Whisky Advocate

Top 10 Whiskies Reviewed in Whisky Advocate’s Summer Issue

May 13th, 2013

Here is your sneak preview of the top 10 whiskies from Whisky Advocate’s summer issue Buying Guide. The list begins with #10 and ends with the #1 whisky.

#10: Glen Garioch Cask #992 14 year old 1998, 54.6%, $100Glen Garioch Cask 992

Quite fragrant, with a thick, oily texture. Sweet notes (vanilla, sticky toffee), ripe barley, earthy peat, licorice root, and a hint of melon and citrus. Very clean and characterful. A lot of fun to drink. Nicely done! I can’t imagine a 14 year old Glen Garioch tasting any better than this. (A Julio’s Liquor Exclusive)John Hansell

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 90

#9: Breckenridge Bourbon, 43%, $40Breckenridge Bourbon

WHACK! The spicy smack of the nose sends me to check the mashbill; sure enough, this is 38% rye. The nose fumes with youthful zest: cinnamon, bright mint, sun-warmed green grass. Pour some on the palate for more explosive entertainment; sweet cinnamon red-hots burst, corn pops, and the oak burns on into the rye-high finish. This is one excitable boy of a bourbon, and it’s got me humming along. Impressive.—Lew Bryson

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 90

#8: Angel’s Envy Rye, 50%, $70AngelsEnvyRyeLR           

The folks at Angel’s Envy once again push the envelope with this 95% rye whiskey finished in Caribbean rum casks. Vibrant, spicy rye notes (cinnamon and mint) are tamed by rich maple syrup, graham cracker crust, nutty toffee, candy floss, subtle tropical fruit, and creamy vanilla. Warm, spicy, rummy finish. This is a mood whiskey—not one I would drink every day—but the flavors marry nicely and the sweetness tames this high-testosterone rye whiskey. Bonus points for uniqueness.—John Hansell

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 90

#7: Cutty Sark Prohibition, 50%, $30

The Real McCoy! It’s said that during Prohibition Bill McCoy serviced the better speakeasies with proper Cutty Sark; hence the name. If this is a recreation of what they might have been drinking back then, you can see why they kept fighting over it. This is another bold, earthy, smoky blend with oily, industrial notes. There’s crabapple, smoke, bitter lemon, grapefruit, and even black currant. It would seem blended whisky is where it’s at right now! Great stuff.—Dominic Roskrow

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 90

#6: Jura 1977 Vintage, 46%, $900Jura 1977 Vintage

This vintage expression from Jura has been matured in three first-fill bourbon casks and then finished for one year in a ruby port pipe. Just 498 bottles have been released. Apricots, pineapple, caramel, butterscotch, sultanas, and white chocolate on the nose. The palate is warm and spicy, with subtle pine and citrus fruits, along with coconut and a hint of peat. Long in the finish with more vanilla before dried fruits and oak kick in. The delicate peat remains.—Gavin Smith

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 90

#5: Paul John Single Cask Whisky P1-163, 57%, £60Paul John Single Cask P1-163

Another hard to get Indian whisky, but further proof that the category isn’t a one-trick pony. This single cask release is the second from the John Distilleries and a significant step upward. An altogether more complex whisky with an earthy prickly peat at one level, and a rich pureed pear heart with orange fruit and berries. The combination is quite gorgeous and with a little water you get whisky’s answer to a summertime flower show. Impressive stuff.—Dominic Roskrow

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 91

Kavalan Bourbon Oak#4: Kavalan Bourbon Oak, 46%, $100

Surprise, surprise. This is like the school’s best pitcher, who then steps onto the football team and throws for a game-winning touchdown. This is a whole new side to Kavalan. Remember Faith No More doing “Easy”? Having out-sherried and out-bourboned us with kickass rock n roll whisky, Kavalan goes for gentle and croony, with vanilla and honey. The coup de grace? Apple pie and cream morph into licorice and menthol. Exquisite.—Dominic RoskrowMillstone Rye 100

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 93

#3: Millstone Rye 100, 50%, €53

From the distillery that received last year’s World Whisky award comes another contender for the title in 2013. This is called 100 because it’s 100 percent rye distilled in pot stills, 100 proof, and 100 months old (a bit over eight years). It’s big, and perfectly balanced between honey and fruit, sparkling distinctive raunchy spice, and a dash of ginger biscuits. This is rye to die for. Superb.—Dominic Roskrow

