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97 points

Four Roses 2013 Limited Edition Small Batch, 51.5%

A marriage of 13 and 18 year old bourbons. A mature yet very elegant whiskey, with a silky texture and so easy to embrace with a splash of water. Balanced notes of honeyed vanilla, soft caramel, a basket of complex orchard fruit, blackberry, papaya, and a dusting of cocoa and nutmeg; smooth finish. Sophisticated, stylish, with well-defined flavors. A classic!

Reviewed by: (Winter 2013)

97 points

Parker's Heritage Collection, 'Golden Anniversary', 50%

This bottling celebrates master distiller Parker Beam's 50 years of service by including whiskey from each of the past five decades. This is a fabulous whiskey: seamless and incredibly complex, with an impeccable marriage of youth and maturity. It’s also very even-keeled throughout -- quite different than last year’s equally impressive PHC, a 27 year old, whose personality was more like an exhilarating old wooden rollercoaster ride (and also brandished more oak). Look for candied citrus, nectarine, blueberry, and sultana anchored by a nougat center, laced with honeyed vanilla and orange creamsicle. There’s a dusting of cocoa powder, brittle mint, and cinnamon, too. Tobacco leaves, polished leather, and teasing bourbon barrel char round out the palate, emerging more prominently towards a warming finish. A classic!

Reviewed by: (Fall 2009)

97 points

Black Bowmore, 1964 vintage, 42 year old, 40.5%

What impresses me most is how this whisky evolves; it's incredibly complex. On the nose and palate, this is a thick, viscous, whisky with notes of sticky toffee, earthy oak, fig cake, roasted nuts, fallen fruit, pancake batter, black cherry, ripe peach, dark chocolate-covered espresso bean, polished leather, tobacco, a hint of wild game, and lingering, leafy damp kiln smoke. Flavors continue on the palate long after swallowing. This is what we all hope for (and dream of) in an older whisky!

Reviewed by: (Summer 2008)

96 points

Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve, 40%

Perhaps the finest Canadian whisky I have ever tasted. Creamy and seamless from beginning to end. Gently sweet, with orange creamsicle, marzipan, sultana, praline, maple syrup, and a hint of coconut macaroon. 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!

Reviewed by: (Winter 2010)

96 points

Jameson Pure Pot Still Limited Reserve, 15 year old, 43%

Antique gold. It’s the only 'pure pot still' whiskey produced at the Midleton distillery that’s available in the U.S., and its impact on the whiskey is enormous. Its flavors continue to evolve and are perfectly balanced with notes of lush fruit, toffee, fudge, almonds, and vanilla. It finishes long, with mature oak notes that linger. More seductive and not as bold as Jameson Gold. This is the definitive Irish whiskey-it's as simple as that! It will satisfy both Scotch and Irish whiskey drinkers. Don't come whining to me several months from now because you didn't get a bottle! Buy it now while you still can.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2000)

96 points

Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve (Bottle B1986), 23 year old, 47.8%

My review of this whiskey a few years back indicated that it was too woody and past its prime to be a great whiskey. This one is better. (Yes, bottlings do change.) There’s more balance, and the oak is in check. It’s still big and brooding, with notes of toffee, roasted nuts, dried spice (cinnamon, rosemary, evergreen needles), candied fruit, cocoa, and polished oak. Tobacco and toffee on the finish, with lingering dried spices, and there’s a nice foundation of sweetness to balance all the oak and spice.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2009)

96 points

William Larue Weller, 67.4%

This whiskey has improved greatly over the past two years. (I thought that the 2007 release was almost too easy-going, as some wheated bourbons can be.) A little more oak spice has added balance, complexity, and depth. Very clean on the palate. Layered sweetness (toffee, caramel, maples syrup, elegant rum) provide a foundation for warming cinnamon, bramble, blueberry tart, sultana, light candy corn, herbal tea, and subtle marzipan. A soft, dry, polished oak finish ropes in all the sweetness, keeping me wanting more. Excellent!

Reviewed by: (Spring 2010)

96 points

William Larue Weller, 63.3%

Very similar to last year’s release. (A good thing, since it was wonderful!) Very smooth, with layered sweetness (toffee, fig cake, nougat, maple syrup), dark fruit (black raspberry, blueberry), cinnamon, and polished oak on the finish. A whisky of elegance and sophistication. (Editor's Choice)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

96 points

Four Roses 2012 Limited Edition Small Batch, 55.7%

A marriage of four different bourbons, ranging from 11 to 17 years old. This, to me, is benchmark Four Roses: subtly complex, vibrant, yet fully matured, with well-defined flavors of bramble, dry citrus, soft creamy vanilla, caramel, marzipan, allspice, a hint of cinnamon, and subtle cedar-aged cigar tobacco. Soft, clean, polished oak finish. A very versatile bourbon! Your decision shouldn’t be whether to buy it, but rather how much water to add.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2012)

96 points

George T. Stagg, 71.4%

Another excellent Stagg, and considering its alcohol level, it’s also a good value if you can get it at this price. Notes of toffee, pot still rum, nougat, dates, tobacco, roasted nuts, polished oak, and leather. Great depth and nicely balanced. A masculine bourbon of character and structure.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2012)

96 points

George T. Stagg, 69.05%

No age statement, but distilled in 1998. A beautiful expression of Stagg, and a lot of bourbon for your buck. Easy to drink with the addition of water, showing caramel, nougat, dates, dark chocolate, polished oak, along with a hint of leather and tobacco. Slightly better than last year’s release—richer, thicker, and more balanced. I’m enjoying Stagg’s more rounded, less aggressive demeanor of late. A classic! Editor's Choice.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2014)

96 points

Jefferson's Presidential Select (Batch #1), 1991 Vintage, 17 year old, 47%

A wheated bourbon from the old Stitzel-Weller distillery. A gentle, richly-textured whiskey, loaded with fruit and spice. Black raspberry jam, caramel apple, and papaya, along with warming cinnamon and subtle teaberry, on nutty toffee, nougat, and creamy vanilla. Spicy, polished oak finish. Superbly balanced, sophisticated, and very drinkable. An outstanding whiskey!

Reviewed by: (Winter 2009)

96 points

Jefferson’s Presidential Select, 18 year old, 47%

Unlike the standard “small batch” releases, this is from a single barrel: a really good single barrel. I rated the 18 year old small batch a 93 in the last issue, and I like this one even better. There’s less wood getting in the way. It’s softer, more elegant. Lovely fruit, gently sweet (black raspberry jam, blueberry pie), with nougat, creamy vanilla, a sprinkling of cinnamon, and polished leather on the finish. And so drinkable. Classic stuff!

Reviewed by: (Summer 2011)

96 points

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, 1994 vintage, 47%

A crisp, robust, very dynamic bourbon. Amber-orange marmalade color. Spicy, with notes of cinnamon, spearmint, and Earl Grey tea. The spice is balanced nicely by thick toffee, rhum agricole, caramel apple, and bright citrus, with a polished leather finish. There have been some great Birthday Bourbons, but I think this is the best one to date. A whiskey deserving classic status.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2008)

96 points

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15 year old, 53.5%

Sometime recently, the source of this whiskey changed from the now defunct Stitzel-Weller distillery to Buffalo Trace. No matter. This whiskey is still the best of the Van Winkle line. It’s crisp, clean, vibrant, impeccably balanced, and nicely matured. Complex fruit (bramble, candied citrus), caramel, coconut custard, maple syrup, fresh spice (vanilla, warming cinnamon, nutmeg, a dusting of cocoa powder) on a bed of nougat. Outstanding! (Editor's Choice)

Reviewed by: (Summer 2012)

96 points

Parker's Heritage Collection, 27 year old, 48%

Very well-balanced and mellow on the nose and palate.  Sweet notes of mature dark rum, toffee, nougat, and candy corn dovetail with dried apricot, golden raisin, hot cinnamon, soft mint tea, and vanilla.  Polished leather and tobacco leaves on a long, contemplative finish.  This is what ultra-mature bourbon should taste like: all the depth and complexity that comes with this much aging, without all the excessive oak.  The wood is there, but it never crosses the line.  The next closest Heaven Hill bourbon in age is the Evan Williams 23 year old for the export market.  There's no comparison.  The Evan Williams 23 year old is way past its prime.  This Parker's Heritage Collection has it easily beat.  In fact, this Parker's shows less oak and lethargy on the finish than the 129.6 proof expression of last year's inaugural 1996 vintage Parker's Heritage Collection, a whisky less than half its age.  (There were three different expressions, and I thought the other two were outstanding).
Parker Beam chose these whiskeys from the third floor of Warehouse U.  Given that the whiskeys were low in the warehouse, the average summer high temperatures were 6-10 degrees cooler than the top floor; helping to slow the aging process and the oak influence.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2008)

96 points

Gold Bowmore, 1964 vintage, 42.4%

Deep gold color. Surprisingly lively on the nose for its age. A complex array of fruit (tangerine, sultana, pink grapefruit, papaya, and the general overall citrus DNA that you’ll find in old Bowmores), with balancing notes of honey and vanilla. A hint of damp smoke and coconut. Just like with Black Bowmore, this is a texturally soothing whisky on the palate, which continues to evolve in waves -- first the sweet honey, coating vanilla, and lively fruit, then turning quite visceral, with juicy oak, damp earth, deep peat smoke, and charcoal, followed by another wave of fruit (this time, dried fruit), finishing off with subtle charred oak and roasted nuts. This whisky is better than White Bowmore, and it falls just short of Black Bowmore (which I rated 97), because it’s just a bit softer and less vibrant on the palate.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2009)

96 points

Bowmore, 40 year old, 44.8%

Definitely showing its age, but not in a bad way — the distillery character is still there. Solid foundation of thick, chewy toffee, old pot still rum, and fig cake. Fruity too, with notes of golden raisin and nectarine. Soft, seductive peat smoke, juicy oak, cinnamon, and brine round out the palate. Excellent balance! One of the finest Bowmore whiskies I’ve ever tasted (and, at this price, will probably never taste again.) (Editor's Pick)

Reviewed by: (Summer 2011)

96 points

The Dalmore 50 year old, 52.8%

The Dalmore is one of a handful of whiskies that seem to be able to age in the cask for many decades and still improve. This one is incredibly viscous on the nose and palate (and very heavy on the tongue), with chewy toffee and old pot still rum. The classic Dalmore marmalade note shines throughout, along with vanilla cream, an array of dried spices (especially cinnamon and evergreen), juicy oak, forest bedding, rancio, old armagnac, polished leather, tobacco, maple syrup, dark chocolate, almond macaroon, and subtle espresso. Long, mouth-coating finish. The flavors evolve like waves lapping on the palate -- especially the interplay with the oak. I can’t drink this whisky slowly enough. A rare experience for the lucky few who can afford it. (Price is per 100ml.)

Reviewed by: (Fall 2009)

96 points

The Glenlivet Cellar Collection 1969 vintage, 50.8%

It’s great that Glenlivet releases whiskies under the 'Cellar Collection' label. It really shows the true potential of Glenlivet. This bottling is classic ultra-matured Glenlivet, and rivals the 1959 vintage Cellar Collection as the best one ever. An incredibly complex whisky, with notes of vanilla, ripe barley, coconut, and caramel. All this is accentuated by glazed orange, hazelnut, and a potpourri of dried spices. Not the least bit tired for such an aged whisky. (Only 800 bottles for the U.S.)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2007)

96 points

The Macallan 29 year old 1976 Vintage (Cask #11354), 45.4%

Classic sherry cask-aged Macallan. Antique amber with hints of ruby. Thickly textured, complex, and quite deep, with notes of toffee, ripe pit fruit, raisin, apple pie, dried spice (cinnamon, clove, ginger, and mint), and a wisp of smoke. An exceptional, multi-faceted Macallan!

Reviewed by: (Spring 2008)

96 points

Rittenhouse Rye, 25 year old, (Barrel #1), 50%

Surprisingly lively. Very much like the 21 year old release in this regard, but not as spicy on the nose or palate. Instead, the spice is replaced by a layered, satisfying sweetness -- not by wood, like the somewhat lethargic, oak-dominated 23 year old release. Older doesn’t mean that it tastes older. Deep, nutty toffee foundation, with nougat, candied tropical fruit, and shoo-fly pie. The spices (cinnamon, spearmint, vanilla, cocoa powder) emerge mid-palate and linger, warming the finish. Not as vibrant as the 21 year old expression, but more sophisticated. I can’t speak for the other barrels in this lot, but I think this one is a great example of what a 20-plus year old rye whiskey should taste like.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2009)

96 points

Sazerac Rye, 18 year old, 1983, 45%

Deep amber color. Bold and surprisingly youthful aromas, and quite vibrant for its age-huge spicy notes (mint, cinnamon, vanilla, anise, freshly ground pepper), with rich toffee, caramel and background fruit. Rich, enveloping body. Enormous in flavor, with youthful dynamic spices (mint, cinnamon, vanilla, pepper), wrapped in rich toffee and molasses, tamed by mature oak and leather notes. The flavors intensify on the palate, ultimately reaching a crescendo. The boldness of the spices and maturity of age dovetail perfectly. Its finish is very satisfying and seemingly eternal.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2002)

96 points

Sazerac Rye 18 year old, 45%

Very similar to last year’s release. Well rounded, with a gently sweet foundation (toffee, vanilla taffy), pleasant spice (cinnamon, mocha, soft evergreen), date, glazed citrus, bramble, and a gentle finish for a rye. A classic ultra-aged rye whiskey.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2011)

96 points

Thomas H. Handy, 66.35%

Just what the category was missing -- a stellar, young, barrel-proof rye whiskey. Hugely spicy, with piercing mint, fiery cinnamon, vanilla, coconut, and fennel. Underlying notes of caramel, honey, and Seville orange provide some civility. It has more zing and richness than other young rye whiskeys, and it lacks the tired woodiness of the majority of the older rye expressions on the market. A clean, powerful, vibrant whisky that is a must for any rye enthusiast.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2007)

96 points

Willett Family Reserve, Single Barrel, Rye, Barrel #618, 22 year old, 1984 vintage, 68.35%

The first rye whiskey I have tasted to rival the Sazerac Rye 18 year old. This is a great whiskey from beginning to end. Soothing layers of sweetness (vanilla, maple syrup, cookie dough, toffee) are balanced by candied fruit and waves of spice (mint, cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa powder).l The palate is clean, the flavors are deep, the spices are well-defined, and there’s not one hint of excessive or tired oak. A bench-mark rye. (A Ledger’s Liquors exclusive.)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2006)

96 points

Redbreast 12 year old, 40%

Very elegant, complex, and stylish. Honeyed and silky in texture, with toffee, toasted marshmallow, nougat, maple syrup, banana bread, and a hint of toasted coconut. Bright fruit and golden raisin blend in nicely with the layers of sweetness. Impeccable balance and very approachable. Classic Irish whiskey! (Value Pick)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2010)

96 points

Elijah Craig Barrel No. 3,735 20 year old, 45%

From one barrel, and only sold in one location, but well worth the effort to procure a bottle. Nutty toffee, pecan pie, apricot, berried jam, and nougat, peppered with cinnamon, mint, cocoa, and tobacco. Warming, with polished leather and dried spice on the finish. Seamless, richly textured, and impeccably balanced. (Exclusive to the Bourbon Heritage Center at the Heaven Hill distillery in Bardstown, KY.)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2011)

96 points

Booker’s 2014-01 “25th Anniversary Batch,” 65.4%

The complete package: uncut, unfiltered, full-flavored, richly textured (almost chewy), and very complex. Notes of toffee-coated nuts, vanilla fudge, polished leather, cedar-tinged tobacco, barrel char, cocoa powder, and a hint of fig, wrapped up with a firm oak grip on the finish. Worth every penny of the premium price being charged for this commemorative release. Editor's Choice.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2014)

96 points

John E. Fitzgerald Very Special Reserve 20 year old, 45%

Distilled at the now legendary Stitzel-Weller distillery. Rich aromas of vanilla toffee, marzipan, cocoa, nutmeg and cinnamon. Similar follow-through on the palate, with black raspberry, maple syrup, teaberry, and dusty dried corn thrown into the mix. Warming cinnamon and polished oak on the finish. The sweet notes balance and integrate nicely with the oak. An exemplary rendition of an ultra-aged wheated bourbon. Price is per 375 ml. Editor's Choice.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

95 points

Crown Royal Cask No. 16, 40%

Crown Royal has always been a very stylish, silky smooth whisky. This bottling adds a new dimension in flavor and texture with its cognac cask finishing. A velvety smooth whisky with notes of creamy vanilla, butterscotch, nougat, dried fruit, and gentle spice are well-defined and nicely balanced. Gently sweet, fruity finish. Crown Royal’s best effort to date.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2008)

95 points

Crown Royal Special Reserve, 40%

Creamy, silky texture on the palate. Richer than the flagship Crown Royal, but still quite clean on the palate. Along with creamy vanilla, delicate fruit and floral notes, you’ll also find caramel and butterscotch, a peppering of spice (particularly cinnamon), and light nougat. Silky smooth finish. A benchmark whisky in the traditional Canadian style.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2007)

95 points

Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve, 2007 Release, 46%

Jameson’s newest premium release. The combination of aging some of the pot still whiskey in port casks, including some older whiskeys (over 20 years old), and bottling at 46% ABV (and not chill-filtered) has helped make this a rich, deep, and complex spirit. This is a silky smooth, lush, multi-faceted whiskey with notes of honeydew melon, nectarine, banana bread, creamy vanilla, chocolate fudge, toffee, warming cinnamon, and nutmeg. The port influence marries nicely with robust oak notes, and the grain whiskey component helps to keep it very drinkable. A more intense affair when compared to the “great anytime” 18 year old expression. A classic after-dinner Irish whiskey.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2008)

95 points

Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve (2009), 46%

Rich, silky, and oily in texture. Extremely well-integrated flavors loaded with ripe berries, caramelized banana, nougat, date nut bread, glazed tangerine, and maple syrup, peppered with warming cinnamon, vanilla icing, and nutmeg. Firm, dry resinous finish to balance the sweetness. I love the pot still character and the lushness that some of the port-wood aging has imparted. If anything, even richer and more lush than the previous 2007 vintage I reviewed. Another classic Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2010)

95 points

Compass Box Flaming Heart (10th Anniversary bottling), 48.9%

A marriage of three different single malts, aged in American and French oak. This whisky shows the advantage of marrying whiskies from more than one distillery (when properly done). Vibrant, with a complex array of fruit (orchard fruit, sultana), sweetness (light toffee, marzipan, honeyed malt), spice (creamy vanilla, mocha, warming pepper), smoke (tar, smoked olive, coal), and lesser notes of toasted almond and beach pebbles. More smoke and tar on the palate than the nose, yet always in balance. Well played! (Editor's Choice)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2010)

95 points

Johnnie Walker Blue Anniversary, 60%

Formulated to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Johnnie Walker. This is a fabulous whisky for anyone who can spring for the bottle. It is deep, dark, and quite powerful with a hefty malt foundation and sweeter notes of toffee and vanilla combined with resinous oak, complex fruit (both bright citrus notes and darker pit fruits), crisp mint, tobacco, polished leather, and heavy peat smoke. A tour de force of a blended scotch-as big as many single malts reviewed here.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2006)

95 points

Chivas, 18 year old, 40%

An essay in balance on both the aroma and palate. Silky layers of delicate sweetness (honeyed vanilla, caramel, light toffee) permeate through clean, delicate fruit (citrus, peach, currant), and subtle, complex dried spice. Clean finish, with a hint of dark chocolate. A very versatile, very drinkable blend which suits most moods and occasions. Indeed, a benchmark blended scotch.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2008)

95 points

Sazerac 18 year old (bottled Fall 2012), 45%

A perennial classic. Not aggressively bold like its younger sibling (Thomas H. Handy), but this is a rye of distinction and class. Still quite vibrant for its age, with plenty of spice (cinnamon, soft evergreen, vanilla, hint of nutmeg) softened and balanced by sweet notes (caramel, toffee), glazed citrus, and dried oak on the finish. This remains the benchmark for what a mature rye whiskey should taste like.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2012)

95 points

Old Rip Van Winkle 'Family Selection,' 23 year old, 57%

Distilled in 1986. An excellent old wheated bourbon. Soothing oily texture, with notes of toffee, old rum, nougat, vanilla bean, candied fruit, black raspberry, corn bread, hints of Earl Grey tea, cinnamon, and nutmeg, with a smooth, polished oak finish. I recently reviewed a Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 23 year old (bottle #B1986) at 47.8%, which I also thought was outstanding, with a comparable flavor profile (although some earlier bottlings I tasted years ago were heavy on the oak), and it was priced at $220. Given this, you need to ask yourself if you want to pay the extra $130 or so for the higher strength, special decanter, pair of glasses, and wood box that comes with this new ORVW Family Selection. Or not.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2010)

95 points

William Larue Weller, 66.75%

No age statement, but distilled in 1998. The only wheated recipe bourbon in the 2011 Antique Collection, and a very good one at that. Higher in strength than last year’s offering (which was 63.3%), but very similar (and equally as impressive). The most elegant and smoothest of this collection, with layered sweetness (honey, caramel, marzipan, maple syrup), fig, blackberry preserve, hint of green tea, and just the right amount of spice for balance (nutmeg, cinnamon, cocoa).

Reviewed by: (Winter 2011)

95 points

William Larue Weller, 61.7%

The key to bourbons that use wheat instead of rye (like this Weller), is to get the right amount of wood influence to balance the sweet notes and add depth. This whiskey does a great job of it. Notes of dark fruit (blackberry, plum, blueberry), layered sweetness (maple syrup, toffee, caramel), and dried spice (cinnamon, vanilla). Soft, pleasant finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2012)

95 points

William Larue Weller, 68.1%

The traditionally gentle demeanor of this wheated bourbon is jazzed up with some lovely complex spice (mostly coming from the oak). Sweet notes of maple syrup, silky caramel, blackberry jam, and blueberry are peppered with notes of allspice spiked with cinnamon and vanilla. Soft leather on the finish. Great balance. A lovely whiskey! Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2013 Release.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2013)

95 points

Willett Family Reserve, (Barrel #81L31), 25 year old, 45.1%

Very mellow, silky in texture, and on the sweet side for mature bourbon. It’s not bold like Parker’s Heritage Collection 27 year old, which has much more oak spice and resin. Willett’s foundation of molasses and toffee is accentuated by candied fruit, fig, dusty corn, and tobacco, with mint tea, cinnamon, and vanilla peppered throughout. It’s perilously drinkable. I am impressed how these 20-plus year old Willett rye and bourbon whiskeys maintain their balance and keep the oak in check. Splendid ultra-mature bourbon. (Less than 100 bottles of this were sent to California, and not all the same barrel. Happy hunting.)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

95 points

Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Four Grain, Batch #2, 46.2%

Batch #1, while a very good bourbon, didn’t quite seem to reach its potential. The flavors were there, but were not integrated and as cohesive as I would have hoped for in a four-grain, pot-distilled bourbon. Batch #2 has realized this whiskey’s full potential. The flavors I expect are all there, and they are more tightly integrated and polished. It really does taste different than any other bourbon on the market. I particularly enjoy its silky, creamy, nutty sweetness, which is balanced nicely with dry spice notes that peak on the finish. It’s very soothing and enjoyable. A whisky for bourbon and scotch drinkers alike.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2007)

95 points

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection, 1995 Vintage, “American Oak Chips Seasoned,” 45%

Surprisingly light and fresh for a 15 year old whiskey. Crisply spiced, with cinnamon, evergreen, vanilla, anise, and teaberry. Hints of dried fruit, kissed with light honey and a wisp of smoke. Balanced and clean throughout, and very drinkable. An excellent whiskey! Price is per 375ml.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2010)

95 points

Evan Williams Single Barrel 2000 Vintage (Barrel No. 1), 43.3%

Very elegant, bright, and silky smooth, with honey-kissed summer fruits, subtle tropical fruit (papaya, coconut, pineapple), gentle caramel, sweet corn, and soothing vanilla, along with a dusting of cinnamon, nutmeg, and crisp mint. Pleasing, gently spicy finish. The most impressive aspect of this whiskey isn’t its variety of flavors (they are fairly traditional for a bourbon this age), it’s their integration and remarkable balance! It’s also perilously drinkable. I can’t speak for the other barrels, but if you can track down some bottles of Barrel No. 1, buy two! You won’t be disappointed. Let me also note what a great value this whiskey is, compared to the way other premium American whiskeys are being priced.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2010)

95 points

Four Roses 2014 Limited Edition Single Barrel, 60%

Aged 11 years, this year’s single barrel release is a lively mix of caramel and bright, zingy orange on palate entry. Cinnamon, vanilla, and mint emerge mid-palate, leading to polished oak, baked apple, and a hint of leather on the finish. A lively bourbon, with crisp, clean flavors and nicely balanced. Another winner from Four Roses.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2014)

95 points

Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch (2015 Release), 54.3%

Seamless in flavor and very elegant. A fully matured bourbon (consisting of whiskeys from 11 to 16 years in age), yet quite fresh on the palate. Lively fruit (apricot, red raspberry, tangerine) on a bed of lush sweet notes (caramel, honey-coconut crème brûlée and cotton candy), peppered with cinnamon, clove, and crisp mint. Soft finish, with lingering creamy vanilla. Not as great as the legendary 2013 release, but close.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

95 points

George T. Stagg, 70.7%

Like the William Larue Weller releases a couple years back, I felt that the Stagg releases (after being brought down in strength) were almost too easy-going. Like the new Weller release, this bourbon has improved greatly, to classic status. Clean, balanced notes of toffee, molasses, nougat, polished leather, dates, roasted nuts, cinnamon, subtle summer fruits, teasing mint, ground coffee, nutmeg, and a hint of tobacco. Long, balanced finish. An outstanding bourbon!

