Uncle Nearest 1820 Single Barrel 11 year old Tennessee Whiskey (Barrel US-2), 55.1%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $119
This is mature whiskey at its most refined: a balance of fruits, nuts, sweetness, and restrained oak. The nose has it all: salted, buttered pecans, rock candy, Dr. Pepper, blackberry jam, dried blueberries, caramel corn, tobacco barn, and old leather chair. It’s practically dessert-like in the mouth, with dark chocolate-covered caramel, candied pecans, Goo Goo Clusters, cherry cola, blackberry and blueberry jam, and a kiss of white pepper. The finish stays consistent, a mouthwatering mélange of caramel, chocolate, and nuts. Harmonious, seamless, and silky—you’d never guess the proof.
Uncle Nearest 1820 Single Barrel 11 year old Tennessee Whiskey (Barrel US-1), 57.55%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $119
A glass of this whiskey starts with a fragrant nose of honey blossom, wild strawberries, vanilla custard, and a dusting of cocoa powder. The palate is a complex mélange of cherries, blueberries, blackberries, mango, and orange marrying with dark chocolate, baking spice, lush oak, aged tobacco leaf, and a light espresso note. More richness and complexity on a delicious finish of chocolate, blackberry jam, walnuts, and coconut shavings.
The first annual release of Sazerac’s finest old Canadian and American whiskies blended at barrel strength. The nose presents memories of long-closed whisky warehouses, old books, and artist’s oil paint. Prunes, dates, figs, chocolate-covered cherries, a cobbler’s shop, vague cloves, lilacs, brown sugar, and warming spices on the palate. Ultra-complex, rich, creamy, and fruity. Hot and mouth-watering with billows of vanilla, creamy caramel, and mincemeat. (1,200 bottles for the U.S. and Canada only) Collectible
If a Scotch whisky could smell plush and velvety, this Pedro Ximénez-finished blend would be it. Chocolate-covered raisins, peat smoke, cigar lounge, licorice, chamois leather, and charred oak staves. The palate is smooth, delicate, and finely tuned with syrupy prune, raisins, plum, raspberry, strawberry, 70% dark chocolate, peppercorn, ginger, clove, and a hint of smoke. This showcases lip-smacking, intricate blending on the oldest Dewar’s available. Editors' Choice
This year’s first of three annual releases has a higher ABV than Whisky Advocate’s 2017 Whisky of the Year, which was 62.1%. The nose offers caramel, vanilla cream pie, cocoa powder, baking spice, baked apple, orange, marzipan, leather, and oak. Very well-integrated on the palate, but the high ABV cries out for water, which brings chocolate, butterscotch, bitter orange, coconut, almond, and creamed corn. The finish is a long, delightful reprise of it all. Editors' Choice
Finished in fresh bourbon casks at Bow St. Distillery, Dublin, this batch has a greater intensity than the first. Baked lemon, vanilla toffee, ground ginger, and snuff. Warm and fruity, with sweet toffee notes, the ginger root leads a high-intensity spice assault, though the reassuring indulgence of the rich toffee never deserts you. Dried banana, herbal notes, and lemongrass outline the finish.
The IMAX of rye. Zuidam Distillers seem to have intensified every aspect of this small batch 100% rye. The plum is fresher, juicier even, the spices more assertive. There’s more creaminess, fruit skin piquancy, slabs of chocolate, allspice, ground cinnamon, and a greater rye character by far. This thumps the tongue hard, delivering quite an experience. In submission, with gums zinging, the unrepentant finish goes on forever.
The confectionary nose of flan and crème caramel comes draped over lovely grainy aromas of warm porridge and pastry crust. Vinous notes of cherry/berry fruit emerge, along with toasted almonds and floral aromas. On the palate, there is berry coulis, Creamsicle stick, French burnt peanut candies, and warm banana. Overall, this demonstrates both nice maturity and lovely balance of sweetness and spice, with a finish of cinnamon-sprinkled apple pie.
Old Fitzgerald 13 year old Bottled in Bond (Spring 2019 Release), 50%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $130
The first of Old Fitzgerald’s semiannual releases for 2019. The nose offers vanilla flan, banana cream pie, and powdered sugar, but is also floral, with tropical notes of peach, coconut, and melon, all draped lightly in tobacco leaf. The palate is gentle, with maple syrup, marshmallow, milk chocolate, ripe peach, coconut, orange, and oak. A rich finish offers honey, chocolate, almond, toasted oak, and a hint of cigar. A pleasurable progression of flavors. Collectible
Mayor Pingree 11 year old Straight (Batch 3), 57.25%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $90
Intense, flavorful, and lush. The nose has roasted chestnuts, coconut shavings, leather, butterscotch, carrot cake, candied nuts, maple syrup, and pastry cream. It’s well-textured and drenched in flavor: blackberry jam, dark chocolate, mint oil, maple syrup, roasted nuts, root beer, clove, white pepper, toasted coconut, and cherry cough drops. Wet walnuts, oak, and lingering intensity on the finish. Add water to unlock more spice and fruit, and give it plenty of time to develop.
Produced by Kumesen Distillery, the Okinawan awamori maker that coincidentally sells a 2001 awamori matured in American oak at 42% in Europe. The nose has cinnamon, molasses, vanilla seeds, and charred oak. It’s a big, chewy, oily mouthful packed with cinnamon, pecan pie, an explosion of spices, toffee, stewed fruit, and licorice, with a long, sweet, and nutty finish. Deliciously against the grain. (3,600 bottles)
Jameson Caskmates Angel City Brewing Co. Edition, 40%
Irish Blended Whiskey | $30
A brilliant collaboration with the Los Angeles craft brewery, the nose has red apple, dry grasses, orange pith, toasted bakery goods, and background spices. The beer influence is every bit as good as Caskmates IPA. The palate is classic Jameson: honeyed, soft, light fruit, vanilla, and peppercorn, developing a wonderful creaminess, dark orange, further spices, and lastly, chocolate notes. Glowing and kind of dreamy.
Of all the Caskmates, this edition representing Brooklyn is more complex, and offers a greater balance between the fruit and pot still spices than all the rest. There are bright floral notes, citrus, dry spices, and roasted barley—everything in perfect harmony. Clementine, honey, nuts, tropical fruit, a few savory elements, with finely ground spices fizzling away under waves of citrus fruit, candied peel, and flakes of chocolate.
Like opening a box of chocolates and hungrily inhaling the aromas of fruity chocolate, caramel, and soft centers. In addition, there are crystalized orange slices, fresh plum, black cherry, moist coffee grounds, and petrichor. Flavors of chocolate-dipped raspberries, gingersnaps, and bold sherry fruit from the oloroso finish. It’s a dance between the smoke and the fruit, with the smoke ultimately pushed to the fringes, leaving a spiced mocha finish.
