The first annual release of Sazerac’s finest old Canadian and American whiskies blended at barrel strength. The nose presents memories of long-closed whisky warehouses, old books, and artist’s oil paint. Prunes, dates, figs, chocolate-covered cherries, a cobbler’s shop, vague cloves, lilacs, brown sugar, and warming spices on the palate. Ultra-complex, rich, creamy, and fruity. Hot and mouth-watering with billows of vanilla, creamy caramel, and mincemeat. (1,200 bottles for the U.S. and Canada only) Collectible
Uncle Nearest 1820 Single Barrel 11 year old Tennessee Whiskey (Barrel US-1), 57.55%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $119
A glass of this whiskey starts with a fragrant nose of honey blossom, wild strawberries, vanilla custard, and a dusting of cocoa powder. The palate is a complex mélange of cherries, blueberries, blackberries, mango, and orange marrying with dark chocolate, baking spice, lush oak, aged tobacco leaf, and a light espresso note. More richness and complexity on a delicious finish of chocolate, blackberry jam, walnuts, and coconut shavings.
Uncle Nearest 1820 Single Barrel 11 year old Tennessee Whiskey (Barrel US-2), 55.1%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $119
This is mature whiskey at its most refined: a balance of fruits, nuts, sweetness, and restrained oak. The nose has it all: salted, buttered pecans, rock candy, Dr. Pepper, blackberry jam, dried blueberries, caramel corn, tobacco barn, and old leather chair. It’s practically dessert-like in the mouth, with dark chocolate-covered caramel, candied pecans, Goo Goo Clusters, cherry cola, blackberry and blueberry jam, and a kiss of white pepper. The finish stays consistent, a mouthwatering mélange of caramel, chocolate, and nuts. Harmonious, seamless, and silky—you’d never guess the proof.
This year’s first of three annual releases has a higher ABV than Whisky Advocate’s 2017 Whisky of the Year, which was 62.1%. The nose offers caramel, vanilla cream pie, cocoa powder, baking spice, baked apple, orange, marzipan, leather, and oak. Very well-integrated on the palate, but the high ABV cries out for water, which brings chocolate, butterscotch, bitter orange, coconut, almond, and creamed corn. The finish is a long, delightful reprise of it all. Editors' Choice
If a Scotch whisky could smell plush and velvety, this Pedro Ximénez-finished blend would be it. Chocolate-covered raisins, peat smoke, cigar lounge, licorice, chamois leather, and charred oak staves. The palate is smooth, delicate, and finely tuned with syrupy prune, raisins, plum, raspberry, strawberry, 70% dark chocolate, peppercorn, ginger, clove, and a hint of smoke. This showcases lip-smacking, intricate blending on the oldest Dewar’s available. Editors' Choice
The IMAX of rye. Zuidam Distillers seem to have intensified every aspect of this small batch 100% rye. The plum is fresher, juicier even, the spices more assertive. There’s more creaminess, fruit skin piquancy, slabs of chocolate, allspice, ground cinnamon, and a greater rye character by far. This thumps the tongue hard, delivering quite an experience. In submission, with gums zinging, the unrepentant finish goes on forever.
Mayor Pingree 11 year old Straight (Batch 3), 57.25%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $90
Intense, flavorful, and lush. The nose has roasted chestnuts, coconut shavings, leather, butterscotch, carrot cake, candied nuts, maple syrup, and pastry cream. It’s well-textured and drenched in flavor: blackberry jam, dark chocolate, mint oil, maple syrup, roasted nuts, root beer, clove, white pepper, toasted coconut, and cherry cough drops. Wet walnuts, oak, and lingering intensity on the finish. Add water to unlock more spice and fruit, and give it plenty of time to develop.
Produced by Kumesen Distillery, the Okinawan awamori maker that coincidentally sells a 2001 awamori matured in American oak at 42% in Europe. The nose has cinnamon, molasses, vanilla seeds, and charred oak. It’s a big, chewy, oily mouthful packed with cinnamon, pecan pie, an explosion of spices, toffee, stewed fruit, and licorice, with a long, sweet, and nutty finish. Deliciously against the grain. (3,600 bottles)
The confectionary nose of flan and crème caramel comes draped over lovely grainy aromas of warm porridge and pastry crust. Vinous notes of cherry/berry fruit emerge, along with toasted almonds and floral aromas. On the palate, there is berry coulis, Creamsicle stick, French burnt peanut candies, and warm banana. Overall, this demonstrates both nice maturity and lovely balance of sweetness and spice, with a finish of cinnamon-sprinkled apple pie.