Reviewed by: (Spring 2010)

95 points

George T. Stagg, 71.3%

At this strength, it’s almost like getting two whiskeys for the price of one. A great value, considering its age. (It’s not identified on the label, but was distilled in 1993.) Try to find a great 18 year old, cask-strength single malt scotch for this price. Very mature — with a good dose of oak — but not excessively so. Notes of toffee, tobacco, dark molasses, roasted nuts, dried vanilla, leather, and a hint of dusty corn. Dry on the finish, with lingering leather and tobacco.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2011)

95 points

George T. Stagg, 64.1%

Less alcohol than past Staggs, even at 128.2° proof. This whiskey has always been one of the best in the portfolio, and its reputation is intact. Sweeter and fuller in body than recent releases, and not as masculine, making it easier to drink. (Don’t worry; it’s still a big Stagg, but with a smaller “rack.”) Vanilla taffy, nougat, dates, polished oak, roasted nuts, leather, and tobacco: it’s all there. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2013.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2013)

95 points

Parker's Heritage Collection, First Edition, 1996 vintage, 61.3%

There are two noteworthy items regarding this whiskey. It’s the first barrel-proof whiskey released by Heaven Hill for the U.S. market. It’s also the first of what will be an ongoing series of releases under the “Parker’s Heritage Collection” label. This one is rich, with thick toffee, molasses, vanilla fudge, and Heath bar. It’s also well balanced, with underlying exotic spice, summer fruit, dusty corn, and tobacco to balance the sweeter notes. Long, soothing, finish. A nicely matured bourbon of character and pedigree. (Originally reviewed in Volume 16, No. 4)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2008)

95 points

Ardbeg 1974 Vintage (Cask #3145), 49.9%

Cask #3145 is the lighter in color, and the sweet notes that balance the smoke and seaweed are not as deeply caramelized as Cask #3542. I’m tasting hints of shortbread and caramel, which show through the peat smoke, tobacco, toasted nuts, firm spice notes (cinnamon, clove, and mint), and lingering brine. Very complex. Price listed includes the entire Double Barrel 1974 Vintage set.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2008)

95 points

Brora, 30 year old, 55.7%

Astonishingly fresh and clean for 30 years in oak, and with incredible depth. Slight oily texture. Appetizing brine, with honeyed vanilla, mustard seed, green olive, Seville orange, and lemon zest. Underlying smoke, damp peat, and seaweed. Put simply, Brora at its finest.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2008)

95 points

Lombard 'Jewels of Scotland' (distilled at Brora), 1982 vintage, 50%

Bottled in 2004, but just recently put in circulation here in the U.S. (Very strange.) It’s worth the wait. It’s fresh (even at 22 years old), appetizing, spicy, and briny. There’s a sweet foundation of vanilla wafer and caramel, with a slightly oily texture. White pepper, seaweed, mustard seed, lime, gherkin, and teasing gin botanicals add complexity. Spicy, salty finish. A vibrant, dynamic expression of the shuttered original Clynelish distillery. Quite stunning, actually. Find yourself a bottle before they’re gone!

Reviewed by: (Fall 2009)

95 points

Brora, 30 year old (2009 Release), 53.2%

This whisky has all the positive aspects of a very mature whisky (depth, complexity) without all the negative ones (excessive oak, one-dimensional). Very clean, but oily in texture, with honeyed vanilla, caramel, citrus (tangerine, orange, lemon), nectarine, olive brine, black pepper, ginger, cut grass, mustard seed, and just the hint of teasing smoke. Briny, spicy finish. Wonderful!

Reviewed by: (Spring 2010)

95 points

Glenfarclas 1968 Vintage, 43% ABV

It has been quite a while since we’ve seen a new Glenfarclas here in the U.S. but, after tasting this whisky, it was worth the wait. Glenfarclas is a rich, stylish whisky that ages very well, and this 1968 vintage proves it. It is very deep and mature, with complex fruit (sultana, marmalade) layered by sweetness (honey, caramel, and toffee). All those years in oak contribute another dimension to the whisky, providing a dry, oaky spiciness, polished leather, and a hint of tobacco-especially on the finish. Never does the whisky taste tired or excessively woody. It expresses all that is good about an older whisky, without any of the down side. I’m told that most of the 1,400 bottles imported to the U.S. went to the Chicago area. It’s worth taking the extra time to track down a bottle.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2004)

95 points

Glenfarclas 40 year old, 46%

Glenfarclas has a proven track record for aging very well. I’ve enjoyed some amazing 25 and 30 year old expressions, in addition to some older vintage offerings. Does this new 40 year old follow suit? Absolutely! It’s complex and well-rounded, with great depth and no excessive oak. Lush, candied citrus (especially orange), old pot still rum, maple syrup, fig, roasted nuts, and polished leather, with hints of mocha, candied ginger, and tobacco. A bit oily in texture (which I find soothing) with good tannic grip on the finish. A classic, well-matured Glenfarclas — and a very good value for its age. (Editor's Choice)

Reviewed by: (Fall 2010)

95 points

Glenglassaugh, 40 year old, 44.6%

An excellent example of an ultra-mature, sherried whisky done the right way. Much darker and more decadent than the other two releases here. Silky texture. Rummy, jammy fruit, toasted walnut, leather, spice (cinnamon, clove), tobacco, and dark chocolate, with a foundation of juicy oak. Tasting this whisky, you know it’s old, but you also know it’s very good.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

95 points

The Glenlivet Cellar Collection 1973 vintage, 49%

A marriage of three casks, one of them an ex-sherry butt. The sherry is certainly evident, and this is more sherried than many of the Cellar Collection whiskies to date. Opulent and seductive, with prominent fruit (glazed spiced oranges, ripe peach, and hints of pineapple and coconut), caramel-coated nuts, and vanilla custard. A peppering of ginger and cinnamon throughout. Coating, soothing finish. Polished and seamless, with no trace of excessive oak. One of the richest -- and finest -- Cellar Collections to date. Anyone willing and able to cough up the bucks for this whisky will be richly rewarded. (Only 240 bottles available in the U.S., beginning June 2010.)

Reviewed by: (Summer 2010)

95 points

Highland Park, Cask #13308, 1973 vintage, 33 year old, 54.4%

Dark and decadent. Notes of old pot still rum, roasted nuts, chocolate fudge, burnished leather, Dundee cake, tobacco, and a hint of damp peat. When I drink this, I feel like I’m sitting in the study of a stately Scottish mansion contemplating a fine, aged Cuban cigar. Royalty in a glass. (Bottled for Binny’s Beverage Depot)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2007)

95 points

Laphroaig 25 year old (2008 Edition), 51.2%

The flavors evolve on the nose and palate, with peat kiln smoke, fresh asphalt, damp earth warehouses, morning-after campfire ash, and old boat dock contrasting nicely with toffee apple, crème caramel, delicate raspberry preserve, and dried citrus. Long, smoky, spicy, briny, seaweed, dirty martini-tinged finish. This whisky comes from a combination of both sherry and bourbon casks, and the marriage works. I also like that it retains some of its youthful brashness, while showing the depth that maturity affords a whisky. A delicious, well-balanced, old-fashioned Laphroaig.(Reviewing this whisky gave me an excuse to open a “fresh” bottle of its predecessor, the 30 year old, and here are my thoughts. The 30 year old is softer, mellower, drier, and more debonair. The 25 year old is bolder, more youthful, more dynamic, richer, and sweeter — bottling at cask strength really helps here. Both whiskies are very nice, but quite different in personality.)

Reviewed by: (Fall 2009)

95 points

The Macallan Estate Reserve, 45.7%

Amber color. Richly textured (great mouth feel), with vanilla fudge, nougat, ripe citrus, and ginger cake leading to a complex, spicy finish. Great depth on this one. Well-polished. My pick of the lot.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2009)

95 points

Dun Bheagan (distilled at Springbank), Cask No. 1704, 35 year old, 1970 vintage, 50.5%

Quite fresh and appetizing for a 35 year old whisky, but not too surprising for a Springbank. Notes of creamy vanilla, burnt caramel, coconut custard, brine, and a hint of anise. Complex, vibrant, and well-balanced. Reminds me why I love those old Springers. Devotees will not be disappointed. A stunning whisky! (Exclusive to Astor Wines and Spirits.)

Reviewed by: (Fall 2007)

95 points

Jewels of Scotland (distilled at Springbank), 1965 vintage, 46%

Bottled in 2001, but still in circulation and (fortunately) just finding its way to me. These Springers from the ‘60s are getting rarer and quite expensive. This is a great example of why they are so coveted -- clean and well matured, with no sign of excessive oak. Elegant sherried fruit dovetails nicely with polished oak and a steady stream of dried spices. Look for citrus, nectarine, red licorice, coconut oil, ripe banana, and vanilla custard with warming cinnamon and brine. Warm, spicy finish. Very polished!

Reviewed by: (Winter 2009)

95 points

High West Rendezvous Rye, Batch No. 10, 46%

A blend of two whiskeys; a 6 year old made from 95% rye and a 16 year old made from 80% rye.  These are very high percentages; a straight rye whiskey only needs to contain 51% rye to meet the definition.  It was very clever to marry the vibrancy of a younger whiskey with the depth of a mature whiskey.  Thanks to the high rye content, this whiskey is very spicy, with cinnamon, crisp mint, and fennel.  Underlying sweet notes of caramel, molasses, vanilla, macaroon, cocoa, and candied fruit provide a calming effect and enhance the whiskey's complexity.  But in the end, the rye is the victor, emerging with a vengeance and giving the whisky a bold, warming, spice finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2008)

95 points

Sazerac Rye 18 year old, 45%

This is a good as rye whiskey gets. It’s powerfully spicy, yet there is a calming sweetness along with soft berry and citrus fruit behind the spice. I find its oily texture very soothing, and this also marries beautifully with the spice from the rye and the resinous oak. The flavors are crisp and incredibly clean, and the 18 years in oak has added formidable depth.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2006)

95 points

Sazerac Rye 18 year old, 2005 release, 45%

(Previously reviewed in Vol. 15, No. 1.) A wonderfully crisp, clean rye for 18 years old (or any age, for that matter), with incredible depth and balance. A perennial classic.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2006)

95 points

Sazerac Rye, 18 year old, 45%

This was my second lowest rated whiskey from the 2009 Collection (a 91 rating). This one is an impressive whiskey, and an improvement from last year. It’s soft (for a straight rye), well rounded, and easy to embrace, with tamed spice (cinnamon, mint, vanilla, mocha), nougat, toffee, fruit (bramble, subtle citrus), subtle date, and polished leather on the finish. Buffalo Trace is playing a shell game with this aged rye (being stored in stainless steel tanks over the past several years until new stocks mature), but in this instance there seems to be a prize under every shell. Well done! (Editor's Choice)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

95 points

Sazerac Rye 18 year old, 45%

A benchmark rye whiskey, which has been stored in stainless steel tanks the past several years to prevent excessive aging while new batches mature. This is the last of the “tanked” stock. Soft and teasing for a rye whiskey, but perfectly balanced. Gentle toffee and molasses provide a foundation for interwoven clove, mint, and cinnamon. Delicately dry, lingering finish. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2015 Release.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

95 points

Sazerac 18 year old (bottled Fall 2013), 45%

Still lively for 18 years old, with no hint of interfering oak. The age has softened the rye spice, making it an easy entry into the premium rye category. The balance here is beautiful, with rounded spice (mint, cinnamon, licorice root) on a bed of soft vanilla and caramel. Gently, dry finish. Very sophisticated for a rye. It remains my benchmark for extra-matured rye whiskeys, which are becoming exceedingly scarce. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2013 Release.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2013)

95 points

Sazerac Rye 18 year old, 45%

A benchmark aged rye whiskey, and it’s similar in profile to recent releases . Vibrant for its age. Complex too, brimming with allspice, clove, mint, and cinnamon. The spice notes are balanced by soft vanilla, soothing caramel, and candied summer fruits. Impeccably balanced, and a pure joy to drink!

Reviewed by: (Winter 2014)

95 points

Willett Family Reserve, Barrel #81L31, 25 year old, 45.1%

Very mellow, silky in texture, and on the sweet side for mature bourbon. It’s not bold like Parker’s Heritage Collection 27 year old, which has much more oak spice and resin. Willett’s foundation of molasses and toffee is accentuated by candied fruit, fig, dusty corn, and tobacco, with mint tea, cinnamon, and vanilla peppered throughout. It’s perilously drinkable. I am impressed how these 20-plus year old Willett rye and bourbon whiskeys maintain their balance and keep the oak in check. Splendid ultra-mature bourbon. (Less than 100 bottles of this were sent to California, and not all the same barrel. Happy hunting.)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

95 points

The Last Drop, 1960 vintage, 48 year old, 52%

A 12 year old blended whisky was created in 1972 consisting of 70 different malt whiskies and 12 grain whiskies.  The blend was then placed in three sherry casks, where it was matured for the next 36 years (highly irregular, to say the least).  The quality of the sherry casks is quite evident, as is the whisky's age.  There's substantial malt content here, too.  These three factors, along with the wide range of malt and grain whiskies, combine to create one of the finest blended Scotch whiskies I have ever tasted.  It's dark, mysterious, and enormously complex, with notes of molasses, fig cake, dried fruit, tobacco, dark chocolate, old pot still rum, and polished leather, finishing with lingering cinnamon and mint.  There's no sign of this whisky getting tired at all.  I am pleased they bottled it at natural strength and didn't water it down to 40% or 43% abv, which could have ruined it.
(Allocation information:  There's a total of 1.347 bottles, of which only 350 are being imported to the U.S.  They are available exclusively at Binny's Beverage Depot (Chicago), Park Avenue Liquors (New York), and Wally's (Los Angeles)).

Reviewed by: (Winter 2008)

94 points

Duncan Taylor (distilled at Invergordon), 40 year old, 1965 vintage, 49.7%

A really stunning grain whisky. So rich for a grain whisky, with no excessive oak. Lipsmacking notes of vanilla cream, coconut custard, ripe banana, sticky toffee pudding, rhum agricole, and delicate honeycomb. The flavors are clean, deep, nicely integrated and complex. Single malt drinkers take note: this whisky will change your opinion of grain whisky forever! (A Park Avenue Liquor exclusive.)

Reviewed by: (Summer 2007)

94 points

Midleton 175th Anniversary Bottling, 26 year old, 40%

Deep amber color with shade of ruby. Sweet aromas of ripe fruit, oak, caramelized sugar, rum, and creamy vanilla. Full in body for an Irish whiskey, with a silky, creamy texture. Voluptuous flavors of burnt sugar, rum, honeyed fruit, creamy vanilla, and spice cake.
   Style: Irish pure pot still whiskey.Price: approximately $600. Extremely limited availability-around 400 bottles for the United States. 
   Here's a whiskey the blends the old with the new. The whiskey was distilled at the old Midleton distillery, which has been dismantled. After spending most of its life in sherry and bourbon casks, it was then finished off in port pipes. It maintains its Irish-ness, its pot still character is both satisfying and reassuring, and the port pipe aging introduces flavors that make the whiskey very intriguing. An outstanding product!

Reviewed by: (Winter 2001)

94 points

Compass Box The Peat Monster, 46%

The formula for this whisky has changed slightly since its inception -- and I think for the better. They've added some Laphroaig into the mix of Caol Ila and Ardmore. This whisky demonstrates the layered complexity that can be achieved by marrying whisky from different distilleries and different regions. I particularly enjoy the rich maltiness and oily texture that provide firm bedding and flavor contrast to the classic Islay notes: tar, boat docks, brine, smoked olive, seaweed, and kiln ash. More subtle cracked peppercorn, mustard seed, and citrus fruit add complexity. Long, warming finish. Amazing how a small change in composition can significantly benefit the overall flavor profile of a whisky.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2010)

94 points

W. L. Weller 19 year old, 1982, 45%

Antique amber color. Mature aromas of candied fruit, ripe berries, and black currants, nicely interwoven with toffee, dates, vanilla, and almonds. Reminiscent of aromas found in a candy shop. Fairly rich body, and smooth. Nice balance of flavors, witha gentle sweetness and oaky dryness throughout. An even-keeled whiskey. There are notes of candied fruit, ripe berries, vanilla, marzipan, and dates, with suggestions of sweet corn, vanilla, charcoal, and cinnamon. Becoming dry with a mature finish.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2002)

94 points

Wild Turkey American Spirit, 15 year old, 50%

A clean, well-rounded bourbon packed with flavor. Deep amber, with tinges of gold. Rich, silky aromas, with thickly textured, seamless flavors on the palate. Incredibly smooth, too, with interwoven notes of toffee, molasses, creamy vanilla, and candy corn. Underlying lush fruit, cinnamon, and fresh mint -- especially on the finish -- round everything out. Some of the previous “extra matured” Wild Turkey whiskeys have occasionally shown their age on the finish, being a little heavy on the oak. Not this one. Nicely done.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2008)

94 points

Wild Turkey Tribute, 15 year old, 50.5%

A special bottling of Wild Turkey to celebrate Master Distiller Jimmy Russell’s 50 years of being in the bourbon business. Jimmy will be proud to be associated with this bottling. In many ways, this bourbon is a lot like Jimmy: mature, yet with plenty of spunk and character, and a pure joy to be with. This is a big, chewy, full-bodied bourbon with lovely sweet notes (maple syrup, molasses, caramel and candied fruit) balanced by dry spice notes (cigars aged in cedar, evergreen, polished leather). For bourbon drinkers who love intensity in their bourbon.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2004)

94 points

William Larue Weller, 67.3%

Distilled in 2003. Weller is the wheated bourbon in the Collection, where wheat replaces the rye found in most other bourbons. The sweetness is balanced nicely by a solid peppering of oak spice. Notes of toffee, maple syrup, fig, black raspberry preserve, cinnamon, and vanilla. Lingering oak and polished leather on the finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

94 points

William Larue Weller, 67.7%

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.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2016)

94 points

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Chardonnay Aged Bourbon, 14 year old, 45%

Aged in French oak chardonnay barrels for eight years after six years in new charred oak. Notes of vanilla, crème brûlée, butterscotch, toasted coconut, bright fruit, and polished oak. Clean, gently sweet finish. The chardonnay oak aging adds a new dimension without dominating. A distinctive, stylish whisky with excellent balance.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2007)

94 points

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Fire Pot Barrel Aged, 10 year, 45%

The barrel was heated to 102°F for 23 minutes to dry the wood. A lush, silky-textured bourbon and very seductive. Caramel, coconut cream, marzipan, vanilla wafer and bright honeyed fruit abound, while teasing notes of tobacco, anise, subtle mint and a suggestion of bitter chocolate offer intrigue. A broad-shouldered, heavyweight bourbon with plenty of grit.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2006)

94 points

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection French Oak Aged, 10 year old, 45%

Aged in French oak barrels, in which the staves were air-dried for 24 months. Incredibly rich notes of caramel, chewy toffee, and maple syrup. All this sweetness is balanced nicely by firm, polished oak, and the whiskey is kept lively with delicate candied fruit and crisp mint. Dry, elegant finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2006)

94 points

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection, 14 year old, Fine Grain Oak, 45%

Aged in slow-growth wood. I love the balance in this whiskey, with all the flavors presented harmoniously. Rather lively for a bourbon approaching 15 years. Notes of bright fruit (peach, kiwi, golden raisin), soft vanilla, crème caramel, lemon meringue, and coconut macaroon, then drying out nicely to a rather sophisticated, cinnamon-tinged, polished oak finish.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2009)

94 points

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection 12 year old wheated bourbon from floor #5, 45%

Buffalo Trace distilled a wheated bourbon and aged barrels from the same distillation date on three different floors (1, 5 and 9) for 12 ½ years to see what the differences would be. This is similar to an experiment they conducted last year using a rye mashbill bourbon. As you will see, the higher the floor, the more intense the flavors, and the greater the wood influence. Nicely balanced flavors, and complex. Spices dance on the palate (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg), balanced by underlying caramel and butterscotch, and subtle honeyed orchard fruit. Lingering, well-rounded finish. A fabulous wheated bourbon!  Price is per 375 ml. Editor's Choice.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2015)

94 points

Distillers' Masterpiece, 20 year old, 49%

Deep amber with shades of copper. Background notes of spearmint, marzipan, teaberry, and cinnamon compliment mature, exotic aromas of ripe candied fruit, vanilla, molasses, and leather. Thick, chewy body. Flavors of candied sweetness and ripe fruit up front, yielding to molasses, subtle spices and, ultimately, dry leather. Long, warming, contemplative finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2001)

94 points

Eagle Rare 17 year old, 45%

While labeled as a 17 year old, it’s actually 19, distilled way back in 1988. Each year’s release of this whiskey just seems to get better and better. Some of the earlier vintages turned slightly oaky and dry for balance (the 10 year old Single Barrel Eagle Rare whiskeys did too a while back), but Buffalo Trace just keeps on improving the line. Tight, well-balanced notes of molasses, vanilla, candied fruit, and sweet corn, peppered with crisp mint, cinnamon, and polished leather. Eagle Rare 17 is evolving into a whiskey of classic proportion.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2008)

94 points

Eagle Rare 17 year old, 45%

The other whiskeys in the Antique Collection get all the attention but, for the past few years, Eagle Rare 17 year old has been very impressive. This year’s edition features vanilla taffy, caramel almonds, maple syrup, and candy corn, with balancing notes of polished leather, summer fruit, a dusting of cinnamon, mocha, and soft mint. The flavors are nicely integrated with good depth. A rock-solid effort that will not disappoint.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

94 points

Eagle Rare 17 year old (bottled Spring 2012), 45%

Usually the least talked-about in the Antique Collection, but in my opinion certainly of the same caliber. This year’s release proves my point: nutty toffee and rummy molasses notes balanced nicely with dried fruit, cinnamon, polished oak, subtle leather, and tobacco. The oak is kept in check for such an age, and all the flavors work well together. Nicely done!

Reviewed by: (Winter 2012)

94 points

Eagle Rare 17 year old (bottled Spring 2013), 45%

Often overlooked in this portfolio because it isn’t barrel proof. The last few years of this bourbon have been wonderful. This year is no exception, with a bit more spice. Notes of nutty toffee, caramel, creamy vanilla, and pot still rum, with interwoven hints of oak resin, dried spice, tobacco, and honeyed fruit. Hint of barrel char and anise for intrigue. Delicious! (And actually 19 years old, even though it bears the traditional 17 year age statement.) Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2013 Release.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2013)

94 points

Evan Williams Single Barrel 1996 Vintage, 43.3%

The 11th annual vintage release of Evan Williams and, judging by the taste of this bourbon, there’s no shortage of excellent bourbon to bottle. This is a rich, seductive bourbon. Sticky toffee, maple syrup, and vanilla cream notes up front are followed by candied fruit, refreshing mint, and spicy cinnamon. Dry, resinous oak finish. Kentucky’s answer to a beautifully sherried Speyside single malt scotch. Outstanding!

Reviewed by: (Spring 2006)

94 points

George T. Stagg, 2nd Edition, 71.35% ABV

The first release of Stagg was our 'American Whiskey of the Year' for 2003. I couldn’t imagine this one being better, but it is. This is a textbook example of what older, more mature bourbon should taste like: great depth and maturity, yet nicely balanced without excessive woodiness on the palate. It is spicier and creamier on the nose than the first bottling with more vanilla tones and not quite as dry on the finish. Indeed, it hints of a softer, gentler side. But with a name like Stagg, it can be nothing more than a hint. Other flavors you’ll enjoy in this bourbon include spearmint, teaberry, candied fruit, leather, and toffee. Given its high proof and reasonable price, it’s also a great value. (Like Campbell’s soup, just add water.)

Reviewed by: (Summer 2004)

94 points

George T. Stagg, 71.5%

Very close to last year’s release in personality, with great balance between the sweetness, spice, and fruit. Nicely structured, with clearly defined notes of toffee, molasses, cinnamon, vanilla bean, dried citrus, brittle mint, roasted nuts, tobacco, and polished leather on the finish. (Editor's Choice)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

94 points

George T. Stagg, 69.1%

No age statement, but distilled in 2000. A great value if you can find it for $80. An aggressive whiskey, but complex too, showing toffee, nougat, dates, black raspberry, dark chocolate, and resinous oak. Leather and tobacco on the finish. Masculine and exciting. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2015 Release.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

94 points

Parker's Heritage Collection, First Edition, 1996 vintage, 63.7%

Thicker, beefier and more decadent than the 61.3% bottling, but not as crisp. Less of the summer fruits, and more of the chewy toffee. Another fine effort!

Reviewed by: (Spring 2008)

94 points

Ardbeg 1974 Vintage (Cask #3524), 49.9%

Cask #3524 is darker, with notes of sticky toffee pudding and chewy caramel that firmly support the polished leather, cigar box, roasted chestnut, smoked seaweed, tar, dark chocolate, and, on the finish, espresso. A meditative whisky. Price listed includes entire Double Barrel 1974 Vintage set.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2008)

94 points

The Balvenie Vintage Cask 1976 vintage, 53%

Very spicy and complex, with incredible depth. Once again, this 30-plus year old whisky proves the aging ability of Balvenie. Still quite vibrant and invigorating for such maturity. The classic Balvenie honey note is there, but more reserved, along with graham cracker, vanilla wafer, citrus peel, raspberry (red and black), nectarine, and polished oak. Long, spicy finish. Another outstanding Balvenie Vintage Cask. Although, I look at the price and remember how shocked I was when the Balvenie vintages were selling for $400.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

94 points

The Balvenie Tun 1401 (Batch #3), 50.3%

A combination of three sherry butts and seven bourbon casks. This is a complex, dynamic whisky, loaded with lush, layered ripe fruit (red berries, tropical fruit, honeyed apricot, raisin), toffee, oak resin, polished leather, and well-defined spice notes (cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, clove). Long, warming finish. (Exclusive to the U.S.)

Reviewed by: (Fall 2012)

94 points

Signatory (distilled at Bowmore), 35 year old, 1970 vintage, 51.9%

Lush, thick fruit and chewy toffee soothes the assertive notes of earthy peat and leafy bonfire. Underlying smoked nuts, brine, kalamata olives, and tobacco provide continued entertainment. A complex whisky that completely envelops the palate. This is an excellent example of a mature, sherried Bowmore.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2006)

94 points

White Bowmore, 1964 vintage, 43 year old, 42.8%

I like this Bowmore better than all the previous bourbon oak-aged, ultra-mature Bowmore whiskies that have been released over the past fifteen years (there have been several). The oak is always present, but not dominant. The whisky really evolves on the palate, just like the Black Bowmore releases. This emphasis here is on fruit, bright fruit: peach, tangerine, mango, ripe melon, and pineapple. There’s a soft, gentle side to the whisky, too, enhanced by sweeter notes of pancake syrup, orange creamsicle, and white chocolate. Heavy oak notes emerge, along with teasing, earthy smoke, to give the whisky depth and bottom notes. The smoke and oak linger long on the finish. Very contemplative. In short, an outstanding whisky, but not quite reaching the excellence of Black Bowmore.
   (Allocation information: 732 bottles available worldwide; 40 bottles are being allocated for the U.S., half of the quantity of Black Bowmore which was released earlier this year.)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2008)

94 points

Bruichladdich Legacy 6, 34 year old, 41%

The sixth and last bottling from the Legacy series. Legacy 6 is a marriage of six casks from 1965, 1970, and 1972. Soft and mellow on the nose and palate, with unbelievably restrained oak for such a mature whisky. Delicious notes of coconut, soothing vanilla, caramel custard, and banana cream, peppered with spice notes of cinnamon, mint, and teaberry that emerge on a soft finish that fades out gently. A fitting end to the Legacy series. I’m sad to see them go.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2008)

94 points

Bunnahabhain, 35 year old, 1971 vintage, 44.9%

Bottled to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the distillery. Classic Bunnahabhain-toffeed and quite nutty. Almost rummy in nature, with rich molasses notes throughout and layers of sweetness. Some salt emerges on occasion, as do notes of honey, coconut, and candied fruit, with a pleasingly dry, gently spicy finish to round everything out. Surprisingly youthful for its age, nicely balanced, and very drinkable. A great Bunnahabhain!