This second annual limited release was matured in a combination of first-fill European oak sherry butts and refill sherry butts. Spicy orange marmalade on the nose, with plums dipped in honey, warm leather, polished oak, and cinnamon. The palate is oily, with dark sherry, cocktail cherries, ginger, espresso, and sweet oak. Lengthy in the finish; spicy, with dried fruits. (5,200 bottles)
This Private Edition expression was made using a strain of yeast found growing on local barley. It was aged for approximately 8 years in mostly second-fill and refill bourbon casks. Barley sugar and honey on the nose, followed by lily of the valley, lavender, and white pepper. Big gingery fruit notes on the palate; fresh-squeezed orange juice, vanilla, and black pepper. The finish is long and attractively earthy. Editors' Choice
Macallan Sherry Oak 18 year old (2018 Edition), 43%
Single Malt Scotch | $320
Like previous releases, this was matured in sherry-seasoned oak casks. Jaffa oranges, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and dried fruits on the nose, plus warm leather. The palate is rich and spicy, with more orange, vanilla, and burning logs. Smoky sherry, ginger, dried fruits, and seasoned oak in the full finish.
Very fragrant, with notes of fresh ripe plum, crisp spice, herbs, caramel, treacle, black pepper, and hints of dark chocolate. Leave the glass alone and the spices really hit their stride. The flavor shifts imperceptibly, covering citrus, vanilla, chocolate, and ripe orchard fruits, generating a slow build-up of spices like a gathering storm: your taste buds have nowhere left to run. Beautifully paced.
Ireland’s technical regulations provide flexibility with the type of wood used for aging, hence this seriously aromatic whiskey with piquant citrus, lemon, fresh ginger root, sponge cake, apple peel, sour cherry, and dry spices of pepper, cumin, and whole nutmeg. Delicious citrus peel, rich honey, vanilla pod, ground ginger, banana, and grapefruit, but no matter how hard it tries, it keeps shifting back to the spices. More experiments with these barrels, please! (12,000 bottles) £74
On the nose, there’s Golden Grahams, iced tea, and peanuts galore—shelled, unshelled, even boiled—Cherry Coke, white pepper, and ginger syrup. More sweet ginger on the palate, a lively high note that peps up the cherry cough syrup, roasted peanuts, cola, white pepper, and chewy oak. The lengthy finish is full of oak, cooked cherry, white pepper, and roasted nuts. Naturally, this does well with water but, frankly, it’s fine without.
This was previously exclusive to Travel Retail, but is now available in the U.S. Cereal and succulent tropical fruits on the nose, plus Craigellachie’s signature sulfur, along with cloves and polished oak. Toffee and orchard fruits on the muscular palate, with oatmeal and a mineral quality. The finish is long and yields another whiff of sulfur, lemon, and a hint of mint. A quirky dram of true quality. (1,700 bottles)
Grand MacNish Double Matured 13 year old Rum Cask Finish, 43%
Blended Scotch Whisky | $45
Mango, candied orange peel, coriander seed, creamy vanilla, and exotic spices on the nose of this aged blend finished in sweet rum barrels from Trinidad, Jamaica, and Nicaragua. A bright and sunny whisky, it’s full-bodied and moreish, led by tropical fruit flavors of dried papaya, mango, melon, honey, butterscotch, and zesty orange, all framed by gentle spices. Sweet drams are made of this, who am I to disagree?
The Ambassador 12 year old Barrel Proof Straight, 52.85%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $130
Cinnamon-baked apples on the nose, with ripe banana, peach, chocolate, almond, toasted coconut, and sassafras. The palate is velvety and gentle, with burnt orange, strawberry, milk chocolate, almond, white pepper, and tobacco leaf. The finish is creamy, with milk chocolate, drizzled caramel, sweet corn, brown sugar, and leather, wrapped in toasted oak. Depth, balance, and plenty of pizzazz.
Scents of zested lemon, caramel, peanut brittle, and crystalized pineapple, with excelling smoke. What begins as a medley of toffee and caramel mingling with mandarin and lime soon shows plenty of bite: an eruption of peppercorn spices falls back to earth with flavors of hazelnut, ripe banana, and chocolate chip cookies. The finish dispenses dark toffees, Brazil nut, plain chocolate, and a little spice.
The nose feels dense and richly layered as cedary oak and sandalwood incense take the lead, while a deeper dive reveals toasted walnuts, licorice, and cocoa. The palate serves up plenty of sweet butterscotch, juicy grapefruit, and shaved coconut, before drying oak tannins sweep in, delivering coffee and dark chocolate cake on the finish. A supple mouthfeel and long finish enhance the overall delicious impression made by this bourbon. Shows best at full proof. Best Value
Arran’s latest addition to its core range is matured in bourbon and oloroso sherry casks. Mellow on the nose, with baked apple and toffee, then developing tropical fruits and icing sugar aromas in time. Sweet and balanced on the palate; spicy, with milk chocolate and peaches in syrup. Lengthy in the finish, with tangy fruit notes, restrained oak, and gentle spices. (9,000 bottles)
Aged in a mix of American white oak barrels, oloroso casks, and cabernet sauvignon barriques. Sherry, vanilla, caramel, ripe cherries, and sultanas on the nose. The palate yields characteristic Dalmore orange, plus brittle toffee, bitter chocolate, and cherry liqueur. Spicy licorice and soft oak in the finish.
Six different cask finishes were used for this bottling. Fudge, resin, tropical fruit, Seville oranges, and milk chocolate on the nose. Supple and smooth on the palate; complex, with red berries, orange rind, cream, cinnamon, and ginger. Long in the finish, with nougat, pepper, and dark berry fruits.
Harmonious and symphonious throughout, starting with the nose of cooked cherries, sarsaparilla, spearmint, clove, cinnamon, dill, maple syrup, tobacco leaf, and loads of oak. The chewy, broad palate yields bowls full of cherries and blueberry jam, along with roasted peanuts, dark chocolate, white pepper, spearmint oil, cinnamon, and dried chili. There’s more chili, bittersweet chocolate, dried blueberries, and lengthy oak to finish.
After several years off the market, this welcome return from Mackmyra was composed from a mixture of cask types, including Swedish oak, and matured underground in the Bodås mine. Floral notes, honey, citrus, vanilla, and pears poached in cream, with balancing tartness from gooseberry and grapefruit. A delicious summer whisky with sweet lemon biscuits, clementine, apricot, vanilla fudge, and active spices which mellow to expose banana, honeydew melon, and a finish of bitter lemon and mixed peel. (4,800 bottles)
Rich dried fruits, candied peel, dried apricot, mango strips, white pepper, herbal notes, almond paste, and sweet grapefruit flesh—this has signature notes of Powers all over it. Thick and velvety, there’s warm marmalade, sugared almonds, golden barley, citrus, and green apple. It’s all quite mellow until the spices work themselves up into a bit of a frenzy. Long fruity finish, with toasted coconut and a luscious, billowing spiciness.
Grand MacNish Double Matured 15 year old Sherry Cask Finish, 43%
Blended Scotch Whisky | $55
Rather luxurious aromas of orange peel, walnut, stewed fruits, fleshy plum, peach pit, sherry fruit, gentle oak, and wood spices. Spiced marmalade, dark Seville orange, plum, vanilla, and plump raisin; this lays down a rich blanket of flavor, though it’s slit open by a piercing blade of spice. I like the subtlety of the sherry influence and the mouth-coating finish of orange peel, ginger, and spice.
