Your search returned 130 results.

96 points

John E. Fitzgerald Very Special Reserve 20 year old, 45%

Distilled at the now legendary Stitzel-Weller distillery. Rich aromas of vanilla toffee, marzipan, cocoa, nutmeg and cinnamon. Similar follow-through on the palate, with black raspberry, maple syrup, teaberry, and dusty dried corn thrown into the mix. Warming cinnamon and polished oak on the finish. The sweet notes balance and integrate nicely with the oak. An exemplary rendition of an ultra-aged wheated bourbon. Price is per 375 ml. Editor's Choice.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

95 points

Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch (2015 Release), 54.3%

Seamless in flavor and very elegant. A fully matured bourbon (consisting of whiskeys from 11 to 16 years in age), yet quite fresh on the palate. Lively fruit (apricot, red raspberry, tangerine) on a bed of lush sweet notes (caramel, honey-coconut crème brûlée and cotton candy), peppered with cinnamon, clove, and crisp mint. Soft finish, with lingering creamy vanilla. Not as great as the legendary 2013 release, but close.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

95 points

Sazerac Rye 18 year old, 45%

A benchmark rye whiskey, which has been stored in stainless steel tanks the past several years to prevent excessive aging while new batches mature. This is the last of the “tanked” stock. Soft and teasing for a rye whiskey, but perfectly balanced. Gentle toffee and molasses provide a foundation for interwoven clove, mint, and cinnamon. Delicately dry, lingering finish. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2015 Release.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

94 points

Royal Salute 62 Gun Salute, 43%

Named after the gun rounds fired on Royal anniversaries at the Tower of London. Heightened sherry tones with dark Madagascar chocolate, Brazil nut, fondant cream, and faint espresso indulge the nose. One heavenly sip reveals a velvety smooth whisky, thick and sticky, all revolving around the chocolate and nut, with a little support from dark fruits. You can chew over this for hours as the finish soft-pedals the main themes. A work of genius.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

94 points

George T. Stagg, 69.1%

No age statement, but distilled in 2000. A great value if you can find it for $80. An aggressive whiskey, but complex too, showing toffee, nougat, dates, black raspberry, dark chocolate, and resinous oak. Leather and tobacco on the finish. Masculine and exciting. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2015 Release.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

94 points

William Larue Weller, 67.3%

Distilled in 2003. Weller is the wheated bourbon in the Collection, where wheat replaces the rye found in most other bourbons. The sweetness is balanced nicely by a solid peppering of oak spice. Notes of toffee, maple syrup, fig, black raspberry preserve, cinnamon, and vanilla. Lingering oak and polished leather on the finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

93 points

Dailuaine 1980 34 year old (Diageo Special Release 2015), 50.9%

That rarely-spotted beast Dailuaine gets the Special Release treatment. This example has come from refill American oak and has immediate marzipan notes on top of the distillery’s fascinating mix of meaty density and sweetness. In time there are fat fruits, Victoria plum, bitter citrus, faded green leafiness, and chocolate notes. The palate is ripe, rich, and profound, with a hint of tropical fruits cut with cacao. Long, elegant, and complex, this is the best of this year’s bunch for me.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

92 points

Compass Box This Is Not A Luxury Whisky, 53.1%

This surrealist Compass Box whisky mimics the dimensional challenges of Magritte’s “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” by raising questions about the luxury pretensions of whisky. Is it the expense? Packaging? Good taste? Masquerading behind a green apple, a bowler-hatted John Glaser smiles enigmatically. Sultanas, charcoal smoke, toffee, chocolate, sea salt, and warm sherry tones. The alcohol rides with dense black cherry, cacao nibs, Colombian coffee, and dark fruits. Trails of smoking fruitcake finish the experience. Above all, buy and consume. (4,992 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

92 points

Thomas H. Handy Rye (2015 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection), 64.96%

Distilled in 2008, this is always the youngest whiskey in the Collection. The boldest and spiciest too! A blast of mint, clove, and cinnamon leads the spice charge, with fig, dates, caramel-coated nuts, vanilla, and candied fruit. Well-integrated flavors, and a smart balance of youth and maturity.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

91 points

Cadenhead’s (distilled at Linkwood) 1989, 51.1%

Powerful and rich to begin with. Some raisin syrup backed with clean, apple-like acidity adding some freshness. This swells into a deep but refined musky apple/pear note with some black fruits behind. Highly complex, but full of distillery character. Water brings out a note like freshly-applied varnish. The palate is smooth, gentle, and deep. A classic mature Linkwood with all of the distillery character on show in perfect alliance with the cask.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

91 points

Ardbeg Supernova 2015 Release, 54.3%

Apparently this is the final Supernova release and the Ardbeg team has ensured it goes out with all guns blazing. Although it seems calm initially—there’s a minty and sweet spicy element to the fore—the smoke begins to push through in the guise of creosote, then sootiness which, in turn, mingles with seaweed aromas. The peat dominates the palate but there is sufficient oiliness to round it out and add layers of smoked fish, and dried grasses. Farewell.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

91 points

The Dalmore 21 year old, 42%

Dalmore released 8,000 bottles of its latest 21 year old, initially matured 10 years in American oak barrels before an 11 year period of secondary maturation in first-fill Matusalem oloroso sherry butts from Gonzalez Byass. Intense aromas of Jaffa orange, marzipan, and ginger, plus soft oak. Robust, yet stylish. Smooth and well-rounded on the palate, with milky coffee, orange marmalade, cinnamon, and developing spicy dark chocolate. The lengthy finish is spicy, with licorice, a hint of citrus, and sweet oak.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

91 points

Ballantine’s 17 year old Signature Distillery Editions – Scapa, 43%

As you raise the glass to your nose, this has refreshment written all over it. The fragrance of an early morning visit to a florist, zesty orange notes, honey, peach pits, a hint of salt, and the faintest trace of smoke. It’s silky smooth, glistening with honey, a firm edge of orange, vanilla tablet, barley sugar, powdered ginger, all elevated by the grains supporting the Scapa. A smooth, feather-light finish of sparkling light spices and creaminess. A joy to behold.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

91 points

Metze’s Select, 46.5%

Old school spicy nose, almost archetypal scents of sweet teaberry, cinnamon, and spearmint hard candy, with a firm, warm alcohol backing. True in the mouth: I’m tasting just what I smelled, all on a full bed of corn sweetness, floating off into a warm finish. Could it be more complex? Yes, but it’s beautifully balanced, and not the over-oaked shellac that passes for mature bourbon these days. If this was under $30 a bottle, I’d marry it. (6,000 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

91 points

Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Century, 50%

Rich and sweet on the nose: crème brûlée, unfinished oak furniture, circus peanuts, overripe warm melon. Corn puffs and sweet cornbread, vanilla cream, oak density, firm heat, and an affably full mouthfeel that doesn’t thin till the very end. Easily one of the best Jack Daniel’s whiskeys I’ve ever had, but the price is jaw-dropping even today (the package does include a previously-unreleased 1966 concert recording of Old Blue Eyes). Price is per 1 liter.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

91 points

Buffalo Trace Old Fashioned Sour Mash (125 Entry Proof), 45%

Darker in both flavor and personality when compared to its sibling. Rich palate-coating caramel and toffee provide the foundation for roasted nuts, dark berry fruit, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and polished leather. Long, satisfying finish. Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection French Oak Barrel Aged Bourbons 2015 Release. Price is per 375 ml.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

91 points

Forty Creek Three Grain Harmony, 43%

Three Grain Harmony marries rye and barley whiskies from 1992-94 to 4 year old corn whisky. The corn lends voluptuous body to a complex assortment of carefully integrated grains, dark fruits, prune juice, and butterscotch. Dried herbs, potpourri, and orange peel follow as the palate begins to broaden. When the big notes fade, look for delicate subtleties. Hot spices and pepper build from sip to sip and linger long into the sandalwood finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

