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94

William Larue Weller, 67.7% Price: $90.00

Brand: William Larue Weller
Category: Bourbon/Tennessee

Distilled in 2003. Weller is the only wheated bourbon in the Collection, with wheat replacing the rye found in most other bourbons. It’s a very impressive representation, too. Notes of nutty toffee, black raspberry, blueberry, green tea, cinnamon, and vanilla. Soft, lingering oak on the finish. Like last year’s release, this is a soothing whiskey with a gentle demeanor. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2016. Editor's Choice.
(Winter 2016) Reviewed by: John Hansell

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93

Eagle Rare 17 year old, 45% Price: $90.00

Brand: Eagle Rare
Category: Bourbon/Tennessee

Often overlooked by collectors because it’s not as high in alcohol as most of its siblings, it’s superior to last year’s release, which I felt brandished more oak on the finish than needed. Caramel, rhum agricole, golden raisin, and dried citrus segue into polished oak, along with a wisp of honey and cinnamon on the finish. Well rounded and subtly complex. An exceptional bourbon. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2016.
(Winter 2016) Reviewed by: John Hansell

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93

Brora 38 year old, 48.6% Price: $2,200.00

Brand: Brora
Category: Single Malt Scotch

Another Special Releases staple, this is the fifteenth and oldest Brora in the series to date. The nose offers hemp, oiled brown paper, lemon juice, ashy peat, and sweetening malt. The oily palate boasts sweet fruit notes, peaty toffee, and ginger. Long in the softly smoky finish, with black pepper, plain chocolate, char, and licorice. Diageo Special Releases 2016. (2,984 bottles)
(Winter 2016) Reviewed by: Gavin Smith

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93

Lagavulin 25 year old, 50.9% Price: $1,200.00

Brand: Lagavulin
Category: Single Malt Scotch

This cask strength, sherry cask matured expression was released as part of Lagavulin’s bicentennial celebration. The nose offers new leather, tropical fruits, brittle toffee, and brine, backed by spicy peat smoke. Smoky sherry notes open up in time. The rich, well-mannered palate boasts sweet peat, brine, muted sherry, figs, gentle spices, tangerines, and lemons. Becoming more savory in the long, gently smoky, malty finish. Very drinkable at cask strength. A great Lagavulin. (8,000 bottles)
(Winter 2016) Reviewed by: Gavin Smith

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93

Port Ellen 37 year old, 55.2% Price: $4,000.00

Brand: Port Ellen
Category: Single Malt Scotch

The sixteenth Special Releases Port Ellen is the oldest to date. Initially, sea breeze on the nose, brine, rock pools, and gentle iodine, followed by dried fruits, peat, and wood polish. Full-bodied, very silky, again with brine to the fore, plus sweet peat, drying slowly, ginger, black pepper, and balancing tropical fruit notes. The finish is long, with burnt oak embers and licorice. Diageo Special Releases 2016. (2,900 bottles)
(Winter 2016) Reviewed by: Gavin Smith

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93

Sazerac Rye 18 year old, 45% Price: $90.00

Brand: Sazerac
Category: Bourbon/Tennessee

This Sazerac 18 year old is now a distinctly separate whiskey, after several years of releasing whiskey that had been stored in stainless steel to prevent further aging. It doesn’t have as much of the rye zing as previous releases, which may disappoint those hoping for a repeat performance. Still, the new release is richer and sweeter, which I find attractive. Toffee and molasses, yielding to clove, mint, and cinnamon. Polished leather on the finish cuts through the sweetness. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2016.
(Winter 2016) Reviewed by: John Hansell

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93

Amrut Spectrum, 50% Price: $125.00

Brand: Amrut
Category: Indian Whisky

Amrut’s chimeric five-wood cask has been one of the greatest whisky innovations of this year. The aromas release Madagascan chocolate, the fruitiness of Panamanian Geisha coffee, a sturdy granite core, new oak extractives, fresh walnuts, wood spices, treacle, and mango peel. Like velvet, the palate develops lush fruits, Gianduja chocolate, rich, dark coffee, nut oils, and oak tannins, before the red juicy fruits soak through the chocolate. Heat, dry spices, and ground coffee finish. Clever concept: a seminal whisky. £100
(Winter 2016) Reviewed by: Jonny McCormick

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93

Redbreast Lustau Edition, 46% Price: $69.00

Brand: Redbreast
Category: Irish Single Pot Still

The 120 year old sherry house Lustau originally operated as an almacenista, but now produces a broad portfolio of wine styles in Jerez. The nose is intensely fragrant, bursting with fat dates and squidgy prunes, red apple and Battenburg cake. It’s fruity, yet bone dry, with oak, walnut, and spices. This is full-bodied yet refined Redbreast: the Spanish oak sherry butts shaping the red berry fruits, apples, marzipan, and creamy yet oily consistency. Clean, sweet oloroso finish. Qué delicioso!
(Winter 2016) Reviewed by: Jonny McCormick

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93

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, 55% Price: $60.00

Brand: Russell's Reserve
Category: Bourbon/Tennessee

From rickhouse G, floor 5, barrel 136 is a study in caramel. Layered in crème brûlée, salted-caramel cupcake, caramel brownie, caramel apple fritters, caramel popcorn, and the classic caramel chew. Then, complexity: chocolate truffles, nutmeg-dusted hot bananas, ginger ice cream, cinnamon-candied almonds, and warm povitica. It’s so creamy, so rich, and so unrelenting with masterful flavor that the powerfully long and caramel-forward finish is expected. Splendid, must-have sipper. (Lincoln Road Package Store exclusive)
(Winter 2016) Reviewed by: Fred Minnick

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93

Belle Meade 10 year old Sherry Cask Finish, 53.2% Price: $100.00

Brand: Belle Meade
Category: Bourbon/Tennessee

Whoa...this sherry-finished bourbon offers an up front impression you don’t find in American whiskey: marzipan meets ground-up raw almonds sprinkled over pistachio gelato. Then caramel, nuanced cinnamon, delicate vanilla, and a slight hint of campfire smoke. It’s supremely complex, with the third layer being honey, dried apricot, dried pear, figs, and prunes over a sublime nuttiness and rich caramel. The finish lingers with salted-caramel cashew. If this is the future of barrel-finished American whiskey, let there be more. (Jack Rose Dining Saloon private selection)
(Winter 2016) Reviewed by: Fred Minnick

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