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The best whisky quotes of all time

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A great quote can put feelings into words perfectly, often with a dose of humour. 

There’s some favourite whisky quotes that are always at the back of our minds and the tip of our tongues – quotes that help us to articulate just what whisky means to us, and to millions of scotch drinkers around the world.

Want to feel inspired and fired up about whisky? Then stick around for seven of the best whisky quotes of all time.

“Good friends and good whiskey are a great thing, and they’re all a bit different. When I think of nights drinking bourbon, I think of laughter and card playing. When I think of nights drinking Scotch, I think of music and, more often than not, talking about whisky. But when I think of the nights I’ve enjoyed Irish whiskey, what I think of are stories.”

– Lew Bryson

This quote by celebrated food and drink writer, Lew Bryson, confirms that whisky is far more than “just” a drink. It’s the water of life.

Scotch fuels life and everything that makes it special, like good music, conversations with loved ones and legendary parties. Whisky is a faithful companion throughout all of life’s events.

And Bryson knows a thing or two about whisky, as he was Managing Editor of Whisky Advocate from 1996 to 2015, and is the author of Tasting Whisky and Whisky Master Class – two elite books on the superior liquor.

We’d love to sip a neat measure of our Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whisky with Mr Bryson, and discuss his thoughts on a scotch that has stayed true to its original recipe since 1910. 

And for the Ballantine’s handbook on all things scotch, check out our Whisky Guide.

“I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis.”

– Humphrey Bogart

Rumoured to be Bogart’s last words, let this droll one-liner serve as a reminder that it’s always a good idea to pick scotch at the bar.

Bogart was a classic Hollywood actor who started on Broadway and worked his way up to being a household name, starring alongside the likes of Katherine Hepburn and Ingrid Bergman. 

The actor was known for being straight talking and not afraid to speak up. Being authentic and staying true is the foundation of the Ballantine’s ethos, and we wish we could invite Bogart to join us for a dram of Glenburgie 12 Year Old Single Malt, or a whisky cocktail worthy of Hollywood glitz and glamour, such as the classic Hugo or the zesty Whisky Collins.


This bold and refreshing whisky cocktail is perfect for Summer sipping.


Whisky Collins

The ideal cocktail for when the sun is setting and the speaker is blasting.


“The light music of whiskey falling into a glass—an agreeable interlude.”

– James Joyce

Iconic Irish writer, James Joyce, perfectly describes the smooth glug of amber nectar hitting your favourite glass, with perhaps a mild crackle and clink if you like your whisky on the rocks.

Joyce is best known for penning one of the most significant pieces of modern literature ever written, Ulysses. This lengthy novel is said to have taken the author seven years to write. 

We reckon James could have done with a coffee and whisky cocktail such as a Cold Brew Kick, an Espresso Parmo or Scots Coffee to help him power through those late night writing stints.

And there’s plenty more where those recipes came from, take a look at our whisky drinks.

“Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”

– Mark Twain

Never a truer word spoken, Mr Twain. 

Another legendary writer, Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri. He’s responsible for “The Great American Noel”, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, published in 1884.

Twain was known for being a great humorist, and this playful quote about whisky certainly demonstrates his knack for comedy. If we meet Twain at the pearly gates, we’d offer him a generous measure of Ballantine’s 7 American Barrel, as a scotch inspired by American bourbon is the perfect choice for this all-American icon.

“A good gulp of hot whiskey at bedtime—it’s not very scientific, but it helps.”

– Alexander Fleming

Whisky does indeed have a (totally non-scientific) medicinal quality. 

There’s something about the warming, slightly spicy and woody taste of scotch that feels reviving and restorative, so we can definitely get on-board with this whisky quote from Alexander Fleming. 

A fellow Scotsman, Fleming revolutionised modern medicine by discovering penicillin in 1928. It sounds like he would have been partial to a Peanut Butter Hot Toddy, but we would obviously have to offer him a Penicillin whisky cocktail, too.

ballantines 12 year old penicilin whisky drink


Prescribe yourself the Penicillin, a fiery Scotch classic to kick off your weekend in style. No doctors necessary.


“I wish to live to 150 years old, but the day I die, I wish it to be with a cigarette in one hand and a glass of whiskey in the other.”

– Ava Gardner

In this straight-talking quote about whisky, we are shown again that whisky really is the water of life. Not to get all deep, but death is a part of life, and scotch is a true friend in both the peaks and troughs of our existence.

A Spritz My Way seems a good choice for Gardner. This refreshing whisky cocktail It’s all about making things your own, and living life on your terms. Plus the measure of Prosecco gives it added fizz for this classic Hollywood star.

“The water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable, we had to add whisky. By diligent effort, I learned to like it.”

– Winston Churchill

We’re ending our list of favourite whisky quotes with a great one-liner from the master of wit, Winston Churchill.

It’s a perfect example of Churchill’s clever dry humour, and this tart comedian deserves a deliciously sweet and sour whisky cocktail. We’ll sadly never get the chance to share jokes with Churchill over a spicy Hot Honey Sour, or a lively Pomegranate Whisky Sour, but why not give them a go yourself?

If these seven best whisky quotes from some of the world’s most influential creatives haven’t got you feeling inspired about discovering the vibrant world of scotch, then nothing will.

Ready to dive in? Read through our tips on how to drink whisky to get started or find our more about how whisky is made.

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