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95 points

Gordon & MacPhail Generations 80 year old (Distilled at Glenlivet), 44.9%

The nose is fragrant with black cherry, black currant cassis, apricot stone, pressed flowers, creamy caramel, beeswax polish, leather, and a touch of smoke. Sweet creamy texture of caramel-drizzled dates, elegant sherry notes, citrus peel oils, menthol, soft peppery spices, and a faint trace of pipe smoke on the finish. The lack of heavy oak tannins from a cask filled in February 1940 is as remarkable as this whisky. Collectibles

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

95 points

Yamazaki 25 year old (2021 release), 43%

The mizunara wood notes are striking, with sandalwood, incense, and the sweet fragrance of wilting flowers, intermingled with vanilla, dried fruits, and fragrant wood spices. Rich and complex, with sweet vanilla, soft oak, ripe green fruits, and citrus bitterness, ending in a pool of creaminess with a gently oaked finish. A fabulously rich version of Yamazaki 12 compared to the 1984 and previous 25 year old which are sherried and spicy. Collectibles

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

95 points

Prima & Ultima Brora 40 year old 1980, 49.4%

This bottling is of the last casks from 1980, filled when Brora was making peated spirit. The nose presents smoking heather twigs, barbecued meat bark, sun-dried kelp, wild mushroom caps, wooden fish box, candied lemon, burnt caramel, sanded oak, black pepper, and a spritz of tangerine oil. There is distinctive smoke and waxiness on the tongue but it’s never heavy, with orange, vanilla, gentle spices, and salted caramel. With water it becomes silkier and smoother. (505 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

95 points

Lagavulin 11 year old Offerman Edition: Guinness Cask Finish, 46%

Inspired by actor and comedian Nick Offerman’s devotion to Lagavulin single malt scotch, Islay distillery Lagavulin debuted its first Offerman Edition in 2019. A second Offerman release appeared in the spring of 2021—an 11 year old like the first, but with four months of finishing in Guinness casks. Amid a crowded field of ultra-aged, barrel proof, and many other formidable contenders, this stout cask-finished expression emerged from the pack to become our 2021 Whisky of the Year. While the 16 year old Lagavulin is generally considered the classic of the range, many Lagavulin fans prefer the younger expressions. The Lagavulin 12 year old, for example, has made frequent appear- ances in the Diageo Special Releases annual series, and the 2017 version landed at number-four in our Top 20. But could an even younger expression—and one with a simple beer cask finish to boot—possibly compare to the stately, sherried depth of the oldest Lagavulins on the shelf? The answer was a resounding yes. At first whiff, it’s Lagavulin alright—but somehow brighter and more playful. The peat smoke and maritime salinity become wrapped in the freshness of fragrant citrus, melding with honeyed vanilla and white chocolate. On the palate, a subtle backdrop of peat embers harmonizes with flavors of toffee and baked orange, leading to a nimble smoked finish that sings with notes of coffee and chocolate, and just goes on and on. That finish truly became the clincher for our tasters. It showed that while this whisky charts its own lively course, it is anything but straightforward—and loses none of Lagavulin’s famed depth and complexity. While peated scotch devotees are among the most loyal whisky fans in the world, we recognize that peat is not always for everyone. Yet with its artfully cheerful style and an abundance of captivating flavors, we believe this whisky bridges that divide. Number 1 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

94 points

Redbreast 12 year old Cask Strength (Batch B1/21), 56.3%

redbreast cask strength 12 year old Golden sultana, fragrant spice, dried orange slices, star anise, baked apricot, and hints of flaked chocolate bar. Spices leap from a butterscotch and red berry base, vociferously showing clove, star anise, and ginger root, which part to welcome flavors of milk chocolate, vanilla pod, oak, and juicy nectarine. The cask strength is rarely less than spectacular, but this batch is singularly distinctive. Editor's Choice

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

94 points

Kilchoman Loch Gorm Sherry Cask Matured (2021 Edition), 46%

Peat smoke and fresh maritime notes on the nose, rope tar, lime, black pepper, and medicinal hints of Band-Aid and iodine. On the palate, black peat embers blend into milk chocolate, luscious dark fruits, and espresso macchiato. The finish is viscous and smooth, and has excellent length. There’s plenty of smoke, but also lively fruit notes of orange, blackberries, and black currants. There is a real elegance to this whisky. (2,040 bottles for the U.S.)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

94 points

Laphroaig 25 year old Cask Strength (2020), 49.8%

A cask strength whisky, but don’t expect a rambunctious blisterer. Age has given this one a mellowed beauty. It offers a deep, rich, soft peat influence on a thick and creamy palate, with dried seaweed, seashells, salinity, brine, charcoal, and muted medicinal notes—all imbued with sweet oak, lime, chocolate-covered marshmallows, and light pepper. Cooked pears, chocolate, and vanilla cream complete the finish. The peat has settled in, and a marvelous, mature whisky rises.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

94 points

Eifel Whisky German Peated Duo Malt 2021 Edition, 46%

A nose of Nestle Crunch bar, dates, smoke from green wood, golden syrup, vanilla seeds, cherry gummy bears, and a medley of dried fruits. Respectfully, with its 4:1 mashbill ratio of malted wheat and barley to 35 ppm peated malt, it’s like a fine blended scotch that costs ten times more. The flavors are in perfect balance with a distinctive red wine influence, with dark toffee, black cherry, black currant, runny caramel, and an up-tempo spiciness. (2,400 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

94 points

Lagavulin 26 year old (Diageo Special Releases 2021), 44.2%

Matured in first fill PX/oloroso seasoned casks, the nose opens with fruitcake, dried mango, marmalade, ground ginger, and baking spices. As the brighter fruits dissipate, aromas of dried fig and burnt teacake emerge. A thick, oily mouthfeel with flavors of chocolate orange, then chocolate ganache, restrained spice, malt, bramble, sultana, and date, with an eternal sweetness infused with smoke. A simply wonderful tasting experience. (7,542 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

94 points

Prima & Ultima Linkwood 39 year old 1981, 52.9%

Since 1993, this whisky has occupied four trial virgin oak casks seasoned with a PX-oloroso blend. The sherry characters are sinewy and taut after being refined and honed with age; Christmas pudding, Cadbury’s Fruit & Nut bar, malt, and fig roll on the indulgent nose. Luxuriant sherry notes with cherry, plum, black currant, baked Bramley apple, and plenty of oak, though it’s even more flavorful with a few drops of water. (701 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

94 points

Prima & Ultima Talisker 41 year old 1979, 47.5%

From the last four refill American oak hogsheads from 1979 matured in Talisker’s warehouse 4, not the mainland, comes a coastal nose of sea grass, salt, sandy driftwood, and pink peppercorns, with an oily sweetness, lemon zest, and the dry smokiness of lapsang souchong tea and a distant garden bonfire. Sublime oiliness on the palate, with firm citrus, apricot, peppercorn, orange cake, vanilla, peach, and almond flavors. Quietly majestic. (556 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

94 points

Teeling Blackpitts, 46%

Teeling Blackpitts (Batch 1) bottle. Peated whiskey is an ancient Irish style, but it’s harder to make than you think. Teeling’s master distiller Alex Chasko ascertained that only malt as heavily peated as Ardbeg’s would enable the peaty flavors to withstand the large fraction eliminated by triple distillation. That decision delivers a superb subtle smokiness, which when put together with bourbon and sauternes casks creates a moreish whiskey alive with orchard fruit, panna cotta, and sweet floral notes, plus tangy marmalade and peppery spice. As distillers in Ireland dig deeper into peaty whiskey, you can bet on this bottle of smoke to make your day. Number 3 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

94 points

Wheel Horse Straight (Batch 1), 50.5%

Made at Green River Distilling Co. in Owensboro, Kentucky, this shows maturity far beyond its 2 to 4 years in the barrel, with a winning combination of proof and price. Root beer spice, candied pineapple, wet walnuts, clementine, and Christmas cookies on the nose. A velvety texture on the palate brings butter pecan ice cream, cinnamon toast, maple syrup, and vanilla custard. There is tremendous length on the finish, with a cola-like syrupy sweetness throughout. As debuts go, this one impresses. Number 19 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Torabhaig Allt Gleann Legacy Series, 46%

Fresh sea-blown peat on the nose, pine tar, sea salt, seaweed, dried seashells, and a tropical note of lime. Sweeter vanilla scents emerge, along with coconut, light nuttiness, and a hint of coffee. It’s peated but light and floral. The palate is honeyed, with vanilla, spice, dark chocolate, and lemon playing above beautifully integrated charcoal and peat. The mellow peat influence integrates beautifully into flavors that are dynamic, gorgeous, and memorable.   Editor's Choice

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Glenallachie 10 year old Rye Wood Finished, 48%

On the nose, there’s roasted almond, fragrant butterscotch, toffee, lemon, and oak, plus vanilla, lemon meringue, sweet malt, and a hint of melon. The palate has notes of vanilla cake, pleasant soapiness, sweet tea, rich chocolate, a hint of coconut, and alluring flavors of blueberry cobbler and raspberry tart. The finish is long, lively, and beautifully punctuated with fruit notes, dark chocolate, and a parting song of oak. Loaded with great, well-integrated flavors.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Glenfiddich 21 year old Reserva Rum Cask Finish, 40%

Rich, sweet, and fruity with baked apples drizzled in honey, crisp white pear, honeysuckle, dried banana, vanilla fudge, and pecan pie. This works so well with the nascent Glenfiddich spirit; lime zest, vanilla, foamy meringue, honey blossom sweetness, and pepper transitioning to lime shred marmalade, soft oak, and a dry spicy finish. Vibrant, stimulating, sophisticated, and so well balanced that it never risks becoming overly sweet.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Laphroaig Càirdeas Pedro Ximénez Cask, 58.9%