Finished in fresh bourbon casks at Bow St. Distillery, Dublin, this batch has a greater intensity than the first. Baked lemon, vanilla toffee, ground ginger, and snuff. Warm and fruity, with sweet toffee notes, the ginger root leads a high-intensity spice assault, though the reassuring indulgence of the rich toffee never deserts you. Dried banana, herbal notes, and lemongrass outline the finish.
Old Fitzgerald 13 year old Bottled in Bond (Spring 2019 Release), 50%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $130
The first of Old Fitzgerald’s semiannual releases for 2019. The nose offers vanilla flan, banana cream pie, and powdered sugar, but is also floral, with tropical notes of peach, coconut, and melon, all draped lightly in tobacco leaf. The palate is gentle, with maple syrup, marshmallow, milk chocolate, ripe peach, coconut, orange, and oak. A rich finish offers honey, chocolate, almond, toasted oak, and a hint of cigar. A pleasurable progression of flavors. Collectible
This Private Edition expression was made using a strain of yeast found growing on local barley. It was aged for approximately 8 years in mostly second-fill and refill bourbon casks. Barley sugar and honey on the nose, followed by lily of the valley, lavender, and white pepper. Big gingery fruit notes on the palate; fresh-squeezed orange juice, vanilla, and black pepper. The finish is long and attractively earthy. Editors' Choice
Ireland’s technical regulations provide flexibility with the type of wood used for aging, hence this seriously aromatic whiskey with piquant citrus, lemon, fresh ginger root, sponge cake, apple peel, sour cherry, and dry spices of pepper, cumin, and whole nutmeg. Delicious citrus peel, rich honey, vanilla pod, ground ginger, banana, and grapefruit, but no matter how hard it tries, it keeps shifting back to the spices. More experiments with these barrels, please! (12,000 bottles) £74
This second annual limited release was matured in a combination of first-fill European oak sherry butts and refill sherry butts. Spicy orange marmalade on the nose, with plums dipped in honey, warm leather, polished oak, and cinnamon. The palate is oily, with dark sherry, cocktail cherries, ginger, espresso, and sweet oak. Lengthy in the finish; spicy, with dried fruits. (5,200 bottles)
On the nose, there’s Golden Grahams, iced tea, and peanuts galore—shelled, unshelled, even boiled—Cherry Coke, white pepper, and ginger syrup. More sweet ginger on the palate, a lively high note that peps up the cherry cough syrup, roasted peanuts, cola, white pepper, and chewy oak. The lengthy finish is full of oak, cooked cherry, white pepper, and roasted nuts. Naturally, this does well with water but, frankly, it’s fine without.
Very fragrant, with notes of fresh ripe plum, crisp spice, herbs, caramel, treacle, black pepper, and hints of dark chocolate. Leave the glass alone and the spices really hit their stride. The flavor shifts imperceptibly, covering citrus, vanilla, chocolate, and ripe orchard fruits, generating a slow build-up of spices like a gathering storm: your taste buds have nowhere left to run. Beautifully paced.
Like opening a box of chocolates and hungrily inhaling the aromas of fruity chocolate, caramel, and soft centers. In addition, there are crystalized orange slices, fresh plum, black cherry, moist coffee grounds, and petrichor. Flavors of chocolate-dipped raspberries, gingersnaps, and bold sherry fruit from the oloroso finish. It’s a dance between the smoke and the fruit, with the smoke ultimately pushed to the fringes, leaving a spiced mocha finish.
Grand MacNish Double Matured 13 year old Rum Cask Finish, 43%
Blended Scotch Whisky | $45
Mango, candied orange peel, coriander seed, creamy vanilla, and exotic spices on the nose of this aged blend finished in sweet rum barrels from Trinidad, Jamaica, and Nicaragua. A bright and sunny whisky, it’s full-bodied and moreish, led by tropical fruit flavors of dried papaya, mango, melon, honey, butterscotch, and zesty orange, all framed by gentle spices. Sweet drams are made of this, who am I to disagree?