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Whisky Advocate Summer 2016 Issue’s Top 10 Whiskies

May 18th, 2016

The Summer 2016 issue of Whisky Advocate magazine will be on newsstands in early June. Here’s an advanced preview of this issue’s Buying Guide; the 10 highest-rated whiskies. Sadly, this Top Ten highlights the current state of the whisky industry: our highest rated whiskies are either limited releases and difficult to find on the primary market, not imported to the U.S., or rather expensive. However, be sure to check out all 115 reviews in this issue’s Buying Guide for quality whiskies that are more easily sourced (and more reasonably priced).

#10 – Colonel E. H. Taylor Jr. Seasoned Wood,
50%, $70

A wheated recipe bourbon that was aged in experimental barrels with staves utilizing various methods of seasoning. Oak spice is important with a wheated bourbon, as there is no rye to balance the sweet notes, and this whiskey does a great job here. Delicate in personality, with nutty caramel, dried citrus, and golden raisin segueing to polished leather, warming cinnamon, clove, and hints of a cigar humidor.—JH

Advanced Whisky Advocate Rating: 91

Bookers_2016-01_Bottle Image

#9 – Booker’s Batch 2016-1, 63.95%, $60

If Picasso sketched bourbon, it would look like Booker’s, with deep golden and auburn hues. But higher-proof color can deceive. Not here. Think bourbon warehouse: oak, caramel, tobacco leaf, cinnamon, vanilla; floral with hints of honey and blueberry. And then it really comes alive. Oh, baby! Candy corn, crème brûlée, maple syrup, nutmeg, and traces of chipotle and cayenne. The proof strength doesn’t show. I recommend this batch neat for full, unrelenting flavor.—FM

Advanced Whisky Advocate Rating: 91
002 Ardbeg Dark Cove_Grey copy

#8 – Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Edition,
55%, $110

This is bigger, spicier, and more complex than the regular edition Dark Cove. A prickly start leads to heavy peat smoke, pink and Szechuan peppercorns, vanilla, dark chocolate, angelica, then seaweed. The palate is oily, with a detonation of gunpowdery peat, licorice, smoked eel, and a feral edge that adds grunt. Layered and complex.—DB

Advanced Whisky Advocate Rating: 91

#7 – The Sovereign (distilled at Cambus) 30 year old 1984, 49.4%, £106

The nose is bathed in aromas of lime, bergamot, lychee, and fresh pineapple cores. This is delicate, refined, and complex, with touches of fragrant spices and a calming influence of oak. A web of citrus strands, barley sugar, and toffee is shot through by wood spices and surpassed by a delicious butterscotch flavor that continues into the finish.  Effortless, relaxed, and brilliant whisky, and quite frankly, I’m not sure you could find better 30 year old whisky at this price.—JM

Advanced Whisky Advocate Rating: 92

#6 – Redbreast All Sherry Single Cask, 59.9%, £180

IRISH_RED1999 copyFirst you think you love Redbreast, and then they go and release a triple-distilled single pot still sherry single cask from 1999. Coffee beans, chocolate buttons, nougat, wet leather jackets, macaroon, and black bananas. A sweet sherry baptism of fresh fig fruit and dark toffee, with blackened char wriggling delightfully under the tongue. Thick and oily, a savory tone surfaces, closed by coffee and heavy clove. Chicory coffee and licorice finish. Epic: extroverted northern cardinal to the chirpy European robin. (576 bottles, The Whisky Exchange only)—JM

Advanced Whisky Advocate Rating: 92

#5 – Midleton 1991 Single Cask, 55.2%, £245

From this first-fill bourbon cask emerge light, delicate, aromatic fruits: think white peach, poached pear, and lychee with creamed coconut, nutmeg-spiced latte, Simnel cake, Chinese five-spice, and richer apple notes. A seemingly chaste dram that begins with honey, egg-washed brioche, stewed pears, and slender pink rhubarb before innocence is lost as sweet bursts of fruit explode, while dark vanilla, clove, rum and raisin, chocolate, and rye divert the action. Dried apple with Christmas spices marks the finish. (186 bottles, The Whisky Exchange only)—JM

