In the U.S., absence of an age statement on a whiskey doesn’t necessarily mean much. The law states that a whiskey maker only has to include an age statement on the label if the liquid is under 4 years old, so many non-age statement whiskeys are aged 4 years or longer. But nothing is stopping distillers from adding an age statement, and many do so as a way to give drinkers more information about what’s in the bottle.
Whisky Advocate’s Summer 2020 Buying Guide contains a host of American whiskeys with age statements, including these eight stellar examples. These whiskeys encompass three different styles—bourbon, rye, and malt whiskey—and range in age from 2 to 14 years. Though they showcase a wide-ranging diversity of flavor, they also share another commonality: excellent quality, with nearly all scoring above 90 points.
FROM YOUNGEST TO OLDEST: 8 AGE-STATEMENT AMERICAN WHISKEYS TO TRY THIS SUMMER
Wood’s 2 year old Alpine Rye (Batch 16)—91 points, $55
From Colorado-based Wood’s High Mountain Distillery. A nose of apple, brown sugar, and blackcurrant, set against jalapeño spice and smoke. The palate offers flavors of cinnamon and burnt espresso beans, with an alluring smoky bitterness and notes of jalapeño, smoked chiles, and black pepper. On the finish, dried dark fruits and bitter chocolate emerge, with a blast of pepper at the end. Rich, brawny, and assertive, but also supple and well integrated. —David Fleming
Barrell 4 year old Cask Strength Rye (Batch 003)—93 points, $90
There’s much to discover in the depths of this glass, which continues to develop over time. Dark fruit, tobacco, orange pekoe tea, white pepper, leather, dry-roasted peanuts, and varnish unfold on the nose, while the palate is fruity with blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, and orange; it also has dry oak, nuts, tobacco, and a lot of black pepper spice. The finish is leathery and peppery, with cigar and persistent dark berry flavors. A dense, decadent whiskey that makes it all seem effortless. (12,000 bottles) —Susannah Skiver Barton
Comforting aromas of fresh-brewed espresso, roasted pecans, warm arepas, chocolate-covered peanuts, Italian hot cocoa, mint chocolate, and hints of black cherry and grape. There’s a rich, tactile boldness on the palate, with flavors of cinnamon, peppermint, black pepper, cigar wrapper, barrel char, and lots of high-quality dark chocolate. The full finish has more dark chocolate, charred oak, spiced coffee bean, and hints of cigar. (450 bottles) —Susannah Skiver Barton
Breuckelen 6 year old Brownstone Malt (Batch 1)—93 points, $75
A peculiar nose of cucumber, cinnamon Red Hots, cedar shavings, fresh melon, jasmine tea, and tobacco barn, and somehow it all works. There’s much complexity to be explored here, with a whole spice cabinet tumbling out on the palate, dusting black tea, Cherry Coke, pecans, espresso, and taut oak with its clouds of blooming flavor. The finish expresses lovely barrel char, red chiles, coffee beans, herbaceous pops of licorice, and a lingering incense quality. Enchanting. (1,000 bottles) —Susannah Skiver Barton
Wood’s 7 year old Sawatch American Malt (Batch 2)—88 points, $75
At first, the nose is earthy and roasty, with dried chile, cocoa powder, toasted oak, curing tobacco, and dried clay, but a few drops of water reveal dried jasmine, honeysuckle, and rose petals: a delightful surprise. The palate is savory and earthy with plenty of mole sauce, cocoa powder, charred nuts, and pepper. It’s lengthy on the finish, unfurling into cigar, espresso, and unsweetened cocoa flavors. —Susannah Skiver Barton
Butter pecan ice cream, peanuts in the shell, oily grain, milk chocolate, cooked orange, cherry tart, and blueberries on the nose. The palate is spiced, nutty, and chewy, with milk chocolate, orange soda, cherry cough drop, baking spice, brown sugar, a hint of eucalyptus, and loads of peanuts. More rich spice, chocolate, and fruit on the finish, along with peanut butter, spearmint, and generous oak. Not a hair out of place. —Susannah Skiver Barton
Minty dark chocolate, maple syrup, iced tea, dark berries, tobacco barn, peanuts, and leather on the nose. The palate is chock-full of rich fruit—blackberry jam, plums in syrup, black cherries—and luscious dark chocolate, with well-integrated oak, leather, maple syrup drizzle, and overtones of herbs. It’s consistent into the finish, with cooked fruit, leather, mint and other herbal flavors, and plenty of chocolate. (2,500 bottles) —Susannah Skiver Barton
The Justice 14 year old Barrel-Proof Straight Bourbon—91 points, $99
The nose is thick with peanut brittle and peanut shells, blackberry cobbler, grape jelly, allspice, dried ginger, and mint and other herbs. Beautifully mature flavors on the palate: cooked plums, raisins, and dark chocolate mingle with integrated oak, with peanuts bringing up the rear. Silky, especially in the finish, which fades almost too quickly to relish dark chocolate-covered cherries, peanuts, and smooth oak. (2,000 bottles) —Susannah Skiver Barton