The Best Whiskeys For Sunny Days To Come

Whiskey aficionado or not, did you know that blenders and distillers are stepping outside of the normal flavor profiles and creating floral, fruity, and even citrusy-style whiskeys? And that Japan has always been at the forefront of creating floral and delicate whiskies? Holly Seidewand, founder of First Fill Spirits in Saratoga Springs, NY asks us to ponder these questions. But do not assume that it’s only lighter whiskey that becomes a cooling proposition when the temperature rises, she recommends a flavorful assortment of unusual yet approachable whiskies.


Holly Seidewand, founder of First Fill Spirits in Saratoga Springs, NY


Whiskey is not just for winter anymore. Nor are Whiskey lovers and Bourbon boosters only “good ole boys” any longer. Leading the pack of new adventurers into the world of whiskey is Holly Seidewand. Her book is not out yet but her imprint on the world of whiskey is impressive. Co-owner of First Fill Spirits,  the buzzed-about whiskey emporium in Saratoga Springs, Holly explores the world of whiskey with an unquenchable thirst.

She is a whiskey connoisseur whose upcoming book will reveal quirky facts, hidden truths, and all sorts of rarely-shared details about the people, the places, and the whiskey she discovered through her visits to 100 distilleries around the world.



There are so many aromas and flavors to discover within the independent bottling world, single casks, and all of the new countries and regions producing their own style of whiskey. Every pour is an adventure for Holly and one she is sharing with us.




Holly’s first pick for a summer sipper is Starward ‘Two-Fold’ Double Grain Whiskey from Australia. This “sunshine sipper” (aka breakfast whiskey) a bright and red-fruit-forward whiskey, is, she shares, “a luscious invitation to inhale and imbibe the taste of honey-drizzled raspberries!” The grains, malted barley, and wheat are distilled and matured in Australian Red Wine Casks for two years. Starward selects the casks of bold, full-bodied Aussie reds like Shiraz and Cabernet for Two-Fold giving this whiskey a rich golden hue and a smooth, tropical, and lightly spiced flavor profile.

Even if ‘Two- Fold’ is deemed a “breakfast whiskey” (referring to the Scottish Hebridean tradition of drinking a dram of whisky as an aperitif before breakfast), it’s more likely to be imbibed as an afternoon delight on a summer’s day. Testifying to its excellence, Starward ‘Two-Fold’ Double Grain was the 2022 Gold Medal Winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. $35.00/750 ML.

Starward is considered one of the stars of the Australian Whiskey industry. Founded in 2007 and based in Melbourne, Starward’s motto is “Whiskey is for drinking and sharing,” which Holly points out is an important message, as most Australian Whiskey is still produced on such a small scale that their single casks and small batches are highly coveted. Starward believes that enjoying whiskey should never be a solo pursuit, it’s meant to be shared,


Starward Tasting Room, top. When you sip Starward 'Two Fold'. You'll imagine you are enjoying bright red berries coated in buttery vanilla spice...a rich caramel flavor balanced by fresh, juicy exotic fruit.




Ohishi organically farms the aromatic rice distilled for their whiskies. To rid the rice paddies of unwanted vegetation they use Koi, essentially oversized goldfish, to nibble away the stifling greenery. Master Distiller, Kazunori Ohishi, 6th Generation double-ferments estate-grown rice in clay and then in stainless steel before it matures for a decade in oak casks formerly used for brandy. He creates a delicate floral whiskey, its pale gold color is as sunny as the fruity-floral taste, a sheer, summery contrast to traditional whiskey.

Ohishi ages their ten-year-old whiskey in ex-brandy casks, yet the flavor and color remain comparatively ethereal. Pear, cherry, molasses, and sherry predominate on the palate but there’s the taste of lightly spiced cookie dough to tease you at the finish.

Located in the scenic, mountainous countryside of Southwestern Japan, Ohishi sits near the tiny village of Mizukami. Founded in 1872, it is the closest distillery to the source of the Kuma River, one of the fastest-flowing rivers in all of Japan, prized for the purity of its water. Although the Ohishi family started making their elegant and esteemed rice whiskey in the 1970s, it was not until 2020 that the distillery earned the award for Best Single Grain Whiskey at The San Francisco World Spirits Competition.



Kazunori Ohishi, Master Distiller

Master Distiller, Kazunori Ohishi represents the 6th Generation to lead Ohishi Distillery. Using local aromatic rice grains, organically farmed, he creates a delicate floral whiskey, its pale gold color belies the rich taste of this sheer, summery contrast to traditional whiskey.

