A spectacular citrus nose with incredible freshness; neroli oil, bergamot orange, an array of wood spices, baked apricot, dried strawberry, heather, lavender, honeysuckle, jasmine, and hyacinth. An intense array of citrus on the palate—the strongest being mandarin, it is thick-textured yet agile—accompanied by baked brioche, Ling heather honey, vanilla, and oak, with a hint of eucalyptus on the extraordinarily long finish. A masterclass in rare whisky blending.
Each MVR vintage has its own character, and the latest version has a sweet motif coddled in a soft, fruity bounty. Orange tartlets, white pepper, cantaloupe, nectarine, pear, malt, and rounded oak greet the nose. Honey and caramel with citrus, pulped fruit, and spice, before a sweeter phase of tablet, toffee, and vanilla flavors on the palate. Spices only nibble at the sweet and comforting finish. Collectible
This veteran was matured in a European oak oloroso sherry butt. The nose is fragrant, with malt, raisins, and tangy orange in time, settling to stewed fruits; a pleasing harmony of aromas. The palate is chewy and spicy, with a lovely bitter-sweet interplay between orchard fruits and dark oak, sprinkled with icing sugar. Licorice, tannic oak, and bitter chocolate in the very long finish. A classic survivor. £21,000
An innovative offering made with a proportion of chocolate malt and matured in virgin American oak. Some of the component whiskies are between 35 and 40 years old. Milk chocolate, honey, orange marmalade, sultanas, and spice on the inviting nose. The palate is rich and full, with malt, dates, Jaffa oranges, dark chocolate, and coffee beans. Long and spicy in the drying finish. Glenmorangie at its very best.
Michter’s 20 year old Straight Bourbon 2018 (Batch 18I1371), 57.1%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $700
Age is readily apparent, not as weariness, but sheer intensity—like a Vise-Grip handshake from an old man. The flavors come in rapid waves, first on the nose with pipe tobacco, dark chocolate, sassafras, cassis, licorice, orange peel, and menthol-like hints of solvent. Then chewy fruit and drying oak harmonize on the palate, the dark berry fruits playing off the refined oak with its cedary spice. The drying finish echoes of rustling autumn leaves and plum skins. Exquisitely balanced and muscular.
Barrell 25 year old Cask-Strength American Whiskey, 55.6%
American Whiskey | $250
Some whiskeys have already peaked at a quarter-century, but this one, distilled in Indiana and finished in sercial madeira casks, is at its apex. Caramel-covered peanuts, candied orange, fresh-baked bread, Toblerone, cinnamon ginger snaps, blueberry cobbler, black tea, and plenty of oak on the nose. The palate is supple and elegant, with peanut brittle, cherry cordial, milk chocolate, blueberry, horehound candy, cola, white pepper, ginger, roasted pecans, and refined oak. Leave plenty of time to enjoy the finish, with its subtle white pepper and dark fruit undertones.
Teeling Vintage Reserve 29 year old Single Malt PX Finish, 46%
Irish Single Malt | $2,500
Lean green fruits and dry spices, with fresh Comice pear, honeydew melon, lychee, toasted sesame, cardamom, banoffee pie, creamy vanilla, and delicate, perfumed florals. The PX has framed this beautifully with flavors of sultana, shortbread, apple, pear, clove, and black pepper, with the orchard fruits and spices fading into the finish. This has aged gracefully and shows the great potential for long-aged Irish whiskeys. (100 bottles, U.S. exclusive)
This punchy U.S. debut is a smokier affair than their recent output, with aromas of campfire embers, cigar smoke, vanilla custard, bread-and-butter pudding, and cooked red gooseberry; this is calming, aromatic smoke associated with good times. Sipping reveals flavors of fresh raspberry, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate, before a wave of smoke and caramel toffee. The tandem partnership of smoke and sherry is phenomenally good.
Chivas Regal 18 year old Ultimate Cask Collection First Fill Japanese Oak Finish, 48%
Blended Scotch Whisky | $130
A blast of exotic spices, followed by sweet oak, juicy tangerines, bosc pear, sandalwood, petitgrain oil, and vanilla seeds; it’s that junction of oak and spices where the mizunara has worked its magic. The palate is medium in weight with caramel, hazelnut, and a collision of orange and active spices, with the mizunara continuing to influence the flavor of the finish. The cooperage may be arduous but it’s worth it. (Global Travel Retail)
Vanilla, honey, and caramel accented by baking spices and dark fruits on a complex nose. Water opens up a blisteringly spicy palate, revealing gorgeous clean grains, dusty rye, and citrus hints hidden underneath. Not as floral as earlier iterations, and with fewer typical sour rye notes. Baking spices dominate the vanilla-sweet palate, which finishes with sweet peppery spiciness. Perfect for cask-strength fanatics with patience and an eyedropper. C$100
Dripping with butterscotch and marzipan, this is a gorgeous mix of confections and spice. The toasted sweetness of coconut macaroon cookies and graham cracker pie crust meets clove, orange peel, teaberry, and a seductive sandalwood note. A whirlwind of spices grabs hold of the tongue, sinking slowly into creamy nut butters, earthy tannins, and toasted pecan. The persistent sweet caramel and fruit handle generous water without yielding, just revealing ever more flavor. Editors’ Choice
This is a whiskey that knows exactly what it wants to be, a rambunctious bourbon that throws the full weight of its barrel behind a flavor-packed punch. Lots of dry, charred-matchstick oak meets chewy fig and dried fruits, fudge brownie, and fresh meadow, with hints of banana and furniture polish in the aroma. Brawny and unapologetic on the palate; peach syrup and baked apples meet a torrent of spices as the moreish finish oozes on like chocolate lava cake. Collectible
Prepare for sensory overload. Aromas of peanut butter blossom cookies, molasses, creamed corn, iced tea, cassis, and marmalade hint at the decadence of the palate, which is mouth-filling and chewy. Its flavors hit all the high points of outstanding bourbon: big and bold grain, chocolate, wet walnuts, orange and cherry Jello, nutmeg, cinnamon, white pepper, tobacco leaf, and waves of oak. Nuts, nuts, and more nuts on the finish, with espresso, chocolate, and drying oak. Sourced from an undisclosed Tennessee distillery. 186 bottles; Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More exclusive
The nose offers canned peach halves in syrup, peat smoke, and brine. Oily in the mouth, with sweet orchard fruits, followed by a medicinal note, pepper, and dry spices. Plain chocolate and a hint of chili in the long finish, with a final touch of coal dust. (U.S. exclusive; 115 bottles)
GlenDronach Grandeur 27 year old (Batch 10), 50.1%
Single Malt Scotch | $580
This 27 year old expression includes whisky matured in a mix of oloroso and Pedro Ximénez butts and puncheons. The nose is rich and inviting, with freshly polished antique oak furniture, cherry blossom, and vanilla. Big sweet sherry notes on the palate, with wood spice, hazelnuts, and cherry liqueur-filled dark chocolate. The long finish features ripe plums, treacle, and more dark chocolate. Luscious! (2,293 bottles)
Originally touted by Booker Noe, the “Kentucky Chew” is a way of tasting whiskey: swishing it around your mouth, then swallowing and smacking your lips—an urge that’s hard to resist with this intensely flavorful bourbon. Aromas of peanuts, cherry cola, candied ginger, blackberry jam, and curing tobacco are echoed on the palate, which has grape jelly, blueberry pie, peanuts in Coke, Mexican hot chocolate, and a hint of licorice. The finish is warming, lengthy, and sweet, with a lift of cherry and spice undercutting chocolate and oak.
Big vanilla and toasty oak meet the generous sweetness of overripe plums and cooked fruits, like canned peaches and marmalade. The deep char aromas suggest toasted marshmallows and bananas Foster, with glints of rose petal. The flavors pour forth like dense fruit preserves, coupled with sweet dried corn, whole-grain toast, and waxy notes of paraffin and honeycomb. A richly layered, complex rye with dried herbs and strawflower on the finish.
