17 Best Whiskeys For A Highball

Is there a difference between a highball and a whiskey soda? Absolutely. In the world of cocktails, the whiskey highball stands as a testament to elegant simplicity. This classic drink, which marries whiskey with sparkling soda, transforms the intricate flavors of whiskey into a beverage that's refreshingly light yet satisfyingly complex. Our journey to the best whiskeys for a highball is an exploration of how different whiskeys elevate this simple cocktail to a sublime experience.

The art of the highball lies in its simplicity and the ability to transform whiskey into a light, refreshing cocktail. Each of the whiskeys highlighted here brings a unique story and character to the highball, promising a highball experience that's as diverse as it is delightful. From delicate and smooth Japanese whiskies to robust and full-bodied American bourbons, there's a highball for every palate and occasion. Whether you're a seasoned whiskey enthusiast or new to the world of spirits, these whiskeys offer a gateway into the delightful and varied world of the whiskey highball.

Enjoy the journey through these 17 exquisite whiskeys, and discover the many ways a simple highball can encapsulate the rich tapestry of flavors that whiskey has to offer, backed up by our own expert opinions and years of experience tasting fine whiskey from many different distilleries. Cheers!

Suntory Toki

Suntory Toki, a resplendent jewel within the realm of Japanese whiskies, offers an exquisitely balanced blend that epitomizes both lightness and smoothness, attributes that are ideal for the delicate craftsmanship of a highball. This whisky emerges from a masterful combination of grains and an intricately selected array of malt whiskies, sourced from the Suntory distilleries of Hakushu, Yamazaki, and Chita. Each distillery contributes a unique signature to the final whisky, weaving a tapestry of flavors that elevate Toki beyond the commonplace.

In the artful composition of a highball, Suntory Toki reveals its true splendor. Its innate sweetness is reminiscent of a gentle orchard breeze laden with the aroma of ripe fruit, which subtly unfolds in the glass. This flavor, intermingled with understated notes of honey and a whisper of spicy oak, harmonizes well with the crisp, lively effervescence of soda water. That effervesence also acts as a catalyst, enlivening the whisky's flavors and creating a cocktail symphony that tantalizes the palate.

Jameson Irish Whiskey

A true icon in the world of Irish spirits, Jameson Irish Whiskey is renowned for its exceptional velvety texture and gentle sweetness that melds seamlessly with the soda in a classic highball. This cherished whiskey, steeped in a rich heritage, is masterfully crafted from a select blend of pot still and fine grain whiskies. These components are then meticulously aged in oak barrels, a process that imparts a subtle warmth to the spirit, enriching it with delicate hints of vanilla and a whisper of toasted wood.

When mixed into a highball, the sweetness of Jameson comes to the fore, forging a harmonious union with the soda's vibrant fizz that enhances the whiskey's rich character and balances it with an invigorating crispness. The highball thus becomes a canvas that showcases the smooth, well-rounded nature of Jameson. Meanwhile, the carbonation adds a refreshing dimension that lifts the spirit. A Jameson highball is a drink that resonates with comfort, owing to its familiar and beloved flavors, yet it never ceases to excite with its flawless execution. 

Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Buffalo Trace Bourbon, a distinguished name in the world of American spirits, presents a bold and rich profile that makes it an exemplary foundation for a bourbon highball. Esteemed for its captivating deep amber color, this bourbon unfolds a complex array of flavors in a rich tapestry that includes the sweetness of vanilla, the indulgence of caramel, and a tantalizing hint of spice. These nuanced layers are the result of careful aging and expert blending, both hallmarks of the Buffalo Trace distillery's high level of craftsmanship.

Within a highball, the depth of Buffalo Trace is given a new dimension. Bubbly soda water lifts and expands the flavors of the bourbon, creating a cocktail that is robust in flavor yet possesses an unexpectedly refreshing quality. The carbonation teases out the subtleties of the bourbon, from its woody depth to its understated sweetness, crafting a highball that is both sophisticated in taste and inviting in its approachability.