Reviewed by: (Winter 2006)

94 points

The Dalmore Stillman's Dram 28 Year Old, 45%

For the past several years, the Stillman’s Dram expression of The Dalmore has been a 30 year old. This new 28 year old expression, besides being two years younger, is also slightly less sherried. In this instance, I feel that both have enhanced the whisky. Trimming back on the sherry and oak allows the whisky’s trademark orange marmalade, complex spice, and briny freshness to shine through. This one is lively, dynamic, evolving, well-balanced, and always entertaining. The best Dalmore Stillman’s Dram in years.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2005)

94 points

Glendronach, 33 year old, 40%

Matured entirely in oloroso sherry butts, this whisky is chock-full of lush fruit, roasted nuts, deep spice notes, and a hint of damp smoke. It is wonderfully integrated, with incredible depth and maturity without being tired-and it expresses a soothing quality that doesn’t quit. It is stunning throughout and more polished and rounded than the 1968 Vintage released a while back, which, while enjoyable, was a tad sappy and a bit too oaky at times. This whisky is easily one of the 10 best new whiskies for 2005, and worth every penny. Get a bottle while you can.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2005)

94 points

GlenDronach Grandeur, 31 year old, 45.8%

The new ultra-mature release, following its 33 year old predecessor (bottled by previous owners). It’s nice to see the higher ABV, given that the 33 year old was only 40%. Very soothing. Quite deep on the nose and viscous (almost sappy) on the palate, with gobs of juicy oak and old oak (its age is obvious but not imposing), dark raisin, black raspberry, orange marmalade, roasted nuts, and freshly roasted coffee beans. All of this is peppered with cinnamon, ginger, and charcoal. Polished leather on the finish. I like that it’s sherried, and the sherry is kept in balance. Those of you who liked the 33 year old will also enjoy this one (assuming you can afford it).

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

94 points

Glengoyne, 40 year old, 45.9%

Aged in sherry butts, which is a departure from some of the older Glengoyne vintage samples I have which show more bourbon barrel characteristics. It is a very fruity, spicy, textural dram, with spiced apple, red raspberry, strawberry, plum, golden raisin, fried plantain, and creme brulee. Good grip on the finish, with grape stems and warming spice (cinnamon, cracked peppercorn, and clove). I love the balance on this whisky. It has aged very gracefully. (Limited to 250 bottles worldwide.)

Reviewed by: (Summer 2010)

94 points

Highland Park, 34 year old, 1971 vintage (Cask #8363), 53%

Rummy molasses and toffee sweetness intertwine with roasted nuts and bright, juicy fruit. Suggestions of fig, lavender, leather, and tobacco throughout, with a hint of peat and polished oak on the finish. Not quite as refined as the Highland Park 18 year old, but it makes up for this with its dynamic personality. A delicious ultra-mature, sherry cask-aged whisky. (A Binny’s Beverage Depot exclusive.)

Reviewed by: (Fall 2006)

94 points

Highland Park, Cask #7957, 1977 vintage, 29 year old, 48.5%

A delicious, well-balanced, ultra-matured expression of Highland Park. Toffee apples, molasses, and vanilla fudge provide a sweet foundation, with evolving notes of dark chocolate, dry spicy oak, tobacco, subtle smoke, and lingering brine on the finish. Nicely done. (Bottled for Old Oaks Cigar & Wine Company)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2007)

94 points

Highland Park, 32 year old, 1973 Vintage, Cask #8375, 41.3%

An essay in elegance. Silky and soft in texture, and very clean. Notes of peaches and cream, vanilla wafer, soft honey and fruit gum drops. Subtler notes of tropical fruit (pineapple, lemon, coconut), demerara sugar, heather, and anise. Polished oak adds structure and contrast, with a very elegant finish. Hard to believe this whisky is 32 years old. It's lighter and more elegant than the equally splendid Highland Park 30 year old, which I rated a 94 in the last issue. (Bottled exclusively for Park Avenue Liquors.)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2005)

94 points

Highland Park 30 Year Old, 48.1%

An exemplary Highland Park. There's certainly plenty of sherry influence in this whisky and it is complementary. (About 2/3 of the whisky was aged on sherry casks, and a lot of these casks were second fill.) The whisky enjoys a delicious foundation of toffee, fruit (lemon, plum, blueberries) and dark chocolate. It continues to develop and evolve on the palate, with emerging notes of heather, nougat, lavender, delicate peat and complex dried spice (especially cinnamon and nutmeg) to balance the sweeter notes. The extra alcohol is also a bonus, providing a drying balance to the whisky's sweetness. Whiskies like this one remind me why I fell in love with whisky in the first place.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2005)

94 points

Highland Park, 1964 vintage, 42.2%

A marriage of two casks (refill hogsheads). Significantly darker in color than the 1968 vintage. Darker (and more serious) in personality, too. Red berries (strawberry, raspberry), rhubarb, plum, oak sap, vanilla bean, smoldering peat, coffee grounds, toasted almond, and dusty malt. The finish is long and contemplative, with notes of polished leather, juicy oak, and telicherry peppercorns. £3,750

Reviewed by: (Spring 2010)

94 points

Highland Park, 1970 vintage, 48%

This limited edition bottling consists of a marriage of both European and American oak. Still lively for its age, and beautifully balanced. Bountiful golden fruit (sultana, pineapple upside down cake, tangerine, overripe nectarine) balanced by soothing, creamy vanilla. A peppering of dried spice, chamomile tea, toasted oak, cigar box, and subtle smoke round out the palate. Soft and seductive. (Not available in the U.S.)£2,250

Reviewed by: (Winter 2010)

94 points

The Macallan Fine Oak 17 year old, 43%

Another of the Fine Oak series (aged in both bourbon and sherry casks), which will debut in the U.S. in March. Of the five Fine Oak expressions that will be in the U.S. (10, 15, 17, 21, and 30 year old), this is my favorite, slightly besting the 15 year old. Lovely sweet notes (creamy vanilla, light toffee, marshmallow, shortbread, and a kiss of honey) are accompanied by bright fruit (multi-layered citrus) and potpourri of dried spices, along with a hint of nut and wisp of smoke. A very refined and sophisticated whisky.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2006)

94 points

The Macallan 1824 Limited Release, 48%

Antique amber. The darkest and most decadent of the four. Quite viscous and soothing, with well-layered notes of apple pie, marmalade, and maple syrup balanced by dried fruits, ginger, polished leather, tobacco, and resinous oak. One to sip and savor very slowly. (This whisky is much better than the last ultra-premium release, the Macallan 55 year old in the Lalique Decanter, and thousands of dollars less.)

Reviewed by: (Summer 2009)

94 points

Willett Rye, Barrel #2, 23 year old, 68.5%

Incredibly soft and mellow for a rye whiskey, with no signs of excessive oak. This whiskey is obviously of the same pedigree as the Willett Rye 22 year old bottling reviewed here a year ago. It’s another impressive whiskey. Light toffee, nougat, and rummy notes are accentuated by crisp mint, cinnamon, nutmeg, and Earl Grey tea. Pristine on the palate, with lingering cinnamon warmth on the finish. A polished whiskey, with surprising subtlety and finesse. At 137 proof, it’s like getting a third of a bottle free!

Reviewed by: (Summer 2008)

94 points

The Antiquary, 21 year old, 43%

Drier than the 12 year old (reviewed below), with some darker fruit (black raspberry, blueberry) marrying with the brighter orchard fruit.  Sweet up front - honey and caramel - with a peppering of spice (dried vanilla, clove, and cinnamon) increasing as the palate develops.  Dry, oak spice finish.  Lovely!

Reviewed by: (Winter 2008)

94 points

Black Bull, 30 year old, 50%

Well, what have we here? A blend of 50% malt and 50% grain (a very high malt content for a blend), and bottled at 50%, too! The whisky was blended first (very unusual), before being aged in sherry casks for its entire life. Antique amber/chestnut color. Full sherry impact, but never cloying -- the higher alcohol level and grain whisky cut through the sherry and add balance and drinkability. This is a fruity-confection delight, with raisin chutney, fig cake, orange almond scone, and chocolate-covered cherry. Add to the mix richly textured toffee, old oak, polished leather, and a cinnamon-spiced tobacco finish. A rare treat! A great old blend that malt drinkers will embrace.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2009)

94 points

Knob Creek Single Barrel, 9 year old, 60%

This new single barrel expression of Knob Creek tastes very similar to the original “small batch” Knob Creek (when brought down to the same alcohol level). If anything, it’s slightly drier, more elegant, not as heavy on the palate, and more sophisticated — but I am reaching here. The similarity is a good thing, because I really enjoy the original expression. Keeping in mind that no two barrels are exactly alike, your decision to purchase the single barrel might just come down to whether you want to pay a little more for a higher strength version, and whether knowing that it might taste a little different than the standard small batch bottling excites you. This is a stylish, big, broad-shouldered bourbon with a thick, sweet foundation (nutty toffee, pot still rum, maple syrup) peppered with spice (cinnamon, but also vanilla and evergreen) and dried fruit. Dry, warming, resinous finish. (Incidentally, I would rate the small batch within a point or two, and the tasting notes would be very similar.)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2010)

94 points

Elijah Craig 21 year old Single Barrel (No. 42), 45%

Surprisingly reserved on the oak spice; it tastes like a bourbon half its age. Soothing in nature, with layers of sweetness (honey, vanilla cream, caramel, nougat), lively complex fruit (coconut, pineapple, ripe peach, honeydew melon), and gentle cinnamon. Soft, creamy finish. A whiskey that has aged very gracefully. Delicious! (This is a single barrel; every barrel is unique.)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2013)

93 points

Hirsch Small Batch Reserve, 25 year old, 43.4%

Wonderfully complex on the nose and palate with great depth; plus, the oak is kept in check. Notes of molasses, graham cracker, Earl Grey tea, spring flowers, nougat, evergreen, warming cinnamon, and subtle tropical fruit, leading to a polished oak, charcoal-tinged finish. Very well done! The clear winner in this trio.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2009)

93 points

Dun Beghan Magilligan Irish Whiskey, 14 year old, 1992 vintage, 46%

Finished in a rum cask. Very creamy, with a soothing sweetness. Notes of vanilla, demerara sugar, nougat, and subtle tropical fruit (coconut, pineapple, mango) coat the palate. All this is balanced nicely by resinous oak and a peppering of dried spices that linger on the finish. The rum finish, along with the 46% bottling strength, adds backbone and flair. One of the best whiskeys to come out of Cooley. (A Park Avenue Liquor exclusive.)

Reviewed by: (Summer 2007)

93 points

Black Bottle, 10 year old, 43%

Black Bottle is unique in that it combines seven different Islay whiskies with grain whisky. This produces a whisky with a beautifully rounded Islay character that will satisfy the discriminating “peat-head,” the drinkability of a blended scotch, and plenty of complexity. For a blend, there’s heft to the whisky. I enjoy the interplay between the peat smoke, brine, seaweed, its firm, malty foundation and pleasingly dry finish.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2006)

93 points

Royal Salute Stone of Destiny, 38 year old, 40%

The last new Chivas release was the 25 year old several years back. To be honest, I didn’t like it as much as Chivas 18 year old. Those extra years contributed an additional dry oak influence which I felt was a bit too dominant—especially on the finish. So you can imagine my concerns before tasting this 38 year old whisky. But this new Royal Salute has something to balance the dry oak that the 25 year old didn’t—lush, rich, sweet sherry notes. It’s quite fruity, with toffee apple, date nut cake, fig, molasses, and golden raisin up front, evolving to dried fruit, pencil shavings, tobacco, and polished leather, with subtle cinnamon and cocoa on the finish. My favorite of the entire Chivas line is the 18 year old (which I rated a 95) for its impeccable balance, but this is still a very impressive whisky!

Reviewed by: (Summer 2010)

93 points

William Larue Weller, 64.95%

Thick, dark, sweet notes of rummy molasses, chewy toffee, fig cake, and some teasing notes of chocolate fudge. Between these layers of sweetness emerge notes of dark berried fruit and glazed citrus. A very seductive, compelling whiskey. Liquid dessert.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2007)

93 points

William Larue Weller, 62.65%

A significant improvement over the previous release in 2007, which I felt was the weakest of Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection that year. Wheated bourbons, like William Larue Weller, lack the bold zing of rye, and therefore are vulnerable to being too tame, too easygoing, like the 2007 release. What wheated whiskeys gain in drinkability, they can lose in vibrancy and zest. The distiller might want to augment this, and a good way to do this is by increasing the oak impact (spice, resin, balancing dryness), as was done (quite masterfully, by the way) with this new expression. Sweet notes of vanilla custard, maple syrup, Demerara rum, shortbread cookie, and marzipan are balanced by raspberry jam, cinnamon, nutmeg, teaberry, and gentle oak resin that lingers on the finish. Great balance, too!

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

93 points

Eagle Rare 17 year old 1984, 45%

Deep amber color. Rich, mature aroma of molasses, maple syrup, and leather, with background notes of creamy vanilla, tobacco, and subtle mint. Full, thick, mouth-coating body. Sweet up front (molasses, maple syrup, rich toffee, candied fruit), becoming spicy (vanilla, mint) and then dry with notes of leather and tobacco. Long, dry finish.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2002)

93 points

Eagle Rare 17 year old, 45%

I really enjoy these older Eagle Rare whiskeys. They’re big, hearty whiskies that are very traditional in style, but have extra depth on the palate due to the extensive aging. Sweet notes (candy corn and toffee) meld nicely with underlying nuttiness (pecans, almonds), delicate spice (vanilla, cinnamon, mint), and a hint of leather. One of the best Eagle Rares I have ever tasted.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2006)

93 points

Eagle Rare 17 year old, 45%

The only setback from last year’s Antique Collection release, when I rated it an 84 because it was showing too much wood (especially compared to the 2007-2008 releases). The 2010 release is back on track, with great balance, and showing very traditional notes of vanilla toffee, rummy molasses, dusty corn, soft summer fruit, and a sprinkling of spice (cinnamon, mint, cocoa), with oak resin to balance out the sweet notes. (Editor's Choice)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

93 points

Eagle Rare 17 year old, 45%

The most underrated of the five in the 2011 collection, but this year’s release (like last year’s) is very lovely bourbon. Perhaps just a bit softer than last year, but with a similar profile: very even keeled and nicely balanced, with sweet notes (vanilla, toffee, añejo rum) peppered with soft orchard fruit and spice (cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, hint of mint), polished oak, and subtle tobacco.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2011)

93 points

Eagle Rare 17 year old, 45%

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.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2016)

93 points

Evan Williams Single Barrel 2003 Vintage (Barrel No. 1), 43.3%

Silky smooth. Lush honey notes married with bright orchard fruit and candied tropical fruit. Soft vanilla, mint, and cinnamon round out the palate. Seamless and perilously drinkable. Proof that a bourbon doesn’t have to be old, high in alcohol, or expensive to be good. Editor's Choice & Value Pick

Reviewed by: (Spring 2013)

93 points

Evan Williams Single Barrel (Barrel No. 1) 2004, 43.3%

Polished and nicely balanced, with caramel as the main note, followed by candied fruit, soft vanilla, sweet corn, and nougat. Subtle spice (ginger, cinnamon) and gentle oak on the finish round out the sweet notes. Easygoing demeanor and very drinkable. Great value too! A very pleasing, versatile bourbon. Value Pick.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2014)

93 points

Evan Williams Single Barrel 2005 Vintage (Barrel #292), 43.3%

Complex fruit (clementine, pineapple, golden raisin) balanced nicely with honey, vanilla custard, and dusty corn, along with a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg. An extremely versatile whiskey with its medium weight, easy to embrace personality, and subtle charms. Perennially one of the best values in whiskey. Editor's Choice and Value Pick.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2015)

93 points

Four Roses 2012 Limited Edition Single Barrel, 54.3%

Elegant, clean, and peppered with dried spice notes throughout (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice). Additional notes of barrel char, vanilla wafer, summer fruits, caramel corn, maple syrup, and candied almond add complexity. Begins sweet, but dries out nicely on the finish, inviting another sip. Very nice!

Reviewed by: (Fall 2012)

93 points

Four Roses 2014 Limited Edition Small Batch, 55.9%

Crisp clove, cool mint, cinnamon, and cocoa mingle with glazed orange, honeyed vanilla, caramel, and maple syrup. Polished oak and leather on the finish balance the sweet, fruity notes. More oak and dried spice when compared to the 2013 release (our American Whiskey of the Year) and, while not quite reaching that caliber (it’s not quite as seamless, drinkable, or complex), it gets close. Very impressive.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2014)

93 points

George T. Stagg, 15 year old, 68.7%

Antique amber color. Thick, mature aromas of toffee, leather, candied fruit, and mint. The aromas are tightly bound at cask strength but open up with a bit of water to reveal spicy wood resins and a hint of tobacco. Thick, almost chewy in texture. Its flavors are similar to its aroma (and nicely balanced), with the sweeter notes (toffee, candied fruit) up front and the drier, more spicy notes (mint, wood resins, leather) beginning in the middle and continuing to its finish. A lovely balance of flavors and not one bit too old or woody.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2003)

93 points

George T. Stagg, 65.45%

The fourth limited release Stagg in as many years. While there’s no age statement on the bottle, this one is 16 years old. And in the same vein as its three predecessors, this Stagg is an extremely seamless affair. What impresses me most about the annual Stagg releases is the whiskey’s incredible drinkability at remarkably high alcohol levels. Be stingy when adding water to this whiskey to appreciate its soothingly smooth, oily texture and lovely notes of maple syrup, vanilla cream, dried corn, candied fruit, polished oak, supple leather, pencil shavings, and subtle mint.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2005)

93 points

George T. Stagg, 72.4%

No age statement, but this whiskey was distilled in 1992. At 144.8 proof, this is almost two whiskeys for the price of one. In true Stagg form, this whiskey is dangerously drinkable -- even at higher strength (although you will still need to add copious quantities of water to this supercharged whiskey). Its dominant character is chewy toffee sweetness with maple syrup, vanilla fudge, and nougat. Additional notes of berried fruit, tea, spearmint, and suggestions of tobacco. Very soothing. An incredible value, considering its strength.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2008)

93 points

Jefferson’s Presidential Select, 18 year old, Batch #27, 47%

I’ve tasted several batches of this whiskey (made at the old Stitzel-Weller distillery), from the inaugural Batch #1 when it was a 17 year old, to this new release. It’s not surprising that they taste progressively older. My favorite is still the first batch, but this whiskey holds up nicely and shows a similar flavor profile with a bit more wood influence: blackberry jam, nutty toffee, nougat, creamy vanilla, cinnamon, and a touch of polished oak on the finish. Nice texture, too, with good viscosity and grip on the finish.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

93 points

Michter’s 20 year old (Barrel No. 1646), 57.1%

A soothing bourbon, with maple syrup, blackberry preserve, polished leather, roasted nuts, marzipan, vanilla toffee, dusty dates, subtle tobacco, and a hint of pedro ximinez sherry. Soft, flavorful finish. The oak is kept in check, with layered sugars and fruit for balance. The price of admission is steep, but this whiskey is very satisfying.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2013)

93 points

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, Spring 1990, 46.5%

Style: Bourbon Color: Antique amber Aroma: Thick, lush, very complex and nicely balanced. Notes of polished leather and oak marry nicely with the toffee and caramel. Tobacco, raisins, and dates, add complexity and diversity. Palate: Bold and voluptuous, with notes similar to its aroma. Long, soothing finish.
   General Comments: A big, broad-shouldered bourbon jam-packed with flavors that just won't quit. Most bourbons of this age and intensity are too woody. Not this one. It is very well-balanced from beginning to end. Bravo! Price: upper $30s. Available nationwide but produced in limited quantities.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2004)

93 points

Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 15 year old, 53.5%

Fully matured at 15 years, as you would expect. Lovely array of flavors: candied fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg, gritty oak resins, vanilla fudge, and firm corn. Underlying notes of tobacco and polished leather add complexity and intrigue without dominating, kissed with a touch of honey. A remarkable value, considering its age and strength.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2005)

93 points

Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 20 year old, 45.2%

Similar in many ways to the 15. Less vibrant, more mature. Less corn, more maple syrup. Less nutmeg, more teaberry. The most elegant, sexy and stylish of the three and the best dovetailing of flavors. You might think that $90 is a lot of money for bourbon, but this whiskey is fairly valued when compared to other spirits of this age.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2005)

93 points

Parker’s Heritage Collection (2010 release), 10 year old, 63.9%

Soft, sweet, and very smooth. Richly textured layers of caramel, toffee, vanilla fudge, nougat, maple syrup, and rhum agricole. Blackberry, date nut bread, cinnamon, subtle cocoa, and nutmeg add complexity. Clean, polished, and perilously drinkable. A delicious wheated bourbon! (Not quite the complexity of the 2009 William Larue Weller (a benchmark wheated bourbon which I rated a 96), but getting close.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2010)

93 points

The Balvenie 1974 vintage (Cask #17893), 52.8%

The newest offering from the impressive Balvenie vintage cask line. Honey, caramel custard, and Seville orange notes, with evolving -- and increasingly noticeable -- dried spice, oak resin, and leather that integrates well with the sweet, fruity notes. Incredible depth and complexity. The Balvenie vintage reputation remains intact.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2007)

93 points

The Balvenie 30 year old 1973 Vintage (Cask #9219)

The last Balvenie Vintage whisky I tasted that was this old was the exceptional 1966 Vintage. This new vintage has some big shoes (or should I say bottles?) to fill, so how does it stand up to the 1966 Vintage? This 1973 Vintage is equally as impressive. In contrast to the massive, evolving, sherry-influenced 30 year old reviewed below, this one shows more subtlety and finesse. It is also a very clean and polished affair-signs of an obviously excellent cask. A honeyed, malty foundation incorporates notes of dried fruit (orange, lemon), complex spice (vanilla, cinnamon, sandalwood), and subtle herbs. Very contemplative.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2005)

93 points

The Balvenie 25 year old, 46.9%

Deep amber color. Exotic aromas of honey, vanilla, and tropical fruit (coconut, pineapple, mango). Medium to full in body, and rich in texture. The palate delivers what the aroma promises-honey, vanilla, and more tropical fruit, with a somewhat dry and rather lengthy finish. The Balvenie distillery enjoys an excellent reputation. The older expressions are particularly noteworthy. They age very gracefully. This one is a pure joy to drink.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2005)

93 points

Bowmore, 16 year old, 1989 vintage, 51.8%

No frills here, just pure, unadulterated Bowmore. This Islay whisky speaks of its location in a very pure and natural way. I find invigorating brine, seaweed, green olive, and fishnets, along with the classic Bowmore peat smoke. All these flavors are softened by gentle vanilla and honeyed malt, while background tropical fruit add complexity.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2006)

93 points

Bruichladdich Legacy III, 35 year old, 1968 vintage, 40.7%

This gem is soft and seductive in personality. It is also very clean and still quite fresh for its age-obviously aged in an excellent cask. You'll find a bed of gentle sweetness, reminding me of coconut cream and vanilla mousse. A mélange of fruit (melon, black raspberries, strawberries) marries perfectly with the sweetness. Fresh brine notes and licorice root emerge on the palate and become more prominent towards the finish. This Legacy III is more polished and rounded, and not as tired or woody when compared to the recent 40 year old bottling. And the 40 year old, at $2,200 a pop, is also about five times more expensive.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2005)

93 points

Murray McDavid 'Mission' (distilled at Clynelish) 1986, 46%

Deep gold color. Fresh, exciting, spicy aroma of brine, exotic pepper, seaweed, and raw fruit, with interwoven notes of delicate peat and caramel. Full-bodied and muscular. Flavors are incredibly vibrant and dynamic-almost challenging-and are similar to its aroma. Salty, peppery, intense finish.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2003)

93 points

Cragganmore, 29 year old, 52.9%

Style: Speyside single malt scotch Color: Shimmering gold Aroma: Very complex, with a potpourri of spicy, herbal notes. There’s a lot going on here. Nice depth too. Palate: Similar to its aroma, nicely balanced, and evolving. Lingering, spicy finish.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2004)

93 points

The Dalmore 1973 Vintage Gonzalez Byass Sherry Cask Finish, 42%

A thick, lush whisky. Notes of honey-drenched citrus, orange marmalade, chewy toffee and almonds, peppered with that classic coastal brine freshness and background spice I have come to love in Dalmore. Long, contemplative finish. This whisky packs plenty of freshness and liveliness for 30 years on oak and is a pure joy to drink.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2004)

93 points

The Dalmore 40 year old, 40%

By far the softest and gentlest of the range, and oh so drinkable. Hard to believe that this whisky is 40 years old, actually, as it shows no sign of excessive oak. Instead, there are soothing layers of caramel and toffee as the whisky’s foundation. Add orange marmalade and other juicy citrus fruits, cinnamon spice, graham cracker, and lightly toasted almond. A gentle, subtly sophisticated Dalmore, and an interesting comparison to the much different, more visceral 50 year old. If I were a rich man, I could drink this whisky every day — it’s so easy-going.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2009)

93 points

GlenDronach, 15 year old, 46%

Deeper, richer, more viscous, and more intriguing than the 12 year old (and not as sappy as the 18 year old). Complex and intriguing, with raisin, orange marmalade, grape skin, sugar plum, cinnamon bun, raspberry preserve, mixed nuts, and coal ash. Nice tannic grip on the finish. The best of the bunch, and very impressive!