90 points

Scallywag Cask Strength, 53.6%

As if this cheeky devil from Douglas Laing wasn’t good enough already! Strawberry napoleon, mint leaves rubbed between finger and thumb, runny honey, fresh peach, and wood whittled on the back porch. The sweet orange starts gossamer light, then it hits the gas: the citrus becomes more tangy, touching blood orange, fizzy sweeties become taffy candy, then sherbet. Eventually pacified, it becomes milky and sweet, with milk chocolate melting on the tongue. A creamy finish like a mother’s embrace. £50

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

90 points

Douglas Laing Xtra Old Particular (distilled at Strathclyde) 40 year old, 55.4%

This is an amazing link back to Glasgow in the 1970s. Fresh peach, cherry blossom, red Tunes, baked apple, hay bales, acetone, orange peel, and old pepper grinders. A silky texture with red apple, orange oils, and a luxuriantly refined taste leads to apple peelings, caramel, and ginger. Such quality! The finish slips away quietly: melon, peach, fudge, and a final twist of pepper. Bliss! Great to see Douglas Laing bringing out more XOP single grains of such standing. (150 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

90 points

Abraham Bowman High Rye Bourbon, 50%

“Contains five times more rye than A. Smith Bowman’s standard bourbon recipe,” aged 7 years and 9 months. A lean bourbon nose: sweet grain, leather, pepper, oak. Zing in the mouth! Quite spicy, with a smooth, oily feel, notes of dried apple and split fruit-tree branches, and a driving but welcome heat that lines straight through to the long, dry finish. Bold, interesting, and worthy of repeating! Limited release; mainly in Virginia.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

90 points

Yellowstone Limited Edition, 52.5%

Blends 7 and 12 year old bourbons, and a 7 year wheater, in a beautifully packaged tribute to the old brand. Typical nose—cinnamon Red Hots, milled corn, oaky zest—in balanced harmony. Beautiful stuff on the tongue: warm but not hot, expansive corn sweetness that lightens the cinnamon’s intensity, some clove, some oaky dryness. The warm finish only ends after a long embrace. Pricey for 7 year old bourbon, though; is this the future? Sourced whiskey.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

90 points

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel (Barrel #15-4956), 65.85%

Hot barrel wood, like opening a rickhouse in July; light allspice, vanilla, and fiery alcohol. Drinkable without water, surprisingly. Hot syrup, corn sugar caramel, tannic oak, and a bit of stickiness. An interesting look at Jack Daniel’s: unblended, undiluted, untamed. It’s still Jack—sweet, insistent—but it’s taller, bigger. I could say I’d like even more heft, more complexity…but would that be asking Jack to be something it simply is not?

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

90 points

Gooderham & Worts, 44.4%

Innovation is key at Windsor’s Corby Distillers. Though best known for its Wiser’s range, Corby also makes this juicy new four-grain beauty. Big and firm on the palate, G&W glides into a buttery corn-whisky slather flooded with delicate rye flowers, nutty dusty barley, and soft, sweet wheat notes. Want the list? Crisp clean oak, citrus pith, stewed fruits, meadow flowers, and brisk pepper with mildly pulling tannins. (Canada only) C$45

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

90 points

Hibiki Japanese Harmony, 43%

Poised and complex, with typically lifted fruitiness: strawberry ice cream, pineapple, peach, balanced by delicate oak, bamboo shoot-like delicacy, then lemon. The palate is more rounded than that very forward nose, with toffee notes adding some weight. A touch of smoke comes along in the mid-palate, before fruits and caramelized coffee biscuits. Water allows the flavors to flood the palate. Exemplary blending skills and classically Hibiki.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

90 points

Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye, 45%

Dad’s Hat rye has evolved, like many craft whiskeys, but they’re still bottling at 6 to 9 months (another label is planned for a straight version). That’s working well. The nose is rip-roaring rye: crushed grain, grass, sweet spice, bitter herbal notes, with all the complexity of the grain. Delivers honestly on the tongue, too, plus a light barrel character, proceeding to an integrated finish. Excellent young rye, there’s no mistaking the mother grain.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

89 points

Glenfarclas £511. 19s. 0d.

Unusually named—it refers to the price paid for the distillery—here is Glenfarclas in slightly lighter guise than usual. Fresh and clean at the start, with hints of sweet nut and soft cooked fruits; subtly sherried elements then begin to come through. The palate is balanced, with supple tannins and a dark depth to the mid-palate. Those sweet fruits in the nose continue all the way through. Refined and rather lovely. £85

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

89 points

Caol Ila Unpeated 1997 17 year old (Diageo Special Release 2015), 55.9%

Aged in first-fill American oak, this shows a real brightness, crisp fruit, and some smoke—it’s not really unpeated—and wet grass, before moving into pear and tarragon. The palate is intense, with a hay note, then an almost fino sherry-like note before sashimi emerges. Reduced, there’s more of a soft flow, though there’s still a touch of green olive minerality. A steal at this price. Snap it up.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

89 points

Port Ellen 1983 32 year old (Diageo Special Release 2015), 53.9%

Matured in refill European oak sherry butts, this year’s Special Release has more weight than many previous expressions and a fascinating smokiness that comes across like a just-lit fire: fire lighter, burning paper, fire grate, and wood smoke. The more active oak adds walnut skin notes and rich dried fruits before the smoke returns. All very sophisticated with enough sweetness to balance. Excellent, but, ouch, that price!

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

89 points

Johnnie Walker Select Cask Rye Cask Finish, 46%

A zeitgeist Johnnie Walker fine-tuned for the American palate, this blend has a moreish nose of cinnamon, cocoa, and the toasted coconut of macaroons, mingled with strands of smoke, dried walnut, nutmeg, and an array of spicy rye anchored by a concentrated line of vanilla. Lots of American oak at play here. It’s elegant, dry, and smooth with vanilla, cinnamon, coconut, and flashes of spice. It’s fabulous sipped straight up but keep walking to the finish. Value Pick.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

89 points

That Boutique-y Whisky Company Blended Malt #2 (batch 1), 48.3%

These Boutique-y blends are delivering terrifically good whiskies time after time, but the small batches sell through quickly now that the word is out. This one has plums, apple, mixed peel, spices, walnut, and sherry notes. The palate is fizzy, with plummy depths, chocolate shavings, ginger biscuits, and dark fruits with a medium-weight mouthfeel. This can go toe-to-toe with the best of ‘em. Once the ginger settles down it leaves a pleasing, mild maltiness. Add water if you must. (370 bottles) £49

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

89 points

Wemyss Malts Kiln Embers, 46%

This is so much more than a pumped-up version of Peat Chimney; this has sweet smoke from singed green wood twigs, light honey, peach, all balanced with TCP-soaked bandages. Nothing harsh or off-putting, it’s just a delight. Sweet honey, orange, generous malt, and caramel, but it’s the smoke coiling its way throughout that makes the greatest impression on the palate and finish. These blended malts tend to move quickly, so grab one while you can. Perfect for winter drinking. (12,000 bottles) £42

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

89 points

Eagle Rare 17 year old, 45%

Usually the sleeper of the Collection. Toffee mixed with cinnamon, mocha, añejo rum, golden raisin, dried citrus, and tobacco, with firm leather and oak on the finish. Last year’s release was more balanced and a great expression of the brand, but I’m afraid this release is a little heavy on the oak; particularly on the finish. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2015 Release.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

89 points

Buffalo Trace Old Fashioned Sour Mash (105 Entry Proof), 45%

Light in body, with creamy notes of vanilla and honey married with orchard fruit. All this is balanced by warming dried spice on the finish. Very enjoyable. Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection French Oak Barrel Aged Bourbon 2015 Release. Price is per 375 ml.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

89 points

Green Spot Château Léoville Barton, 46%

Mitchell & Son’s classic whiskey finished for 1 to 2 years in wine casks formerly used by the Barton family in the St-Julien appellation. Spiced apple, redcurrant, blushing pink young raspberries, with a deeper earthiness, like a hedgerow run wild. An autumnal character: apple, rhubarb, ginger, piquant fruits, more vanilla, then a finish of sweetened apple and peppercorns. A definite imprint from the higher-strength pot still. It feels like the wine has shaped, sculpted, and finessed the whisky beautifully. À votre santé!