Monkey Shoulder

Monkey Shoulder, a triumphant blend of three carefully selected Speyside single malts, emerges as an exemplary choice for crafting a refreshing highball. This smooth and fruity liquor is a vibrant ode to the versatility and richness of malt whisky, encapsulating a spectrum of flavors, including the bright zest of citrus, the comforting sweetness of vanilla, and the subtle warmth of spiced oak. These elements combine to create a whisky that's both dynamic and harmonious.

In the realm of highball cocktails, Monkey Shoulder reveals its full potential as its playful character takes center stage, engaging beautifully with the effervescence of soda water. As the bubbles rise, they carry with them the buoyant notes of the whisky, allowing the fruity aspects to flourish and interact with the crisp, refreshing soda. This interplay results in a cocktail experience that's both invigorating and elegant.

The Monkey Shoulder highball stands as a delightful deviation from the traditional Scotch whisky experience. It retains the sophistication and depth one expects from a Scotch, yet presents these qualities in a manner that's approachable and light-hearted. The highball format accentuates this whisky's fruit-forward profile, making each sip a lively journey through its layered flavors.

Canadian Club 100% Rye

Canadian Club 100% Rye introduces a uniquely spicy and impeccably clean profile to the classic highball, perfectly encapsulating the distinctive essence of rye whisky. Distilled exclusively from rye grain, this spirit boasts a boldness that is characteristic of the grain, marked by a robust and spicy flavor that is artfully balanced with subtle sweetness. This delicate blend of flavors is the result of meticulous distillation and aging processes that bring out the best qualities of the rye.

When mixed into a highball, the spiciness of Canadian Club 100% Rye finds an exquisite counterpart in the soda water. The carbonation of the soda serves to elevate and spread the spicy notes, creating an interplay that is refreshing and harmonious. This combination results in a cocktail experience that is exhilarating in its boldness yet remarkably smooth in its finish. The Canadian Club 100% Rye highball is more than just a drink; it's a showcase of the unique and often underappreciated qualities of rye whisky.

Johnnie Walker Black Label

Johnnie Walker Black Label, a Scotch whisky of profound depth and complexity, proudly maintains its distinct character even when blended into a highball. This illustrious whisky is a symphony of flavors and features a selection of whiskies aged for a minimum of 12 years. Each sip reveals a rich tapestry of dark fruits enveloped in a veil of smooth vanilla and underscored by intriguing smoky undertones that are a signature of the Johnnie Walker brand.

When Johnnie Walker Black Label is transformed into a highball, its intricate flavors are given an expansive stage. Bubbly soda water allows the rich and complex notes of the whisky to unfold gracefully. This interaction creates a cocktail that is layered in its taste profile yet surprisingly approachable. The fruit flavors and smokiness balance well with the light and refreshing soda, resulting in a highball that is both deep and invigorating.

Four Roses Bourbon

Four Roses Bourbon, with its symphony of floral and fruity notes, emerges as an exemplary candidate for a sweeter highball. This bourbon stands out with its unique blend that is composed of 10 recipes, each contributing to its rich and mellow character. Sippers of Four Roses are greeted with a gracefully intertwined bouquet of ripe pear, crisp apple, and sweet honey. This intricate profile is the result of careful selection of grains and yeast, as well as meticulous aging that reflects the brand's commitment to quality and complexity.

In a highball, Four Roses Bourbon reveals its full potential. The whiskey's aromas are not just preserved but elevated when mixed with soda, which allows the floral and fruity nuances to blossom and play with the soda's crispness. The soda water acts as a perfect canvas, highlighting the whiskey's sweetness and lightness, and transforming it into a comforting and refreshing cocktail.

Chivas Regal 12-Year-Old

Chivas Regal 12-Year-Old, a Scotch whisky renowned for its smoothness and rich flavor (no less than Queen Victoria was a fan), is a shining example of the art of blending. This illustrious bottle combines the finest malt and grain whiskies, each aged for a minimum of 12 years, resulting in a drink that exudes elegance and sophistication. The whisky unfolds layers of wild herbs, heather, honey, and a medley of orchard fruits. Its depth and complexity are a tribute to the masterful skill of the Chivas blenders, who have crafted a whisky that is both timeless and contemporary.