Clear peat and maturity on the nose as aromas of antique furniture mingle with cinnamon toast, fireplace log, wax paper, and mahogany. A peppery and well-spiced palate zips with barbecue smoke, red berries, peaches, apricots, vanilla cream, and Red Hots cinnamon candy. The flavor is similarly intense on the long finish, as dark chocolate meets peppermint. Big, lush, complex, and rich, this whisky has lots to offer.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Dalmore 30 year old (2021 Release), 42.8%

Dark and gleaming from the port pipes that contained Graham’s 30 year old tawny port, this revels in a nose of treacle tart, polished horse chestnut, baked orange, walnut, and Luxardo cherry syrup. A decadent palate of sweet orange, cherry, baked plum desserts, poached pears in cream, and a hint of nuttiness and spice, it finishes darkly with inky purple fruits, black grape, and Airheads blue raspberry chew bars. (1,318 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength, 60%

Sweet scents of Boston cream pie, citrus, and fresh forest, growing more fragrant as the liquid rests in the glass. On the palate, the citrus sweetens to baked orange tart and lemon meringue pie, with underpinnings of chocolate malt, raisins, and pepper spice. The mouthfeel is creamy and concentrated, and the finish is like a rich, full, spiced chocolate dessert. Water enhances things, bringing out more spice and chocolate.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Jura Tide 21 year old, 46.7%

Matured in bourbon barrels and finished in virgin American oak. Deliciously smoky like autumnal garden bonfires, with aromas of banana and treacle muffin, papaya, gingerbread, antique oak, worn leather, vanilla pod, oak tannins, and walnut shells. Flavors of baked apple, chocolate-chip cookies, woodsmoke, ginger, dark honey, clove, allspice, and pepper, then marzipan and more oak, before becoming a touch leathery. It finishes with feisty spices and tobacco smoke, plus flashes of lemon curd sweetness.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Booker’s 2021-02 “Tagalong Batch” Kentucky Straight, 63.95%

The fifth edition of distiller Freddie Noe’s signature annual release. This is a weighty one, in classic Booker’s fashion—rich, full, and powerful, loaded with chocolate, cocoa powder, candied orange slices, dark chocolate, melted caramel, and cinnamon spice. Water quells the flavor riot, softening to notes of vanilla and vanilla malt, chocolate candy bar, and leather. The finish is spicy, with more chocolate and orange. There’s nothing shy about this tasty sipper.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Peerless Single Barrel Straight (150812100), 55.7%

The nose is filled with depth and spice, melding with blackberry and other cooked dark fruit notes. On the palate, rice pudding, vanilla cream, rich dark chocolate, and blueberry pie are laced with savory spice. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, with little hint of the high proof. It’s even smoother with water, unlocking cinnamon spice, grape jam, and more chocolate. The finish is deep, jammy, and long, with loads of spice.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Redbreast Pedro Ximénez Edition, 46%

This first limited release in the Iberian Series deploys a 12 to 22 month PX finish to great effect. Deeply fruity with red cherry, damson, dried vine fruits, soft licorice, nutmeg, cooking chocolate, and golden fleshed plums on the nose. An exceptional Redbreast with more finesse than Redbreast Lustau: beautiful oily pot still texture with succulent raspberry, red currant, plum, cherry, and black tea flavors, with control shifting later to the spices.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Hibiki 21 year old, 43%

Deep layers of vanilla and mizunara oak with sugar sprinkled pastries, incense sticks, oiled wood, tatami, dried apricot, golden sultana, and faint smoky spiciness. Nectarous mouthfeel with honey, barley sugar, dried citrus, orange peel, and delicate spices, it continues to sweeten beautifully showing vanilla, sugared almonds, banana custard, with hints of ginger and gentle oak. Slightly gummy finish as the vanilla quenches little eruptions of wood spices.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Blackadder Raw Cask Red Snake [Cask ref: Redneck 111], 60.2%

This elegant single malt evokes scents of vanilla frosting, white flowers, tangerine oils, pink grapefruit, fennel, coriander seed, and pistachio cream. Its delicious golden flavor spectrum brings out honey, lemon lozenge, baked orange, vanilla, shortbread, oak, and fluttering spices. By all means add water, but a non-chill filtered barrel pick that delivers such unbelievable drinking pleasure at full strength is pretty special in my book. (262 bottles, Glass Revolution Dram Hunter Selection U.S.A. Exclusive Release)  

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series 2021 Release: FAE-01, 55.15%

maker's mark wood finishing series spring 2021 limited edition FAE:01 bourbon Maker’s Mark has resisted the rampant experimentation that defines some distilleries, but they appear to be making up for lost time with two 2021 releases in their Wood Finishing Series, which started in 2019. This release is enhanced by an American oak stave that has been toasted on only one side then added to the barrel. This innovation amps up the oak influence without going overboard. Fresh-sawn oak, earthiness, leather, and iced tea are balanced by caramel apple, toffee, and baking spice. A flavor-packed, oak-driven bourbon that wears its proof well. (ABV varies) Number 2 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Jack Daniel’s 10 Year Old, 48.5%

This is Jack Daniel’s first age-stated release in over a century, unveiled this summer to great excitement. Does the whiskey itself live up to the fanfare? Our verdict is that it most certainly does. Made from the same Jack Daniel’s recipe used for the core Old No. 7, this liquid has aged well, and taken on lively, dynamic dimensions. Sweet cherry notes and wood spice swirl around the nose and palate, integrating with baking spice, brown sugar, candied orange, and melted butterscotch, all tempered by espresso and cedar chest. This will be an annual release, and the plan calls for it to reappear next summer. Number 4 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

George Dickel 8 Year Old, 45%

Nicole Austin hasn’t rested on her laurels since George Dickel Bottled in Bond won Whisky of the Year in 2019, continuing to create great and afford- able whiskeys at Cascade Hollow Distillery. This is notably a bourbon rather than a Tennessee whiskey, though the criteria for the two styles mostly overlap. The nose is nutty and well spiced, with caramel corn, toasted pecans, cinnamon graham crackers, cherry tart, and butterscotch candies. There is a friendliness to the palate that makes it ideal for outdoor imbibing, with notes of spearmint, mixed berries, nougat, and honey. Big spice on the finish makes this a memorable sip. Number 5 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

High Coast Hav, 48%

A culture of high-quality craftsmanship, innovation, and environmental consciousness sets Nordic whiskies apart from other world whiskies. Hav, Swedish for the sea, is part of High Coast’s exceptional Origins series, and its flavor shorthand is oak spice. Wood spices, peat smoke, vanilla cream, and orange peel on the nose precede a lush palate of fruit and spice displaying sweet apricot, peach, honey, and dried tropical fruits, with a lengthy, spicy finish. Matured in bourbon casks, it mingles batches of peated and unpeated spirit, with some components receiving an accelerator period in 40-liter casks coopered from Hungarian and Swedish oak. Number 6 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Rampur Asava, 45%

rampur-asava-indian-single-malt This is the world’s first Indian wine cask-finished whisky, produced in the foothills of the Himalayas. Anup Barik, Rampur’s master distiller, is in impeccable form here, re-casking mature whisky into Indian cabernet sauvignon barrels and monitoring them judiciously to find the perfect balance. Enticing aromas of damson, black currant, aromatic spices, vanilla essence, and pipe tobacco rise from the glass. The jammy autumnal fruits are immediate and compelling on the palate, developing red cherry, honey, peppery spice, and candied peel notes. Delectable expressions from this nation are flourishing, and with Asava, Rampur has beautifully captured the spirit of Indian whisky. Number 7 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Kentucky Peerless Double Oak, 54.35%

Double Oak was born of a happy accident, when a leaky barrel forced the distilling team to transfer its liquid to a new charred oak barrel. Exposure to that second barrel gave the whiskey amped-up flavors and lots more complexity. This is a bourbon that has gone into overdrive, and it handles the road just fine. Its syrupy sweet texture is checked by the oak influence, and the palate opens to flavors aplenty—dried peaches, warm apple pie, Christmas spice, gingerbread, raisin cake, chocolate, and pumpkin purée. Perfect as a holiday warmer or a backyard barbecue sipper, this is a whiskey for all seasons. Number 8 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Compass Box No Name No. 3, 48.9%

The third installment in Compass Box’s gothic exploration of smoke, or the whiskies that shall not be named, builds upon their bewitching sequence of distillery duets. Pairing Ardbeg with Caol Ila, then Caol Ila with Talisker, blender James Saxon invited Laphroaig and Bowmore to dance for No. 3, underpinned by the familiar Compass Box foundation malts. There’s a charming balance of sweetness and peat, as the hardy coastal smokiness of Laphroaig is quelled by the ripe tropical fruitiness of Bowmore. The mouthfeel is satisfyingly creamy, with orange fondant, chocolate, honey, and apricot flavors tightly bound together by tendrils of smoke. Number 9 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Wild Turkey Master’s Keep One, 50.5%

There’s a father-son dynamic at work between Wild Turkey’s two master distillers on this release—with the patriarch Jimmy Russell preferring 8 to 10 years of aging and son Eddie favoring the older stuff. The final blend thus combines 8 to 10 year old and 14 year old bourbons, and that blend was then finished in a mix of toasted and new charred oak barrels. Refined maturity becomes apparent on the first sip. It’s creamy and well spiced, with flavors of chocolate-covered marshmallow, caramel, cotton candy, and marvelous touches of aged tobacco leaf. This is a big whiskey that carries its age with grace and balance. Number 10 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Port Charlotte PAC:01 2011, 56.1%

