Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch Straight (2019 Release), 56.3%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $140
From first sniff, it’s clear this is mature and stately stuff. It’s quite oak-driven, but rather than purely primary wood, it smells of fine leather, cedar chest, polished handrails, and barrel warehouse. Beneath the woody splendor lurks a core of rich black cherry fruit, which permeates the full-bodied palate, oozing with dark berry fruit that slowly succumbs to butterscotch, espresso, chocolate-covered cherries, and drying tannins. A masterful work of balance and lush flavors. Collectibles
Ardbeg’s first core bottling with an age statement in nearly 20 years was matured in bourbon and oloroso sherry casks. Rock pools, fabric Band-Aids, coal dust, licorice, hot peat, pineapple, and a seafood platter on the complex nose. The palate is oily, with smoked fish, overt peat smoke, chili, iodine, and lemon. Long in the finish, with more iodine and peppery peat. A delightfully traditional Ardbeg.
Master blender Stephanie Macleod’s innovative blend was inspired by Dewar’s famous double aging process. She separately blended parcels of aged malt and grain whisky, left each to marry, then blended them together to marry again, before finishing in oloroso sherry casks. A tantalizing nose of chocolate, caramel, vanilla, crystalized orange slice, fresh plum, black cherry, and moist coffee grounds. Smooth flavors of chocolate-dipped raspberries, gingersnaps, and bold sherry fruit yield to a finish of smoke and spice. By releasing in novel half-bottles, Dewar’s spreads the love, enabling us to experience a 21 year old scotch for just 50 bucks. Number 2 in the 2019 Top 20
Known for pushing boundaries, the Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection series has been a mixed bag over the years. With Batch Proof, Woodford literally plays to its strength. This bourbon takes the same mashbill, flavor profile, and beautiful blending that makes up the standard 90.4-proof Woodford Reserve, and ups the intensity to 123.2 proof, uncut and unfiltered. “Batch Proof” is Woodford’s answer to other distilleries’ single-barrel products. Now an annual spring release, Batch Proof doubles down on what Woodford does best, upping the banana pudding, dark spice, and toasty oak notes to decadent new heights. Number 6 in the 2019 Top 20
Old Ezra’s owner, Luxco, historically has played the role of whiskey négoçiant, sourcing liquid from third-party distillers. In 2018, the company opened its own distillery in Bardstown, Ky., where it’s now laying down whiskey. While we wait for it to mature, we’ll happily savor the sourced version. This is Ezra Brooks’ first ever barrel-proof bourbon, and it’s a beauty. A spice storm of cinnamon, clove, ginger, and roasted pecan greets the palate, easing into sweet notes of melted caramel, chocolate, macaroons, marzipan, and crème brûlée. Earthy hints of sandalwood and tobacco complete the finish, making this everything a great bourbon should be. Number 7 in the 2019 Top 20
George Dickel Bottled in Bond 13 year old (Distilled in Fall 2005) Tennessee Whiskey, 50%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $36
Following Tennessee’s practice of charcoal-filtering the distillate before aging, this whiskey is soft around the edges yet delivers plenty of intensity. The mouthwatering peanut aromas evoke memories of cracking open a school lunchbox while the palate delivers abundant fruit: orange marmalade and caramel apple. Fine bitter-sweet balance suggests burnt sugar, Mexican chocolate, chocolate-covered almonds, and toffee. Indeed, sweet nuts, like French burnt peanuts, candied pralines, and marron glacé, seem to be the common thread here, lending this a consistent chord from initial nose through the drying, pleasantly spiced finish. As recently as 2016, Dickel appeared to be reeling, following the departure of two longtime distillers. In 2018, 33 year old Nicole Austin, a chemical engineering graduate who got her start with New York craft distiller Kings County Distillery, took over as general manager and distiller. Austin set about cherry-picking the warehouses for exceptional barrels, a dramatic change of course from the just-released George Dickel Tabasco Brand Barrel Finish, finished in hot sauce barrels. The result is this 13 year old whiskey, which like all bottled in bond spirits results from one distilling season—here, the fall of 2005. In this way, bottled in bond whiskey is similar to a vintage wine, making this release a limited edition by definition. We relish well-aged, delicious whiskey at a bargain price—and all whiskey lovers have reason to applaud George Dickel on hitting its stride. Number 1 in the 2019 Top 20
Balcones Single Barrel European Oak Single Malt (Barrel #16009), 64.1%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $80
Marrying fruit and pastry aromas, the first whiff brings angel food cake topped with strawberries, which soon develop into a jammier presentation. There are also notes of mango, pineapple, and guava, along with currants, dried chile, dry oak, and caramel. On the palate, strawberry jam and sweet mango balance out chewy oak, chile heat, mocha, and rich spice, sliding into a wave of spice, tropical fruit, smoked almonds, and cocoa powder on the finish.
Sweet and toasty aromas, like a coconut macaroon, are balanced with bright green apple in this showstopper of a bourbon. Secondary notes include alluring five-spice, cigar box, and dark cherry fruit. The flavors really fulfill expectations, as toasty notes of brown butter meet delicate spice, candied peanuts, and grilled peaches. But wait for the finish! A cascade of gingery and peppery spices, grilled peaches, and pecan descend in perfect harmony. A multifaceted bourbon that is as intriguing as it is delicious. Editors' Choice
Distilled in Indiana and finished at Bardstown Bourbon Company in barrels that previously held Goodwood Brewing Company's Brandy Barrel Honey ale. The honey is immediately apparent on the nose, along with molasses, sweet pecans, cherry pie, baking spices, and peanut butter cookies. Viscous and thick on the palate, with flavors of roasted peanuts, dark chocolate, leathery oak, cooked cherries, citrus oil, and velvety baking spices, which persist into the finish along with root beer, blueberries, grapefruit oil, and copious chocolate. (104 bottles)
Aromas of corn meal, corn muffins, and buttered toast on the nose, along with vanilla frosting, warm raspberry tart, nuttiness, and polished oak. A big palate offers baking spice, vanilla ice cream, blackberries, and coconut shavings. A long finish of rich caramel, chocolate, cracked pepper, and roasted coffee beans, is completed by a final note of cigar ash. Warm and inviting, as the sweetness melds gracefully with dark fruit and spice.
Lux Row Distillers 12 year old Double Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon, 59.2%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $150
Deeply inviting on the nose and satisfying on the palate. Aromas of iced tea, orange Tang, peanuts, dark fruit, weathered oak, leather, and spices comingle with the freshness of an alpine retreat. Flavors and texture fill the mouth: chewy oak, semi-sweet chocolate, cinnamon plums, walnuts, cherry cough syrup, orange oil, and cloves. Cooked dark fruit, semi-sweet chocolate, and copious mature oak on the finish, which is velvety and expansive. Needless to say, at this proof, it benefits from generous amounts of water. (6,000 bottles)
Four Roses Small Batch Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon, 52%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $55
The limited-edition releases from Four Roses are always top-notch, but this bourbon—a permanently available addition to the lineup—proves itself every bit the equal of its rarer brethren. Made with the distillery’s F yeast strain, among others, it has a perfumed nose, with orange blossom, cedar chest, berries, spearmint, tobacco leaves, sassafras, licorice, and layers of earthy spice. The palate is consistent and deep, with flavors of cherry Coke, cough syrup, orange oil, leathery dark fruit, black pepper, chili flakes, and chocolate, shifting into a minty finish replete with pepper, cinnamon, dark chocolate, cooked berries, and roasted walnuts. Full, rich, and utterly satisfying. Number 3 in the 2019 Top 20
Michter’s 10 year old Single Barrel Straight Rye (Barrel No. 19F965), 46.4%
Rye Whiskey | $160
Concord grape juice, leather armchair, cola syrup, iced tea, roasted pecans, and furniture polish on the nose. The palate is deeply fruity, with cooked cherries, blackberries, Concord grape jelly, Coca-Cola, dark chocolate, silky baking spice, and white pepper, with a lush and velvety texture. A complex finish of bitter chocolate, peanut shell, Dr. Pepper, and leathery oak rounds things out.