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 93

#2: Amrut Greedy Angels, 50%, $225Amrut Greedy Angels

A whopping three-quarters of the spirit put in these casks was taken by greedy angels. It has a big waft of crystallized pineapple, tropical fruits, and spiky spice on the nose. On the palate, red licorice, syrupy jellied fruits, some mandarin, cherry lozenge, and tinned strawberries, and the same menthol rancio you’d kill for in a 30 year old scotch. This is Amrut’s oldest-ever whisky; it’s as rare as hen’s teeth…and just 8 years old. Awesome.—Dominic Roskrow

Advanced Whisky Advocate magaine rating: 94
Lot No 40 2012 Release

#1: Lot No. 40 2012 Release, 43%, C$40

Distilled from 90% rye grain and 10% rye malt, Lot No. 40 boldly mingles the galvanizing piquancy of distilled rye grain with the soaring floral fragrance of malted rye, and a fruitiness born of age. It begins with hard, dusty, earthy rye, and sour rye bread, followed by a trio of baking spices: cloves, nutmeg, and blistering ginger. A farm-tinged sourness fades into citrus fruit with velvet tannins. (Canada only)—Davin de Kergommeaux

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 94






36 Responses to “Top 10 Whiskies Reviewed in Whisky Advocate’s Summer Issue”

  1. Logan Mann says:

    Will the Kavalan be available in the states anytime soon?? I’m really wanting to try their sherry cask as well.

    • John Hansell says:

      They were pouring several different expressions at WhiskyFest Chicago, so I imagine it will be getting into circulation sooner than later.

      • Mark Aldrich. River City Whisky Society says:

        I am told they should hit the U.S. in November in major markets (Chicago, New York, etc). Tried them all at WhiskyFest, they were all good.

  2. Louis says:

    Nice to see so many affordable choices. And I can’t wait to see how the Cutty Sark matches up to MacKinlay, similar style but without the story at 80% discount. Any word of availabilty in the US?

    • lawschooldrunk says:


      Only #9, 7, and 1.

      • Jeff says:

        Some are fairly pricy, but it’s not as bad as it used to be – with the most highly-recommended whisky standing at a price of $55,000 and which you had no chance at anyway because there were only 8 bottles in the country. It is funny, though, to see Amrut accuse the heavenly host of being greedy, when it’s charging $225 for an eight-year-old that isn’t even cask strength. If they skipped the box and the legend (and skipped paying the salaries of the people who come up with this junk) could they have possibly brought this classic (?!) in at under $200?

        As for the Jura, it’s certainly no mystery who pays for all the whisky that’s thrown on the ground.

        • Scribe says:

          Jeff, I concur on your point on the Amrut. I remember one of the first times I heard of them — when John gave a great review to the Amrut Fusion. Sure enough, it was humble…affordable…and good enough that I went through one bottle and am halfway through the second. I guess they are caught up in the current market momentum! 🙁 🙁

  3. Richard Turner says:

    I’ve not heard of Breckenridge Bourbon (#9). It sounds interesting. Does anyone know who distills it? Does anyone know where it’s available at retail?

    • Scribe says:

      Richard, I know it’s available at Bayway World of Liquor in NJ, among other places. I’ve seen it higher, though, than the $40 list price…usually $42 to $44.. FYI, I am not affiliated with Bayway…just a satisfied customer! 🙂

  4. sevens says:

    I believe they distill themselves and use snow melt water to proof. Mora’s in NY is selling for $43 which seems to be one of better prices around.

  5. Jason Craig says:

    Dear John,
    lovely to see that our new Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition makes your top 10. The packaging will be jet black and sexy. All will be revealed in due course – look for the late summer into early fall period.
    Jason Craig, Global Brand Controller, Cutty Sark Blended Scotch Whisky

    • John Hansell says:

      Jason, Thanks for the clarification and update. Noted, edited and corrected. We look forward to seeing the entire package in due time.

    • Danny Maguire says:

      Jason, What do you mean by sexy? I wish people wouldn’t use that expression when what they mean is good or interesting.

  6. Robert says:

    Found Angel’s Envy at Chicago Whiskeyfest and I’m on my second bottle. The Master behind this has quite a strong pedigree of my fvaorites.

  7. Tadas A says:

    It would be nice to see comparison reviews of the whiskies sent by the vendors for the review to the ones actually available at the store. Will they be the same? Or will they turn out to be different or even cherry picked?