This malt professes to be “heavily peated,” but fear not: peat is but a single brush stroke on a much broader canvas. Scottish grain evokes Honey Nut Cheerios and warm porridge, while the peat suggests grilled vegetables and molten campfire marshmallow. There’s briny smoke wafting from a beach bonfire, girded by bright berry and cherry fruit from time spent in red Bordeaux wine casks. Fine oak tannins meet heaps of sweet vanilla on the finish. A captivating malt that seems to have it all. Number 11 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Ardnamurchan (AD/03.21:02), 46.8%

An impressive start from one of Scotland’s newest single malt distillers, located on the remote Ardnamurchan peninsula in the western Highlands. Ardnamurchan Distillery produces both a peated and non-peated whisky, and then combines the two. The result is soft, pretty, honeyed profile, with gentle notes of lemon, poached pears, sea salt, and light drifts of peat smoke. Vanilla cream, ripe peaches, and apricot jam at the finish, closing with a final note of peat. Artfully made, most notably with its subtle integration of smoke. Number 12 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Bib & Tucker 6 year old Small Batch (No. 24), 46%

This Tennessee bourbon’s packaging has an old-school look and name (referring to dressing up, perhaps in your Sunday best), but in reality it’s rather new, first brought to market in 2014. Despite its lack of pedigree, at 6 years old this is lip-smacking whiskey, with a color of caramel, and an alluring aroma of sweet baking spices. There are bold, bracing tannins of cigar box and menthol that balance out the heavy sweetness of orange jam and long-stewed fruit. Intense, tasty, no-nonsense bourbon. Number 14 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

93 points

Andalusia Stryker, 50%

Smoky whisky has traditionally been the domain of Islay scotch, but Andalusia makes its own version in Texas Hill Country. Rather than using peat, the malted barley is treated like brisket—bathed in oak, applewood, and mesquite smoke. It has a caramel nose, and a sip reveals notes of Irish breakfast tea, pine, and loads of vanilla and caramel, along with solid hardwood smoke and mineral notes. The finish is long and mentholated, reminiscent of an herbal aperitif. A big, delicious Texas whiskey. Number 20 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

Benromach 21 year old, 43%

Sweet and smoky sherry wood, like the woodsmoke from charred butts, partnered with aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, black cherry, malt loaf, and a hint of coffee grounds. This is a midnight dram, full of character and intrigue; a thick syrupy mouthfeel with black currant, cherry Dr. Pepper, clove, pepper, and black coffee, followed by Brazil nut, cassis, oak, and smoke. A lengthy, dark fruity finish sees you through till morning.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

Laphroaig 10 year old Sherry Oak Finish, 48%

laphroaig 10 year old sherry cask scotch The nose is earthy and spicy with mature oak, aged peat, melted caramel, potpourri, sherry, candle wax, musty old library, and wool-filled closet. On the palate it’s rich and concentrated, creamy and thick, with chocolate cake and warm chocolate syrup, burnt coffee beans, cooked dark fruits, and medicinal notes, with a great touch of peated sweetness at the end. The peat and sherry oak create a remarkably subtle, yet delightfully complex effect.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

Glengoyne 21 year old, 43%

Polished red apple aromas, with dates, dried fig, baking spices, baked plum, dried vine fruit, blackened oak, and hints of chocolate give this the air of a refined digestif. Savor the sherried character on the palate with toffee, baked sultana, bread-and-butter pudding, red apple, baking spices, red currant, and plum, then aniseed, cinnamon, sticky toffee pudding, and oak. It’s a wonderful expression, with a charming slow procession of flavors.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

Auchentoshan 18 year old, 43%

Slightly smoky on the nose, with notes of mesquite wood and cigar ash, coupled beautifully with Whoppers, vanilla bean, coffee stout, and cookies and cream ice cream. There’s more sweetness on the palate in the form of creamy milk chocolate, alongside café con leche, and spiced Christmas cake. That richness carries over to the finish which is long with smoked meats and espresso. A touch light, but well-balanced and approachable.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

Blackened + Willett Kentucky Straight Madeira Cask Finished, 54.8%

The first in Blackened’s collaborative Masters of Whiskey series. Pronounced cinnamon on the nose, with apple pie, candied berries, babka, cranberries, and fruitcake. There’s more fruit and spice on the palate in the form of cinnamon Red Hots and candy apples, alongside spiced chocolate, bitter coffee, and pepper. The finish has long-lasting flavors of cocoa powder, blackberry cobbler, and additional spice. The big body benefits from some water.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

Sonoma Distilling Cherrywood Rye, 47.8%

Dark amber in color, with aromas of cherry coulis, woodsmoke, and cooked sweet strawberries. The palate is rich, lively, and loaded with red fruit notes, as well as watermelon, cinnamon spice, melted brown sugar, chocolate, and white pepper, with the wood and smoke influence lingering deftly in the background. The finish is long and rich, with flavors of bitter chocolate, allspice, vanilla bean, and more cinnamon. A complex, flavorful, well-made whiskey.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

Wilderness Trail Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Settlers Select Barrel Proof (16D21D), 58.5%

Aromas of fresh-baked rye bread, sassafras, hazelnut, vanillin, and hints of dusty earth on the nose. A smooth honeyed palate is filled with notes of fruit nectar and light almond nuttiness, dark chocolate, cocoa powder, cherries, cooked blueberries, and rumblings of spice beneath. The creamy texture continues through to the finish, which brings more subtle spice, nutty almond sweetness, and warm apple pie. Great texture, and a variety of well-integrated flavors.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

Eifel Whisky German Peated Rye 2021 Edition, 46%

No rye was peated in the making of this whisky. It acquires its peaty character through four years in Laphroaig casks after an initial three years in refill Chateau Ausone barrels. Slightly burnt chocolate brownie, peat slabs, sooty charcoal, and dried seaweed mask aromas of purple fruits and Seville orange marmalade. It’s like tasting a smoked fruit liqueur with strawberries in cream, plum, cherry, creamy caramel, and peppery spices. (2,400 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

Balcones Pilgrimage Sauternes Cask Finished, 58.5%

Pleasantly aromatic on the nose, with vanilla maltiness, cinnamon stick, and mixed berries. Tropical notes—lime, grapefruit, and pineapple—start things off on a smooth palate, seamlessly integrating with chocolate, spice, and hints of smoke. Water brings out spiced crème brûlée and baked apples. The finish offers length and balanced sweetness. While it does well without water, a splash certainly enhances things. Overall, a very well-textured, flavorful expression. Editor's Choice

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

Rosebank 30 year old 1990 (Release 1), 48.6%

The first Rosebank on the path to the distillery reopening is buttery and golden with rich vanilla, notes of lemon-zested lemon meringue pie, honeycomb, polished oak, marzipan, and a pinch of wood spices. This is a classic Rosebank, a soft, intimate dram with sweet almonds, butterscotch, grapefruit peel, gooseberry bitterness, background spices, and a finish of pear and vanilla. Welcome back Rosebank, it’s been too long. (300 bottles for the U.S.) Collectibles

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

Prima & Ultima Auchroisk 47 year old 1974, 48.7%

Incredibly, this European oak butt was the first cask ever filled at Auchroisk. The nose is fruity with apple pie, sweet pastry, lemon balm, vanilla, church candles, crusty French bread, barley heads, waxed cotton, and linseed oil-soaked cloth. Sweet baked fruits enrapture the taste buds with apple, marzipan, wafers, coriander seed, and pepper, later developing fudge, vanilla, wood spices, and oak to carry into the long, dry finish. (382 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

Prima & Ultima Convalmore 36 year old 1984, 48.6%

Disgorged from three American oak hogsheads filled in the final months of the distillery’s production, the nose brings forth golden syrup, key lime pie, green melon, two-tone sherbet lollipops, tart apple, and an array of fruity esters. Plenty of oak, a hint of wax, and a touch of astringency. It’s what Convalmore does best: sweet golden fruits with a developing waxiness, mandarin orange, ground pepper, lime zest, and spiced caramel. (647 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

Prima & Ultima The Singleton of Glendullan 28 year old 1992, 60.1%

Double maturation of 14 years each in refill wood then madeira barrels, this is a strident, impactful whisky with a fragrant intensity of spiced orange, neroli, golden apple, vanilla bean, honey, meadow hay, and brioche with daubs of aniseed, peppercorn, and mild tobacco notes. Drying at full strength, the sweet, syrupy orange is overcome by a wave of tangy orange, caramel, vanilla, and spiciness, remaining thick—almost gloopy—to the end. (414 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

Currach Atlantic Wakame Seaweed Cask, 46%

The aromas start subtly with honey, citrus, and dried grasses, while smoke builds from snuffed church candles through to garden bonfire, bringing in notes of seashell saltiness, raw steak in brown paper, and pistachio shells. Finished in a seaweed-charred virgin oak cask, this is a truly contemporary whiskey; thick and sweet with flavors of salted caramel, orange segments, log-fire smoke, and a blast of pepper and clove.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

Blackadder Raw Cask Red Snake [Cask ref: Redneck 110], 61.9%

Refreshing clean citrus notes on the nose, with zested lemons and limes, lemongrass stalks, candied fruits, honeysuckle, and eucalyptus. Mouth drawing at cask strength, with citrus, ripe apricot, creamy toffee, and a hint of grapefruit peel, followed by a sustained alcohol peak; mellow, not combative, leaving Oreo cookies, raisins, and dark toffee flavors. Add a few drops of water because the integration of fruit flavors and dark sweetness is heavenly. (213 bottles, Glass Revolution Dram Hunter Selection U.S.A. Exclusive Release)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

