In each issue of Whisky Advocate, the editors select three whiskies that we consider the most impressive, considering score, price, and availability. For Spring 2021, our Editors’ Choice whiskies all come from Scotland—one from Islay, one from the Highlands, and one from Speyside.
For all whiskies reviewed in the Spring 2021 issue, check out the full Buying Guide.
Standout Whiskies from Spring 2021
Kilchoman Machir Bay Cask-Strength Festive Edition Single Malt Scotch
95 points, 58.6% ABV, $75
Smoky peat weaves seamlessly through aromas of vanilla sugar, candied citrus, ripe papaya, cocoa powder, and ocean spray; with water, the intensity of vanilla surges, balancing with the peat. Flavors of saltwater taffy, vanilla, mint, and pepper are swept up by savory peat, before darker notes of coffee bean, cocoa powder, and roasted nuts take over. The tide ebbs gently on the finish, leaving only impressions in the sand that stay long after the final sip. (1,440 bottles for U.S.) —Susannah Skiver Barton
Arbikie Highland Rye 1794 Single Grain Scotch
92 points, 48% ABV, $140
Arbikie’s signature rye is matured in virgin oak casks, giving notes of cinnamon swirls, choux pastry, vanilla seeds, flaked chocolate, and allspice, developing a little savory pepperiness on the nose as it opens up. The flavors are superb, with vanilla pod, caramel popcorn, honeyed fruit pulp, apricot, cocoa, and cinnamon, opening up a deep well of swirling spices. Hints of butterscotch follow, ending enticingly with vanilla toffee and clove. —Jonny McCormick
Glen Grant 15 year old Batch-Strength Single Malt Scotch
92 points, 50% ABV, $79
Bright, fresh, and sweet on the nose, with green apple, melon, sugared lemon slice, almond cream, vanilla, and a hay field in the sun. The proof gives this ample body and allows flavors of fizzy lemon, fresh ginger, orange scone, caramel-dipped apple, honeysuckle, and toasted coconut to spread out over a layer of savory oak. It’s not quick to move on, lingering with a rounded finish of white pepper, fresh ginger, lemon oil, and oak. —Susannah Skiver Barton