Before a regulation required British Columbia distillers to source their ingredients within the province, Shelter Point bought some 100% rye spirit from Alberta Distillers. Nine years later, it has developed flavors of halvah and honey, which caress blue clay, turning it sweet, floral, and fruity, then hot and spicy, with cloves, rose water, and more rye spices. Clean and crisp with deep complexity, it sizzles on the tongue, ending in hints of grain. (Canada only-CAD$125)
Lemon and lime, grapefruit peel, fondant, and pine needles, with the softness of marshmallows and musty spices. Lemon peel, zested lime, pear, honey, and vanilla flavors, with gentle spice supporting the citrus and stubborn black pepper growing in confidence to play a greater role. Mouthfeel is silky and light, becoming creamy. The finish buzzes with spices and hints of baked citrus. €60
Peg Leg Porker 12 year old Tennessee Straight Bourbon, 46.35%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $85
Nashville restaurant Peg Leg Porker’s pitmaster Carey Bringle filters this whiskey through hickory charcoal. Malted milk balls, peanuts in the shell, toasted grain, Swiss Miss hot cocoa mix, licorice, root beer, and tea leaves to start, with lots of oak, dark chocolate, blackberry, white pepper, cinnamon, cherry cough syrup, and more root beer on the sweet, spiced palate. The finish is delicate and fruited with sweet cherries and blackberries, as well as a sprinkling of cloves and subtle oak.
A combination of 6, 8, 10, and 12 year old bourbons distilled at Wild Turkey. It has that glorious peanut-rich Turkey nose, along with orange soda, Golden Delicious apples, cooked blackberries and blueberries, pomegranate syrup, white pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and iced tea. Beautifully balanced on the palate, with plenty of spice, roasted peanuts, cherry cough syrup, blackberry jam, cola, dill, and dark chocolate. It ends lusciously, with warming spices, chocolate, and oak.
Finely ground spice, vanilla sponge cake, light honey, and brown sugar cubes, as well as the mizunara fingerprints of aromatic wood and incense. Pastry, egg custard, and allspice flavors; there’s just enough body apparent as the spices settle down, unleashing a substantial wave of vanilla creaminess. Leaves a long aftertaste, like a light-hearted pillow fight between the vanilla cream and the fading spices.
Jameson Caskmates Great Divide Brewing Co. Edition, 40%
Irish Blended Whiskey | $30
The association with this Denver brewery has produced a whisky redolent of crabapple, tinned peach, leather bootstraps, vanilla pod, roasted malt, and spices left to blacken in the pan. This is a scrumptious whisky layered with mixed citrus, honey, shortbread, and lashings of vanilla creaminess. The clove, ground ginger, and black pepper lay down a solid foundation, superimposed with oak char and black coffee grounds in the latter stages.
The palo cortado finish is restrained, with notes of pale sherry, crisp green apple, honeycomb, cocoa, cooked plum, tangy citrus, and tobacco smoke, yet the palate has a generous, mouth-drawing fruitiness. Lemon meringue pie, tangerine zest, lime, and pineapple form the whisky’s substance, which is augmented by a time-delayed progression through caramel, ground almond, espresso, and chocolate brownie. Smoke hangs like a specter at the feast.
Distilled from malt peated to 167 ppm, this whisky’s complex maturation program includes first-fill port and cognac, second-fill American whiskey, and virgin oak casks. The nose is sweet, with ginger, marzipan, rock pools, and floral smokiness. Initially, barley sugar and malt on the palate, then drier, with a hint of iodine, medicated soap, old leather, and dried peat. Peppery, with antiseptic and smoky oak in the finish. (12,000 bottles)
The nose offers rich fruit—plums and sultanas—with milk chocolate and new leather. The palate is silky and luxurious, with medium-sweet sherry, vanilla, blackcurrants, and treacle. Dark berries and black pepper in the lengthy, mildly oaky finish.
The nose begins with notes of earthiness and tobacco, followed by banana, crème brûlée, cherry hard candy, and cocoa powder. With water, fragrant apple, clementine, coconut, bubble gum, and cotton candy notes emerge. The palate is also candied, with cherry, raspberry pastilles, grape jelly, milk chocolate, and cracked pepper. On the finish, it’s chocolate cream pie, almond, and a halo of tobacco leaf. A veritable chocolate factory, balanced against a tart espresso note and tobacco.
The trend for finishing Irish whiskey in beer barrels now connects Skibbereen and Castle Island Brewing Co. in Massachusetts, creating this breezy dram with aromas of lemon curd, shortbread, vanilla frosting, and dry spices, with plenty of coastal character. Melon, blossom honey, and peach on the palate, before a real creaminess develops, smudged by gentle spices. The later phase has toffee oozing from lemon bonbons, vanilla cake mix, and more fruity richness. (3,900 bottles)
The nose is lavish, with dried orange peel, raisins, plum, gingersnaps, aniseed, and menthol. It’s a thick, malty, statement whisky, rich with raisin, prune juice, heather honey, fig, and walnut, and laced with aniseed and clove. Pleasantly reminiscent of childhood cough medicine, there are long, sweet, syrupy prune notes at the end. It feels like it must be doing you some good. (3,000 bottles)
Mandarin segments, ripening lime, brown sugar breakfast pastries, cardamom, star anise, marzipan, and seasoned oak on this triple-distilled Irish single malt. It’s fruity, sweet, full-bodied, and wonderfully rich thanks to the Pedro Ximénez finish. It glides from tangy orange to marmalade, with fruit-flavored hard candy, clove, and allspice. They’ve got this bang on. The spices shut down quickly on the finish, leaving baked peel flavors. €340
Hugely herbal from the start: coriander seed, licorice, dill, and black tea aromas, with some grape and blueberry jam, lemon, and oak. Sweet fruit tempers the herbaceous and mineral palate; layers of cooked berry, Coca-Cola, cherries, lemon oil, and peanuts create a silky, rounded profile, all tied up with generous oak. Finished in Black Bird Cider Works hard cider casks.
Orange, lemon peel, iced tea, cinnamon, and blueberry jam aromas are undercut by earthy notes of mulch, chili powder, cracked corn, and dill. Oak leads the flavor parade, but is well-tempered by raspberry, pomegranate, cinnamon, orange, licorice, walnuts, and black pepper. Chocolate, more pomegranate, chili powder, and silky oak round out this lush bourbon, which shows impressive maturity for its 2 years.
An incredible surround-sound sensation of heavy peat smoke, with toffee, blackened spices, salted caramel, and warm leather. The journey is impressive, from the sweet toffee torn asunder by huge gusts of pepper, the tangy strands of citrus and banoffee pie with baked banana, the apples baked in brown sugar, before a final return to the smoke. A sweet and spicy finish, though the flavors recede fairly rapidly.
Peg Leg Porker 8 year old Tennessee Straight Bourbon, 45%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $45
Nashville barbecue icon Carey Bringle filters this whiskey through hickory charcoal, bottling it under the name of his restaurant. A candied nose of saltwater taffy and bubble gum, followed by peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla cake, banana, cracked pepper, and spicy oak. The palate offers almond, chocolate, coconut, tobacco, brown sugar, and blueberry pie. Water brings out rich milk chocolate, strawberry jam, and cherry cobbler. The finish is smooth and flavorful, with more chocolate, nuttiness, coconut, tobacco, and oak.