Arran Barrel Reserve, 43%

arran barrel reserve scotch with canister Scotland has hundreds of islands, many of them familiar to scotch lovers, but the one known as Arran has flown beneath the radar. This sleeper single malt has a sublime aroma of bread dough that barely hints at the lively flavors that await in the glass, which include freshly shelled almonds, sweet berries, and clover honey, plus a toasty finish with a lovely (if not overly long) chocolate note. A balanced, elegant, and flavorful whisky that’s lively on the palate, and a true bargain at only $50. Number 13 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt, 43%

nikka-taketsuru-pure-malt-new-11-2020 Nikka’s signature bottling honors founder Masataka Taketsuru, who brought his whisky making skills back from Scotland to Japan in 1920. Taketsuru’s successors have reformulated this blended malt, which fully complies with the latest definitions of Japanese whisky. The aromas create an oasis of calm with layers of gentle wood spices, smoke, vanilla pod, and lemon biscuits, while the palate carries a distinctive waxy sappiness that revels in luscious flavors of star fruit, lemon, Asian pear, peach syrup, and aromatic spice. Number 15 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

Old Fitzgerald 11 year old Bottled in Bond (Fall 2021), 50%

Released twice annually with varying age statements but consistent quality. There is a subtle fruity sweetness on the nose, with notes of fresh strawberries, dried orange slices and apricots, raspberry syrup, and sweet tea alongside dried herbs and Country Time lemonade. That interplay of tart and sweet carries over to the palate, with cooked berries, tangy citrus, and a soft inviting texture. The finish is mouth-coating and has good depth. With zesty notes throughout, this hits its mark well. Number 16 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

Kentucky Owl The Wiseman, 45.4%

The first Kentucky Owl release under master blender John Rhea, this bourbon drops the high proof and price point typically associated with Kentucky Owl for something more approachable—a blend of bourbons ranging from 4 to 8 years old. Green apple candies, cinnamon stick, buttered popcorn, and sage on the nose. Ginger spice and sweet bubble gum notes intertwine on a creamy palate along with blackberry tart and cocoa powder. Candied raspberries on the finish are matched with a sustained spice that lingers. Number 17 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

92 points

GlenDronach PortWood, 46%

glendronach port wood bottle This iconic sherried single malt scotch getsan extra-generous helping of fruit from maturation in port pipes at the hands of GlenDronach master blender Rachel Barrie. The result is a decadent and chewy dram that starts off with fig, dried cherries, and glazed banana chips on the nose. The mouth-filling flavors boast rich fruit, with chocolate-covered cherry and spiced Christmas cake before a lingering finish of drying cocoa and gingersnaps. Lush, creamy, and moreish in the extreme. Number 18 in the 2021 Top 20

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Glenallachie 12 year old Port Wood Finished, 48%

The nose has a pleasant oiliness, with red fruit undertones, nutmeg, marzipan, rose water, and black tea. Sweet on the palate, with notes of orange peel, caramel, dark chocolate, and a hint of dried raspberries, punctuated by pepper spice and coffee on the back palate. It does very well with water, which brings more pronounced red fruit notes of raspberry and strawberry. The finish is mid-length, with lots of vanilla, strawberry, and spice.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Aberfeldy 21 year old, 40%

The nose is utterly irresistible with rich, honeyed aromas of granola, malted barley, vanilla, ground almond, and cream on hot porridge. The slightly waxy mouthfeel gives it a luxurious sheen, with flavors of citrus, heather honey fudge, vanilla, and peppery spice, followed by dried fruits, notably apricot and mango, oak, and hints of bourbon biscuit. A lively, mouth-coating finish of cinnamon and pepper round it out handsomely.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Glenmorangie The Cadboll Estate 15 year old (Batch 2), 43%

The second release using Glenmorangie’s estate-grown barley. There’s wood spice and waxiness on the nose as well as licorice, dried leaves, and oat crackers. With water, it turns fruitier with notes of lemon wafers, mango, pineapple, and raspberries. Lush texture on the palate brings matcha latte, chocolate pudding, candied orange, butterscotch apple, coconut, and spice. Chocolate and spice carry over to the finish. Well formed with great balance and nuance.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Glenfarclas 21 year old, 43%

If you expect all Glenfarclas to be heavy, first-fill sherry bombs, think again. This has honey, pear, light vanilla, cinnamon bark, toffee, grilled apricot, and a squirt of peel oils. It’s lithe and expressive, with creamy orange fondant and grapefruit, then spicy licorice, peppermint, and finally, banana chews and toffee. A spirited burst of spices on the finish, with a further drenching of citrus flavors.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Cask 88 Unfiltered 14 year old 2005 (Ledaig, distilled at Tobermory), 59.6%

Pear, vanilla, and rolling clouds of aromatic peat smoke on the nose, with pumpkin seed oil, Brazil nut, and gingersnaps from this first-fill oloroso hogshead. The smoke builds with time, adding chocolate and leather notes. There’s scope for experimenting with the dilution, but at full strength it delivers flavors of juicy lemon, tangy orange, caramel, pepper, and clove, with macaroon bar, worn leather, nutmeg, old chocolate, and oak. (230 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Royal Salute 21 year old Polo Estancia Edition, 40%

Paying homage to Argentina as the home of polo, the malbec cask finish produces an inviting, fruity whisky kept in check by a whip-crack of spices. Aromas of dried cranberry, red grape, black currant, rum and raisin, milk chocolate, fresh walnut, creamy toffee, peppercorn, and roasted coriander seed. Dark fruits are injected with sweet, spicy, peppery elements before mellowing with dark toffee, vanilla pod, and plain chocolate.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Big Peat Christmas Edition 2021, 52.8%

On Christmas morning, everyone races downstairs to see if Big Peat left whisky in their stocking. If you’ve been good this year, you’ll find this one, which is richly smoky and slightly oily, with a nose of unwaxed lemon, sweet clementine, antiseptic, petrichor, and cigar ash. Sweet citrus, vanilla, fudge, sparkling spices, and generous smoke on the palate, and it’s beautifully balanced, for a big fella.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Compass Box Canvas, 46%

Very delicate fruitiness on the nose with lychee, white currant, honeydew, green apple, vanilla sponge, baking spices, meringue nests, and white flowers. Single malt matured in experimental casks seasoned with vino naranja adds intrigue to the blend. A lovely weighty mouthfeel plays a duet of melon and tangerine, perky spices interject, with star turns from nectarine, white peach, shortbread fingers, almond, and nougat as it dilutes. A gentle beauty. (5,880 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Pursuit United Blended Straight, 54%

Comprised of rye and wheated bourbons from Kentucky, Tennessee, and New York. Strawberry jam, wood varnish, buttered pecan, graham crackers, and lemon icing on the nose. Wood spice and a creamy texture anchor the palate, with notes of bitter chocolate, black pepper, cinnamon stick, and sweet wheat. The finish is mouth-coating with baking spice, balanced earth, and big dense flavors. The wood is pronounced here, but complexity shines through.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Buzzard’s Roost Single Barrel Straight, 52.5%

Dried mango and orange peel, candied raspberries, chamomile tea, roasted grains, brown sugar, and fresh-baked rye bread on the nose. The tropical fruit carries over to the palate, which likewise has notes of jammy red fruits and baking spice, with green candied apple and black pepper when water is added. Moderate length on the finish that displays added spice. Time and water help this one open.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Westland, 46%

A malty delight on the nose—sweet breakfast cereal along with hints of lemon peel and vanilla bean. The palate is creamy and honeyed, offering vanillin, milk chocolate, poached pears, melon, orchard fruits, subtle spice, and a hint of barrel char. A long, mouth-coating finish has notes of ginger, generous cinnamon spice, sweet lemon, and more vanilla. A great array of core flavors, and the finish seals the deal.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Limavady Single Barrel (Barrel 0040), 46%

Aromas of minerality, vanilla fudge, zested lime, barley sugar, rosewater, and white pepper. It spills sweet flavors of butterscotch, barley sugar, and candied orange peel over the tongue, pursued by a stealthy rise in pepperiness, and ending with a throat-coating finish of baked orange, burnt sugar, and Kit Kat. This is small batch, triple distilled merriment.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Killowen Bonded Experimental Series 10 year old Basque Acacia Txakolina Finish, 52.5%

Green olive, sweet vanilla, caramel, bitter lemon, coffee and walnut cake, tarragon, and light pepper on the nose, indicative of the flavors of the Basque wine. Light lemon, vanilla, fudge, and citrus zest to taste, with white grape, toasted spices, and grapefruit peel, which soften to reveal caramel biscuit and apricot. A lovely bitter lemon edge to the finish, this is perfect to pair with white fish dishes. (348 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Komagatake 2021 Edition, 48%

Aromas of watermelon, ruby grapefruit, lychee, exotic florals, white pepper, and a little candy sweetness of Cola Cube and strawberry laces are in contrast from the chocolate flavors of the 2020 edition. On the palate, you couldn’t ask for a juicier whisky; fruit salad with red apple, strawberry, watermelon, and that candy sweetness again before an edgier finish of bittersweet citrus and grapefruit acidity ushers in a lengthy fruity finish. (4,158 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Impex Collection 3 year old 2017 (Distilled at Milk & Honey Distillery), 58.9%