Reviewed by: (Summer 2010)

93 points

Glenfiddich 1973 Vintage (Cask #9874), 46.5%

An impressive single cask bottling of Glenfiddich. It really shows the natural potential of this distillery. Nothing fancy here, just the pure elegance of Glenfiddich. Notes of shortbread, demerara sugar, and white chocolate, spiced with toasted nuts, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Very clean and polished.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2007)

93 points

The Glenlivet Cellar Collection 1964 vintage, 44.7%

The fifth in a series of Glenlivet Cellar Collection whiskies. This is a very complex whisky, with exotic notes of oak, sultana, vanilla cream, almonds, and evergreen. These notes are quite floral on the nose and well balanced, with no hint of excessive aging. The palate is polished, deep, and continuously evolving, with a long spicy finish. The oak notes reveal that this whisky has some years on it, but they in no way dominate or detract from the other flavors. An outstanding effort! This rivals the 1959 vintages as the best of the Cellar Collection releases. You’ll need deep pockets, though.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2004)

93 points

The Glenlivet Archive 21 year old, 43%

Amber chestnut color. Aromas of mature oak, leather, ripe fruit, and toffee, are very deep and well balanced. Its flavors are rich and enveloping, with notes of treacle, toffee, roasted nuts, and a long, spicy, woody finish that lingers.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2000)

93 points

The Glenlivet XXV 25 year old, 43%

Finished in first-fill sherry casks for two years. My feeling on any whisky finished in a different cask is this: it should give as much to the flavor profile as it takes away. In this instance, I feel it has, and more. It’s not as nimble as younger versions, but the sherry, along with the extra aging, contributes a silky texture and a richer, fuller dimension to the whisky. I can still detect some of the peach, vanilla, tropical fruit, and honeyed malt I enjoy in younger expressions, but its key flavor components are toffee, honey-dipped citrus, red licorice, chocolate-covered almonds, and fig, along with dried spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, mint tea) that emerges on the palate and peaks on the finish. The flavors are seamless and elegantly balanced.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2008)

93 points

Glenmorangie Astar, 57.1%

Astar’s flavor profile is similar to Glenmorangie 10 year old in many respects, showing a superb balance of sweetness, fruit, and spice. It’s not as subtle as the 10 year old expression, but it is creamier, richer, and fleshier, with loads of honeyed vanilla, coconut cream pie, toasted almond, vibrant spice (cinnamon, mint), and a basketful of citrus and summer fruits. The fact that it is bottled at 100 British Proof (57.1% abv) just accentuates every flavor and helps to make this whisky quite invigorating. Imagine Glenmorangie 10 year old with a shot of testosterone. I don’t rate very many ten year old (or younger ) whiskies over 90. This whisky has certainly earned it.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

93 points

The Glenrothes, 1975 vintage, 43%

A polished, very elegant expression with subtle complexity throughout. Notes of squeaky-clean fruit (tangerine, peach, nectarine, kiwi) in light syrup. Vibrant spice (cinnamon, white pepper, anise), creamy vanilla, and almond evolve on the palate, leading to a gentle finish. Surprisingly lively for a whisky more than 30 years old. When I think of great Glenrothes vintages, I go back to the 1972 vintage for comparison. Both are comparable in quality, with the 1972 vintage showing darker sugars, more weight, and more roasted nuts.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2008)

93 points

The Glenrothes “John Ramsay,” 46.7%

Made from whisky aged in second fill American oak sherry casks, distilled between 1973 to 1987. Richly malty, with honeyed citrus, juicy oak, chocolate fudge, and nougat. More subtle floral notes, licorice (red and black), ginger, and chamomile tea. Polished oak on the finish balances the sweetness. A great whisky to honor a great whisky maker! (Only 200 bottles for the U.S.)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

93 points

Highland Park, Cask #691, 1983 vintage, 23 year old, 59.8%

Very sophisticated and subtly complex. Perhaps the lightest-colored of the bunch. Fresh, appetizing brine and spice (cinnamon, vanilla, white pepper, and clove) on a bed of soft honey and creamy vanilla, with just a hint of fruit. The notes are bright, clean, and tight. Spicy, briny finish. A beautifully delicate Highland Park. (Bottled for Green’s)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2007)

93 points

Highland Park, 21 year old, 47.5%

The good news: This is one of the best Highland Park whiskies I have ever tasted. The bad news: it’s the new release for Travel Retail (formerly Duty Free). It’s lush, well-balanced, and very complex. Well-defined notes of toffee, candied fruit, and roasted nuts are accentuated by background honey, chocolate mousse, and smoke. Here’s the icing on the cake: it’s bottled at 47.5%, which really allows the flavors to shine. If you’re going overseas, consider tracking down a bottle.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2008)

93 points

Highland Park, 40 year old, 48.3%

Antique copper color, with some streaks of gold. A complex array of dried fruit on the nose, peppered with dried spice, orange marmalade, dark chocolate, and wood shavings. On the palate, the immediate impact is once again marmalade, followed briefly by bramble before drier notes of dark chocolate, wood shavings, anise, and subtle smoke emerge. Dry and spicy on the finish, but never austere. A delicious, contemplative 40 year old Highland Park that has aged gracefully.
This is a permanent addition to the range. Out of curiosity, I tasted it next to the other great Highland Parks (the 30 year old and several very good single cask bottlings over 30 years old). This whisky is in the same league as the others. Its only down side is that it’s a lot more expensive than the others.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2008)

93 points

Highland Park, 1968 vintage, 45.6%

A marriage of eight casks (seven hogsheads, one sherry butt). A whisky in excellent shape for its age. Very clean and bright on the palate, with no excessive oak. Notes of lemon tart, clementine, plum, honeyed vanilla, and polished oak, peppered with clove, soft mint, marshmallow, and subtle toasted coconut. Clinging, mouth-coating finish.  £2,250

Reviewed by: (Spring 2010)

93 points

Longrow 1974, 25 year old, 46%

Gold color. Peaty, smoky, mature aromas, with notes of damp earth, pencil shavings, seaweed, brine, and vanilla. Oily, viscous body. Flavors are similar to its aroma, with a spicy, salty, black pepper, dryish finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2000)

93 points

Longrow 18 year old, 46%

Straw/honey color. Light to medium weight, with a slightly oily texture. Shy on the nose, but makes up for it on the finish. Fresh brine, toasted coconut, bright citrus fruit, and subtle mint on a bed of vanilla cream and honeyed malt. The peat smoke is restrained on the nose, but is more assertive on the palate, and it really kicks in on the finish, which is briny, smoky, appetizing, and long. The best Longrow since the 1974 vintage. If it would only just open up a little more on the nose it would challenge the best from ‘73 and ‘74. (Only 120 bottles for the U.S.)

Reviewed by: (Fall 2008)

93 points

The Macallan 50 year old, 43%

Amber-chestnut color. Aromas are very mature and so thick, one almost needs a knife to cut it. Notes of dried fruit (orange, lemons, pineapple) and wood spices (especially clove), with more than a suggestion of peat smoke. Thick, enveloping texture-like a warm coat on a bitterly cold day. Very mature. One can easily deduce this is a very old whisky-the woodiness is evident on the palate. But it is not in excess. There’s plenty of dried fruit, enticing wood spices, and peat to keep the palate entertained, all the way through to its very long, dry finish.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2000)

93 points

Gordon & MacPhail (distilled at Mortlach), 11 year old,k 1993 vintage, 60.7%

Full-flavored, confident, and very dynamic. Bright fruit, teasing toffee, complex spices, cereal grain, and underlying light leather notes are all tightly integrated. Think an 11 year old whisky can’t be mature or complex? Think again! A Speyside powerhouse! (Available in the Chicago area.)

Reviewed by: (Summer 2006)

93 points

Port Ellen, 30 year old (2009 Release), 57.7%,

Port Ellen whiskies are just going to keep getting rarer and more expensive. This old-fashioned whisky is beginning to show its age, but is still holding up nicely. It’s clean, with no excessive oak, and a soft, sweet maltiness for balance. Earthy and rooty at times, with tarry rope, beach pebbles, leafy smoke, bourbon barrel char, black licorice, lemon peel, and hints of shellfish and diesel fumes (like following a boat in the ocean). Long, smoky, lightly briny finish.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2010)

93 points

Springbank, 35 year old, 46%

Antique amber color. Mature complex aromas-especially in wood spice notes. In addition to wood spices, I also found notes of roasted nuts, coconuts, orange marmalade, anise, and subtle brine. Thick and syrupy in texture, with complex flavors that echo its aroma. The depth on the palate is incredible! Long lingering finish.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2000)

93 points

Murray McDavid (distilled at Springbank) 1965, 34 year old, 46%

Antique amber color. Ripe, fallen fruit aromas laced with coconut, marshmallow, and almonds. The sherry cask influence is very prominent on the nose, but the Springbank "brine" character still manages to fight through. Full bodied, with a soothing texture. Huge flavors with great balance and depth, consisting of exotic fruits, complex wood spices, brine, and coconut. Long, lingering satisfying finish.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2001)

93 points

Duncan Taylor (distilled at Strathisla), 35 year old, Cask #7009, 45.1%

Aromatically fruity and quite full, with wonderful depth on the nose and palate. The fruit (golden raisins, apricot, red licorice, papaya) is balanced by restrained honey, vanilla, and fennel. The whisky is always dry but never excessively so. A delicious, ultra-mature whisky.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2007)

93 points

Talisker 30 year old, 51.9%

Surprisingly clean and youthful for a 30 year old, both on the nose and palate. Complex, too, with a sea breeze freshness, vanilla malt, polished oak spice, smoked seaweed, lightly tarred boat docks, toasted nuts, and lingering telicherry pepper. Mature, yet still quite powerful. Rivals the original Talisker 25 year old and the Talisker 18 year old as one of the finest Talisker whiskies ever released.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2007)

93 points

Talisker 18 year old, 45.8%

A sophisticated and refined Talisker, if that’s not an oxymoron. But this is certainly true when compared to the 10 year old. This 18 year old is deeper too, with less of the fishnets, more of oak boat docks. Less lemongrass, more fruit gum drops. There’s still that knock-out punch on the finish. There’s a fine line between polishing the rough edges of a beautifully powerful whisky and ripping its heart and soul out with a knife by dumbing it down. This whisky has not crossed that line. A fabulous whisky!

Reviewed by: (Fall 2005)

93 points

High West Straight Rye Whiskey, 12 year old, 46%

A bottling from only five barrels of 95% rye whiskey produced at the former Seagram’s distillery in Indiana. It’s the American whiskey equivalent of drinking Ardbeg Supernova. Powerful and invigorating are words that come to mind. Crisp mint, warming cinnamon, dried citrus, cocoa, roasted nuts, and subtle botanicals are soothed by caramel, molasses, and honeyed orchard fruit. Brisk, bracing, spicy finish. The notes are clean, and the whiskey’s not just a one-trick “rye” pony. The sweetness balances the rye spice quite nicely. If you just can’t get enough rye in your whiskey, then this one’s for you. (Available only at the High West Distillery in Park City, Utah.) Price is per 375ml

Reviewed by: (Winter 2010)

93 points

Sazerac Rye 18 year old, 45%

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.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2016)

93 points

Thomas H. Handy Rye, 63.45%

One of the best Handy offerings yet. Very vibrant with dynamic spice (firm mint, warming cinnamon, allspice, hint of clove) and lush fruit (citrus, orchard fruit, golden raisin, brandy, and teasing coconut), all tamed by a bed of soothing caramel and honey. It’s not easy for a whiskey to come across as excitingly youthful, yet nicely matured. It’s a difficult balance to achieve, but this whiskey pulls it off. (Editor's Choice)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

93 points

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac, 64.3%

The youngster in the 2011 Antique Collection. One taste and its relative youth is confirmed. (But no worries; it’s mature enough to enjoy neat or with some water (and would be a killer in cocktails). This is rye whiskey in its most vibrant, masculine, and purest form. Bold spice (fresh evergreen, warming cinnamon), honey-coated orchard fruit, golden raisin, caramel, and brandy with a crisp, clean finish. The American equivalent to a young, cask-strength, smoky Islay whisky.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2011)

93 points

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac, 64.2%

The youthful, testosterone-laden member of the Antique Collection family. Bold and spicy with cinnamon and clove, but softened and balanced by thick toffee, vanilla, and honeyed orchard fruit. Lush and mouth-coating. An exercise in extremes: bold, muscular spice, along with soothing sweeter notes. While its older sibling, Sazerac 18 year old, expresses a classic “older rye” low-risk profile, Handy pushes the envelope in many directions. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2013 Release.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2013)

93 points

The Tyrconnell 10 year old Madeira Cask Finish, 46%

Complex on the nose, and the flavors just dance on the palate. This whiskey is bright, cleanly malty, and quite fruity with a tropical accent -- peach, mango, cantaloupe, sultana, and caramelized pineapple. Balanced by notes of honey, vanilla cream, and soft coconut. The best Cooley whiskey I have ever tasted!

Reviewed by: (Fall 2008)

93 points

Cutty Sark, 25 year old, 45.7%

Well-structured and masculine with its rich malty backbone and mouth-coating fruit. Yet, there’s a silky, seductive underbelly that’s very compelling. Notes of sultana, honey-drenched mandarin, ripe peach, thick toffee, and anise, with a peppering of spice throughout, especially toward the finish, where a hint of smoke emerges. The grain whisky enhances the blend’s allure by cutting through the whisky’s viscosity, making it very more-ish. I love the combination of drinkability, flavor, complexity, and balance in this blend. Very versatile. Single malt drinkers will thoroughly enjoy this experience. (Note: at this time, this whisky is not sold in the U.S.)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2009)

93 points

Canadian Club, 30 year old, 40%

Bottled to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of Canadian Club whisky. An amazingly fresh and vibrant whisky given its age and delicateness. I feared that, given how light in body traditional Canadian whiskies are, this whisky would be old, tired, and show too much oak (which was true for Crown Royal’s ultra-premium offering, XR). But this isn’t the case. There’s an excellent balance of silky caramel, vanilla icing, dried spice (cinnamon, spearmint), and berried fruit, along with more subtle notes of toffee apple, corn oil, and soft dried oak on the finish. Not as luxurious as Crown Royal’s Cask No. 16, but it shines with its polish and purity.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2009)

93 points

Maker’s Mark Cask Strength, 56.6%

This is what I wish the standard Maker’s Mark would be: more mature, spicier, more complex, and with a richer finish. Caramel kissed with honey provides a base for marzipan, cotton candy, cinnamon, clove, and a balancing leather dryness on the finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2014)

93 points

Caribou Crossing, Single Barrel, 40%

Those of you who think Canadian whiskies are thin and bland should give this one a try. No, it’s not a new concept, like Forty Creek. It’s still very much a “traditional” Canadian. But when compared to most Canadian whiskies, it’s richer, creamier, and velvety smooth. The flavors are straightforward — primarily vanilla, with some crème brûlée, toasted marshmallow, tangerine, peaches and cream, and gentle rye spice — but they are clean and well-balanced. A delicious, lighter-style whisky.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2010)

93 points

Angel’s Envy, 43.3%

Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey finished in a port pipe. This is veteran master distiller Lincoln Henderson’s newest creation, and it’s a beauty. Richly textured, silky, and well-rounded, with ripe berried fruits, candied tangerine, light toffee, maple syrup, and creamy vanilla, sprinkled with spice (cinnamon, hint of mint). Smooth, silky finish, and dangerously drinkable! The port pipe notes dovetail perfectly. Lovely just the way it is, but it’s begging for a cigar. My only gripe: why not 45 or 50% ABV? But I’m splitting hairs. I really enjoy this stuff!

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

93 points

Elijah Craig Single Barrel (Barrel No. 13) 20 year old, 45%

All the current Elijah Craig 20 year old releases in distribution are single barrel offerings. I’ve tasted a few, and they vary to a degree. This is my favorite so far. Yes, there’s a lot of oak here (resinous, spicy, leathery, tobacco-tinged), but it’s on a bed of layered sweetness (nutty toffee, caramel fudge, maple syrup) that supports and marries with the oak. An ideal postprandial bourbon.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2012)

93 points

Yamazaki 18 year old, 43%

Deep, mature in nature, and very complex. Notes of polished leather, maple syrup, and dark pit fruit, with suggestions of tobacco smoke, wood shavings, and unsweetened chocolate. References to fine old bourbon and ultra-matured pot-still rum provide intrigue. Proof that Japan produces some outstanding, distinctive whiskies. Nicely done!

Reviewed by: (Summer 2006)

92 points

Hirsch Rye, 25 year old, 46%

Enjoyable, dark sweet notes: molasses, maple syrup, fig, grilled corn. The spices are there, too (cool mint, cocoa powder, warming cinnamon, nutmeg). They’re well-rounded and show up more toward the finish (along with some tobacco and polished leather). Soft, reserved, and slightly past its prime, but it still maintains its dignity.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

92 points

Compass Box, Flaming Heart, Batch #2, 48.9%

Balanced Islay whiskies combine peat smoke characteristics with a sweet foundation. They’re not one-dimensionally smoky. This whisky is an excellent example. This is a peat-laden whisky with refinement and grace. Creamy vanilla, caramel, and honey harmoniously marry with persistent -- yet controlled -- peat smoke. Crisp spice notes and dancing fruit throughout adds complexity. Well done.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2008)

92 points

Compass Box Monster, 54.9%

(Exclusive to Park Ave. Liquors, New York, NY) This is a vatting of two single malts: the malty and sometimes smoky Ardmore and the always smoky and spicy Caol Ila. The whisky expresses smartly complex aromas of smoky bonfire smothered with peat, with notes of tar, olives, freshly ground pepper, and seaweed. A sweet maltiness (from the Ardmore?) binds the flavors together. On the palate, the whisky begins sweet, then the powerful peat smoke emerges, yielding to olives, peppery spices, and seaweed. The finish is long and powerful with the peat smoke again emerging and lingering on seemingly forever. A monster indeed. This whisky’s complexity demonstrates the virtues of vatting. Many smoky whiskies have nothing else going on behind the cloak of smoke. This one does.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2004)

92 points

Compass Box, The Peat Monster, Reserve Edition, 48.9%

Compass Box Whiskies celebrates the fifth anniversary of The Peat Monster by thinking big: bigger intensity, put into a bigger bottle. This bold whisky is packed with Islay and coastal character, showing tarry rope, brine, and a hint of seaweed, along with teasing smoked olive, anise, and mustard seed. There is some civility to the whisky: sweeter notes of vanilla wafer, baked apple, ripe peach, and cream attempt to soften the blow. Smoke and tar on the finish. Nicely done. (Price is per 1.75L.)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

92 points

Dewar's Signature, 43%

Johnnie Walker Blue, meet Dewar’s Signature. Signature is Dewar’s introduction into the ultra-premium blended scotch category. Like Johnnie Walker Blue, Signature bears no age statement, but I’m told that a 27 year old Aberfeldy is the heart of the blend. The first release consists only of 1,000 individually numbered bottles, and they’re only available in New York City. I’m always a little skeptical of very expensive blends that come in fancy packages. There are some very good, reasonably priced blends in the 10-20 year old range, and the expensive ones are often only marginally better, if that. But I like this whisky a whole lot better than the standard Dewar’s White Label, and it is also superior to Dewar’s 12 year old-a whisky which I find to be quite enjoyable. While maintaining the Dewar’s profile-nicely balanced-this whisky offers greater depth, maturity, and complexity without being too woody-a creamy, malty foundation makes sure of that. The whisky expresses a rich, honeyed maltiness which combines nicely with notes of golden raisins, vanilla, caramel, and crème brûlée, with just a hint of spicy oak notes for complexity. Signature is a different style when compared to Johnnie Walker Blue-it’s more elegant and bashful-but, like Blue, I put Signature on my short list of the finest blends on the market.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2004)

92 points

Van Winkle Family Reserve, 18 year old, 52.6%

Style: Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey Color: Deep amber Aroma: Deep, very mature, dry and spicy (especially spearmint), with underlying notes of ripe fruit, polished oak, and leather. The aroma is so thick, you almost need a knife to cut through it. Palate: Rich, thick, and chewy in texture-sweeter up front, then drying out towards its finish. Rather bold in flavors that are identical to its aroma, but never overpowering. Soothing, satisfying finish that seems to linger on forever.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2003)

92 points

Vintage Bourbon, 17 year old, 47%

Notes of "rummy" molasses, Sugar Daddies, red currant, citrus peel, sandalwood, polished leather, and vanilla cream. Subtle, teasing black licorice and brittle mint emerge from time to time. Well-balanced, with all the flavors sharing the limelight. A beautiful example of mature bourbon.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2006)

92 points

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Zinfandel Aged Bourbon, 14 year old, 45%

Aged in Zinfandel barrels for eight years after spending six years in new charred oak. Intriguing spice (mint, cocoa, cinnamon), along with molasses, roasted nuts, and delicately textured fruit (blackberry, boysenberry). Nice interplay between the fruit, sweet notes, and dried spice which emerges on the second half of the palate.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2007)

92 points

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Wheat 90, 45%

Elegant, subtly complex, and perilously drinkable. Honey tones dovetail nicely with gentle oak spice and bright fruit. My favorite of the bunch. Very lovely! Price is per 375 ml.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2013)

92 points

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Extended Stave Drying Time, 45%

Richer and fuller when compared to the Standard Stave Drying Time variant in this Experimental Collection. Sweeter too, with creamy layers of vanilla and caramel. The extended drying time influence tames the dried spice and oak resin and is proof that extended stave aging really benefits older bourbons that might otherwise be dominated by oak. Sadly, with whiskey in such demand, I doubt many bourbon producers will take the time to age the staves longer. Price per 375 ml.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2014)

92 points

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection 12 year old wheated bourbon from floor #9, 45%

Buffalo Trace distilled a wheated bourbon and aged barrels from the same distillation date on three different floors (1, 5 and 9) for 12 ½ years to see what the differences would be. This is similar to an experiment they conducted last year using a rye mashbill bourbon. As you will see, the higher the floor, the more intense the flavors, and the greater the wood influence. Darker, more intense and mysterious in personality when compared to its two siblings. Notes of barrel char, roasted nuts, polished oak, and tobacco, peppered with dried spice. Fortunately, sweet notes of toffee, maple syrup, and caramel stand up to the dry notes and provide balance. Price is per 375 ml.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2015)

92 points

Buffalo Trace French Oak Barrel Head Aged, 45%

Nicely round flavor profile, with complex notes of creamy vanilla, subtle tropical fruit, mocha, fennel seed, and light tobacco. Lingering cinnamon spice and cocoa on the finish. An extremely drinkable whiskey that entertains throughout. Price is per 375 ml.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2015)

92 points

Evan Williams Single Barrel 1995 Vintage (Barrel #1), 43.3%

This year’s 1995 Vintage is another delicious treat. It is one of the most richly textured bottlings of the past ten vintages and its flavors meld seamlessly, combining layers of creamy sweetness (chewy toffee, butterscotch, and a touch of corn), spice (mint, vanilla, cinnamon), polished oak, vibrant fruit, and a dusting of cocoa and nutmeg.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2005)

92 points

Evan Williams Single Barrel 1990 Vintage (Barrel #1), 43%

Amber color. This particular bottling (and remember that single barrel bottlings vary slightly from one to another) expresses a potpourri of spices, accentuated with honey tones, toffee, oaky vanilla, and a hint of fruit. The flavors are perfectly balanced.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2000)

92 points

Four Roses Barrel Strength, 13 year old, 52.1%

A single barrel offering to celebrate Distillery Manager Jim Rudtledge’s 40 years in the industry. Dry, botanical, and teasingly complex, with bright fruit, crisp spice, and complex oak. Its dryness is prevalent throughout-the maturity is evident-but never excessively so, and there’s always a soft interplay of honey and vanilla. A very elegant whiskey.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2007)

92 points

Four Roses Single Barrel, Barrel #87-6L, 50%

A fuller-bodied, sweeter encounter than Barrel #55-6F reviewed below. More rounded and even-keeled throughout, too! Chewy toffee, rummy molasses, and nougat, with underlying notes of dark, berried fruit, accentuating spice, and supple leather. The heavyweight of the group.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2007)

92 points

Four Roses 2013 Limited Edition Single Barrel, 60%

Thirteen years old, but it shows its age nicely. It’s peppered with complex dried spice notes (mint, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla), yet it also has interwoven sweet notes (maple syrup, caramel, honey) to keep the whiskey from being too dry. Hints of dark chocolate and berried fruit add complexity. Dry, spicy, tobacco, and leather-tinged finish. Great complexity!

Reviewed by: (Fall 2013)

92 points

George T. Stagg, 70.3%

These Stagg releases are becoming legendary. This one, while not the best of the bottlings, maintains the Stagg reputation. When compared with the earlier release in 2005, this Stagg expresses a shade less oak. It’s also more subtle and creamier on the palate. It’s clean, superbly balanced, and very drinkable-even at higher strengths. Light toffee, maple syrup, and caramel corn provide a bed of sweetness. Layered on top are notes of candied fruit, crisp mint, vanilla, and polished oak. Soft finish. Just don’t add too much water to it because the flavors seem to lose their cohesiveness at lower strengths. Drink this whiskey at a strength higher than you normally would to fully appreciate it.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2006)

92 points

George Dickel Barrel Select, 43%

The newest member of the portfolio and worth every penny. It’s the distillery’s "super-premium" offering, produced in small batches and (for now anyway) small quantities. It is my favorite of the three Dickels from a pure taste perspective, with a lushness, roundness, sophistication and grace not often seen in a bourbon or Tennessee whiskey. All of the flavors of the other two Dickels are in here, and they’re in perfect balance and very tight. (Note: my review was from the first bottling, which was a rectangular-shaped bottle with white lettering. There has since been a second bottling, which I have not yet tasted.)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2006)

92 points

George Dickel Barrel Select, 43%

The star of the portfolio. A true sipping whisky with elegance and grace. Perhaps the best Tennessee whisky on the market. Honey-soaked corn bread, rhum agricole, ripe nectarine, and glazed citrus. Hint of mint, green tea, and cinnamon. Very polished.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2012)

92 points

Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 20 year old, 45.2%

Amber mahogany. Rich, mature aromas of vanilla, cinnamon, leather, teaberry, coconut, and dark fruit-very complex indeed. Big, coating, soothing texture. Flavors are very mature, rounded and nicely balanced, with notes of molasses, dried fruit, cinnamon, and teaberry. It finishes long, with a very soothing demeanor.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2001)

92 points

Parker’s Heritage Collection Promise of Hope 10 year old, 48%

From a single barrel, but the barrel number is (unfortunately) not specified. It’s nicely matured, deftly balanced, and complex, with a wide range of fruit, layered sweetness, and a cabinet full of spice, especially mint. Easy to drink—I’m enjoying it immensely without adding any water—and deceptively beautiful; there are no fancy bells or whistles here. Great bourbon, honoring a great master distiller.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2013)

92 points

1792 Full Proof, 62.5%

No age statement on the label, but aged for 8 1/2 years. Bottled at the same ABV as its entry proof into the barrel. Lush and mouth-coating. A pleasingly sweet bourbon, with caramel, nougat, and chewy toffee, mixed with ripe orchard fruit, golden raisin, and creamy vanilla. Soothing finish. A wonderful way to end a meal. (With a cigar, perhaps?) This is a beautiful bourbon and a great value given its quality, ABV, and price.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2016)

92 points

Rowan's Creek, Batch 03-59, 12 year old, 50.05%

Beautifully balanced, like Kentucky Vintage, but more complex and with greater depth. It’s also not as boldly dry as Pure Kentucky XO. Rather, it is softer and more seductive. This is splendid bourbon! It would be a shame to adulterate this bourbon in any way-don’t even think of mixing it. Find yourself a quiet moment, pour yourself a measure, and savor.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2005)

92 points

Duncan Taylor “NC2” (distilled at Aberlour), 16 year old, 46%

This whisky packs a lot of clean, complex, and well-balanced flavors. It features a creamy, layered, malty-sweet foundation (vanilla, caramel, toffee) chock full of bright fruit (golden raisin, honeyed orchard fruit, currant), rounded out by firm, dried spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, mint) that dances on the palate. Long, warming, spicy finish. Nicely done!

