, they are of course impacted by the initial taste of the Whiskey.

Whether it be a chocolatey finish or a fruity finish it is important that when considering what Whiskey you want to use in your Manhattan that it is able to produce the long lasting flavoring that you want from it.

Luckily all of the above products do have a great finish that will truly leave your taste buds in an enjoyable state.

Not to fall in third place to the scent and initial taste of the Whiskey, it would be stated that perhaps the finish is actually the most important aspect of it.


Strength again is something that needs to be considered, like all alcoholic beverages, obviously some will be stronger than others and you always need to drink responsibly as Whiskey can cause serious damage when drunk irresponsibly.

Realistically you are looking around the 40% area for most Whiskeys which does make it an incredibly strong drink. Though you don’t want the drink to be any weaker than 40% because well it just wouldn’t be the same.

You may not get the same scent and flavoring from weaker whiskeys because they won’t have been aged for a similar amount of time.

Where It Is Made

Again where the Whiskey is made is another highly important aspect for you to consider. The reason for this is because Whiskeys made in different parts of the world will often go for different flavors and scents.

The reason it is important to consider is because you may be a big fan of Irish Whiskey but perhaps not the biggest fan of Japanese Whiskey, then if you used a Japanese Whiskey in your Manhattan you wouldn’t be happy with the overall outcome of your Manhattan.

For that reason because it is so important in terms of what the Whiskey will taste like you will have to consider the country of its origin with the highest regard.


Age is one of the most important aspects when it comes to a good whiskey.

Think of it like marinating a chicken. If you marinated a chicken for 2 hours, it wouldn’t have the same flavor that a chicken that has been marinating for 5 hours would have.

This is exactly the same with Whiskey but in terms of years instead of hours. The longer that the Whiskey has matured the more flavorsome and scented it will be.

For that reason it is definitely one of the most important aspects that you need to consider when it comes down to purchasing your Whiskey for you to make the perfect Manhattan.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Best Flavor For A Manhattan?

This is subjective but if you think of the ingredients of a Manhattan being 2 oz of whiskey, 2 oz of sweet vermouth and then a few dashes of bitter you will want something that mellows those flavors out to create the perfect mixture for you.

But as mentioned this is subjective, you may be looking for a sweeter Whiskey if you prefer sweeter things or perhaps a spicier Whiskey if you prefer your Whiskey to have a bit of a kick to it.

Why Is The Aging Process So Important?

The aging process is what brings out the scent and flavor of the whiskey so it is highly important as those are two of the most important aspects of a good Whiskey.

Especially when being mixed with other ingredients that could mask the taste and scent of it.

What Is The Difference Between Finish And Taste?

Taste is initial. Finish is long lasting.