Some people prefer a glass of Merlot with dinner, while others can’t wait to sink a couple of pale ales after a long day’s work. To each their own. Then there are the people who scoff at Coors Light and the long list of sub-acceptable alcohols. For them (and for us, too), it’s whiskey or bust.
We’re not hopping around the world in search of classical architecture or artery-clogging burgers. Nope, not today. Today, we’re focusing on the good stuff, jetting from east to west and north to south in search of the most divine whiskey cities across the globe.
If it’s your dream to sip Scotch in the Scottish Highlands, or wander through the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Tennessee, then y’all are in for a treat!
10 Seattle, Washington, USA
Since it's the home of the world-famous Starbucks franchise, you’d be excused for thinking that Seattle is all about coffee and not much else. To the surprise of many, however, Seattle boasts a vibrant whiskey scene, offering a handful of sophisticated whiskey bars offering classic neat drinks and intriguing, handcrafted cocktails.
So, you’ve just strolled through Pike Place Market, grabbed a bite to eat, and taken your obligatory selfie atop the Space Needle - now what? Canon Whiskey and Bitters Emporium (pictured) is one of the more revered whiskey destinations, while Rob Roy and Liberty Bar are worth checking out as well.
9 Chicago, Illinois, USA
As far as American whiskey goes, most folks’ minds will sway straight toward the southern states - and fair enough, because they’ve got plenty to boast about. Up in the Great Lakes area, Chicago is quietly churning out some of the best whiskey vibes across the country. For a brief history lesson, Chicago was one of the go-to spots for alcohol during the prohibition era of the 1920s to early 1930s. When the ban was lifted, Chi-town remained indefinitely as a popular whiskey destination.
These days, the KOVAL distillery (which was the first to open post-prohibition) is a must-see, offering whiskey-related classes, tours, and tastings. Meanwhile in River North, the upscale Berkshire Room offers over 200 different whiskeys, so you’ll never be restricted for choice.
8 Osaka, Japan
In the eyes of the world, Japan might be the hub of technology, sushi and the host of the 2020 Olympic Games, but that’s not all it has to offer by a long stretch. The Japanese whiskey scene is one the best, and most underrated, across the globe.
Japan’s oldest distillery, which was founded back in 1923, is the Suntory Yamazaki Distillery, sitting at the foot of Mount Tennozan, not too far from Osaka. No whiskey-inspired tour of Japan would be complete without a stop there. Whiskey aficionados will find the Yamazaki 12 Year Old, which received the “World’s Best Whisky” title at the International Spirits Challenge back in 2003.
7 Tokyo, Japan
No visit to Japan is complete without a visit to its sprawling capital, Tokyo, just like no whiskey-lover can sweep this city under the rug without missing out on some of the world’s best nectars.
Most visitors aren’t overly familiar with Japanese whiskeys before arrival, so a stop in at Zoetrope in Shinjuku is the best place to start for sampling local creations. Also in the Shinjuku area is a neat little place certainly worth checking out for a drink or two called Malt Bar South Park. The owner of this spot is a huge whiskey collector and displays most of his 3000+ bottle collection within the bar itself (according to Boutique Japan)
6 Edinburgh, Scotland
Some people prefer bourbon and others prefer Scotch whiskey. If you’re one of those people who fall into the latter category, then there’s no better place to taste a handful of authentic scotch whiskeys that in its birthplace, Scotland!
Of all the countries in the world, including the USA, Scotland reigns supreme as the biggest producer of whiskey, and it’s held that title for at least 100 years (according to WhiskyInvestDirect), specializing in single malt and blended.
With over 120 active distilleries spread across Scotland, if you’re not staying in Glasgow, Edinburgh is a perfect home base.
5 Glasgow, Scotland
While undoubtedly there are pubs, restaurants and bars galore scattered across the city of Glasgow, there are just as many whiskey-related attractions outside of the city. The Glengoyne distillery (situated on the hilly, picturesque countryside) is easily accessible by bus from the city center, and offers a range of tours and samplings of the Scottish national drink. Likely a little closer to the hotel, the Pot Still stocks over 600 whiskeys to drink ‘till your heart’s content.
Glasgow and Edinburgh are only about an hour’s drive (or train) away from one another, so it’s easy to sample a few bars and whiskeys from each of Scotland’s major cities in the same trip.
4 Washington D.C., USA
The US capital might not have the same whiskey reputation as Texas or Kentucky, but it sure knows how to serve up a whiskey on the rocks that's guaranteed to please. With a mix of tourists, locals, students, and politicians, Washington D.C. has a little something for everyone. One Eight Distilling is touted as an authentic D.C whiskey joint, while the Jack Rose Dining Saloon (pictured) is toward the top of many critics’ lists.
After sipping on a few different spirits, there’s plenty more to see and do in the area. From the Lincoln Memorial to the White House, and over to the Smithsonian, you’ll have no excuse to stay indoors.
3 Lynchburg, Tennessee, USA
Over in the southern central region on Tennessee, about an hour and a half’s drive from Nashville, is the small town of Lynchburg. The area is known for one thing and one thing only: being home to the Jack Daniel’s distillery.
Interestingly enough, the area (Moore County) is a completely dry county, meaning that by law the sale of alcohol is prohibited. The only exceptions are the commemorative Jack bottles of the White Rabbit Bottle Shop, and the distillery’s sampling tour. While you won’t be able to drink to your heart’s content, the chance to tour one of the world’s most famous distilleries can’t be ignored.
2 Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Kentucky is one of the American states that lives and breathes whiskey. Visitors can take a walk down Whiskey Row, a block-long stretch of distilleries including names like Angel's Envy, Evan Williams, Jim Beam, Kentucky Peerless, Rabbit Hole, Bulleit, and Old Forester - with a list that long, you’re guaranteed to find your nectar of choice. If your thirst still hasn’t been quenched, the Haymarket Whiskey Bar has plenty of bottom and top-shelf options guaranteed to find something to each visitor’s liking.
Outside of the city, about an hour’s drive from Louisville, whiskey-lovers can venture to find Maker’s Mark distillery, which is part of both the American Whiskey Trail and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
1 New York, New York, USA
Over on the USA’s East Coast, the Big Apple is abundant with things to do, places to eat, and, of course, a plethora of watering holes to wet your whistle at a moment’s notice.
Regardless of which area of the concrete jungle you find yourself in, be it Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx or somewhere in between, a Scotch on the rocks or a neat bourbon is never too far away. The New York Distilling Company, as well as Kings County Distillery, are two of the more renowned distilleries, while you can sample a few local and imported drinks at Bar & Books or Flatiron Room.