james bond whisky

Here’s every whisky James Bond ever drank

From a basic Scotch blend to an iconic Tennessee bourbon, these are the 8 bottles of whisky Ian Fleming namechecks in his novels

Forget those Martinis; literary Bond was more of a whisky man. In the booze-soaked pages of Ian Fleming’s novels, 007 practically orders the stuff by the barrel. An Old Fashioned here, a Sazerac there. In Thunderball, Bond wakes up having consumed 11 Whisky and Sodas the night before. Headache, much?

But, despite clearly being a whisky enthusiast, you wouldn’t know that the Bond of the novels was a Scot. Fleming may have incorporated Sean Connery’s heritage into the written character, but the books mostly see Bond ordering bourbon or rye whiskey over his native spirit. 

Recent screen appearances have sought to right this patriotic wrong — with Daniel Craig sipping a Macallan 1962 ‘Fine and Rare’ Vintage, and Pierce Brosnan’s Bond favouring Talisker 10 Year. But even cinematic 007 has dabbled with bourbons: Brosnan shared a Jack Daniel’s with M in GoldenEye, and Timothy Dalton’s take on the spy enjoyed a glass of Jim Beam in The Living Daylights.

For this list, we’ve stuck to literary Bond. From Casino Royale to Octopussy, 007 drinks many whiskies around the world — and these are the ones Fleming deemed worth a mention…

Haig and Haig Pinchbottle

When does Bond first drink it? In Live and Let Die, having drinks with Felix Leiter in Sugar Ray’s on Seventh Avenue. (Also in Moonraker when he discovers “a half-full bottle of Haig and Haig” in Sir Hugo Drax’s office).

“In the famous night spot the stools against the long bar were crowded, but one of the small booths against the wall was empty and Bond and Leiter slipped into the two seats with the narrow table between them. They ordered scotch-and-soda — Haig and Haig Pinchbottle.”

What’s it like? Once one of the most popular Scotch whiskies in the world, Haig and Haig is a stable, reliable — if somewhat middling spirit. Caramel and burnt oak on the nose, with a malty smoothness covering up some sharper, rougher edges. A little like Bond himself.

Here’s every whisky James Bond ever drank

Haig & Haig 12 Year Old (bottled 1944)

£399.00

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Old Grand-Dad Bourbon

When does Bond first drink it? Again, in Live and Let Die, this time aboard The Silver Phantom to Washington with Solitaire. (Also later in the Gulf Winds Bar when he orders a double on the rocks; and in Diamonds are Forever when Bond orders a ‘branch-water and bourbon’ in the Tiara Hotel and casino.)

“The conductor arrived at the same time as the Pullman attendant. Bond ordered Old Fashioneds, and stipulated Old Grand-Dad Bourbon, chicken sandwiches, and decaffeinated Sanka coffee so that their sleep would not be spoilt.”

What’s it like? With an exceedingly high rye content in the mash, this bourbon has a fiercely spicy kick to it. Not for the faint-hearted, there’s no wonder Bond was always after its sour, sharp tang — something that could reach his cocktail-ravaged tastebuds. 

Here’s every whisky James Bond ever drank

Old Grand-Dad Bourbon

£28.95

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Black & White Blended Scotch Whisky

When does Bond first drink it? In Moonraker, ordering a “large whisky and soda” at a small inn in Kingsdown before his meeting with Sir Hugo Drax.

“He sat up at the bar and waited while the man poured two measures of Black and White and put the glass in front of him with a syphon of soda. Bond filled the glass with soda and drank.”

What’s it like? Dean Martin also enjoyed this standard blend — a classic recipe with high proportion of quality grain whiskies. There’s a surprisingly citrus-forward taste on the palate, with dried fruit and honey masking most of the peat. You could do worse; you could do better.

Here’s every whisky James Bond ever drank

Black & White Blended Scotch Whisky

£19.42

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Canadian Club Blended Rye Whiskey

When does Bond first drink it? In Dr. No, after training with Cayman Islander Quarrel for several days in a bungalow in Jamaica — preparation for a mission to Crab Key.