When Chivas Regal 12-Year-Old is transformed into a highball, its rich character finds a new expression. The soda water provides a refreshing counterpoint to the whisky's richness, lifting the heavier notes and allowing the more subtle flavors to shine. This interaction creates a cocktail that is sophisticated in its composition yet remarkably accessible in its appeal. The highball also emphasizes the blend's smoothness, making it an ideal choice for those who are seeking a refined yet accessible whisky cocktail.

Glenfiddich 12-Year-Old

Glenfiddich 12-Year-Old, a single malt Scotch whisky of esteemed reputation, introduces its unique pear and oak notes to the highball and infuses the cocktail with a touch of subtle depth and elegance. This whisky, which undergoes maturation in Oloroso sherry and bourbon casks, achieves a beautifully balanced and mellow flavor profile. Sippers of Glenfiddich 12-Year-Old are treated to the gentle notes of fresh pear, complemented by nuanced, woody tones of the oak barrels in which this whisky finishes its aging process. This combination of flavors is a direct reflection of the whisky's careful aging process and the skilled craftsmanship behind its creation.

When incorporated into a highball, the distinctive characteristics of Glenfiddich 12-Year-Old are delicately accentuated. The soda water in the highball serves to gently lift and highlight these flavors, while the effervescence of the soda interacts perfectly with the whisky's somewhat heavier fruit and oak notes, creating a mix that ensures that the drink remains sophisticated yet approachable.

Knob Creek Small Batch Bourbon

Knob Creek Small Batch Bourbon, widely known for its full-bodied flavor profile, makes for a commanding presence in a mixed drink like the highball cocktail. This meticulously crafted bourbon, which is produced in limited quantities, boasts a rich and intricate palate that includes the deep, resonant flavors of toasted nuts, hearty grains, and aged oak. The bourbon's rich and complex profile is the result of careful aging and a dedication to traditional bourbon-making methods, ensuring a high-quality and flavorful spirit.

In the composition of a highball, Knob Creek's robust profile is given a delightful twist. The carbonation of the soda water works to complement the full-bodied nature of the bourbon, with the two coming together to create a lovely balance that enhances the drink's appeal. The carbonation likewise helps to open up the bourbon's flavors, making the highball an excellent way to experience the depth and richness of Knob Creek.

Hibiki Harmony

Hibiki Harmony, from the house of Suntory, is a testament to the artistry of Japanese whisky blending. This exquisite blend brings together select malts and grains, resulting in a whisky that is both smooth and subtly sweet, making it an impeccable choice for a highball. Hibiki Harmony is characterized by a symphony of flavors that include the richness of honey, the zesty brightness of orange peel, and the luxurious smoothness of white chocolate. These flavors come together to create an elegant whisky that embodies the delicate balance and precision for which Japanese whisky is renowned.

When mixed into a highball, the smoothness of Hibiki Harmony is all the more highlighted, resulting in a well-balanced and refreshingly smooth cocktail where soda water helps to enhance the whisky's intricate flavors without overpowering them. This gentle elevation of flavors makes the Hibiki Harmony highball a drink of understated elegance, offering a refined and accessible way to enjoy Japanese whisky.

Bulleit Rye

Bulleit Rye, with its distinctive spicy character from a hearty helping of rye in the mash bill, introduces a robust and dynamic dimension to the classic highball, making it a standout choice for those who favor a whiskey with a more pronounced taste. This particular whiskey is celebrated for its high rye content, which imparts a bold and spicy character that is the hallmark of the spirit. Alongside the dominant spice, Bulleit Rye also reveals subtle undertones of vanilla and honey, both of which add layers of complexity and depth to a cocktail. This combination of bold spice and sweet accents is what makes Bulleit Rye a compelling and versatile whiskey.

In the context of a highball cocktail, Bulleit Rye's assertive flavors are given a vibrant counterbalance by the soda water, which softens the whiskey's spice while still allowing its bold character to shine through. This interaction creates a cocktail that is both vigorous and smooth and exemplifies a harmonious blend of intensity and refreshment.