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

88 points

Kilkerran Work in Progress VII – Sherry, 46%

Distilled in 2004, this 11 year old sherry cask-matured expression from Glengyle in Campbeltown is one of two final releases under the Work in Progress banner. 6,000 bottles have been released. Fragrant wood fires, fruity old leather, damp tweed, sherry, malt, and autumn berries on the nose. The palate is oily, rich, and rounded, with zesty spice, then peaches in syrup and sweet smokiness. The spices persist. The finish is long and warming with chili, licorice, and worn leather.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

88 points

The Dalmore Distillery Exclusive 2015, 48%

Just 450 bottles of this year’s offering are available. Aged in a mixture of Madeira, muscatel, and port casks, with a final spell in first-fill bourbon barrels. Warm caramel, spiced orange, peach blossom, and black pepper on the complex nose. Nicely textured on the palate; initially fondant-sweet, then nutmeg, Jaffa orange, ginger, and milk chocolate emerge. Relatively lengthy in the finish, with sultanas, leather, a hint of plain chocolate, and lingering black pepper. £150

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

88 points

Tomatin 36 year old, 46%

Tomatin has introduced a permanently-available 36 year old expression, and the first batch comprises 800 bottles. Matured in a combination of bourbon and oloroso sherry casks, this expression has not been chill-filtered. Milk chocolate and vanilla on the early nose, with background apricots, malt, and ginger. Ultimately citrus fruit and sherry. Good mouth-feel, lively sweet fruits, cloves, and more ginger on the palate. Long in the finish, drying slowly to fruity licorice and plain chocolate.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

88 points

Royal Brackla 16 year old, 40%

As part of its program to make available single malts from all five of its Scotch whisky distilleries, Bacardi subsidiary John Dewar & Sons has now released a trio of bottlings from Royal Brackla, situated near Nairn in the Scottish Highlands. The 12, 16, and 21 year old expressions are initially available in ten markets, Including the UK, U.S., and Canada. Richer and more complex than its younger sibling, with waxy peel, glacé cherries, sherry, sultanas, and custard. Silky smooth in the mouth, with marshmallows, milk chocolate, medium-sweet sherry, and stem ginger. Tingling spices allied to darkening chocolate and a touch of smoke in the medium to long finish. Finally, a fat, buttery note.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

88 points

Ballantine’s 17 year old Signature Distillery Editions – Glenburgie, 40%

Up close, this displays more sherry and dried fruits, particularly raisins, currants, and sultanas, with a deep strawberry note and dollop of marmalade. Quite pungent, and that resonates rewardingly at the back of the throat. The juicy mandarin flavor has some tartness, but then there’s cake mix, gingersnaps, clove, and toasted spices, though it gravitates back to the marmalade. The finish has dry, bitter orange, ginger, and spice, with a hint of lime zest. Confident and characterful.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

88 points

The Clan Denny (distilled at Strathclyde) 9 year old, 55.7%

Need more whisky? Of course you do! Try this then. It was matured in a sherry butt following distillation in 2005: savory, beefy, roasted meat juices, brisket bark, balsamic vinegar, new strips of colored plasticine, and chocolatey Guatemalan coffee beans. A sherried, soft, and wispy opener with a whiff of ginger, clove, plum, charred notes, raisins, and black bun: this youngster can handle itself alright. A cloying, clingy finish with heat, sweet sherry notes, and spices. Give it plenty!

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

88 points

Barrell Bourbon (Batch 005), 62.35%

“Tennessee bourbon” at 8 years, 3 months, and barrel proof. This and Batch 006 are the same whiskey, the same age, from different warehouse floors. Smooth sweet nose of oak and hot corn. Quite spicy on the tongue, hard-dancing oak vaults high in the mouth over a strong, sweet body. Solid oaky finish. Honest and foursquare as a Tennessee farmer; no surprises, but no disappointments either. Sourced whiskey.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

88 points

Jim Beam Harvest Collection Triticale, 45%

Triticale is a rye-wheat hybrid, so I’m expecting a rye-wheater hybrid bourbon. What I get is a screamer: spicy slice of a nose, hot cinnamon and sawn dry oak. Surprisingly light in the mouth, which is putting a smile on my face. Oak races through this, a spine coated with sweet grain, spicy notes, a bit of creaminess, and as the oak wraps up, I realize: no real rye bitterness. Cool stuff, a very good one. Price is per 375 ml.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

88 points

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 12 year old (2015 release), 50%

Many of the Birthday Bourbon releases are wood driven, and this one is particularly so. Very spicy, with warming cinnamon and cool mint. Roasted nuts, tropical fruit (coconut, pineapple), tangerine, and apricot emerge occasionally, along with a foundation of vanilla and caramel. Firm, resinous grip on the finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

88 points

Midleton Very Rare 2015, 40%

Master distiller Brian Nation is really getting into his stride now. This vintage has creamed coconut, Jersey milk, vanilla desserts, crystallized jellies, fresh orange peel, and dry spices. To drink it is to celebrate American oak; creamy, golden, polished, with peach, honey, sherbet, sugars, butter frosting, sponge cupcakes, almond biscuits, and Quaker oatmeal squares. Spices are reactivated at the swallow. You have a whole year to enjoy this until the next one arrives. Really, there’s no excuse.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

88 points

St. George Single Malt (Lot 15), 43%

Ages range from 4 to 16 year old whiskeys; seven types of cask, 100% malt (mashed at Sierra Nevada Brewing). Solid, hefty malt nose with fruit dressing and a fleeting hint of baking spices. A much weightier, more serious whiskey this year; the malt is meaty, savory, with an edge from the wine oak, and even a hint of brine toward the end. I miss last year’s balance and relaxed nature, though; there’s an air of trying too hard here. (3,000 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

87 points

Duncan Taylor (distilled at Imperial) 1995, 48%

Fruits are to the fore here, super ripe, and dark in hue: think of plump plums, sweet black grapes, and hedgerow berries. That said, it is never heavy, as if it’s just the aromatics of the fruits which have been preserved. In time, some dried flowers emerge. The palate is equally sweet, with a little caramel and spice. It fades gently. Impressive and well worth a look. I wonder whether the new Dalmunach distillery will produce anything like this? £213

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

87 points

Kilkerran Work in Progress VII – Bourbon, 54.1%

The 2015 Work in Progress releases are the last before the single malt becomes a permanently-available 12 year old in 2016. 6,000 bottles are available. Creamy malt, marzipan, and vanilla on the nose, with pears, instant coffee, linseed, and a hint of table salt. Soft and slightly oily on the warm, spicy palate, with immediate ripe apples, caramel, and slight smokiness. Long and slowly drying, with a touch of aniseed and brine.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

87 points

Bowmore Mizunara Cask Finish, 53.9%

It’s only right that the first single malt scotch given a period of time (3 years in this case) in Japanese oak (mizunara) casks is from Beam Suntory-owned Bowmore. It’s a fascinating mix of the vanilla, spice, and incense notes of mizunara and Bowmore’s distillery characteristics. You get rich peat, black pepper, apricot, and peach all playing alongside each other. The palate is clean and lighter than the nose suggests, with a fresh zestiness before the smoke leans back in.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