Reviewed by: (Winter 2010)

92 points

Aberfeldy Single Cask (Cask No. 5) 16 year old, 57.4%

From a sherry cask. Bright and lively. Quite fruity, with notes of golden raisin, pineapple, nectarine, and tangerine. The fruit is balanced by honeyed malt and light caramel. A dusting of vanilla, cinnamon, and hint of cocoa, with black licorice on the finish. Lush and mouth-coating. The best of the Aberfeldy whiskies I’ve tasted to date. (New Hampshire only)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2014)

92 points

Ardbeg Airidh Nam Beist 1990 Vintage, 46%

Some of the best intensely smoky, peaty Islay whiskies are balanced with a foundation of malty sweetness. This whisky is an excellent example. A sinewy malt with the classic bold notes of kiln smoke, peat, tarry rope, and coal ash. Sweeter notes of honeyed malt, ripe vanilla, chocolate fudge, and toasted marshmallow temper and sooth the palate, along with background berry confit. The smoke lingers long on the palate. Ardbeg devotees will not be disappointed.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2007)

92 points

Ardbeg Alligator, 51.2%

Similar to the standard Ardbeg 10 year old, except that a portion of the whisky was aged in heavily charred barrels (referred to as an “alligator” char). An aggressive whisky — even for Ardbeg — with a leathery texture throughout. Dynamic too, with coal tar, soot, bourbon barrel char, espresso, cocoa, licorice root, smoked fish, and a hint of ginger. There’s a nice creamy vanilla underbelly to balance the aggressiveness and (at least partially) muzzle the Alligator.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2011)

92 points

BenRiach Pedro Ximinez Finish 1995 Vintage (Cask 7165), 52.3%

This is the heavily peated expression of BenRiach. (BenRiach does not differentiate their peated expressions with a different name, as Springbank does with Longrow, or Tobermory with Ledaig.) It’s also finished with the dark, lush “PX” sherry. Both influences are very evident, with the deep, heavy, earthy, smoky notes complemented by dark, fleshy, dried fruit. I think the two different influences marry very nicely here and I really enjoy drinking it. (Bottling at cask strength is a bonus!)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

92 points

Bowmore Oloroso Sherry Cask, 1964 Vintage

Mahogany color. Medium to full in body, and rich. Aroma and flavors are very reminiscent of the "Black Bowmore" releases: burnt fruit, roasted nuts, fruit cake, polished leather, wood resin, and just a teasing of smoke. There is a harmonious balance between the dry oak spices and the sweet, fruity oloroso sherry notes. Soothing finish.
   Style: Islay single malt Scotch whisky. Price: Approx. $1,500. Only 300 bottles, available this fall at specialty retailers nationwide. 
   This whisky was distilled around the same time-and is very similar in flavor profile-as the legendary "Black Bowmore" whiskies released several years ago. Comparing this release with the Black Bowmore is only natural. Having tried this whisky next to the previous Black Bowmores, I can happily say that this whisky is as good as they are (although a lot more expensive). While the original Black Bowmore whiskies are a little bigger and fuller in body (especially towards the finish), this new 1964 Vintage is a tad softer, sweeter, more rounded, and more seductive. This is a very contemplative whisky-the more attention you devote to it, the more pleasure it gives you.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2003)

92 points

Bruichladdich 'PC-5', 63.5%

This is a five year old expression of the more highly peated Bruichladdich whisky being referred to as Port Charlotte (named after the now-silent distillery down the road from Bruichladdich). More highly peated indeed. If you like your smoky Islay whiskies young and masculine, this one is for you. It’s like sticking your head in a peat-fired kiln. But there’s more to this whisky than massive smoke. There are underlying notes of kippers, soot, and tar. With further investigation, there are spice notes of black pepper and black licorice stick. What really makes this whisky multi-dimensional and balanced is its sweet underbelly of thick toffee, jammy fruit, and almond butter. Youthful, but not immature.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2007)

92 points

Bunnahabhain 18 year old, 43%

Creamier than the 12-bigger too, with broader shoulders and greater depth. Fairly sweet up front, with vanilla-laced malt, chewy toffee, and ripe fruit. Almond fudge and a hint of espresso add intrigue, while dry wood spice on the finish underpins the whisky's characteristic sweetness. Contemplative and complex.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2006)

92 points

The Dalmore, 1981 Vintage Amoroso Finish, 42%

A seductive Dalmore. Very fruity too, with Seville orange, peaches in syrup, clementine, pineapple, and bramble. Sugared almond, powdered vanilla, ginger, and lush sherry on the finish add depth and dimension. Consistent on the nose and palate, and with great balance. I’m glad they stopped the amoroso finishing when they did. I feel that any more sherry influence here would have been counterproductive. Very lovely!

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

92 points

Edradour Port Wood Finish, 1983 Vintage, Cask #04/0544, 52.9%

One of the first wood finishing efforts under Edradour’s new management. Very creamy in texture, with notes of sticky toffee, vanilla fudge, fruit cake, raisin, and burnt almonds. All this sits on a bed of dry, minty, resinous oak. The flavors dovetail nicely, with a soothing, satisfying finish. The port wood finishing adds complexity without dominating.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2005)

92 points

Duncan Taylor (distilled at Glen Grant), Cask #3480, 37 year old, 51.5%

I am amazed by how many old, sherried Glen Grant whiskies have been released to the market in the past ten years. (Did the distillery owners at the time also own sherry bodegas, or what?) Anyway, some of these have been dark, decadent, and delicious, and I’ll put this whisky in that category. Chestnut colored, with lush fruit, treacle, dark chocolate, leather, tobacco, roasted walnuts, and cherry cough syrup. A complex, well-structured whisky.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2008)

92 points

Glenfiddich 50 year old, 46.1%

We’re drinking liquid history here. Antique gold color. Aromas of dried citrus, lemongrass, and ginger with background honeyed vanilla, dried herb, bouquet of roses, and a wisp of smoke. Very long and evolving on the palate, going from sweet to dry: vanilla custard, crème brulee, white chocolate, candied citrus, juicy oak, polished leather, dried tobacco, and then resinous oak, with teasing dry roasted nuts and hint of peat bog throughout. Long dry, resinous finish. Remarkably well-maintained for its age. I can tell that it’s an old whisky, but it shows good complexity. It’s not tired and excessively oaked. When compared to the 30 year old and 40 year old expressions, it’s actually more vibrant and youthful than the 40 sample I have. Yet it doesn’t have the deft balance and roundness which I consider a hallmark of the 30. Bottom line here: Anyone who can afford this whisky and actually drinks it will not be disappointed. It’s really nice. But for us regular folk, try to pick up a 30 year old Glenfiddich if you can find one and you won’t go wrong with the whisky — or the price (relatively speaking, that is).

Reviewed by: (Winter 2009)

92 points

Glenglassaugh 37 year old, 56%

A first-fill sherry cask bottling (one cask, exclusive to North America). Some of the old Glenglassaugh whiskies can be very delicious, and this is one of them. It's very clean, lush, and fruity (bramble, citrus, golden raisin), with a kiss of honey, toffee, and soft spice. Elegantly sherried; it’s never cloying. A very nice whisky from a quality cask that tastes more like 21 or 25 years old than 37. (I mean this in a good way.)

Reviewed by: (Fall 2012)

92 points

Duncan Taylor (distilled at Glenlivet) 1987 vintage 22 year old, 46%

Whiskies distilled at Glenlivet might be easy to find throughout the world, but this is a good thing. Take this one from Duncan Taylor—it’s delicious! It’s elegantly complex, with a tropical accent (coconut, pineapple), strawberries with whipped cream, and caramel-dipped apple. The sweetness is never heavy or cloying, and it’s balanced by lovely dried spice throughout (vanilla, ginger, soft mint, nutmeg), and especially towards the finish. Nicely done!

Reviewed by: (Fall 2010)

92 points

The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve, 55.6%

A special bottling to celebrate a major distillery expansion in 2010. So nice to see this whisky bottled at cask strength and not chill-filtered. Silky smooth, velvety texture. Creamy sweet foundation of vanilla fudge and caramel-coated almond. Plenty of fruit, too (golden raisin, honeyed peach, ripe nectarine, hint of banana bread). Richly textured, good weight (but not cloying), and the flavors combine seamlessly. A celebratory whisky indeed.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

92 points

Glenmorangie Cote de Nuits Finish 1975, 43%

Amber color with shades of chestnut. Full, complex aromas of fruit (cherries, currants, berries), marzipan, Demerara sugar, roasted nuts, and molasses. Full in body, with flavors that deliver what its aroma promised. Satisfying finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2001)

92 points

Glenrothes 32 year old, 1972 Vintage, 43%

A very richly textured Glenrothes. A heavy, honeyed maltiness provides the foundation of this whisky, with interwoven candied fruit notes (orange, tangerine, sultana), red and black licorice, toffee, and toasted almonds. Dry, spicy, oak notes balance its sweetness and provide depth. What impresses me most about this whisky is how it evolves on the palate and continues evolving through its lengthy finish.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2005)

92 points

Signatory (distilled at Glenrothes), 30 year old, 1973, 50%

Glenrothes is one of those Speyside whiskies which matures very gracefully. Recent distillery bottlings (i.e. the 1979 and 1972 vintages) prove this point. This Signatory bottling also demonstrates that Glenrothes has the ability to get older and better. In this offering, the palate-coating, sticky caramel, syrupy maltiness of the whisky is rescued by firm, bold dry oak spice and lush fruit. Delicious toffee and roasted nuts longer on the finish. The 30 years in oak gives this whisky great depth, and bottling the whisky at natural cask strength ensures that the whisky is not cut off at the knees. A soothing post-prandial affair.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2005)

92 points

Highland Park, Cask #8998, 1974 vintage, 31 year old, 45.4%

Antique gold, relatively light in color compared to the rest of the Highland Parks reviewed here. Nicely rounded on the nose and palate, and surprisingly youthful for such maturity. Mouth-coating texture. Quite fruity -- especially with some water -- with notes of honey-drenched citrus, sultana, key lime pie, and melon. Caramel and bitter chocolate notes emerge, with the chocolate and a wisp of smoke lingering on the finish. I could drink this all day and never tire of it. (Bottled for Virginia ABC)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2007)

92 points

Highland Park 'Hjarta', 12 years old, 58.1%

Rich, deep, and muscular on the nose and palate -- and very polished. Notes of caramel/butterscotch-coated citrus (lemon, Clementine) honeyed tropical fruit (coconut, pineapple), peaches and cream, creamy vanilla, and ripe barley, along with more subtle smoke, cut grass, and ginger. Firm, dry, resinous grip on the finish keeps all the sweetness in check. Rather expensive for its age, but not for its quality. Very impressive for a 12 year old! (Available only at the Highland Park distillery, their on-line shop, and in Scandinavia.)£65

Reviewed by: (Winter 2009)

92 points

Highland Park, “Saint Magnus,” 55%

The second in a series of three high-strength, limited edition Highland Park whiskies, and a rather bold expression. Nicely sherried and noticeably smoky — more than a standard Highland Park. Quite spicy too — with cinnamon, but also ginger and nutmeg. Throw in some toffee apple, Cointreau, and waxed fruit for intrigue. Long, sherried, smoky finish. A very exciting whisky. (Not available in the U.S.)£85

Reviewed by: (Winter 2010)

92 points

Laphroaig Original Cask 10 year old, 57.3%

Amber with gold streaks. Its aroma and flavor is fresh, powerful, and medicinal, with notes of peat smoke, band-aids, tar, rich toffee, seaweed, and brine. Thick in body, with an almost molasses-like viscosity.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2002)

92 points

The Exclusive Malts 22 year old (distilled at Laphroaig) 1990 vintage (Cask #10866), 47.1%

Clean and complex, showing a matured, somewhat restrained personality for Laphroaig: less medicinal, but more rounded. Tar, pencil shavings, anise, honeyed citrus, Spanish olive brine, and a hint of seaweed and white pepper on a bed of creamy vanilla, caramel, and light nougat. Lingering, satisfying finish. Frustrated by a dearth of 20-plus year old distillery-bottled Laphroaigs? Look no further. Delicious!

Reviewed by: (Fall 2013)

92 points

Murray McDavid (distilled at Linkwood) 1973, 46%

Style: Speyside single malt scotch Color: Honey gold Aroma: Subtly complex. Floral (especially roses). Honeyed vanilla sweetness. Subtle notes of bourbon and bakers chocolate. Murray McDavid (distilled at Linkwood, 1973, 46%) cont. Palate: Nicely balanced and with great depth. Again the honey and vanilla, which marries beautifully with the floral, herbal, subtly fruity notes. Almonds and dried spice on the finish.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2004)

92 points

The Macallan 15 year old, 43%

Solid amber color. Flavors are seamless, silky smooth, and rich, with notes of dried fruit and flowers, toffee, subtle spices, and delicate nuts. A great after dinner malt, but universal enough to drink anytime.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2000)

92 points

The Macallan 1961 Vintage, 54.1%

Deep amber color. Complex aromas of lush fruit (orange, lemon, red currant) and oak spices (cinnamon, clove, and licorice). Rich, silky body. Great balance and depth of flavor, with complex fruit and wood spices similar to its aroma all wrapped in toffee and vanilla fudge. Very long, evolving, and satisfying finish.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2002)

92 points

The Macallan Cask Strength, 58.6%

Deep amber color with crimson hues. Incredibly rich aromas of fruitcake, toffee, dates, roasted nuts, with a hint of cocoa powder and other spices. Rich and thick in body. On the palate, there are evolving notes of chewy toffee, ripe fruit (oranges, golden raisons), chocolate covered nuts, multigrain toast, and polished oak. Long, soothing finish.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2003)

92 points

The Macallan Fine Oak 15 year old, 43%

This is my favorite of the three. For about $20 more, you get a richer, much more complex whisky than the 10 year old, and it is more balanced than the 21 year old. This 15 is drier than the 10, with lovely floral and spice notes (cinnamon, coriander, dried orange peel, lavender, rose), balanced by honey-laced complex fruit, and a dry, dark chocolate/orange marmalade finish.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2005)

92 points

Gordon & MacPhail (distilled at Mortlach), 36 year old, 1970 vintage, 43%

Deep amber, mahogany color. Very mature and well-balanced. Notes of maple syrup on pancakes, roasted chestnuts, dates, pot still rum, burnished leather, maduro tobacco, and subtle Moroccan spice. Soft, stately finish. Older whiskies often show an exotic side to their personalities as they mellow out with age, especially if the wood influence doesn’t dominate. This is a very nice example of the genre.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2007)

92 points

D&M (Distilled at Scapa), 19 year old, 1989 Vintage, 52.7%

This single cask bottling of Scapa is a beauty! Brilliant gold color. Clean and fresh on the nose and palate, with complex bright fruit (peach, tangerine, golden delicious apple, honeydew melon, pineapple), spice (cinnamon, vanilla, subtle cocoa), appetizing brine, and beach pebbles, all on a bed of creamy, squeaky-clean honeyed malt. Dynamic, appetizing, briny, dried spice finish. A delicious, superbly balanced whisky that makes a great aperitif, but I could drink this any time. (Bottled exclusively for D&M Aficionado’s Club.)

Reviewed by: (Fall 2009)

92 points

Chieftain’s (distilled at Springbank), 40 year old, 54%

Aged in a first-fill sherry butt. Soft sherry notes, gentle toffee, golden raisin, green tea with honey, a peppering of spice (cinnamon, red and black licorice, candied ginger, hint of coconut macaroon and brine) and undertones of juicy oak (especially on the finish). Tame, somewhat seductive, and well-rounded. Not overly oaked, and I’m not finding any off notes. A lovely whisky, but not quite as dynamic as the “classic” Springbanks I’ve tasted from the 60s.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2010)

92 points

Duncan Taylor (distilled at Strathisla), 36 year old, 1967 vintage, 42.5%

This whisky starts out rich and lush-both in aroma and on the palate, with notes of fig cake, candied fruit, and sticky toffee pudding. Citrus fruit (orange, lemon, tangerine)-a characteristic that emerges with many older whiskies-cuts through the heft and lushness of this whisky, contributing complexity, balance and drinkability. The whisky continues to evolve, serving up notes of almonds, exotic spice, and polished leather on the finish. An excellent example of what a mature, Speyside whisky should taste like.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2005)

92 points

Gordon & MacPhail (distilled at Strathisla), 1963, 40%

Some of these old G&M Strathisla whiskies are quite lovely, and this is one of them. It’s gently sherried, soothingly oily in texture, and complex, with notes of maple syrup, candied fruit, plum, roasted nuts, polished leather, and old oak, along with some damp earth, coffee bean, cinnamon, mint, and subtle, teasing kiln smoke. It’s soft, rounded, and still holds up nicely for a 44 year old whisky. If you like old, sherried Speysiders that aren’t overly oaked or sherried, you’ll like this one. If only it was bottled at 43% or 46% (or at natural cask strength, if it was less than 43%). It would give the whisky a little more backbone, and I might have bumped my rating up to the mid-90s.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2009)

92 points

Lonach (distilled at Strathisla), 42 year old, 41.1%

I wish the owners of Strathisla would put out older expressions of their whisky, and here’s why. Layers of sweetness (caramel in particular, but also honey and toffee) dovetail beautifully with an array of lush fruit (orange, apricot, golden raisin, fruit gumdrops). All this is underpinned by subtle dried spice (cinnamon, cool mint, nutmeg) and teasing oak resin on the finish. What’s most impressive here isn’t the laundry list of flavors (although they certainly are there), but rather the balance. This, and its lovely depth, with no signs of lethargy. Impressive!

Reviewed by: (Winter 2009)

92 points

Talisker 25 year old (2009 Release), 54.8%

Comes across initially to me as reserved, perhaps even elegant for a Talisker. Soothing too, with an oily texture. Quite fruity (orange, tangerine, apricot), perhaps even floral, with a delicate pastry sweetness. Then the more traditional Talisker notes kick in -- brine, seaweed, warming pepper -- repeated in the finish. A high-quality Talisker; albeit a bit reserved at times. I love the oily, viscous texture.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2010)

92 points

Gordon & MacPhail (distilled at Tomintoul), cask #644, 1967 vintage, 40 year old, 49.4%

A deep, mature Tomintoul that manages to retain the elegance and drinkability found in younger Tomintoul whiskies. Roasted nuts, lush fruit, suggestions of cherry brandy and orange marmalade layered with rich fudge, toffee, and maple syrup. Soothing finish. Tomintoul can be a simple whisky at a younger age, but this one has matured into a beautifully complex dram. (Bottled for Park Avenue Liquors.)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2008)

92 points

Tomatin, 1973 Vintage (Cask #25602), 44%

Aged in a refill American oak cask. Quite lively for its age, and the oak (surprisingly and happily) plays a supporting role rather than dominating. Creamy and mouth-coating, with vanilla wafer, coconut cream pie, caramel, nougat, and bright fruit (sultana, apricot, tangerine, and pineapple in syrup). Soothing finish. A very nice whisky. (Not available in the U.S.)£450

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

92 points

High West A Midwinter Nights Dram (Act 4, Scene 5), 49.3%

A blend of straight rye whiskeys finished in French oak and port barrels. Gobs of fruit (red and black raspberry, plum, dried citrus) and crisp mint on a bed of caramel and vanilla. Lingering cinnamon and fruit on the finish. Distinctive and impressive.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2017)

92 points

Rittenhouse Rye 21 year old, 45%

Darker, chewier than the Sazerac 18. Thicker, too, with more toffee and molasses in the middle, reminiscent of demerara rum. More wood and spice on the finish. Not as pristine as the Sazerac 18 (especially regarding the fruit notes), but with plenty of complexity and sheer entertainment to warrant a score in the 90s.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2006)

92 points

Thomas H. Handy, 64.5%

Distilled in 2002, this is the youngest of the collection, allowing the vibrancy and boldness of the rye grain to shine through (and an interesting comparison to the Sazerac 18 year old). Lush fruit, Seville orange, gin botanicals, fresh mint, golden raisin, dried pineapple, coconut, and honeydew melon, tamed by soothing caramel and vanilla. Lingering dried fruit and spice finish. Not excessively aggressive like some young ryes I’ve tasted. I really like the dark sugar notes and lushness in this year’s release that provide balance. One of the best Handys.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2010)

92 points

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac, 66.2%

Full-throttle rye, bottled uncut and unfiltered. Bold spice notes (cinnamon, allspice, mint), lush fruit (ripe orchard fruit, golden raisin), orange liqueur, and subtle coconut, all on a bed of caramel and honeyed vanilla. Clean and uncluttered. This isn’t a one-trick pony. It’s the sweetness and fruit that accompany the rye spice that makes this whiskey so attractive.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2012)

92 points

Thomas H. Handy Rye, 64.96%

Distilled in 2008, this is always the youngest whiskey in the Collection. The boldest and spiciest too! A blast of mint, clove, and cinnamon leads the spice charge, with fig, dates, caramel-coated nuts, vanilla, and candied fruit. Well-integrated flavors, and a smart balance of youth and maturity. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2015 Release.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

92 points

The Tyrconnell, 10 year old, Port Cask Finish, 46%

Deeper, thicker, and more lush than the Madeira Cask Finish reviewed above. Notes of strawberry preserve, caramel apple, nougat, sponge cake, and a hint of chocolate cream pie. All these sweet, richly textured flavors without being cloying. Nicely done.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2008)

92 points

Black Bull, 40 year old, 40.2%

A whopping 90% malt and 10% grain whisky. Soft, with the oak remarkably restrained for its age. Soothingly sweet, with toffee apple, vanilla-spiked sponge cake, nougat, butterscotch, sultana, and cut grass. A dash of cinnamon and coconut throughout, with teasing, gentle polished oak on the finish. Deftly balanced and oh, so drinkable.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2010)

92 points

Templeton Rye Special Reserve 10 year old, 50.5%

Spicy and pleasantly sweet. Vibrant too, with cinnamon, peppermint stick, and caramel corn. Warming spice zing on the finish. Quite possibly at its peak age for flavor, maturity, and balance.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2017)

92 points

Sheep Dip 'Old Hebridean,' 1990 vintage, 40%

A marriage of Dalmore, Fettercairn, and Ardbeg, and their personalities certainly show. The whisky was blended and then aged for an additional 15 years -- very atypical. The marriage of the three really works very well, combining a rich sweetness (honeyed malt, toffee) with spice, brine, vanilla, bitter chocolate, charcoal, espresso, tobacco, cigar ash, subtle marmalade, and firm -- but not dominating -- leafy peat smoke. Thick, nicely-textured body, too. Lingering brine and smoke on the finish. Delicious as it is, I can only imagine what it would be like bottled at 46% and not chill-filtered. (I probably would be bumping it up a few points.)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2010)

92 points

Kilchoman 'Inaugural Release,' 46%

Aged 2.5 to 3 years on bourbon casks and then finished in sherry casks for 6 months. Wow, this is quite stunning! Old-fashioned in many respects: oily texture, with rooty, layered peat smoke, coal tar, shoe polish, and hints of wet sheep as the foundation for a complex array of additional flavors: toffee apple, caramel fudge, blackberry jam, golden raisin, grist, bourbon barrel char, and licorice root. Long, smoldering ember, dried herb, light toffee finish. It’s all balanced perfectly, and very mature for its age. If you like smoky whiskies, track one down. (Not available in the U.S.) £37.00

Reviewed by: (Spring 2010)

92 points

William Heavenhill 225th Anniversary Edition, 63.8%

Aged for 225 months (18 years, 9 months). Only 225 bottles available, and only at one location: Heaven Hill’s Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown, KY. This is a lot of money for a bourbon, but if you do buy a bottle, you’re going to enjoy it. It’s spicy (especially on the nose), with cinnamon bark, spearmint, and nutmeg. The spice is balanced by an array of sweeter fruit notes (bramble, ripe orchard fruits), vanilla custard, fig, molasses, cola, and charcoal. Soft on the finish. Very polished and well-balanced. It’s much more mellow when compared to Heaven Hill’s other recent ultra-premium release, Parker’s Heritage Collection 27 year old.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

92 points

Kavalan Ex-Bourbon Cask Strength Single Cask, 57.8%

Delicately complex. Dried vanilla, pineapple, toasted coconut, tangerine, and cream. A kiss of honey and polished oak on the finish. Quite lovely and very versatile; it would make a delicious pre-dinner dram. (Julio’s Liquors and Loch & K(e)y exclusive)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2017)

92 points

Redbreast, 15 year old, 46%

Redbreast 12 year old is a classic pure pot still Irish whiskey; where can you go from there? This new 15 year old expression is more muscular (bottling at 46% and not chill filtering certainly helps), but there are trade-offs. It’s a bit closed on the nose (like a great Bordeaux wine that’s too young). I do enjoy the silky/oily texture, the bold resinous oak spice grip on the finish, and the rich nutty toffee, fig, black raspberry, chocolaty, chewy nougat throughout the palate. Still, it’s not as eminently drinkable, refined, or balanced as the 12 year old.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2010)

92 points

Elijah Craig Single Barrel (No. 4040) 18 year old, 45%

Back after a three-year hiatus. Well-rounded, with lovely caramel, creamy vanilla, toasted oak, nougat, and candied fruit, along with a peppering of cinnamon and subtle mint. Pleasant, lingering finish. Great structure with seamless flavors.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2016)

92 points

Bushmills Madeira Finish, 21 year old, 40%

Deep amber color. Richly flavored aroma, with notes of toffee, raisins, dates, honeyed malt, and demerara rum. Medium in body and richly textured. Toffee & rum-like flavors entertain the palate first, followed by chocolate covered raisins and dates. The whiskey then begins to dry out mid-palate, as the 21 years in oak becomes evident, contributing notes of vanilla and subtle mint. Dry finish with lingering notes of oak and polished leather. Style: Irish single malt whiskey. Price: about $120. Available in select markets. This is a delicious whiskey that should appeal to both the Irish and Scotch whisk(e)y drinker. Aged initially in sherry and bourbon casks, the whiskey was then finished in Madeira casks. It is complex in flavor and very well balanced. It is one of the best Irish whiskeys on the market. This whiskey has been a long time comin', but it was worth the wait.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2003)

92 points

Lost Prophet 22 year old, 45%

The fourth release (and best so far) in Diageo’s Orphan Barrel series. This bourbon was distilled at what was then called the George T. Stagg distillery (now Buffalo Trace) and spent the last several years maturing at Stitzel-Weller. It’s nicely balanced and not over-oaked, with spice (clove, cinnamon), oak resin, and leather, along with sweet notes (honeyed fruit, soft vanilla, coconut custard) and a nice creamy texture. Better than most 20-plus year old bourbons on the market.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2015)

92 points

Yellowstone 2016 Limited Edition Bourbon 7 year old, 50.5%

A blend of 7 and 12 year old bourbons, married in new toasted barrels. Vanilla, caramel-coated berries, orchard fruit, cinnamon, soft mint, and teasing toasted coconut-spiked chocolate. Dry, spicy oak finish. Nicely integrated. Excellent combination of youth and maturity.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2017)

91 points

Compass Box, Canto Cask 46, 53.2%

Aged in new French oak casks, with long-toasted heads. Deliciously creamy, sweet, toasty profile with coconut cream, toasted marshmallow, toffee pudding, and honeyed vanilla. Gentle spice notes (especially clove) and hints of fruit dance on the palate. Very soothing. (Bottled for Park Avenue Liquors.)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2008)

91 points

Compass Box 'Lady Luck', 46%

A marriage of two casks of Caol Ila (25 and 29 years old) and one cask of Imperial (14 years old). Penetratingly smoky, visceral, rooty, and even mean-tempered at times, ultimately being soothed by creamy vanilla and thick malt. It’s peppered with licorice stick, dark chocolate, campfire charcoal, subtle olive brine, and teasing berried fruit. Long, clinging finish. The flavors are nicely integrated and complex. Well done! (A limited release.)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2010)

91 points

Dewar's Founder's Reserve, 18 year old, 40%

Available for several years, but now finally making its debut in the U.S. The higher-end Dewar’s expressions (Dewar’s 12 year old and Dewar’s Signature) are very good blends. This one is situated smartly between the two. The malt proportion is rich and creamy; the grain whisky is crisp and well-integrated. Antique gold color, with notes of butterscotch, vanilla wafer, strawberry rhubarb pie, and citrus drizzled with honey. Lovely floral notes in the aroma, along with a pleasing, dried spice finish. I could drink this stuff all day long!