John Walker & Sons Private Collection (2018) 28 year old Midnight Blend, 42.8%
Blended Scotch Whisky | $750
The end of a series, this fifth and rarest edition has worked leather, chocolate, dark toffee, cinnamon bark, toasted currants, charcoal, and smoking incense. The smoke is commanding but never domineering. It’s a contemplative and weighty proposition, dark as midnight, with plain chocolate, spices, and dark berries, with a smoky intensity following through on the finish. (3,888 bottles) Collectible
Fleeting green foliage on the early nose, then orange blossom and fragrant spices emerge, with vanilla that’s cut through by lemon. Big, fresh orange notes on the palate, with brittle toffee, and encroaching dark chocolate. The finish is long, with lingering chocolate, spicy oak, and citrus fruit. £4,000
Slightly oily on the nose, with old leather, ginger, and furniture polish. Ultimately, red berry notes. The palate is initially sweet and fruity, with polished oak, aniseed, and wood spices. The finish dries slowly with oak tannins, but a spicy fruit note never quite disappears. £1,200
A stunning effort, with honey, sunflower seeds, zested orange, toasted flapjacks, nectarine, kiwi, and lime, with the citrus opening up with water. Superb to see a delicious, drinkable cask-strength whiskey showing off its flavors this well: honey, citrus, sweet toffee, vanilla pod, and a spice blast of pepper before a soft, flowing fruitiness is enveloped by ground ginger. Clove, peppercorn, and fresh ginger make for an epic finish. (5,175 bottles)
Aged in quarter casks, bourbon barrels, and sherry butts for 27 years, then finished in sherry casks. Red apples and honey on the nose, where the characteristic Laphroaig phenolic attack becomes muted with time. Dried fruit, malt, and vanilla on the palate, along with subtle notes of iodine and warm tar. Developing brine, dark chocolate, and licorice leading into a dry, smoky, peppery finish.
This single-estate rye whisky, Scotland’s first rye in over a century, lets you lose yourself in deep clove spiciness, dark chocolate, Brazil nut, orange peel, and aromas of pressed cigars. The flavor is astonishingly good, with marmalade, old-fashioned toffee, rye bread, and toasted malt biscuits before a shower of clove spices breaks through, with dark toffee, treacle, chocolate, and pepper leading into a long finish of toffee and spice.
A classic bourbon nose, as butterscotch hard candies meet oak, creamed honey, beeswax candle, licorice, and wood char. At full proof this really blows the doors off, and a splash of water cracks open the peanut brittle flavors, buttery biscuit, root beer spices, and oak. The finish rides on for minutes, a mouthful of Peanut Chews, dark berries, and smoky plum, with scorched campfire marshmallow.
An opulent nose of dense chewy caramel, butterscotch pudding, and maple syrup gains depth from nutty, earthy, and tobacco leaf notes. The maturity appears in appealing glimpses of varnish and wood polish. The palate, too, doesn’t disappoint, with the rich and creamy sweetness balanced with generous oak tannins, lending fine balance. On the finish, look for drying cedar and oak, with clove and pepper. A blend of four different Indiana high-rye bourbons distilled in 2007 and 2008.
WhistlePig The Boss Hog V: The Spirit of Mauve, 59.5%
Rye Whiskey | $500
Rich and mature with its deep flavors of spiced oak, figgy fruit, and varnish, turning to candy apple, dried flowers, hazelnut, torched sugar, and cracked black pepper. The palate is explosive at full proof, as sweet stone fruit gives way to earthy oak and tobacco. The calvados barrel maturation really sings on the finish, where sweet apple candies and pecan pie meet big cinnamon and ginger spices. Incredibly drinkable at this proof with well-balanced oak.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Tasters’ Selection High Angel’s Share Barrels, 53.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $40/375ml
The nose entices with confections: milk chocolate and nougat candy bars, Whoppers, and honey. The flavors unwind vivid and bright, with warming candied ginger, vanilla-frosted birthday cake, a beam of bright citrus, and toasted nuts and baking spice uniting with Jack Daniel’s estery house character to suggest warm banana bread. Lots of drying oak seals the finish.
A heart of pot still spices, but this has oodles of complexity and depth with concentrated autumnal flavors of apple and blackberry cooked with brown sugar, then morello cherry, hazelnut, allspice, aged tobacco leaf, and worn leather. Mellow dark-toffee sweetness and cooked fruits carry the cinnamon and peppercorn, oak, and leather into a tongue-pounding finish. A slap in the chops—just what you want from a pot still whiskey.
Highly aromatic, with allspice, ground cinnamon, and hints of clove. Behind the spice, there is soft vanilla toffee, creamed coconut, and grapefruit peel. A palate comprised of citrus, peel oils, toffee, red berries, sweet barley, cinnamon, pepper, and star anise transition to a greater emphasis on toffee, hints of chocolate, more maltiness, and a little oak. The finish allows the spices to shine. (6,000 bottles) Editors’ Choice
This represents House Greyjoy and features its kraken. The nose offers damp tweed sprinkled with black pepper, plus smoky vanilla and ozone notes. Sweet smoke and citrus fruit on the palate, then more overt peatiness comes to the fore with soft toffee. Medium in length through the finish, with lingering toffee and light pepper. Great value! Editor's Choice
Duncan Taylor Dimensions (distilled at Cambus) 1991 26 year old, 50.5%
Single Grain Scotch | $215
Waxy lemon, light honey, lychee, physalis, fresh hay, and the slightly tart aroma of ripening pear. On the palate, the pear is honeyed and ripe, awash with a lovely citrus sweetness, before a brief spasm of bitterness as the peppercorn and clove spices move in. Perfect drinking at this strength, it ends with a tart, dried-fruit note on a bed of spice.
Smoke acts as an emulsifier of fruit, nut, and oak flavors in this deceptively delicate whisky. Toasted marshmallows, pound cake, crème brûlée, cinnamon Red Hots, and earthiness on the nose; water brings out candied pineapple. Sweet smoke and tropical fruit are well-integrated on the palate, with salty and mouthwatering flavors of grilled fruit and blueberry jam. Over time, more oak and nuttiness emerge, wafting into a gentle burnt marshmallow and toasted-walnut finish. 1,083 bottles
This expression was distilled from Optic barley grown and malted (to 20ppm) at Kilchoman and matured in a mix of bourbon and sherry casks. A whiff of smoke, lemon curd, vanilla, and allspice on the nose. Supple in the mouth, with baked apples, sherry, and fruity peat. Spicy dark chocolate and nutty oak on the finish. Richer and more rounded than previous editions, thanks to sherry cask influence.
A larger and mightier beast overall, with menthol, mint Life Savers, raisins, chocolate wafer bars, and thick gray smoke lifting off smoldering peat. The experience is mouth drawing and full bodied at this strength, with sweet orange, milk chocolate, clove, and nutmeg, the roof of the palate cloaked in a night sky of celestial peppery spices. Take it easy with water, but use it to unshackle the soaring citrus notes. (1,100 bottles for the U.S.)
Coconut macaroon, baked sweet pastries, peach purée, sanded oak, Starburst chews, pear, caramel shortbread, strands of orange zest, and crushed allspice and coriander seeds. Far from timorous, this grown-up Highlander has the heart of a lion, with flavors of cooked apple, dark molasses, vanilla pod, lots of oak tannin, pepper, and coriander seed, with a finish of dark sugars and peppery heat. Quite an animal. (828 bottles for the U.S.)
A defiant creation containing 1% 1 year old Girvan grain spirit and 99% malt whisky from Glenlossie, Glen Elgin, and Linkwood, this collaboration celebrates a decade of idiosyncratic and unconventional whisky label designs. It’s warm and effusive, with brown sugar on baked apple pie, Scottish tablet, plus orange and lemon peel. Barley sugar, kiwi, lime, brown sugar cookies, pepper, clove, and a smooth finish of sugar and spice. (4,802 bottles)
The Double Barrel name denotes the fact that each batch is a blend from only two barrels. Fragrant notes of warm cinnamon bread, raisins, banana, and clove on the nose, along with toasty oak and old leather. A new burst of flavors on the palate reveals cocoa powder, spice cake, coconut, creamy chocolate, cinnamon, and chili pepper. A long finish of rich chocolate, almond, and a delicate hint of blackberry.