87 points

Dalwhinnie Distillers Edition 1997, 43%

Distilled in 1997 and bottled in 2014, this expression of Dalwhinnie spent a period finishing in oloroso sherry casks. The nose offers honey, ripe oranges, peach blossom, and creamy milk chocolate, with just a wisp of smoke. Full-bodied and sweet on the palate, with orange zest, walnuts, more honey, and fruit spices. The finish is long and warming, with a hint of peat and spicy oak.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

87 points

Royal Brackla 21 year old, 40%

As part of its program to make available single malts from all five of its Scotch whisky distilleries, Bacardi subsidiary John Dewar & Sons has now released a trio of bottlings from Royal Brackla, situated near Nairn in the Scottish Highlands. The 12, 16, and 21 year old expressions are initially available in ten markets, Including the UK, U.S., and Canada. More restrained on the nose than the 12 and 16 year old variants, with green apples, melons, and damp grass. The palate is silky and refined, with fresh fruits, just a hint of sherry, light spice, and a wisp of smoke. Aniseed and drying old oak in the earthy, lengthy finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

87 points

The Antiquary 35 year old, 46%

The aromas can be split into four; fresh fruits (raspberry, blueberry), desserts (vanilla custard, bread and butter pudding), antique shop (polished furniture, well-oiled moving parts), and stewed fruits (apple, rhubarb, some old orange peel). Wisps of balsa wood smoke; tangy orange notes build, accompanied by those fresh fruits, sweet oak, aniseed, and white pepper ending on black treacle and gingerbread. The finish is epically long; dry, floral, with parkin, residual wood notes, and further smoke evident. (800 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

87 points

Barrell Bourbon (Batch 006), 61.45%

Less driving aroma than Batch 005; lower floor? Both are a mashbill of 70/26/4% corn/rye/malt. More corn and cinnamon and bread dough in the nose here. A lot like 005, but more sweet cornmeal, less spice, less height in the mouth, and the finish is sweeter and longer. Might be that farmer’s younger brother; this one’s only 8 years old. Still good, a bit less complex. Sourced whiskey.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

87 points

Booker’s 2015-04 “Oven Buster Batch,” 63.5%

Aged over 6 years, this is a rather feminine version of Booker’s. It’s sweet, relatively gentle compared to previous releases, and quite fragrant (bordering on perfumed—especially on the nose). Creamy vanilla coats the palate, with suggestions of coconut macaroon and marzipan. Dried spice (cinnamon, mint) and drying oak on the finish keep the sweetness in check.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

87 points

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection 1838 Style White Corn Bourbon, 45.2%

Fresh-shucked sweet corn on the nose, a wisp of hot clove spice, some fresh grassiness; a clean aroma. True on the palate, with a bit of fresh cob as well, and firm oak. Lean and a bit leathery in the Woodford style, but lighter in the mouth; is the lightness from the white corn? I like this; I tend to give Woodford a bit more latitude in these essays.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

87 points

Wild Buck American Rye, 50%

NJOY Spirits makes this 100% rye from locally-grown rye, some of which they grow themselves…in Florida! It is approximately 1 year old, and quite dark. There’s a medicinal, dark pit fruit nose, overripe plum with some lighter red plum notes, a soft sweetness around the edges, and a hint of small barrel oak. Wow. Surprisingly smooth, up-front rye flavors, cushioned with a pleasantly odd sweetness with notes of cocoa and a soft rye finish. Intriguing.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

87 points

J.P. Wiser’s Hopped, 40%

“Boiling the hops made them too bitter,” says Wiser’s master blender, Don Livermore. After more than 100 attempts he cracked the fruity-floral-hops code by “dry hopping” – adding Bravo hops to the finished whisky. Searing spices energize the earthy, grassy aroma of a freshly-mown fall meadow. Caramels—some sweet, some burnt—with early blushes of coffee or milk chocolate slowly fade into a vaguely bitter finish. (Canada only) C$29

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

86 points

Cadenhead’s (distilled at Caol lla) 2000, 54.4%

Identifiably Caol Ila, with that light juniper note, lime, and very calm smoke. This sense of control continues as it opens very slowly into vanilla/cream with a little hint of salt, then fresh lychee. It is hot, so do water as this introduces a massively salty retro-nasal effect under which is this sweetly gentle mid-palate. Lovely balance.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

86 points

The Cooper’s Choice (distilled at Ben Nevis) 18 year old, 46%

Distilled in 1996 and bottled in June 2015 after maturing in sherry casks, this Cooper’s Choice expression of Ben Nevis yields an initially savory character, with ripe figs, treacle, and a hint of tar. Quite chewy in the mouth, with spicy toffee and cherries, which develop into more citric fruit over time. The finish is lengthy and warming, with a hint of oak and black coffee.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

86 points

Tomatin Contrasting Casks Sherry Matured, 46%

Tomatin has released a limited edition (5,400) pack comprising two 350ml bottles, each containing a vatting of whisky distilled in 1973, 1977, 1988, 1991, 2002, and 2006. One was matured in bourbon barrels (see below); this one in sherry casks. Initially savory on the nose, then warm leather, sherry, and glacé cherries. Very smooth on the palate with soft spices, which increase in intensity. Black treacle and Seville oranges. Peppery treacle and old oak in the finish. £100

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

86 points

Tomatin Cù Bòcan The Bourbon Edition, 46%

This is the third in a trilogy of limited releases from Tomatin, featuring the different cask types used to mature components of the standard, lightly peated Cù Bòcan variant. It follows Sherry Edition and Virgin Oak expressions. Initially, crisp green apples on the nose, then developing vanilla and caramel. Sweet, smoky apple and cinnamon. Soft and sweet on the early palate, with quite dry smoke evolving along with dark spices. Licorice and aniseed in the finish, with a citric tang. £50

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

86 points

Royal Brackla 12 year old, 40%

As part of its program to make available single malts from all five of its Scotch whisky distilleries, Bacardi subsidiary John Dewar & Sons has now released a trio of bottlings from Royal Brackla, situated near Nairn in the Scottish Highlands. The 12, 16, and 21 year old expressions are initially available in ten markets, Including the UK, U.S., and Canada. The nose offers warm spices, walnuts, malt, peaches in cream, honey, vanilla, and a slightly herbal, earthy note. Quite robust on the palate for its strength, with spice, sweet sherry, and mildly smoky orchard fruit. The finish is relatively long, with cocoa powder, citrus fruit, and ginger.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

86 points

Royal Salute The Eternal Reserve, 40%

Let me introduce you to infinity blending. 88 casks were blended and married in 88 casks for 6 months, then blended with another 88 casks. Half is bottled, and half retained at Strathisla’s Royal Salute vault for the next batch. The process is as fascinating as the whisky. Caramel, toffee, green apple, Jaffa orange, and vanilla pod aromas. Dark sweetness, fresh orange accents: polished, juicy, and thirst quenching, though the brilliance lies in the amaranthine finish. (Global Travel Retail only)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

86 points

Ballantine’s 17 year old Signature Distillery Editions – Glentauchers, 40%

Glentauchers distillery is another Chivas Brothers workhorse located deep in the Speyside countryside. Through the aromas of honey, caramel, and vanilla peek barley stalks, hard pears, and hints of Cadbury buttons. The flavor opens sweet, with red berries and Parma violets. Although this is intended to follow a lighter style, it’s very flavorsome, with creamy vanilla, poached pear, and dried apple. A juicy finish with fruitiness oozing from the cheeks.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