Old Forester Birthday Kentucky Straight (2019 Release), 52.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $100
Elegant and supple, as befits a whiskey aged 11 years. The maturity shows on the nose, which has Concord grape skins, leather, sassafras, iced tea, chocolate, pecans, and varnish. Big dark fruit flavors, cola spices, ginger, cooked cherries, dark chocolate, and generous oak; a touch of water brings out pecans. The lengthy finish draws out cola, dark chocolate, leather, and pepper. Sip slowly; it continues to evolve in the glass. (13,200 bottles) Collectibles
Aberlour A’bunadh Alba Cask Strength (Batch #001), 57.1%
Single Malt Scotch | $90
The yin to Aberlour A’bunadh’s yang, this cask-strength single malt is matured entirely in bourbon casks rather than sherry. The result is a bracingly pure whisky with deceptive simplicity; its flavors are clean and its structure precise, but it’s far from boring. The nose recalls black-and-white cookies, vanilla-frosted yellow cake, and shortbread with caramel topping, along with honeysuckle, jasmine, and coconut cream. Mouth-coating and full, it has flavors of poached pear, malt balls, nougat, lemon curd, toasted coconut, and hints of spice. Vanilla, chocolate, and nut flavors are almost endless on the finish. Add water, or don’t: this is delicious either way. Number 5 in the 2019 Top 20
Aberlour A’bunadh Alba Cask Strength (Batch #001), 57.1%
Single Malt Scotch | $90
Sweet and clean, with aromas of honeysuckle, confectioners’ sugar, lemon, fresh jasmine, nougat, and coconut cream. The palate is remarkably consistent, with lemon curd, toasted coconut sprinkled over oatmeal, vanilla cookie, pear, and juicy citrus. A lengthy finish of grapefruit, lemon, and apple continues the theme. The clean, spirit-driven profile might give the impression of simplicity, but the high ABV ensures there is much to unpack. (Individual reviewer rating: 92)
A riddle inside a bottle, this release follows Glenlivet’s previous mystery series bottlings Alpha, Cipher, and Code. Packaged in a jet-black bottle and box that look part Arthur C. Clarke monolith and part 3-D cryptic crossword puzzle, it’s devoid of cask information or tasting notes by design. The best solution is to open it and unlock the whisky’s secrets. Classic Glenlivet notes of lemon curd, melon, fresh peaches, bitter orange, and baked apples on the nose, followed by a smooth, creamy palate of marshmallow, toasted almond, marzipan, and lemon iced tea. The long, vibrant finish is replete with crème brûlée, sultana, cinnamon, and tropical fruit. Number 8 in the 2019 Top 20
Part of Glenlivet’s mystery series, the concept is to have drinkers form their impressions with no information about the whisky’s age or cask maturation, although those details will be revealed at year’s end. The nose has notes of lemon curd, melon, fresh peaches, bitter orange, and baked apples. A nimble, creamy palate offers marshmallow, toasted almond, marzipan, and lemon iced tea. The finish has length and vibrance, with crème brûlée, cinnamon, and a tropical note. A delicate, enchanting whisky.
Lagavulin 12 year old (Diageo Special Releases 2019), 56.5%
Single Grain Scotch | $147
Matured in refill American oak casks. Brine, sea breezes, woodsmoke, green apples, and ginger on the nose, plus buttery smoked haddock. Sweet and supple on the palate, with cigar, citrus fruit, and spicy peat notes developing. Scorched saucepans, licorice, lemon juice, and black pepper in the finish. £110
This expression has been matured entirely in first-fill bourbon casks. The nose offers lemon juice squeezed onto hot baked salmon, cooked over a wood fire, then sprinkled with sea salt. Rich, sweet, tropical fruit flavors on the full palate, with honey, barley sugar, peppery oak, and mellow peat smoke. Dark chocolate, dry peat, and black pepper in the long, mildly medicinal finish. Editors’ Choice
Mortlach 26 year old (Diageo Special Releases 2019), 53.3%
Single Malt Scotch | $2,000
Aged in newly toasted first-fill Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry-seasoned casks, this veteran ‘beast of Dufftown’ makes a big impression. Sweet, with smoky sherry, fragrant pipe tobacco, old leather, walnuts, vanilla, and ripe cherries. The oily palate yields more leather, blackcurrant cough drops, nutmeg, cloves, Jaffa oranges, and black tea. Raisins, licorice, and oak tannins, before sweeter chocolate in the very long finish (3,883 bottles; 276 for the U.S.)
This release from independent bottler The Last Drop has a captivating aroma of dark toffee, cinnamon, Brazil nut, star anise, polished oak, vanilla seed, crème de cassis, and a wisp of smoke that shows more charred stave as time goes on. Peach and baked orange precede an early peak of spice and smoke, then sit back and swim in the soothing mélange of chocolate brownie, Whoppers, stewed apple, vanilla pod, oak, sultana, and plum jam. (732 bottles) Collectibles
Distilled in 2011 and bottled in 2019, this is the first fully sherry-matured version of Kilchoman’s 100% Islay expression sold in the U.S., made with barley grown and malted on-site, and from a cask selected by importer ImpEx. A bold, complex nose of peat, smokehouse, dried leaves, and lime. Bitter chocolate and raisins on the palate, and a finish of blackberry coulis, chocolate, and pepper. A tour de force from this young distillery. (U.S. exclusive; 329 bottles)
Balcones Hechiceros Port Cask-Finished Single Malt (Batch 18-1), 61.5%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $100
Round, ripe fruit flavors permeate this robust whiskey finished in port casks. Rich caramel-apple cider on the nose, along with red candy apple, toasted almonds, cinnamon raisin bread, and earthy spice. It's brightly fruity on the palate, showing off berries, green apple candy, dried figs, and Welch's grape juice, as well as ample spice, dark chocolate, and nuts. Persistent grape and strawberry into the finish, along with roasted walnuts, warming spice, and rich, chocolaty oak.
Balcones Brujeria Sherry Cask-Finished Single Malt (Batch 18-1), 62.9%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $130
The oloroso and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks that this whiskey was finished in present themselves right up front, with raisins, dried figs, marmalade, blackcurrants, leather, cinnamon, allspice, and dried chile on the nose. The full, somewhat tannic palate is savory and sweet all at once, juxtaposing dark fruit, ample spice, figs, raisins, and marmalade with hazelnuts, almonds, mole sauce, and tobacco. Transitioning into the finish, peppery spice, dried fruit, dark chocolate, mocha, cigar, and rich oak highlight the finesse and balance this whiskey pulls off with aplomb.