A platform of caramel sweetness comes draped in lovely oak spice with dried flower potpourri—like rose petals and an old-lady’s perfume—along with horehound, cedary oak, and iced tea. The palate veers toward dried fruits—apple rings and dates—with bitter orange peel and a beam of spice that turns peppery on the long finish of tobacco and cedar. The overall impression is lithe, upright, and stately.
This begins with a big scoop of banana pudding, or maybe it’s banana cream pie, since there is a lively dusting of cinnamon and nutmeg. Pretty floral notes, sweet Jordan almonds, and apple candies are well integrated with oak. What it lacks in deep complexity it makes up for with vibrancy, joie de vivre, and sheer drinking pleasure that revels in a satisfyingly long finish.
An edgy and energetic rye: fresh, grassy, and herbaceous, with orange, cedar, clove, sassafras, and gingerbread cookie. Dense and chewy, it has an unfurling parade of flavors: orange, cedar oil, berries, oatmeal cookies, cinnamon candy, pepper, pecans, and clove gum. Add a few drops of water and the profile shifts to highlight the herbal notes, along with mouthwatering oak, pecans, citrus oil, and chocolate. Lengthy and well-spiced finish. Take the time to get to know this whiskey: it’ll reward you.
Lemon oil, honeyed sweetness, and sharp peppery notes are underscored by earthy tobacco leaf and fresh herbs. Overall, the impression is spritely, fresh, and muscled, without ever seeming immature. The palate reveals berry fruits with a burst of spice—chilis, peppercorn, cinnamon, and cedar. Takes water, and even ice, exceedingly well, as the lovely mix of sweet and spiced flavors bounce along the long finish.
There’s personality galore in this blend of 10 year old Indiana whiskey finished in cabernet sauvignon casks and 11 year old Tennessee bourbon finished in rum casks and port pipes. Caramel, honeycomb candy, See’s molasses chips, peanuts, graham crackers, cola, mature oak, and a little dill on the nose. The palate is chewy, with dried cherries, grape soda, root beer candy, roasted walnuts, dark chocolate, black pepper, ginger, graham cracker, cinnamon cookie, and lush leathery oak. Good development, if you have the patience to linger.
Clyde May’s Cask Strength Alabama Style 10 year old American Whiskey, 57%
American Whiskey | $100
The nose offers aromas of fragrant oak, baked apple, caramel, clove, cinnamon, bananas, and creamy vanilla, set against an herbal back note of tarragon. The palate offers cigar box, slate, chocolate, caramel, and chili pepper. Water coaxes fruit notes of blackberry, lemon, and cherry, as well as chocolate-nut cake. A long finish has notes of tobacco, warm chocolate syrup, and toasted almonds. Rich, layered, complex, and eminently pleasurable.
Dogfish Head Alternate Takes Vol. 1: Whiskey Finished in Rum Casks, 45%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $45
An intriguing first release from one of craft beer’s most inventive producers. Like many whiskeys made by brewers, this one’s charm is in its deceptive simplicity that reveals successively complex character with every sip. The rum-cask finish is evident throughout: caramel-banana sundae, marzipan, and pistachio pudding on the nose, along with rose petals, meringue, and a touch of suntan lotion. The palate has fresh banana, rose water, pistachio kheer, almonds, lemon, and lime sherbet. Oak asserts itself on the perfumy, elegant finish.
High West has changed the recipe for Campfire to include its own-make rye, along with sourced rye, bourbon, and peated malt whisky from Scotland. The nose is sweetly spiced and subtly smoky, with Lapsang souchong tea, kelp, beach bonfire, cigar box, orange peel, cinnamon, white pepper, and crème brûlée. Sharply herbal at first taste, it warms up to reveal orange oil, cherry cola, cough syrup, cigar wrapper, iced tea, roasted walnuts, caramel, and savory smoke. Chili heat on the finish is balanced by oak, dark chocolate, tobacco, and grilled apple.
Each release of the limited-edition Reverie series will be different from the last, as Westland explores the boundaries of single malt blending. Spice and fragrant oak on the nose, delicately floral, with light fruitiness on the palate and a hint of peat. A spicy, white pepper note precedes a lengthy finish of apricot, honeycomb, and then more spiciness. This whiskey floats like a butterfly, but has plenty of heft, depth, and balance. (900 bottles; distillery only)
Hail the new distillers who have so broadened the profile of rye whisky. All rye grain, some matured in new American and Canadian oak and some in bourbon barrels, yields a complex palate woven into sweet citrus reminiscent of Grand Marnier. Fresh linen with the waxiness of a wet oil painting, tart gooseberries, creamy vanilla caramels, nutty cereals, and peppery spices. Finishes sweet with ripe fruit, white pepper, and halva.
This noses of crumbly shortbread, vanilla, caramel, orange peels, summer blooms, walnut, and earthy whole spices, but it’s more reserved than their 12 year old. It glides through orange, spun sugar, almond paste, a slow burn of spices, butterscotch, and vanilla, before more sherry fruit comes through. Peppercorn and dark berry mark the finish of this graceful, mellow, and subdued limited-release, triple-distilled whiskey.
A delightful fruity specimen, with lime, Asian pear, grapefruit, tangerine, mango, melon, taffy, and a hint of white pepper. More tropical fruit notes to enjoy on the tongue: papaya, dried melon strips, passion fruit, melon, and fruit syrups all floating along on a slick of gooey caramel. Continuity of the fruit-bomb theme continues into a finish of fleshy stone fruits infused with a sprinkle of gentle spices. (3,850 bottles)
Navazos Palazzi Overseas Malt Single Sherry Cask, 52.5%
Spanish Whisky | $104
Although distilled in Scotland, this completed its maturation in Spain; it’s not scotch, but it is very tasty. Cocoa powder, melted milk chocolate, ground hazelnut, vanilla pod, snuff, and allspice go full tilt at cask strength. Chocolate fondant pudding, baked fruit, cocoa, malt, dried fig, black pepper, and black fruits operate with a dark, tangy edge that ignites the tongue. This has been bottled at a perfect strength. (900 bottles for U.S.)
A no age statement Bunnahabhain destined to replace the existing 12 year old, matured in first and second-fill sherry casks. Raisins, fruit spice, furniture polish, and roasted nuts on the nose, along with an edge of brine. Rich and full-bodied in the mouth, with malt, sweet sherry, and cotton candy, plus cloves and a sprinkling of sea salt. The finish offers red berries, lively spice, and dark chocolate. £40
Created by blender George Harper, who worked on White Walker, this has nutty toffee, coffee grounds, caramelized sugars, roasted hazelnut in chocolate, an appreciable grain note, plus the titular gentle sweet peat smoke. Toasted oak, chocolate praline, sweet runny caramel, coffee, and a catch of smoke dissipate to leave the smooth flavor of creamy toffee penny candy. An uncut diamond with great potential set against the brilliance of Black Label. £30
A beautifully balanced blend of fudge, vanilla, strawberry bubble gum, warm orange, and cinnamon, with ozone and peat smoke. Soft, slightly bitter fruits melt into a creamy silky concoction of Horlicks, white chocolate, and vanilla, with chewy toffee sweetness. The smoking embers of peat catch on the finish with a little menthol and peppermint. Robust enough for beach parties and weddings, not just polo matches. (Global Travel Retail)
Begins light on the nose with clean grain, then spring flowers and persistent, strong blackberry notes move in. Wonderfully balanced, even as blackberries remain strong across the palate, accented by tart kiwi fruit and rich spices: ginger, cloves, nutmeg. Fruits and spices complement each other as the round, creamy palate fades into a long, hot, peppery finish. Beautiful whisky exclusive to the U.S., and fruitier than the 43.4% Canadian version. Best Value
Lagavulin at an odd age, representing House Lannister and showcasing its lion sigil. The nose is floral, with rose hips, toffee, and fragrant peat notes. Full on the palate, with toffee apples, cinnamon, earthy peat, and smoked haddock in salted butter. The smoked fish combines with fennel in the lengthy finish.
