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.
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
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
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.
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)
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)
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.
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.
Redbreast Small Batch Cask Strength (Batch A), 58.6%
Irish Single Pot Still | $100
Prominent red apple, tropical fruits, pot still spices, and oloroso sherry notes; this shows great balance. The spices are powerful, with a roasted aroma like a crooked burnt match. The palate is gripped by the high alcohol as pepper and clove break open over the tongue into a bed of red apple, baked citrus, and caramel. Unquenchable layers of flavor usher in a likable, bubble gum finish. (252 bottles)
Penderyn 12 year old Portwood Cask-Matured Single Cask (No. PT113), 60.4%
Welsh Whisky | $140
Rosy red apples, damson jam, quince jelly, piquant spices, pomegranate juice, and cracked black pepper on the nose. The palate dutifully follows suit with cherry, red apple, cranberry, blackberry, and raspberry until overwhelmed by high-strength alcohol, bristling with clove, pepper, and ginger spices. Lastly, a vanilla-cupcake sweetness is enhanced by cooked apple, while water conjures up a delicious watermelon note, with a finish of overbaked deep-dish apple pie. (251 bottles)
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)
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)
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
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
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
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.
Virginia Distillery Co. 8 year old Journey Cask Collection Britannia Single Malt, 64.6%
Single Malt English Whisky | $125
Smoked almonds, marzipan, fig-studded chocolate, vanilla sugar, and flan on the nose—quite sweet and dessert-like, but grounded in earthy char. Robust, full-bodied, and almost juicy with flavor, it shows red fruit, almonds, figs, dark chocolate, flan, black pepper, and cigar ash on the palate, finishing with more ash, oak, and dark fruit—so carefully structured it might well have been designed on a blueprint. Distilled by The English Whisky Co. and bottled by Virginia Distillery Co. (243 bottles)
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)
Intended to showcase the color of Macallan, the fifth annual Edition release has been aged in a variety of American oak casks. The nose is initially reticent and offers dried fruits, salted caramel, sawdust, and ginger. Extremely smooth on the palate, with more dried fruits, ripe plums, milk chocolate, new leather, and black pepper. The finish is medium in length, with leather and dark chocolate.
Formerly known as Darkest, this expression was given a secondary maturation for 3 years in oloroso sherry casks. The nose features smoky caramel, dates, citrus fruits, and quite dry sherry. Dark chocolate and cocktail cherries on the rich malty palate, with peat smoke and a hint of dry oak balancing the sweet fruitiness. Sherry, brine, soft peat, oak, and allspice in the lingering finish.
Barrell Cask-Strength Blend of Straight Bourbons (Batch 023), 53.89%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $90
This is heaped with toasty oak, notes of wood shavings, and nutty-sweet butter pecan ice cream. There’s a touch of herbal antiseptic and tarragon, but it’s kept in check, letting the caramel sweetness and baked marshmallow permeate the palate. Water unleashes dark cherry and candied peanuts. A really well-balanced whiskey, with sweetness, spice, and fruit working in harmony.
Fragrant oak on the nose, along with powdered sugar, vanilla fudge, cherry pie, and accents of orange peel and leather. The palate offers notes of orange Creamsicle, pepper, dried oranges, and cigar wrapper. The finish is a long ride of spice and chocolate-covered almonds, melding with cooked fruit notes of orange and black cherry, as well as cracked pepper. A robust whiskey that carries its heft gracefully, and offers balanced complexity.
Four Gate Outer Loop Orbit Orange Curaçao-Gin Cask-Finished Bourbon, 60.15%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $200
A pleasantly oily nose, rich with botanical notes, orange peel, black licorice straps, herbs, vanilla frosting, and macaroons. The palate is sweet, with tropical notes of pineapple and mango, grapefruit, dried apricots, and gentle spice. A lengthy finish offers lemon cream pie, vanilla cream, light pepper, and tobacco, ending with a hint of bitter chocolate. A very unusual bourbon, divisive within our tasting panel, but also very unique, balanced, and flavorful.
Maker’s Mark Cask Strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon (Batch 19-01), 54.4%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $50
The nose offers bold notes of cocoa powder, brown sugar, peanuts, licorice, cherry pie, vanilla ice cream, and baking spice. The palate is creamy, with chocolate fudge, almonds, and shortbread, along with earthier notes of drying oak, old leather, and tobacco leaf. Cracked walnuts on the finish, along with almonds, chocolate, toasted oak, orange, and tea leaves. Lots of sweetness, spice, and nuttiness, all ringed by a hint of black pepper. (12,000 bottles)
New Riff Kentucky Straight Single Barrel Bourbon (No. 15-3150), 56.45%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $50
New Riff is still too, well, new to have established “classic” flavors, but this bourbon certainly shows consistency with the distillery’s bottled in bond version—amped up here at barrel proof. Almonds and berries lead the nose, but it boasts voluminous depth with notes of peanuts, iced tea, orange blossom, tobacco leaf, and baking spice. Dark fruit, textured spice, savory peanuts, dark chocolate, mint oil, orange, almond, and cherry on the palate; adding water is a good idea. The finish extends all the flavors with seemingly boundless length. Every sip is thrilling.
