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9 not-so-sweet whisky cocktails for when you want a drink without the sugar

Whisky Bloody Mary Cocktail Recipe

Cocktails can get pretty sweet. From fruity to chocolatey, there’s plenty of super sweet ways to make a drink. But not everyone loves a sugar fix.

When it comes to whisky, some blends have an ounce of natural sweetness. Notes of honey, vanilla or maple for example. But this complex spirit has more than one taste. Smoky, rich, spiced and fruity flavours can all be found in our scotch. Drink it solo to enjoy the depth of each note or mix it up to make a perfectly unsweetened drink.

If you prefer starters to dessert, cheese to chocolate and salt to sugar, you’ll do well from this list. Here’s our favourite not-so-sweet whisky cocktails.

Whisky & Grapefruit

Pucker up, this sour cocktail is sure to get taste buds tingling. It’s citrusy, fresh and sour. Just what you need to refresh guests on a summer’s evening whilst the BBQ’s grilling. And you can whip up a round in seconds. 

Whisky & Grapefruit is a super easy drink to make – no cocktail shakers needed. Simply mix Ballantine’s Finest with grapefruit soda to balance the sweet and sour notes (if you can’t find the fizzy version, make your own with juice and soda water). Add plenty of ice to cool things off and a juicy wedge of fresh grapefruit for extra punch.

Whisky Grapefruit Cocktail - Scotch Recipe

Whisky & Grapefruit

One sip of this, and you’ll be seeing a lot more of Grapefruit in your cocktail rotation, we promise.

ballantines kentucky mule cocktail

Kentucky Mule

Simple and refreshing. This zingy Kentucky Mule recipe is soon to be your new go-to, but don’t just take our word for it, try it for yourself!


Kentucky Mule

Keep things classic with a Kentucky Mule, a whisky remix of the Moscow Mule recipe. This refreshing mix is a summer must-have on sweltering afternoons. And bound to be your new go-to.

Scotch whisky adds extra spice to the ginger beer and lime combo. With a mint garnish to keep things fresh. Make it the traditional way. Or make it your way. Orange, apple cider or lemon soda can all be swapped in to make up a remix.


This classic whisky drink is an age-old recipe beloved by those who prefer their sweetness on the bitter side. And if you like a Negroni, you’re going to love this one.

Meet the Boulevardier, a Parisian cocktail that takes us back to the Prohibition era. It uses a Negroni’s traditional ingredients of sweet vermouth and Campari, but this time mixed with whisky for extra warming smoothness. Garnish with orange peel for a sophisticated finish.

ballantines finest 12 boulevardier 2


Upgrade a Negroni by swapping out Gin for our Ballantine’s 12 Year Old Whisky and mix up the Boulevardier. Our favourite kind of remix

Whisky and Bitters Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe - Ballantine's

Ballantine’s x RZA: Whisky & Bitters

Bring the mf ruckus with this classic Old Fashioned inspired cocktail.


Whisky Bitters

You can’t get a more bitter whisky cocktail than a Whisky Bitters. It’s simple and seriously good. Especially when you use Ballantine’s American Barrel whisky to add a soft, creamy depth to the bitters’ herbal twang.

This Old Fashioned style drink mixes scotch with Angostura. And yes there’s a dash of sugar syrup, but it’s just to keep things balanced.

Caledonia Caliente

If you’re not into sweetness, we bet you’re into spice. So a chilli cocktail is probably up your street. 

This fiery drink is seriously surprising in the best way possible. It’s got lime, chilli and coriander. Plus a dash of RZA Presents: Ballantine’s X Flying Goose Sriracha Sauce for extra heat. A measure of Ballantine’s whisky brings the smoothness and there’s tons of ice to cool things down. What else could you need?


It doesn’t get less sweet than a Penicillin. This fiery drink is a modern-classic that’s here to stay. 

First up is a mix of smooth whisky, spicy ginger and citrus lemon for a light yet spicy base. Then comes a float of peaty Islay whisky. This adds a big smoky kick to your first sip. 

Keep to the recipe to make it a cocktail or reduce the amounts to make it a shot. You can also warm things up for a spicy take on a Hot Toddy – the perfect serve for chilly nights.

Ballantines 12 Year Old Penicillin Drink


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

spicy whisky sour cocktail recipe Ballantine's

Flying Scotsman

Embrace the fiery thrill and let our Flying Scotsman redefine your sipping experience. This cocktail was created using the RZA Presents: Ballantine’s x Flying Goose Sriracha Sauce.


Flying Scotsman

If you like spicy twists on your favourite cocktails, then you’ll love this spicy Whisky Sour. The go-to mix of whisky, lemon juice and sugar syrup gets a fiery boost from RZA Presents: Ballantine’s X Flying Goose Sriracha Sauce

Sip alongside the best savoury snacks to serve with whisky and let the chilli heat do its thing. And when it comes to the garnish, we love a simple chilli powder sprinkle to add colour to the foamy top.

Whisky Tonic

Swap the G&T for a W&T, the ultimate bittersweet whisky cocktail. This light and bubbly pairing only requires two ingredients; whisky and tonic. Plus a lemon wedge and ice to elevate those refreshing flavours.

When it comes to whisky, we use Ballantine’s Finest that has a fresh, floral finish and subtle sweetness to balance out the tonic’s twang. And if you want things extra aromatic, you can add a few dashes of herbal bitters.

ballantines finest tonic new

Whisky Tonic

A G&T without the G, Ballantine’s & Tonic Water is a real thirst quencher for those hot summer evenings.


Spicy Bloody Mary 

Embrace the spice and embrace the whisky remix of this Spicy Bloody Mary. Another creation from our latest Ballantine’s X RZA collaboration, this cocktail comes with an extra kick from RZA Presents: Ballantine’s X Flying Goose Sriracha Sauce.

It’s fiery, rich and savoury. Packed full of flavour that doesn’t scream sweetness. Serve brunch style or for an afternoon pick me up.

Want more ways to drink whisky? Discover our collection of whisky drinks and get shaking from light whisky cocktails to whisky mixers. There’s no wrong way to do it.

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ballantines finest scotch whisky blog news page


You already know we’ve nailed the Finest Whisky to ever grace a glass. But that’s just a little drop of what we’re about. Scroll on for the latest news and features from across the world of Ballantine’s whisky, True Music and much, much more.