86 points

Master of Malt Single Cask Series (distilled at Loch Lomond) 18 year old, 60.5%

The strength is immediately apparent, though the nose has a curious mix of potato chips, tarragon, salt, and fizzy sherbet. The palate is more fruity, quite syrupy and sugary, with a lift of honeycomb and spicy ginger. It develops spiced orange notes, lime, soft summer fruits, vanilla, and Milka chocolate, encased in a thick, dense mouthfeel with nutmeg, dried peel, and powdered chocolate. A rumbustious dram at cask strength, but when tamed, it coaxes out ginger-sprinkled papaya and mango. (96 bottles) £89

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

86 points

1792 Port Finish Bourbon, 44.45%

The port finish is very evident but not overpowering. A fruit basket on the palate, with caramel apple, currants (red and black), bramble, apricot, toasted coconut, vanilla wafer, and anise. Rich and velvety in texture, with a long, gently sweet finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

86 points

Michter’s Toasted Barrel Finish Bourbon (Batch 15H664), 45.7%

Smells like bourbon—corn, a bit of cinnamon, oak—but there’s something else: a touch of doughy sweetness, a note of straight wood, a twist. Light and pleasant, with enough heat to keep it respectable (and likely alive in a cocktail); all the usual suspects are here, but without the heavier oak character. Afternoon bourbon.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

86 points

J.P. Wiser’s Double Still Rye, 43.4%

Blending two types of 100% rye with creamy corn whisky creates a complex dram that feels as good as it tastes. Sizzling peppers and nutty grains playfully torment fresh-cut cedar and dry oak, all on a comforting blanket of butterscotch. Street-roasted chestnuts and coffee beans bring depth. Pepper dominates, yet the mouth feels soft and sweet. Otherwise-muted fruity and floral notes blossom with a dash of water. (Canada only) C$29

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

86 points

Kinahan’s Single Malt 10 year old, 46%

200 years ago, Kinahan’s was the favorite tipple of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The small batch single malt has blackcurrant jellies, cinnamon sticks, dry oak spices, and baked raisins on the nose. An unctuous, succulent palate follows, with rich baked goods, roasted fruits, baked orange, cherry cola, black pepper, and chili flakes. Rounded, weighty, sweet, and rolling, this just laps up the water. Dark, oily finish with bitter chocolate. A single malt you can really get behind.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

85 points

Duncan Taylor Octave (distilled at Glen Grant) 1995, 47.7%

The impact given by secondary maturation in small (octave) sherry casks is what sets this range apart. Here, Glen Grant’s light fruits are given a darker twist, with some bodega notes, blackberry, and a surprising note of curry spices before milk chocolate develops; this is particularly apparent on the palate. The palate is gentle and quite creamy (cream sherry?) but it doesn’t like water. A pleasing dram. £99

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

85 points

Pittyvaich 1989 25 year old (Diageo Special Release 2015), 49.9%

Good to see Pittyvaich back in the Special Release roster. Here we have the heavy, nutty character of the distillery given full expression. The emphasis here is on a mix of nuts, cake mix, and dense fruits: even a little hint of cigarette tobacco. When neat, the palate has real density that is enlivened by water, which brings out fresher—and decidedly more green—notes. Worth a dram.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

85 points

Cadenhead’s (distilled at Bunnahabhain) 2005, 57.2%

Initially very ozonic, fresh, and marine. So much so that you don’t notice the smoke which is slowly building. Everything is very restrained, some cold-smoked fish, mineral, and—in time—a hint of the mash tun. That mineral note continues on the palate, which broadens into ginger nuts in the middle of the tongue. All very well-balanced, and at its best neat.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

85 points

Lagavulin 12 year old (Diageo Special Release 2015), 56.8%

As pale as you'd expect, this year’s Special Release ‘limited’ bottling has a sweet, bready softness to it making it less angular than previous expressions. The smoke comes across very gently, allowing the sweet grassiness of the spirit the upper hand until water is added. The palate stirs in some emulsion paint, a pleasing lift of sulfur and anise, and gradually deepens. With water there are more smoke and marine notes.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

85 points

Balblair 2004 Sherry Matured, 46%

Balblair has released two Travel Retail-exclusive variants of its 2004 vintage, matured in bourbon barrels and sherry casks respectively. The Sherry Matured version was aged in American and Spanish oak sherry butts. It is only available in Asia. Oriental spices, soft leather, and damsons on the nose. Milk chocolate-coated Turkish delight in time. The palate features lively spices, cooking apples, vanilla, medium-sweet sherry, and hazelnuts. Spices persist in the finish, with honey and raisins.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

85 points

Edradour Ballechin 10 year old, 46%

After eight no-age-statement releases of Edradour’s heavily-peated Ballechin, the brand finally comes of age as a core product. It is bottled at 10 years of age after maturing in a combination of bourbon barrels and oloroso sherry casks. Earthy peat and fragrant spices on the nose, old leather, and faint toffee. The palate initially offers very fruity peat, then newer leather, aniseed, and plain chocolate, with lingering fruity peatiness. More plain chocolate and ginger in the smoky, medium-length finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

85 points

Edradour The Fairy Flag 15 year old, 46%

This expression was released to celebrate the Scottish feature film “Fairy Flag,” and after maturing for 8 years in bourbon barrels, the whisky then spent 7 years aging in oloroso sherry casks. Initially meaty with rich sherry, raisins, and cocoa powder, then increasing vanilla notes, plus warm leather and wood polish. Sweet and very spicy on the palate, with caramel, chili, and cinnamon. The finish is medium in length, with peppery plain chocolate. £65

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

85 points

Dewar’s White Label Scratched Cask, 40%

What lies beneath the surface of Dewar’s? Here, the blend is finished in virgin and first-fill bourbon casks especially charred, then scratched to enable deeper penetration. Thick wedge of vanilla and fudge with oaky accents, a dusty mouthfeel pulling in vanilla, light lemon, milk chocolate, and sweet toffee, ending on a cocoa powder note. Compared with regular White Label, this is less obviously sweet and creamy, adds complexity, and opens a bourbon connection. Certainly, this is up to scratch.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

85 points

Famous Grouse Mellow Gold, 40%

This has enticing flavors that will meet with the approval of the regular Grouse drinker: heady florals with fresh peach, light honey, pecan, and underlying caramel. The palate is soothing with vanilla and tangerine, hallmarks of Grouse, plus rosewater, almond, and whispering spices. Gently does it, that’s the key to this: kick back and relax. This showcases the Midas touch of Gordon Motion’s skills in liquid alchemy. A great value blend to boot. £22

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

85 points

Usquaebach 15 year old, 43%

The blended malt in the series is drawn from select aged Highland single malt whiskies chosen by Stewart Laing. A luxuriant nose of rich, runny caramels, deliciously malty, and balanced with notes of dried apple, mixed peel, and pecan shells layered over warm spice. Smooth, with a light to medium body showing toffee apple, raisin, and caramel, tasting fatter with time and yielding pineapple notes. A finish of soft, sucked toffees and tingly spices. A top-class, well-executed drink.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

85 points

Cedar Ridge Malted Rye, 43%

Sharp, even a bit of a sour edge, and some stemmy grass. Sweet and chewy grain in the mouth, with a nice touch of oily rye bitterness, some hot oak that quirks the tongue a bit, then a finish that melts into creaminess.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

85 points

Cody Road Single Barrel Bourbon, 52.5%

A wheater, 70/20/10 corn/wheat/malt, barrel proof, and 32 months old. A rich corn nose, with some wood notes and a slightly antiseptic sting of alcohol heat. Young in the mouth—cinnamon candy, a bit meaty—but all the right pieces are in place: warmth, corn, oak spice, and a smooth progression to the warm finish. Good already, and showing even more promise.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