Reviewed by: (Fall 2009)

91 points

William Larue Weller, 70.1%

Distilled in 2002. For many years now, this wheated whiskey has maintained just the right amount of oak influence for balance and added complexity. This year’s release is sporting some extra dried oak spice (especially on the finish), but it’s still a delicious whiskey. Notes of toffee, maple syrup, blackberry jam, cinnamon, and vanilla, with a dry, allspice and polished leather finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2014)

91 points

Woodford Reserve Distillery Master's Collection Four Grain, 46.2%

The first four-grain, 100% copper pot-distilled bourbon in many decades. The flavors are distinctive, silky-textured, and seamless. Bright fruit notes of berries and citrus are balanced nicely by maple syrup, caramel and toffee. The whiskey is quite nutty too and delicately spiced with vanilla, mint, and cinnamon. It finishes pleasingly smooth and polished.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2006)

91 points

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection, Cabernet Franc aged after 6 years, 14 year old, 45%

Aged in a Cabernet Franc barrel for 8 years after spending 6 years in new charred oak barrels. Bright amber, with maple syrup, vanilla, candy corn, white chocolate, cinnamon, and ripe berried fruit. Nice tannic grip, especially on the finish. Great balance between the sweetness, fruit, and tannins. This is what finishing is all about: giving more than it takes away (or masks). Nicely done!

Reviewed by: (Fall 2008)

91 points

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Rye 115, 45%

Smooth, with gently layered sweet notes; nicely balanced. The least amount of oak and just a peppering of cinnamon and mint influence compared to the other four releases. It’s the most versatile of the four too.Not as complex as the “Rye 125”, but it makes up for this with its inviting drinkability and balance. Price is per 375 ml.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2014)

91 points

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Rye 125, 45%

Complex and robust, with the biggest body of the group here. Very spicy (brisk clove, evergreen, warming cinnamon), but a solid sweet underbelly of toffee, caramel, and vanilla balances it. Its dry spicy finish makes a bold statement, without crossing the line. Very nice! Price is per 375 ml.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2014)

91 points

Buffalo Trace Old Fashioned Sour Mash (125 Entry Proof), 45%

Darker in both flavor and personality when compared to its sibling. Rich palate-coating caramel and toffee provide the foundation for roasted nuts, dark berry fruit, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and polished leather. Long, satisfying finish. Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection French Oak Barrel Aged Bourbons 2015 Release. Price is per 375 ml.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

91 points

Eagle Rare 17 year old, 45%

Often ignored because it’s not barrel proof like the other bourbons in the collection. The past couple years have shown a gradual increase in oak spice and resin. This year’s offering particularly sports unnecessary oak, showing more leather, dried spice (especially cinnamon), barrel char and tannins than needed to marry with the toffee, caramel, rum, mocha, dried fruit, and tobacco notes. Still very enjoyable, but slightly past its prime.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2014)

91 points

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel, 45%

Amber gold. Delicately complex teasing aromas, with a potpourri of spices, floral notes, and complex fruit (oranges, plum, pineapple, coconut). Soft and smooth in texture. Impeccably balanced flavors and subtly complex, with notes of exotic fruit, subtle spices, almonds and soft honey tones.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2001)

91 points

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, 1997 Vintage, 12 year old, 47.5%

Big and spicy, but contrasted by layers of sweetness. Vibrant dried spice (warming cinnamon, crisp mint, nutmeg, and cigar box), caramel, nougat, black raspberry, dried citrus, and a hint of chocolate fudge laced with coconut. Very warming on the finish, with a nice resinous grip without being over-oaked. A very dynamic whiskey.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2010)

91 points

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon (2013 Edition) 12 year old, 49%

A delicious base of creamy vanilla and rich caramel, complemented by tropical fruit (coconut, pineapple, ripe mango), golden raisin, and raspberry preserve, and jazzed up with spice (cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg). Polished oak on the finish. The flavors are nicely integrated. My favorite of the last several annual releases.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2013)

91 points

Parker’s Heritage Collection Barrel Finished 10 year old, 50%

Heaven Hill’s first wood-finished bourbon. Finished for several months in cognac casks (reminiscent of Beam’s Distillers’ Masterpiece offering around a decade ago), which show nicely without dominating. Very silky and smooth in texture. Notes of graham cracker, dark fleshy fruit (ripe grape, blackberry brandy), light toffee, maple syrup on pancakes, and creamy vanilla. Great balance, distinctive, and perilously drinkable for 100 proof.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2011)

91 points

Parker’s Heritage Collection “Blend of Mashbills”, 65.8%

A blend of two different 11 year old bourbons—one being a rye-based bourbon, the other being wheat-based. The wheat lends drinkability, while the rye contributes a spicy zing. The combination works very nicely, with light toffee, nutty caramel, nougat, soft orchard fruit, black cherry, vanilla, and cinnamon. (Note: this is the first of three different batches that will eventually be bottled.)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2012)

91 points

Auchentoshan 21 year old, 43%

I feel this is by far the best whisky in the standard Auchentoshan portfolio, and it is one of the best Auchentoshans ever released. It’s delicious, nicely balanced, and with lovely depth for a Lowland whisky. Baked muffins, creamy vanilla, honey, and caramel blend nicely with delicate fruit notes (lemon, red current, strawberries). An impeccably balanced whisky. Similar to the 10 year old reviewed below, but with greater depth and a drier finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2004)

91 points

The Balvenie Single Barrel 15 year old (Cask #7266), 47.8%

One of the finest Balvenie 15 year olds I’ve tasted. The flavors are clean, well defined, confident, and beautifully balanced. Full malty foundation (with some ripe barley thrown in). Soft, creamy vanilla, honeycomb, bright fruit (orange, nectarine, lemon peel, hints of pineapple), with emerging dried vanilla, coconut, oak resin, and subtle anise. Polished oak finish. It doesn’t have the depth that the classic older Balvenies have shown in the past, but what it does have, it has in spades. Beautiful! (A Julio’s Liquors exclusive.)

Reviewed by: (Summer 2010)

91 points

Bowmore, 25 year old, 43%

Amber chestnut color. Aromas of rich sherry, ripe fruit, toffee, molasses, peat smoke, damp oak, and nuts. Medium to full in body. Its flavors start out rich and sweet, with sherried fruit, toffee, and dark chocolate. It then becomes drier with notes of peat, smoked nuts, seaweed and brine, ultimately finishing with notes of spice, bitter chocolate, and smoky smoldering embers.
   Style: Islay single malt Scotch whisky. Price: approx. $160. Available at specialty retailers nationwide. 
   This is a new bottling of Bowmore 25 year old and an improved one at that. It is richer, fuller, and more balanced than its predecessor. A wonderful dram indeed. The 17 year old was my favorite of the standard Bowmore line. Not anymore.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2003)

91 points

Bowmore, 18 year old, 43%

This replaces the 17 year old in the standard Bowmore portfolio. (The 17 year old will now be Duty Free Only.) The difference is significant. This one is more sherried than the 17 year old, and it wears the sherry well. I know that many of you, like myself, adore the 17 year old. Indeed, I feel that the 17 year old displays the true essence of Bowmore. But this 18 year old integrates the sherry notes with the Bowmore signature to create a richly flavored Islay whisky experience. Thick toffee, ripe fruit, and tar-tinged smoke are accentuated by dark chocolate, cocoa powder, burnt raisin, dates, and sea salt. Long, entertaining finish.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2007)

91 points

Duncan Taylor (distilled at Bowmore), Cask #85013, 22 year, 1982 vintage, 58.9%

A very clean, elegant Bowmore with a naked beauty that shows its Islay roots. You’ll find fresh brine and seaweed on a bed of honeyed malt and soft vanilla cream. Subtle berries, citrus, and melon fruit add a complex fruit dimension. Fresh, appetizing finish. Nicely done! (Exclusive to The Party Source.)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2006)

91 points

Brora, 25 year old, 56.3%

Quite lively for 25 years, with layers of bright fruit (lemon, nectarine, grapefruit, pineapple) on a bed of vanilla and honey. There’s a peppering of dried spice, smoldering ember, and beach pebbles. Lightly smoky, dried spice finish. Very nice. Brora enthusiasts will not be disappointed, but the prices of the whisky from this shuttered distillery are creeping up.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2009)

91 points

The Dalmore Mackenzie 1992 Vintage, 46%

A tribute to the Mackenzie Clan. Aged in bourbon barrels for 11 years, and then aged an additional 6 years in port pipes, creating a rich, voluptuous, robust Dalmore expression. Notes of toffee, molasses, caramelized nuts, pancake batter, fig cake, and chocolate-covered citrus. Subtle glazed ginger and orange marmalade add complexity. Polished oak, tobacco-tinged finish. Very dynamic and never sappy or cloying. Save this one for after dinner.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2010)

91 points

Glenfarclas 1974 vintage, 57.4%

Dark, chestnut-copper color suggests a sherry cask, and one nosing confirms it. A very multi-faceted whisky-the sherry is quite profound, but there’s a lot going on in addition to the sherry. Deep, succulent, and chewy on the palate, with fig cake, raisins, old rum, tobacco, pencil shavings, and almond fudge. Quite a mouthful!

Reviewed by: (Winter 2006)

91 points

Glenfarclas 175th Anniversary, 43%

First things first — congratulations to the Grants of Glenfarclas on attaining their 175th anniversary. To celebrate, they have vatted together a cask from 1952 with one each from the following five decades — and released it at an exceptionally reasonable price! The nose has a lift of struck match immediately followed by cedar, pomegranate, blackberry jam, and Seville orange. There’s a thick caramel toffee sweetness to the palate alongside the classic ’Farclas depth where dried, but sweet, fruits repose. Recommended. £80 (Dave Broom) (Value Pick)

Reviewed by: (Summer 2011)

91 points

Glenfiddich 1977 Vintage (Cask #4414), 54.1%

Very elegant and refined. Obviously this whisky was aged in a pristine sherry cask. The flavors are quite clean and well-defined. Gently sweet and fruity, with golden raisin, candy apple, and red raspberry jam. There’s delicate pineapple, dried cherry, coconut, and vanilla too, with a polished oak finish. A very classy Glenfiddich. Not as bold and spicy as last year’s 1976 vintage (which I had a hand in selecting but, ironically, don’t like as much). This new vintage approaches the caliber of the 1973 Vintage release from two years ago which I still think is the best one in recent years.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

91 points

Murray McDavid 'Mission' (distilled at Glenlivet) 1974, 46%

Deep gold color. Incredibly complex, subtle aromas of vanilla, honey, marshmallow, tropical fruit (pineapple, peaches, coconut), floral notes and a hint of almonds. Medium-full in body, and firm. On the palate, the flavors are complex and exhibit the same notes as the aroma, starting out gently sweet, but gradually becoming fruity and eventually drying out on the finish.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2003)

91 points

The Glenlivet Nadurra Triumph 1991, 48%

Richly textured with mouth-coating malt that is balanced by an array of lively fruit (fresh peach, nectarine, tangerine, pears in honey, and delicately caramelized pineapple). Creamy caramel, crème brûlée, anise, and subtle toasted marshmallow add complexity, as does its gently spicy, pleasingly dry finish. Two years older than the standard 16 year old Nadurra (which I like for its vibrancy and freshness). This new Triumph 1991 is richer and more textured, with more caramelized sugars, riper barley, and greater fruit impact. More mouth-coating too. (Exclusive to the U.S.)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2009)

91 points

Glenmorangie 25 year old, 43%

Quite deep for a Glenmorangie, but still surprisingly balanced. Glenmorangie is a lighter-style spirit and, in the past, some of the older vintage expressions were heavy-handed on the wood. The oak aging is obvious on the nose, but this whisky manages to walk the thin line between enjoying the maturity and depth of an older whisky without too much oak influence.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2008)

91 points

Glenmorangie Bacalta, 46%

The 8th Private Edition release. This one is finished in sun-baked casks which previously contained Malmsey Madeira. A predominantly sweet and fruity whisky, with caramel, honeyed almonds, peaches in syrup, and orange scone. Soft, soothing finish. Delicious!

Reviewed by: (Spring 2017)

91 points

Glenrothes, 1987 vintage, 43%

The most recent vintage from the 1980s. This whisky is very bright and lively. It dances on the palate with orange, tangerine, and lemon gum drops, balanced by vanilla, light caramel, hint of anise, and delicate oak. A whisky with great finesse and drinkability.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2006)

91 points

Lagavulin Distillers' Edition 1991 Vintage, 43%

More polished and sophisticated than the comparably sweet and lush Lagavulin 21 year old also reviewed here. The pedro ximinez cask finish certainly gives as much as it takes away when compared to the benchmark 16 year old. An array of complex ripe fruit, interwoven with notes of pot still rum, toffee, tar, seaweed, and brine on the finish. It seems logical to marry this big, smoky Islay whisky with an equally big, sweet, fruity sherry. In this case, the marriage works wonderfully.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2008)

91 points

Laphroaig 30 year old, 43%

Deep amber color. Wonderfully complex, and nicely balanced aroma and flavor of vanilla sweetness, tarry rope, oak, toffee, seaweed, and brine. Medium to full in body, and creamy in texture, with a finish that doesn't quit.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2002)

91 points

Laphroaig Quarter Cask, 48%

The whisky begins sweet and creamy, with notes of vanilla, honey, and ripe malt (reminiscent of a malting floor). Then the Laphroaig signature peat smoke, seaweed, tar, and medicinal notes emerge. Bottling at 48% and without chill-filtering keeps the whisky from being dulled down. A whisky that is very dynamic. Nicely done.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2006)

91 points

Hart Brothers 18 year old (distilled at Laphroaig) 1990 vintage, 46%

Bottled at 46% and not chill-filtered. Smart move! It really helps this whisky. This is a soft — almost elegant — Laphroaig (if that’s not an oxymoron). Very clean, with honeyed malt, ripe barley, brine, seaweed, and peat smoke, with just a teasing of the medicinal, band-aid notes that Laphroaig is known for. The owner-bottled 18 year old, which I rated a 90, is darker and drier, with more oak on the finish. I like this Hart Brothers expression just a little better.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2011)

91 points

Gordon & MacPhail (distilled at Old Pulteney), 35 year old, 1969 vintage, 43%

Surprisingly fresh - sanguine even - for its age, and appetizingly aromatic. Fairly light and approachable in body, but always inspiring and pithy. Notes of fresh, seabreeze brine, teasing exotic spices, and tangerine are softened by gently creamy malt notes and hints of coconut and almond. Very delicious and enjoyable anytime.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2007)

91 points

The McGibbons Provenance (distilled at Port Ellen), 19 year old, 1982, 62.5%

Amber color. Full aroma of peat smoke, with interwoven notes of seaweed, burning leaves, leather, and fudge. Medium in body, with a slight oily texture. Powerful and evolving in flavor, with great depth. It begins somewhat sweet up front with notes of vanilla and toffee, followed by a peat smoke explosion. Lingering notes of seaweed, oak, salt and pepper add complexity. Finally, the whisky becomes slightly sweet again, with lingering smoke.

Reviewed by: (Spring 1992)

91 points

Lombard Jewels of Scotland (distilled at Springbank) 21 year old 1991 Cask No. 172, 49.7%

Aged in a bourbon hogshead, allowing the distillery character to shine through. Fresh, lively and inviting (especially for its age), with a complex array of tropical and summer fruit, peppered with brine, vanilla, and a hint of baker’s chocolate. An oily texture adds weight. Dry, deliciously appetizing finish. An excellent aperitif whisky, but enjoyable anytime. (D & M Wines and Liquors exclusive.)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2013)

91 points

Bowmore, 18 year old, 43%

This replaces the 17 year old in the standard Bowmore portfolio. (The 17 year old will now be Duty Free Only). The difference is significant. This one is more sherried than the 17 year old, and it wears the sherry well. I know that many of you, like myself, adore the 17 year old. Indeed, I feel that the 17 year old displays the true essence of Bowmore. But this 18 year old integrates the sherry notes with the Bowmore signature to create a richly flavored Islay whisky experience. Thick toffee, ripe fruit, and tar-tinged smoke are accentuated by dark chocolate, cocoa powder, burnt raisin, dates, and sea salt. Long, entertaining finish.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2007)

91 points

Mackillop's Choice (distilled at Tomintoul), 37 year old, 1966 vintage, 43%

Fresh and lively for its age, with appetizing saltiness, citrus fruit (lemon, line and orange marmalade), and subtly complex dried spices. A fat, malty foundation complements these seasonings beautifully mid-palate, with the salt and dried spices emerging again on the finish. Very sophisticated.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2006)

91 points

Tomatin, 40 year old, 1967 vintage, 42.9%

Significantly darker than the rest, well-balanced, and palate-coating. Softer, not as intense or as dry as the 30 year old. Creamier too, with subtle, yet exotic notes of tropical fruit and exotic spices. There is a point at which ultra-aged spirits -- whether they are whisky, rum, tequila, or brandy -- find a common ground. What they lose in identity, they gain in intrigue and layers of subtle complexity (if properly matured). This whisky fits into that category. Contemplative and ethereal in nature.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2008)

91 points

Oban, 18 year old, 43%

Drier, less toffee and fruit, more dried spice and oak when compared to the standard Oban 14 year old.  A beautiful combination of rich, nutty toffee balanced by polished oak, salt, pepper, seaweed, distant smoke, and dried fruit.  Somewhat oily in texture.  Wonderful depth, too!  An improvement on what is already the biggest-selling Diageo single malt scotch in the U.S.  Very exciting and dynamic.  (7,700 bottles available only in the U.S. and at the Oban distillery).

Reviewed by: (Winter 2008)

91 points

Oban, 2000 vintage, 58.7%

Matured in a sherry cask. Lush, with glazed citrus, caramelized peach, chewy toffee, roasted nuts, and subtle pine needles. The sherry is a driving force throughout this whisky, but it’s obviously from a very clean, polished European oak cask. Very delicious, with a long, satiating finish. Quite impressive for such a young whisky. My favorite of the bunch. (534 bottles) £300

Reviewed by: (Spring 2010)

91 points

Sazerac Rye, 18 year old, 45%

This whiskey has been getting intermittently softer and less vibrant since the 2005 release. Additionally, the 2009 release is slightly sweeter on the palate when compared to last year’s release. Is this good or bad? That depends on how you like your rye whiskeys. Personally, I’d like to see more rye zing, but the pleasing, soothing nature (for a rye) in this new release makes up for it. Notes of toffee, cinnamon, creamy vanilla, date, mocha, bramble, glazed citrus, soft mint, and dusty spice (nutmeg, cocoa), with a dry, polished leather finish. I like it slightly better than last year’s release, which I rated an 87. That was my least favorite vintage over the past five years. This new vintage is still not up to those classic Sazerac 18’s bottled in the first half of this decade, which I consistently rated 95 and higher.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2010)

91 points

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac, 63.75%

Powerful, lush, and boldly spicy. A mouth-coating, invigorating rye whiskey with chewy toffee, fig cake, and candied fruit penetrated by thumping mint, warming cinnamon, and clove, ultimately revealing more subtle notes of allspice, coconut, and nutmeg. Long, delicious finish. An amazingly vibrant whiskey that lets you know you’re alive. The American whiskey equivalent of a young, cask-strength Islay single malt scotch or an imperial IPA

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

91 points

Vintage Rye, 21 year old, 47%

Very much in the same vein as the Rittenhouse Rye, with just a bit more oak, spicy, heat, and some leather on the finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2006)

91 points

Port Askaig, 17 year old, 45.8%

A new line of Islay single malts from Specialty Drinks, an extension of The Whisky Exchange. (The bottle doesn’t tell you which distillery this whisky came from, but if you look at a map of Islay you can probably figure it out.) I like this expression better than the more expensive 25 year old. There’s impeccable balance and more vibrancy in this 17 year old, with seaweed, smoked Spanish olive, coal soot, pencil shavings, citrus, and anise, along with subtle kipper and picked ginger. All this is layered on a bed of oily, honeyed malt. Salty, peppery, sooty, tarry finish. Nicely done! £50

Reviewed by: (Fall 2009)

91 points

Duncan Taylor (distilled at Royal Lochnagar) 23 year old 1986, 46.3%

Soft, soothing, and gentle. Layered fruit (bright orchard fruit, honeyed melon, kiwi, pineapple), polished oak, and hay, subtly spiced with vanilla bean, milk chocolate, evergreen, and cotton candy. Bottled at peak maturity. Very more-ish, too! (A Park Avenue Liquor exclusive.)

Reviewed by: (Summer 2012)

91 points

Powers 12 year old, 40%

After being around for about a decade, it’s nice to see this whiskey finally being sold in the U.S. Soft, sweet, and silky smooth, with creamy vanilla, caramel, toasted marshmallow, and honey-kissed tropical fruit (mango, pineapple, coconut). I get most of the barley on the front of the palate, with the grain whiskey components more on the finish. Something seems slightly missing for me to elevate this whiskey to classic status (some more pot still character, perhaps?), but it’s still a wonderful blended Irish whiskey, and so drinkable. Gather a bunch of friends and throw away the cork!

Reviewed by: (Summer 2010)

91 points

Elijah Craig Small Batch Single Barrel Bourbon 10 year old, 47%

Subtly complex and nicely rounded. A bed of sweetness (caramel, vanilla) peppered with honey-kissed fruit, golden raisin, and a hint of marzipan. Pleasing oak grip and dried spice on the finish. A great value for such a high-quality bourbon. (Loch & K(e)y exclusive)

Reviewed by: (Spring 2017)

91 points

Bushmills Bourbon Cask #8141, 56.5% ABV

This is what the standard Bushmills Malt 10 year old should taste like. A classic Irish whiskey nose. Deliciously sweet creamy notes of vanilla, marshmallow, honey, powdered sugar, and polished oak. Faint tropical fruit notes emerge from time to time. Very clean on the palate, with a dry, bourbon-like finish. Those extra few years in wood, along with being non-chill-filtered, add richness, depth, and complexity.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2004)

91 points

Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr. Seasoned Wood, 50%

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.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2016)

91 points

Forged Oak 15 year old, 45.25%

The fifth release in Diageo’s Orphan Barrel series (and the youngest of the releases so far). Distilled at the “new” Bernheim distillery and, once again, matured most recently in Stitzel-Weller warehouses. Complex flavors are well-integrated, with lovely spice notes (cinnamon, vanilla, mint, nutmeg), nougat, caramel, and subtle fruit. Long, satisfying finish. Not as distinctive as some previous Orphan Barrel releases, but more rounded and balanced. Nicely done!

