There’s nothing like a good whiskey. Whether you drink it on the rocks, straight up, or in a mixed drink, there’s no replacement for the smooth, smokey flavor. But can you continue to enjoy your favorite whiskey beverages while on a diet?
Just like any other spirit, whiskey has calories. It can definitely be enjoyed in moderation while dieting, but overall, it’s more caloric than something like vodka. However, there are ways to enjoy it while still staying on the wagon with your diet.
In this article, we’ll tell you a little bit about the different types of whiskey and tell you which brands have the least and most calories. We’ll even give you some low-calorie whiskey drink recipes at the end of the article, so you can keep on track with your diet while still enjoying your favorite cocktails.
Scotch Whiskey vs. Bourbon Whiskey
First things first, let’s define what whiskey actually is. You might be confused by all the different varieties, like scotch whiskey and bourbon whiskey. What’s the difference? Does one have more calories than the other?
Whiskey is the general category that these drinks fall under. Whiskey is a distilled beverage made from fermented grain mashes. It’s aged in charred oak barrels until it reaches the desired production age. The most common grains that are used to make whiskey are corn, barley, rye, and wheat (because it’s made from grain, it may or may not be gluten-free, depending on the variety.)
The difference in whiskey types usually comes down to what grain is used to make them. Bourbon whiskey is primarily made from corn mash, while scotch whiskey is mainly made from malted barley. Nutritionally, the two are basically identical. A standard 1.5 oz shot of bourbon and scotch both contain about 97 calories (although this varies by brand).
How many calories are in popular whiskeys?
Overall, whiskey itself isn’t too high in calories. The average 1.5 oz shot of whiskey is around 108 calories, compared to about 85-100 calories for your average shot of vodka. However, some brands have more calories; some brands have less. It all depends on the type of grain it’s made from and the proof.
The proof is the number that refers to the percentage of alcohol in a given liquor. To find the percentage, you simply take the proof and divide it by two. If a spirit is labeled 100 proof, then it’s 50% ABV. If it’s 80 proof, it’s 40% ABV, and so on. The higher the proof, the higher the calories, but the more effect the liquor will have on your body.
For your convenience, here are the calories in the most popular whiskeys on the market today, ranked from lowest calorie to highest.
- Crown Royal: Crown Royal is a Canadian whiskey that is creamy and oaky, with notes of vanilla and a long lingering finish. Coming in at 96 calories for a 1.5 oz shot (80 proof), it’s the lowest calorie whiskey on this list, making it a great choice for dieters.
- Jack Daniels: Jack Daniels is just a touch above Crown Royal in terms of calories, at 98 calories for a 1.5 oz shot of 80 proof liquor. Jack Daniels is a classic. It’s distilled in Tennessee and is known for its smooth, sweet flavor.
- Glenfiddich: Glenfiddich is a Scotch whiskey that is fresh, oaky, and subtle. The company has been producing Scotch since 1887, so you know they’re legit. Glenfiddich is calorically identical to Jack Daniels, with 98 calories per 1.5 oz shot of 80 proof liquor.
- Bushmills: Bushmills is a grain-based Irish whiskey that is described as rich, smooth, and warm, with notes of fresh fruit and vanilla. At 80 proof, it has the same amount of calories as Jack Daniels and Glenfiddich: 98 for a 1.5 oz shot.
- Johnnie Walker Black Label: Johnnie Walker is smooth and warm, with notes of rich tropical fruit. It’s barrel-aged for at least 12 years and is a true classic. It has the same amount of calories as Jack Daniels, Glenfiddich, and Bushmills: 98 calories for a 1.5 oz shot of 80 proof liquor.
- Jim Beam Kentucky Bourbon: Jim Beam has been distilling bourbon in Kentucky since 1795, and is one of the best-selling bourbons in the world. It’s spicy, sweet, and oaky. It has a few more calories per 1.5 oz shot than the previous ones on the list, with 100 calories for an 80 proof liquor.