This 18 year old single malt is stylistically very different from the older releases in Chapter 4. The nose is soft, with honey and mashed banana. Ginger and crème brûlée notes in time. Medium-bodied, the creamy palate follows the nose closely, introducing vanilla custard, coconut, and chopped almonds. The finish dries slightly, with a hint of chili heat. £800
Duncan Taylor Rare Auld Grain (distilled at Strathclyde) 1990 28 year old, 51.2%
Single Grain Scotch | $170
Baked lemons, light caramel, throat lozenges, and a butteriness to the nose, the grain character complemented by sweetness and warmer fruits. Light red fruits, butterscotch, Scottish tablet, with a nippy herbal bite to the palate and a deep, persistent burn of cracked black pepper spiciness that glows long into the finish. Strathclyde showing lots of enjoyable distillery character here.
Butter, salted caramel, vanilla fudge, firm but tolerant spices—notably white pepper—red apple, and strands of orange zest. After a juicy orange opener, a delicious wave breaks over the tongue, bringing toffee, caramel, cappuccino, hints of chocolate, and a good balance of spices. The finish is spiced fruit with notes of burnt butter, clove, and coffee. This signature blend is consistently one of their best whiskeys.
Writers’ Tears Copper Pot Deau XO Cognac Cask Finish, 46%
Blended Irish Whiskey | $60
Toffee apple, nutmeg, sanded oak, and plenty of feisty spices behind the nose. The flavor is more refined with greater complexity; not overly sweet or fruity, but a smooth-as-satin mouthfeel with shades of pear, caramel covered in white chocolate, nuts, pleasant pot still spiciness, rich toffee, cocoa, and red chili. The cognac cask influence is gentle and works well, and it concludes with a hazelnut butter finish.
This is the oldest regular bottling from Glenmorangie. It offers peaches in cream, honey, and almonds on the elegant yet relatively substantial nose. Tropical fruit on the smooth, full palate, with cinnamon, chocolate cake, and a long finish of dried fruit and tangy oak. Expensive compared to the 18 year old, which scores closely.
The latest BenRiach core-range release was matured in sherry casks, then finished in Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry casks. The nose offers rich red wine, plums, figs, and vanilla. Tropical fruits, honey, vanilla, and soft sherry notes feature on the palate. The finish is medium in length and showcases aniseed, wood spice, and fat Christmas cake sherry notes. Delicious!
Distilled in the spring of 1996, this was matured in bourbon barrels and yields a nose of exotic spices, heather in bloom, soft aromatic peat, and grapefruit sprinkled with iodine. Well-mannered peat, brine, orange peel, vanilla, and black pepper on the palate. The finish is long, smoky, and peppery.
Distilled from 52 tons of Islay barley and filled into 134 casks, most of which were second fill. At 5 years old, the result is whisky with an initially fresh and zesty nose, featuring sea breezes and lemon juice. Mild iodine, ginger, and sweet peat then develop. Sweet on the full palate, with honey, cereal notes, smoky peat, and brine. Oak and chili in the ultimately dry finish.
This expression has been finished for an unspecified period in first-fill bourbon barrels. The nose is floral, with gentle spices, honey, developing mangos and apricots, with vanilla ice cream, plus coconut. Sweet and smooth on the palate, with tropical fruits, more vanilla, and honey, plus old leather, and developing plain chocolate. The finish is long and drying, with slightly astringent oak and wood spices. (600 bottles for the U.S.)
A blend of four single malts for the latest incarnation, this has poached pear, sweet green apple, melon skins, light spices, barley sugar, and yet some crunchy barley notes too. Sweet vanilla fattens out to orange, peppercorn, honey, and barley sugar, with apple and herbal greenery appearing at the end. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then there’s spice at the swallow, and a waxy, mouth-coating finish of smooth-pulped fruits. (14,894 bottles)
Duncan Taylor Octave The Huntly 1998 19 year old, 53.3%
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky | $150
This is really intriguing, with the vitality of fresh green shoots in spring, fresh-mown lawns, snow peas, pencil shavings, dragon fruit, beet chips, and the exotic scents of a spice market. The taste is gentle with lime, herbal notes, cream soda, generous buttery caramel, and some boisterous spices that loiter into the finish. A highly enjoyable bottle: one to dissect, discuss, and digest.
A selection of bourbons distilled and aged in Tennessee, Indiana, and Kentucky. Drying autumn leaves on the nose, along with leather, tobacco leaf, ginger snaps, cherries, nutmeg, black tea, vanilla, toasted coconut, and light orange. The mouthfeel is rich, and leads with coconut and unsalted butter, then cinnamon, cloves, red apple, oak, and more orange. Minerality, peppery heat, and tobacco on the finish, as well as dark chocolate and cherry.
A blend of straight bourbons at least 15 years old. A fragrant, complex nose of oak, baking spice, cherry pie, cooked pears, and bitter lemon, with underlying notes of cigar box and dunnage house floor. The palate is creamy and sweet, offering caramel, chocolate frosting, coconut shavings, a fruity note of sweet raspberry, and chili pepper. A finish of tobacco leaf, dark chocolate, and more spiciness as a final note.
This sixth edition of Midwinter’s, which is Rendezvous rye finished in French oak and port barrels, includes High West’s own-make rye for the first time. A nose of gingerbread, allspice, nutmeg, vanilla, and cinnamon melds with fragrant cedar chest, leather, and oak. The palate offers sweet blackberry, chocolate, raisins, and dried plums, along with toasted oak and tobacco, leading to a spicy finale. A beautiful balancing act and a wonderfully indulgent treat.
A characterful, if peculiar whiskey that suggests younger rye. Horehound, citronella oil, scented geranium, and lemon balm contribute to an intensely herbal, slightly antiseptic aroma. There is a compelling bitter edge to the flavor, like biting into orange peel, while the finish is intensely woody and mouth-coating. Not for everyone, but quite captivating and flavorful.
Top notes of spearmint and green apple part to reveal deeper nuances of golden raisin, saddle leather, varnish, and pine resin that suggest some maturity. Bright apple meets blazing spice on the palate, reminiscent of applesauce cake or warm spiced cider. The finish really soars, adding layers of tropical fruit and toasted banana-nut bread and licorice.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Tasters’ Selection Hickory Smoked, 50%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $40/375ml
Instantly evokes buttered pancakes drowning in maple syrup, but on closer inspection there is a lot of depth here, with a distinct charred-hickory note that suggests smoked meat or back bacon. Flavors slowly steer closer to the Jack profile, with tropical fruit, grape soda, and Pez candies on the finish lingering with a note of spent tobacco pipe.
Pot still rye whiskey containing 30% rye with malted and unmalted barley, and the only Kilbeggan distilled entirely on-site. This has a nose of Japanese rice crackers, fennel seeds, cracker bread, cinnamon, and nutmeg. A light structure of creamy pear, ginger loaf, clotted cream toffee, and vanilla before a peppery blast leads into the toasty rye flavors, with a finish of glittering spice and malty bread notes.
Prune, fig, dried cranberry, malt loaf, flame-grilled peach, a squirt of barbecued meat juices, and dry spices including coriander seed and red chili flakes highlight the PX cask aging of this triple-distilled malt. Big flavors in a good, full bodied dram with juicy red fruits, ruby grapefruit, caramelized orange, milk chocolate, with a thin line of spices and a short chocolate brownie finish.
To create Fired Oak, Glen Moray spirit has been matured in bourbon casks for almost a decade, before a 10 month finish in heavily charred virgin American oak casks. Canned pineapple, honey, and vanilla on the nose, with a hint of lemon. An initial citric zest on the palate, then soft toffee, newly sawn timber, cloves, and cinnamon. Licorice, lively spices, and slightly smoky oak in the medium-length finish. £40
At cask strength this Clynelish represents House Tyrell. Split green wood followed by marshmallows on the floral nose; increasingly sweet, with a hint of cloves. The palate immediately offers classic Clynelish waxiness, with tropical fruits, honey, and subtle smoke. Licorice, black pepper, and citrus fruits in the medium to long finish.
Duncan Taylor Octave (distilled at Girvan) 2007 11 year old, 52.6%
Single Grain Scotch | $80
Herbal notes of coriander, pepper, candied almonds, circus peanuts, and dried sunflower seed heads, with slightly waxy lemon and creaminess overlaying it. This has a slick, oily/waxy texture and a sweet, nutty taste; those circus peanuts meet a stampede of pepper and sugared mice, the alcohol strength coming to the fore at the end. Unexpectedly moreish, this is packed with gum-nipping, tongue-twisting spicy mischief.
