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The Buying Guide provides ratings of whiskies from around the world. All whiskies currently available for purchase are considered for evaluation; a special effort is placed on reviewing new products and comparing them to established ones. Because we for the most part serve a U.S. audience, we prefer to review whiskies that are available there, but will also review whiskies unique to other markets. Whiskies are chosen for tasting from among those sent to our offices for review, and from targeted categories—a particular distillery, a particular age—we find of interest.
Ratings and Prices
Ratings are to provide a relative comparison of quality with reference to both directly competing products and whiskies in general. This is important, because some products achieve greater balance, character, and complexity than others. We urge you to keep in mind that the best way to learn about whiskies is to taste them for yourself and draw your own conclusions. There is no substitute for this; we are providing a guide for you to reach this goal. Please note that because of the number of new products on the market every month, the products listed in the Buying Guide usually reflect our most positive experiences in recent tasting. However, whiskies that score in the lower ranges will also be included at the discretion of the taster if they feel there is particular significance to that product. Prices shown reflect the suggested retail price. If that is not available, we will use a representative retail price; prices in your area and at different stores will vary. (Not all whiskies reviewed are available in the U.S., but they will show an equivalent price in U.S. dollars for comparison purposes. Check the review for actual availability.)
Each issue, we choose particular whiskies or sets of whiskies for a special focus. These may be from a single distillery, or be of a specific type, and more attention is paid to how these whiskies compare to each other. We also feature John Hansell’s Editor’s Choice, his favorite whisky in the issue, regardless of price, and a Value Pick of his favorite combination of quality and price. The whiskies are chosen by the tasters and by John, and are not the result of any commercial transaction between Whisky Advocate and the producers of the chosen whiskies.
Our reviewers cover the following territories. (Reviewers are indicated by their initials at the end of the individual reviews.)
John Hansell (JH) is the publisher and editor of Whisky Advocate. He’s been writing about whisky for over 20 years and is the primary reviewer in the Buying Guide. United States, Reviewer At Large
Dave Broom (DB) has been writing about whisky in all its forms for over 20 years. A judge on numerous international tasting and competition panels, he also teaches sensory evaluation to trade and consumer groups. Speyside, Islay, Japan
Dominic Roskrow (DR) is a former newspaper journalist who has written for a number of drinks and whisky magazines for around 20 years. He has written four whisky books; The World’s Best Whiskies is his latest. Scottish blends and grain whiskies, Ireland, other world whiskies
Gavin D Smith (GS) is based in the Scottish Borders and works as a specialist whisky journalist and author. He has more than 20 books to his credit, including An A-Z of Whisky, The Whisky Men, and Discovering Scotland’s Distilleries. Scottish Highlands, Lowlands, Campbeltown and Islands (non-Islay)
Lew Bryson (LB) has been the managing editor of Whisky Advocate for 17 years. He has written on beer and spirits since 1994 and has authored four regional brewery guidebooks. United States, flavored whiskies, beer
Davin de Kergommeaux (DdeK) has been writing about whisky for over 15 years for various magazines and websites. His book Canadian Whisky: The Portable Expert was published in 2012. Canada
Editor’s Choice John Hansell’s favorite in this issue, regardless of price.
Value Pick John Hansell’s pick, considering both quality and price.