10 Best Cherry Whiskeys

When many imagine using a cherry to improve their drink of choice, they probably picture a scarlet maraschino in their cocktail, or adding a cherry to liven up a glass of sparkling wine. Whiskey lovers need not get too inventive, however, as there are several delicious whiskeys out there that come already augmented with a spark of cherry's distinctive flavor. Cherry whiskeys are a popular breed of flavored whiskey that presents novel opportunities for both sipping and mixing. For new consumers, flavored spirits can create an appealing entry point to whiskey. For others, it offers a chance to diversify their liquor cabinet.

It's a tricky balancing act, creating a satisfying cherry whiskey that presents the wood-enhanced grain spirit that whets the appetite of whiskey connoisseurs while presenting enough cherry flavor to set the spirit apart. Cherry brings some sweetness, but adding too much sweetness can push a liquor into the realm of liqueurs. There is a difference between liquor and liqueur, and cherry liqueur is not the same as cherry-flavored whiskey.

I've worked in marketing and sales for spirits for several years, and understand what different products can offer different consumers. I've taken a look at the best cherry whiskeys out there and curated a list of those that stand out. Cherry whiskeys that boast popularity and awards, exhibit quality, or best suit a particular occasion prove themselves to be worth a dram. 

Grand Traverse Cherry Flavored Whiskey

Not surprisingly, the "cherry capital of the world" — Traverse City, Michigan — is a haven for distilleries producing cherry whiskey. One such producer is Grand Traverse Distillery, with its Cherry Flavored Whiskey, a young bourbon that flaunts the region's prized fruit.

Rather than creating a sweet-flavored whiskey, Grand Traverse offers a drier bourbon that exhibits the tartness of local Montmorency cherries. This cherry whiskey is a modified version of the distillery's Straight Bourbon, which is corn-dominant at 60% of the mash bill, with the rest comprising 30% rye and 10% barley. The whiskey's cherry influence comes from fruit concentrate, which comprises 3% of the final blended product. Grand Traverse Distillery uses local grains, representing more than just fruit from its bountiful region. This results in a smooth American whiskey that offers cherry aroma and flavor, while still standing up as a bourbon. Grand Traverse Cherry Flavored Whiskey can be an interesting sipper neat or on the rocks, while also lending itself to a cherry-loaded old fashioned cocktail.

Bird Dog Black Cherry Flavored Whiskey

It's not unusual for conversations about bourbon to lead to a mention of Kentucky. Bird Dog Whiskey boasts that it produces the most-awarded flavored whiskey on the market, and this reputation certainly includes its Black Cherry Whiskey. Proudly flaunting an Innovation Award, Consumer Choice Award, and Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2019, this exemplary flavored whiskey lives up to its identity as a Kentucky bourbon while showcasing black cherry panache with dark fruit notes throughout, enhanced with caramel, vanilla, and honey.

There are several cocktail options for Bird Dog Black Cherry Whiskey, with the distillery recommending the Black Cherry Kentucky Mule for a cherry-meets-ginger spin on the popular cocktail. This distillery has truly mastered the flavored whiskey category, with options including peanut butter, candy cane, espresso, and pumpkin spice. Bird Dog Whiskey is produced by Western Spirits, which is also based in Kentucky. 

Blue Spirits Distilling Cherry Flavored Whisky

Having access to clean, fresh water is essential for making high-quality whiskey, and can have a profound effect on the final product. Blue Spirits Distilling proudly utilizes water that is locally sourced from Washington State's Lake Chelan to create its wide range of spirits, including its Cherry Flavored Whisky. (That's not a typo — Blue Spirits Distillery opts to drop the "e", ignoring the usual American format in the difference between whiskey and whisky).

This liquor does feature added sugar, making it fairly sweet, even as bourbon goes. In fact, Blue Spirit Distilling blends bourbon and light whisky for its cherry-flavored libation. It's aged for eight years, imbuing the final product with pleasant almond and vanilla notes on the palate. The cherry greets drinkers on the nose, along with some toffee. The freshness of cherry stays present throughout the spirit while remaining subtle. This keeps Cherry Flavored Whisky enjoyable by itself, while also making it a fun addition to cocktails. Even just a maraschino cherry garnish can splendidly suit a dram of this over ice. 

Stillhouse Spiced Cherry Whiskey

With its distinctive red 100% stainless steel cans, Stillhouse produces a cherry whiskey that kicks up the flavor with holiday spices. These flavors enter corn whiskey in the form of a spiced cherry liqueur, blended to balance sweetness with the strength of the spirit.

The spirit is charcoal filtered, which removes undesirable flavor compounds and results in a cleaner-tasting dram. This is common practice in Tennessee, where Stillhouse produces its whiskeys. Subtle vanilla shines through the spirit, making it a decadent addition to cola mixers. Of course, rich black cherry is the star of the show, underlaid by the holiday spices.

Since this cherry whiskey comes in a can rather than a glass bottle, it can help to know that it's a clear spirit, untinted by barrel aging. This positions the spirit as an easy addition to a picnic basket or camping backpack, making it a fantastic go-to outdoors tipple. Stillhouse also features other unique flavored whiskeys in its range, including Peach Tea Whiskey, Apple Crisp Whiskey, and even a Peanut Butter S'mores Whiskey. 

Journeyman Pit-Spitter Cherry Flavored Whiskey

For the whiskey aficionados among us who value natural flavoring and the use of local ingredients, Journeyman's Pit-spitter Cherry Flavored Whiskey is one option to consider. The mash bill for this whiskey differs from many others on this list, comprising 60% organic rye and 40% organic wheat. This signifies a different approach and end-product than the corn-heavy mash bills of the more bourbon-style cherry whiskeys available. With more rye and no corn, this whiskey exhibits less sweetness, and a drier, elevated spiciness to complement the flavor of cherry.