Old Line Cask Strength American Single Malt (Batch 1M), 60%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $70
Sweet and lightly smoky on the nose: toasted marshmallow, campfire logs, Sugar Babies, dried orange rind, Nilla Wafer, smoked almonds, and rich hot chocolate. Without water, the proof shows itself, but add a few drops and what was a dry brush fire is now smoked chili-chocolate, cinnamon, black pepper, orange oil, almonds, and a little bacon. Ashy and sweet on the finish, with chili heat, orange, nuts, and chocolate. Potentially divisive in its profile, but its powerful character is undeniable.
A dark amber dram made from 90% rye yields a nose of chestnuts, mushroom consommé, earthiness, nutmeg, and clove. Dark berries dominate, with bramble, crème de cassis, black cherry, plum, and mixed peel, then chocolate, cinnamon, and nutmeg—a great autumnal dram after an invigorating walk in the countryside. Unique and confident whisky with an inky blue-fruit finish matched with dry and gentle spiciness. (3,000 bottles)
Fully matured in mizunara oak on land and sea, this has tangy orange, ground ginger, fennel seed, cedar, and incense, though it seems a little more tightly wound than the standard strength whisky. Juicy orange, quick firecracker spices, and more toffee sweetness; it becomes heavy and thick, flaunting high alcohol, then turns creamier with marzipan, orange Jell-O, and singed oak spices.
This is utterly unique; made from imported Scottish peated malt, it spends 2 years in madeira casks, then 6 years in mizunara casks. Light, clean, fruity refreshment: apple, white grape, lingering cigar smoke, coconut macaroons, and ample Japanese oak influence. Apple and watermelon flavors, developing a more sugary fruitiness of Life Savers hard candy, all brushed with gentle spice and a swish of smoke.
This Ardbeg Day 2019 bottling was aged in bourbon barrels before a period of finishing in rum casks. Characteristic Ardbeg citrus and smoke on the nose, but with the addition of green figs, eucalyptus, antiseptic, and brine. Very smooth on the palate, with woodsmoke, mango, and papaya. Big peat and black pepper notes in the finish, underscored by tangy citrus. Ultimately, ashy smoke.
This was initially matured in American white oak barrels before spending an unspecified finishing period in port pipes. The nose is soft and fragrant, with vanilla, red berries, toffee, and ultimately, damsons. Viscous on the palate, with blackcurrants, plums, port wine, and cinnamon. Lively spices, coffee grounds, Seville orange, and dry oak in the finish.
Matured in American oak and oloroso sherry casks. The nose is fragrant with honey, vanilla, ginger, orange marmalade, and a hint of smoke. Relatively full-bodied, with flavors of tangy orange, marzipan, sherry, bitter chocolate, then oak. The finish is long, with licorice and citrus fruit.
Produced at the De Molenberg Distillery from a mash of Gouden Carolus Tripel beer and finished in Anker beer casks following bourbon-barrel maturation. This has aromas of peach, barley, marshmallow, light toffee, hops, and warm apple pie, with dry and fragrant spices. Melon, overripe pear, white chocolate, vanilla pod, cinnamon stick, baked apple, dried orange, oak, and spices on the palate; the unfolding flavors are generous and strong.
Aged in American and Spanish oak. Figs, cinnamon, and pineapple up front on the nose; in time, smoky fudge. The palate is rich and creamy, with more fudge, honey, and tangerines. The orange note becomes more bitter, accompanied by lively spices and subtle woodsmoke. Long in the finish, with peppery oak.
Berry Bros. & Rudd Classic Range Peated Cask Matured, 44.2%
Blended Scotch Whisky | $40
A pale blend with hidden depths of flavor and a sweet nose of honeyed pear, vanilla, Golden Delicious apples, taffy, and custard tarts, all overlaid with ashy smoke and drifting smoke trails from snuffed-out candles. Pear, apple, clove, and cracked black pepper meet butter toffee, vanilla, and nippy spices. It’s imbued with a pretty smoky flavor for a peated cask, and leaves a creamy aftertaste to savor. £32
Cut-open pomegranate, dried cranberry, and rose petals hint at the port cask influence on this whiskey. Brisket and roasted spice aromas of cumin, fennel, and coriander. Abundant red fruit flavors of cherry, redcurrant, and pomegranate are swept along on a wave of brown sugar sweetness, accompanied by flavors of gummy bear, root beer, clove, ginger, pepper, and aniseed. Sweet and spicy finish.
The Senator 6 year old Barrel Proof Straight, 60.7%
Rye Whiskey | $85
Bottled in Fall 2018. A blast of orange blossom on the nose, along with raspberry tart, cherry, and dried currants, set against leather and drying tobacco. A nutty palate with notes of toffee, orange peel, herbs, and light tobacco, with chocolate brownies and blackberry emerging with water. Tropical rye notes of orange, melon, guava, and grape on the finish, along with chocolate, ginger, herbs, and white pepper. Lots of heat, but also depth, flavor, and balance.
Earthy, smoky, and sweet, with aromas of chili-dusted dried mango, barbecue potato chips, brown sugar, mesquite smoke, and fruit-flavored pipe tobacco, as well as pinesap and leather. Hefty in weight, with powerful oak and earthy flavors, including tobacco leaf, espresso bean, mesquite-grilled meat, and orange. There are roasted nuts, minerality, dark chocolate, and cigar wrapper on the finish. Add water generously without any fear of diluting this benevolent bruiser.
A decade ago, Eifel began to distill in the German grain-distilling tradition using a column still with a second pot still distillation. Named after a low mountain range in western Germany, this has a punchy nose of stewed apple and rhubarb, pepper, clove, ground ginger, and dried citrus peel, with hints of chocolate. Quite distinctive: stewed fruit, plum, peppermint, candied orange, and a finish of chocolate-covered mint candy. (3,000 bottles)
Runny caramel, green melon, and vanilla, tagged with a few savory and spice notes, though the smoke shows greater peat characteristics than the 21 year old. The tongue dips into honey, fudge, and caramel, duels with mouth-drawing fruits such as raspberry, redcurrant, and cranberry, then settles back under a gentle blanket of spice. A late flash of fresh mint departs with some spicy heat at the finish.
This whisky spends 7 years in bourbon barrels with a 6-month finish in mizunara. Sandalwood, incense, long pepper, grapefruit, cilantro leaf, pencil shavings, and red pepper rice cracker give this a dry, fragrant air. It’s silky with light honey, vanilla, fudge, and peaks with pepper, coconut, then green apple, before a finish of aromatic spices and tangy orange.
Jameson Caskmates Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. Edition, 40%
Irish Blended Whiskey | $30
Spicier and funkier than other Caskmates, this is where Irish whiskey meets Scott Vaccaro’s brews from the Lower Hudson Valley. This is self-assured with dark ale aromas, cinnamon bark, grapefruit, bitter lemon, and some savory notes. The pot still spices work overtime, complementing the dark honey, apple, and creamy beer notes. It feels a little out of focus, with pulses of flavor rather than a smooth development.