This has the classic sweetish, oily, floral, leathery nose of 100% rye grain whisky. A luxurious, creamy, medium-weight dram with caraway rye bread, restrained but hot peppery spices, vague citrus notes, and hints of cedar setting goal posts for punts of sweet and vaguely floral barley sugar, nail polish (in a good way), caramel, barrel wood, well-aged lumber, dark rye bread, ripe apples, milk chocolate, and baking spices. $90 CAD
Poor Baker Beam, great-nephew of Jim Beam. His eponymous Baker’s bourbon ended up a sleeper bottle alongside rightfully lauded Booker’s bourbon and stellar limited editions of Knob Creek. But this year, Baker’s has reason to boast, as it gets the single-barrel treatment. It will remain 107 proof and a minimum of 7 years old. However, the addition of details like barreling date, age, warehouse, and barrel number will make for fun treasure hunting. Our bottle offered a lush palate of blackberries, delicious dried fruits, licorice, and cinnamon. Number 16 in the 2019 Top 20
Baker’s Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon (No. 000185706), 53.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $60
The nose is a bit tight, reluctantly giving up brown sugar on warm cereal, dried banana chips, honey peanuts, and figgy dried fruits. The palate comes across really dense and chewy with dark berries and sweet prune notes, laced with licorice and cinnamon spice. The dark fruit flavors feel lush and decadent, while drying oak lends lovely maturity and polish. As Baker’s is now a single-barrel product, your experience may vary with each bottle, although the proof will remain the same.
Pittyvaich 29 year old (Diageo Special Releases 2019), 51.4%
Single Malt Scotch | $430
Distilled in 1989 and matured first in Pedro Ximénez, then in oloroso sherry-seasoned casks. Delicate and restrained on the nose, with apple, pear drops, ginger, and malt. Initially, sweet sherry, then dark berry fruits emerge on the supple palate, with oatmeal stout. More apples, and ginger, plus prunes and chili in the long, warming finish. An excellent release from an underrated closed distillery. (4,976 bottles; 600 for the U.S.)
Little Book Chapter 3 “The Road Home” Kentucky Straight Bourbon, 61.3%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $125
The chewy caramel aroma is bursting with all types of vanilla—frosted birthday cake, Nilla wafer, and pudding—along with honey-roasted peanuts and dark berry. On the palate, deep fruit and an explosion of spice flavors, including nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. For all its power, this whiskey remains impressively sippable, although it shows a more elegant side with some water added. A blend of 9 year old Knob Creek and Basil Hayden’s, 11 year old Booker’s, and 12 year old Baker’s bourbons, bottled at barrel proof and unfiltered.
I’m calling this the pitmaster’s dram: the nose has muscular peat smoke, prune juice, savory notes of barbecued brisket bark, venison charcuterie, and a hint of peppermint cream. The palate is a gluttonous feast of sweet dark fruits, milk chocolate, dried fig, plum, sultanas, and ginger, sliding into baked orange and spicy gingerbread, and wallowing luxuriously in chocolate and rich fruit. A welcome addition to Eifel’s already impressive range. (1,200 bottles for the U.S.)
Parker’s Heritage Collection Heavy Char Straight Rye (13th Edition), 52.5%
Rye Whiskey | $150
The 2019 rendition of this coveted annual release matured for 8 years in new heavily charred barrels, evidenced in its deep orange-amber color. An aroma of dried fruits—peaches and dates—is underscored by alpine herbs, sandalwood, dark chocolate, and toasted nuts. The palate pours full, creamy, and bold, with plenty of proof—but it’s carried beautifully. Mouth-filling berry and dark cherry fruit are rounded out with spice, and adding water only gives greater length to the sweet treacle and delightful burnt sugar flavors before a finish of chocolate-covered nuts.
A 23 year old expression that was maturated in American oak and a small number of sherry casks before a finish for up to 6 months in French cuvée wine casks. Canned apricots in syrup, toasted marshmallows, apple blossom, and honey on the nose. Pears, vanilla, freshly sawn timber, warm white bread, caramel, cloves, and milk chocolate on the relatively full palate. Toffee and instant coffee in the lingering finish.
This Quinta Ruban succeeds the 12 year old version, adding two additional years of finishing in port casks, while maintaining the same bargain price. The result is a symphony of understated opulence. Marzipan, fresh apple and pear, milk chocolate, red berries, candied ginger, and praline on the nose build slowly, leading into a fruity, spiced palate. Flavors of soft gingerbread, molasses cake, cherry pie, spiced plums, almond nougat, and dark chocolate intermingle with faint strains of pipe tobacco. It sings on the finish, with a parting crescendo of hazelnut, spice, cigar wrapper, and lengthy oak. Number 9 in the 2019 Top 20
The 2019 edition of Laphroaig’s annual Càirdeas series, this is a cask-strength version of Laphroaig Triple Wood. The complex nose is redolent of iodine, lime, peat smoke, wood-fired meats, drying seaweed, salt air, and other maritime notes. Charred smoky peat and coal fire envelop the palate, and embrace emerging notes of bitter chocolate, licorice, savory herbs, smoked jerky, cracked pepper, and cigar ash. A spicy finish is filled with leather, bitter nuttiness, dark chocolate, espresso, and lingering peat smoke. Number 12 in the 2019 Top 20
This was first matured in bourbon barrels, then in quarter casks, and finally in European oak oloroso casks. The nose is rich, with iodine-soaked peat, barbecued meat, almonds, toffee, vanilla, and orange. More peat, then orange on the palate, with cigar smoke, dried fruits, cloves, and sea salt. The finish is lengthy and spicy, with orange peel and dark chocolate. (Individual reviewer rating: 93)
Part of the Game of Thrones collection, this pop culture mash-up whisky represents House Greyjoy and features its kraken sigil on the label. The whisky sings of the sea, as blasts of ocean spray, sea salt, wet sand, and seashells swirl above undernotes of peach, cranberry, citrus fruits, and blackberry tart. The mouth fills with bonfire smoke, light peat, toffee, black cherry, and peppercorn. The addition of water coaxes out chocolate, light black pepper notes, and citrus. A flourish of allspice, bitter chocolate, more toffee, espresso, and almond on the finish. Number 13 in the 2019 Top 20
Lemon curd on shortbread and sweet, salty smoke hit the nose to start, followed by stone fruit, fresh pears, citrus, and peppermint candies. In the mouth, it's ashy and oily, with oyster shell and cigar; add a few drops of water and suddenly it bursts into Technicolor—blueberries, juicy dark fruits, spiced chocolate, and vivid peppery spice. Explosive on the finish, with powerful notes of bitter chocolate, cinnamon, espresso, and lingering ash. (1,260 bottles)
The Powers Distillery in Dublin historically used the swallow to signify the age, quality, and purity of its traditional pot still whiskeys. This powerful expression, predominantly matured in bourbon with some sherry casks, has an intriguing nose of candied peel, dried apricot, mango strips, white pepper, herbal notes, almond paste, and sweet grapefruit flesh. Thick and velvety, there’s warm marmalade, sugared almonds, golden barley, citrus, green apple, and acrobatic spices. A superb introduction to this quintessential Irish whiskey style. Number 18 in the 2019 Top 20
In 2018, Heaven Hill discontinued its 6 year old bottled in bond bourbon that was sold only in Kentucky, but now has roared back with this widely available 7 year old. While the bottled in bond designation isn’t necessarily a quality guarantee, this whiskey more than proves its merit. It’s explosive, bold, and buttery, with warm flavors of honey-roasted peanuts, caramel, chocolate, corn muffins, licorice, and cinnamon, all accented by notes of savory herbs, cloves, white pepper, tobacco, and an earthy undertone. Well-integrated big oak, sweetness, and spice combine to create grace, power, and length. This is pure bourbon bliss, at a very approachable price. Number 4 in the 2019 Top 20
Sticky Cracker Jack, butterscotch pudding, candy corn, fresh-sawn oak, and peanut butter-stuffed pretzels on the nose lead to a palate that explodes with sweet candied nuts, grape jam, citrus peel, clove, and white pepper spice. The full body, slick buttery texture, and perfect proof let the finish really roll along nicely, with the oak seamlessly integrated and finely tuned. This is bold, lively, and flavor-packed!