Holly recommends Ohishi as a summer sipper for its silky smooth palate, a soft and well-rounded taste experience with flavors of pear, cherry, molasses, and Oloroso sherry.  Savor this aged-for-a-decade in ex-brandy casks Japanese whiskey; before your glass is empty, you’ll discover a crisp finish of oak, sea salt, and red apple skin with an alluring, subtle hint of spice. Lingering in the mouth with caramel sweetness, it is bottled at 82.3 proof. $85/750 ML .  Ohishiwhiskey




Blended whiskey is not typically associated with American distillers, it’s a lighter, crowd-pleasing style that you find in some Scotch or Canadian whiskies, yet Kings County Distillery set about to revive the all-but-lost in the USA category with their blended Bourbon. Though Kings County is about innovation, it’s not a new distillery, it was founded in 2010. Kings County is located in the Brooklyn Navy Yards in the Paymaster Building steps from the former distillery district on the waterfront. This Post-Prohibition whiskey distillery has authentic roots, it’s not far from where moonshiners rebelled violently against federal taxes on whiskey during the Brooklyn Whiskey Wars of the 1860s.
Kings County Blended Bourbon is conceived as “all-purpose” and an all seasons spirit to that end. We asked Holly what our first experience of this Bourbon would be like, and her reply was: “Sweet nuts, citrus, and vanilla make this just a totally crushable bourbon!” Sniff the aroma of honey, caramel, and rye pepper of this flexible whiskey, and you’ll grasp what Kings County has achieved through the use of quality organic ingredients, careful distilling, and creative blending.
Kings County is the brainchild of David Haskell, a magazine editor, and Colin Spoelman, a Yale-educated former architect whose roots lie in Kentucky — the heart of moonshine country. Together they are committed to inventing American whiskeys that expand the category using Scottish copper pot stills, open fermentation, and local grains.



Kings County owners, David Haskell and Colin Spoelman. The Kings Country Distillery Building.



Each batch of Blended Bourbon contains a unique combination of aged whiskeys from Kings County inventory, certainly Bourbon but also Corn, Rye, and Malt whiskey. Whiskey nerds rejoice! Bottle-specific hangtags identify blend mixes: the contributing percentages of each whiskey type, along with their respective age and barrel format. Kings County’s whiskeys are essentially “homemade,” always mashed, fermented, distilled, and aged onsite in Brooklyn. $55./750 ML





Holly considers Amrut truly the global pioneer of Indian Single Malt. Most whiskey produced in India does not meet the elite classifications required to call liquor “whiskey.” So producing a Scottish-style single malt was a huge risk for this distillery. Holly gives them high praise, saying “Wow! The chance they took paid off! ”

Amrut is from the Sanskrit language, it means “nectar of the gods” or “elixir of life,” which is remarkably intuitive as that is how this prestigious whiskey is perceived. Holly points out that the Scots, obviously true whisky aficionados, have developed a passion for Amrut, it’s more popular in Scotland than it is in India. Though Indian whiskey may be comparatively new to American audiences, Amrut has been crafting spirits using all 6-row Indian barley since 1948 in their distillery in Bengaluru (formerly known as Bangalore), the garden city of India, 3,000 feet above sea level.




“Dessert: Caramel marshmallows, smores, fluff,” Holly tells us is what we’ll experience when we take our first sip of this Single Grain, Single Cask, seven-year Amrut Whiskey. So after a glass of this elixir, what are we left with? “Warm. liquid caramel, pepper, and spice with some citrus,” Holly says, “then a tart, provocative finish: Lime, tangerine, some oak, and leafy Eucalyptus.” A new world whiskey experience traditionalists enjoy tremendously. $97.99/750 ML Firstfillspirits.

Bengaluru (formerly known as Bangalore) where Amrut Distillery has operated since 1948 is known as the Garden City of India for its commitment to urban greenery which flourishes in the hot wet climate. Residents are committed to sustaining the mini-forests, parks, and gardens that are present throughout this city at a 3000-foot elevation. Shown here is the Botanical Garden in Lal Bagh Park.





Stay tuned for more whiskey tastes and travels. Savor the summer with these sublime sippers neat or on the rocks. Cheers!

Catch up with First Fill Spirits Holly Seidewand on Instagram at @herwhiskeylove and on her podcast.


Written by Lori Zelenko.


Amrut Single Grain Single Cask Whiskey, (top) Bengaluru Garden (bottom image).


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