The Exclusive Malts 13 year old 2002 (cask #20021), 54.2%
Irish | $135
This 13 year old malt from central Ireland is an uncommon foray into the Irish whiskey space for the Exclusive Malts Collection. Pure malt is the focus of the nose which supports that malt with tart green apple. On the palate this whiskey is a stunning mix of lush, sweet honey, salt, malt, green apple, and ginger spice. The balance and integration are nothing short of perfect. A long malty finish caps off one of the best Irish whiskeys I’ve had. (U.S. only)
Evan Williams Single Barrel 2005 Vintage (Barrel #292), 43.3%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $29
Complex fruit (clementine, pineapple, golden raisin) balanced nicely with honey, vanilla custard, and dusty corn, along with a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg. An extremely versatile whiskey with its medium weight, easy to embrace personality, and subtle charms. Perennially one of the best values in whiskey. Editor's Choice and Value Pick.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Pigs in Plaster 14 year old (#4.1980), 59.1%
Single Malt Scotch | $140
This single cask, distilled at Highland Park, is an excellent example of why distilleries sell off certain casks. On the nose it’s Highland Park's signature sherry and peat, but on the palate it's a beast. Monster peat smoke surfs on a lush layer of berry and malt. This builds to a peak with smoke, salt, and oak spice, bolstered by the high proof. A smoky, dry finish rounds off a monster whisky, different from Highland Park's style, but very interesting. (Julio’s Liquors only)
Finally, an unimpeachable counterpoint to the rally cry against no age statement whisky. Oban Little Bay is everything that Oban 14 is, and more. A rich, fruity, malty nose showcases dried apricot, dark chocolate, and salt. On the palate, Little Bay explodes with flavor, combining malt with orange, chocolate, and blackberry. Clove and oak spice join the party in the mid-palate, which shows superb balance and integration. A long, slightly dry, citrusy spice finish caps off a stunning whisky.
Sweet, with subtle, crisp, nutty oak, then comes fudge, ripe banana, and peach. The overall effect is like eating vanilla ice cream with toffee fudge and hazelnut sprinkles. The structure is thick and physical, the palate sweet and quite fat, with light hints of raspberry, fruit salad. A jag of acidity freshens the delivery on the finish. With water there’s more toffee, and it becomes slightly more yielding, with less oak. For me the gold standard of grain.
7 year old whiskey (an unspecified “corn, rye, and malted barley” mashbill “distilled in Indiana”) aged in used barrels. Maple syrup, well-browned popovers, and Canada mint lozenges in a boozy-hot nose. Richly sweet on the palate: pastry dough, hints of anise, buttery and slightly-burnt cornbread, syrupy dark fruits: complex, rich, delicious. Water brings out more of the dough and tames the heat. Delicious, unique, intriguing. Sourced whiskey.
When Thomas Chen introduced Canadian Rockies in Taiwan, he chose Highwood Distillers in High River, Alberta, to supply a delicate yet fragrant, fruit-laden whisky that would please the Taiwanese palate. Now launching in Canada, Chen upped the bottling strength to 46% to boost the flavor. The complex, exotic fruit salad and faint lilac-like flowers that characterized the original remain, along with blistering white pepper, sweet oak caramels, and crisp, clean barrel notes on a luxurious, creamy palate. (Canada only) C$69
Nicely round flavor profile, with complex notes of creamy vanilla, subtle tropical fruit, mocha, fennel seed, and light tobacco. Lingering cinnamon spice and cocoa on the finish. An extremely drinkable whiskey that entertains throughout. Price is per 375 ml.