The nose has coffee beans, dark chocolate, green pepper, jalapeño, blueberry, and bonfire—like an amaro that’s trying to pick a fight. On the palate, it’s sweet, savory, spicy, and smoky: Mexican chocolate, grilled pineapple and corn, smoked nuts, coffee ice cream, chipotle, and barrel char. The mouthwatering finish continues the theme, with mole sauce, coffee bean, dark chocolate, roasted pecans, and smoked almonds. There are a lot of layers here—you’re going to want to spend time exploring them.
Balcones Single Barrel American Oak Single Malt (Barrel #16582), 63.3%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $80
Persimmon pudding, guava juice, baked apple, blueberry, and pineapple on the nose, as well as fresh clay, pencil shavings, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salty ham. The palate is big and chewy, with Popsicle stick, dried chile, roasted nuts, black pepper, and juicy guava and pineapple. More tropical fruit rounds out the palate, mingling with pepper, nuts, and plenty of dry oak.
Balcones Single Barrel French Oak Single Malt (Barrel #15974), 64%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $80
The nose shows glorious maturity, with tropical fruits, blueberry, concord grape jelly, and pineapple soda, all mingled with wood spice, dried chile, and smoked meat. Excellent consistency into the palate, which benefits from water to tame oak tannins; juicy pineapple, guava, papaya, jackfruit, and hibiscus tea brighten up cocoa powder and chile flavors. It finishes floral and fruity, with persistent chili, chocolate, and cigar notes. Multilayered and rewarding.
Walsh Whiskey has rarely released better whiskeys than those of 2019, which included two expressions made in collaboration with the Legaret family of Deau Cognac. Here, they apply bourbon and French oak cognac barrels to the unique marriage of single pot still and single malt Irish whiskeys, arguably the most premium interpretation of the Irish blend. Aromas of dark berry fruit, cinnamon, fudge, milk chocolate, graham crackers, jellied fruit, and a smudge of dry spices. Compelling, well-structured whiskey with cinnamon, chocolate, dark toffee, pepper, and ginger; never cloying, nor overly sweet, just a richly rewarding glass. Number 10 in the 2019 Top 20
A dark, brooding whiskey with a nose of cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, clove, dark chocolate, baked apricots, and orange peel. The palate has dark toffee, peppermint, raisin, and pronounced clove elements before a second wave of dark chocolate, warm malted milk, cocoa, black pepper, praline, plum skins, and licorice. No burn on the finish, even at cask strength, just some delicious chocolate and malty notes with a blast of spice for good measure. (2,346 bottles; 186 for the U.S.)
Duncan Taylor 21 year old Dimensions Cask Strength 1997 (distilled at Macallan), 53%
Single Malt Scotch | $1,900
Here’s an accomplished Macallan, not a leather-lashed first-fill, but the nose is still replete with prominent sherry notes accompanied by marzipan, ripe mango, apricot, violin rosin, wood spices, and dried lavender. This has a beautiful weight with sweet, candied orange and active spices. As tropical fruits appear, there is chocolate, clove, pepper, and a slight nuttiness, with vanilla and baked fruits on the finish.
Barrell 10 year old Cask Strength Blend of Straight Bourbons (Batch #020), 53.35%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $90
Strikingly mature and rich, yet also lively and vibrant, this whiskey tempts with a host of vanilla treats, including Nilla wafers, milkshake, and butter pecan ice cream. Lurking just beneath are deeper nutty flavors, saddle leather, crushed blueberry, and warm apple butter. The palate shows a lot of gusto and while it certainly doesn’t need water, a splash rewards by unleashing the ample oak, coupled with heaps of Peanut Chews, dried apple, and more leather on the beautifully balanced finish.
This whisky spends 15 to 16 years in bourbon barrels before a final maturation in oloroso sherry casks. The nose is sweet, with tropical fruits, nutty spices, almonds, orange marmalade, and worn leather. The orange theme continues on the luscious, lively palate, with spicy toffee, cinnamon, vanilla, and honey. Drying and lightly spiced in the finish. A dram that deserves to be better known. Editors’ Choice
Aromas of root beer, cooked cherries, candied orange, licorice, cloves, iced tea, spearmint, marshmallow Peeps, and a hint of varnish. The palate is chewy and full, with flavors tumbling over each other in a rush: orange, cinnamon, clove, licorice, horehound, oak, almonds, vanilla cream, and a bit of herbaceousness. It finishes dry, with bright fruit, cedary oak, cinnamon, and almonds.
Kentucky Peerless 4 year old Small Batch Barrel Proof Straight Rye (#R150420204), 54.85%
Rye Whiskey | $90
A nicely layered nose reveals cocoa, fruit, nougat, nuts, and spice in abundance. The dark chocolate envelops the fruit like chocolate-covered blueberries, while the warming spice evokes fresh-baked gingerbread cookies, with traces of paraffin wax hinting at maturity. The rich palate is noticeably hot, but water treats it well, and is necessary to fully unleash the confectionary notes of Jordan almonds and root beer barrels candy as persistent vanilla and cherry coulis ride to the pepper-laced finish that’s long and expressive with drying oak.