Yellowstone 9 year old Limited Edition Kentucky Straight (2019 Release), 50.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $100
There’s a bounty of nuts here—almond, walnut, and pecan—along with vanilla, nougat, poached pear, and some beeswax notes. Initially the palate is citrus-loaded, with zesty grapefruit peel and cut orange wedges, but it quickly succumbs to drying oak tannins, showing a bit of heat as toasty oak, bitter chocolate, and cinnamon carry the finish. (12,500 bottles)
New Riff Kentucky Straight Single Barrel Rye (No. 15-5356), 58.2%
Rye Whiskey | $56
This presents a pleasant nose of fresh-baked muffins, honey-dipped apples, powdered sugar, raisin bread, baking spice, and cooked black cherries. Big and spicy, but smooth on the palate, with flavors of dark fruit and bitter chocolate, grape jam, blackcurrants, herbs, cola, and dark berries. The finish offers richness and length, with vanilla notes, spice, and freshly baked apple pie. This is a big, solid whiskey, beautifully structured, and carries its proof superbly.
Old Line 8 year old Golden Edition American Single Malt, 50%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $95
Bitter and dry with a hint of charred oak on the nose, along with dried apricots, lemon iced tea, and candied orange slices. The palate starts with drying oak tannins but is balanced, offering black cherry pie, mint, cloves, baked apple, spiced chocolate, and cinnamon. The finish has hints of oak char, chocolate, caramel, dark fruit, and a burst of baking spice at the end. A delicious sipping whiskey. (200 bottles)
Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve Small Batch (Lot 1867 L), 40%
Canadian | $65
A complex nose with citrus fruits, hints of sultanas, barrel tones, mild vanilla, butterscotch, and manuka honey. The sweetish palate is rich in stone fruits—peaches and apricots that merge into a vaguely pithy nuttiness, then dried Mediterranean fruits: dates and figs. Classic slippery corn sweetness complements hot, sweet rye spices. Ends in a medium, vaguely oaky, smoky finish.
Glendalough 17 year old Mizunara Cask-Finished, 46%
Irish Single Malt | $299
Beginning with more mature whiskey than Glendalough’s Japanese oak-finished debut, which was 13 years old, this has all the aromatic hallmarks of mizunara, as well as golden pastry, cooked peach, heather honey, light malt, baguette, and white pepper. A honeyed dram of melon, white grape, and clementine peel, with sparkling spices of black pepper and ginger root. It concludes with notes of gingerbread through to a spicy finish, though the sweetness remains a constant. (3,000 bottles for U.S.)
Teeling Chestnut Cask-Finished Single Cask (No. 29555), 55.1%
Irish Single Malt | $100
Teeling has cleverly exploited Ireland’s whiskey regulations that specify maturation in wooden casks, not just oak, to release the first chestnut-cask Irish whiskey in the U.S. Crushed cloves, wet rocks, mint chocolate, vanilla seeds, dark roast coffee beans, Brazil nut, and antique leather on the nose. Partaking unshackles gingerbread, treacle, clove, black coffee, black fruits, and plain chocolate. Dark, gothic whiskey from a shadowy part of the warehouse to devour at midnight. (846 bottles for U.S.)
Redbreast Small Batch Cask Strength (Batch B), 57.2%
Irish Single Pot Still | $100
A bold and expressive single pot still with a nose of fudge, vanilla, plummy sherry notes, bramble, aromatic spices, and dried orange peel. Sweet sherry, nutty, with a slow build-up of spice to a concentrated peak of clove and peppercorns; then there’s red apple, caramel, and vanilla as the spices keep going into the dry finish. This one has a lot to say. (252 bottles)
Although G. Rozelieures makes several peated whiskies, this is an unpeated single malt, with notes of honey, sherbet, summer flowers, ears of barley, buttery biscuits, and black peppercorn. Matured in French oak, bourbon, and cognac casks; the balance is superb, with honey, icing sugar, vanilla, apple Danish, and spicy oak, leading to caramel and baked apple in custard. The substantial mouthfeel and serene transition of flavors make this heavenly to drink.
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac 6 year old Kentucky Straight Rye (2019 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection), 62.85%
Rye Whiskey | $99
Sweet and spicy on the nose, this offers peppermint candy cane, root beer barrel candies, plenty of citrus, and some raspberry notes. However, it’s the wet earth and funky mushroom tones that make this the most peculiar of the family. There’s great breadth of flavors on the palate, as a mélange of spices—allspice, clove, and cinnamon—ride along on a wave of persistent sweetness, laced with anise and cola.
The oldest single malt ever released by Glen Scotia was distilled on December 23, 1973 and aged initially in refill bourbon casks, before a final seven years in first-fill bourbon barrels. Oily on the nose, maritime, with burlap, resin, ginger, and a developing fragrant note. Viscous and sweet on the palate, with honey and canned pineapple. The very long finish embraces fruity resin, salt, ginger, and drying oak. (150 bottles) (£3,795)
The ninth and final release in Diageo’s Game of Thrones series was aged in first-fill sherry-seasoned casks and finished in bourbon barrels. Vanilla and toffee, plus spicy oak on the nose, while the full sherried palate yields dry fruit, spicy citrus notes, almonds, more vanilla, and caramel. The leisurely finish presents wood spices and Jaffa oranges.
