Whisky Advocate

Malt Advocate Whisky Awards “Top Ten New Whiskies”

February 28th, 2011

There were many great whiskies released in 2010, and it’s good to know that (in an era of rapidly increasing prices) several of them are less than $100. Eight of the whiskies below were rated “Classic” status (95 points or higher); two more just missed it, with ratings of 94. Here they are, listed alphabetically:

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection, 1995 Vintage, “American Oak Chips Seasoned,” 45%, $47/375ml
Surprisingly light and fresh for a 15 year old whiskey. Crisply spiced, with hints of dried fruit, kissed with light honey and a wisp of smoke. Balanced and clean throughout, and very drinkable.

Compass Box Flaming Heart (10th Anniversary bottling), 48.9%, $105
A marriage of seven different whiskies from three distilling regions (Highland, Islay, and Island) aged in both American and French oak casks. It demonstrates the advantage of marrying whiskies from more than one distillery. More smoke and tar on the palate than the nose, yet always in balance. Well played!

Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve, 40%, $70
Perhaps the finest Canadian whisky we have ever tasted. Creamy and seamless from beginning to end. Forty Creek whiskies have always been very good, but none have ever had the right stuff to reach classic status. Until now, that is. An outstanding, very distinctive whisky!

George T. Stagg, 71.5%, $70
Very close to last year’s release in personality, with great balance between the sweetness, spice, and fruit. Nicely structured too, with clearly defined flavor notes. A great value, considering it’s almost the equivalent of two bottles of bourbon if diluted.

GlenDronach Grandeur, 31 year old, 45.8%, $700
The new ultra-mature release, following its 33 year old predecessor (bottled by previous owners). It’s nice to see the higher ABV. Very soothing. Quite deep on the nose, and viscous (almost sappy) on the palate. I like that it’s sherried, and the sherry is kept in balance.

Glenfarclas, 40 year old, 46%, $460
Glenfarclas has a solid reputation for aging very well. This new 40 year old is proof.  It’s complex and well-rounded, with great depth and no excessive oak. A classic, well-matured Glenfarclas — and a very good value for its age.

Glenglassaugh, 40 year old, 44.6%, $2,525
An excellent example of a very mature, sherried whisky done the right way. Much darker and more decadent than its younger siblings. Tasting this whisky, you know it’s old, but you also know it’s very good.

The Glenlivet Cellar Collection, 1973 vintage, 49%, $1,250
A marriage of three casks, one of them an ex-sherry butt. The sherry is certainly evident, and this one is more sherried than many of the Cellar Collection whiskies. Polished and seamless, with no trace of excessive oak. One of the richest — and finest — Cellar Collections to date.

Sazerac Rye, 18 year old, 45%, $70
An impressive whiskey, and an improvement from last year’s release. It’s soft (for a straight rye), well rounded, and easy to embrace, with tamed spice, subtle date, and polished leather on the finish. An excellent example of a very mature rye whiskey.

William Larue Weller, 63.3%, $70
Very similar to last year’s release. (A good thing, since that one was wonderful!) Very smooth, with layered sweetness, dark fruit, cinnamon, and polished oak on the finish. A whisky of elegance and sophistication. A benchmark wheated bourbon.

37 Responses to “Malt Advocate Whisky Awards “Top Ten New Whiskies””

  1. Matt MacLean says:

    Really do enjoy the 10th anniversary edition of the Flaming Heart. I have always enjoyed the sherry flavor of the Speyside type whiskys. What I Love about this 3rd edition from Compass Box is the refined balance of citrus and a bit of smoke along with a bite at the end for a memorable finish. Well done and look forward to possible a new LadyLuck, hint hint 🙂

  2. sam k says:

    Half of them are North Amreican whiskeys! Wonder if that’s happened before?

    • JWC says:

      and out of the half (5), 4 (all the American whiskeys) are from BT. What do you think some folks in Kentucky think about that? Oh well, at least this acknowledgment might finally lead to some interest in the BTEC and BTAC 😉

  3. Matt MacLean says:

    I love the Presentation of the Flaming Heart 10th Anniversary. I have received more comments on how good it tastes, and looking at the clear case. Im going back to pick a couple more to put on display. Nice job to the marketing dept. on that one, as oppossed to a cardboard box. Thanks guys:)

  4. Wade says:

    Nice list. I know why I like Bourbon/rye so much more than Scotch; I can drink great whiskey at without breaking the bank.

    • Scribe says:

      Wade, I raise my Glencairn glass in agreement with your comment! 🙂

    • John Hansell says:

      Indeed, there is great value in American whiskey. The quality is very good and the prices are reasonable.

    • Matt MacLean says:

      Yeah Right Wade!:(, How can you say that American Whisky is better than Scotch? Scotch has been around alot longer and although I dont know the specifics, I do know that I have 1 bottle of Jeffersons Reserve 18 yr that is amazing. With that said I have lets say well over 100 bottles of Scotch that are incredible, from Macallan, GlenMorangie, Bowmore … The price may not always be agreeable with everyones pockets but In my opinion whiskey has come far; however has along way to catch whisky!:)

      • sam k says:

        Wade didn’t say that American whiskeys are better than Scotch whiskies. He said he LIKES them better, as do I, and there can be no argument over personal preference. Glad you’re as passionate about your favorites as we are of ours!