Sweet candy shop, nougat, and honeycomb flavors are underscored by some funky earth and mushroom notes. The palate is sweet and lively, delivering orange peel and subtle hints of baking spice. Overall a pleasant pour, with the only criticism that it feels rather light-bodied, with the oak a bit sharp. Adding water makes this bourbon feel underpowered and hollow, but it is a fine sipper otherwise.
Three Wood has been a key part of Auchentoshan’s portfolio since 2002. It was matured in bourbon, then finished in oloroso and Pedro Ximénez casks. Orange peel, dried apricots, milk chocolate, and fresh-sawn oak on the nose. Toffee, stewed fruits, sherry, cinnamon, and wood spice on the palate. The finish is quite long, with malt, oak, and dark chocolate.
Matured in bourbon barrels and oloroso sherry casks. Tangerines, barley sugar, milky coffee, soft toffee, and sweet sherry on the inviting nose. Orange carries over to the palate, with spicy dark chocolate, ginger, and cocktail cherries. The finish features vanilla, long-lasting dark chocolate, and prunes.
Finished in sherry casks. The nose is slightly reticent, with orange peel, instant coffee, and a hint of burning coal. More obvious orange notes on the palate, with milk chocolate and drying oak. Dark chocolate and slightly bitter oak in the medium-length finish.
This non-chill filtered, higher-strength Deanston 12 year old replaced its ‘standard’ predecessor in 2009. It offers a nose of orange marmalade, shortbread dipped in honey, ginger, cinnamon, and vanilla. Salted caramel, milk chocolate, hazelnuts, fudge, and sweet oak on the soft palate. The finish is medium in length, with peppery oak.
Spicy on the nose, with deep, full tropical fruit notes, praline, and marzipan. The palate is silky, with fudge and raisins, then cherry liqueur. The finish yields dark chocolate and citrus fruit, plus peppery oak.
After initial maturation in first-fill bourbon barrels, this 2006 vintage from Tullibardine was transferred into marsala wine casks for a year of finishing. The nose offers vanilla, ginger, printer’s ink, red wine, plums, milk chocolate, and walnuts. Rich red-berry fruit flavors on the palate—raspberries and cream—plus coffee and cloves. Black treacle and dark chocolate in the slightly earthy finish. Accomplished.
The latest addition to Glen Moray’s Classic range was aged in bourbon barrels and finished in cabernet sauvignon wine casks. Raspberry cordial is prominent on the nose, with soft toffee, marzipan, and coconut. The raspberry carries over from the nose to the palate, with vanilla, ginger, and ultimately, dark chocolate. Spicy in the finish, with berry fruits and subtle oak. Best Value
Green herb notes, vanilla, green melon, Quaker oats, toasted cumin, and cardamom. This is a light, golden whisky replete with vanilla and raspberry notes. Ripe and dried red fruits are balanced with clove and pepper. A good all-rounder, with a finish of active spices, vanilla pod, and a few oak char notes. Warenghem Distillery will release this whisky in limited quantities annually until it’s permanently available. (2,000 bottles; 60 for U.S.)
Spiced plums, spearmint, clove, dried ginger, fennel, lilac, and bubble gum on the nose. The palate is perfumy and well-spiced, with candied rose petal, blueberry, bubble gum, chili powder, black pepper, and chocolate, tingling with a racy, spicy, oaky finish. Now aged 4 years, this whiskey has shown improvement with every orbit of the earth and exhibits hallmark rye flavors: a perfect silhouette.
Cinnamon stick, baked apple, raisin, prune, and brown sugar on the nose, along with lime and a hint of rancio. The palate is refined, offering milk chocolate, almond, cherry, baked apple, cinnamon, and ginger. Water brings gentle spice, and the madeira note. The finish is gentle and flavorful, with notes of chocolate fudge, more cherry, and soft oak. Elegant and rich, with the madeira cask contributing much finesse and flavor.
A blend of high-rye bourbons (30% rye) aged 6 to 8 years. A warm, welcoming nose, with pleasant dunnage warehouse earthiness, toasted oak, maple syrup, cinnamon, blackberries, grape candy, licorice, and an herbal note. A racy palate offers candied citrus, cherry, and apricot, as well as bitter chocolate, caramel, cinnamon spice, and pepper. Light and delicate on the finish, with milk chocolate, almond, orange, and more cinnamon. Delicate, smooth, sweet, and balanced.
The nose offers early grassiness, then vanilla, Jaffa orange, toffee apple, and honey. A smooth palate delivery, with more orange and toffee apple, plus almonds and caramel. The finish is long, with white pepper and sweet oak.
The nose has berries in steel-cut oatmeal, bracing vanilla, bubble gum, strawberry Fanta, and yet also rugged earthiness: a picnic in a pine forest. On the palate, the grain is evident, but so too is drying oak, orange, cinnamon, and chocolate. Water helps integrate the flavors and enhance the silky mouthfeel, tying in Orange Crush, cinnamon, and espresso on the finish. At 2 years old, this bourbon is youthful but balanced, a well-constructed iteration of the four-grain (corn, wheat, rye, malted barley) motif.
Matured in 80% bourbon and 20% Pedro Ximénez casks, this has Golden Delicious apples, melon, and banana on the nose, with aromatic peat smoke drawing weighty spices in their wake. It’s a beautifully honeyed dram, supported by melon, golden sultana, and a touch of lime. The crest of clove, black pepper, and sooty smoke is kept at bay by that golden sweetness, ahead of a tingling, spicy finish. €55
J. Henry Patton Road Reserve 5 year old Straight (Batch 149), 59.99%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $75
A fruit-driven nose offers scents of apple, bananas, coconut, and poached pears, in addition to sweeter notes of red licorice, almond, sweet iced tea, and clove. The palate is quite different—hot and spicy—accompanied by notes of dark chocolate, espresso, and oak tannin. The finish turns rich and chocolaty, with honey, cherry, watermelon jelly fruit slices, cigar box, coconut, peach, cherry, and aromatic oak. Much on offer here, though it needs proofing down.
Master blender Andres Faustinelli began with 7 year old Canadian whisky which he finished, first in tight-grained French oak wine barrels and then in air-dried virgin Hungarian oak. This wonderfully mouth-filling, fairly complex dram begins dry and closed, developing caramel, char, exotic woods and spices, berries, red grapes, luscious red wine, glowing heat, pulling tannins, and sandalwood, with butterscotch-like vanillas, luscious dry fruits, and a rich, rye-like, spicy texture.
Selected from one of Scotland’s most fascinating distilleries and finished in fresh bourbon casks from Chicago’s Koval Distillery, the nose has light lemon, white pepper, mixed citrus, green melon, green chili, and floral notes. Soft pulpy melon, green fruits, poached pear, hints of citrus, then a wave of brown sugar and caramel sweetness melts into buttery fudge, with a late burst of cloves, peppercorn, and toasted hazelnut. (635 bottles for U.S.)
Part of Wild Turkey’s Whiskey Barons Collection, which re-creates brands lost during Prohibition. A blend of 4 and 6 year old charcoal-filtered bourbons, with a nose of cereal, vanilla, lemon cake, orange, and baking spice. The palate brings out vanilla, caramel, cinnamon, walnuts, peach pie, licorice, pipe tobacco, and a halo of chili pepper. The finish has kick and heat, with notes of honey, lemon, chocolate, and spicy oak.