As with previous batches, this was matured in a mix of Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry butts, puncheons, and quarter casks. The nose offers quite subtle sherry, malt, vanilla, dark chocolate, and black treacle. The palate is notably spicy, with hot ginger, black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon, along with sherry, cocktail cherries, more dark chocolate, and bitter coffee. Long, oaky, spicy, and drying in the finish.
This expression was distilled from barley harvested on Islay in 2007 and 2009, and combines whisky aged in 43 bourbon barrels. Sweet peat, lemon juice, and sea salt on the nose, with honey, vanilla, and an herbal note. The palate opens with overt peatiness, followed by brine and lemon, plus vanilla and a hint of charcoal. Long in the finish, with ashy peat and sea salt. (1,440 bottles for U.S.)
This is the fifth release of Ardbeg’s most heavily peated expression. The bold nose yields ashy peat, fish oil, hot lemon juice, black pepper, asphalt, and antiseptic cream. Oily and voluptuous on the sweet palate, with orchard fruits, honey, seaweed, and lots of moist peat. The finish is lengthy and very smoky, with chile, cinnamon, and barbecued meat.
A great introduction to Bowmore’s single malts, and one of the best 12 year old single malt scotches around. The nose offers tropical fruit, sweet smoke, a hint of brine, new leather, and floral notes. Peaches, honey, vanilla, and more full-on smoke on the rounded palate. Brine, cocoa powder, citrus fruits, and fading woodsmoke in the finish.
This pale gold, limited-edition dram is named in honor of House Stark from the Song of Ice and Fire book series, better known by its television name, Game of Thrones. Designed for Highballs or pouring over ice, it offers a nose of vanilla sponge cake sweetness, dried grasses, green melon, spring blossoms, white pepper, and a faint trace of peppermint. It has a soft, caressing character, with melon, pulpy summer fruits, sour lemon, butterscotch, barley sugar, vanilla caramel, and a later supportive fizzle of spice. It concludes with a finish of sweet vanilla and fruits.
With its inventive limited editions and contemporary design, it’s worth paying attention to Royal Salute these days. Its first blend of aged grain whisky has aromas of peanut, caramel, ground pepper, rye crackers, vanilla pod, fresh oak, and stewed fruits. A rapid turnover of flavors: tangy orange shifts quickly to bitter orange, followed by clove, pepper, chocolate, and honeycomb, then chocolate orange, nougat, and marzipan. It’s an even better dram over ice.
Four Gate Split Stave by Kelvin Cask-Finished Bourbon, 57.8%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $175
A straight bourbon that was finished in barrels made with alternating charred and toasted staves. There’s plenty of wood char and pencil shavings on the nose, along with dry leaves, pine needles, tea leaves, orange peel, clove, nutmeg, cedar, sandalwood, menthol, and licorice. It’s chewy and, naturally, quite oak-forward in the mouth, with complex flavors of spice, dark cherry, black tea, and herbs—mint, licorice, sassafras, and cinnamon. More spice, semi-sweet chocolate, tea leaves, and well-integrated oak into the finish. (2,700 bottles)
Grand Canyon Distillery Star Shine American Single Malt (Batch 001), 46%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $49
This whiskey shows no reticence in asserting a unique and frankly thrilling personality from first sniff: tea leaves, coconut, brown sugar, saline, raspberry, plum, cinnamon, incense, and the freshness of a cedar-filled forest rush out of the glass. Such layered complexity—belying its 18-month age statement—carries ably into the palate, which is fruit-filled with dark plums and berries, lush with dark chocolate and baking spice, and tannic with oak and tea leaves. The well-balanced finish showcases dark chocolate, sandalwood, subtle spices, and cigar wrapper. Very approachable. (600 bottles)
Manatawny Still Works Small Batch Port Barrel-Finished American Whiskey (Batch 19), 47%
American Whiskey | $45
Made with a mashbill of malted barley, malted wheat, oats, and rye, aged in new charred oak, and finished in a port-style wine cask. The result of this complex recipe is an equally complex sensory experience, with tropical and candied fruit on the nose, including dried mango slices, pineapple chunks, raspberry and blackberry jelly candies, and grape jam, as well as matcha, rose petals, and dark chocolate. Floral flavors run almost to soapy, but are tempered by cedar, layered spice, nuts, chocolate, and tobacco. A lovely finish, with persistent dark fruit, spices, and lengthy bitter-sweetness.
With a delicacy often missing from single pot still, this shows melon fruitiness, white grape, and rose water, with spice markets, cinnamon breakfast cereals, and wafting barbecue scents. Apple, pear, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, and ground almond mingle with velvety smooth caramels. An impressive Dublin-distilled pot still debut from Teeling, with its diverse cask mix for the 1:1 ratio of unmalted and malted barley to develop texture and complexity. (6,000 bottles for U.S.)
Kaiyo The Sheri Mizunara Oak Finished (First Edition), 46%
Japanese Whisky | $129
Don’t get me wrong, this is delicious, but while the mizunara oak subtleties cannot match the intensity of the sherry influence on the nose, its flavor contribution to this multidimensional whisky is rather wonderful. Strawberry, sherry, fig, prune, and nuts on the nose and palate, enriched with fragrant spices, millionaire’s shortbread, vanilla tablet, base notes of pepper, and a finish of sherry, fig, and spice.