85 points

Dry Fly Washington Wheat, 45%

Wheats have a fruitier nose than bourbons, it seems, and this is no exception. Gentle, almost delicate fruits on the nose: white grapes, honeydew melon, baked apple. So smooth on the palate: sweet pastry, light baked apple, a nice oak grip keeping it all together. Sip it straight, or build a big highball with just a splash of soda on the ice. Such a friendly whiskey.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

85 points

Wigle Straight Rye, 50.5%

Organic Pennsylvania-grown rye, 3 years old, pot-distilled a 20-minute walk from the Monongahela River. Nose: sharp rye and hard oak, floral wreathing, but not hair-crispingly hot. Oh, nice rye mouth, flavorful, not overly bitter, the oak’s held in check, and there’s a minty sweetness to it. Finish is well-tempered, until a note of perfume sneaks in at the end.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

85 points

Pendleton Midnight, 45%

Beginning with dried orange peels and steely rye that smells like a creek bed, the nose slowly develops light fruit, caramel, and vanilla fudge. Finally, pears, sweet plums, and raspberries emerge. On the palate, Midnight erupts into glowing hot spices, citrusy sweetness, dark fruits, candied ginger, and mildly grassy prairie sage. The heat and sweetness build into plummy sweet and sour sauce with vague hints of barrel notes. The long finish is unusually spicy.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

85 points

Kinahan’s Small Batch, 46%

They say that Jerry Thomas made Kinahan’s his whiskey of choice in 1862. A sniff today might reveal molten honey, flapjacks, dry grist, and a fresh apple Danish (apple, custard, and pastry). The palate has a nip of lozenge sweeties, more apples, peppermint, vanilla, and a slow slide into chocolate, lemon pith, and cocoa. The 25% malt content presses home the flavor. Palate-coating. It’s a blend of fine quality, and Kinahan’s revival adds to the resurgence of Dublin’s whiskey story.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

84 points

Cadenhead’s (distilled at Caol Ila) 1984, 50.7%

Surprisingly punchy for its age, there’s very little cask activity here, so what you get is a reduction of Caol Ila into oils (lanolin) and whiffs of the harbor (drying fishing nets) rather than overt smokiness. The palate is gentle and shy, with an unctuous feel that drifts into poached pear and light cream. Delicate, but also oozing with character. Best neat.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

84 points

Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold, 43%

Distilled between October and March, matured in American (first-fill and refill) and European oak casks; meant to be served ice-cold. From the freezer, concentrated aromas of pineapple, hints of honey and smoke. At room temperature, less intense fruitiness, more honey, and ginger. A syrupy mouthfeel from the freezer, with soft spices and orchard fruits. The palate is more complex at room temperature, with heathery spice, pepper, apricots, raisins, and milk chocolate. The finish yields cocoa powder and lingering spices. £38

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

84 points

MacPhail’s Collection (distilled at Glenturret) 2000, 43%

This 2000 vintage expression from Glenturret was matured in refill sherry hogsheads before bottling in 2015 as part of Gordon & MacPhail’s “MacPhail’s Collection” range. The nose is earthy, with vanilla, treacle, and dark berries, plus fruit spices. Full-bodied in the mouth, with spicy, zesty plums, raisins, cocktail cherries, and nutmeg. The finish is lengthy, with black treacle, cocoa powder, and an edge of slightly bitter oak.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

84 points

Tomatin Contrasting Casks Bourbon Matured, 46%

The bourbon cask-matured partner to the Sherry Matured bottling (see above), this expression similarly comprises a vatting of whisky distilled in 1973, 1977, 1988, 1991, 2002, and 2006. Both Contrasting Casks are offered in non-chill filtered format. Apple pie, with buttery caramel, milk chocolate, and coconut on the nose. Zesty spices on the early palate, then custard, contrasting lemon, and a note of char. Spicy fruits, black pepper, and more char in the finish. £100

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

84 points

Jim Beam Harvest Collection Six Row Barley, 45%

A toasty nose with bright citrus, spice, and oaky vanilla; you can feel the heat. Clearly Beam, but just as clearly different; there’s a flat spread to this, and a dry pull on the tongue and in the finish. Six-row barley has more husk to it, which can add tannins to beer; is there enough here to make a difference? It’s an interesting character, but it’s not all good. Price is per 375 ml.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

84 points

Parker’s Heritage Collection Kentucky Straight Malt Whiskey 8 year old, 54%

A rarity among the large American distillers: whiskey with a mashbill of 65% malted barley and 35% corn; no rye or wheat. The malted barley and corn dominate the flavor profile, along with soft sweet notes of orchard fruit and golden raisin, kissed with honey. The finish is soft, sweet, and quick. Clean, with an easy-going demeanor. Not particularly complex, however. If only the 35% corn was halved to include an equal amount of rye.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

84 points

Cedar Ridge Iowa Bourbon, 50%

Sweet fresh corn and fruit—apple skins, white grapes, dried apricot—tangle with spicy cinnamon and circus peanuts. Quite smooth indeed, especially at 50%. Light toasted corn, like corn flakes cereal, with the spice and fruit leading to a subtly layered finish (oak, fruit, a bit of milk chocolate). A late-morning bourbon, easy and friendly.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

84 points

Cedar Ridge Single Malt, 40%

Hot tropical fruit, warm band-aids, and a mix of Dum-Dum lollipops in the nose. More sweet and creamy on the palate, with a hint of the band-aids, and dry grip of oak at the end. A fairly quick drink, but a clean and layered one.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

84 points

Cedar Ridge Wheat Whiskey, 40%

Distilled from 100% white winter wheat; pale straw. Salty dough and sweet, light canned fruit. Like grain whisky on the tongue: light, sweet, delicate, more fruit cocktail, and a hint of milk chocolate. A smooth and pleasant finish. Simple but delightful.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

84 points

Sonoma County Cherrywood Rye (Batch 1), 48%

A 1 year old whiskey made from rye, wheat, and cherrywood-smoked malt. An interesting sweet/sour nose, with Montmorency cherry, sweet grain, bitter rye, and a slap of fresh leather jacket. Follows through in the mouth, but more integrated, a sweet cocktail of neat whiskey with only the slightest hint of “smoke.” The leather slips in at the finish and wraps things up neatly. A bit overly sweet, a bit simple, but good.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

84 points

Sonoma County Cask Strength Rye, 54.4%

100% rye, unmalted and malted, direct-fire pot stilled, “old wood finished”: a detailed label, but no age statement or “straight.” Peppery, minty nose with a fleeting hint of coal smoke, lots of heat. Fierce rye flavor, hot and sweet, and then a fantastic finish that curls and flexes: sweet, oily, hot, pepper, and small barrel oak. The rest of it’s okay, but that finish is a marvelous ride.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

84 points

Wigle Straight Wheat, 50.35%

Wigle’s proud to have a full 2 years of age on this organic wheat whiskey. It’s small-barrel dark, but the nose isn’t a ripper: it’s 100 proof hot, but sweet with grain and even light fruity notes (pear and ripe melon). There’s no denying it’s aggressive, especially for a wheat whiskey, but the small-barrel oak blends well with the grain, giving a robust set of flavors: oak, hard candies, grilled fruit. A bit loud, a bit pushy, but endearing.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

84 points

J.J. Renfield & Sons 8 year old, 40%

A surprisingly tasty “buyers own brand” of unknown origin. Its lush, fruity, caramel-rich nose foreshadows a sweet, mouth-coating luxury. Baskets of orchard fruits and bowls of stewed fruit are accented by cinnamon, mild ginger root, and spicy white pepper. The round, syrupy mouth feel carries right into a creamy but gently bitter, glowing hot finish. Meticulously well-balanced and the very definition of smooth.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