Irish blends come in many different combinations, but this tongue sizzler is malt and pot still whiskey only. Let the high alcohol blow off the glass to find spring blossoms, pot still spices, honey sweetness, tangerine, macadamia nut, peppercorn, star anise, and fennel seed. A rounded spiced-orange note, assertive spices, then toffee, nut, oak, and herbal tones with a finish of nippy clove and citrus peel. Dilute to taste. (3,516 bottles)
The Irishman Founder’s Reserve Caribbean Cask Finish Small Batch 2018, 46%
Blended Irish Whiskey | $60
An interesting experiment in single cask finishing involved transferring the whiskey into St Lucia rum casks for 6 months. This has dried papaya, apricot, barley notes, hints of sherry, and robust pot still spices. Vanilla fudge sweetness, bountiful tropical flavors of passion fruit, mango, papaya—though never overtly sweet—it still has plenty of spiciness, with later traces of chocolate, café mocha, and nut butters. (380 bottles)
This is part of the distiller’s Extremely Rare range, and has been matured in bourbon casks for 15 years, before a third is transferred to oloroso sherry casks for 3 years. Dried fruits, icing sugar, honey, lemon cheesecake, and floral aromas on the nutty nose. The palate offers figs, crème brûlée, cinnamon, more honey, and citrus fruit. The finish sees citrus fruit and oak merge nicely.
Virginia Distillery Co. Journey Cask Collection Hibernia 11 year old, 57%
Irish Single Malt | $125
It’s all about the candied fruit in this single malt sourced from an undisclosed Irish distillery: Skittles, grapefruit peel, gummy orange wedges, green apple candy, and Trix cereal on the nose, along with white pepper and ginger. A very sweet palate is well-served by its cask strength, showing clementine, grapefruit, guava, white pepper, and toasted grain. The finish holds nothing back, mixing salted pecans, leathery oak, and white pepper with citrus and grain. 216 bottles
Having previously released bottlings that were fully matured in sauternes casks, Kilchoman has now launched one where initial maturation took place in bourbon barrels, followed by 5 months of finishing in sauternes hogsheads. Unpeeled Jaffa oranges on the initial nose, floral, with a whiff of iodine and earthy peat. Tangerines, milk chocolate, lively spices, and bitumen combine on the palate. The finish is long, smoky, and perpetually spicy.
Distilled in 2012 entirely from Scottish barley, this was aged for 5 years in American whiskey barrels. The nose is sweet, with apricots, vanilla, ginger, white pepper, ozone, and antiseptic cream, plus insistent smoky peat. Orchard fruits on the palate, with big earthy smoke notes, vanilla, and coconut. The finish is long, with licorice, black pepper, rock salt, and drying peat.
Distilled from Scottish barley in 2010, this was matured in first-fill bourbon casks and second-fill French wine casks before finishing in Bordeaux French oak. Fruity peat, salty vanilla, heather, toffee, and malt on the nose. Peaches and pineapple wrapped in peat, with marshmallows and rock salt on the supple palate. A whiff of iodine in the finish, with berries, cloves, licorice, and spicy oak.
Following a decade in bourbon barrels, Lasanta is finished for 2 years in oloroso and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks. Caramel, milk chocolate, and hazelnuts merge on the nose with the spicy dried fruit and orange notes associated with sherry wood maturation. Spicy sultanas, and damsons on the full, sweet palate, with more caramel, milk chocolate, nutmeg, and oak. The finish is long and smooth, with dark chocolate and wood spices.
Heather honey, sultry smoke, sherry, and spice make this the ideal hibernation libation. Help see off the darkest months with these dominant orange notes and a supporting cast of crystalized ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. A warming taste of red berries, gingerbread, and Christmas spices gives the underside of the tongue a roasting before melting away, leaving a creamy mouthfeel imbued with strands of subtle smoke, barrel char, and spiced orange.
Barrell Cask-Strength Blend of Straight Bourbons (Batch 016), 52.9%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $90
A blend of 9 year and 9 month, 11, and 15 year old barrels from Tennessee, Indiana, and Kentucky. The combination creates complexity and balance, starting with an aromatic nose of toasty oak, cherry, cinnamon, nutmeg, dried orange, leather, and cigar ash. The palate follows with notes of semi-sweet chocolate, espresso, peach cobbler, and a hint of coconut. It concludes with a finish of more chocolate and subtle notes of fruit.
A highlight of the Basil Hayden’s line for its cherry cough drop and clove-studded orange flavors that nicely match sweet fruit with spice. There is some intriguing earthiness—suggestions of a mushroom-covered tree stump. The light-bodied palate delivers modest apricot, peppery oak, and vanilla, with sandalwood on the finish. Very nice flavors, just a bit timid.
Bit-O-Honey candies, spearmint, and beeswax introduce this seductively sweet whiskey. On the palate, more honey notes, green apple Jolly Rancher, and grape jelly continue the vivid sweetness, augmented by the sweet nuttiness of marzipan and honey peanut butter. A nicely executed and pretty whiskey, finishing with candied almonds.
A sourced whiskey named for man’s best friend, this well-aged bourbon is layered with sweet and spiced aromas and flavors. PayDay candy bars, red Twizzlers, honey, caramel chews, and gingerbread mingle with iced tea, pipe tobacco, and peanut shells on the nose. Flavors of bitter orange, cherry soda, grape jelly, and roasted pecans are balanced by rich oak, cinnamon, and iced tea, with gingerbread spices and bittersweet chocolate on the finish.
Gentle notes of lilac, sweet perfume, and rye bread are underscored by orange blossom, spearmint, and blueberry. Heaps of spice—clove and cinnamon hearts candies—will delight rye fans, as the mix of berry fruits and lively spices really comes to life with water, revealing bitter citrus pith, black pepper, vanilla, and a finish of generous char and tobacco smoke.
Spirit Hound Single Barrel Straight Malt (Barrel 66), 45%
American Malt Whiskey | $55
Floral with some hoppy aromas to start, as well as lemon curd, vanilla, banana Runts, ripe pears, and amaretto. On the palate, gentle oakiness underpins banana pudding, whipped cream, spiced plum, amaretto, ginger candy, peaches, and chai spices of cardamom, clove, and cinnamon. Well-structured and delicate—add water sparingly.
Billed as a whiskey that combines elements of bourbon and rye, the nose blends pine forest, lime, green cardamom, coriander, orange, cinnamon, and raisins. The palate is a balance of freshly baked cinnamon buns, chocolate, pistachio, baked apple, cloves, and cracked pepper. The finish is punctuated by sweet vanilla syrup and bitter orange, pipe tobacco, and light pepper. Smooth and pleasant, it perhaps could use more aging, but is well executed nonetheless.
Lots of complexity follows the Canadian triad of caramel, pepper, and cleansing pith. Master blender Andres Faustinelli sourced 7 year old whisky in Okanagan red wine barrels then finished it in virgin, air-dried, 4 year old Hungarian oak. Rich oak and red wine on the nose lead to exotic spices, tingling peppers, burley tobacco, and vaguely phenolic grape skins on a buttery palate. Burnt sugar and chocolate cherries, then a long, spicy finish.
Herbal with roasted sage leaves, coriander seed, savory meat juices, and a twinge of tarragon, though there are fruity qualities like fresh peach and clementine. Creamy orange fondant, clove, peach, and nectarine sweetness, honey, and caramel with a gentle spicy edge makes for a quite charming whisky. It reaches a plateau relatively quickly, with just hints of citrus fruit and light spices to finish. (5,443 bottles)
Braided apple puff pastry, sultana, custard, a hint of blueberry, and jam slathered over warm scones, backed by hot chocolate and Christmas spices. The taste experience is surprising, as just when it draws you in with green apples and banana custard, it goes off on a tangent with mouth-drawing sour green plums, peppercorn, and candied wild strawberries, and concludes with a ground ginger and peppery finish.