This pale-gold whiskey has a bright and refreshing nose with lots of floral character, apricot, vanilla frosting, apple tart, and gentle background spices. Lemon meringue pie, sugary sweetness, stone fruits, vanilla, orange citrus, and an undertow of spice that mingles higher in the mix by the end: a mirror image of its fragrant aromas. The Method & Madness experimental range is delivering some wonderfully characterful whiskeys that are worth hunting down. (2,500 bottles) (€92)
Old Pepper Finest Kentucky Oak Straight (Batch K02), 58%
Rye Whiskey | $70
This whiskey’s lush qualities are immediately evident on the nose, which is redolent of Mexican chocolate, cedar spice, fresh dark berries, raisin-studded stollen, and balsam boughs. Without water, oak dominates the palate, but add a few drops and much more unfolds: grape cough syrup, blackcurrant jam, mocha, and rich spice, with more blackcurrant, allspice, pepper, and lingering herbs on the finish. There’s lots to unpack here, all of it good. Editors' Choice
Chivas Regal 13 year old Manchester United Limited Edition, 40%
Blended Scotch Whisky | $35
Bottled in recognition of Sir Alex Ferguson’s remarkable thirteen league soccer titles, this scotch does him proud. Juicy citrus, aromatic spices, and vanilla pudding; the nose is enveloped with milk chocolate aromas and further spiciness. The blend was selectively finished in American rye barrels, and the flavors crescendo through orange, malt, chocolate, mint, and pepper, with some rye spices that usher in a lengthy, spicy finish. Blissfully good. Best Value
George Dickel Barrel Select Tennessee Whiskey, 43%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $46
A lovely nose of overripe pears and baked apple is drizzled with caramel and toffee sweetness, then veers into bakeshop notes of sticky-bun pastry. The rich, mouth-coating palate piles on more sweet fruit and tarte Tatin, with flavors of mocha, peanut chocolate bars, and lemongrass lending complexity. Drying tannins, toasted almond, and sandalwood bring home the finish. Best Value
The sixth batch in this highly regarded series comprises whisky aged in five refill sherry butts, seven DoubleWood refill sherry butts, and nine bourbon barrels. The nose is soft and inviting, with honey, pineapple, vanilla, caramel, and ginger. The palate is rounded, rich, and sweet, with honey, vanilla, apples, and pears. Tangy citrus fruit, star anise, and oak in the lengthy finish.
Toiteach A Dhà means ‘smoky two’ in Gaelic and follows the previously released Toiteach. The nose opens with aromatic smoke and brine, while red berries, caramel, nutmeg, and cloves develop. Significantly greater sherry wood influence on the palate compared to the last version, plus Jaffa oranges, pipe tobacco, nougat, cloves, black pepper, and smoked fish. Medium to long in the finish, with drying sherry, oak, pepper, salt, and dark chocolate.
On the nose, fresh fish wrapped in bacon with a squeeze of lemon, cooked at a beach barbecue. Floral and allspice notes emerge. The palate is lightly oily, medium-peated, meaty, and softly spiced, with pineapple and melon. The finish dries, with more fruit and peppery peat. Balanced and inviting.
Pure, clean malt shines throughout this whisky, the first Daftmill bottling for sale in the U.S. Shortbread, candle wax, Golden Delicious apple, rose garden, apricot, ginger, and cinnamon on the nose. The palate is biscuity and sweet, with vanilla, shortbread cookies, candied pistachios, and crushed almonds; lemon and orange peel and lively rose oil perk things up once water is added. Tobacco, cinnamon, and toasted almonds and hazelnuts fade like a whisper on the gentle, soft finish. (1,260 bottles)
Chivas Regal 20 year old Ultis 1999 Victory Edition, 40%
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky | $189
Blended from 20 year old Strathisla, Longmorn, and Braeval whiskies to mark Manchester United’s treble—triple trophy win—in 1999, this is a drink of understated elegance. Orange peel, toffee, fine-roasted spices, vanilla extract, with hints of cocoa and malt on the nose. Creamy palate with Whoppers, candied orange peel, orange sherbet crystals, and mild spices, with a later phase of baked orange and butterscotch, it remains creamy and soothing to the finish.
Buffalo Trace asked fans to “Craft Your Perfect Bourbon” and this is the result. Cracker Jack and butterscotch sweetness appear on the nose, with cedary oak and black cherry soda lurking just beneath. On the palate, the flavors are bold, mouthwatering, and juicy, like dark berry fruit sprinkled with baking spices and spearmint. This has big impact, but is also delightfully drinkable, as the finish delivers citrus oil, stone fruit, and blackberry.