The PX sherry hogshead finish has imbued a dark sweetness and punchy spices. A nose of raisins, mixed peel, ground ginger, and dark forest honey is molasses-like, with golden syrup loaf, cinnamon, and tamarind. Slightly sticky mouthfeel with dates, apple, pear, and a dark rum sweetness, it crests with a prolonged wave of nippy spices—especially clove—followed by baked citrus, banoffee pie, pecan, and squashed ripe bananas. (162 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Lagavulin 12 year old (Diageo Special Releases 2021), 56.5%

On the nose, this is pretty peaty, redolent of baked lemon, smoked fish, fragrant roasted spices, salt water-lashed boat decks, and scorched earth, with faint citrus and cream notes in the background. Spices and chile pepper combine with lemon curd on the palate, the citrus sweetness breaking through, with a late contribution of Oreo cookies. Adding water only makes this tempestuous dram even spicier.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Prima & Ultima Mortlach 25 year old 1995, 52.4%

This PX-oloroso seasoned European oak butt was marked out as a lone wolf cask for its complexity and richness. The shifting sands of the spice aromas invoke wonderful fragrant flavors rather than overt spiciness, and there’s still some meaty muscle behind the orchard fruit, baked peach, dried papaya, and cranberry. The palate shows baked cookies, apple pie, plum, red currant tartness, malt, carob beans, and drying wood; Mortlach in its prime. (454 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Currach Atlantic Kombu Seaweed Cask, 46%

The currach was an ancient type of hand-built boat, and the innovative design of this whiskey is equally watertight. Driftwood smoke, sweet mandarin, peppered smoked fish, lime peel, and clove on the nose. The way the peppery smoke infuses throughout the juicy citrus is rather wonderful. Light bodied, with vanilla, honey, citrus, green melon, and peppercorn, it shifts toward clove, coffee cake, and treacle, with some spirited late smoke.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Blackadder Raw Cask Peat Reek 10 year old, 57.2%

Peat smoke, like raking out the kilns, creosote, hickory-smoked bacon fat, ground pepper, cacao beans, sanded oak, and faint lemon aromas. For those speculating on its source, this is peated to 20 ppm. The palate has lemon curd, creamy toffee, After Eight mints, pepper, creamed coconut, smoke, and blackened fruitcake with juicy raisins. There’s a touch of cask char and peppermint on the finish. Intensely exhilarating, like facing down an Atlantic gale. (339 bottles, Glass Revolution Dram Hunter Selection).

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

91 points

Colkegan, 46%

Menthol and pine on the nose, as well as incense, earthy sandalwood, iced tea, candied lemon, and a hint of candle wax. A smooth palate offers a sweet note of peat integrated with baked apple, orange, coffee, and cracked pepper. A rich, long finish has great balance, with lemon pound cake and fresh melon. Well textured throughout, this is creative and expressive.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

The Perfect Fifth 28 year old 1991 (Distilled at Bunnahabhain), 51.5%

This has a lovely light fruitiness on the nose with lemon meringue pie, lime marmalade, apple blossom, vanilla fudge, gentle wood spices, barley water, and seasoned oak. It’s a sweet, polished dram where butterscotch, vanilla custard, lemon, and fudge meet tempered pepper and clove spices followed by a ripening of tropical fruit flavors with passion fruit, dried mango, and red fleshed pears. (165 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

Cask 88 Unfiltered 12 year old 2009 (Distilled at Glen Garioch), 59.4%

This has a superb floral and honeyed intensity on the nose, with jasmine, honeysuckle, roasted peach, vanilla sponge, cream, and a smudge of spices. The refill bourbon barrel has produced a palate of baked orange, sweet grapefruit, lime juice, and penetrating spices, though the spices capitulate to reveal a juicy second act of clementine, papaya, bitter lemon, and grapefruit. Add water to boost the tropical fruitiness. (230 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

Glenfarclas 25 year old, 43%

Earthy notes of dried leaves, wet wool, and a hint of maltiness start things off on the nose, then citrus and red apple. The palate is sweet and balanced, offering warm apple tart, cinnamon, cooked blueberries, raisins, toffee, and Christmas cake, with a slight and appealing hint of soapiness. A lengthy finish brings chocolate cake, glazed orange, pfeffernusse cookies, and winter spice. A delicious holiday warmer.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

Blackadder Raw Cask Smoking Islay 10 year old, 59.3%

Tart lemon, cream soda, then a hurricane of peat smoke to bowl you over, supported by elements of serrano ham, salt-baked fish, and iodine. To taste, there is slice after slice of lemon, a little creamy sweetness to balance the tartness, then a lightning bolt of pepper, with flavors of lemon tart, malt, dried raspberry, hazelnut, and granola. If you’re looking for an untamed Islay experience, look no further. (120 bottles, 72 for the U.S.)  

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

Basil Hayden Toast, 40%

Made with brown rice and finished in toasted barrels. Cereal grains with freeze-dried strawberries on the nose as well as toasted herbs, blueberries, and fruity bubble gum. The palate is creamy and light, with notes of strawberry yogurt, bitter chocolate, and burnt sugar. A syrupy finish brings custard, tiramisu, and caramel flan. It is atypical in its profile and at times light bodied, but demonstrates good constriction and drinkability.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

Copper Fox Dawson’s Reserve, 45%

Lots of charcoal and bonfire smoke on the nose, though it does not overplay its hand, as citrus, red berries, and grapes vie for position along with musty antique shop notes. Creamy white chocolate on the palate, along with toasted marshmallows, allspice, and an ashy background of woodsmoke. The finish is mid-length, perhaps not as dynamic as the palate, but offers delicious notes of semi-sweet chocolate, more wood spice, and dark berries.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

Digits, 46%

From Savage & Cooke in collaboration with NBA great Scottie Pippen. There is an antique shop mustiness on the nose along with grape jelly and honey on toast, the kind served at a diner. The sweetness jumps up on the palate, with candied apple, honey throat lozenge, chocolate syrup, and cinnamon-sprinkled French toast. The lengthy finish is light, rich, and well spiced. At 5 years old, this Tennessee-made whiskey shows balance and buoyancy.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

Kings County Peated (Batch 19)

Peated bourbon is an unusual concept to say the least. Tart aromas of dark fruit and wood embers on the nose. The palate is filled with flavorful smoke, barbecue rub, and smoked brisket. A long finish with an appealing ashiness, cinnamon coffee cake, chocolate fudge, and more cooked dark fruit. A soft yet spicy dram; balanced and with plenty of depth.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

Still Austin Limited Release Cask Strength, 59%

Sweet scents of candied apple and caramel on the nose. The palate offers cinnamon Red Hots, bananas, cherry, allspice, and toasted oak. It’s hot but well knit, with emerging notes of candied nuts, buttered popcorn, and black pepper. Creamier with water and still flavor-packed, with emerging country fair notes of hay and cotton candy. A long finish brings melted caramel, candied cherries, and spice, against savory hints of cigar ash and barrel char.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

Blue Run Kentucky Straight Golden, 47.5%

The nose has an understated richness to it, with notes of freshly baked challah bread, blueberries, caraway seeds, toasted oak, and sandalwood. There’s good balance on the silky palate, with honey, dark berry, cinnamon, and clove flavors. With water, chocolate brownies, allspice, and some barrel char. Great length on a mouth-coating finish brings loads of spice, chocolate-covered orange, and rye bread. Front to back there’s depth and complexity.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

Parker’s Heritage Collection 11 year old Kentucky Straight, 61%

Fresh-baked cinnamon-raisin bread and generous baking spice on the nose, plus hints of coffee and chocolate babka. Pleasant and inviting, with lots of warmth and flavor. The palate is filled with cinnamon, brown sugar, bitter coffee, dark chocolate, and savory spice. Water brings out the spicy heat of jalapeño pepper. Smooth and flavorful on the finish, with cooked orchard fruits and melted caramel. A big one for sure, but enjoyable.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

Copper Fox Peachwood, 48%

Ashy and smoke-forward on the nose, with pecan shells, flamed orange disc, vanilla frosting, tobacco leaf, and then mesquite barbecue notes emerge. A creamy palate pairs that same ashiness with pine nuts, vanilla bean, cracked black pepper, cocoa husks, and red chile flakes. Water presents red fruit, allspice, and chicory coffee. Those flavors carry over to the finish. Give this one time and maybe a little water.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

Westward Cask Strength, 62.5%

On the nose, fragrant wood spice, green banana, baked kumquats, and kiwi. The palate leads with creamy vanilla and baking spice, jalapeño peppers, dark chocolate, black coffee, and chicory. The big flavors mean water is a must, bringing out chocolate-covered marshmallows, dark berries, a tropical note of sweet pineapple, toasted almonds, coffee cake, and a hint of barrel char. The finish is full bodied and spiced, with more pineapple and vanilla sweetness.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

Whiskey Del Bac Dorado, 46%

The smoke greets you on the nose, with charcoal briquettes, fireplace soot, and cinnamon candy alongside wax paper, peppermint, and butterscotch. The palate is light but flavorful with pepper spice, barbecue sauce, apple skins, and grilled peaches. A lengthy finish tacks on more black pepper, chocolate, coffee, and dried sage. The mesquite smoke here is ever-present but never too forceful, with strong balance and construction throughout.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

Killowen Bonded Experimental Series 10 year old Burgundy Pinot Noir Finish, 52.5%