This bourbon is finished for 5 months in pinot noir barrels from Willamette Valley’s Elk Cove Vineyards. The nose offers toasted spicy oak, orange Creamsicle, clementines, and lime leaf, but is also herbal, with light notes of dill and white pepper. Oak-driven on the palate, spicy and nutty, with citrus oil and espresso. A smooth finish offers dark chocolate, roasted almonds, coconut, and tobacco leaf, and becomes fruitier with water.
Roaming Man Tennessee Straight Rye (Batch 3), 60.5%
Rye Whiskey | $50/375ml.
It’s recommended to taste everything neat once; after you do that here, add water liberally. Once you do, you’ll find lovely aromas of butterscotch, orange, brown sugar, and toffee. The palate is richly spiced, with cinnamon, clove, orange, iced tea, and cedar oil, as well as generous oak, ending on a finish of cigar wrapper, cloves, and lengthy oak.
A William Grant & Sons single malt from an undisclosed Lowland distillery. It offers flavors of mashed turnip sprinkled with table salt early on the nose; brittle toffee, malt, and vanilla aromas develop. Creamy toffee, more salt, honey, orange fondant, and sweet oak on the palate. The lengthy finish features gentle spices, oak, and white pepper. £22
Ripe peaches, vanilla, sweet oak, and milky coffee on the nose. The palate is luscious and smooth, with sweet orange notes and cinnamon. The finish is medium in length, with spicy berry fruits, oak, and lingering ginger.
Dates, brittle toffee, dried fruits, and old leather on the nose, then a hint of ripe peaches surfaces. Smooth in the mouth, with sherry, damsons, more dried fruits, and background pipe tobacco smoke. Prune juice in the finish, which is drying, and ultimately quite oaky, with white pepper.
Floral on the nose and quite delicate, with citrus fruit, spicy vanilla, walnuts, and cereal. The palate is smooth, with malt, orchard fruits, toffee apples, and graham crackers. An herbal note features early in the slowly drying finish.
Light berry fruit notes, with resin, walnuts, and icing sugar on the nose. More confident berry notes on the palate, with a hint of cloves, then developing licorice, dark chocolate, and tangerine. The finish is spicy, with aniseed.
The first house release of Tamnavulin since the 1990s. Sherry, hazelnuts, ginger, cinnamon, and milk chocolate on the nose. Medium-bodied, with sweet sherry, damsons, light spice, and toffee on the palate. Fruity oak in the finish.
Bushmills The Steamship Collection Rum Cask Reserve, 40%
Irish Single Malt | $130
Jaffa orange, flowers, hard candies, rose water, and light spices make a rather muted offering. Fortunately there’s a sweet, malty mouthful of fudge, orange shred, gingerbread, and candied orange slices, with a nibble of peppercorn spices and a finish of clove-studded orange. Tasty and well-balanced, salvaging the less than inspiring nose. (Travel Retail)
A light and sweet bourbon, with butterscotch candy, toasted coconut, lemon curd, marshmallow, and a bit of chalkiness on the nose. The palate is floral, tending toward cedar and sandalwood perfume, with marzipan, milk chocolate, and orange. It finishes with hookah tobacco, toasted oak, and almonds.
This blend of bourbon and rye offers quince, kiwi, jasmine, honey, vanilla, angel food cake, sultanas, and lemon meringue on the nose. The palate is somewhat barrel-forward, but offers coconut, banana flan, maple syrup, cinnamon, roasted almonds, and lemon, with an appealing char note. The finish is gently spicy, smooth, and light, ending with sweet vanilla and soft oak. Perhaps a bit closed at times, and lacks some cohesiveness, but it’s very easy to enjoy.
Uh-oh, here comes trouble. Sourdough, lemon, toffee, creamy vanilla, banana bread, and a few floral notes compete with the intimidating high alcohol. It begins with orange-shred marmalade, fleeting nutty-chocolate notes, and lots of peppery spice before a substantial onslaught of alcohol tramples the taste buds. Sure, it can be tamed with water, but is that really the point? Provocative, hedonistic, raw, and reckless; I’m very glad it’s around. (5,300 bottles)
Darryl McNally’s killer new whiskey was finished in Tokaj casks and launched to coincide with the opening of their new distillery. Inhaling the volatiles evokes scents of lime, sugar-sprinkled puff pastry, sweet and sour plum, toasted oak, and Chinese five spice. The waxy mouthfeel, with cooked fruit, sweet vanilla, marzipan, orange, and plum, is silenced when the trigger is pulled on the pepper, allspice, and clove ending. Well-executed. €160
A blend of high-rye bourbon from Indiana and a small amount of Colorado single malt. Black tea, cooked stone fruits, blackberry jam, white pepper, and cinnamon toast on the nose. The palate is sweet and light, with hot cocoa mix, toasted oak, cola, iced tea, orange, and clove that crescendos in a flash of heat and then subsides. Dried blueberries, dark chocolate, and integrated oak on the finish. Water not recommended. Best Value
Davidson Reserve Four Grain Tennessee Straight (Batch 2018-002), 50%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $45
Unbaked pastry dough, swirled with brown sugar and chopped almonds, meets orange blossom water, cream soda, coconut flakes, and pistachio pudding. There’s more pastry, toasted coconut and almonds, cinnamon, brown sugar, and orange on the palate, along with plenty of oak. A splash of water goes a long way to emphasize the prettier flavors while playing down some of the youthful heat.
Connacht Whiskey Co. finished 4 year old grain whiskey in port barrels for 3 to 6 months in this new and improved recipe. Cherry soda, rose hip, lemon zest, vanilla frosting, and dry grass aromas with a taste of damson, cherry, redcurrant jelly, pepper, and a good lift of sugary sweetness. A potpourri of spices bubbles up in the aftertaste amid lingering trails of fruity sweetness.
Classical fruity rye notes of orange, green apple, and blueberry on the nose, along with fresh-baked muffin and a whiff of new oak. The palate is somewhat arch at first, but it quickly melts into honey, warm chocolate sauce, caramel, cinnamon, baking spice, orange candy, walnut, and a hint of pipe tobacco. The finish is light and well-balanced, with more orange, along with chocolate malt, caramel, iced tea, and black pepper.
An American whiskey from Indianapolis-based Hotel Tango. The nose has notes of slate, herbs, tea, lemon peel, bitter orange, and vanilla wafer. The palate is somewhat green, with raisin, cinnamon candy, vanillin, grenadine, bitter chocolate, pecan, and cracked pepper. The finish is long and flavorful, offering orange, cherry, vanilla ice cream, mocha, and licorice. Perhaps too much wood influence, but water balances it well, creating a smooth, complex, and enjoyable whiskey.
Fruity and fresh, there are aromas of Juicy Fruit gum, honeydew, underripe bananas, and floral notes—a garden in bloom. The palate retains freshness with herbaceous flavors of parsley and cucumber, as well as melon, licorice, white pepper, and a pop of cumin. Oak, pepper, licorice, and bouquet garni on the finish. Unconventional but enjoyable flavors, driven by the still.