- Chivas Regal: Chivas Regal is a deliciously smooth Scotch whiskey with subtle notes of dark chocolate, ginger, and fruit. It has dry, grainy notes, with a scent of dried flowers and parchment. It’s an 80 proof liquor and has 104 calories in a 1.5 oz shot.
- Jameson Irish Whiskey: Jameson is a product of Ireland, and the company has been distilling since 1820. Its fragrance is lightly floral and spicy, and the flavor has notes of spice, with hints of nuts and vanilla. For a 1.5 oz shot of 80 proof liquor, it’s 104 calories.
- Fireball: Fireball is a cinnamon whisky, so it’s spicy and bold, yet still smooth. Fireball is a fan favorite and is great as a shot or in a mixed drink. For a 1.5 oz shot of 70 proof liquor, it has 108 calories. It’s slightly more calorically dense, with a lower ABV.
- Maker’s Mark: Maker’s Mark is described as a smooth, approachable whiskey with an easy finish. It’s made slowly, and in small batches, and aged with warm caramel aromas. It’s a 91 proof whiskey, so a bit higher than the previous ones on the list. A 1.5 oz shot has 110 calories.
- Knob Creek Bourbon: Knob Creek is a Kentucky bourbon whiskey with a smooth, full-bodied, rich flavor, and strong herbal notes. It’s 100 proof, the highest we have on the list so far. It also has more calories. For a 1.5 oz shot, it’s 120 calories.
- Wild Turkey 101: The 101 in the name of this whiskey refers to the fact that it’s 101 proof. Wild Turkey 101 has a toffee sweetness with notes of toasty oak, citrus, butterscotch, and has a peppery, caramel-savory finish. A 1.5 oz shot contains 124 calories.
As you can see, brands with higher proofs will have higher calorie counts. If you’re looking to keep the calories a bit lower, go for something around 80 proof.
Low Calorie Whiskey Cocktails
If you want a whiskey mixed drink without a ton of sugary, high-calorie mixers, look no further than the recipes below.
There’s no whiskey cocktail more iconic than the Manhattan. It was invented in New York around 1880 and shortly after became the most famous cocktail in the world. It can be made with bourbon whiskey or rye if you prefer a bit of a spicier flavor profile.
To make this recipe, you’ll need:
- 2 oz. bourbon or rye
- 1 oz sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes aromatic bitters
- 1 dash orange bitters
- Brandied cherry to garnish
Add your bourbon or rye, your sweet vermouth, and your bitters into a mixing glass with ice. Stir until well chilled. Strain into a coup class. Garnish with your cherry.
Skinny Whiskey Sour
Whiskey sours are a popular whiskey beverage dating back to the 1860s. They’re delicious, tart, and sweet, but can sometimes be loaded with sugar. This version is all-natural maple syrup, so it has fewer calories and a delicious maple flavor.
To make this recipe, you’ll need:
- 2 oz bourbon whiskey
- 1.5 oz fresh lemon juice
- ¾ oz pure maple syrup
- Orange wedge and cocktail cherry to garnish
Add your whiskey, lemon juice, and maple syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well until completely chilled. Strain into a lowball or old fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with your cherry and orange wedge.
Have you ever heard of a boulevardier? It’s a sophisticated and classic cocktail that’s basically the whiskey version of a Negroni. It has a pleasant, smooth flavor that makes it a great choice for an aperitif.
To make this recipe, you’ll need:
Combine your bourbon, vermouth, and Campari in a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir vigorously for 30 seconds until well-chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass. This drink can be served on the rocks or straight up. Garnish with an orange peel twist.
There’s nothing like a delicious whiskey beverage. However, some people feel like they have to avoid their favorite cocktails altogether when they’re dieting. But fear not! Everything can be enjoyed in moderation, especially with a few delicious low-calorie whiskey cocktail recipes in your back pocket.
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