Bernheim Original Single Barrel 7 year old Straight Wheat, 45%
Wheat Whiskey | $35
This select bottling of Bernheim Original comes from Warehouse Y on the 4th floor, and is non-chill filtered. Without the filtering, the nose is notably more expressive and becomes a real showcase for wheat grain, oak spice, caramel, and citrus. On the palate, this whiskey maintains a firm balance between soft and strong, with supple wheat grain entwined with caramel, oak, and cinnamon spice. A long, flavorful finish caps off a well-curated selection of an excellent whiskey. (Julio’s Liquors only)
How time flies! This eloquent blended grain marks CBWC’s 15th anniversary and the combination of these aged grains is idiosyncratic of whisky auteur John Glaser’s distinctive taste. Rich honey, apricot stone, crisp spices, vanilla custard, gentle oak char, and tropical fruits promise a real reward. Succulently juicy, with melon, apple, and caramel, subtly paced, with chocolate and dark fruit infiltrating. Slowly the sweetness depletes to black pepper and spiced roast meats. Defer swallowing for as long as possible. (5,689 bottles)
The Sovereign (distilled at Cambus) 50 year old 1964, 49.2%
Single Grain Scotch | $657
You really don’t see many of these. Pear drops, stewed apple, strawberry jam, fragrant rhubarb stems, and vanilla pods. Neat, there’s a tacky sweetness of hard candy, with bitter skins of damson and green plum, sloes, and custard creams. Counteract this with water to bring out acetone, cake mix, and sweet bourbon notes of vanilla and creamed coconut. Then it is triumphant. Dry oak and dark vanilla complete one of the longest finishes I’ve savored this year. (111 bottles) £420
A single barrel bottling from Warehouse N, rick number 1, bottled at the proof that Wild Turkey was designed to be. A deeply-woody spiced nose featuring cinnamon and caramel advertises a power punch whiskey, but on the palate there's no punch. Instead, it’s lush, round, and affable, with deep caramel and cinnamon co-mingling with peanut. The lush, sweet start is well-balanced by cinnamon spice, which ramps up and drives a long spicy finish. This is delicious whiskey. (Julio’s Liquors only)
A blend of 95% rye-grain flavoring whisky with a variety of base whiskies. Its big whisky cocktails will tempt mixers into sipping. Very fruity and floral, with prunes, peaches, red apple skins, and bouquets of spring flowers all boosted by vibrant peppery spices on a slightly oaky base. Crown Royal’s signature balsam resin note and hints of vanilla round it out. The long, spicy finish ends with hints of citrus pith. A complex, tightly woven blend. (U.S. only)
A very pricy (for Wild Turkey) 17 year old whiskey honoring master distiller Jimmy Russell. Nose is hot for the proof, with oak, dried barrel drool, warm dried corn, tobacco barn, and teaberry. Entry is not hot; rather, a thread of sweet syrup spreads out into thoroughly integrated corn and oak. Finish slides into drier oak. A fascinating journey through bourbon flavors, this is both lighter and more complex than expected. I still prefer younger Wild Turkey, but…
This whiskey includes bourbon distilled at Buffalo Trace and Bernheim; its final aging was at Stitzel-Weller. Sweet and rich, with a mouth-coating velvety texture. Deeper and more polished than its younger NAS sibling (see below). Caramel, cocoa powder, lush orchard fruit, kiwi, Seville orange, fig, and honeyed vanilla, balanced by drying oak. Distinctive in character. Best after a hearty meal.
Hart Brothers (distilled at Glen Grant) 22 year old, 51.1%
Single Malt Scotch | $103
A welcome return for Hart Brothers. This Glen Grant is light, clean, and penetrating, with lots of gooseberry, melon, basil, and cut grass. This turns into an intriguing note of concentrated fruits; think yellow wine gums and fresh William pear. The palate has classic Glen Grant purity, with a hint of tropical fruits. Water adds another graceful layer on top, making the effect more like a rose garden…one which you keep returning to. Excellent. £66
Weighty and deep. Instantly seductive: vanilla pod, rich fruits, the smell of fur coats. A femme fatale of a malt. A base of crisp malt mixes with oak to give balance and structure. Water brings out apple leaf, even a little grassiness. The palate is broad and balanced, with real sweetness and a tongue-coating quality which softens to dried fruit, earthy density, with a whiff of smoke. Redolent with the aroma of a dunnage warehouse. A class act.
A malted rye whiskey, aged in new, bourbon, and Germain-Robin cognac barrels. Cereal grains are the star of this nose, which supports the rye grain with oak and cinnamon spice. The palate follows the grain-focused nose and is a carefully crafted love note to rye grain, featuring multi-grain cereal, cinnamon, ginger, sawdust, and a touch of oak. The finish is all dark chocolate, rye grain, and cinnamon spice; a delicious, close to expertly-crafted whiskey.