Fresh oak on the nose, floral notes, baked apple, bananas, and chocolate malt. The palate is light and slightly green, with herbal parsley notes, lime, and lemon, then expanding to vanilla, bitter chocolate, peanut shells, pepper, and tobacco. The finish is chocolaty, with more notes of peanut, as well as orange peel, herbaceousness, and peppery heat.
The dried fruit, almost like Fruit Roll-Ups, quickly veers toward circus peanuts candy, taffy, and bubble gum, with notes of herbs— especially dill. The palate remains a bit of a fruit bomb, with banana, peach puree, dried papaya, and other tropical fruits, then clove and allspice add some complexity. A flavorful, if slightly peculiar bourbon dominated by tutti-frutti flavors and dill.
Crooked Water Kings Point Port Wine Barrel Finished, 45%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $50
The nose is loaded with jasmine, orange blossoms, fresh peaches, gummy bears, red wine, grape fruit leather, and lashings of vanilla. In the mouth, it’s a mixed berry bonanza—raspberry, blueberry, and strawberry—with cherry, Red Vines, chocolate, and a hint of tobacco leaf. Though light, with a somewhat short finish, it’s well-balanced and tasty.
Crooked Water Old Hell Roaring Double Barreled Straight, 45%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $50
This undergoes secondary maturation in heavily toasted and smoked new charred oak barrels, but you wouldn’t know it from the delicate nose, redolent with white flowers, Asian pear, cardamom, toasted almonds, and milk chocolate; the only hint is a bit of burnt sugar and dry leaves. On the palate, those special barrels reveal themselves with flavors of cedar, black pepper, chipotle, and barbecue potato chips, as well as apple, pecan, and milk chocolate. The finish has chili-chocolate and long, polished oak.
Orange rind, pineapple, and tropical aromas on the nose. The palate has notes of chocolate milkshake, with nuttiness and a hint of espresso. Water brings out more tropical flavors, bitter chocolate, and a light char note. A bit hot, but the finish is balanced and reasonably long—chocolaty, lemony, with more of the charred note and some tobacco leaf. Not quite as full-bodied as it might be, but a solid rye expression nonetheless.
Give the nose time to open up, and it reveals herbal and earthy aromas, with fennel, dill, root beer, and evergreen forest, as well as sprinklings of cinnamon and cloves. The palate is chewy and vivacious, although the proof keeps the heat in check; flavors of chocolate, clove, allspice, orange oil, and nutty oak are ultimately enfolded in cigar wrapper, black pepper, and orange Creamsicle.
A blend of straight bourbons and American whiskeys, all aged at least 4 years, this is fruit cocktail in a glass: cherries, blackberries, wild strawberries, and sweet orange, along with allspice, clove, nutmeg, and a hint of cedar. Sweet, viscous, and full in the mouth, with more fruit (cooked cherry, orange peel, peach), spices, and plenty of oak all the way to the finish.
Legendary Canadian whisky blender Mike Booth blends small batches within sight of Newfoundland’s Signal Hill, using 95% corn and 5% barley whiskies matured in new oak, bourbon, and Canadian whisky barrels. Golden raisins and dried fruits with brown sugar, maple cream, dark rum, and classic peppery rye spices on the palate. Citrus peel, sandalwood, vanilla, soft oak, and a hint of spice. Rummy throughout with blackstrap molasses tugging on the palate in the finish.
William Grant & Sons’ Land Cask is a peated Lowland single malt from an undisclosed distillery. Sweet peat smoke and tangy orange on the nose. More orange, plus vanilla, toffee, and peaty oak on the smooth medium palate. Peat smoke and earthy, nutty, toffee in the finish. Straightforward, but eminently drinkable. £22
Rich fruit, spiced orange, fudge, fragrant spices, and sweet, playful smoke make for a splendid nosing experience. The piscine flavors, however, may best suit smokeheads, as, along with fudge and vanilla, this has a splendid flavor of oily, smoky kippers. Golden syrup, green apple, and black pepper emerge, but the smoked-fish flavors spill into the finish to swim with pepper and fruity sweetness.
Made with 100% malted rye. A nose of candied orange, cherry, green banana, and melon, along with sultanas, prunes, berries, and nuts. The palate starts orangey and sweet, followed by licorice, espresso, bitter chocolate, cashew, molasses, burnt sugar, and spice. Water unveils roasted peanuts, marshmallow char, more chocolate, and coffee beans. The finish is balanced oak, charred almonds, more coffee beans, tropical melon, and orange. Pleasurably crunchy, with intriguing overlays of bitter chocolate, espresso, and nuttiness.
Clan Denny 2008 10 year old (distilled at Craigellachie), 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $59
This bottling from Douglas Laing was distilled in January 2008, matured in a refill hogshead, and bottled in October 2018. Floral notes on the nose, with barley, vanilla, soft spice, and baked apple. Full-on orchard fruits and more barley on the palate. Soft and sweet. The finish dries, becoming slightly earthy and tannic, with black pepper. (371 bottles)
Clan Denny 10 year old (distilled at Fettercairn), 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $59
Earthy on the early nose, with a brief whiff of boiled cabbage and contrasting hints of violet. Ripe apples and pears on the relatively full palate, with toffee, honey, and a background earthiness. The finish is medium in length, herbal, with ginger and bog oak. (308 bottles)
Clan Denny 10 year old (distilled at Bunnahabhain), 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $59
The nose gives off gentle sea breezes, earthy and nutty aromas, then cocoa powder. Pineapple, toffee, and milk chocolate on the palate, with a suggestion of brine. Nutty in the finish, with white pepper and lingering lemon. (367 bottles)
Plummy, earthy, and zingy with grapefruit and pine aromas, along with orange marmalade, raspberry, and hazelnut. Light-bodied and silky in the mouth, it has flavors of lemon cake, hazelnut, milk chocolate, and intense floral and fruity hops, as well as sweet plum and mocha notes. This whiskey’s beauty is in its delicate balance, although it may veer too far out of the middle lane for conventional palates.
Belle Meade 9 year old Oloroso Sherry Cask Finished, 45.2%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $75
Buttery, nutty, and richly spiced, this has all the hallmarks of a sherry-finished whiskey—dried fruit, hazelnuts, chocolate—but retains its bourbon core with strong peanut, concord grape jelly, and roasted corn aromas. On the palate, it’s bourbon first: peanuts, cooked cherries, and plenty of oak. But the sherry softens and rounds out the mouthfeel, adding gentle spice, dried fruit, and silkiness.
A.D. Laws Four Grain Ruby Porto Cask Finished, 47.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $70
Aromas of orange, roasted pineapple, lime, pine nuts, cinnamon, and leather on the nose, with a cherry-strawberry note. Light, refined cherry on the palate, with roasted walnuts, dark chocolate, and light char. Water unlocks bright cherry and chocolate fudge, with notes of char and roasted coffee beans. A nutty, fruity finish carries on the red berry note, along with a swirl of vanilla and chocolate. A deft balance of fruit, sweetness, and spice.