Widow Jane 14 year old The Vaults Blend of Straight Bourbons (Batch 1), 49.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $150
The nose is fragrant and well-integrated with the oak, offering candied orange slices, peach, and notes of dried red berries. The palate is smooth and has flavors of bright fruit, drying oak tannins, raspberry jam, and semi-sweet chocolate. The finish is lengthy, with more fruit notes as well as brown sugar, chocolate, and pepper spice. The oak flirts with being overdone, but creates a balanced and solid expression of well-aged bourbon. (3,000 bottles)
Taking a leaf from other successful virgin Irish oak finishes, Glendalough is the first to deploy this powerful tool on aged Irish single malt. Dark gold with complex aromas: treacle, toffee apple, walnut shells, new leather boots, hints of blackcurrant, bramble, prune, whole spices, and roasted meat juices. Sour plum, 100% cacao, peppercorn, cassis, and slight bitter tannic notes, becoming liqueur-like with dark toffee and roasted nuts. (750 bottles for U.S.)
Hawthorn, apple, caramel, ground almond, shortbread, and finely ground pepper on an alluring nose. Gentle, creamy mouthfeel with caramel, dried apple, a moderate attack of clove and pepper, and a finish of mild spices and bakery treats. Irish oak-finished whiskeys are a rare occurrence, making this a good stepping-stone into the category, though it’s mellow by pot still standards. (10,500 bottles for U.S.)
GlenDronach is known for its unpeated sherry-matured whiskies. This peated expression was matured in Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry casks, and some port pipes. Hand-rolled tobacco smoke, ginger, honey, malt, and barbecued bacon on the nose. New leather, smoky orange, treacle, and milk chocolate on the earthy palate. Light smoke, wood polish, mixed nuts, and licorice in the lengthy finish. Pleasing balance of sweet, savory, and smoky notes. (£51)
Initial maturation of this expression took place in refill casks, followed by heavily charred American oak hogsheads, and finally European oak puncheons. The nose is relatively light, fruit-forward, slightly floral, spicy, and mildly ashy. Citrus fruits and sweet peat smoke on the palate, with fruit and oak spices. Orchard fruits in the finish, with just a hint of classic Talisker pepper. (6,000 bottles; distillery only) (£95)
Sazerac 18 year old Kentucky Straight Rye (2019 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection), 45%
Rye Whiskey | $99
A nose of orange peel, dusty spice, licorice, cherry, dark fruit, and cola leads to a palate that’s spiced and smooth, and offers notes of lemon, orange peel, and pepper. Water enhances the citrus notes, and also brings out bitter cherry, dried orange slices, leather, and cracked pepper. The finish has good length, with a fair amount of oak influence, orange marmalade, cigar ash, dark chocolate, and bitter herbs.
After an absence of a couple of years, the 15 year old is back. Its temporary withdrawal was due to a shortage of appropriately aged stocks, now in supply. The nose is delicate, with floral notes, plus cereal, cooking apples, and a hint of white pepper. Honey figures on the early palate, with vanilla, more cereal, roasted chestnuts, and nutmeg. The finish is medium in length, with oak and ginger.
Saline, smoke, seaweed, and iodine mingle with biscuity shortbread, lemon, bubble gum, bright berry fruit, and wafting floral aromas. The palate glides silkily from lemon, orange, and soapy-floral flavors to almonds, hazelnuts, drying oak, and hints of ginger, with peat smoke and salt weaving throughout. Sweet, then bitter on the finish, showcasing cigar ash, leather, and polished oak. Actor Nick Offerman, who collaborated with the distillery on this single malt, could hardly be described as reticent, but his whisky has a sweet shyness that works well in the glass
Named for House Targaryen from Game of Thrones. Aromas of malt, peppercorn, dry chile flakes, spicy nachos, sliced red apples, roasted whole spices, and soft smoke from snuffed candles. On the palate, this has a light, floaty texture with flavors of red apple at its core, followed by a roar of spice, citrus peel, lemon, sharp fruity acidity, vanilla pod, and a touch of walnut. The finish is lengthy and spicy.
A hint of caramel corn, along with nutmeg, oak char, blackberry jam, and earthy notes of wet clay and tea leaves. The palate has loads of spice, black tea, and a subtle earthiness. The finish brings on chile-pepper heat, bitter chocolate, burnt walnut, cooked cherries, and light herbaceousness. Very unusual, successfully venturing outside the box, with a deft mix of sweetness, chocolate, earthiness, and spice.
High West A Midwinter Nights Dram (Act 7, Scene 6), 49.3%
Rye Whiskey | $100
A finish in port casks imparts plenty of dark fruit and rich flavor throughout this blend of ryes, which includes some of High West’s own make. The nose is leathery, with plums, cherries, dark chocolate, brown sugar, orange pekoe tea, and blueberry jam. More fruit on the palate, including black cherry, orange marmalade, and raisin, as well as cacao nibs, baking spice, cola, and rich oak. The finish is lengthy and layered, with cough syrup, dark berries, chocolate, and cola.
