George T. Stagg 15 year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon (2019 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection), 58.45%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $99
Aromas of concord grape jelly, vanilla crumb cake, dusty baking spice, leather, tobacco barn, iced tea, and peanut shells are offset by citrus peel and rose oil, especially prominent with a bit of water added. The bold, rich palate is packed with dark berries, baking spice, semi-sweet chocolate, and espresso, with pops of citrus fruit and spearmint adding liveliness and verve. It finishes with blackberry cobbler, dark chocolate, leathery oak, and undercurrents of black pepper and baking spice that don’t quit. Restrained and elegant, even at full proof.
The final installment in this impressive series gets to the heart of Quercus mongolica, using slow-grown Asian oak sourced from northeastern China, which is much less porous than Japanese mizunara. Aromas of Cox’s orange pippin, rhubarb, caramel, malt, pecan pie, peppercorn, clove, and appealing sandalwood notes. Deliciously malty with sweet sponge cake, citrus oils, dried apple, soft caramel, nuts, and clove, with a mouth-coating finish of vanilla caramel. Totally moreish. (6,228 bottles) (€80)
Clover honey, floral notes, bright citrus, marzipan, nutmeg, and cinnamon initiate a mesmerizing succession of flavors. On the palate, the impeccable balance of sweetness and spice introduces candied orange peel and cinnamon hearts candies. What is remarkable is how a bourbon this potent can play host to such delicate flavors, making it both massive and bright. The creamy sweetness rolls on and on, with waves of exotic sandalwood and spice appearing on the finish.
Laphroaig 10 year old Cask Strength (Batch 011), 58.6%
Single Malt Scotch | $70
Laphroaig’s latest batch continues the high standards set by previous releases. More sherry on the nose compared to Batch 010, with malt, sea spray, lemon, antiseptic, and big notes of peat. Citrus fruits, sherry, brine, and peat smoke on the full palate, with vanilla and charred oak. The finish is long, sweet, and medicinal, with licorice singed over a peat fire. Editors' Choice
Laphroaig PX, I Love You 2005 Vintage Cask (No. 3), 54.4%
Single Malt Scotch | $300
A single Pedro Ximénez hogshead yielded this whisky, which might be characterized as dramatic. Raisin, fig, grape skins, furniture polish, menthol tobacco, toasted wood, asphalt, and medicinal iodine on the nose. Chewy, robust, and rich on the palate, the peat keeps the cask’s sweetness in check, as raisin, orange marmalade, dark chocolate, fruit leather, hefty spice, roasted nuts, and oak vie with iodine, saline, and ash. Pepper slides into oak and tobacco on the finish, with dark-skinned fruit and menthol lingering. (Julio's Liquors exclusive; 288 bottles)
A classic with its nose of toffee, vanilla, treacle tarts, and fragrant pot still spices. Initially, flavors of green apple, red fruits, toffee, nimble spices, caramel, and vanilla before a minty master class: rubbed mint leaves become peppermint, developing into After Eight mints, then cool mints. Taste for a minute or more for the full experience. The smooth finish has clove, pepper, and bitter dark chocolate. Collectibles
Old Fitzgerald 15 year old Bottled in Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon (Fall 2019 Release), 50%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $150
A rich aroma dominated by vanilla, pralines, and cola showcases well-integrated wood that smacks of tobacco, candied nuts, and dark chocolate. The palate is similarly rich, full, and sultry-smooth, with no perceptible alcohol heat, just heaps of brown sugar, seductive spice, and fine leather. The maturity and refinement here are lovely to behold—fruit, spice, and earth, draped over crystalline sweetness. Collectibles
This 18 year old is aged in a mix of bourbon barrels and oloroso sherry casks. The nose is redolent of a damped-down bonfire, with stewed fruit, wood spice, and pipe tobacco. There are red berries, subtle peat, a hint of iodine, and soft oak on the complex palate. The finish yields more tobacco, oak, rich peat, and spicy dark chocolate.
Eagle Rare 17 year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon (2019 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection), 50.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $99
Vanilla nougat, violet candies, maple syrup, blueberry jam, root beer, spiced peanuts, iced tea, and rich cooked fruit on the nose. Creamy and nutty on the palate, with milk chocolate, bitter orange, Coca-Cola, roasted pecans, blackberry jam, and lush, silky spice. The lengthy, full finish showcases a panoply of spice—none of it hot—along with cooked cherries, dark chocolate, and leathery oak. Excellent construction and balance of flavors; no water needed.