The Glenlivet Founder's Reserve

The Glenlivet Founder's Reserve is an exquisite single malt Scotch whisky that offers a delightful blend of fruit and creamy richness, making it ideal for a highball cocktail. This whisky is characterized by vibrant notes of citrus, which brings a bright and refreshing zestiness to the palate, as well as a layer of creamy toffee flavor that adds a layer of indulgent sweetness. These refreshing and luxurious flavors come together to capture the essence of Glenlivet's smooth and accessible style.

Glenlivet Founder's Reserve's characteristics are beautifully showcased in the spare recipe for a highball cocktail. The bright soda water complements the whisky's fruity and creamy notes and uplifts those flavors without dulling them. This results in a cocktail that is elegant and easy to drink, making it an excellent choice for those who are new to Scotch whisky or highballs in general. To that same end, the effervescence of the soda brings a lightness to the drink, making it refreshingly indulgent.

Maker's Mark Bourbon

Maker's Mark Bourbon, with its reputation for balanced taste and exceptional smoothness, is a superb choice when it's time to make a highball. This bourbon is distinguished by its soft, yet rich flavor profile that features the comforting sweetness of caramel and the smooth, familiar warmth of vanilla. These flavors come together to create a bourbon that is both flavorful and mellow, making it a versatile choice for a wide variety of cocktail creations, including the classic highball.

When it's mixed into a highball, Maker's Mark's best qualities are brought to the fore. The soda water in the cocktail complements the bourbon's flavors, ensuring that the drink is harmonious and well-balanced. The lack of harshness in Maker's Mark makes it especially well-suited to a highball, as it blends seamlessly with the soda water to create a cocktail that is smooth and crisp on the palate. This combination makes the highball an enjoyable drink for both seasoned whisky enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

Nikka Coffey Grain Whiskey

Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky, a distinctive and innovative expression from Japan, introduces a rich texture and a symphony of sweet vanilla notes to the highball glass. This unique whisky, distilled in a Coffey still, is well-regarded for its exceptionally rich and creamy profile, which is a relatively rarity in the world of grain whiskies. The careful distillation process brings out a delightful array of flavors, including the luscious sweetness of tropical fruits and a subtle hint of spices that make this whisky a stand-out in its category.

When it's mixed into a highball, the qualities of Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky are elevated to new heights. The effervescence of the soda water perfectly complements the whisky's rich texture, enhancing its creamy sweetness while adding a refreshing touch. This harmonious blend highlights the whisky's luxurious flavors, creating a cocktail that is both indulgent and crisp. The Nikka Coffey Grain highball is a true representation of innovation meeting tradition. It offers a unique taste experience that makes it an intriguing choice for highball enthusiasts.

Talisker 10 Year Old

Talisker 10 Year Old, a renowned single malt Scotch from the Isle of Skye, brings a distinctive smoky peatiness to the highball, creating a drink that is best-suited to those who prefer a more intense flavor profile that is full of character. This whisky is celebrated for its unique combination of sea salt freshness, a peppery bite, and a sweet smokiness, all of which contribute to its bold and distinctive character. The rugged nature of Talisker is a reflection of the wild and windy landscapes of its island home.

In a highball, the robust flavors of Talisker 10 Year Old are beautifully counterbalanced by the soda water, which works to soften the whisky's intensity and brings forward a smooth and invigorating cocktail experience. The smoky notes of Talisker, combined with the soda, create a highball that is both stimulating and surprisingly smooth, and which offers a delightful contrast to more traditional highball cocktails.

Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select

Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select, a distinguished and full-bodied bourbon, rounds off our exploration of the best whiskeys for a highball with its exceptional depth and complexity. This bourbon is celebrated for its rich and robust flavor palette, which includes an array of dried fruits, a medley of spices, and luxurious hints of chocolate. These flavors are the result of both meticulous craftsmanship and careful aging, both of which imbue the bourbon with its distinctive character.

When it's mixed into a highball, the complex flavors of Woodford Reserve are beautifully complemented by the soda water, which opens up the bourbon's rich flavors and makes them more enjoyable in a cocktail form. This combination results in a highball that showcases the bourbon's full-bodied flavor in a balanced and approachable way. The Woodford Reserve highball is a cocktail that easily offers a rich and satisfying conclusion to our journey through the world of highballs.