10 Highest-Scoring Whiskies in the Fall 2020 Buying Guide

There are 159 whiskies reviewed in the Fall 2020 Buying Guide, covering everything from scotch to bourbon to Irish single malt and beyond. Here, we highlight 10 of the highest-scoring whiskies (not featured as Collectibles or Editors’ Choice), each netting 93 points or above. There are plenty of other high-scoring whiskies beyond these as well, including Barrell Batch 024, the 2020 Remus Repeal Reserve, New Riff Backsetter rye (and bourbon), Macallan 18 year old Double Cask—and many more. For the full lineup of reviews, check out the Fall 2020 Buying Guide.

10 of Fall 2020’s Highest Scoring Whiskies

George Dickel 11 year old Bottled in Bond Tennessee Whiskey (Distilled in Fall 2008)
95 points, 50% ABV, $40

Lush, rich, and deep from the start, with blackberry, cherry, spiced plum, cinnamon, mint, and maple syrup aromas. Even more density on the palate, which has deep flavors of cocoa powder, Raisinets, roasted walnuts, cinnamon, mint, maple syrup, and chewy oak. Extraordinary length on the finish, which carries the chocolate, dark fruit, spice, mint, and rich oak notes for minutes. A phenomenal follow-up to its 13 year old antecedent, our 2019 Whisky of the Year. —Susannah Skiver Barton

Bardstown Bourbon Co. Discovery Series Kentucky Straight Bourbon (No. 2)
94 points, 61.1% ABV, $130

A basket of berries—blue, black, and rasp—plus brown sugar, dark chocolate, iced tea, and walnuts in syrup on the nose. The berries carry through to the palate, though it’s more chocolate-oriented, with cocoa powder, coffee bean, and peanut butter-swirled brownies. It’s full and deep, and remarkably smooth without water, though a drop or two doesn’t go amiss. The finish is full and lengthy, with chocolate, roasted walnuts, rich oak, and a hint of spice. Outstanding. (8,340 bottles) —Susannah Skiver Barton

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon (Batch B520)
94 points, 63.6% ABV, $60

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch B517 was our Whisky of the Year in 2017, and this latest release continues the tradition. The nose exudes spice, rich chocolate, and caramel, followed by a palate that’s loaded with spice, herbs, vanilla, and more chocolate. Water enhances the spice, and also brings out an espresso note. A spice-filled finish is rich and chocolaty. Water enhances it all, but even without, it’s superbly balanced and rich. —David Fleming

Four Gate The Kelvin Collaboration II Cognac and Rum Cask-Finished Bourbon
94 points, 63.2% ABV, $200

A very intriguing nose suggests brewed sweet tea, caramel, and eclectic fruits that span blackberry, cherry, and bruised apples, with flickers of baking spice and toasted almond. The palate is somewhat jammy, as sweet cooked fruit—damsons and currants—come sprinkled among more spice. Really beguiling and moreish with its dark fruit, perfect burnt sugar edge, and tea-like tannin on the finish. (2,474 bottles). —Jeffery Lindenmuth

Knob Creek 15 year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon
94 points, 50% ABV, $100

One sniff is like opening a box of chocolates—plenty of different aromas, from raspberry filling to pecans to spice, but all suffused with cacao, an impression borne out by the rich, full palate. Think dark chocolate torte, cocoa-dusted truffles, bits of semi-sweet baker’s chocolate broken off the bar and snuck into the mouth. More cocoa powder, toasted nuts, and polished oak on the finish, which is shot through with cinnamon and pepper. —Susannah Skiver Barton

Bonus: Knob Creek 12 year old at 93 points and $60

Wild Turkey 17 year old Master’s Keep Bottled in Bond Kentucky Straight Broubon
94 points, 50% ABV, $175

Oak always leads the character of well-aged bourbon, sometimes dominating it, but here the balance is just right. The nose gives an impression of sweet syrupy fruit, like candied orange peel and cherries jubilee; there’s also creamy flan, dusty spice, cocoa powder, and leather bookbindings. Richly oaked and dense with flavor, the palate has dark chocolate, roasted walnuts, cola, black currant jam, and peppermint. It finishes generously with mint-flavored dark chocolate, blackberry jam, and coffee bean. Skip the water. (14,400 bottles) —Susannah Skiver Barton

Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend Scotch
93 points, 43% ABV, $40

Honey, vanilla, poached pears in cream, driftwood bonfires, and a sprinkle of wood spices comprise a clean, focused, and well-balanced nose. A golden and silky palate of sweet honey, vanilla, white chocolate, and lemon zest, with plenty of body. Enter caramel; the smoke cuts to the front, outstripping aromatic spices, orchard fruit, and baked citrus flavors. Compelling and moreish: drink whenever it’s raining in Glasgow and you can’t go wrong. —Jonny McCormick

Eifel German Single Malt (2019 Edition)
93 points, 46% ABV, $70

This latest unpeated vintage has aromas of maple syrup, peanut brittle, sesame snaps, aged balsamic, stretchy cherry taffy, toasted coconut, and snuff tobacco. It’s 6 years old, comprising a primary maturation in refill red wine barrels and a 2-year finish in cream sherry casks, producing a syrupy-textured dram with baked desserts of plum and orange, brown sugar, ginger pudding, vanilla, chocolate-covered nuts, and a burnt sugar finish. (2,400 bottles) —Jonny McCormick

Frey Ranch Bottled in Bond Rye (Batch 1)
93 points, 50% ABV, $60

Fragrant and inviting on the nose, with a juxtaposition of floral and fruit notes—rose petals, fresh cherries—then saddle leather, spice, mint oil, tea leaves, and almonds. Those aromas are echoed on the palate’s robust Gobstopper of flavors: dark chocolate-covered cherries, cinnamon, maple syrup, Italian plums, walnuts, and undertones of mint. More dark chocolate, mint, and almonds on the finish, which has remarkable length. Water is transformative, bringing out more fruit, but with or without it, this is an outstanding whiskey. —Susannah Skiver Barton

J.J. Corry The Vatting No. 1 Blended Irish Whiskey
93 points, 47.8% ABV, $2,000

Blended in Co. Clare, this concoction of rare Irish whiskeys from 1991 is an utter delight. Honeydew, orange frangipane, rose Turkish delight, vanilla icing, and beguiling floral perfumes. Golden syrup, orange oils, vanilla, and caramel, sprinkled with lemon and lime zest; this has a slightly waxy mouthfeel that melts to become creamy and silken, with heavenly spun sugar and candied orange slice flavors. (60 bottles) —Jonny McCormick

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