Whiskey Del Bac Distiller’s Cut Cask-Strength American Single Malt, 58.15%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $85
Dark tobacco, horehound, saddle leather, mesquite smoke, and dried fruits rightly suggest the intensity to come from this Arizona malt. The robust palate features grilled corn, heaps of char, and savory smoked meats, with a burnt-sugar note that is both bitter and sweet. This is bold and flavor-packed, like drinking a glass of brisket. The no-holds-barred finish displays campfire smoke, milk chocolate, and burning citrus oil. (1,650 bottles)
Heaven’s Door 26 year old Mizunara Cask-Finished Canadian Whisky (Bootleg Series Vol. 1), 55.75%
Canadian | $500
The nose is minty and herbal, with a fragrant note of potpourri. It’s powerful on the palate, with honey, coconut shavings, vanilla frosting, and spice. Lots of robust age on this one, with a finish that offers almonds, dark chocolate, vanilla cream, oak char, and good length. The barrel influence is strong, as would be expected from a whisky of this age, but is restrained enough to let the flavors emerge.
An eclectic blend of whiskey distilled from beer, as well as rye and malt whiskeys; it proved divisive among Whisky Advocate’s blind tasters. The nose is resinous, with pine needles, biscuity malt, macadamia nuts, grapefruit oil, and tropical fruit. Oily on the palate, with assertive hops, pineapple, brown sugar, nuts, bread dough, and reticent spice. The finish is floral, hoppy, and pleasantly savory, with nuts, grapefruit, and lemon. This whiskey knows exactly what it is—unconventional—and it’s not afraid to show it. (1,338 bottles)
Fruit, grape skins, high esters, and oiliness on the nose yield to sweet fruits on the palate, with mild white pepper broadening into a warm spicy glow. The softness of barley sugar lends a creaminess to this mouth-filling, middle-aged gem before it resolves in a long spicy finish with baking spices and slightly pulling barrel tones. A Canadian classic.
Named because it’s triple-distilled and matured in sherry, bourbon, and malaga casks, this has a syrupy, fruity sweetness with notes of red cherry, green apple, pear, peeled clementine, vanilla toffee, and a generous helping of pot still spiciness. Orange and lemon segments, red apple, caramel, Jell-O cubes tossed in powdered sugar, and background spices make this sweeter and fruitier than regular Jameson, though the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. (U.S. Travel Retail exclusive)
Malt and mango on the nose, with just a hint of meatiness and earth. Pear and resin notes appear in time. Orchard fruits, vanilla, cloves, and cocoa powder on the palate. The sweet fruit notes are quite intense. Hazelnut and fudge in the medium-length finish. (£48)
High West American Prairie Blend of Straight Bourbons (Batch 19A23), 46%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $35
Minty and herbal on the nose, with notes of fresh oak, licorice, apricots, brown sugar, dried apples, orange peel, peaches, light coconut, ginger, and dried leaves. The palate is sweet up front, with a complex melding of butterscotch, spicy oak, orange slices, and chocolate fudge. The finish offers lots of spice, black pepper, bitter chocolate, and a pleasant note of almond nuttiness. A well-textured whiskey, with lots of spice and heat.
Rose petal, orange pekoe tea, and grandma’s perfume earmark this as a somewhat youthful rye, with white pepper and cinnamon Trident gum accompanying the floral aromas. The palate weaves together heaps of cinnamon, clove, sandalwood spice, dried flower sachet, and chamomile, with generous oak balancing the confectionary notes of circus peanuts candies and Pixy Stix. Quite distinctive—and likely divisive.
At first the nose is dominated by wood—pencil shavings and Popsicle sticks—but it soon reveals violets, blueberries, grape Kool-Aid, and peppery spice. The palate is dry, with nuts, herbs and spices, mocha, and semi-sweet chocolate; a few drops of water help with integration and bring out more fruit, including lemon meringue pie. It finishes nutty and dry, with coffee beans and a touch of lemon.
A pleasant, honeyed nose of brown sugar, lemon peel, candied clementine, cherry hard candy, and light notes of herbs. The palate is liltingly sweet with an overlay of spice, as well as flavors of orange peel and marmalade. Water brings out notes of vanilla wafer, orange, spice, licorice, and black pepper. The finish is spicy but sweet, with hints of candied orange and vanilla cream, all punctuated by a spice-note finale. (24,000 bottles)
Dogfish Head Alternate Takes Vol. 2: Palo Santo Marron Ale Cask-Finished Whiskey, 45%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $50
The nose is herbal, with notes of bitter lime, lemon peel, hops, peppermint, green apple, and hints of salinity. The mouthfeel is smooth, with flavors of honey, chocolate cake, and cinnamon, plus notes of lemon blossom, confectioners’ sugar, and baking spice. A long finish offers vanilla cream and crackling bitter herbs. Light and fruity—sometimes almost tropical—with a grip of appealing spice on the finish. (6,000 bottles)
Redbreast Small Batch Cask Strength (Batch D), 58.9%
Irish Single Pot Still | $100
An appealing nose, as an unrestrained spiciness surges out of the glass, uncovering notes of rowan jelly, baked pear, date, and lively sherry notes. Slightly sour baked Bramley apple flavors are sideswiped by a rush of spices on a wave of high-strength alcohol, somewhat anticlimactically suspending further flavor development. Water rescues, coaxing out lemon and gooseberry, with spice-flecked vanilla toffee to finish. (252 bottles)
Sierra Norte Native Oaxacan Red Corn Single Barrel (No. 67), 45%
Corn Whiskey | $45/375 ml
Master distiller Douglas French unveils the single-barrel results of his latest heritage corn experiments: a dry and spicy nose with graham cracker, cornbread, red licorice, buttered corncobs, and a cloud of spices. It’s a big mouthful with flavors of fruit concentrate, red bell pepper, baked orange, clove, star anise, peppercorn, and toffee, with the spices congregating around the tip of the tongue, then a slightly vegetal finish.
