10 Highest Scoring Whiskies in the Winter 2019 Issue

There are over 170 whiskies reviewed in the Winter 2019 Buying Guide, covering everything from scotch to bourbon to German single malt—and beyond. Here, we highlight ten of the highest-scoring whiskies (not featured as Collectibles or Editors’ Choice bottles, nor in the Top 20), each netting 93 points or above. For the full line-up of reviews, check out the Winter 2019 Buying Guide.

10 of the Highest-Scoring Whiskies for Winter 2019

Ardbeg 19 year old Traigh Bhan
95 points, 46.2% ABV, $300

Ardbeg’s first core bottling with an age statement in nearly 20 years was matured in bourbon and oloroso sherry casks. Rock pools, fabric Band-Aids, coal dust, licorice, hot peat, pineapple, and a seafood platter on the complex nose. The palate is oily, with smoked fish, overt peat smoke, chili, iodine, and lemon. Long in the finish, with more iodine and peppery peat. A delightfully traditional Ardbeg. —Gavin Smith

Lux Row Distillers 12 year old Double Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon
94 points, 59.2% ABV, $150

Deeply inviting on the nose and satisfying on the palate. Aromas of iced tea, orange Tang, peanuts, dark fruit, weathered oak, leather, and spices commingle with the freshness of an alpine retreat. Flavors and texture fill the mouth: chewy oak, semi-sweet chocolate, cinnamon plums, walnuts, cherry cough syrup, orange oil, and cloves. Cooked dark fruit, semi-sweet chocolate, and copious mature oak on the finish, which is velvety and expansive. Needless to say, at this proof, it benefits from generous amounts of water. (6,000 bottles) —Susannah Skiver Barton

Alberta Premium 20 year old
93 points, 42% ABV, $90 CAD

This has the classic sweetish, oily, floral, leathery nose of 100% rye grain whisky. A luxurious, creamy, medium-weight dram with caraway rye bread, restrained but hot peppery spices, vague citrus notes, and hints of cedar setting goal posts for punts of sweet and vaguely floral barley sugar, nail polish (in a good way), caramel, barrel wood, well-aged lumber, dark rye bread, ripe apples, milk chocolate, and baking spices. —Davin de Kergommeaux

Eifel Peated German Single Malt (2019 Release)
93 points, 46%, $75

I’m calling this the pitmaster’s dram: the nose has muscular peat smoke, prune juice, savory notes of barbecued brisket bark, venison charcuterie, and a hint of peppermint cream. The palate is a gluttonous feast of sweet dark fruits, milk chocolate, dried fig, plum, sultanas, and ginger, sliding into baked orange and spicy gingerbread, and wallowing luxuriously in chocolate and rich fruit. A welcome addition to Eifel’s already impressive range. (1,200 bottles for the U.S.) —Jonny McCormick

Kilchoman ImpEx Cask Evolution 02/2019 Single Cask Oloroso Sherry Cask-Matured (Cask #622/11)
93 points, 56.1% ABV, $140

Distilled in 2011 and bottled in 2019, this is the first fully sherry-matured version of Kilchoman’s 100% Islay expression sold in the U.S., made with barley grown and malted on-site, and from a cask selected by importer ImpEx. A bold, complex nose of peat, smokehouse, dried leaves, and lime. Bitter chocolate and raisins on the palate, and a finish of blackberry coulis, chocolate, and pepper. A tour de force from this young distillery. (U.S. exclusive; 329 bottles) —David Fleming

Lagavulin 12 year old (2019 Diageo Special Releases)
93 points, 56.5% ABV, £110

Matured in refill American oak casks. Brine, sea breezes, woodsmoke, green apples, and ginger on the nose, plus buttery smoked haddock. Sweet and supple on the palate, with cigar, citrus fruit, and spicy peat notes developing. Scorched saucepans, licorice, lemon juice, and black pepper in the finish. —Gavin Smith

Little Book Chapter 3 “The Road Home” Kentucky Straight Bourbon
93 points, 61.3% ABV, $125

The chewy caramel aroma is bursting with all types of vanilla—frosted birthday cake, Nilla wafer, and pudding—along with honey-roasted peanuts and dark berry. On the palate, deep fruit and an explosion of spice flavors, including nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. For all its power, this whiskey remains impressively sippable, although it shows a more elegant side with some water added. A blend of 9 year old Knob Creek and Basil Hayden’s, 11 year old Booker’s, and 12 year old Baker’s bourbons, bottled at barrel proof and unfiltered. —Jeffery Lindenmuth

Michter’s 10 year old Single Barrel Straight Rye (Barrel No. 19F965)
93 points, 46.4% ABV, $160

Concord grape juice, leather armchair, cola syrup, iced tea, roasted pecans, and furniture polish on the nose. The palate is deeply fruity, with cooked cherries, blackberries, Concord grape jelly, Coca-Cola, dark chocolate, silky baking spice, and white pepper, with a lush and velvety texture. A complex finish of bitter chocolate, peanut shell, Dr. Pepper, and leathery oak rounds things out. —Susannah Skiver Barton

Mortlach 26 year old (2019 Diageo Special Releases)
93 points, 53.3% ABV, $2,000

Aged in newly toasted first-fill Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry-seasoned casks, this veteran ‘beast of Dufftown’ makes a big impression. Sweet, with smoky sherry, fragrant pipe tobacco, old leather, walnuts, vanilla, and ripe cherries. The oily palate yields more leather, blackcurrant cough drops, nutmeg, cloves, Jaffa oranges, and black tea. Raisins, licorice, and oak tannins, before sweeter chocolate in the very long finish (3,883 bottles; 276 for the U.S.) —Gavin Smith

Pittyvaich 29 year old (2019 Diageo Special Releases)
93 points, 51.4% ABV, $430

Distilled in 1989 and matured first in Pedro Ximénez, then in oloroso sherry-seasoned casks. Delicate and restrained on the nose, with apple, pear drops, ginger, and malt. Initially, sweet sherry, then dark berry fruits emerge on the supple palate, with oatmeal stout. More apples, and ginger, plus prunes and chili in the long, warming finish. An excellent release from an underrated closed distillery. (4,976 bottles; 600 for the U.S.) —Gavin Smith

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