Reviewed by: (Summer 2015)

91 points

Blade and Bow 22 year old, 46%

This whiskey includes bourbon distilled at Buffalo Trace and Bernheim; its final aging was at Stitzel-Weller. Sweet and rich, with a mouth-coating velvety texture. Deeper and more polished than its younger NAS sibling (see below). Caramel, cocoa powder, lush orchard fruit, kiwi, Seville orange, fig, and honeyed vanilla, balanced by drying oak. Distinctive in character. Best after a hearty meal.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2015)

90 points

Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve, 40%

Similar to the standard Forty Creek Barrel Select, whiskymaker John Hall produces three different whiskies (rye, corn, and malted barley), ages them separately, and then marries them for a period before bottling. Unlike the Barrel Select, with Double Barrel Reserve, the resultant whisky is married in first-fill bourbon barrels rather than sherry casks. The result is a rich vanilla creaminess that coats the palate. Mixed in, you’ll find coconut, marshmallow, citrus, and pineapple, with emerging toasted pecan, dried spice, and dusty corn on the finish. Quite soothing and dangerously drinkable. My favorite so far from the various Forty Creek releases.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2009)

90 points

Hirsch Rye, 21 year old, 46.5%

(Previously reviewed in Vol. 15, No. 3.) Similar to the other two rye whiskeys reviewed above, with less heat on the finish and slightly more minty spice notes.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2006)

90 points

Hirsch Rye, 21 year old, 46.5%

One of the biggest American whiskeys I’ve tasted. We’re talking heavyweight class here. Notes of thick, chewy toffee and maple syrup are balanced nicely by firm, spicy rye notes, candied fruit, faint dusty corn, and polished oak. The bold spice notes of the rye (and oak) emerge again on the finish. Not as crisp and clean as the Sazerac Rye 18 year old (our Whiskey of the Year for 2005), but it makes up a lot of ground in its lush, decadent, mouth-coating richness. This is a dark, decadent whiskey. My take on the rye whiskey market is that these older expressions are becoming increasingly scarce and more expensive. (No one could have predicted such a demand, or even a category, two decades ago.) If you are a rye whiskey advocate, buy the good ones at the best price you can get.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2006)

90 points

The MacTarnahan, 15 years old, 46%

Amber gold color. Rich, malty aroma with interwoven notes of fruit and oak. Floral note and just the wisp of smoke add complexity. Similar flavors-big and rich-with a long satisfying dryish finish.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2001)

90 points

Connemara, 12 year old, 40%

One of Cooley’s finest efforts. Moderate doses of kiln smoke, dried turf, and kippers, tamed by vanilla cream, barley, and a buttery, olive oil texture. Subtle spices dance on the palate. Lingering smoky, white pepper finish. Islay meets Ireland.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2005)

90 points

Knappogue Castle Twin Wood, 16 year old, 40%

The latest limited release from this brand. This whiskey spent most of its life aging in a bourbon barrel and then spent 9 months in sherry casks. (“Twin wood” is synonymous with “finishing.”) This one’s triple distilled (think Bushmills distillery) and is the first Knappogue Castle to be aged in two types of wood. It’s a very nice whiskey, with an array of bright fruit lying on a bed of creamy vanilla, toasted nuts, marshmallow, marzipan, and powdered cocoa. Excluding the original 1951 Knappogue Castle release (from the long gone B. Daly distillery), this is my favorite of the “modern day” Knappogue Castle whiskeys.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

90 points

Compass Box Hedonism Maximus

An older, more exotic expression of Hedonism, consisting of 42 year old Invergordon and 29 year old Cameron Bridge grain whiskies. Straw gold color. This is richer and cleaner than most other grain whisky offerings, which are often too thin and overweight with dry oak. Like many older grain whiskies, creamy vanilla, coconut custard, and a variety of tropical fruits abound. Additional notes of toasted marshmallow, caramelized apricot, golden raisin, and a gentle dried spice finish add complexity. Surely one of the better examples of this rather eccentric category.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

90 points

King's Crest, 25 year old, 40%

Amber gold color. Aromas of delicate fruit, coconut, vanilla and toffee, with delicate background oak notes. The flavor delivers what the aroma promises. It is nicely balanced, with a lingering dryish finish.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2000)

90 points

Willett Single Barrel Cask No. 2504 9 year old, 56.6%

Very graceful, with a nice balance of youth and maturity. Gently sweet notes of toffee, fig, nougat, and maple syrup, spiked with cinnamon and vanilla. Dark berried fruit and a hint of coconut round out the palate. Perilously more-ish bourbon with a very easy-going demeanor. (A Park Avenue Liquor exclusive.)

Reviewed by: (Fall 2012)

90 points

Buffalo Trace, 45%

Light bronze color. Thick, mature aromas, with notes of subtle spice (vanilla, mint), toffee, light molasses and leather. Adding a little water revealing notes of teaberry, anise, and dark candied fruit. Pleasantly sweet at first in flavor, with notes of brown sugar and spice (vanilla, mint), becoming dry with enveloping flavors of oak and leather. With a little water, more subtle flavors are revealed, including toffee, dark fruit, and anise. The whisky finishes long and dry with significant depth. This is a big exciting bourbon, full of character from the distillery previously known as Ancient Age. The price is right too-if you can find the whiskey to buy it.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2000)

90 points

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection “Rediscovered Barrels,” 1993 vintage, 17 year old, 45%

Richly flavored and surprisingly sweet on the nose and front of the palate. A tactile whiskey: creamy, yet becoming resinous toward the finish. Notes of vanilla saltwater taffy, roasted nuts, tobacco, and molasses. An intriguing whiskey, and my favorite of the three.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2011)

90 points

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection 12 year old bourbon from floor #5, 45%

Each of these three bourbons was distilled and bottled at the same time, and aged in the same warehouse for 12 years and 3 months. The main variable was the floor they were aged on. In theory, the higher up in the warehouse, the greater the temperature variation, and the more wood influence. Does the experiment support this general concept? Yes, with the sweet spot being the middle floor. Similar sweet notes as its sibling aged in floor #1 (caramel, honey, ripe fruit), but with an additional layer of dried spice (cinnamon, vanilla, clove) to accompany it. It has all the components of a fine bourbon, and it’s also nicely balanced, with good oak grip on the finish. The best of the three. Price is per 375 ml

Reviewed by: (Fall 2014)

90 points

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection 12 year old wheated bourbon from floor #1, 45%

Buffalo Trace distilled a wheated bourbon and aged barrels from the same distillation date on three different floors (1, 5 and 9) for 12 ½ years to see what the differences would be. This is similar to an experiment they conducted last year using a rye mashbill bourbon. As you will see, the higher the floor, the more intense the flavors, and the greater the wood influence. Gentle and easygoing. Creamy texture, with layered sweet notes of caramel, vanilla, marzipan, and crème brûlée. Soft background spice lingers on a delicate, soothing finish. Price is per 375 ml.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2015)

90 points

Buffalo Trace 15 Minute Infrared Light Wave Barrels, 45%

Nicely rounded and very drinkable. Warming cinnamon, vanilla bean, and dried fruit, wrapped up in creamy caramel and light toffee. Pleasant, gently sweet finish. Great anytime. 375ml

Reviewed by: (Fall 2016)

90 points

Classic Cask, 13 year old, 1991 Vintage, Batch GL-109, 45.4%

A remarkably balanced bourbon. Evolving notes of maple, vanilla, mint, dried fruit, coconut, and polished oak with a hint of leather on the finish. Very clean and drinkable too-especially for a 13 year old bourbon. Only 726 bottles were produced, but it’s worth tracking down one of the remaining bottles.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2005)

90 points

Delilah's '15', 15 year old, 50%

Well matured, but still with a spicy rye mean streak. There’s a lush sweetness that tames both the resinous oak and the bold rye spice…it’s a harmonious balance between the three, actually. Warming cinnamon and cool mint meld with sweet corn, rhum agricole, honey-kissed citrus, pecan pie, and cocoa powder, leading to a long, dry, spicy, leather-tinged finish. Bottled to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of Delilah’s bar in Chicago. A worthy effort!

Reviewed by: (Fall 2009)

90 points

Delilah's '13' Bourbon, 13 year old, Batch #1, 50%

One of the leading bourbon-specialty bars in the U.S., located in Chicago, finally has its own single barrel bourbon. The flavors are nicely balanced, and there’s a soothing, creamy texture throughout the palate. Sweet notes of coconut cream, vanilla fudge, and honeycomb are enhanced by a complex array of more delicate notes of spearmint, green tea, golden raisin, dusty corn, cocoa, and oak resin. This time, “13” is a lucky number.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2007)

90 points

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel (90th Birthday Edition), 45%

A limited run to commemorate Elmer’s birthday. An elegant, complex whiskey. The flavors are nice and tight. Bright fruit (dried citrus, tangerine, nectarine, hint of pineapple), brittle mint, vanilla, and gin botanicals, soothed by nougat and soft caramel, with subtle -- yet lingering -- dark chocolate, espresso, and dried tobacco on the finish. Great drinkability too!

Reviewed by: (Winter 2009)

90 points

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel, 45%

An elegant bourbon, and very drinkable too! Its flavors are clean and tight, with bright fruit (nectarine, tangerine, pineapple), soft coconut, honeyed vanilla, cotton candy, and subtle gin botanicals. Polished leather and a hint of dark chocolate on the finish. Great anytime. (Exclusive to Capital City Package.)

Reviewed by: (Fall 2013)

90 points

Evan Williams Single Barrel 1997 Vintage, 43.3%

A bright and lively bourbon. Nicely balanced, too, with notes of caramel custard, red licorice, orange marmalade, golden raisin, and coconut cream, underpinned by crisp rye and tantalizing cinnamon. A gently sweetish whiskey -- not cloying in any way. In fact, it’s very drinkable. And it’s a whiskey that demonstrates great harmony between youth and maturity.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2007)

90 points

Evan Williams Single Barrel 2007 Vintage (Barrel No. 724), 43.3%

Aged slightly more than 9 years. (The annual single barrel releases jumped last year from approximately 10 years old to 9 years old, with both a 2005 and 2006 vintage released in the same year.) A mélange of fruit (apricot, candied citrus, pineapple, golden raisin) spiked with fresh mint and cinnamon on a bed of caramel and vanilla. In true form, this bourbon is flavorful and well-rounded.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2016)

90 points

Four Roses Single Barrel (2009 Limited Edition), 58%

Deeper and darker than some Four Roses, but with plenty of bright, lush sweetness. Notes of toffee, honey-drenched nuts, and ripe summer fruit. Nicely spiced, with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a dusting of mocha. I just love the honey influence. A well-balanced whiskey, with all the flavors taking turns to shine. Great integration of flavors, too! One of my favorite Four Roses single barrel bourbons, which will grow on you with every sip.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2009)

90 points

Four Roses 2011 Limited Edition Single Barrel, 12 year old, 50.9%

Very floral and fragrant. Gently sweet, too: apple tart laced with cinnamon, pancakes drizzled with maple syrup. Well-defined oak and crisp, dry spice (cinnamon, anise, cocoa, nutmeg) balance the sweetness. An interesting whiskey: big in some ways, yet elegant in others

Reviewed by: (Summer 2011)

90 points

George T. Stagg, 70.9%

Stagg is so smooth, it’s quite drinkable at higher proofs. On the other hand, when you bring it down to the strength that you would normally drink your whiskey, it’s almost too easygoing (I made the same comment about last year’s William Larue Weller bottling). The main theme to this whiskey is lush toffee sweetness and, like last year’s expression, some vanilla fudge, nougat, and molasses. Underlying notes of dates, tobacco, dark berried fruit, spearmint, and a hit of coffee round out the palate. Given the higher strength, it’s a true value bourbon -- almost like getting two bottles in one. A very nice whiskey but, when brought down to comparable strength, the Eagle Rare 17 has more complexity.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

90 points

Murray McDavid (Distilled at Ardbeg) 1990, 8 year old, 46%

Pale white wine color. Smoky, youthful aroma. There’s no surprises here-it definitely smells like a young Ardbeg. Big beautiful explosion of smoky, tarry flavors that evolve and seem to linger on the palate indefinitely. This is the first Ardbeg release I've tasted since the distillery's long shut down in the 1980s. After the shut down, they discontinued their floor maltings, so I was concerned that it might not taste like the Ardbeg of old. Ardbeg fans can let out a big sigh of relief. This one is big and gutsy-just the way we like it. My only criticism of this particular release is that it could have used about one or two more years in oak to tame some of the spirity nature of the whisky. Otherwise, this is wonderful stuff!

Reviewed by: (Summer 2000)

90 points

Ardbeg Supernova (2010 Release), 60.1%

Very dynamic, complex, and powerful. Here’s what I’m picking up, in somewhat descending order in taste profile: leafy smoke, coal tar, mocha fudge with dark chocolate chips, smoked olive, peppered seaweed salad, fruit (lemon, lime), genever, brine-tinged grass, and (with some coaxing) floral notes (violet?). Compared to last year’s debut release of Supernova, this one is certainly comparable, but I feel it’s a tad richer, with more leafy smoke and ripe barley. It also seems a bit more polished, less aggressive. I like it a little more than its predecessor (rated 89).

Reviewed by: (Fall 2010)

90 points

Ardmore, 30 year old, 53.7%

The oldest Ardmore I have tasted. Smartly bottled at cask strength and not chill-filtered. (The entry level Ardmore “Traditional” is at the opposite end of the age spectrum, tasting quite youthful.) My initial concern with this 30 year old was: would the wood dominate the lovely floral, smoky notes I enjoy so much with Ardmore? The wood is certainly present, but the smoke still comes through. There’s a gently layered sweetness that complements the smoke (toffee, deep caramel, subtle honey), licorice root, bourbon barrel char, coffee grounds, and high cocoa chocolate, with subtle dried citrus and a suggestion of floral soap. Dry finish, with more bourbon barrel char and licorice root. Considering that Ardmore has historically been a blending malt, most of the stocks right now are much younger. This is a rare treat. It’s a wee bit thin in body and a little on the dry side from 30 years on wood for me to rate it in the mid 90s, but it’s still a very enjoyable whisky.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2009)

90 points

Arran Madeira Wine Cask Finish (2008 Limited Edition), 50%

This is not a single-cask bottling like other recent wine-finished releases, but the casks they selected are very good ones. Lovely antique amber color. The Madeira dovetails beautifully with the malt and oak, and it has matured nicely for a whisky less than ten years old. Lush notes of orange marmalade, raspberry tart, and panforte, all wrapped up in rich toffee and a dusting of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cocoa. A dry, resinous, spicy, tactile finish adds balance, complexity, and additional dimension. Smartly bottled at a higher strength. Some of these wine-finished Arran whiskies are impressive. This is one of them.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2009)

90 points

Auchentoshan 18 year old, 55.8%

Aged in first and (mostly) second fill sherry casks. The sherry is kept in balance and does not mask Auchentoshan’s subtle beauty. The classic Auchentoshan creamy, grassy, freshness abounds, complemented by honey-soaked almonds, cereal grain, and an array of bright fruit (citrus, sultana, mandarin). Not as polished as the Auchentoshan 21 year old, but quite entertaining. (420 bottles for the U.S.)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2006)

90 points

Auchentoshan 36 year old 1966 Vintage, 49.4%

Amber color, with gold hues. Soft, subtly seductive aromas of creamy vanilla, crème brulee, tropical fruit, oak, and a hint of mint. Light to medium in body-silky in texture at first, then becoming and firm. On the palate, the whisky starts out gently sweet, with creamy vanilla and honeyed malt. Subtle tropical fruit notes arrive mid palate. The whisky then begins to dry out fairly rapidly (this is a 36 year old Lowland after all), as dry resinous notes of vanilla, mint, and herbs reveal themselves. The whisky finishes dry, with notes of soft leather. The way the owners of Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch are handling vintage bottlings now is that specialty retailer orders an entire cask and sells it exclusively. This one is a Sam's exclusive. It's older than the previous, widely distributed 1966 bottling and less expensive too! You wouldn't expect a triple distilled Lowland whisky to age so gracefully. Auchentoshan is an exception to the rule. It has acquired the depth and maturity from extensive aging, yet it still manages to maintain its distillery character and Lowland gentility. Only on the dry finish does it really show its age. But that's a small price to pay for an otherwise very good single cask whisky at a very reasonable price for 36 years old.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2003)

90 points

The Balvenie 30 year old, 47.3%

A special Balvenie to honor Master Distiller David Stewart’s 30 years working at the distillery. This is a big and brooding dram. The aroma suggests it is aged in both bourbon and sherry oak. It’s complex and richly flavored (sweeter up front and increasingly dry towards its finish), with notes of honey, candied fruit, thick cut marmalade, vanilla, almonds, and prominent spicy oak notes. I’m picking up plenty of sherry in this new expression, which I like. It finishes firmly dry, with notes of spice and tannin. While I enjoy this whisky a great deal, you might want to seek out the Balvenie 25 year old (which I rated a 93) while the odd bottle is still available. It is slightly more rounded on the palate, and less than half the cost.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2005)

90 points

The Balvenie Madeira Cask 17 year old, 43%

A harmonious marriage of fruit and spice. More balanced than last year’s sweet Rum Cask release. In fact, this is one of the most deftly-balanced whiskies I’ve tasted this year. Bramble, ripe nectarine, caramel apple, honeyed vanilla, and golden raisin, spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. Soft (for Balvenie), lingering, warm, dried spice finish.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2009)

90 points

BenRiach 30 year old 1976 vintage (Cask #4469), 55.5%

Beautifully clean and polished on the palate -- it still allows BenRiach’s other flavors to shine through. Ripe, complex tropical fruit notes meld with delicate honey and suggestions of shortbread cookies and toasted coconut. Teasing peat and smoke surfaces from time to time. This whisky is a lot of fun to drink. (800 bottles total; 120 for the U.S.)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2007)

90 points

Bowmore, 34 year old, 1971 vintage, 51%

A lovely example of a mature, sherried Bowmore. Its rich flavors evolve on the palate and are nicely balanced. Lush fruit, juicy oak, damp peat, and kiln smoke are peppered with cinnamon, raisins, dates, and cocoa. Warming, soothing finish. Not quite Black Bowmore, but a delicious whisky nonetheless.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2006)

90 points

Bowmore Darkest, 15 year old, 43%

Darkest now has an age statement of 15 years old. This new release is an improvement from the original Darkest, both of which are succulently sherried. It is fuller in flavor and more visceral, in both the nose and palate. These differences are subtle, but positive. Notes of lush fruit, raisin, pot-still rum, and Heath bars. Citrus and wood spices emerge, along with burning peat embers that linger on the finish. Nicely done.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2007)

90 points

A. D. Rattray (distilled at Bowmore), 18 year old (Cask #2075), 53.5%

The fruit (orange marmalade, tangerine, fresh pineapple) is nearly as dominant as the leafy smoke. Sweet notes of nutty caramel, honeyed barley, toffee, and nougat round out the palate. Ginger, cinnamon, telicherry pepper, tobacco, and ash play a supporting role. Lingering fruity, smoky finish. For those who like sherried Islay whiskies.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

90 points

Signatory (distilled at Brora), 24 year old, 1981 vintage, Cask # 06/656, 60.1%

The distillery closed in 1983, and was replaced by the Clynelish distillery across the street. Classic Brora. Fresh, and exuberant for a 25 year old whisky. Briny, with citrus zest, fruit gum drops, dynamic spices, and a hint of seaweed and smoke. Appetizing finish. All the flavors are well-integrated, and the whisky is very clean. If you don’t have a Brora yet, get this one before it’s gone.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2007)

90 points

Bruichladdich 15 year old, 2nd Edition, 46%

Finished in Chateau d’Yquem casks, and it shows. There’s a creamy, honeyed sweetness and viscosity to this whisky that is very soothing. Bruichladdich’s brisk sea character cuts through the lightly syrup-like thickness and keeps the whisky fresh and lively, while notes of golden raisin, peaches, lemon gum drops, vanilla, and coconut add complexity. Satisfying salty/sweet finish.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2006)

90 points

Bruichladdich 3D, The Big Peat, 50%

A marriage of Bruichladdich with three different peating levels. Devotees of young, smoky Islay whiskies will enjoy this one. It is youthful and explosive, with earthy peat smoke, fish nets, brine, and kiln ash. All this is tamed beautifully by notes of vanilla wafer, seductive malt, marshmallow, spiced peaches, and pear.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2006)

90 points

Bruichladdich 1973 vintage, 40.2% ABV

This one is my favorite of the four distillery-bottled Bruichladdich whiskies reviewed here. It still quite lively and nicely balanced for such a mature whisky (and reminiscent of the previous 1970 vintage in this respect), with some floral notes and brine emerging from its fruity, vanilla, truffle, nougat foundation. Still, it maintains an air of lightness and freshness throughout, with a pleasingly dry, subtly spicy finish that lingers.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2004)

90 points

Duncan Taylor (distilled at Bruichladdich), 34 year old, 1969 Vintage, 46%

An unusual, but very fine, Bruichladdich, with sweet, chewy toffee notes I often associate with Speyside whiskies, not Islay (although I have tasted a few older Bunnahabhain whiskies that were like this). Layers of marzipan and chocolate fudge also emerge, and I even pick up some apple and black cherry fruit in the background. Bruichladdich's "sea breeze" freshness rises through the chewy sweetness and provides balance and complexity.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2005)

90 points

Bruichladdich 10 year old, 46%

The first 10 year old distilled by the current owners back in 2001. Lovely marriage of both bourbon and sherry casks, and quite fresh, with a maturity resembling a 12 year old, rather than 10. Smooth on the palate and very drinkable, with creamy vanilla, honeycomb, banana bread, bright lemon, melon (honeydew, cantaloupe), tangerine, candied ginger, and delicate brine. With all the Bruichladdich razzle-dazzle over the past decade, we can embrace this unpretentiously delicious Laddie with open arms.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2011)

90 points

Duncan Taylor (distilled at Bunnahabhain), 36 year old, 1967 vintage, 40.2%

Older expressions of this unpeated Islay dram are often quite delicious, but they aren't easy to come by. The best ones, like this one, take the sweetish toffee/nutty foundation of younger expressions and add layers of depth and complexity. This whisky just continues to evolve on the palate. The entrance is creamy in texture with layers of sweetness (caramel, vanilla fudge, toffee), becoming nutty and marzipan-like with subtle background fruit. The finish is long and pleasingly dry, with a hint of salt. Very entertaining and satisfying.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2005)

90 points

Bunnahabhain 25 year old, 43%

Nougat and dates to the fore, then becoming increasingly nutty with suggestions of Demerara rum and cinnamon and underlying polished leather. Lovely dried spice notes and an appetizing salty tang teases the palate on the finish.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2006)

90 points

Signatory (distilled at Bunnahabhain), Cask #2540, 27 year old, 1978 vintage, 54.4%

Very fragrant on the nose, and thick on the palate. The flavors are chock full of thick chewy toffee, chocolate fudge, roasted nuts, burnt raisin, black currant, and spiced oak. There’s a hint of salt and Earl Grey tea on the finish. Very dynamic.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2007)

90 points

Adelphi (distilled at Clynelish), 1989, 10 year old, 61.5%

Straw color. Fresh, appetizing aroma. Light-medium body. Nicely balanced flavors. Both the aroma and palate express notes of spices (Dijon mustard), brine, exotic peppers, caramel, and fruit. Lingering finish.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2000)

90 points

Cragganmore 10 year old, 60.1%

Very dry, fragrant and spicy. Medium bodied, but firm. Initial, flirtatious notes of honey, creamy caramel and oatcakes quickly become dry and arid, with a foundation of leather and oak shavings. The whisky is peppered throughout with notes of anise, coffee, dried herbs and undertones of Madeira. Very forward and bullishly dry for its age, and more intense than the standard Cragganmore bottling. It’s rare for a whisky this young to be so complex.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2005)

90 points

Signatory 'Unchillfiltered' (distilled at Cragganmore), 15 year old, 1989 vintage, 46%

Independent bottlings of Cragganmore are hard to come by, and this one is a beauty. Cragganmore is not rich, heavy, or sweet like many Speyside whiskies. This one is medium-bodied, yet firm. It is clean on the palate throughout (with a brief honeyed vanilla note before becoming dry), and it is loaded with spice and dried fruits that continue to evolve. Long, lingering, finish. The decision to forego chill-filtering certainly reveals more of this whisky’s subtle, yet persistent, complexity.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2005)

90 points

Gordon & MacPhail (distilled at Glen Grant), 1966, 41 year old, 49.4%

There have been a lot of old, heavily sherried, independently bottled Glen Grant whiskies on the market over the past several years. This one appears to be from a refill sherry cask, as its influence is more subtle. It has aged well, showing no excessive oak, but plenty of fruit (summer fruits, dried citrus, stewed fruits, tangerine, golden raisin), balanced by polished oak, grape skin, and subtle dark chocolate. Distinctively pleasing. Don’t add too much water, though, as it breaks down. (A Kensington Wine Market exclusive.) $500 (CAD)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2009)

90 points

Glen Garioch Cask #992 14 year old 1998, 54.6%

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)

Reviewed by: (Summer 2013)

90 points

Glenglassaugh, 26 year old, 46%

A polished whisky, light-medium in body with well-rounded flavors. Fruity (ripe orange, lemon gumdrops, candy apple), with creamy vanilla and a honeyed, toasted malt foundation. Soft, gentle oak throughout. What a lovely, gentle-natured whisky, straight down the middle! Bonus points for versatility.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

90 points

Mackillop's Choice (distilled at Glenlivet) 27 year old 1977 vintage, 43%

A very clean whisky, with fragrant dried flowers, aromas of germinating barley, textured honey, vanilla waver, coconut cream and teasing fresh pineapple. Drying, delicately minty finish. For those who love the richly elegant, non-sherried style of older Glenlivet whiskies.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2006)

90 points

The Glenlivet Nàdurra 16 year old, 57.2%

Aged exclusively in first-fill bourbon casks and bottled unfiltered and at natural cask strength. This takes the usually subtle Glenlivet and makes it more vibrant, amplifying its flavors while accentuating the bourbon oak. Tight notes of honeyed malt, vanilla bean, toasted oak, bright fruit, and nuts, are peppered with more subtle floral and spice notes. Dry, spicy finish. A Glenlivet with pizzazz.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2006)

90 points

The Glenlivet French Oak 12 year old, 40%

Antique amber color. This whisky maintains the elegance cherished by Glenlivet enthusiasts, but finishing the whisky in limousin oak produces a whisky of deeper wood notes, particularly wood spices (vanilla, sandalwood, perhaps even mint) and floral notes. It’s rich, complex, and dry-especially on the finish.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2000)

90 points

Duncan Taylor (distilled at Glenlivet) 1968 Vintage 35 year old, 43.1%

Younger bottlings of Glenlivet are often quite elegant and subtle. But such finesse isn’t always evident in older expressions, which often become dominated by sherry and oak. This one, at 35 years of age, demonstrates plenty of elegance and finesse. What impresses me most about this whisky is that you wouldn’t know it was 35 year old just by taste. It isn’t the least bit tired on the palate, and it is very clean, without the excessive woodiness often found in whiskies of this age. Plus, the balance of flavors is impeccable-vanilla, honeyed malt, peaches, pineapple, heather, and just a touch of oak. A very polished, refined whisky.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2004)

90 points

Glenmorangie Margaux Cask Finish 18 year old 1987 Vintage, 46%

Waves of fruit (apple pie, orange marmalade, sultana, ripe pineapple), accented with notes of dark chocolate, roasted nuts, and spice (cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, evergreen), particularly on the finish. (In the past, I’ve thought that a couple of these limited edition Glemorangie wood finishes were a little overdone with the finishing, but not this one).