This new core expression was launched in 2019 to celebrate the reopening of Tobermory Distillery after two years of remodeling. The whisky was matured principally in bourbon barrels, with a small proportion being finished in virgin oak. The nose yields honeycomb, vanilla fudge, orange blossom, and cinnamon. Quite full-bodied, with cloves on the early palate, apricots, and malt. Licorice, spicy dark berries, and more cloves in the finish. (£46)
The latest While We Wait bottling comprises a mix of peated and unpeated whisky from an undisclosed distillery, finished in French oak Tuscan wine casks. Fragrant on the nose, with freshly mown hay, gentle smoke, berries, honey, and hot chocolate. Apricots and red wine on the palate, with vanilla and dried fruits, against a backdrop of singed woodsmoke. Nutty and oaky in the slightly oily finish. (10,000 bottles)
FEW Alice in Chains All Secrets Known Tequila Barrel-Finished Bourbon (Batch 19H19), 50.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $75
A fragrant, mellow nose of vanilla cream and root beer, with hints of lime, wood char, and oak. The palate offers racy red fruit, berry skins, desert herbs, chocolate, licorice, and oak tannins, with a minty, peppery note. The finish presents a new round of dry oak, peanuts, rich chocolate, cracked pepper, cedar, and red fruit. The tequila-barrel finishing creates an almost rye-like spiciness in this unusual, creative offering. (900 bottles)
Certainly one for the oak lover, the nose is dominated by fresh lumber, dusty floorboard, and toasty wood notes, with sweet vanilla, hazelnut, cedar, and dark berry buried beneath. The palate is similarly oak-driven, with grape skins, tea leaves, and robust wood tannins leading to a finish that is dry and somewhat austere, with bitter chocolate and modest spice flavors.
Middle West Spirits 5 year old OYO Double Cask Sherry Cask-Finished (Batch 11), 43.25%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $70
Delicate and dessert-like on the nose: pistachio and vanilla rice pudding, milk chocolate, cherry pie filling, grape soda, honey-roasted peanuts, and iced tea. Naturally, it’s very sweet and almost syrupy at times, with powdered sugar, orange, cherry, rose water, milk chocolate, and cinnamon; the mouthfeel is silky, bordering on light. It finishes simply, with milk chocolate, candied nuts, and vanilla.
A burst of orange on the nose: orange blossom, orange peel, orange pekoe tea, candied orange slices. It also has sweet licorice, sage, honey, and blueberry. Light-bodied in the mouth with a bit of astringency; the flavors run to berry, orange, spearmint, and cinnamon, with gentle spice. On the finish, more fruit and cinnamon prevail, along with nuttiness and an undercurrent of herbal pine.
The nose is light, floral, and hoppy; sweet on top, with hints of licorice, stone fruit, bubble gum, and honeydew. The palate is also light, with a silky texture that offers notes of chocolate-covered marshmallows, plums, nectarines, and hot cocoa with whipped cream. Smooth and balanced on the finish, if perhaps a bit light, with lingering hoppiness, toasted grain, and cigar wrapper, sweetened by vanilla and tropical fruit notes. (3,300 bottles)
Not a whiskey: FEW Spirits cut its bourbon with cold-brew coffee instead of water, but the effect is subtle and surprising. There’s sweet green tea, spearmint gum, marzipan, coconut, caraway, and toasted oak on the nose. Mint-chocolate candy, licorice, blueberry, and black pepper vie with oak on the palate; adding water, a juicy, fruity strain of raspberry and pomegranate emerges. The finish is dry, peppery, and herbal; water brings out fruit to balance.
Redbreast Small Batch Cask Strength (Batch C), 59.1%
Irish Single Pot Still | $100
Cherry, raisin, aniseed, ground pepper, and fruitcake on the nose. The taste experience builds to a spicy clove and pepper fistfight, and while there are glimpses of red apple, it takes time for the spiciness to subside and the other flavors don’t ever really get a chance. Even the chocolate notes on the finish are harried by the spices. Dilution delivers much more enjoyable flavors. (252 bottles)
Sierra Norte Native Oaxacan Green Corn Single Barrel (No. 224), 45%
Corn Whiskey | $75/375 ml
This single-barrel release made from an attractive heritage corn has herbal notes of dill, cilantro stalks, and hints of tarragon, with green melon, boiled corn, and dried apple. Sipping it begins with a fruity palate of citrus, raspberry, and green fruits, which are joined by dill, ginger root, pepper, and a touch of bitterness. A hot and spicy finish with remnants of unsweetened fruit.
