In a city of craft beer, cocktails, and margaritas, whiskey can be an afterthought. Often viewed as a mix-in for the old fashioned or fodder for shots, drinking whiskey as God intended can seem outdated. But for me, relaxing at the bar with a splash of bourbon or enjoying a cigar with two fingers of single malt is classic.
To celebrate this spirit, here are six of my favorite places—in alphabetical order—to sip the best whiskey in Austin.
This list is comprised of places to drink whiskey straight. No cocktails, no mixers. Just brown stuff in a glass splashed however you like it (neat, with water, ice ball, etc). The tasting at Vince Young’s Steakhouse was complimentary. All opinions are my own.
1/ Easy Tiger
Fans of this beloved Sixth Street bakery/eatery/drinkery know the wonderful food, impressive tap wall, and ping pong tables are the envy of the area. What many don’t know is Easy Tiger’s whiskey program is equally exceptional. With over 35 varieties in every imaginable category, this venue promises to satisfy both beer and whiskey drinkers alike.
My pick: Whistle Pig Farmstock. Mellow booze on the nose gives way to a dry, oaky sweetness atypical of cheaper, less refined rye. Pricey, but worth it.
709 E. 6th St. – Website
Editor’s Note: Freedmen’s is closing Aug. 31, 2018, at its West Campus location.
One of my favorite BBQ spots in Austin also happens to be a fantastic place to grab a finger of whiskey. To go with the upscale decor and date night-friendly ambiance, Freedmen’s covers whiskey cravings with wide variety and unique spirits. And did I mention the brisket is some of the best in town? World class all the way around.
My pick: Oban 14 Year. One of the lighter scotches you’ll find, the slightly smokey Oban 14 Year pairs great with brisket, sausage, and Freedmen’s amazing horseradish potato salad.
2402 San Gabriel St. – Website
➡️ Keep reading: Savor the Past and Present at Freedmen’s Bar
3/ The Grackle
When I worked downtown, The Grackle was my home away from home. While my go-to is the surprisingly robust craft beer selection, the whiskey wall is nothing to sneeze at.
With a carefully curated collection that includes old standards and rarities like Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, this downtown dive will satisfy the pickiest of palates.
My pick: Elijah Craig Small Batch 1789 (Grackle/Austin Shaker Selection). A long name for an incredible bourbon, this smooth yet flavor-packed spirit was hand-picked by the folks at The Grackle and the The Austin Shaker distillery, from a host of the latter’s barrels. Velvety with rich notes of caramel and spice, this is an absolute stunner.
1700 E. 6th St. – Facebook
4/ Nickel City
A dive bar with style, comfort and selection, East 11th’s Nickel City has all the warmth and friendliness of a sawdust joint without the sticky seats. While most go for happy hour Peacemakers, this bar has a whiskey selection that rivals most steakhouses.
From Japanese scotch to hard-to-find bourbons, the wall goes on for days. Add to the mix an ultra knowledgeable staff, and you have a surprise whiskey haven hidden in a laid-back neighborhood bar.
My pick: Talisker 10 Year Scotch. Peaty and smokey with a hint of salty spice, this 10-year scotch satisfied my craving for big, bold whiskey. If you like Laphroaig, then you’ll love this.
1133 E. 11th St. – Website
➡️ Keep reading: Nickel City Bar Pours Neighborhood Vibes on East 11th Street
Péché is one of my regular shelters from the Dirty Sixth storm. Though the bar is known for creative cocktails, incredible bartenders, and an impressive absinthe selection, the whiskey wall will not be undone by the renowned mixology. Good cocktails require good ingredients, and Péché’s monstrous selection of spirits tastes just as good neat as it does in an old fashioned.
My pick: Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve. The core bourbon for the aforementioned old fashioned, this upper tier Knob Creek sings with citrus sweetness on the nose that finishes dry and warm. It’s a good bang-for-your-buck bourbon.
208 W. 4th St. – Website
6/ Vince Young Steakhouse
Known for first-class steaks and impeccable service, Vince Young Steakhouse is the epitome of downtown class. And while you can snag everything from fine scotch to every variety of Pappy known to man (the only spot in Austin that can make that claim), Vince Young’s bourbon program is where the restaurant shines. From old standbys like Eagle Rare and Knob Creek to delectable treats like Jefferson’s Small Batch and Blanton’s Single Barrel, the list will satisfy the most discerning whiskey drinkers.
My pick: Parker’s Heritage 11 Year Bourbon. Rich with a deep honey sweet nose and smooth throughout, this beautiful bourbon paired perfectly with my ribeye. Kudos to my server Jim for the recommendation!
301 San Jacinto Blvd. – Website
➡️ Keep reading: Locally Owned Vince Young Steakhouse Excels Beyond Red Meat
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
Where is your favorite place in Austin to sip whiskey?
We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It’s where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!