Fukano 14 year old Single Cask Rice Whisky (No. 213), 44.2%
Japanese | $150
Stewed gooseberry, scallions, chopped chives, fine-ground pepper, rolled oats, and sweet oak combine to create a sweet and herbal dram. Full-bodied on the palate, this boasts stewed fruits, brown sugar, cooked apple, and delicious baked desserts. Drawn from a specially selected new oak cask, this Fukano is the most interesting of the brand’s 2019 releases. (487 bottles)
New Riff’s first whiskey releases were all bottled in bond from the start—a bold move for a brand new distillery. This rye proves it was the right decision. Complex and compelling, it shows maturity while retaining liveliness and verve. Grassy and herbal on the nose, it also has orange, cedar, sassafras, rose petals, and syrupy blackberries. The medium-weight palate balances clove, cedar oil, orange, berries, bubble gum, and cinnamon, which melt into an herbaceous, nutty, chocolate-rich finish. The patient drinker is rewarded, as aromas and flavors develop beautifully in the glass. Number 17 in the 2019 Top 20
Mizunara oak is the modern signature of Japanese whisky, and Kaiyo- whisky enables inquisitive imbibers to savor the spice, incense, and sandalwood flavors of this rare wood for an attractive price. Distilled and matured in Japan, the casks then undergo a three-month ocean voyage from Osaka to Liverpool before bottling to encourage further flavorsome interactions. Ground spices, vanilla sponge cake, honey, brown sugar cubes, and scents of aromatic woods and incense. Pastry, egg custard, and allspice flavors, followed by a wave of vanilla creaminess and a lengthy finish with fading spices. Number 14 in the 2019 Top 20
Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #1, 49.45%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $60
Contract distiller Bardstown Bourbon has begun building its own portfolio of whiskeys, and this inaugural release—comprising 60% Bardstown’s own 2 year old bourbon and 40% sourced 11 year old bourbon—is an auspicious debut. Rye and an herbal rush of peppermint and dill greet the nose, swathed in cotton candy, vanilla cream, and nutty caramel. The palate is loaded with chocolate fudge, honeyed almonds, dark fruits, light pepper, and allspice. Bitter chocolate, espresso, orange peel, leather, and spice complete a sumptuous finish. Number 11 in the 2019 Top 20
Kurayoshi Distillery lies between Osaka and Hiroshima in the foothills of Mount Daisen, where it produces single malt whiskies brought to proof with soft, mountain spring water. The label, adorned by Hokusai’s The Great Wave, portends this whisky’s rush of flavor: satisfyingly smoky, with noticeable structure and complexity. Kippers on the nose, with burnt aromatic grasses, cocoa, and jellied fruits, and a smoky palate of red apple, ginger, pepper, orange, and mango. Smoke writhes like a serpent on the finish, sliding off the walls dripping with sweet tropical fruits. Number 19 in the 2019 Top 20
Castan Vilanova Terrocita Single Cask Single Malt (No. 73), 43%
French Whisky | $100
Distillerie Castan lies northeast of Toulouse, and makes this peated whisky, disgorged from a white wine cask. The nose has pear, apple pie, and vanilla and it’s quite intensely spicy with cinnamon, pepper, and eucalyptus. A superb flavor trajectory beginning with sweet lemon bonbons, baked apple, cinnamon, and pepper, then baked orange desserts, ending on a hint of smoke. Lime zest, spices, and mild smoke to finish. (1,000 bottles)
Two parcels of single malt of differing ages from a Speyside distillery were blended to create this expression. The nose yields milk chocolate, fudge, slightly smoky apricot halves in syrup, and clotted cream. Good mouthfeel, with butterscotch, and orange segments dipped in hot chocolate on the palate. The peppery finish features dark chocolate and bitter orange. (4,446 bottles)
This is a peat-turbocharged version of Myths &Legends II. Mango, papaya, and burnt sugar meet soot, ground ginger, and aniseed: the bold tropical fruits are an equal match for the smoke. Beginning sharp and crisp with mango and tangerine, this nimble blend lets smoke and more assertive spice notes elbow their way forward, but they achieve consensus in the end. (4,564 bottles)
Distilling with heirloom grains has become commonplace in the U.S., but much less so in Scotland. With this utterly unique single malt made from the historic Bere barley variety, Bruichladdich reexamines whisky flavors starting with the raw material. Herbal pine bough, salted almond, and tropical fruit appear on the nose, followed by a creamy mouthfeel with intense chocolate, pepper, citrus oil, pine sap, and perfumy chamomile flavors. The full, round finish has rose petal, white pepper, and vanilla overlaying a delicate but pronounced structure. Number 15 in the 2019 Top 20
This 8 year old was distilled using Bere barley, a low-yielding heritage strain grown on the Orkney Islands. Aromas of a damp cellar; oily, nutty, with cereal, burlap, and mild orchard fruit notes. The palate is persistently oily, with pineapple, honey, nutmeg, and white pepper. Drying in the finish, with licorice, coal, and strong black tea. Proof that barley varieties can make a difference. (18,000 bottles; individual reviewer rating: 92)
Cragganmore 12 year old (Diageo Special Releases 2019), 58.4%
Single Malt Scotch | $113
Matured in refill American oak casks that previously held peated whisky, this 2006 distillate presents a nose of cider, heather, ginger, malt, hints of nutmeg, and peat. Ripe red apples on the palate, with honey, vanilla fudge, and a faint background wisp of smoke. Relatively long in the finish, with that light smoke persisting alongside black pepper, oak, and now unripe apples. £85
Talisker 15 year old (Diageo Special Releases 2019), 57.3%
Single Malt Scotch | $147
The first 15 year old release from Talisker, this was matured in freshly charred American oak hogsheads. Marzipan, damp tweed, cooking chocolate, and white pepper on the nose, with light iodine and peat notes. Notably sweet on the palate, with fleshy oranges, peaches, cocoa powder, woodsmoke, and peppery peat. The finish is medium to long, with quite restrained Talisker pepperiness. £110
Subtle, well-judged port cask influence integrates well with the Penderyn spirit to produce an entrancing whisky. Substantial aromas of chocolate, dried fruits, dates, cocoa, snuff, and a prickle of spices rise from the glass. There’s good weight in the mouth, with flavors of chocolate, gingersnap, dates, dried cranberry, forest honey, a supportive chorus of spices, and a heavenly finish of dark sweet fruits. (792 bottles for U.S.)
The mashbill consists of 51% malted oats, 27% 6-row malted barley, and 22% coffee malt. The nose is malty, bitter, and nutty, offering fragrances of burnt coffee beans and mocha, with undernotes of blackberry compote. A bitter yet delicious palate brings more burnt coffee beans, chili pepper, smoked meat, toasty oatmeal, and dark chocolate. A lengthy finish reprises those notes, adding orange and strawberry when water is added. Dares to be different and succeeds magnificently—expressive and mouthwatering.
Strong barrel tones on the nose enhanced by mint, bread-and-butter pickles, and prunes. A floral palate is hot, slippery, and quite sweet, with restrained barrel tones, roses, mild menthol, sweet rummy molasses, and brilliant peppery spices in the middle. Later sips show slightly sour orange juice. Finishes with hot spices and vaguely bitter pith. $65 CAD
Part of the Tennessee Tasters’ Selection series, this rye was matured in barrels located at the top of barrel house #1-05 in Lynchburg. The nose offers custard, coffee cake, bitter orange, orchard fruit, spice, and toasty oak. Candied apple and orange fill the palate, along with black cherries, cinnamon bread, and pepper. Green apple, dark chocolate, and raisins mark the finish. Water or ice recommended. (Available at the distillery and in Tennessee only)
A blend of two whiskeys: a high-rye bourbon and a whiskey made with 48% rye, 40% corn, and 12% malted barley. Dill, tarragon, spearmint, iced tea, cured tobacco leaf, roasted nuts, red apple, black cherry, and lemonade on the nose. A balanced and textured palate, with iced tea, dark fruit, roasted pecans, mild spice, and rich chocolate flavors. More richness on the finish, which is lengthy and lush, with dark chocolate, pecans, and iced tea. This is well-proofed, but a little water makes it sing. (3,462 bottles)
Duncan Taylor 10 year old Dimensions Cask Strength 2008 (distilled at Tobermory), 53%
Single Malt Scotch | $62
Highly approachable at cask strength with lemon biscuits, oak shavings, kiwi, vanilla essence, and breezy maritime notes. The palate unpacks lemon meringue pie and green melon, with an undercurrent of spice. Vanilla and caramel build atop a growing disquiet of peppery spice, with hints of peppermint to finish. This works superbly as a drinking experience without diluting.