Advanced Whisky Advocate Rating: 92

#4 – The Five Distinguished and Rare 39 year old, 51%, £150

This is massive. It even pours thickly, as the aromas spill out of the glass: rich stewed apple, dry oak, a passing digestif trolley wobbling with dark sticky bottles, and currants on the tummy of a gingerbread man. There is a rum-like quality to the thick texture that lands squarely on the palate, bursting out with sweet apple and brown sugar. It hardly loses its grip after swallowing, dissipating almost imperceptibly against the approaching oak flavors. Special indeed. (330 bottles, WoodWinters Wines & Whiskies only)—JM

Advanced Whisky Advocate Rating: 92
Canadian Rockies 35[1]

#3 – Canadian Rockies 35 year old, 50%, NT$19,800

What a shame this whisky will sail to Taiwan with nary a bottle left for North America. It would be the oldest and most expensive Canadian whisky on the continent. And bottled at 50%, one of the strongest. Wood, age, toffee, cooked sweet corn, fruit, and slightly dusty new jeans. Gloriously sweet, showing its ABV in a blistering pepper attack that subsides into sweetness and a mild fruitiness. (Taiwan only)—DdeK

Advanced Whisky Advocate Rating: 92

#2 – Wiser’s Last Barrels, 45%, C$65

Distilled in May 2001 from a bourbon-style sour mash, this whisky was intended for blending. However, times change and Wiser’s recently vatted all 132 barrels as an Ontario exclusive. High esters, sweet pitchy resins, clean wood, caramel, barley sugar, floral notes, burley tobacco, green grapes, and Granny Smith apples. And that’s just the nose. Rich toffee, vanilla, brisk white pepper, ripe black fruits. Lingering, peppery, caramel corn finish. (Canada only)—DdeK

Advanced Whisky Advocate Rating: 93

#1 – John Walker & Sons Private Collection 2016 Edition, 43%, $850

Here’s your private audience with the inestimable Mr. Beveridge. After contemplating impeccably selected aged liquids from the big five Distillers Company Limited (DCL) grain distilleries, he’s ready. Three vattings representing cask character, distillery character, and Highland single malt were combined in the final blend. Fresh layers of lemon and honey mingle with wood smoke. A seductive soft and creamy palate, saturated with fudge and delicate vanilla fuse together in a study of honeyed perfection. A fine indulgence. The best yet. (8,888 bottles)—JM

Advanced Whisky Advocate Rating: 93

5 Responses to “Whisky Advocate Summer 2016 Issue’s Top 10 Whiskies”

  1. Fred Minnick says:

    Davin, You are such a tease: “What a shame this whisky will sail to Taiwan with nary a bottle left for North America.” I don’t think I’ve ever wanted a whisky so badly.

  2. EricH says:

    Is the Canadian Rockies only 50%? Serge’s review at Whiskyfun pegged the whiskey at a whopping 79.3%!!! I’m thinking Serge might have been mistaken because 79.3% is awfully high for a 35 year old.

    • Davindek says:

      I should make you wait and read the magazine to answer that question but that would be cruel.

      Serge is not wrong. It is so dry in Alberta that the angels take more water than alcohol so the abv increases as the whisky matures. Of course these bottles were filled by hand. (Actually, it takes 6 people to run the hand-bottling line and they use the same bottling machine.)

      There were six barrels of this whisky left, and they decided to hold back five in reserve for bottling later. So, they bottled 30 at full 79.3% barrel strength, then reduced the abv to 50% for the rest. Both are spectacular whiskies but different from each other and after much hemming and hawing I settled on the 50% version as my favourite.

  3. Joshua Powers says:

    I had the Ardbeg Dark Cove tonight and got it for a great price at Bottle King for those in NJ. I would rank it above some of the others on this list. An amazing release from Ardbeg and for those strong of Heart Islay drinkers. There is so much going on that you will enjoy this dram from the first nosing to last drop on the back end. I hope others heed this post and pick up a bottle while you can. Looking forward to my Ardbeg Tasting next week in NYC!

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