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Add complexity to your whisky repertoire with these bottles featuring notes of spice

If you enjoy your on-the-rocks ritual with a bit of warmth and kick – the world of whisky has several delicious options with a spicy character on offer. We’re sipping our way through a few smooth ones.

Little hints of heat are the perfect complement to the smoke of a malt. These are courtesy of notes of baking ingredients – cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, star anise, clove, ginger – as well as oak or sherry barrels that ambers are often aged in. Ryes and bourbons – otherwise known as American whisky – also have a spicy, peppery character. Not only does this quality balance out the sweetness and fruitiness of a dram but also adds complexity and depth. Not to mention, it’s perfect for some good old-fashioned cocktails (pun intended). Naturally, some of the best in the business feature spice in their flavour notes. To truly tell the taste apart, pause after a sip to allow the punch to dance on your palate. And while this experience can vary wildly from one person to the next, there’s no denying the warmth our pick of bottles listed below offer.

Check out our complete guide to whiskies in India

Give your whisky-sipping ritual a bold makeover with these spicy options

The Macallan Double Cask 18 Years Old

Spicy whisky

One of the most iconic names in the world of whisky, The Macallan promises a smooth sipping experience. The 18 Years expression – aged in American and European sherry seasoned oak casks – has a distinct spice character. In particular, you’re bound to experience hints of ginger through the experience of savouring this one, from the nose down to the finish. There’s also a warm oak spice and hints of cloves and nutmeg to this amber, balanced by the flavours of dried fruit, caramel, raisins, vanilla, toffee, and orange.

Price: INR 73,750 approx.

Sazerac Rye Whiskey

Spicy whisky

From the French Quarter of New Orleans, the popular Sazerac is dubbed America’s first cocktail. The secret to its deliciousness? Spicy rye whisky. This bottle features notes of cloves, anise, and pepper which balance out the vanilla, citrus, licorice, and chocolate. Every sip is reminiscent of candied spices as well.

Price: INR 11,500 approx.

Templeton Rye Whiskey

Spicy whisky

Another American classic – Templeton has been around since the Prohibition era. The brand’s bottles come with the promise of quality sips – with their flagship expression being no exception. Charred in new American oak barrels, this amber – which pours a light copper – comes with a distinctive burnt sugar flavour. The hit of spice is courtesy of rye and oak, which give it notes of spiced orange candy and clove on the nose as well as hints of clove, cinnamon, and anise on the palate. Every sip also offers notes of butterscotch, cherry, green apple, and flowers. The spice hits are well complemented by hits of caramel and maraschino cherry.

Price: INR 9,000 approx.

Amrut Spectrum


The pioneer of single malts in India – Amrut’s drams are highly coveted. The Spectrum expression is one of its most innovative, dubbed the world’s first-ever multi-wood barrel single malt. The amber is aged in a mix of American Oak, new French Oak, ex-PX sherry cask stave, and ex-Oloroso sherry cask stave – which give it an unmissable spicy character. In particular, every sip offers hints of caraway and anise, which complement its notes of dried fruit, Christmas pudding, vanilla coconut cream, sticky toffee, and sandalwood. The balance of creamy and spicy is a delight to savour, with the finish being hot, warm, and sweet.

Price: INR 13,000 approx.

Glengoyne 12 Year Old

Whiskey spicy

A brand known for its unpeated Highland single malts that are as smooth as they come, a bottle of Glengoyne is a must-have in any whisky collection. The 12 year old expression – which pours a rich gold – offers hints of cinnamon and ginger and is warming. This is complemented by notes of toffee apples, orange, honey, lemon, and shortbread. The finish is bold and well-balanced.

Price: Rs 7,000 approx.

Ardbeg 10 Year Old

Spicy amber

In the business of malts since 1815, Ardbeg has built quite the stellar reputation for itself in the world of whisky. Its 10-year-old expression lives up to it, having won the World Whisky Of The Year title in 2008. The aroma of black pepper as well as the flavour of cinnamon-spiced toffee give this whisky a spicy character. These are balanced by hints of menthol, dark chocolate, lemon, baked pineapple, and pear on the nose. Every sip also offers notes of bananas, smooth buttermilk, toasted marshmallows, cappuccino, and currants. The spicy-creamy combination makes any on-the-rocks ritual a delight.

Price: INR 6,800 approx.

Monkey Shoulder

Spicy whiskey

Perhaps one of the most popular options at bars across the globe – Monkey Shoulder is a Speyside amber that’s versatile and bright. Every sip offers notes of zesty orange, honey, and mellow vanilla. There’s also a marked oak spice as well as hints of nutmeg and cloves to the experience of savouring this one, with the finish being spicy and bold.

Price: INR 5,000 approx.

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye


The brand that’s held the reputation for producing America’s best-selling spirit has a rye that truly hits the spicy spot. A charcoal-mellowing process brings out its boldness, with hints of pepper as well as baking spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. This is complemented by a sweet aroma of layered fruits and hot chocolate and notes of caramel and apple on the palate. The finish is a celebration of black pepper and spicy oak.

Price: INR 4,000 approx.


All images: Courtesy Brands/Shutterstock 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: What is spicy whiskey?

Answer: Whiskies with notes of baking ingredients - cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, star anise, clove, ginger - as well as ryes and bourbons which have a peppery character qualify as options with spice.

Question: What are the best ways to enjoy spicy whiskey?

Answer: Whiskies with a spicy character can be enjoyed on-the-rocks or in a cocktail.

Question: What are some popular brands of spicy whiskey?

Answer: Monkey Shoulder, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye, Sazerac Rye Whiskey, and The Macallan Double Cask 18 Years Old are good options if you like your whisky with some spice.

Add complexity to your whisky repertoire with these bottles featuring notes of spice

Eshita Srinivas

Eshita is a food, alcohol, travel, and entertainment writer who spends her days thinking of the next big trend to write about. She’s a communication graduate with bylines in Conde Nast Traveller India, GQ India, Deccan Herald, and Girls Buzz. When not at work, you’re likely to find her hunting for a good read or charting out the perfect itinerary for a solo trip across Asia.


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