Date, raisin, forest honey, star anise, black cherry, graham cracker, and wood spices on the nose. Although it’s a first-fill sherry cask, this has a fine balance of sherry influence without letting the cask dominate the aromas. A good mouthful of dark fruit, toffee sweetness, plum, and mild spices, but after the initial tasty burst of sherry fruit, it doesn’t discernibly develop further complexity. (1,124 bottles)
This elegant, well-balanced Dingle is created from whiskey matured in bourbon, sherry, and port casks which bring out orange zest, cherry gummies, vanilla, strawberry, barley sugar, and a good rub of ground aromatic spices on the nose. Baked fruits, taffy, strawberry, raspberry coulis, clove, and pepper open up, leading to shortbread sweetness, candied peel, and more sherry fruit, while perky spices are left to carry through on the finish. (12,000 bottles)
Carnival notes of candied apple, cotton candy, cherry cola, and a hint of orange peel on the nose, along with licorice, burnt brown sugar, and melted caramel. A deep, rich palate offers notes of dried fruit, toasty wood, dark chocolate, cinnamon spice, and light herbaceousness. Wood char, spice, bitter chocolate, and white pepper complete the finish. Thick, chewy, and remarkably complex for a relatively youthful bourbon. Water or ice recommended. (42 bottles)
A heady mix of floral notes and soft fruits, with fresh cereal notes and aromas of sweet pea, orange honey, apricot, and papaya on this French oak-matured whisky. This begins gracefully as a soft, creamy single malt with flavors of vanilla caramel and condensed milk, becoming denser with scrumptious biscuit and chocolate flavors (think Twix bars) as it slowly reveals its secrets.
Mic Drop 4 year old Straight (Batch #L19-01), 56.1%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $65
From New York-based PM Spirits, this barrel proof, high-rye (36%) bourbon was distilled at MGP in 2015 and bottled at Strong Spirits in Bardstown, Ky. in July 2019. The nose has notes of dried orange, apple strudel, banana custard, and a hint of cinnamon. The palate is gentle, candied, and perfumed, offering flavors of tiramisu and orange marmalade. Finishes with a flourish of quince, crème brûlée, nougat, and pepper spice. (8,196 bottles)
Maison Benjamin Kuentz (D’un) Verre Printanier Single Malt, 46%
French Whisky | $100
Tropical fruits with burnt peaks on lemon meringue pie, but overall, a clean and elegant proposition. The nimble palate is a fabulous clash between peach, vanilla, and candy sherbet sweetness and a deluge of spice. Accomplished and well made, this smart and affable whisky from Lorraine’s G. Rozelieures Distillery has a mouth-saturating finish backed by strident spices. (1,000 bottles)
A beautiful mingling of herbal (eucalyptus, spearmint) and fruity (cherries, grape soda, orange blossom) aromas to start, with pound cake, honey-roasted peanuts, root beer, and leather. The palate is oak-led but lively, showing expressive spice, root beer, orange, cherry, peanut, mint, and eucalyptus flavors. It finishes full, dry, and peppery, with Brazil nuts, cocoa powder, and grape fruit leather. Bottled by Proof and Wood Ventures, makers of Deadwood whiskey, and Rob Morton, formerly of New York City bar Idle Hands. (219 bottles)
Two parcels of whisky of varying ages from the same Northern Highland distillery were blended together in this expression. Floral on the nose, with ginger biscuits, malt, vanilla, and peach blossom. The palate is voluptuous, with sweet orchard fruits, more malt, and cinnamon spice. Nutty, with cocoa and oak in the ultimately drying finish. (4,394 bottles)
Dewar’s 8 year old Caribbean Smooth Rum Cask-Finished, 40%
Blended Scotch Whisky | $22
A delicious dram with a sunny disposition, this drums out aromas of butter biscuits, raisins, vanilla sugar, cane honey, and abundant tropical fruit notes of guava and papaya. It’s a light and nimble blend that weaves through white chocolate, biscuit notes, chewy granola bar, apricot, and mandarin. Spices rattle around a fruit core on the finish. Rum powerhouse Bacardi acquired Dewar’s in 1998; they should have done this years ago. Best Values
1792 12 year old Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon, 48.3%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $50
A high-rye bourbon with the same mashbill as 1792 Small Batch, this whiskey will be an annual limited release. The nose offers an inviting medley of chocolate-covered cherries, pound cake, buttered toast, blackberry, and licorice. The palate is mellow and honeyed, with notes of cedar, chocolate chip cookies, blackberry jam, coconut shavings, and cigar wrapper, all completed by a finish of brown sugar, chocolate, peanut shell, and cracked pepper.
This expression was aged in remade American oak bourbon hogsheads and French oak Burgundy barriques. Floral aromas on the early nose, with classic BenRiach spicy honey and apple juice emerging, along with vanilla and white pepper. The palate is full and rich, with almonds, more honey, port wine, apple pie, sweet oak, and cocoa powder. The finish is luxurious, with oak tannins and persistent wine notes.
Distilled exclusively with organic barley grown the previous year by Mid Coul Farms near Inverness, this 8 year old was aged in bourbon barrels. Barley, salted butter, peach, malt, and vanilla on the nose, plus cocoa powder. Quite piercing citrus fruits on the smooth palate, with more vanilla, fudge, overripe banana, and milk chocolate. Spicy oak and a suggestion of brine in the finish. (18,000 bottles)
This U.S.-exclusive release was initially aged in first-fill American oak sherry casks before a period of finishing in cognac casks. Spicy red wine notes on the notably aromatic nose, with vanilla and light cinnamon. Good texture in the mouth, sweet, and very approachable, with tangerines, toffee, dates, sultanas, and milk chocolate. Liqueur chocolates in the smooth, lengthy finish. Not overly complex, but robust and extremely drinkable.
This rather good after-dinner dram is finished in peated Islay whisky casks. It is not a peated Welsh whisky, but don’t let that stop you. With its refreshing aromas of lemon floor polish, pine needles, gentle antiseptic, smoked fish, and breezy beach bonfires, we can cheerfully drop the pedantic objections to its name. This successfully delivers a wallop of spicy smoke, lemon, and vanilla biscuits, a bit like consuming creamy rice pudding beside a smoking peat kiln.(396 bottles for U.S.)
New to Glen Moray’s core range, this was initially matured in bourbon barrels before finishing in port pipes. The nose is fragrant and inviting, with raspberries, ginger, vanilla custard, and sultanas. Voluptuous in the mouth, with honey, cherry liqueur, coconut, marzipan, and milk chocolate vying with contrasting dried fruit and wood notes. The chocolate darkens in the finish, with raisins, licorice, and slightly tannic oak. (4,000 bottles; 1,200 for U.S.)
Knob Creek Quarter Oak Kentucky Straight Bourbon, 50%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $50
A portion of this limited-release straight bourbon is aged in new charred oak quarter casks, which enable more contact with the wood. The nose offers vanilla, licorice, dried herbs, red fruit, confectionary sugar, iced tea, and orange peel. A chewy palate shows off the oak influence, and has notes of spice, chocolate-covered candied oranges, blackberry compote, cinnamon, and peppercorns. Drying oak on a finish of dark cherry, chocolate, orange, and cola.
Pike Creek 21 year old Oloroso Sherry Cask-Finished, 45%
Canadian | $68
Aromas of old books, ether, raspberries, and caramel, with some sharpness and muddiness. Sweet and malty, with maraschino cherries, it then develops a hot and vaguely bitter-sweetness, some dry barrel notes, mild spices, bananas, and shoe polish. The finish is slightly sweet and mildly fruity with a fleeting bitterness, some barrel notes, and pleasant, burning peppery spice. Not as lush as past releases or as tightly integrated. $90 CAD
Westland Garryana American Single Malt (Batch 4|1), 50%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $150
The nose says gentle and light: banana cream pie, Nilla wafer, lemon custard, bubble gum, pineapple soda, blanched almonds, white flowers, pistachio, and graham cracker crust. But the palate is rich and robust, with nuts, tobacco, mocha, gingerbread, and vibrant spice to counter the banana, almond, and vanilla-chocolate shake sweetness. The finish is short but satisfying, with spiced pecans, cigar, semi-sweet chocolate, and mocha. (3,750 bottles)
Duncan Taylor 29 year old Rare Auld Grain 1989 (distilled at Strathclyde), 53%
Single Grain Scotch | $170
Here’s a grain that mellowed as it matured, wrapping itself in the wood while retaining its distinctive character. Nectarine, cilantro stalks, celery tops, gently herbal, candied lemon slices, and Jaffa cakes on the nose. Warm buttery flavors initially, with citrus, herbal notes, and energetic spices leading to a finish of soft ripe fruits and cinnamon. Really worth the experience; try playing with the dilution to control the spiciness.
