There are about 97 calories in a typical serving of whiskey, Scotch, bourbon, or rye. Surprisingly, there are also some real health benefits. But watch out for mixers, which can double the calorie count.
|1 shot or jigger
1.5 oz (44 ml)
* Calories do not include cocktail mixers, which can add a lot
of calories. See below for more info.
** Proof is double the percentage alcohol by volume. For example,
80 proof = 40% alcohol.
References and Sources
Scotch, Whiskey, Bourbon, and Rye Calories
All forms of whiskey have about the same number of calories. Most whiskey is 80 proof, and contains about 64 calories per ounce (30 ml). That’s 97 calories in a typical 1.5 ounce (44 ml) serving size. But higher proof whiskey does have more calories, as you can see in the calories chart.
The calories in whiskey come from the alcohol. Whether the alcohol is produced by making bourbon, Scotch, or rye, it always has 7 calories per gram.
So the number of calories don’t depend on the kind of whiskey, they depend on the proof. Proof is simply a measure of the alcohol content in liquor. The proof is double the percentage of alcohol. So, for example, 80 proof whiskey is 40% pure alcohol.
If you drink your whiskey straight or mixed with water, that’s all you need to know. But if you are drinking whiskey cocktails, be careful. If you don’t choose your cocktail mixers carefully, you can double the calories you are drinking!
Whiskey Cocktail Calories: Beware of the Mixers!
When having cocktails, the mixers that you choose can have a huge impact on the number of calories in your drink. Whiskey drinks can suffer from the same problem.
For example, whiskey sour mix has about 30 calories per ounce. So adding a jigger (1.5 ounces) of sour mix will give your Whiskey Sour a 45 percent calorie boost, bloating your cocktail to 142 calories.
Drinking a Whiskey Highball? That’s one jigger of whiskey with two to three ounces of ginger ale. That will also bloat your drink towards 150 calories.
Weight Loss Tips: Minimize the Calories in Your Whiskey Drinks
If you want to keep the calorie count low, you need to choose your whiskey drinks carefully. Here are some tips to help you make good choices:
Drink It Neat (Straight Up)
If you’ve got good whiskey, don’t spoil it with mixers. Enjoy it straight up, all on its own with no additions. This is called drinking it “neat.” This works well with a nice Scotch Whiskey, Jameson Irish Whiskey, or a nice bourbon like Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve.
But remember, it’s not a shot. The idea is to sip it slowly and enjoy it. And your Jameson’s, Pappy’s, or whiskey of your choice will have only 97 calories per drink.
Drink it On the Rocks (Add Ice)
If you don’t like it neat, try it over ice. That’s called drinking it on the rocks.
Ice has zero calories, so you’ll also be enjoying your whiskey at only 97 calories per drink.
Bourbon and Branch (Water)
You can also add some water to your whiskey. This is usually done with bourbon whiskey. It’s called Bourbon and Branch, which refers to water from a stream. But you can, of course, just add a splash of plain water. And you can do it with any whiskey.
Note that some purists will be quite unhappy with you if you “water down” bourbon — they believe you should only drink it neat. But some others argue that a splash of water actually opens up the bourbon and expands the range of flavors.
Either way, water is “free” when it comes to calories, so you’ll still be drinking only 97 calories.
Scotch and Soda (Club Soda)
Another lower calorie choice is Scotch and Soda. In this case, soda means club soda, not soft drinks like ginger ale, Coke, or 7-Up. This combination is usually done with Scotch Whiskey, but you could do it with any type of whiskey that you enjoy.
Since club soda is just carbonated water, you are adding zero calories. Again, you escape with just 97 calories per drink.
Mixing It With Soda (Cola or Ginger Ale)
It’s also popular to mix your whiskey with soft drinks like Coke or ginger ale. This can add quite a few calories. If you go this route, chose a zero calorie diet soda to keep the calorie count low.
We typically suggest you avoid soft drinks, even zero calorie diet versions. But in this case you aren’t drinking very much, and there is no point in adding empty sugar calories to your cocktail. So, go with diet soda and you’ll still be at only 97 calories per cocktail.
Tip: Drink in Moderation to Cut Calories and Boost Your Health!
Did we say boost your health? Yes we did!
While you may have heard that red wine has many health benefits, it’s actually the alcohol in the wine that makes it healthy. So, all alcohol has most of the same health benefits as red wine. That includes your favorite kind of whiskey!
That means that drinking whiskey will improve your cardiovascular health, boost your brain power, and a whole lot more.
(Find out more about the health benefits in our article: Health Benefits of Red Wine and Alcohol.)
But, you only get the health benefits of whiskey when you drink in moderation. That means about 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink per day for women. If you drink more, the health benefits disappear and the alcohol starts to hurt your health.
If you don’t drink, don’t start just for the health benefits. But if you do drink in moderation, it’s a nice bonus. And, drinking in moderation will also keep your daily calorie count lower. Every drink ads up!
Do you drink whiskey? Do you prefer Scotch, Bourbon, Irish Whiskey, Canadian Rye, or something else? How do you drink it? Share your thoughts or ask a question by leaving a comment below.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24.
- Washington: GPO,
- 30 March 2012.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.
- 7th Edition.
- Washington: GPO,
- December 2010.