Named for the town of Deadwood, S.D., where Wild Bill Hickok was gunned down in 1876. A blend of two rye mashbills, 95% rye and 70% rye, aged at least 2 years in American oak. Orange blossom on the nose, herbal notes, pine nuts, anise, and fragrant oak. A honeyed palate offers kiwi, tangerine, and orange, balanced against bitter chocolate and espresso. The finish is sweet, with floral orange notes and chocolate syrup.
Vivacious and fresh aromas of raspberry, licorice cookies, brown sugar, herbal tea, and toasted oak. The palate falls a little short of the setup, with a light body and some youthful heat driven by oak. Nevertheless, orange and lemon peels, roasted pecans, caramel, blackberry, nutmeg, and black pepper punch through the wood, demonstrating a well-executed, if simple, bourbon.
The nose is sweet and wood-driven, with butterscotch, molasses cookies, toasted pecans, and a faint floral note. Cinnamon, chili pepper, almonds, orange, and candied violets buoy a somewhat thin mouthfeel, all rounded off with sweet floral flavors and subtle oak. Six month old Kentucky bourbon that has been “finished” in stainless steel tanks with French and American oak and oloroso sherry staves.
Grain-forward on the nose, with raw peanuts, milk chocolate, orange pekoe tea, grape Pixy Stix, and cinnamon Teddy Grahams. Without water, the palate is chewy, oaky, and grain-heavy; with water, there’s a delicious Cocoa Krispies flavor, as well as walnuts and cinnamon oatmeal. Nutty chocolate and oak on the finish.
A straightforward 4 year old Canadian blend, great for mixing, but good for sipping too. It presents flavors of toffee, brisk spices, kiwi fruit, charred wood, and sweet barley sugars. A creamy body with pleasingly penetrating pepper that feels minty-warm, like menthol. Not overly complex, but getting there. More pepper and a refreshing, slightly bitter pithiness on a medium finish. A creamy palate soothes the energetic attack of the spices.
Balcones Texas Pot Still Straight (Batch 19-1), 46%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $30
Oily, earthy, and a bit vegetal on the nose, with nori, moss, caramel corn, toasted pecans, barbecue potato chips, and butterscotch haystacks. The oily-textured palate is heavy on smoky char, roasted corn and nuts, savory mesquite-cooked meat, and spearmint. On the finish, it’s all cigar wrapper, dark chocolate, mint oil, and coffee bean, with plenty of lingering char flavor.
Faintly herbal but mostly sweet aromas: Swedish fish, Twizzlers, treacle, marshmallow, and toasted almonds, as well as Lipton tea bag and pine needles. The flavor is dominated by oak, along with charred corn, black pepper, roasted nuts, and pipe tobacco, while the finish takes a slight turn with lingering pine and cigar notes.
Buttercream, fresh-cut bread, taffy candy, citrus, and a distinctive hoppy note from the craft ale casks. Charmingly smooth but quite light bodied, there is warmed bramble fruit, bitter grapefruit peel, and plenty of peppery spice. This stands up well to other ale-cask finished whiskies, but in the Grant’s range there are better whiskies with more to offer.
Banana chips, peppercorn, coriander stalks, dry grasses, cracker bread, faint lemon zest, butterscotch, and green apple; more grain than malt character evident. With watery citrus, butterscotch, walnut, lemon peel, and caramel initially, it’s lighter-bodied but balanced. It develops more spices and a fine texture as it dilutes, lifted by cinnamon, caramel, and gentle spices. Overlook the hard-to-love nose, and this is tasty both neat and over ice.
Three and half year old rye finished in rum casks from Barbados. Rum-influenced notes of ripe mango, guava, and orange curaçao dominate the nose. A light, nimble mouthfeel with rum sweetness on the palate, plus candied mandarin, lemon, pineapple, and a light pine note. Similar notes on the finish, helped by a sprinkling of white pepper. Flavorful and rich, with the overlay of rum sweetness dominating the rye notes to some degree.
The nose begins with a whiff of new wood, but moves to orange peel, apricot, green banana, raisin bread, black tea, and raspberry Popsicle. The palate is youthful and syrupy in texture, with notes of milk chocolate, burnt almond, vanilla frosting, and chili spice. The finish is barrel-influenced but light and honeyed, with notes of milk chocolate, nuttiness, and spice.
This bourbon is named for the Special Forces horsemen, known as the horse soldiers, who served in Afghanistan. The nose starts earthy and herbal, with notes of leather, licorice, and light smokiness. Drying oak on the palate, with bitter orange and herbal notes, roasted walnuts, and burnt cinnamon and brown sugar. A finish of orange, bitter chocolate, and espresso beans. Water coaxes out raspberry and honey blossom.
Orange and flower aromas mingled with cinnamon candy, tea leaves, and fresh-cut wood show off the lively side of the grain from the start. In the mouth, this whiskey is spicy and vibrant, with chili pepper, Hot Tamales, green banana, and plenty of oak, finishing on dark chocolate, black tea, and lingering heat. A young whiskey, but well on its way.
Orange, mango, strawberry candy, and licorice on the nose, while water brings out watermelon, more mango, and a soft wood note. A light palate offers fruitcake, orange, blackberry, chocolate, almond, gingersnaps, tobacco, and cedar spice. A finish of vanilla, orange, and more tobacco, with water bringing out hot chocolate, orange, burnt espresso beans, and drying oak. Orangey and tropical at the outset, but also deep and nutty, particularly on the finish.
Light in aroma, with nougat, pistachio halvah, fresh lilies, and the chalkiness of general store candy. Flavor and mouthfeel are also subtle, sometimes too much so; while there are lovely floral and fruit notes, along with spices, pistachio, toasted grain, and orange oil, a bit more amplitude would go a long way.
The nose is pleasant, with fresh strawberry, spicy smoke, cookie dough, allspice, and glacé cherry, but the palate fails to shine or excite. This has been finished in port and Pedro Ximénez casks, giving the whisky a subtle rose hue, but it needs more body. There are flavors of biscuit, mandarin, vanilla, and redcurrant. It meanders along with a fairly flat trajectory, then hits the buffers with some lingering rosehip fruitiness. (2,266 bottles for U.S.)
The nose begins with lemon and lime, followed by notes of licorice root and dill. The palate is smoother and sweeter, if a bit light, with notes of cherry, chocolate, cinnamon, and new oak. The addition of water reveals flavors of orange pekoe tea, peanut shells, a richer note of chocolate, and a dusting of chili powder. Some barrel influence on the palate, but the finish concludes with chocolate, sassafras, and bitter almond oil.
Spirits of French Lick Lee W. Sinclair Four Grain Straight Bourbon, 45%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $45
Made with an unusual mashbill—corn, wheat, caramel malt, and oats—this whiskey was aged for 2 years. Grain, bread dough, almond paste, and a hint of cinnamon on the nose. The palate has fresh wood shavings, cinnamon, bread dough, orange Popsicle, and walnuts, with a dry chocolate and oak finish. A bit more maturation time should soften some of the youthful edges.
Yes, this is named for the beach in Australia, and its light character might well be intended for seaside sipping. Orange blossom, lemon, and cinnamon gum vie with Popsicle stick on the nose. The light-bodied palate has more orange, cinnamon candy, nuttiness, and a lot of oak that becomes cloying on the finish. Overall, it has the effect of making one wish there were just a bit more body and character.