84 points

Ichiro’s Malt Peated (distilled at Chichibu), 62.5%

Distilled 2011, bottled 2015. A warming, cozy, campfire of a nose, with everyone swathed in blankets as some hickory bursts into flames. There’s also an iris-like floral note and a vegetal thing at the back. With water, a nuance of cereal and wet dog. The palate moves into a rich, oily texture, then pulls back into hot embers of scented wood, and raspberry. The smoke is all-pervading, scented but sweet. Water brings out peppermint and smoky bacon. Hugely impressive for a 4 year old. £95

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

84 points

Flóki Young Malt, 47%

Labeled “young malt” because it is only about 18 months old. Distilled from Icelandic-grown malted barley as a whole mash (not a filtered wash) in a pot still, it has a nice husky, cocoa hull note in the sweet, somewhat hot malt nose. Full mouthfeel, rich grain character, dry cocoa hulls, and just before the dusty malt finish there’s an eye-opening wash of sweetness. Good potential, and an interesting character. (Travel Retail in Iceland only) ISK 7,950/500 ml

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

84 points

Cadenhead’s (distilled at Glentauchers) 1989, 55.2%

This example of the little-seen Glentauchers immediately shows classic distillery character, which is in the green grassy camp. This verdant aspect continues into fresh fruit salad, with enough ripeness to indicate the time spent in cask. This mix of freshness and weight extends onto the tongue, although the impact fades soon after a light spicy tingle on the back palate. I’d happily have a couple.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

83 points

Glenlivet Nadurra Islay Cask, 61.5%

The aim here was to recreate the style of malt made by George Smith, but rather than running peated malt, Chivas Bros. has aged the spirit in Islay casks (not what George would have done). On the upside, this is a classic Nadurra: estery fruits with pineapple to the fore, freesia, pear, and fresh apple, the smoke giving subtle gun-flint notes to the palate. I like it as a dram, but it’s wimped out of what was intended. Marked accordingly.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

83 points

Speyburn Arranta, 46%

Poor old Speyburn. An unfairly overlooked malt simply because of its (too low) price. The use of more active casks here gives an almost waxed crayon nose, along with some sweet depth. In time, there are fresh green fruits, raspberry mousse, and beautiful floral intensity. Water produces lemon. The palate is clean and quite light, but there’s a pool of fruits in the center giving a focal point. As water makes things (lemon) soapy, I’d have it neat. £40

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

83 points

Duncan Taylor (distilled at Bunnahabhain) 25 year old, 46%

A stunningly lovely nose: all sweet, rounded, and layered with exotic tropical fruits, scented woods, wax, and perfume. Water makes it oilier and more waxy in nature. Sadly though, the oak has taken charge on the palate, making it more grippy and nutty. Worth a long sniff though! £228

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

83 points

Balblair 2004 Bourbon Matured, 46%

The Bourbon Matured variant of Balblair’s two Travel Retail expressions of its 2004 vintage is available on a worldwide basis. Light and delicate on the initial nose, with ripe pear, melon, lemon, watery toffee, and hints of honey and ginger. Sweet orchard fruits on the palate, with developing cinnamon, coconut, and crème brûlée. Tingling spices in the finish, with slightly drying oak.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

83 points

The Deveron 12 year old, 40%

John Dewar & Sons Ltd has released a 12 year old bottling from its Macduff distillery, formerly marketed as Glen Deveron, but now simply known as the Deveron. Soft, sweet, and fruity on the nose, with vanilla, ginger, ripe peaches, and apple blossom. Medium-bodied, gently spicy, with butterscotch and Brazil nuts before a hint of licorice kicks in. Quite dry spicy oak in the finish, with a contrasting note of caramel. £40

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

83 points

Royal Lochnagar Distillers Edition 2000 (batch #RL/96-8S), 40%

This 2012 limited edition from the Deeside distillery of Royal Lochnagar underwent initial maturation in bourbon barrels before a period of finishing in muscat wine casks. The pleasing nose offers pears poached in dessert wine, heather, malt, and ginger. Rich and rounded on the palate, with immediate soft, ripe peaches, then figs, ginger, and cloves. Lengthy in the slightly nutty finish, with fruity spice notes.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

83 points

Usquaebach Old Rare Stone Flagon, 43%

Hunter Laing blended this grand Highland whisky: an 85% malt-driven recipe of more mature stock. I liked its aromas of dripping caramels, dry peats, soft hay, and faint pepper balancing the resilient smoky character. There’s the juiciness of mandarin oranges, too. The blend is smooth and well-textured, beginning with sugared orange, malt, vanilla, and toasted spices which glide into clove and black pepper. The drying finish has spicy pepper, ground ginger, and lasting citrus.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

83 points

Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 21 year old, 45.15%

One year older than last year’s 20 year old release, (which I felt was on the precipice of being over-oaked) and the extra year is evident. On the nose, the whiskey is nicely balanced. The palate tells a different story, with soft vanilla, honey, caramel, dried fruit, and cinnamon segueing into dominant leather, tobacco, and resinous oak on a long, dry finish. I fear bottling this whiskey annually, one year older, is going in the wrong direction.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

83 points

Spirit of America Bourbon, 43%

More MGP whiskey: 2 years old, 51% corn, 45% wheat, 5% malt. That’s a lot of wheat, and you can smell it: soft, sweet, even a bit doughy, with a little mint candy. Extremely smooth, but not insipid; there’s some nice oak backbone here, a good weight, and a solid center of corn. Craftsmanlike. And $1 from every bottle goes to veterans programs. Sourced whiskey.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

83 points

Pemberton Valley Organic Single Malt, 44%

Micro-distiller Tyler Schramm studied distilling at Scotland’s Heriot-Watt University. Clearly he learned not to release whisky until it is mature. A waxy, grassy nose delights with dry grain, fresh-cut hay, red fruits, and cinnamon hearts. The palate, though less complex shows wheelbarrow loads of sweet fruits, soft spices, earthy notes, and bracing heat. Green grasses, pink clover, and hints of black licorice precede a long, peppery, grassy, floral finish. (Canada only) C$90

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

83 points

Vicomte, 40%

A noble French single malt whisky from the Cognac region, pronounced ‘Veecont’ (Viscount). The barley is 100% organic, and the whisky makes the best use of French Limousin oak cognac barrel maturation for 8 years, with luscious results. The nose resounds with poached pear, overripe apricot, peach cordial, orange peel, toasted spices, crème brûlée, and fruit syrups. A satin smooth drinking experience shows sweet, burnt sugars, fruit cordials, and roasted lime slices. The finish is a ripe harvest of apricots. £36

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

83 points

Amrut Naarangi, 50%

Amrut ingeniously flavored an oloroso cask with wine and orange peel for 3 years before finishing this highly innovative whisky in it. A warmth and richness exudes, the citrus intensity of peel and orange oils develops the longer you resist temptation. Dried fruits, apricot, heather, ripe mango, triple sec, with a slight mustiness. Syrupy, soft orange pulp with zested limes makes it quite nippy. Finish of gum and wood notes after a spicy start. Whatever you do, drink it neat. (Europe, Canada, and Asia; 900 bottles) £75

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

82 points

Cadenhead’s (distilled at BenRiach) 1996, 46.5%

Once again, some assertive distillery character to the fore which, in BenRiach’s case, means plenty of ripe sweet fruits, cooked apples, a jag of citrus, and a background malty note. There’s a pleasant, slightly oxidative, wine-like note with water. The sweetness dominates the palate, with the nuttiness moving to hot breakfast cereal and, in typical BenRiach fashion, a sweet spiced finish. Lovely, but not overly different from official bottlings.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