Equal parts fascinating and delicious, this has a clean and creamy nose with notes of Golden Delicious apples, vanilla, golden sugar, snuff, and a sprinkle of lime zest. Brown sugar, praline edging on chocolate flavors, stone and orchard fruits, vanilla, light toffee, and a late sensation of spices nipping the tongue. Dark toffee, coffee grounds, and bitter chocolate join the spices in the finish (2,500 bottles). (€92)
This has been Lagavulin’s principal expression for more than 30 years. Iodine, rich peat, and caramel on the early nose, with sherry, sea salt, and charcuterie. The oily, briny palate offers peat and a medicinal note, along with black tea, Seville orange, toffee, cinnamon, and a hint of smoked fish. Peat embers and hot tar in the lengthy, spicy finish. Deeply satisfying!
Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series: Stave Profile RC6 Kentucky Straight Bourbon (2019 Release), 54.1%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $60
An impressive nose of cedar cigar box, sweet cornbread crusts, leathery oak, and sweeping vanilla introduce this decadent whiskey. On the palate, the prolific oak offers lots of tobacco, dark chocolate, and sassafras draped over sweet dark berries and coupled with bold baking spices. Coffee, charred oak, and more bitter chocolate linger long on the finish. Water serves well to tame the heat. Finished with the addition of ten toasted RC6-profile staves in the barrel.
Powdered sugar, vanilla frosting and other bakery shop notes on the nose, as well as leather, iced tea, dark chocolate, cherries, and plums. The palate offers spiced chocolate, toasted almonds, cinnamon, pepper, vanilla cream, and well-integrated oak. The finish is spicy and powerful, with semi-sweet chocolate, raisins, walnuts, leather, and pipe tobacco. A big whiskey that carries its proof remarkably well—savory and sweet, but with subtlety and balance. Editors' Choice
Fragrant lemon and dried herbs on the nose, along with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and a hint of licorice. The palate offers deep notes of blackberry compote, tiramisu, and milk chocolate, all underpinned by earthy tones of cedar and polished oak. A rich symphony of flavor punctuates the long, impressive finish—mocha, almond, and cooked dark fruit, draped in notes of gooey caramel and pepper spice, set against balanced oak.
The follow up to Small Batch rye, this single pot still is double-distilled at the historic Kilbeggan Distillery with a mashbill containing 2.5% oats, inspired by a Locke family recipe from the late 1800s. Pot still spices hit the nose first, with candied peel, baked peach, apricot, creamy vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ground pepper. Flavors of orange, apricot, cake, and vanilla combat fizzing pot still spices. Sublimely good Irish whiskey. Best Value
Four Gate 9 year old Foundation Kentucky Straight Bourbon, 59.7%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $200
Heady perfume of violets, fresh blueberries, purple plums, blackberry jam, and raspberry coulis, along with grape soda, antique furniture, wet walnuts, and a hint of toasted marshmallow. Equally enchanting on the palate, with candied violets, grape juice, and refined oak; add water and the fresh fruits burst forth, rich and jammy, underpinned by peppery spice, dark chocolate, pecans, and more violets. It ends with rich restraint, lengthy and mouthwatering. (748 bottles)
Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Port Barrel-Finished Bourbon (2019 Release), 61.2%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $200
An enchanting and somewhat racy nose, with blackberries, cherries, concord grapes, brown sugar, apple crumble, leather, iced tea, and polished oak; though the port finish is evident, it doesn’t smother the bourbon’s core character, which comes through with corn muffin and peanuts. Nutty grain asserts itself on the palate as well, set off by dark fruit and chocolate, ample spice, pecan pie, and cherry cough syrup. The lengthy finish is peppery, and pops with chocolate, cough syrup, roasted pecans, and warm spices. (14,000 bottles) Collectibles
Perhaps the most alluring name ever given to a whisky, this has a nose of bright, zesty, potent clementine with vanilla sponge cake, fudge, heady floral scents, toasted coriander seeds, and peppercorn. Citrus drives the palate, but it’s sweet and tangy, and arrives with vanilla, fudge, toffee, and twinkling little flights of spice. Brilliant blending and the tastiest exploration of Ballantine’s signature notes to date. (Travel Retail exclusive)