“Bond went to the icebox and took a pint of Canadian Club Blended Rye and some ice and soda-water and went and sat in the garden and watched the last light flame and die.”

What’s it like? Founded by whisky mogul Hiram Walker (who crops up again next), this medium-body rye is inoffensive — bordering on the pleasant. Gently sweet on the palate, softly spiced and with a medium length finish, it does a job. Just maybe don’t drink a full pint like Bond. 

Here’s every whisky James Bond ever drank

Canadian Club Blended Rye Whiskey

£17.95

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I. W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

When does Bond first drink it? In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in the mobile offices of the Corsican criminal mastermind Marc-Ange Draco. (Also later in the same novel, when Bond has “two ham sandwiches with stacks of mustard and half a pint of Harper’s Bourbon on the rocks” for lunch).

“He took out a bottle of Pinchbottle Haig, another of I. W. Harper’s Bourbon, two pint glasses that looked like Waterford; a bucket of ice cubes, a siphon of soda and a flagon of iced water. Then, while Bond poured himself a stiff Bourbon and water with plenty of ice, he went and sat down across the desk.”

What’s it like? Hard to come by today, I. W. Harper bourbon is a treat. Pecans, cinnamon and smoked meats on the nose, caramel, toffee and cream soda on the palate and a spirity, no-nonsense finish. An excellent whiskey.

Here’s every whisky James Bond ever drank

I. W. Harper Gold Medal Bourbon

£199.00

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Jack Daniel’s Sourmash Tennessee Whiskey

When does Bond first drink it? In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, while 007 is informing Marc-Ange Draco of the date and whereabouts of his wedding to Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo.

“Bond poured himself a stiff Jack Daniel’s sourmash bourbon on the rocks and added some water. He walked over to the desk and took the right-hand of the three chairs that had been arranged in a semicircle.”

What’s it like? We all know Jack. World-renowned for a reason, this is a sweet, slightly oaky whiskey that never disappoints. It’s a standard bottle for a reason; respected and revered by Rat Pack members and fictional superspies alike. 

Here’s every whisky James Bond ever drank

Jack Daniel's Old No.7

£24.25

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Suntory Japanese Whisky

When does Bond first drink it? In You Only Live Twice, while Tiger Tanaka asks Bond to kill Dr. Guntram Shatterhand (an alias of Ernst Stavro Blofeld), despite 007 earlier commenting: “I can’t believe Japanese whisky makes a good foundation for anything.”

“Tiger pulled up a chair and faced Bond across the low drink table. He poured himself a liberal tot of Suntory and splashed in the soda. The sound of night traffic from the main Tokyo-Yokohama road came in from some way beyond the surrounding houses.”

What’s it like? The closest you’ll get to Bond’s Suntory — he’s told to plump for the White Label in the novel — this bottling is the lightest, driest and mostbasic expression from the  Kabukin sub-brand. It’s really only made to be mixed with soda, which is exactly what Bond does.

Here’s every whisky James Bond ever drank

Suntory Kakubin White Label

£64.99

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Walker's De Luxe Bourbon Whiskey

When does Bond first drink it? In The Man with the Golden Gun, when Bond is in the Caribbean. In Kingston Harbour, he relaxes with a drink before tracking Francisco Scaramanga to a Jamaican bordello. (Also later, when he orders “a bottle of Walker’s deluxe bourbon, three glasses, ice, and, for nine o’clock, eggs Benedict” at the Thunderbird Hotel.)

“Bond took another shower and dressed in shirt, slacks, and sandals and wandered over to the little bar on the waterfront and ordered a double Walker’s deluxe bourbon on the rocks and watched the pelicans diving for their dinner.”

What’s it like? On the nose, you’ll get notes of musty, oaky bourbon. On the palate, dark fruit, rich oily spices and light wood. It’s a bourbon best enjoyed, as Bond does, on its own — without mixing into a cocktail.

Here’s every whisky James Bond ever drank

Walker's De Luxe Bourbon Whiskey

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Further Reading