82 points

Usquaebach Reserve, 43%

This blend is generously half malt and half grain, unusually selecting 16-18 year old malts. The result has a nose of rich honey and florals, resplendent in a citrus intensity: squeezed orange skin with a background note of dry crackers. The palate is orange and malty, with cola, faint spices, and a little waxiness, but the core feels a little hollow. A good length finish where the pleasant buzz has a slight peatiness rubbed in. A decent stand-up dram.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

82 points

Old Hickory Great American Bourbon, 43%

MGP bourbon aged to 4 years. Sweet and brittle nose, hot and a bit spicy, but thin. More spice and body on the tongue than the Old Hickory Blended, and a more balanced finish, but still a relatively light whiskey. Beautiful bottle, classic label; I wish there was more whiskey here. Sourced whiskey.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

81 points

Duncan Taylor, Octave (distilled at Aultmore) 2008, 52.7%

The recent official release of Aultmore means that malt lovers are finally aware of the distillery’s intense grassy/perfumed character, and it is these characters which are prominent here, alongside a very light sherried note in the background. There appears to be real complexity on the nose for such a young example, but water shows this to be the influence of the octave cask, which unravels slightly when water is added. Have it neat, and enjoy it a lot. £54

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

81 points

Ballantine’s 17 year old Signature Distillery Editions – Miltonduff, 43%

A light, oily nose, a little nutty, baked apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, and malt biscuits. There are seductive dark spices and cooked fruit, almost savory, like lifting the lid on a tagine. A thinner mouthfeel showing some lime zest before a warm, enveloping glow of malt sweetness, gentle spice, toffee, raisin, and char emerges. Savory, peppery finish. Like nightfall, it gets darker the longer you contemplate it. With water, sweeter with more candied citrus as honeys materialize.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

81 points

Darkness! (distilled at Invergordon) 23 year old, 50.8%

Cometh the night. Shadows veil a whisky hewn from the cold lands in the north. A whisky of black cherry, crème de prune, rancio, balsamic, and salt, for it has known a mythical chimera cask; half Pedro Ximénez, half oloroso wood. The magical, syrupy texture foretells of passion fruit, fig, cherry, and raisins, but prophesizes that cask char will dominate the swallow. Dark forces swamp the quest for grain, though there is taste, hope, and nourishment for the journey ahead. £77

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

81 points

Ethan Knoll 8 year old, 40%

A mild nose with hints of caramel and dry grasses just vaguely suggests the flavors that wait in the glass. The sweetness of navel oranges and slow-developing peppery notes lead into the classic Canadian combination of caramel, cloves, ginger, and white pepper. Earthy vegetal tones, almost like riverweeds, and a strong but pleasant bitterness are glazed with creamy Mackintosh caramel. Dusty grain and pepper fade quickly in a shortish finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

80 points

Cadenhead’s (distilled at Dailuaine) 1996, 57.5%

Like being stuck inside the Dailuaine dark grains plant: all Marmite (yeast extract spread), deglazed roasting pan, and a cereal note. In other words, the distillery character is the major contributor. Some light nuttiness, but overall this is Dailuaine in funky guise. Becomes more, errr…agricultural with water. Robust and peppery on the tongue. A nice example, albeit without massive complexity.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

80 points

Scapa Skiren, 40%

A new NAS expression from Scapa on Orkney, matured entirely in first-fill American oak casks. An initial hint of lime cordial, then musty peaches, almonds, cinnamon, and table salt. More peaches on the palate, with tinned pear and a little honey. Tingling spices in the drying finish, which soon becomes quite bitter – detracting from the overall balance.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

80 points

Old Hickory Blended Bourbon, 40%

A blend of two MGP bourbons, 11% 2 year old, 89% 4 year old. Simple sweet corn nose, with some cinnamon and hard candies; hot for 40%. Underwhelming for a whiskey named for President Jackson; warm and sweet, though with some oak-based bitterness at the fringes. Stays sweet through the finish. Not flawed, but not well thought-out either. Might be the blandest MGP juice I’ve ever had. Sourced whiskey.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

79 points

Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon, 67.5%

Quite dark for 4 year old whiskey. Nose is fierce, unrestrained by the glass, and full of caramel, baking spices, and dusty corn. It’s hot and oaky, but dominated by a broad cornmeal placidity that keeps the flaming oak well in check. Water brings out mint, but brings a cloying edge to the corn; it’s better hot and rocking. A huge evaporative loss made for a tiny yield, but even so, the price just seems crazy.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

78 points

That Boutique-y Whisky Company (distilled at North British; batch 2), 49.3%

Papier mâché, adhesives, lemongrass, green cardamom, peanut, pear, and other aromatic, fruity characteristics create a puzzling aroma profile. On sipping, there is fruity baked apple, sherbet, and glowing light citrus notes of orange, grapefruit, and lime, with a medium weight structure. The flavors tip toward a slight sour fruit note, but as this flattens out, creaminess rules. The finish suffers a short, quick death, leaving mild, sour fruit. Water brings crystallized lemon on the nose and sweeter, light fruits. £63

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

78 points

Hunter Rye, 45%

A version of the classic Canadian Hunter from Sazerac, this is a very enjoyable whisky for sipping on ice or with a simple mixer. A dry nose is a bit closed showing soft spirit, caramel, and hints of maple. The sweet, hot, and slightly pulling palate has a grapefruit juice sharpness that keeps it fresh. Maple syrup sweetens a hot, longish finish that has the feel of black licorice. Simple, fun whisky.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

77 points

Palmetto Whiskey, 44.65%

Palmetto distillery has been making ‘moonshine’ products so far, and now they have some spirit aged in new French oak. Aromas of sweet pastry dough, new rubber, horehound, and bitter orange make for an intriguing nose. The mouth is fiery hot, thin in body, and tends to stay that way through to the end. The horehound blends with rye bitterness to make this a bit medicinal. Hot for sipping, but should make a very good Old Fashioned.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

75 points

Lambertus 10 year old, 40%

This may be the best-known Belgian single grain whisky and it vies for attention with its perfumed nose of violet creams, acetone, and peach juice with ripe mango and papaya. Unfortunately, the body is lacking, yielding up a juicy collision of tropical fruits and icing sugar sweetness, but after that initial arrival, the torpid profile is rather unremarkable. The flavors die quickly, with some residual flavor trails persisting. All in all, a bit drab. €53

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

72 points

Beach Whiskey, 40%

There are flavored—cinnamon and coconut—versions at lower proof; this is the “Original,” unflavored at full proof. Unaged and clear, the aroma is clean and full of roasted corn and a ripple of deep caramel. Surprisingly appealing, actually. Tastes like raw new make, though: green, feinty, vegetal, and crying out for cola, ginger ale, even Mountain Dew to help mask it. Are we done with ‘moonshine’ yet? Please?

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

72 points

Texas Spirit, 40%

Maple syrup and gelatin capsules in a veterinarian’s office. Texas Spirit is WB Liquors’ (Costco) house brand and so, available in one size only: extra-large. A simple mixing whisky, it is sweet, floral, watery, and loaded with vanilla and caramel. Extra hot pepper throws it a bit out of balance, though it would likely go well with Coke. A young, unassuming whisky not to savor, but to session. Price is per 1.75 liter.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

65 points

Chinook Limited Edition Signature Rye Whisky, 44.9%

With its overt floral perfume notes and the scent of children’s powdered candy, this whisky is difficult to enjoy. Its unctuous artificial flavors are equally unsuitable for cocktails, mixing, or sipping. Fruity, winey, lavender notes duke it out with baby cereal and artificial coconut. The saving graces? A late lovely bitterness, long gingery burn, and creamy body. But then jujubes, grape gum and artificial bananas kick in and it’s over.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)


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