A sultry, earthy, fragrant whisky, with black cherry, currants, dunnage warehouses, sherry, ground ginger, dry oak, and chili flakes. Warm and enticing, this displays great structure: black cherry, sultana, and dried fig; a middle phase of cavorting spices that are soothed into a lengthy finish of spicy, rich dried fruits. Plenty of sherry character makes this a delicious find, but it would be interesting to try a less cask-driven expression. (900 bottles for U.S.)
For starters, this new addition to the lineup has a delicious nose of baked Alaska, cotton candy, vanilla, and creamy fudge, along with well-developed notes of toasted oak from the virgin casks. A smooth blend of caramel, banana, peach, green fruits, and hazelnut. It grows increasingly tangy in the mouth, before softening to leave lively peppery spices and toffee to conclude this affordable everyday sipper. (Global Travel Retail)
Berry Bros & Rudd The Classic Range Speyside Blended Malt, 44.2%
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky | $42
This great value whisky encapsulates Speyside’s appealing regional character with notes of green apple, airy florals, vanilla fudge, honey, pecan nut, toasted croissant, marzipan, and light dry spices. With its lovely structure and weight, this unwraps apple, golden syrup, tart citrus, banana, and caramel. A smart aperitif choice for a carefree day, this delivers a sweet, light, delicious dram with an active spicy finish. £32
St. George’s Distillery master distiller David Fitt makes scrumptious grain whiskies as well as The English whiskies, and this one has a beautiful balance of malt and spiciness, with crisp barley notes, cornbread, rye spice, peppercorn, light honey, green fruits, and some classic grain characteristics. Zested orange, lime, toasted cereal, caramel, and lovely rye notes on show, though the spiciness is a little tame. (1,962 bottles) £48
Initial aromas of toasted nuts, nougat, and pistachio. Water releases cedar and sandalwood along with citrusy grapefruit notes. The palate is both earthy and sweet, with dried flowers, leather, and hazelnut. The medium finish offers a nice balance of classic rye flavors including baking spice, lavender, and zesty citrus. Best Value
The House Stark bottling is presented with an image of a dire wolf on the label. The nose yields honey, orange, malt, toffee, and a suggestion of struck matches. Medium-bodied and sweet, with red apples, apricots, milk chocolate, and white pepper. Satsumas, nutmeg, milky cocoa, and gingery oak in the medium-length finish.
This was aged in new American oak and selected for its faint smokiness, believed to have been picked up from a previous peated spirit run. Pears, white pepper, and faint cigarette smoke on the nose. Full-bodied, with lots of tropical fruit, vanilla, honey, and a slightly antiseptic note. Long and peppery in the finish, with more medicinal flavor. £500
Nectar D’Or is aged in bourbon barrels for 10 years, before 2 years of finishing in sauternes wine casks. The nose offers apricots in syrup, honey, walnuts, and ripe green grapes, while the oily palate yields citrus fruits and honeyed cereal notes, along with white pepper and wood spice. The finish is long and oaky, with a fleeting return of apricots.
Triple Cask replaced Macallan’s Fine Oak range in 2018, and was matured in a combination of European and American sherry-seasoned oak and American oak bourbon barrels. The entry level 12 year old offers a relatively light, zesty nose, with citrus fruit, vanilla, and ginger, while the palate yields more citrus fruit and vanilla, honey, sweet oak, and dark chocolate. Cantaloupe and wood spice in the finish.
Duncan Taylor Octave The Huntly 1996 21 year old, 52.7%
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky | $170
Lush, soft summer fruits bathe the nose with green melon, kiwi, green apple, tart gooseberry, ladyfingers, and a not unpleasant plastic note, like toy building blocks or the glove compartment of a new car. Baked orange delivers sharp tart flavors, with allspice, barley sugar, and hard candies, later developing apple notes and settling into a creamy, fruity finish.
Windswept and coastal: rock pools, the chalky sweetness of Edinburgh rock candy, and aromas of smoked fish on the quayside. The masochism of bonfire smoke and peat reek is utterly invigorating and restorative. Lemon creaminess, with an eruption of spice and citrus, the irascible spices pushing out in all directions. This is a big, cask strength bruiser, but Peat’s choleric temper can be readily soothed with a drop of water. (1,400 bottles for the U.S.)
Toasted coconut, custard cream biscuits, vanilla, freshly peeled banana skins, and ice cream wafers make this an enticing olfactory prospect. Vanilla, lemon, cream, and shortbread, this puffs out beautifully with a tug of pepper, always in balance, before relaxing into lemon meringue pie territory, with those sweet lemons persisting into the finish. A mellow, well-balanced offering, but you’ll know the truth when you taste it.
A blend of straight bourbon and bourbons finished in red wine and sherry casks. Lovely grain aromas, especially of porridge, along with cinnamon, clove, baked apple, citrus oil, honey-roasted peanuts, spearmint, and milk chocolate. Nuttier grain on the palate, which is led by red fruit, caramel, and lively spices: black pepper, cinnamon, allspice, candied ginger. Citrus oil, walnuts, and a bit of cigar tobacco lead into a nutty, somewhat light finish. The whiskey was distilled by Jim Beam master distiller Fred Noe and blended by Suntory master blender Shinji Fukuyo.
A nose of cherry candies, rose water, spiced molasses cookie, candied nuts, clove, and nutmeg make a lovely first impression. On the palate it feels a bit soft, with butter pecan ice cream, banana, and toffee, as it strikes a balance of sweetness and spice. The finish veers toward earthiness, with tobacco barn and warming chili spice.
Broad, earthy undercurrents of cigar wrapper, dark fertile soil, and spice support the honeyed sweetness and vanilla of this big-screen bourbon. Overall, the sweetness is well-tempered by cedar humidor, tea leaf, root beer spice, and berry fruit combining seamlessly on the palate. Well-balanced and easy sipping. Best neat.
Driftless Glen Distillery’s third rye expression, named for its 51% rye mash (compared to 74% in their core rye) as well as its 51% ABV. The nose has notes of orange peel, apricot, fragrant oak, bitter chocolate, burnt sugar, ginger, mint, and citrus oil. A rich, spicy palate offers more chocolate, as well as chili powder, tarragon, and cigar ash. A long finish of tobacco leaf, chocolate custard, and cinnamon.
James E. Pepper 1776 Straight Rye PX Sherry Finish, 50%
Rye Whiskey | $50
Cherry cola, sassafras, and root beer barrels meet sweet vanilla and roasted coffee aromas. The lavish oak almost feels double barreled, or small barreled, with its bounty of spiced flavors—cinnamon, nutmeg, mincemeat, and spiced poached pears. The finish deals more oak, laden with dark chocolate. Nicely executed, with some youth perhaps cloaked in there.
Old Forester’s first-ever rye and first new mashbill in 150 years, balanced at 65% rye, 20% malted barley, and 15% corn. Cinnamon, raspberries, blackberry, vanilla, and spiced oak greet the nose. The palate starts out sweet and fruity, then reveals an almond nuttiness, cinnamon, orange, and chili pepper. Water coaxes out ginger, pecan, and more heat. A smooth finish that’s still spicy, ending with a flourish of candied orange and rich chocolate.
Rose petal and grapefruit meet clove-like spice, but it’s the soapy floral sachet and dill notes that distinguish this rye. While it seems somewhat young, the generous cinnamon candies, spiced cherry, and red berry fruit pour lively and vibrant, with drying tannins, peppery spice, and green apple on the finish.
Rye at its prettiest and most delicate: bouquets of flowers, with boxed pistachio pudding, Apple Jacks, honey cough drops, licorice, and anise on the nose. Though it shows plenty of barrel influence, the palate is more spirit-driven and provocative, with peonies, lilacs, rose petals, pistachios, and nougat, lengthened by cocoa powder on the finish.
This leads with herbal notes of dill, mint, and fennel on the nose, followed by candied orange, dried apricots, lime, vanilla, and allspice. A creamy palate offers milk chocolate, raspberry jam, orange, and lemon peel, with a peppery back note. The finish is long and rich, with a balanced oak influence, almond, and more chocolate. The aging lends complexity, while all is vigorous and lively.