Reviewed by: (Spring 2007)

90 points

Glenmorangie 1981 Sauternes Wood Finish, 46%

Style: Highland single malt scotch Color: Golden honey Aroma: Lush and mouthwatering. Notes of honey, peaches in syrup, golden raisins, coconut, vanilla, and background resinous oak. Palate: Creamy and velvety in texture. Honey and fruit up front, with some oak notes, wood resins and vanilla mid-palate, becoming sweet again with a soothing finish.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2004)

90 points

Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX, 46%

The first of Glenmorangie’s new “Private Collection” line of whiskies for Travel Retail. This one is finished in Pedro Ximenez (PX) sherry. With PX being so rich and intense, and Glenmorangie spirit so subtly complex and delicate, does the sherry dominate here? No, it doesn’t. Still, this is viscous and very textural for a Glenmorangie. I’m picking up rhum agricole drenched with honeyed apricot, toffee almond, chocolate-covered raisin, glazed citrus, and cherry pits, all leading to a leathery, tobacco-tinged finish. A visceral whisky with plenty of grip. Great for after dinner.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2009)

90 points

The Glenrothes, 1987, 43%

Amber gold color. Rich aromas of complex fruit and vanilla. Thick and rich in body, with a mouth-coating texture. Flavors of honeyed malt, well structured fruit, and vanilla, with a long finish.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2000)

90 points

The Glenrothes, 1979 Vintage, 43%

Amber color. Lush, rich aromas of rummy toffee, nuts, vanilla, with interwoven notes of glazed fruit. On the heavy side of medium in body, and silky. There are layers of sweetness on the palate (toffee, caramel, marzipan and dates), becoming nutty with a pleasing oak woodiness to balance the sweetness. Long, dryish finish with notes of spice and fruit.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2003)

90 points

Highland Park 15 year old, 43%

A new expression due out in March, positioned between the 12 and 18 year old versions. A fresh and enormously drinkable whisky; very silky, with honeyed malt, delicate citrus and berry fruit, floral notes (heather and lavender), and a hint of cocoa and sea spray.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2006)

90 points

Lagavulin 12 year old (2009 Release), 57.9%

The aromas are tightly bound, but a little water releases them nicely. A powerful dram, with tarry, leafy, coal ash, caramel apple, and driftwood notes; even a little soapy (not necessarily a negative). More subtle floral notes (heather, violet), Earl Grey tea, and smoked fish. Long, damp peat smoke and charcoal finish.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2010)

90 points

Laphroaig 18 year old, 48%

Very smooth for Laphroaig -- the extra aging has mellowed this whisky. Soothing honeyed malt, creamy vanilla, and toffee provide a bed for peat smoke, charcoal, and tar; along with more subtle brine, smoked seaweed, anise, ginger, and citrus. A gentler, creamier, more tactile, less medicinal Laphroaig when compared to some of its siblings. Will you prefer the new 18 year old to the 15 year old it is replacing? That depends. I enjoy the balance and subtle complexity of flavors with the 15 year old, but I also like the enhanced richness and mouth-coating creaminess of the 18. The higher strength (and no chill-filtering) of the 18 is certainly a bonus. (Side note: I know this is a moot point now, but I would like to have seen the 15 year old bottled at 48%, rather than 43%.)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2009)

90 points

Laphroaig Triple Wood, 48%

Similar to Laphroaig Quarter Cask, but also finished in oloroso sherry casks. Fruit and smoke: fleshy red berries, red licorice, toffee, ripe barley, coal tar, sun-baked seaweed, peat smoke, and a hint of coffee grounds. Tarry finish. I rated the Quarter Cask a 91, and I think this whisky is similar in quality. If you like sherry-influenced whiskies, then go for the Triple Wood. If not, then consider the Quarter Cask. (Travel Retail and European exclusive)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2010)

90 points

The Macallan 1861 Replica, 42.7%

Antique amber color. Aromas of toffee and malt, with interwoven dried fruit, flowers, and spices-a real potpourri. Rich, lush body. Rich flavors of toffee, wood resin spices, and citrus, finishing with notes of malt, toffee, and a hint of leather and smoke.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2003)

90 points

Port Ellen, 1979 vintage, 28 year old, 53.8%

The seventh limited edition release of Port Ellen whiskies by Diageo. Not as vibrant and intense as younger bottlings (particularly on the nose), but nicely matured with a satisfying sweet foundation. Notes of toffee and roasted nuts permeate though the peat kiln smoke, coal tar, fish nets, and charred oak. Seaweed and brine, more reserved mid-palate, emerges noticeably on the finish. The Port Ellen bottlings are getting older (the distillery closed in 1983) and they are getting more expensive. This one still captures the essence of Port Ellen.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2008)

90 points

Old Malt Cask (distilled at Port Ellen), 25 year old, 54.7%

These Port Ellen whiskies are becoming increasingly rare since the distillery closed down for good in 1983. This is a very good example of an old-fashioned Islay whisky: never heavy, but with lots of kick. There’s plenty of wet leaf, bonfire smoke, coal tar, and some earthy, damp kiln notes and brine. But you’ll discover a lovely honeyed maltiness for balance, along with tangerine, dirty martini, and cocoa for complexity. Smoky, briny finish. There will be a time when some of us will tell the next generation of whisky drinkers about the joys of Port Ellen. Mare sure you’re one of those telling the story, not listening to it. (Exclusive to Kensington Wine Market.) $250 (Canadian)

Reviewed by: (Winter 2009)

90 points

Signatory (distilled at Port Ellen), 1982 vintage, 26 year old (Cask # 1202), 54.1%

Port Ellen, for sure! Very old-fashioned in nature: intertwined notes of tarry rope, coal soot, rooty peat, toffee, dark chocolate, and walnuts, spiked with coffee bean, anise, cracked peppercorn, and a hint of ginger. Dry, smoky, long, slightly austere finish. This Port Ellen is a bit moody (maybe even has an attitude problem), but I’m not complaining.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2010)

90 points

Peerless (distilled at Strathisla) 1967, 35 year old, 48.8%

Antique gold color. A pleasingly aromatic aroma of dried fruit, floral notes, malt, and light toffee. Medium in body, and slightly chewy. Its flavors are well-balanced, deep, and complex. Toffee, almonds, and sweet malt notes, with interwoven notes of fruit. The palate ultimately dries out with dried fruit, herbs and nuts on the finish.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2003)

90 points

Talisker Distillers Edition, 1992 vintage, 45.6%

Matured in amoroso casks. The amoroso softens Talisker’s fiery personality and adds a gentle sweetness not normally found in Talisker. There’s a lot going on here-notes of toffee and dark chocolate, layered with bitter orange, seaweed, kippers, smoked nuts, damp peat, and kalamata olives, finishing with a peppery glow. Not an every day dram-one has to be in the mood for a whisky like this. (With sausages during brunch, perhaps?)

Reviewed by: (Summer 2006)

90 points

Duncan Taylor (distilled at Tamdhu), Cask # 7313, 34 year old, 1969 vintage, 40.2%

A whisky that defies its age. It is remarkably clean and fresh, with no suggestion of excessive oak. Fragrant aroma, with notes of vanilla, coconut, honeyed malt, cereal grain, and linseed. Similar follow through on the palate, with a texture that is soft, lightly oily, and soothing. Clean finish. One of the best Tamdhu whiskies I’ve tasted.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2007)

90 points

Tomintoul Stillman's Dram, 33 year old, 45%

Antique gold color. Fragrant aroma, with floral notes, soft honey tones, vanilla, and delicate fruit (orange and lemon). Light to medium in body and soft in texture. Flavors are similar to the whisky's aroma, very clean, and with great balance-the woody notes one would expect from a whisky this old are kept in check.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2002)

90 points

Scott's Selection (Distilled at 'North of Scotland'), 1964 Vintage, 45.5%

According to the Christie family who owned North of Scotland Distillery before it was sold to DCL in 1982 (and closed it shortly thereafter,) they would purchase the least expensive grain possible to make their grain whisky. In 1964, it was barley. The barley, combined with the fact that the whisky is finished off in port casks, makes for a surprisingly rich, sweet, and fruity grain whisky, expressing notes of demerara sugar, perfumed candles, cherry almond tart, caramel and vanilla. Remarkably restrained wood notes for such a mature whisky, which expresses itself mostly in its soft, creamy finish. Unique among whiskies.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2006)

90 points

Old Potrero Hotaling’s Single Malt Rye 16 year old, 50%

Soft and subtle aromas, but bolder on the palate. A base of creamy caramel is peppered with cinnamon heat, vanilla, brittle mint, and dried fruit. Firm oak grip on the finish balances the sweetness. Very enjoyable.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2017)

90 points

High West Double Rye, 46%

A blend of two straight whiskeys: a very young 2 year old high rye content whiskey and a 16 year old rye whiskey with a lower rye content. Perhaps the spiciest American whiskey I have ever tasted, yet at the same time, quite tame and mellow. Complex notes of mint, clove, cinnamon, licorice root, pine nuts, and dark chocolate, with a surprising dose of gin botanicals throughout. A soft underbelly of caramel, sweet corn, and soothing vanilla provides an interesting counterpoint. Very easy-drinking, too (hard to believe it’s 46%). Intriguing, and a must-try for rye whiskey aficionados — even if only to satisfy your curiosity.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

90 points

High West A Midwinter Night’s Dram (Act 1), 49.3%

An exciting blend of straight rye whiskeys finished in French oak and port barrels. Beautifully spiced (warming cinnamon, crisp mint), tamed by caramel and vanilla fudge. Red and black raspberry, plum, dried citrus, and wood shavings add complexity. Warming finish. Nicely balanced and very distinctive. (Distillery only until October 1st, then nationally)

Reviewed by: (Summer 2014)

90 points

High West Bourye, Batch #1, 46%

This is a blend of straight bourbon and two straight rye whiskeys: thus the name. Very interesting indeed. But how does it taste? It’s clean, crisp, and quite vibrant (especially on the nose). The rye note is evident throughout. It starts out more like a high rye-content bourbon, with the molasses, caramel, coconut cream, sweet corn, and honey-kissed fruit marrying nicely with the dried spice (vanilla, cinnamon, brisk mint). But then on the latter half of the palate, the rye really kicks in. The whiskey gets bold, the rye becomes intense (almost piercing), with a dried spice finish. Some whiskeys are even keeled throughout. This one is more of an adventure. Not complex enough for “classic status” (>95), but a very distinctive, enjoyable whiskey.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2010)

90 points

Thomas H. Handy Rye, 63.1%

Distilled in 2010, this is always the youngest whiskey in the Collection, and is younger than last year’s release. I feel this is a slight liability, as it comes across a bit green and harsh for a Handy. Bold and spicy, with mint, clove, and cinnamon leading the way. Fig, caramel, and candied fruit round out the palate, but its youthfulness supersedes on the finish. One of the weaker offerings of Handy. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2016.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2016)

90 points

Willett Single Barrel Estate Reserve, Barrel # A-4614, 47%

Bottled in a glass pot still decanter. Soft and elegant on the nose and palate, and very well balanced. An incredibly drinkable whiskey. There’s no age statement on the bottle, but it was bottled at just the right time, based on its great balance of flavors. Notes of vanilla, coconut, and crème brulee provide a base for emerging notes of cedar wood shavings, cinnamon, soft mint, and a hint of fennel. A very graceful bourbon.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2008)

90 points

Mackmyra, First Edition, 46.1%

The first "big" release from this Swedish distillery.  I'm very impressed.  It's youthful, but not immature.  Very intriguing, too.  Bright notes of ripe orchard fruit and soothing vanilla cream on the nose and palate, along with more subtle bramble, silky honey, and caramel, toasted coconut, marshmallow, bread dough, and grist.  Teasing smoke emerges occasionally, adding to this whisky's delightful nature.  Clean, toasted oak finish.  I particularly enjoy the complex interplay between the fruit and sweetness.  A fun whisky with a playful personality.  More, please! 

Reviewed by: (Winter 2008)

90 points

Kilchoman, Autumn 2009 release, 46%

This (rather young) Islay distillery’s second release. Like the first, it’s aged for about three years and then finished in sherry casks—this time for a shorter two and a half months. Its flavor is similar to the first release. Once again, I am quite impressed. It’s very mature for its age, with good viscosity, showing smoldering peat, coal tar, black licorice stick, burnt dark berried fruit, thick-cut marmalade, shoo-fly pie (think molasses), toffee apple, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and a suggestion of wet sheep. Long, peat smoke finish.£47

Reviewed by: (Summer 2010)

90 points

Maker’s 46, 47%

This is original “red wax” Maker’s Mark that received additional aging in barrels containing internal “seared” French oak staves. The original Maker’s Mark, being a wheated bourbon (instead of rye, which is typically used), is rather mellow and easy-to-drink. The French oak staves in “46” add firm, complex dry spices (led by warming cinnamon, followed by nutmeg and clove), herb (a suggestion of Green Chartreuse, perhaps?), and some polished leather “grip”, which dovetails well with Maker’s trademark layered sweetness (caramel, vanilla, a hint of honey). I’m also picking up some dried fruit in the background. The seared oak stave influence is somewhat aggressive, but never to the point of being excessive.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2010)

90 points

Angel's Envy Rye, 50%

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. Editor's Choice

Reviewed by: (Summer 2013)

90 points

Elijah Craig 23 year old (Barrel No. 26), 45%

Yes, 23 years is a long time to age bourbon. And yes, there’s plenty of oak influence. But there’s an underlying sweetness that balances the oak spice (with this particular cask; others may vary). Chewy in texture, with toffee, dates, fig cake (with nuts), barrel char, tobacco, leather, and a dusting of cocoa.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2014)

90 points

Abraham Bowman Pioneer Spirit Virginia Whiskey (distilled 1993, bottled 2011), 69.3%

Distilled at Buffalo Trace in Kentucky but aged mostly in Virginia at the A. Smith Bowman distillery. This is a bold, hearty bourbon: not elegant or refined, rather a bit mean and moody at times. Sweeter, gentler notes of vanilla, caramel, nougat, mocha, and candied fruit wrestle with more aggressive tobacco, leather, and damp forest floor notes. Warming, cinnamon-tinged, gripping finish. A rewarding whiskey for those with an adventurous soul.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2012)

90 points

Abraham Bowman Gingerbread Beer Finished Bourbon 7 year old, 45%

Aged, then finished, in Bowman barrels that held Hardywood Park brewery gingerbread stout in between. A beautifully spicy bourbon—but not aggressively so—with cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. The spice is presented on a bed of layered sweetness (vanilla, caramel, and soft maple syrup), rounded out by subtle candied fruit and nuts. Nicely rounded, fun and easy to drink. One of my favorites so far from Bowman.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2014)

90 points

Bushmills 1608, 46%

A blend of three different types of whiskey -- malt whiskey, grain whiskey, and a third component which is said to be a malt whiskey produced from crystal malt. Brewers and homebrewers know crystal malt well, a slightly caramelized version of malted barley. Its rich texture suggests a decent malt content for a blend. Layers of sweetness (honeyed vanilla, rummy molasses, toasted marshmallow) are balanced by toasted nuts, dried fruit, and dark chocolate. Very dynamic and with plenty of grit. Smartly bottled at 46%.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2008)

90 points

Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr. Warehouse C Tornado Surviving, 50%

The third Taylor release, and the gentlest, most even-keeled of the three. Black raspberry, mulberry, maple syrup, oak resin, dates, soft leather, and spice (mint, cinnamon, clove, vanilla) round out the palate. Very drinkable for 100 proof, and with plenty of character.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2012)

90 points

Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr. Cured Oak, 50%

The barrel staves used to age this whiskey dried outside in the open for 13 months. The oak influence is certainly evident—both from the cured oak staves and from the fact that the whiskey is 17 years old—but never overpowers. Plentiful spice notes (especially cinnamon and vanilla) are tamed by lovely sweetness (toffee, dates, nougat) and energized by bright fruit. Long, dry, warming finish. One of the better Taylors.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2015)

90 points

Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr. Four Grain, 50%

This whiskey’s mashbill includes both rye and wheat. (Most bourbons contain one or the other, and usually it’s rye.) The sweet, inviting mellowness of the wheat is there; so is the spicy zing of the rye. Look for creamy caramel and soft vanilla peppered with fresh mint and warming cinnamon. Firm oak grip on the finish, with lingering spice. Dynamic and invigorating.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2017)

90 points

Yamazaki 1984 Vintage, 48%

The first vintage Suntory Yamazaki offered in the U.S. A portion of this whisky is aged in Japanese oak. Heavy aroma, with lush sherried fruit and deep juicy oak, marrying with firmly dry and spicy oak resin (the Japanese oak influence is obvious). This same profile follows through on the palate: ripe berried fruit, raisin, blackberry jam, plum spiced with cinnamon, vanilla spearmint, roasted nuts and gripping leather. All this, lying on a bed of molasses and toffee. The Japanese oak really kicks in on the invigoratingly spicy, warm, resinous finish. Quite elderly in nature, but remains very exciting and dynamic, even with all the oak.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2009)

90 points

Barterhouse 20 year old, 45.1%

Surprisingly lacking in oak intensity, given its age. Very creamy and soothingly sweet, with notes of honeyed vanilla, crème brûlée, sultana, orange creamsicle, peach cobbler, and a subtle array of tropical fruit. Soft and mellow on the finish. It’s very easy-drinking and should be enjoyable under most moods and circumstances.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2014)

90 points

Port Charlotte PC7 7 year old (Cask #1215), 63.4%

A single cask from the distillery’s peated “Port Charlotte” line of whiskies. Well behaved for such youth. Nice honeyed malt and soft caramel base with good viscosity as a bed for tarry peat, licorice stick, freshly-ground pepper, and cocoa, along with a kiss of sauternes, delicate pit fruit, smoked seaweed, and a lingering coastal accent. Long, warming finish. (Park Avenue Liquor exclusive)

Reviewed by: (Summer 2011)

89 points

Forty Creek John K. Hall Small Batch Bourbon, 40%

Created by distiller John Hall to celebrate his fifteen years of making whisky. It really is a whisky that defies categorizing. More body than most Canadian whiskies; softer and less aggressive than bourbon. When compared to Forty Creek Barrel Select (John’s standard whisky), it’s richer, more velvety, and sweeter on the nose and palate. Notes of toffee, silky caramel, mixed nuts, exotic spice, and a hint of marmalade. A soothing, almost rummy, very drinkable whisky.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2008)

89 points

Knappogue Castle Twin Wood 17 year old 1994, 40%

Finished in sherry casks, which contribute lush red berried fruit, strawberry/rhubarb crumb pie, and candied ginger on top of honeyed malt, vanilla wafer, nougat, and warming spice. Oily texture, with resinous oak on the finish. Good balance with plenty of character. After years of younger Knappogue releases, I’ve really been enjoying the more recent older bottlings like this one. (Allocated mostly to the U.S.)

Reviewed by: (Summer 2012)

89 points

Johnnie Walker Green Label, 43%

Just as complex as Johnnie Walker Gold, but fuller and more richly textured. (Not surprising, given that there are no grain whiskies in Johnnie Walker Green.) This is one of the finer vatted malts on the market. Its flavors are well-integrated. You’ll find creamy toffee and nougat at its core, which is then layered with notes of vanilla, mint, fresh brine, and even a hint of mustard seed. Excitingly fresh and vibrant on the finish. A whisky for both the blend and single malt drinker. And at $55, it is also fairly valued for an all-malt whisky.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2005)

89 points

Dewar's Special Reserve, 12 year old, 43%

Gold-amber color. Toffee, fruit, and a wisp of smoke underpin floral aromas. On the palate, flavors are nicely balanced and harmoniously interwoven. Gently sweet toffee notes up front gradually yield to drier notes on the finish, with soft, delicate fruit flavors throughout.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2000)

89 points

W. L. Weller 12 year old, 45%

A “wheated” bourbon, meaning that it doesn’t have the spicy rye notes found in a more traditional “ryed” bourbon. A pleasantly sweet, easy-going, well-balanced experience. Creamy vanilla, caramel, candied corn, and ripe berried fruit , along with more subtle notes of glazed orange, cocoa powder, and wood shavings. If I were going to ease a new bourbon drinker into the category, I might pick this one. (Bottled for Binny’s Beverage Depot).

Reviewed by: (Fall 2008)

89 points

Wild Turkey Russell's Reserve, 10 year old, 50.5%

Amber chestnut color. Mature aromas of oak, vanilla, toffee, and leather. A heavyweight bourbon with a huge flavor profile-oak, leather, and molasses, turning quite dry with a spicy, nutty finish that is very long and warming.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2001)

89 points

Wild Turkey 'Tradition,' 14 year old, 50.5%

Richly textured -- almost chewy -- with toffee, molasses, nougat, date, candy corn, ripe clementine, and raisin, peppered with dusty grain, cocoa powder, moss, Play-Doh, subtle mint, and herbs. Not as crisp or clean on the palate as the Wild Turkey American Spirit 15 year old, released a couple years ago (which I rated a 94), but it is still very good and rather therapeutic in nature. It makes for a nice digestif. This is a different style of Wild Turkey. There’s a good deal of wood influence. I suspect that some will like this a lot, while others might not warm up to it as much. It took a few encounters for me to embrace it.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2010)

89 points

Wild Turkey Diamond, 45.5%

A marriage of 13 to 16 year old bourbons honoring master distiller Jimmy Russell’s 60 years at Wild Turkey. It is a more conservative Turkey compared to many of the previous limited-edition releases. But still, this is pleasant, with caramel and creamy vanilla intertwined with soft candied orange, cinnamon, polished oak, and a hint of evergreen. Nicely balanced, very approachable, but I would have preferred this at their signature 101 proof for added intensity.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2014)

89 points

William Larue Weller 12 year old, 61%

Keeping in the Weller tradition, this one is a wheated bourbon. Some wheated bourbons, although easy to drink, can taste a bit too sweet without the spicy rye notes in there. The better ones are often aged a little longer and/or bottled at higher strengths, where the wood and alcohol accompany the sweetness. You’ll find soothingly rich toffee, caramel fudge, dates, and nougat brightened up by berried fruit, and a hint of dusty corn. Gently sweet finish.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2006)

89 points

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection “Rediscovered Barrels,” 1989 vintage, 21 year old, 45%

A surprising amount of sweetness to balance the wood spice. Notes of pencil shavings, glazed fruit, candy corn, vanilla fudge, and bold polished leather on the finish.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2011)

89 points

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Wheat 115, 45%

More caramelized sugars (caramel and toffee), with darker fruit than the 105 and 90. More oak spice influence too, but balanced nicely by the sweeter notes. Mouth-coating, viscous, and lubricating in texture. Price is per 375 ml.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2013)

89 points

Buffalo Trace Old Fashioned Sour Mash (105 Entry Proof), 45%

Light in body, with creamy notes of vanilla and honey married with orchard fruit. All this is balanced by warming dried spice on the finish. Very enjoyable. Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection French Oak Barrel Aged Bourbon 2015 Release. Price is per 375 ml.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

89 points

Buffalo Trace 30 Minute Infrared Light Wave Barrels, 45%

Toffee and maple syrup, cigars aged in cedar, along with polished leather. Resinous grip on the finish balanced by dark, caramelized sugars. Tastes older than its true age. 375ml

Reviewed by: (Fall 2016)

89 points

Eagle Rare 17 year old, 45%

Usually the sleeper of the Collection. Toffee mixed with cinnamon, mocha, añejo rum, golden raisin, dried citrus, and tobacco, with firm leather and oak on the finish. Last year’s release was more balanced and a great expression of the brand, but I’m afraid this release is a little heavy on the oak; particularly on the finish. Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2015 Release.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2015)

89 points

Evan Williams Single Barrel 1992 Vintage (Barrel #1), 45%

Amber chestnut color. Rich, sweet aromas of toffee, maple syrup, soft candied fruit, and molasses, balanced by an oaky dryness and subtle spice notes. Thicker and fuller in body than previous vintages, with a somewhat silky texture. On the palate, the whiskey begins smooth and sweet, with notes of maple syrup, toffee, and soft ripe fruit, gradually increasing in intensity as spice (vanilla, subtle mint) and oak notes kick in. Lengthy finish.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2002)

89 points

Evan Williams Single Barrel 1994 Vintage (Barrel #1), 43.3% ABV

This is an elegant whiskey with lots of finesse. Its primary flavors are vanilla, mint, and candied fruit. A touch of honey, light toffee, slight nuttiness, and rum notes round out the palate. Very clean, with a pleasingly dry finish. And nicely rounded too! Each year’s vintage is slightly different. Some have been quite rich and full in texture. This one is more subtle and teasing-and it’s one of the better ones.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2004)

89 points

Evan Williams Single Barrel 2001 Vintage (Barrel #1), 43.3%

While last year’s vintage was a more delicate expression of Evan Williams, I loved it for its elegance, charm, and balance (and gave it a 95 rating). This one is darker in flavor and bolder, with more caramelized sugars (caramel, toffee, maple syrup) along with some underlying fruit. It’s also drier, spicier, and with more wood influence (resin and polished leather). It still maintains its balance on the nose and majority of the palate, but with more wood on the finish than I would prefer to rate it in the 90s. (One more thing to consider: it’s a single barrel bottling and no two barrels are alike.) Value Pick

Reviewed by: (Spring 2011)

89 points

Evan Williams Single Barrel 2002 Vintage, 43.3%

Very straightforward and unassuming. Its greatest assets are its balance and drinkability, rather than its flavors. Lovely sweet notes (caramel, vanilla), orchard fruit, golden raisin, and spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, dusting of cocoa), leading to a smooth finish. Not the most distinctive or complex of the single barrel releases, but just a joy to drink. In fact, this is almost too drinkable. It’s a whiskey I feel would show better at a higher strength (say, 45% or even 50%).

Reviewed by: (Spring 2012)

89 points

Four Roses Mariage Collection, 2008 Release, 55.7%

Silky in texture and gently sweet. This new “Mariage Collection” release shows a softer, more elegant side of Four Roses when compared to their other bottlings (including the most recent limited edition 120th Anniversary bottling, which was a much bolder affair). Notes of candied fruit, black raspberry, blueberry, creamy vanilla, cornbread, and chamomile tea. Delicately spicy too, with a polished oak finish. Clean on the palate and very drinkable. Four Roses utilizes a wide variety of mash bills and yeast strains, and has the ability to produce a diverse array of whiskeys. This “Mariage” offering is a good example.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2009)

89 points

Four Roses, Limited Edition Small Batch, 55.05%

The replacement to Four Roses “Mariage” limited editions, which were a marriage of two different whiskey formulas. This new whiskey contains three of Four Roses’ ten different recipes. It tastes older and more mature than the standard Small Batch bottling—there’s a lot more oak dryness and spice, especially on the finish. Along with the oak, there’s plenty of fruit, too (citrus, pineapple, apricot, papaya), plus caramel-coated nuts, a kiss of honeyed vanilla, and complex dried spice (cocoa, nutmeg, cinnamon) kicking in on the finish. (Available September, 2010.)

Reviewed by: (Fall 2010)