Pass the (wild) turkey: 5 perfect Thanksgiving whiskies

thanksgiving whiskies

As Thanksgiving fast approaches, it’s time to start thinking about the most important part of the meal – the alcohol. And if you’re thinking of grabbing a nice bottle of red or a crate of beer, we’ve got some great news for you – whisky pairs incredibly well with almost every Thanksgiving food you can think of.

Turkey? Check.

Green bean casserole? Check.

Mashed potatoes? Check.

Pumpkin pie? Double check.

So, if you’re planning on stocking up your drinks cabinet over the course of the next few weeks, take a look through these perfect Thanksgiving whiskies – we guarantee you’ll be everybody’s favourite host.

Essential Thanksgiving Whiskies:

#1: A good bourbon

While we’re all about that Scotch here at Whisky Foundation, we can’t talk about thanksgiving whiskies without putting a bourbon front and centre. It’s the all-American whisky – a sweet, caramelly delight.

And it pairs perfectly with turkey – the sweet vanilla and slightly spicy notes of a good bourbon are the perfect bedfellows for the crispy, salty turkey skin and tender turkey breast. (It also goes incredibly well with pumpkin pie and green bean casserole – win, win, win.)

WF recommends: Of course, you could go with a bottle of Woodford Reserve or Wild Turkey – both are great sipping bourbons for their price – but if you want something with a little more pizazz, then why not go for a Scotch aged in a bourbon barrel? You still get all of those vanilla and spice notes that match up so well with the majority of the feast, but you’re also getting a little more complexity too. This 5-year-old Talisker (Kingsbury, 2008) is perfect – there’s white pepper and a complex character to begin, followed by vanilla, spice and caramel notes from the half a decade it spent in a bourbon cask.

#2: A decent bottle of rye

Rye is like that relative that you only see at Thanksgiving and then wonder why you don’t hang out more; it’s the less-known (and slightly cooler) cousin of bourbon, and is a perfect pairing for your cranberry sauce.

The light (and slightly spicier) character of the rye (made from at least 51% – you guessed it – rye) are a perfect match for the tartness of the cranberry sauce.

WF recommends: Again, you can’t go wrong with a bottle of Bulleit 95 Rye for a budget-friendly Thanksgiving. But – as it’s a celebration of all things American, why not go with a bottle of the first whisky produced in America? Michter’s US-1 Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey is a killer rye – spicy, peppery and full of rich fruity notes, all held together with a woody, oaky spine. It’s really, really good.

#3: A peaty Scotch

We love a peaty whisky here at Whisky Foundation, so there was no chance that we wouldn’t include on in this list. It’s lucky then that peaty whiskies are perfect Thanksgiving whiskies – and not just because you can sip them long after all the food has gone away.

They’re also surprisingly good partners for your mashed potatoes and gravy – the meaty, salty gravy is the perfect muse for the peaty whisky to sing its smoky siren call, while the creamy, silky mashed potatoes hold the whole thing together.

If you love potatoes and whisky, there’s nothing better than this surprising combination.

WF Recommends: Of course, a Lagavulin 16 – the first love of all peat fans – is a fool-proof choice, but if you’re looking shake things up, why not try this Ardbeg 18 Year (Signatory, 1998)? It’s a bold, in-your-face, peaty monster. It starts with a colossal whack of peat and keeps going from there. We can’t get enough of it.

#4: A Lowlands single malt

Now, big hits of peat or vanilla are going to work well with your turkey and potatoes, but they’re not going to work with complex flavours like stuffing. For that, you need a delicate, complex whisky – and Lowlands are perfect for that.

(And if you’re worried about sticking to all-American whiskies, remember – 4.8 million Americans are of Scottish ancestry!)

WF Recommends: The citrus, candy and salt (as well as the long, lemony finish) of this 15-year-old Rosebank are an ideal accompaniment for your stuffing this Thanksgiving.

#5:   Your favourite whisky

What’s better than sitting down after a huge Thanksgiving feast and sipping a dram of your favourite whisky?

We’ll tell you: nothing.

So, we’re not even going to tell you what whisky to buy here, nor are we going to recommend any particularly great whiskies, it’s time to treat yourself to a bottle of your favourite malty treat and sip a well-earned sip or two.

Now, isn’t that something to be thankful for?


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