Aged in bourbon casks, this offers a nose of farmyard aromas, ginger, and treacle. Quite thin in the mouth, with nutty toffee, dried apricots, and spicy black coffee. Dark chocolate, licorice, raisins, dark oak, and persistent cocoa powder in the spicy, very long finish. Quirky, and one for lovers of the slightly arcane. (£500)
Initially, the nose is herbal, with emerging notes of new oak, baked apple, sassafras, spice, and old leather. The palate is earthy and herbal, with pulling oak tannins, while water smooths out the heat and coaxes out more spice. The finish offers some classic bourbon notes, but is somewhat lacking in balance. There are some youthful notes in the blend that don’t seem to offer much depth and complexity. (12,000 bottles)
The nose is a medley of bananas and cream, cinnamon-covered apples, and saltwater taffy, with an undernote of new wood. A rich, creamy palate offers dried orange slices, marmalade, dried figs, mince pie, and vanilla cream. The finish has notes of baking spice, vanilla, more dried fruit, and a peppery back note. Delightfully sweet and with good texture following through nicely on the finish. Youthful, but balanced and enjoyable.
Pinhook 4 year old Bourbon War Straight Bourbon, 49%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $45
A rather innocuous bourbon, it shows some of the pep that its namesake racehorse surely shares, with aromas of banana pudding, banana peel, lemon, vanilla, cloves, licorice, cherry hard candy, and cornbread. There’s zingy lemon and orange, rose oil, vanilla, cherry, and some herbal flavors on the palate, with more banana peel, candied fruit, and lemon oil on the finish.
This blend of straight ryes is fruit-forward on the nose, with red berries, grape Pixy Stix, sweet orange, canned pineapple, and shredded coconut, along with almond extract, baking spice, and herbs. There’s more fruit on the palate—strawberry, orange, lemon, pomegranate—and a full panoply of baking spices and black pepper. Fragrant nuttiness extends into the somewhat short finish, supported by oak and bitter chocolate.
Herbal and medicinal aromas—eucalyptus, menthol, licorice, Pine-Sol—intertwine with kiwi, green banana, and blackberries on the nose. It remains consistent on the palate, with mint, bay leaf, eucalyptus, Szechuan peppercorn, licorice, dark berries, and dry oak; with water, lemon oil and hints of tropical fruit emerge. The finish is oak-driven and peppery, with the sweet medicinal quality of cherry cough syrup.
Cooked malt, roasted chestnuts, and cigar box aromas mingle with caramel-nut clusters, brown sugar, grilled fruit, and new oak. It’s rich and roasty, with a velvety texture on the palate; the malt takes center stage, highlighted by bright citrus and herbaceous pine, as well as cooked fruit and hints of tobacco, with prominent oak flavors. Chocolate-covered candied orange peel and roasted nuts mingle with cigar on the finish.
WhistlePig 18 year old Double Malt Straight Rye (2019 Release), 46%
Rye Whiskey | $400
The age is readily apparent on the nose, which offers notes of chamomile tea, spice cabinet, antique store, grape jam, candied orange, and balanced oak. The palate is spicy, with bright citrus flavors, orange peel, pepper, and tingly spice. Water brings out guava, lemon iced tea, and mocha. The finish offers loads of spice, with drying oak tannin and more orange peel, contrasting with a hint of vanilla sweetness. (10,000 bottles)
High West High Country American Single Malt (Batch 19I04), 44%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $80
Earthy, phenolic, and herbaceous with a wisp of smoke and seaweed, this is certainly characterful. The flavor marries malty sweetness, red fruits, and a peculiar smoke, like a distant burning leaf pile or smoldering smoked jalapeños. While it tastes a bit young, and it’s certainly unconventional, this is a very intriguing whiskey, with an ashy finish delivering cocoa and nutty notes. (9,600 bottles)
Partial maturation in barrels that held Rogue’s Rolling Thunder imperial stout lends this whiskey aromas of hops, dry coffee grounds, cocoa powder, and vegetal earthiness; there’s also mesquite barbecue chips, vanilla, and amaretto. More beer-forward flavors on the palate, along with spice and chocolate, some dry nuttiness, and citrus oil. It’s consistent from start to finish, ending with piney hops, oily citrus, drying oak, white pepper, and roasted nuts.
Appealing notes of sweet mesquite, barbecue, butterscotch, candied nuts, warm cookies, and a very pleasant Southwest smokiness. The palate is light in body, offering notes of bitter chocolate, herbs, and spice, with the mesquite note lingering. There’s more sweetness and chocolate on the finish; a tasty profile but somewhat light-bodied. The nose is the best part. The palate and finish are balanced, but it’s a bit light and lacking in depth.
Banana peel, pencil shavings, florist’s shop, and rose garden lined with herb beds on the nose. Oak takes the lead on the palate, but is tempered by lemon and orange zest, sweet black licorice, chocolate, peanuts, and popcorn. Crushed peanuts, milk chocolate, and pencil shavings persist on the finish, although it’s fairly short.
Primary grain flavors of Cheerios and spirit notes of rubber tire suggest some youth here. The palate is very sweet, surprisingly sweet in fact, with cloying malt extract, honey, pear nectar, and a bit of lemon oil. There are some redeeming flavors, but this generally feels disjointed.
Youthful and fresh, with piney and grassy aromas, Lemon Pledge, fennel seed, and orange candy. The palate is thin and spiky; orange and lemon oils mingle with fresh herbs and tobacco leaf, but the effect falls short of cohesion. It finishes hot, with more tobacco, oak, and a hint of lemongrass.