Notes of spices in whiskies

Spicy notes come in different forms and of course it's just a matter of taste, which kind of spicy notes you like. For me, getting to like spicy whiskies took some time. I personally like warming spices very much. I love rye whiskies, which are usually spicy because the grain adds strong spicy flavors. Cask type can add spiciness too: for example Port, Madeira and some of the Sherry casks used for maturing whisky can add spicy notes. Bourbon casks tend to offer creamy, sweet and vanilla notes. Still, tasting whisky is always a personal thing, some people can find spicy notes from some whiskies and some don't. Read more about tasting whiskey.

Spicy notes can be:

  • Spices like nutmeg, ginger or aniseed might come up while tasting whisky
  • Hot or peppery notes such as chili, black or white pepper, cayenne
  • Warming spices like cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, clove, saffron

Coastal, salty notes

Salty coastal notes are not necessary associated with spicy whiskies, but then again, salt is a spice. Salty notes are common in the world of whiskies, usually offering coastal and salty air breeze feel, which is completely different kind of palate, than herbal, spicy or hot whiskies.

Mint or menthol notes

Same as with salty notes: minty or menthol notes are different than spicy notes in a whisky. They give that fresh herbal note. Herbal notes come in different forms, when thinking about whiskies.

Warming spices

Warming spices such as cinnamon for example, can add some Christmassy feel to the whisky. Here are my for the Christmas table:

I've listed few categories below, with spicy whiskies. Spices are very common so below are just few usual suspects when thinking of spicy whiskies.


  1. AZ-Man says:

    Great explanation on describing the spicy flavors encountered in our favorite drink. Now the question is, what if it’s too spicy. How can we counteract it? Can we hack our drams by not just adding water but some other “good” additives to make our experience more pleasant if we happen to find a quite spicy dram? Thanks!

    • Johannes Lindblom says:

      Thanks, that’s a great question! My intuitive answer would be to make a blend by choosing a full and richly flavored whisky as counterpart. Maybe a splash of some über sweet sherry bomb would do it? But then again, I have no experience in blending spicy whiskies, so I might be wrong. Definitely an interesting testing environment, if this kind of setup evolves.

  2. Bourbon Flavor Camps: Fruity Floral Spicy And Woody – Ward III says:

    Flavored whiskies are popular in the United States, they have been popular in Scotland for centuries. Is there really spiced whiskey? There are several spiced whiskeys on the market, including the George Dickel Barrel Finish Tabasco.

    • Johannes Lindblom says:

      Thanks for the comment, that is true. Especially spiced whiskies a.k.a whiskey liqueurs seem quite common. Fireball Cinnamon Whisky by Sazerac Company is probably most famous

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