Basking in sweet grain flavors, this has a nose of golden granulated sugar, vanilla custard, banana chip, fudge, and strawberry jam on toast. Sugary sweet on the palate with vanilla sponge, lemon zest, and hints of plum initially, it’s overturned by punchy pepper, clove, and ginger notes. Though there is milk chocolate, dark fruit, red gooseberry, apple peel, and coffee to finish, the finishing cask influence is a little reserved. (348 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

Coperies Single Malt, 40%

Double distilled in Charentais copper pot stills more commonly used for making brandy and cognac, this well-made whisky has aromas of zested clementine over orange cake, dry wood spices, milk chocolate, roasted hazelnuts in melted butter, and charred oak. Dark and fruity flavors with baked orange, dried apricot, red apple, creamy milk chocolate, malt, and dried red fruits, it ends on a bright, spicy note. Definitely worth a try.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

Eifel Whisky German Single Malt 2021 Edition, 46%

Around 8 years old, this is filled into medium-toasted red Bordeaux barrels followed by 4 years in first and second-fill cream sherry casks. Aromas of Black Forest gateaux, Nutella, sesame bars, freshly ground spices, dunnage floors, and tobacco. It’s a brooding, serious whisky with flavors of toffee, dark fruit, treacle sponge, pepper, spices, and leather, with a deep well of black currant, bramble, and black cherry flavors. (3,600 bottles)  

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

Mortlach 13 year old (Diageo Special Releases 2021), 55.9%

This would make a phenomenal outdoor dram, as it’s bristling with spices, woodshed lumber, chorizo, pink peppercorn, and red chile. The palate opens with flavors of vanilla, barley, sweet citrus, and lime, though these are quickly cast aside by a wave of peppery spices, which ebbs away to leave meatier notes, aromatic spices, and dry oak. The zigzag flavor journey adds to the excitement of this distinctive dram.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

Prima & Ultima Lagavulin 28 year old 1992, 47.7%

An experimental batch fully matured at Lagavulin in a freshly charred American oak hogshead, the aromatic peat smoke dissipates quickly, leaving scents of lemon lozenges, subtle smoked fish, linoleum floors, and a few drops of lime. The grapefruit, wood oils, vanilla sponge, honeydew melon, and oak flavors build slowly, notching up more smoke and tangy citrus to a climax of salted vanilla caramel with just a hint of peppermint. (1,081 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

90 points

Blackadder Raw Cask 12 year old 2009 (Distilled at Blair Athol), 59.1%

Dried fruits in the driver’s seat, with apple rings, peeled pear, warm pain aux raisins, macaroon bar, vanilla essence, delicate spices, and a hint of fruitcake on the nose. Plenty of distillery character here, with baked apple and plum, spice cake, clove, gingerbread, and pepper, then a smooth, syrupy conclusion encompassing dried fig, walnut, and plenty of rooty spices lasting through to the finish. (297 bottles, Glass Revolution Dram Hunter Selection U.S.A. Exclusive Release).  

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Blue Note Crossroads Straight, 50%

Finished in French oak. Dried herbs, grape candies, saddle leather, blueberry muffin, and new wood on the nose, with chocolate, marshmallow, and toasted caramel emerging over time. Wood drives the palate further alongside vanilla wafer, cooked dark fruits, and spiced dark chocolate. There is more sweetness on the finish as well as solid spice characteristics. Best Values

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Tullibardine 12 year old, 40%

Red apples, nectarines, white peaches, menthol, macadamia nut, clove, and notes of a closet filled with winter wool are on the nose of this bourbon-matured single malt. The palate is creamy and light, with orange tart, peach cobbler, semi-sweet chocolate, and cantaloupe. That fruit flavor carries over to a medium-length finish. Well-made, if at times simple, with strong and pure spirit character. Best Values

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Walker’s Cay Kentucky Straight, 45%

Finished with sherry cask staves. Mixed berries, fruit tart, lemon oil, blueberry pie, and orange slices highlight a fruit-forward nose that is also breakfast-like with maple syrup and buttered pancakes. More fruit on the palate in the form of honeydew, green banana, and cherry pie with a touch of milk chocolate and cinnamon. There’s more spice on the finish, with some floral flavors and a balanced sweetness. Best Values

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

The Perfect Fifth 30 year old 1989 (Distilled at Aberlour), 51.5%

This brings an unassuming nose of sweet pastry, golden honey, baking spices, dried apple, honeysuckle, creamed coconut, seasoned oak, and a faint hint of baked lemon. With a lightness and nimbleness that belies its age, it delivers flavors of lemon, barley sugar, mixed peel, and clove which build until it hits its peak, before winding down with baked lemon, toffee, oak, and espresso foam to finish. (241 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Cask 88 Unfiltered 13 year old 2007 (Distilled at Caol Ila), 57.7%

Like a smokin’ toffee apple, there’s a linear penetration of smoke piercing the rich scents of black cherry, toffee cake, peppercorn, clove, peppermint, and menthol. The refill bourbon hogshead has provided a silky mouthfeel of stewed apple, plum, toffee, and aromatic spices, crowned by a sledgehammer of cloves, falling back with damson skin, plain chocolate, and smoke to finish. (270 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Dalmore 12 year old Sherry Cask Select, 43%

dalmore 12 year old sherry cask select The sherry influence is apparent immediately on a perfumed nose—cherry syrup, wet walnuts, pomegranate seeds, and wood varnish, alongside cedar chest and earthy spice. There’s dark fruit on the syrupy palate in the form of cooked prunes, blackberry cobbler, and raisin bread pudding in addition to maple sugar, chocolate, and toffee. The finish adds a kick of spice and coffee. Flavors here are pronounced and prodigious.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Auchentoshan 21 year old, 43%

Distinct aromas of gooseberry on the nose, supported by barley freshness, light vanilla, sour cherry, and faint nutmeg notes. The taste is akin to walking through an orange grove. Light-bodied, smooth, and oily in structure with sweet citrus flavors, tangy strips of peel, fruit Jell-O, honey, subtle oak, and light spices before the gooseberry acidity returns adding further complexity, with spiced orange and cedarwood on the lengthy finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Compass Box Orchard House, 46%

A whiff of mealy, floury apples, pear, candied lemon peel, and fruit teas, this is certainly light and fruity, genteel even, yet a little timid overall. Soothing and creamy to drink, there’s poached pears in condensed milk, white grape, a slow-paced crescendo of spice, and a dash of tangy citrus peel, followed by canned pears and a whir of spices on the finish. Carefree whisky for happy-go-lucky drinkers.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Chattanooga Bottled in Bond Vintage Series (Fall 2017), 50%

Fresh herbs and muted dark fruit on the nose, while the palate is sweet and chocolatey as the herbal notes take on a supporting role. The palate opens to reveal stone fruit notes of peach and plum, chocolate layer cake, and a hint of musty antique shop. Fairly powerful, but water softens the palate and brings out peach cobbler and cinnamon toast. Nicely balanced spice, chocolate, and orange tart on the finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Chattanooga Bottled in Bond Vintage Series (Spring 2017), 50%

There’s a lovely tartness on the nose, with dry and earthy notes of fragrant oak and forest floor. The palate pops with cherry coulis, raspberry, chocolate, and the spice of jalapeño pepper, along with some pronounced barrel char. Overall it’s very spiced, heated, and flavorful, but integrates well with its candied and fruity flavors. The finish is less fiery, with richer notes of caramel, chocolate, and roasted pecans.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Ranch Road Straight, 47%

Fruity and sweet on the nose in the form of Twizzlers, dried cherries, bubble gum, and green apple candies. There are also aromas of sandalwood and vanilla cream. A creamy palate showcases juicy watermelon, cinnamon sugar, figs, breakfast cereal with dried strawberries, and chocolate fudge. Dried oak, baked apple, and a dessert-like richness on the finish. The profile here is sweet and specific but demonstrates an effective candied fruit quality.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Wilderness Trail Small Batch Bottled In Bond (Batch 16F01), 50%

Licorice, leather, and balanced oak on the nose, with emerging notes of vanilla and cherry ice cream. Lots of spice and pleasant mustiness on the palate, along with chocolate, black cherry, and fresh-baked apple pie. This one is balanced and flavorful, with water bringing out red fruit, oatmeal cookies, and pepper spice. Good length on a finish of malted vanilla, café mocha, breakfast cereal, and almond. Solid and enjoyable.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Michter’s 10 year old Single Barrel Straight (Barrel No. 21F1617), 46.4%

Highly nutty on the nose, with almond croissant, pistachio macaroons, and peanut brittle, alongside dried raspberries, cherry, and varnished mahogany. There’s more red fruit and sweet nutty flavors on the palate; strawberry hard candies, root beer spice, confectioners’ sugar, and, with water, notes of lemon cookies and a pleasant bitterness. Maple syrup, caraway, and rye spice on a finish that is a bit lacking in length. Water helps open this up.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Whiskey Del Bac Distiller’s Cut (Fall 2021), 55.7%

Chocolaty up front, with notes of Fudgsicle, cacao nibs, and cocoa powder as well as brown paper bag, ripe banana, honey, and oats. The palate is syrupy and zings; cinnamon Red Hots, lemon candy, fruit pastry, and chile pepper give it added dimension. There is a bitter oak note that softens with water. The high proof makes this spiky and hot at times but there’s great underlying flavor.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Zeppelin Bend 4 year old, 45%

Highly herbal and floral on the nose—pine forest, lavender, eucalyptus, and fresh oak—alongside blueberry compote and Whoppers when water is added. There’s more chocolate on the palate with brownie batter, Milk Duds, caffè mocha, and figs. Root beer and cinnamon spice on the finish, as bitter herbs and a buttery texture round it out. There is a depth and richness of flavor that demonstrates clear vision and execution.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Two Stacks The Blender’s Cut Barbados Rum Cask, 63.5%