Sweet bread pudding and cracked pepper are tinged with wintergreen and earthy oak, the alcohol strikes just a touch sharp. With water, banana, lemon, and vanilla cupcake sweetness appear. On the palate, lively citrus, white pepper, violet candies, and peanuts, before finishing with a tapestry of spices: ginger, allspice, and paprika. Characterful, well-proofed, and tasty stuff.
The sherry cask finish asserts itself right up front, with orange oil, sweet figs, cloves, and cedar; aromas of grape candy, peonies, spearmint, and allspice appear as well. While this is unabashedly a rye, with flavors of cinnamon, black pepper, and oak, the sherry comes to the fore again in the guise of grape soda, sweet cherries, and chocolate. The finish is sweet and oak-driven, with good length.
Restless Spirits Gullytown Double Barrel Single Malt, 46%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $60
This American single malt is aged in two separate bourbon barrels—one new and one used. A malty, earthy nose of slate is followed by notes of coriander and orange peel, as well as iced tea, ginger, and dark chocolate. The palate offers espresso, bitter orange, more chocolate, and grilled pineapple. A long, rich finish of orange, mocha, black pepper, and pipe tobacco. Rich, malty, and flavorful—some enjoyable sipping here.
Smooth Ambler Old Scout American Whiskey (Batch 31), 49.5%
American Whiskey | $35
A clean and inviting nose featuring fresh hay, cooked corn, Peanut Chews, vanilla custard, and black pepper. Chewy and mouth-filling texture, with black cherry, peanuts in Coke, caramel, peanut-butter molasses cookies, and supple spices, ending with more cherry and mature oak flavors. Straightforward, uncomplicated, and satisfying: a good all-rounder.
Bourbon barrel matured, then finished in apple brandy casks as a limited edition, this is more malty than their regular bottlings, with aromas of melon, lemon, vanilla, sour gooseberry, and faint banana custard. It’s thicker texture rewards with sweet fudge, vanilla, ripe banana, hints of pecan, and spice, though it’s bedded down within the dessert flavors. A lengthy finish of lemon curd.
Dedicated to Dr. Jim Swan, who encouraged Cotswolds Distillery to shave, toast, and re-char red wine barriques, this has developed aromas of cherry, dried goji berries, rose petal, vanilla cake mix, butterscotch, and muted spices. It still feels young at this mighty strength. Warm red fruits of cherry and strawberry slam into a distortion of allspice, clove, and tongue-searing alcohols, which are quelled eventually by sweet notes of creamy toffee and mint. (3,000 bottles) £65
Never more than an arm’s length away from most bartenders, this blended malt, launched in 2005, has been a game changer. Bottled at a higher strength, this has fresh green apples, buttercream, lime, and kumquat, with a fresh acidic tartness, butterscotch, crushed peppercorn, and dried chili flakes. Dark toffee, Brazil nut, chocolate, peppery spices, and toasted oak on the palate. Lively finish of spice and chocolate toffee. Best Value
An appropriately dark bottle and label are featured for the Night’s Watch bottling. Tangy citrus fruit, brittle toffee, and vanilla on the nose. Nicely textured in the mouth, with tangerine segments in cream, developing nuttiness, milky coffee, and a hint of char. Lively spices, toffee, and aniseed in the medium-length, slightly oaky finish.
House Baratheon is represented with a label depicting a crown-wearing rampant stag. An undemanding dram, with soft toffee, cream, baked apples, and a hint of ginger on the nose. The palate is light, with brittle toffee, soft fruit notes, and oak. Drying in the finish, through aniseed and wood spice.
This showcases House Tully’s leaping fish sigil. The nose yields honey, barley sugar, walnuts, and plums. The palate is straightforward and approachable, with green apples, orange juice, and delicate spice. The finish is medium in length, with toffee and mildly spicy oak.
Matured in bourbon casks for 10 years, followed by 2 years of finishing in ruby port pipes from the quintas, or wine estates, of Portugal. Stewed fruits, cloves, and port-soaked oak on the nose, which carry over to the sweet, viscous palate, along with milky coffee, fruit spices, and cereal. The overall effect of sticky sweetness lingers through the finish.
Distilled from an “aggressively hopped” IPA, aged in new charred oak, and finished in Islay scotch casks. Cured and grilled meat on the nose—I’m reminded of Lexington, NC-style barbecue—along with chicory coffee and apple blossom. Hoppy and piney flavors reveal the beer wash and are joined by orange, lemon Pine-Sol, pecans, chocolate, oak, black pepper, and restrained smoke. The finish brings it all in: smoked oak, zingy lemon, bittersweet chocolate, and hops. This whiskey will have its fans and detractors; in context, it offers unique and enjoyable flavors. 396 bottles
Original is eager to please, yet not lacking complexity. A soft nose features honey, vanilla, sweet orange, and caramel. Hazelnuts dipped in honey and more orange, along with red apples on the rounded, buttery palate. Vanilla and cocoa powder in the lightly spiced finish, which boasts just a hint of smoke.
Pineapple rings, lemon and orange wedges, and brown sugar aromas offset fresh pine and a bundle of herbs: basil, tarragon, fennel. The chewy palate is herbal and savory, with licorice, dark chocolate, roasted cherry, and plenty of oak, yielding to pineapple, orange, and lemon on the finish. The bump-up in proof from its non-bonded sibling bourbon yields nice results when adding water, which softens and expands the flavors.
The oak juts out a bit in this otherwise fresh and pleasant bourbon, where toasted oak meets cake batter, Honey Nut Cheerios, and porridge with pecans. It’s lacking much in the way of a ‘wow factor,’ but following the slightly tart fruit palate is a redeeming finish, balancing tasty apricot and bright citrus peel with drying oak tannins.
The nose begins with an aroma of orange peel, followed by a lively parade of black pepper, rye spice, cardamom, and tilled earth, then sweeter back notes of molasses and cinnamon stick. There’s pleasant heat and spice on the palate, starting with black pepper and then chocolate, powdered-sugar French toast, orange, treacle, cooked apple, and allspice. A lengthy, toasty, chocolaty finish, with another pleasant note of orange and some peppery spice.
Generous proof and just 3 years of age mean this is no wallflower whiskey. Peppermint, white flowers, leather, and Pine-Sol aromas turn gingery on the palate, revealing bold rye spice, root beer, licorice, cinnamon sticks, and pine boughs. Good intensity, if a touch brash.
Coppersea Bottled in Bond Bonticou Crag Straight Malt Rye, 50%
Rye Whiskey | $125
A bottled in bond sequel to the 48% ABV Bonticou Crag Straight Malt Rye whiskey, this second Empire rye from Coppersea Distilling is made from 100% Hudson Valley rye. A whiff of new wood yields to complex notes of blood orange, iced tea, cinnamon, cloves, and red candy. A palate of allspice, mint, white pepper, and orange peel is followed by a spicy, herbaceous finish that also offers citrus, chocolate, and a hint of tobacco.
A veteran rye whiskey brand that flaunts the floral quality of younger ryes with its summer flowers, bright citrus, and lemon oil notes. A well-polished palate, with warm porridge, and grain notes that smack of peanut butter on warm toast. Nice character and balance, if a touch anemic at this proof.
Zested lemon, pine-scented floor cleaner, and quite a grassy proposition with white peach, dried flowers, perfumed soaps, and orange pith. It has a slightly soapy mouthfeel with lavender, lemon curd, vanilla, and clove and pepper, the spices ramping up the intensity the longer it’s held in the mouth. Clove and bitter lemon on the finish: takes you from whimsy to wildness in seconds.
Creamy lemon truffles, cereal notes, vanilla sponge, dry oak, with peppered steak seasoning. Creamy, sweet, buttery, soft honeydew melon, peach notes, and orange zest, with a soft late spiciness, though the impression is much more tame than the nose suggests. Buttery, mouth-coating finish with gentle spices on the core whisky from this Tasmanian distillery.
Representing House Targaryen, this features its three-headed dragon on the label. Malt and honey on the subtle nose, with a hint of cinnamon. Medium-bodied, with milk chocolate, caramel, and youthful oak. Jaffa orange and gentle spice in the relatively short, spiky finish.