Virginia Distillery Co. Cider Cask-Finished Virginia-Highland Whisky (Batch #4), 46%
American Whiskey | $65
This marriage of the distillery’s own malt whiskey and blended malt from Scotland’s Highlands is finished 8 to 12 months in cider casks and released every fall. Autumn leaves, minerality, and earthy peat on the nose, along with mulling spices, apple, and pear tart. A malty balance of vanilla cream, lemon pie, and caramelized sugar fills the palate, followed by a lingering finish of spice and baked fruit. The third consecutive release of Cider Cask to score at least 90 points. (1,902 bottles)
Virginia Distillery Co. Prelude: Courage and Conviction American Single Malt, 46%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $70
A limited-release preview of the distillery’s first American single malt label, Courage & Conviction, which will launch in April 2020. Aged at least 3 years in sherry, bourbon, and cuvée wine casks, this whiskey has a malty nose with notes of dried fruit, wood spice, lime, and pineapple. Baked apples, figs, vanilla, and baking spice on the palate, with a honeyed finish of toffee, toasted oak, and almond. A deft balance of barrel influences. (4,200 bottles)
Starward Two-Fold Red Wine Barrel-Finished Double Grain Blended, 40%
Australian Whisky | $33
Aromatic spices, scents of bleached driftwood, and hints of bramble and blackcurrant on this blend of wheat and malt whiskies matured in Australian red wine barrels. The palate shifts quickly from white to milk chocolate, red apple, crème de cassis, peppercorn spices, and cookies, but it’s soft and gentle, finely structured, with more dark fruits coming to the fore. The finish is drying and short, with evaporating spice.
Peated to 96.9 ppm, this 8 year old was aged for 4 years in first-fill American oak and then in third-fill French oak sauternes casks. Sea salt and buttery smoke on the early nose, becoming more honeyed. The palate is oily and relatively mellow, with pineapple enveloped in rich, spicy peat smoke. Quite long in the finish, with Jaffa oranges, pepper, and chili. (24,000 bottles; Travel Retail exclusive)
Ice cream cone, vanilla, and white chocolate, with a twist of orange peel. The new and refill American and European oak casks give this a soft, milky comforting nose. The medium-weight palate includes light fudge, vanilla, and green fruits with spices on the fringes and a glowing orange core developing over time. A sweet, creamy finish with a hint of spice. This will win you over with its effortless charm. (1,800 bottles)
This is autumn in a glass, like jumping into a pile of dried leaves. Notes of sassafras and shredded chewing tobacco lead to aromas of spiced baked apple studded with cloves and sprinkled with cinnamon. Water really ramps up vanilla, delivering a burst of fizzy cream soda. The palate offers maple syrup sweetness, orchard fruit, root beer, and spices balanced by leathery oak tannins, before a long finish of chocolate, nougat, and candle wax.
Redwood Empire Lost Monarch Blend of Straight Whiskeys, 45%
American Whiskey | $43
A blend of 3 to 5 year old straight rye and 4 to 12 year old straight bourbon. Although the nose is a bit reticent, once it opens up, what is revealed is pure delight: orange blossom, iced tea, dark berries, lemon oil, pine, cinnamon, nutmeg, and leather. Fruit and spice enjoy a dynamic interplay on the palate, with orange, cherry, blueberry, and grape, shot through with cedar, cinnamon, and sturdy oak. The medium-length finish is supple and pretty: dark chocolate, toasted pecans, and well-integrated oak.
Rye has been farmed for centuries in England, and this sustainably-minded brewer and distiller uses grain grown by company chairman Jonathan Adnams on his farm close to the facility in Southwold. Rye takes the lead in this 75% rye and 25% malted barley whisky, matured in new medium-toast French oak casks for a minimum of 5 years. Creamy and spicy on the nose, it’s slightly nutty, with hints of mixed peel, graham crackers, hazelnut, and nutmeg. A thick, malty mouthfeel of toffee and cinnamon finds harmony between the sweetness, crisp rye, and fresh green edge of the spices. Number 20 in the 2019 Top 20
A creamy and spicy nose, slightly nutty, with hints of mixed peel and malt biscuits. As it warms in the glass, a lovely bouquet of toffee, hazelnut, cinnamon, and nutmeg emerges. A thick, malty mouthfeel of toffee and cinnamon finds harmony between the sweetness, crisp rye, and fresh green edge of the spices. The finish has citrus and herbal notes, and a long spiciness with a touch of mint. (Individual reviewer rating: 92)
Made from a mash of malted wheat, malted barley, and malted oats, this evokes chocolate orange, with hints of lemon and grapefruit, toasted coconut, ground ginger, clove, peppercorn, and cantaloupe. Toffee, sweet and tangy satsuma, a dash of clove, chocolate-dipped lemon biscuits, and a hint of oak astringency usher in a finish of bitter peel oils and ground pepper. Try a splash of water to accentuate the bitter orange notes. £37
Bedtime 8 year old Straight Bourbon (Batch #3), 45%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $69
This Tennessee bourbon was bottled by non-distiller producer The Louisville Bourbon Transit Co. The nose offers toasted oak, blueberry pie, bakery shop, caramel, cinnamon spice, and bitter orange. A smooth palate of milk chocolate, melted caramel, blackberry, and black pepper is followed by a lightly spiced finish that offers more chocolate, as well as balanced oak, vanilla, coconut flakes, and almond. Spice melds with sweeter bourbon notes to create a unique, flavorful whiskey. (1,048 bottles)
Castan Vilanova Roja Single Cask Single Malt (No. 69), 43%
French Whisky | $100
Sebastian Castan only releases his whisky one cask at a time, and this variant comes from a single red wine barrel. A dark amber whisky with aromas of vanilla, toffee, peanut brittle, polished oak, dried orange peel, overripe strawberries, Brazil nut, and finely ground spices. Delicious, but a limited evolution of flavors, with dark toffee, clove, ginger, pepper, licorice, plum, red fruit, roasted nut, dark sugar, and chocolate brownies. (1,000 bottles)
A marriage of three malts matured in cognac casks and new French and American oak brings a nose of fresh Bartlett pear, vanilla, white pepper, cognac, zested lime, and a rainbow of pâtes de fruits flavors. White fruits, fresh banana, cantaloupe, apricot, orange, and light spices; the cognac notes yield to let the sweetness of the pear shine through. Short spice finish with melon and slight grapefruit bitterness. (675 bottles for the U.S.)
Fresh, clean floral scents, light honey, golden syrup, and a hoppy edge hail this latest collaboration created by finishing Jameson whiskey in barrels seasoned with Chicago-based Revolution Brewing’s Fist City pale ale. The taste begins with fresh hoppy notes, slightly herbal, with gentle spices and an active pepperiness that grows larger in the headlights. The long spicy aftertaste follows the vestiges of the creamy nougat, vanilla, and green apple flavors.