The citrus sweetness favors lime over lemon, with fresh pineapple, apricot tart, a few grassy notes, and aromatic spices in the background. A short phase of baked peach, dried apricot, and chocolate nibs precedes an intense wave of black pepper and clove, leaving musty chocolate, stewed plum, and crystalized pineapple in the aftermath. Decent effort, but with no shortage of alcohol, dilute liberally to maximally explore the rum cask flavors. (252 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Writers’ Tears Inniskillin Ice Wine Cask Limited Edition, 46%

Taking a leaf out of Glen Breton and Glenfiddich’s book, Ireland’s first ice wine cask finish has a nose of sugared orange, heather honey, lime Jell-O, lychee, malt, and a hint of wood spices. A syrupy mouthfeel with curaçao, mixed peel, heather honey, ginger, pepper, and chile flakes, it becomes weightier and more medicinal, though slightly cloying, with flavors of aniseed, cough syrup, and menthol. Works better with water or ice.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Tsunuki Peated, 50%

The distillery’s second U.S. bottling spotlights peat, though this is Kyushu, not Islay. A pure and clinical nosing experience, with honey, cantaloupe, peach, and green apple, a delightful puff of peat smoke, and scents of barley, creamed coconut, raffia baskets, and peppercorn. Better with water, it’s creamy and well-balanced, with apple, bitter orange, lime, and peppery smoke, ending with sweet citrus, malt, and cocoa powder. (2,100 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Langatun Jacob’s Dram, 49.12%

This pinot noir cask finish honors master distiller Hans Baumberger III’s great grandfather, Jakob, who founded the distillery in 1857. The nose exudes black honey, strawberry conserve, walnut, black cherry, raisin, black currant, and burnt cake. Light bodied, with strawberry, plum, black pepper, damson, and chocolate cookie sweetness, the oak tannins and spiciness build through to the finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Singleton of Glendullan 19 year old (Diageo Special Releases 2021), 54.6%

This delicate creature, finished in cognac-seasoned casks, has approachable fruitiness with aromas of pear, kumquat, grapefruit peel, biter orange, and soft fresh apricots with vanilla buttercream. Bright lemon sherbet flavors meet vanilla and shortbread, as spices ricochet off the gums, first pepper, then ginger. It reverts to orange, creamy vanilla, and lemon frangipane, then yields to a dry finish of spiced toffee and malt.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Talisker 8 year old (Diageo Special Releases 2021), 59.7%

Drawn from their smokiest casks, the nose brings cigar smoke, struck match, spiced cracker bread, and coastal notes, though it’s spirity and youthful. Light bodied with chocolate and orange at first; there’s a bold thrust of spices, smoke, and clove, followed by chocolate cake and a hint of salt. Powerful spices stay to the fore throughout, turning earthy with a touch of leather before a smoky finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Ranger Creek Rimfire Mesquite Smoked Texas, 43%

Cherry cough drops, flower stems, salted chocolate, lavender, and violet on the nose. The palate is dark and chocolaty, with subtle smoke and charred wood as well as coffee ice cream, burnt espresso beans, and cherry cordials. On the finish, more chocolate in addition to some dark berries and dried earth. The smoke is subtle with vanilla, and macadamia nuts to balance it out. A strong chocolaty center anchors this well.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

89 points

Union Horse Reunion Straight, 46.5%

A 100% rye aged for a minimum of 5 years. The nose is fruity with cranberries, candied raspberries, and orange slices. There is also a nuttiness in the form of peanut brittle alongside caramel corn. The palate is woody, chewy, and blunt, with dusty bitter oak dominating. On the finish, vanilla cream and a solid spice character. This whiskey shows promise particularly on the nose, but water disrupts the balance, bringing those wood notes further to the forefront.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

88 points

Blackadder Sherry Snake (Cask SS03), 58.2%

Roasted spices jumping in the pan, bitter peel, marmalade, walnut oil, and Brazil nut, but a rubbery note of bicycle inner tubes and erasers is also detectable. Bold notes of fresh red apple, raspberry Jell-O, and orange peel surround a heart of clove, pepper, and aromatic spices, backed up by fruity sherry notes, charred oak, and hazelnut. It’s a pleasurable sipper, so hold the water. (126 bottles, 72 for the U.S.)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

88 points

Wilderness Trail Single Barrel Bottled In Bond (Batch 16F21Q), 50%

Earthy notes of dried leaves, cut grass, and dried herbs on the nose. A thick palate, with cooked berries, grape jelly, tobacco leaf, and chile pepper. This is powerful and needs water, which brings out cocoa, coffee ice cream, cinnamon bun, and bitter oak. On the finish, the oak integrates with orange candy, cherries, cinnamon, camp coffee, and chocolate. Overall very flavorful, though perhaps just a bit barrel-forward.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

88 points

Wyoming Whiskey National Parks 5 year old Straight, 46%

Generous cinnamon on the nose as well as dried earth, perfumed oak, vanilla latte, honeydew, and lemongrass. The palate is creamy with notes of chocolate syrup, toffee, and pistachio. Water unlocks spicy jalapeño peppers, sweet candied nuts, and Fruit Roll-Ups. A short finish shows spice character, grassy citrus, and blueberry pie. Rich and spiced chocolate anchors this, as it displays solid command throughout.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

88 points

Laws Centennial Bottled In Bond, 50%

Nice aromas of spiced fruit on the nose; waxy red apples and cinnamon, melon dusted in brown sugar, as well as new leather and seasoned oak. More fruit emerges on the palate, with ripe mango, lemon peel, and black cherry, with lingering peppery spice. Water underscores the wood with tree bark and cinnamon stick. On the finish, bitter chocolate and roasted walnuts. A nice union of spirit and barrel character.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

88 points

Killowen Signature 5 year old Rum & Raisin Dark Rum Cask & PX Sherry Butt Finish (Batch #01), 55%

Crisp green apple, vanilla frosting, wood spices, whole lime, and pineapple offcuts, with some darker sherry sweetness nosed from the bottom of the glass. The first sip is sweet, with dried apricot, lighter sherry notes, coconut, and mouth-drawing peppery spices. The final phase shows deeper notes of candied peel, vanilla, and raisin, with a creamier mouthfeel (1,794 bottles).

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

88 points

Eifel Whisky German Rye 2021 Edition, 46%

This double-distilled rye from a 90% rye mashbill was distilled in a traditional German column still, with a second distillation in a copper pot still, then finished in Malaga and German Pinot Noir casks. It has a nose of spices, dill, dry leaves, dark toffee, and cinnamon bark. It’s tasty, but other than a hint of red apple, there’s less flavor evolution than after the initial burst of caramel, rye spices, black pepper, clove, dry oak, cinnamon, and leather notes. (3,600 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

88 points

Langatun Old Deer, 58.5%

Despite generations of brewing and distilling experience, Langatun’s modern era of whisky making only began in 2007. This triple distilled whisky was matured in sherry and chardonnay casks, and has a nose of melon and stone fruits on new leather, floral notes, fresh cranberry, bramble, allspice, and Red Vines. Flavors of citrus, dark toffee, chocolate, and gingersnaps collide with black pepper, clove, licorice, and leather to finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

88 points

Oban 12 year old (Diageo Special Releases 2021), 56.2%

Comprised of freshly charred American oak casks, this shows cream, citrus, vanilla, and salted caramel on the nose, with new wood spices, dry chile flakes, and star anise. Sweet tangy orange on the palate initially, becoming more marmalade-like, before a sustained wave of pepper rides in with flavors of salted caramel and peanut brittle. The cask strength makes all the difference here, delivering a more gutsy Oban than the standard bottlings.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

88 points

Royal Lochnagar 16 year old (Diageo Special Releases 2021), 57.5%

There’s lemon tart, dry aromatic spices, green apple, and damp green foliage on the nose of this cask strength Highland whisky matured in both European and American oak refill casks. Sweet and spicy to taste, with clementine and barley sugar, its nippy spices are quite a handful, but then it delves into richer caramel notes, with oat cookies and ground hazelnuts before a long, lingering spicy finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

88 points

Laws Whiskey House Henry Road Bonded Straight Malt (Batch 2) 50%

Funky on the nose, with notes of hay, overripe fruit, burlap sack, dark chocolate, cereal grains, and tapioca pudding. It’s got a barnyard essence to it. Creamy on the palate, with more chocolate, warm berry pie, and pepper spice. Water brightens things up, enhancing the spice and nutty pecan notes. Cocoa powder on a spiky finish. Inventive in its use of heirloom grains and distillation methods, with solid balance and texture.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

88 points

Village Bourbon, 45%

Aged for 5 years, there’s a warm earthiness on the nose, with dried herbs, sandalwood, and honeyed almonds, alongside cherry pie and toasted coconut. The palate, silky and light, shows vanilla, macaroons, more coconut, and angel food cake. With water added, red apple, allspice, and white pepper emerge. That balance of fruit and spice continues onto a lengthy finish, making this a tasty and full dram.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

88 points

Corsair Triple Smoke, 40%

An earthy nose, with fragrant notes of woodsmoke and campfire embers. The palate offers rich chocolate, caramel, and succulent blackberry, with interwoven smoke influence. Water enlivens things even more, with emerging red fruit and enhanced smoke. The finish is long and spiced, with chocolate and sweet berry; it too is better with water. Well executed—the smoke is skillfully integrated to create a complex whiskey.  