Rather than imbue the whiskey with artificial cherry flavoring or the use of cherry liqueur, this whiskey receives the bold, fresh, flavor of Montmorency cherries through direct maceration with the cask-strength spirit. These cherries are a staple of Michigan, where this spirit is distilled. This 14-day maceration process means that the coloring, fruitiness, sweetness, and cherry flavor are all natural. What's more, Journeyman spirits are both kosher and organic-certified. 

Two Trees Michigan Cherry Flavored Whiskey

Two Trees Distilling Co. is a North Carolina producer of flavored whiskey that uses tart Montmorency cherries from Michigan to enhance its spirit. These sour cherries are a perfect match for this whiskey's mash bill. The corn spirit distillate in this whiskey lends grain sweetness that balances with the fruity expression for an enjoyable dram or cherry-augmented cocktail. This is also a fun way to cherry up your cola for a refreshing-yet-sweet adult drink.

Collecting a bronze medal at the 2022 Bartender Spirits Awards, this flavored whiskey makes its cherry content known, priming the spirit as a great selection for an old fashioned cocktail. Two Trees uses pure water from the Appalachian Mountains, enhancing its spirits at a fundamental level. After all, this whiskey is only 35% alcohol, so a significant portion of the remaining liquid comprises this immaculate mountain water. 

With a focus on sustainability, Two Trees uses a maturation process that requires less than 10% of the wood utilized in traditional barrel-aging of spirits. Using just two oak trees, this distillery claims it can produce an equal amount of aged liquor as would be produced with 25 trees when following traditional techniques.

Traverse City Whiskey Co. American Cherry Edition

Traverse City Whiskey Co. has been making waves with its American Cherry Edition flavored whiskey showcasing the distillery's history, which is as enhanced by cherries as its best-selling spirit. The distillery harvests its cherries and then macerates them in bourbon to produce an enjoyable flavored whiskey. Clearly, this distillery makes full use of its heritage in the cherry capital of the world — the city from which it gets its name.

The nose presents maraschino cherry and spice, while on the palate, it falls at the sweeter end of the scale. American Cherry Edition is a suitable choice for cocktails, lending its sweetness and undeniable cherry presence to strong drinks. For those who prefer a drier, less syrupy profile for their sipping whiskies, neat is probably not the best way to enjoy this spirit. This quality does make it a decent choice for a dessert whiskey sipper, similar to a whisky liqueur such as Drambiue, just with that extra Michigan cherry magic. 

Leopold Bros. Michigan Cherry Flavored Whiskey

Denver's Leopold Bros. distillery claims to be the only producer in Colorado that has its own on-site malt floor for germinating the locally grown grains it uses to produce its spirits. What's more, this distillery also mashes and ferments all of its own grains, as just another production step that takes care, attention, and passion from the distillers. These stages result in high-quality spirits that express the craftsmanship of the Leopold Bros. Distillery, and this is exemplified in its Michigan Cherry Flavored Whiskey.

The distillers carefully blend the juice of Montmorency tart cherries from Michigan with their whiskey to achieve an all-natural burgundy color and fruit-forward flavor without any artificial preservatives. Ex-bourbon barrels lend notes of vanilla, spice, and marzipan that contribute to the cherry-pie quality of this richly flavored whiskey. The influence of the cherry juice is sour as well as sweet, resulting in a satisfying dessert whiskey. The producers hand-bottle this flavored whiskey, again taking the time and effort to create an elevated craft product. 

Copper Still Distillery Cherry Flavored Whisky

Copper Still Distillery has collected several awards over the years for its flavored whiskeys, including its Cherry Flavored variety, which picked up a bronze medal in the 2022 Bartender Spirits Awards. This distillery hails from Lake Havasu City in Arizona, where it produces unfiltered corn whiskey that is infused with other ingredients to create Copper Still's many flavored tipples.

This distillery's Cherry Flavored Whisky gets its bright, sweet flavor from maraschino cherries that macerate in the corn whiskey to infuse it with a fruity kick. This process also imparts a rich red hue into the liquid, making it an appealing libation in a glass with ice and topped with a maraschino cherry. You don't have to get too creative with mixers for Copper Still's Cherry Flavored. A splash of cola goes a long way toward creating a mixed drink that goes down smoothly. 

Jim Beam Red Stag

Jim Beam is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable bourbon brands in the world, and its Red Stag is its contribution to the world of cherry-flavored whiskey. There are certainly many popular flavored whiskeys out there, and Red Stag is a suitable entry-level cherry whiskey for those first dipping their toes into infused options on the market. With the addition of black cherry liqueur, this cherry-enhanced Kentucky straight bourbon hits a sweet note for those who enjoy a dessert cocktail, or simply want another interesting bottle to liven up the home bar.

Although not so much one for the connoisseurs, this is still a worthwhile selection for those who enjoy cola, lemonade, or iced tea mixers. The cherry aroma and flavor dominates, and black cherry fanatics are sure to appreciate this in the whiskey. Behind the fruitier notes are the bourbon's oak flavor and corn sweetness. What earns this product a spot on this list of the best cherry whiskeys is the brand's appeal to new consumers, and its potential for introducing those with trepidation about whiskey to a dram that could capture their interest. For many, this will be the cherry whiskey they've been looking for, and the best door into the world of whiskey for them.