        • Matt MacLean says:

          Id agree Sam; the facts are the facts:) Maybe will see you at the WFSF2011. Having had the opportunity to travel to Scotland and not to Kentucky or Kansas not sure where, I have to side with Scotch. I do find the 18yr Jefferson Reserve to be very refreshing and has motivated me to pursue further into Pappy Vans older stock!! Enjoy the New Year and the things to come in the spirits on the west coast. Matt

          • sam k says:

            Matt, I hope to make WF Chicago, but SanFran is damn near a world away from me. Enjoy one for me, as I’ll do for you!

          • Matt MacLean says:

            Dido That Sam, thank you for your kind words! You will never know how much your thoughtful words can encourage someone. Best Regards, 🙂 Matt

    • Vince says:

      Wade, I too love Bourbon more than scotch. I really think its more about what your palate appreciates. Both, at their best, are world class.

      Matt, I will be at WF Chicago 2011. If You are in Chicago I would love to buy you a bourbon or two that you may enjoy. I agree with you on the Jefferson reserve although I think their are ALOT of bourbons out there that I feel are top of the line at a very reasonable price

      • Matt MacLean says:

        That is nice of you Vince, I would take you up on it normally, however this year Im heading back to SF for the WF in Oct. Thanks though. Vince; Question, any bourbons that I may like that may remind you of Jeffersons, or more like a classic Glenrothes? Any Suggestions for a Speyside Kind of guy? 🙂

        • Vince says:

          Hey Matt:
          Obviously the Van Winkle Bourbons would be right in your wheel house (especially the 15 year old if you can find it). Old Fitgerald 12 year old is a great wheated bourbon as well. I will also suggest Four Roses Small Batch and Single Barrel. Even though these are high rye content bourbons they are extremely floral and are very mellow.
          Bulleit bourbon is a high rye content bourbon but has a very nice citrus component in the nose and palate. The 2000 Evan Williams Single barrel is a bourbon of perfect balance that I think you would enjoy.

          • Matt MacLean says:

            Thank you for these suggestions. I will look into this 15 yr Pappy. I love the chase of the treasure hunt! have tried the four roses and thought it was nice. Thanks again, Matt

  5. bgulien says:

    I would like to nominate another whisky, that has just came out: Caol Ila Moch
    A very nice whisky. No age statement, but rumors put it at 8 yo and some older in the blend.

  6. sku says:

    This caps off a great set of awards. John and the MA staff deserve kudos for their picks this year, all of which were very thoughtful. Nice work folks!

  7. Great choices John. All are incredible products.

  8. PeteR says:


    I’m real excited to try those on the list I haven’t had a chance to sample yet.

    One question about the category. Why do you call it “new whiskeys” if many of them have been released before (as previous year releases)? I’m sure 90% of the folks reading this blog already knew that BTAC and Flaming Heart were good choices from previous years.

    • John Hansell says:

      If you’ve been following the blog the past two weeks, you will know that these are our annual awards announcements. This particular round was for whiskies in the 2010 calendar year, so these would all be new releases in 2010 in the U.S. Yes, I’ve reviewed all of these whiskies here before (If you read my opening paragraph, you will see that I speak in the past tense), but this is a summary of the ten best.

      • Matt MacLean says:

        Love the edicate John, always enjoy reading your observations. Had a brief run in at the2010WFSF. Maybe well see the Legacy this year from Glenrothes? Perhaps some more of the same, not sure but either way the experience is unforgetable. Big Fan of MA, representing the San Diego, Ca. area. Two thumbs up to the whole team on the awards this year!! Slaint’e

      • PeteR says:

        John, I do realize these are released this year. But they are released using basically the same formulation every year. I had them last year and the prior too. They don’t seem real new to me, but I understand now what “new” is meant to represent in this category. Thanks for the clarification.

  9. John Parker says:


    I am not a huge scotch drinker, but love my bourbon. I’m so passionate that I get my 20 hotels I oversee to purchase Weller, Stagg, and Pappy lines, depending on the state and what is available. I also have a light heart for Parker’s Heritage due to my name, and I like the wheat version this year better than the 18 year Presidential that everyone talks about above, Jefferson doesn’t do it for me.

    • Dave says:

      Damn, I’m glad bourbon is so attractively priced compared to Scotch! I have to agree with John Parker the 2010 Parker’s Heritage 10 year wheater blew the doors off the 2010 WLW.

      • John Hansell says:

        Both are very good, and I rated both very highly.

        • JWC says:

          John, are you aware whether or not the 10 yr wheater will become a regular release? Can you ask? Of course, for obvious reasons, unless they already decided years ago (unfortunately, unlikely) to proceed, it will be at least a decade before we see a regular release.

  10. miguel says:

    LOL, I paid for the George T Stagg almost twice the price. It is really expensive here in Europe. A great bourbon by the way.

  11. Red_Arremer says:

    As far as all these comments about bourbon prices being better, I agree. Enjoy it while it lasts– all that new oak isn’t cheap.

    • JWC says:

      red, that’s why bourbon fans have bunkers overflowing into other rooms, attic crawl spaces and other areas where our significant others can see where all the money is going to! 🙂

  12. Bill says:

    Pardon my ignorance — two of the capsule descriptions refer to “last year’s release,” but the award is for best new whiskies? If they come out every year, how are they new?

  13. sam k says:

    Bill, see PeteR @8 above.

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