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

88 points

Five Trail Unbroken Spirit Blended, 47.5%

The debut whiskey from Molson Coors, a blend of Colorado single malt and bourbons from Kentucky and Indiana. Cinnamon babka, graham cracker, coffee cake, and orange peel on the nose. The palate offers balanced sweetness; chocolate-covered strawberries, dulce de leche, and vanilla bean. Cooked fruit, more chocolate, orange, almond, and pear on the finish round out a well-woven whiskey with good body and depth of flavor.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

88 points

WhistlePig Roadstock, 43%

A blend of whiskies finished in wine and beer casks that were aged on a rolling rickhouse that drove 6,000 miles. That irregular cask combination is apparent on a jam-packed nose that is super fragrant with grape jelly, lemon Pledge, sunflower seeds, and raw honey. A silky and oily palate has more of that balanced earthy sweetness to it. The finish is a bit bitter with good length though the flavors remain somewhat strange. There’s a lot going on here, but the body and balance are present throughout.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

88 points

Deerhammer Rough & Tumble Hickory Smoked, 42%

A chalky fruitiness like Smarties or Pez kicks off the nose, with cranberry muffin, almond biscotti, and orange marmalade. Water brings out a light campfire smoke and barbecue corn chips. The palate is silky and fresh, with chocolate, black pepper, vanilla malt, and strawberry hard candies. Spiced hot chocolate on the finish. It’s light bodied and slight at times but shows good smoke integration and dynamic flavor.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

88 points

Seven Brothers Hickory Smoked, 40%

Fiery on the nose, with toasted marshmallow, barbecue potato chips, bacon-wrapped melon, vanilla funfetti cake, spiced apples, peppermint, and menthol. The palate is silky and light with notes of vanilla icing and charcoal. With water, woodsmoke, mint jelly, and black coffee. Earthy and dry on the finish with caramel, chocolate, and dusty oak. The smoke adds a layer of intrigue most noticeably on the nose.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

88 points

Jeptha Creed Bottled In Bond Rye Bourbon, 50%

Fragrant scents of fresh-baked rye bread, lavender, a hint of dried mango, and inviting hints of charred rye seed. On the palate, it’s quite bitter, but very idiosyncratic and intriguing. It’s quite spicy and hot, so water or ice complements it well. Good length on the finish, with some of the floral notes returning. Lots of great spice, and unquestionably an interesting and intriguing journey.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

87 points

Cask 88 Unfiltered 32 year old 1989 (Distilled at North British), 46.7%

This is a delicious sip, even if the nose is a little uninspiring, thanks to its notes of new modeling clay, fresh parsley, aniseed, peppercorn, chile flake, graham cracker, and grass cuttings. This refill bourbon barrel whisky is light and creamy with plenty of grain character, and flavors of lemon curd, apricot, fragrant spices, vanilla shortbread, lime zest, and a little oak, with banana chip and wood spices on the finish. (215 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

87 points

Square 6 Kentucky Straight, 47.5%

Distilled at The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in Louisville. The nose is vegetal, grassy, and youthful, with new leather, lead pencil, seaweed, lime peel, and with water added, blueberry pancakes. There’s more fruitiness on the palate, which is creamy with plenty of heat and notes of raisins, molasses, and dried herbs. The finish is short and briny, with new wood alongside hints of chocolate and blackberry. Well-constructed if a bit hot and wood-forward.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

87 points

Woody Creek Distillers Colorado, 45%

There’s a subtle smoke on the nose alongside black cherry, blackberry jam, sandalwood, dried leaves, and hints of vanilla and caramel as it sits in the glass. The palate is light and creamy, with tropical fruit, cinnamon, pepper, spice, and bitter oak. Water brings out more spice though it weakens the body and profile. Wood-forward on the palate with a sustained lightness that makes for easy drinking.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

87 points

John Emerald John’s Alabama Peach Wood Smoked, 43%

A musty nose features an array of fruit from pears and sour green apples to cooked prunes, alongside lemon zest, melon candies, and potpourri. The palate is soft and light bodied, offering notes of citrus, cherries, and red currants, with a waxy texture. Mint chocolate appears on the finish as does cocoa powder and a hint of smoke. The flavors here aren’t super explosive, but they are balanced and lightly spiced.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

87 points

Two Stacks Time Well Spent Duo Set 20 year old 2001 Rum Cask Finish (Cask 237122), 56.5%

On the nose, this is spicy and herbal, with lemongrass, lemon pith, lime zest, a sprinkle of pepper, and a curious, almost musty note of clothbound cheese. The palate has ripe melon, sugared lemon, and tropical fruits before the peppery spices blow through at high strength, dimming down to show fudge, vanilla, malt, and rum and raisin flavors. Adding water helps to unleash extra reserves of fruitiness. (400 sets)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

87 points

Two Stacks Time Well Spent Duo Set 12 year old 2009 Rye Cask Finish (Cask 240279), 63.1%

Strong alcohol is apparent on the spicy nose, with notes of freshly chopped herbs, red chile pepper, green banana skin, waxy palm fronds, red currant, and spackling. That aside, it’s delicious to drink, with rich honey sweetness, ginger, and lemongrass though it’s bottled at a pretty brutal strength. When it simmers down, there are sweet grain notes, water cracker, vanilla, and baked cookies, with spice and bourbon biscuits on the finish. (400 sets)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

87 points

Two Stacks The Blender’s Cut Tawny Port Cask, 63.5%

A nose of bilberry, fresh cherry, clove studded orange, and a sprinkling of exotic spices, the strength here packs quite a punch. A mouth-drawing dram of baked orange, then peach, followed by a surging wall of clove, with some dark toffee, baked plum, and cherry coulis to finish. More drinkable and approachable when diluted down to your preferred strength for taking in all the flavor it has to offer. (282 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

87 points

Langatun Old Woodpecker, 46%

Delicate floral blossom aromas, orange peel, and waxed lemon on this organic whisky, but it’s quite restrained from an olfactory perspective. The palate is an entirely different matter, however, with red apple and wine notes, damson, sultana, and spice, melting slowly into malt, toffee, wood spices, and sesame oil, with a hint of milk chocolate before a warm, sweet, juicy finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

87 points

Cardhu 14 year old (Diageo Special Releases 2021), 55.5%

Ripe honeydew, whole lime, and summer meadow florals on the initial nose, this unleashes spices like a sting in the tail, notably chile flakes and paprika. Caramelized apple and heather honey flavors, then pepper and clove spices arrive and never fully depart, accompanying later flavors of apple-and-blackberry crumble and red apple peels with the sweetness of baked goods to finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

87 points

Painted Stave Diamond State Pot Still, 42%

Made with German-style malt smoked with beechwood. It’s rubbery on the nose, with notes of wood varnish, envelope adhesive, lemon juice, and butterscotch. With water added, peppermint and buttered bread emerge. A waxy palate shows signs of vanilla bean, fireplace ash, dried apple rings, with peppery spice on the back. More ash and pepper on the finish. Improves over time with a silky smooth texture.  

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

86 points

Sator Square, 45%

Youthful on the nose, with a note of fresh oak, new leather, some spice, pie crust, pumpkin pie, and brown sugar. The palate is light and seems young, but offers some fruitiness, spice, and a sweet note of marmite coming through. There are some good flavors on offer, and this whiskey is well made, but there is a lack of unity—the flavors don’t completely come together into one harmonious expression.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

86 points

Two Stacks The Blender’s Cut Apricot Brandy Cask, 63.5%

High-strength alcohol carried on a cloud of spices, this has aromas of green apple, royal icing, and rosehips. Powerful pepper and clove dominate the stewed apple and dried apricot flavors, making this quite the palate punisher: too strong for enjoyment neat. Be bold and use a 50:50 dilution to unearth flavors of fig, vanilla, toffee, caramelized apple, pastry, biscuit, soft stone fruit, and cooling mint. (276 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

86 points

Iron Smoke Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 40%

Barrel forward on the nose, giving off new wood, lemon-lime soda, and lemon icing. Pepper-spiced on the palate, with dark berry notes of black currant, black cherry, blackberry, and banana. Water calms it down, and brings out more berry notes and pleasant notes of vanillin, along with white pepper. Some interesting flavors here and there, but this one perhaps needs a bit more maturity to truly shine.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

86 points

Bower Hill Reserve Straight, 43%

Mint, dark fruit, and figs on the nose, with a youthful profile, punctuated by notes of fresh oak. Light but balanced on the palate, very creamy and silky, with hints of ginger, turmeric, dried earth, and a bit of youthful grassiness; but well integrated and not unpleasant. The finish is balanced and creamy, without great length. A solidly well-made and balanced whiskey that needs more maturity and integration

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

85 points

Two Stacks The Blender’s Cut Sauternes Wine Cask, 63.5%

There’s a bright and fruity whisky underneath all the alcohol, so give this 10 minutes to open up. Dried mango strips, passion fruit, quince jelly, long pepper, dried fruit, and spices are revealed with time. Redolent of the dark sweetness of honey and dried fruits, the taste buds quickly take a hammering from the rampant spices at full throttle. With water, there’s baked orange, lime marmalade, and a spicy finish. (252 bottles)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)

85 points

Umiki Ocean Fused, 46%

Are you ready for this? A blend of Japanese malt and imported grain whiskies cut with filtered desalinated seawater and finished in Japanese pine barrels. The nose summons rock pools, seaweed, iodine, and pine freshness, with toasted cereal, golden syrup, black pepper, and chile flakes. A light-bodied whisky, with shortbread, honey granola, salted caramel, and red apple peels, with salty spices and more herbal grain notes in the finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2021)


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