Duncan Taylor Dimensions (distilled at Caledonian) 1987 31 year old, 52.9%
Single Grain Scotch | $300
Produced the year before the distillery closed, this has lemon butter, popcorn, bouquet garni, garlic shoots, and chopped cilantro ensuring the imbiber knows this is grain, not one masquerading as a single malt. Light green fruits reminiscent of melon, apple, and nectarine on the palate, with caramel, vanilla, a little oak, and a ripple of spice, notably coriander seed and pepper, before a finish of pears in golden syrup.
Grain takes center stage, showing itself in a restrained, sweet manner: aromas of marzipan, oatmeal cookies, Jordan almonds, crushed peanuts on an ice cream sundae, and caramel. The palate is consistent, offering almond croissant, sugar cookie, vanilla pudding, light caramel, and a creamy mouthfeel, finished off with supple oak, caramel, and almonds. Made in Patagonia, Argentina. 2,500 Argentine pesos; Argentina only
Clan Denny (distilled at Port Dundas) 14 year old, 46%
Single Grain Scotch | $55
Red apple skin, sharp citrus zest, peach stone, and shortcake biscuit greet the nose, though there is abundant grain character, with lemongrass and coriander seeds too. A muscular dram from a closed distillery, this reveals sweet cereals, honey, a spectrum of citrus notes, sherbet sweetness, pepper, clove, and herbal notes. Sweetness remains with the pepper in the finish, though clove reigns supreme when water is added.
Grainy and floral on the nose, with aromas of bananas Foster, pine resin, cardamom, lemon, iced tea, tart blackberries, and nougat. Kicky black pepper and cinnamon smooth out with a touch of water, yielding banana Popsicle, lemon bars, roasted pistachios, and cigar wrapper. A short finish with toasted oak, pecans, and nougat.
Vibrantly fruity with strawberry and orange Creamsicle on the nose, along with clean hay, toasted oak, cinnamon, caramel, and bay leaf. Wood spices on the front palate give way to orange custard, pomegranate, caramel, and cinnamon bread notes, with a pop of chili-dusted roasted corn lashed with bitter oak on the finish.
Fairly light in flavor, with warm cereal and honey notes laced with aromas of green herbs, chamomile, and spearmint. Seems well-crafted, but the flavors are generally understated, offering gentle sweetness and fleeting glimmers of baking spice. Modest body and a touch hot on the finish.
A host of sweet confections—caramel corn, candied apples, toasted marshmallow, bubble gum, and gobs of banana taffy—are reminiscent of a warm summer night at the fair. The palate speaks of orchard fruits, sweet golden apples, and poached pear, as hints of peach and cocoa appear on the clean, enjoyable, and succinct finish.
Expressively aromatic, with orange, chai spices, incense, spearmint, and Juicy Fruit gum, buttressed by earthy moss and cedar. Equally vivid flavors of dry oak, pepper, cinnamon Red Hots, dried orange peel, orange pekoe tea, and chili-chocolate, but it loses steam on the finish. Water tames some of the brasher qualities without dampening the liveliness.
Blackened Brandy Cask-Finished American Whiskey (Batch 082), 45%
Blended American Whiskey | $43
A collaboration between the late Dave Pickerell and metal group Metallica, this sourced straight whiskey blend was finished in so-called “black brandy barrels” for several weeks to the sound of Metallica’s music—a method aimed at enhancing the aging process. Dusty oak, potpourri, leather, licorice, vanilla, and caramel, along with banana, raisins, and plums on the palate. Bitter chocolate and spicy heat punctuate the finish, with a light citrus note.
A blend of 3 year old single malt (30%), 3 year old whiskey distilled from pilsner beer (20%), and 7 year old whiskey distilled from stout (30%). Unsurprisingly, the nose is hoppy, with an overlay of pine bough and a tropical fragrance of lemon and pineapple. The palate is deeper, with more hops and pine, plus bitter citrus, lime, and white pepper. The finish melds bitter chocolate, roasted pecans, and toasty oak. (3,960 bottles)
American whiskey takes an unusual direction with this blend of straight bourbons from Kentucky and Tennessee, straight rye from Tennessee, and malt whiskey made by St. George Spirits. On the nose, stewed plums and apricots, orange gumdrops, almonds, earthy grain—spilled wine in the garden. A resinous and hoppy palate, with poached pears, cooked ginger, lemon, white pepper, and milk chocolate-covered almonds. Lemon pith and mild oak on the finish.
Initially, Conor McGregor’s whiskey seems more laborious than notorious, with a rather unremarkable nose of fondant orange and mediocre spices, not helped by the first sip’s wishy-washy fruitiness of diluted orange and fudge, but before you tap out, it gets back on its feet and starts swinging for the fences with a redeeming comeback of gingerbread, clove, pepper, charred oak, and a knockout, gum-tingling buzz of spice.
Pepper and allspice light up with savory brisket notes, star anise, a dry nuttiness, and a pile of peanut shells. The flavor slowly comes into focus with stewed apple, red currant, pomegranate, and cranberry, background spices, and late caramel sweetness. The finish has throbbing, gum-tingling heavy clove notes with toffee penny chews and red licorice.
Red apple, dried fig, clove, baked ham, and plums boiled in sugar in this warm, fragrant, and aromatic whisky made with Spanish malt. The complexity of the nose is not sustained, as the spice characters dominate the palate after the initial few seconds. Baked orange, verging on tropical fruits, is overthrown by the black pepper and clove welling up from the underside of the tongue, leaving a bitter chicory aftertaste. (900 bottles for U.S.)
Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection American Oak, 42.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $130
The nose is a bit hot and generally restrained, with dried leaves, earthiness, and waxy crayons. Light-bodied, very soft, and somewhat juicy. Stone fruit and grain flavors combine for an enjoyable peach-pie quality before the tannic finish.
A blend of American rye, Canadian rye, and port. Gentle spice and sweet vanilla appear on the nose, but the impression of browning apple, wet leaves, and oxidized red wine are somewhat dreary. Simple and sweet up front, it feels thin, like fake maple syrup, with more sweet vanilla carried on a rather light body, almost resembling some rice whiskies.
From Restless Spirits of Kansas City, Missouri, a blend of 4 year old Irish whiskey and their own-make pot still whiskey. A gentle nose of pine bough, fennel seed, citrus oil, licorice, and potpourri, with a veneer of lemon candy. The palate tastes young but sweet and creamy, blending vanilla, bitter orange, and spicy pepper with a raisiny Chunky bar note and chocolate-covered almonds. Finishes with more chocolate, orange, and a subtle nuttiness.
A dull stewed-fruit note with polished apples, pink blancmange, rose hip, and a dash of spice, but not a very demonstrative whisky. The body is light and flimsy, even for a 3 year old blend, and the palate offers the return of that sweet pink blancmange, light caramel, and the sweetness of candy cigarettes. It crosses the line with late sugary sweetness and a short peppery finish. Life’s all about choices.
Duncan Taylor Octave (distilled at North British) 2009 9 year old, 52%
Single Grain Scotch | $80
Sharp citrus notes, like an unruly spritz of grapefruit juice first thing in the morning. This is an assertive dram with aromas of lemon bonbon, sour fruits, toffee, fruit sodas, and a whiff of potions and unguents wafting from the back room of a pharmacy. It floats between sweet and sour fruits, settling on a sweet lemon mush wedged between some nibbling spices.
Spirits of French Lick The Wheater Straight Bourbon, 45%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $45
A blend of two straight bourbons—a pot still expression from Spirits of French Lick, double distilled and aged 2 years, and a pot-and-column still bourbon sourced from a Wyoming distillery, aged 7 years. A youthful nose is grain-forward and restrained, with notes of dried leaves, crushed juniper berries, and licorice. A palate of bitter orange and black tea, finishing with clove, baking spices, bitter chocolate, and baked apple.
Catoctin Creek Rabble Rouser Bottled in Bond Rye, 50%
Rye Whiskey | $90
Peanut taffy, licorice, black pepper, tarragon, and lemon vie with Popsicle stick and a bit of solvent on the nose. The palate is laden with herbs—anise, licorice, tarragon, and basil—as well as cubeb, black pepper, and cough syrup. There are some enjoyable flavors here, but heavy-handed oak throws things off-balance.