    An example I can give you – a number of auto manufacturers when they send cars for review to auto magazines, they send hand built units, extra quality checked so it looks its best, not a random one from an assembly line.

    • Jeff says:

      Interesting point – if I’m not to assume a whisky is not artificially coloured or chill filtered unless specifically told so (otherwise, I would just be naive) why should I believe that samples aren’t cherry picked unless producers are willing to swear to this? Does any producer specifically guarantee that the sample given is representative of the whisky on the shelf? If not, why, or is it even an issue as they just look at it, not as cherry picking, but as “putting their best foot forward”? Can businesses which allow silence to do their talking in other circumstances to benefit their bottom line (colouration, filtration, NAS) be trusted to keep promises they never make?

      This, too, would be a great blog topic: “What is your level of trust in today’s industry?”.

      • Kyle Henderson says:

        That would be interesting to see what the industry reviewers thought about the “level of trust” in the industry. Many producers A. dont have the time to cherry pick or B. dont have the inventory to cherry pick samples.

        The Angels Envy Rye was just pulled from one of the 1400 cases we have bottled to date. There was nothing spectacularly different about the sample we sent to Whisky Advocate vs samples we sent elsewhere vs any bottle on the shelf. There is a good chance any bottle you might pick up will be from the exact same tank that the sample was pulled from.

        Also, I can only speak for AE, but most producers are willing to tell you whether or not they are filtered or not. The Rye is not chill filtered. nor is it carbon treated. It gets run through a cloth filter on the bottling line to keep sediment from getting into the bottles. but otherwise thats it!

        Coloration is a different story. Its quite different in the American Whiskey world vs Scotch or other international whiskies. Most American Whiskies would have to put it on the bottle if they were colored.

        • Texas says:

          If Whiskyadvocate would ever review an Evan Williams Single Barrel that didn’t come from Barrel #1 then I suspect questions like this would gradually stopped being asked. Nearly every year EWSB gets a very high rating (maybe one year it didn’t) from..always Barrel #1..yet nobody else every seems to find that stunning bottle of bourbon.

          Whether HH is cherry picking or not I don’t care. In most other industries (like the car example) samples are cherry picked. The fact that this bourbon every year is from Barrel #1 is what gets these types of questions.

          • Jeff says:

            It’s hard to follow your logic – you don’t care if samples are cherry picked because this happens all the time, the real problem is getting rid of the pesky questions? So if samples were cherry picked, but came from different cask numbers and the questions stopped, all would be right with the world? It’s certainly an interesting take on the issue. Unless reviewed samples are representative of the shelved product, reviews are not only useless, they are deceptive.

          • Texas says:

            The logic isn’t hard to follow..I have no idea if Barrel #1 is better than all the rest or not, but the fact that John ONLY reviews Barrel #1 of this bourbon makes every review suspect. Obviously if I am a distiller I am going to make Barrel #1 my best and send most of that to reviewers. All John has to do is grab a bottle off the shelf randomly for < $30 and do a comparison to the Barrel #1 he gets every year. I am not the first to ask for this, yet he still does not do it, and as usual ignores any comment about it.

          • Jeff says:

            You may well be right about the Barrel #1 issue, it was the second paragraph in your first post which I had trouble with.

        • Danny Maguire says:

          Thank goodness for Germany, if you colour whisky you sell in Germany you have to put it on the bottle, no if’s,and’s or but’s it has to be there.

      • Alex says:

        That’s one risk of an advanced review. People who are concerned about the issue would not likely accept a producer’s “guarantee”. It could be recommended that reviewers should purchase their review bottles from liquor stores, just like other consumers, but then we wouldn’t get advanced reviews before products are in the stores.

        Thanks for your input, Kyle.

        • Jeff says:

          I’d accept a producer’s guarantee, Alex, but, until now, I’ve never received one. If such guarantees were standard (or better, required), there would be no lack of trust standing in the way of an advanced, or any other kind, of review.

          My point, however, was that there’s no reason for the customer to assume such a guarantee in the absence of it actually being made, as the industry often simply says nothing when it hits a topic it would rather not discuss – and usually only goes out of its way with “customer information” to drive home some selling point. Kyle’s discussion of filtration with regard to Angels Envy is an illustration – almost any producer will tell you if they DON’T chill filter, as non-chill filtration is currently seen as a plus, but how many put “proudly chill-filtered for wider visual appeal at the cost of reduced flavour” on the label – or even just “chill filtered”? Now, if the situation were reversed, and chill filtration was seen as a plus, all those who chill filter would be shouting it from the rooftops, but would we have gotten a post from Glenfiddich instead of Kyle?

          Unfortunately, the industry’s current idea of “consumer education” is only to discuss those things which are perceived to boost sales (and, in the extreme case of Macallan, to do so by trying to simultaneously convince people of two contradictory ideas), and to leave other, less lucrative, issues to someone else. Such “good news reporting” industry-wide is misleading at best, deceptive at worst – and certainly has nothing to do with being forthright – which is why my overall level of trust in the industry is currently where it is.

  8. H.Diaz says:

    How do we trust there isn’t a little bit of 5 or 8 y/o whisky in a 10, 15 or 18 y/o labeled bottle? You know, to bulk things up a little bit when no one is looking. Whose to know what goes on in the back office of the bottling line late one night. What? Are there whisky police? Or whisky compliance officers on the beat keeping the industry in line and in compliance? No. Of course not. We’re suppose to trust the industry. Yeah right.

    • Jeff says:

      I can’t swear to anyone’s compliance, but it is a far different argument – saying that those who will not tell the whole truth in order to further their own agenda are actually and actively lying to you about the contents of their product. While I do seriously suspect the former, I honestly have to reason to suspect the latter. If distillers were comfortable with outright fraud, there’d be no reason for the “young/NAS whisky is great whisky” message that we’re constantly bombarded with – they’d just fill bottles with younger whisky, keep the age statements and say nothing.

    • Danny Maguire says:

      We, the consumer,are the whisky police, if any distiller did that we would stop buying their stuff and they wouldn’t want that.

      • Jeff says:

        I agree that any producer found misrepresenting product would be immediately outcast by consumers, but as H. Diaz indicates, consumers aren’t usually in a position to know what goes on or how product is handled in every (really any) distillery – if that were the case, there would be much less mystery about NAS bottles – so we’re not the whisky police in that sense. Consumers would indeed provide the commercial consequences for fraud, but based on someone else’s findings/investigation. Cheers!

        • Danny Maguire says:

          Jeff, you are right in that the producer wouldn’t want us to know if they were doing something like that, but how long do you think they could keep it secret? There are enough journalists and reviewers out there for someone to get a whiff of what they are doing then the cat would be out of the bag and woe betide that distiller.

          • Jeff says:

            They might not be able to keep it a secret, but, as H. Diaz infers, it wouldn’t be the average consumer that would be in a position to expose the fraud.

  9. Kyle Henderson says:


    There are “Whiskey Police”. DSPs in the US are required to keep records of barrels that are dumped for bottling, each has a serial/lot number which corresponds to a day that it was filled. These can be checked by the TTB, if they come and do an audit. One really couldnt simply dump a younger barrel and not claim it for long. If your total PGs dumped is so significantly different from what is should be, it raises flags.

    I agree with Jeff. Skirting around the truth to further your brand and outright lying to the consumer and the government are two very, very different things. One could be frown upon, while another will result in violations and fine, or a revocation of a DSP license.

  10. Jason Blomgren says:

    Being a relative whiskey amateur, I’ve run into a dilemma on the Breckenridge Bourbon. When visiting Breckenridge last year I dropped in on them and tasted their product for the first time. While I thought it was a solid drink, I couldn’t agree with their overly zealous employee who insisted that it was “categorically the best whiskey in the world”. Nevertheless, I purchased a bottle to bring home and add to my library. Later that month I stopped into my local spirits shop and spoke with the buyer who I have come to rely on for his knowledge of all things whiskey. When presented with my story, he laughed and told me that they don’t even distill their own whiskey and then preceded to steer me towards other bottles. Similarly, I stopped in recently to another high end spirits shop and got to talking with their spirits buyer who appeared VERY knowledgeable and he had the same attitude when we came across the bottle from Breckenridge.

    My question is this…to what extent should a label like Breckenridge be disqualified from these discussions for not distilling their own whiskey? As a consumer should I be staying away from “re branded” whiskey?

    Cheers, jason

  11. Thom says:

    John – thank you for highlighting Cutty Sark Prohibition. My local store has it for $30 a bottle. Based on your recommendation I took chance on it. And it really surprised me. It really is a great value whisky. The higher ABV% is a nice bonus and I find it has a very good mouthfeel with a surprising richness. The Prohibition has definitely made into my affordable daily dram rotation.

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