Cardhu 14 year old (Diageo Special Releases 2019), 55%
Single Malt Scotch | $160
Distilled in 2004, this expression was finished for 2 years in amontillado sherry-seasoned hogsheads. Soft and floral on the delicate nose, with vanilla ice cream and ripe pears. Smooth on the palate, with malt, milk chocolate, honey, nuts, and red apples. Drying in the spicy finish, with black coffee and light wood tannins. £120
With Clynelish and Teaninich at its heart, this expression spotlights Black Label’s rich fruit character, with a nose of marmalade on well-done toast, nectarine, liquid honey, candied peel, dry spices, and bourbon biscuits. Rounded orange notes with creamy vanilla and peppery spices; the spices are amplified with touches of oak char as the marmalade flavors die back. Sweet, spicy, creamy finish of orange fondant.
The smoky black peat, toasted spice, lemon peel, toffee, swept autumn leaves, and dried fruits on the nose give this expression greater affinity to regular Black Label than the rest of the range. Lagavulin and Caol Ila, among other Islay single malts, are included in this blend. The palate begins with a smooth array of caramel, smoke, and spice, transitioning through darker toffee notes to thick treacle, toasted hazelnut, and peppercorn, with brief flashes of fruitiness on the finish.
Using Cardhu and Glendullan, among other Speyside single malts, to focus on Black Label’s orchard fruit attributes, this has a nose of apple pie, vanilla sponge cake, caramel, and aromatic pan-roasted spices. Sweet and spicy with a glossy mouthfeel, it yields flavors of Fruit Pastilles, vanilla cream, sharp apple, currants, and baked sugar with a gentle undercurrent of spice. Ginger and pepper with jellied fruits and hints of citrus to finish.
Dalwhinnie 30 year old (Diageo Special Releases 2019), 54.7%
Single Malt Scotch | $667
A veteran Dalwhinnie, matured in refill hogsheads and butts. The nose is floral, with honeysuckle, marshmallows, almonds, ginger, and green fruit in time. The palate is creamy and offers quite insistent spices, with sweet orange, fondant notes, more honey, and cocoa. Medium in length, spicy, with persistent orange and milk chocolate in the finish, plus just a wisp of smoke. (7,586 bottles) £500
Chocolate, rich berry fruit, honeydew, green grape, oat cookies, dark toffee, and oak spices on the nose. Flavors of chocolate flakes, Oreo, cinnamon, malt, and hazelnut, with a concentration of spices on the tip of the tongue, before a flavorsome finish of Hershey bars. It’s delicious and well-made, but occupies a very specific place on the flavor spectrum, so one to try before you buy.(792 bottles for U.S.)
The Singleton of Glen Ord 18 year old (Diageo Special Releases 2019), 55%
Single Malt Scotch | $170
Distilled in 2000, this expression has been aged in freshly charred American oak hogsheads. Tangerines, ginger, and white pepper on the nose, with developing nutmeg. Big sweet fruit notes on the palate, with milk chocolate and caramel. Tangy citrus fruit and dark chocolate in the spicy, warming finish. (600 bottles for the U.S.)
The nose is a little attenuated but shows off tarte au citron, cigar smoke, blood orange, and some gentle spices. The rich, fruity palate has a flawless, immaculate quality with tangy orange, spice, caramel, ground almond, vanilla, and orange sherbet, but what it gains in smoothness it loses in producing a substantial firework moment to really stimulate the palate. A polished blend in search of some perfect imperfections.
Aged first in #3 char new American oak and then in #4 char new American oak. The result is depth and complexity, starting with a nose that’s pretty and aromatic. There’s an appealing hint of mustiness and scents of bitter chocolate, cherry, dried herbs, licorice, and figs. A spiced palate delivers dark fruits, burnt marshmallow, espresso, and oak char. It also finishes with a char note, along with bitter chocolate, raisins, and prunes. (60,000 bottles)
Hillrock Estate American Single Malt (Barrel No. OPX-30), 48.2%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $105
A vibrant nose, thanks in part to Hillrock’s on-site malting floor and kiln: baby back ribs, grilled corn, tobacco leaf, pecans, nutmeg, figs, and clean mineral smoke. The dry palate is savory, smoky, and mouthwatering, with spiced nuts, grilled sausages, orange oil, grilled apples, clove, nutmeg, and hints of rubber. It finishes with coffee ice cream, smoked salt, tobacco leaf, dark chocolate, and lingering savory smoke. (60,000 bottles)
Duncan Taylor 22 year old Dimensions Cask Strength 1997 (product of Beldorney), 53%
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky | $165
Terrific nose of apple strudel, vanilla fudge, honey, raisins in syrup, and poached pears. A golden, honeyed dram, with fudge and a spike of ginger spice, followed by apple muffins, apple peelings, a touch of oak char, and a finish of sweet caramelized sugar. In case you are wondering, Beldorney is Duncan Taylor’s term for Wardhead, which is a blended malt of primarily Glenfiddich, with a small amount of Balvenie.
Canada’s Yukon Territory, with its wolves, bears, and numbing cold, does not evoke images of fine single malts. Nosing the dark fruit and malty goodness of Two Brewers whiskies corrects that misconception. Complex tobacco, sweet dark chocolate, red wine, and halva become vaguely tannic barrel tones and searing spices cushioned in sweet canned fruit and cream. Malt melds into Band-Aid and dry grain. Artfully balanced complexity. $98 CAD
This “single field, single vintage, single malt,” was distilled in 2013 from Islay barley, peated to 114 ppm and aged in first-fill American whiskey barrels. The nose offers sweet, fragrant woodsmoke from logs on an open fire, with milk chocolate, salted caramel, and orange. The fragrant smoke carries over on the palate, with pears, melons, and developing barley sugar. Dark peat and licorice in the finish. (24,000 bottles)
Rabbit Hole’s core bourbon brand now carries the name Cavehill, though the liquid remains unchanged. The nose starts with dried red fruits, drying oak tannins, raspberry jam, and an earthy note. A palate of spiced oak, milk chocolate, caramel, white pepper, and sweet black cherry is followed by a lengthy finish of orange peel, honey, sweet lemon cake, creamy chocolate, and pepper spice. Rich flavors, creating an easy whiskey to savor.
Composed of whisky matured in refill American oak, first-fill American oak, and a single wine cask, this light golden dram has mandarin, zested lime, peeled lychee, summer flowers, incense, cracked black pepper, and dried grasses on the nose. With a sweet hit of vanilla, red fruit candy, spices, baked orange, and oat cookies, it feels stronger than its ABV. Busy spices under the tongue, vanilla cream, and hints of orange on a lengthy finish. (2,117 bottles)
This is a bold whiskey that meanders leisurely through a lot of flavor territory. The sweet aromas span toasted coconut, nougat, and marzipan, coupled with distinctive meaty smoked bacon and cherry cough drop notes. Cherry and red berry fruit also string through the palate, with bright citrus, chili-pepper honey, and flickers of spice—allspice and clove—dancing through the sweetness on a long finish.
Milam & Greene Triple Cask Blend of Straight Bourbons, 47%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $43
Blending a 2 year old straight bourbon made at Ben Milam Distillery with two Tennessee straight bourbons (one aged 3 to 4 years and the other 10 to 11 years), this whiskey balances youth and maturity adeptly. The nose has peanuts, cinnamon hot chocolate, horehound candy, and Coca-Cola syrup, while on the palate, orange, cherries, blueberries, blackberries, peanuts, pepper, allspice, and cinnamon are held in balance by the oak. The finish rides a good length with chili-chocolate, roasted peanuts, oak, and a hint of tobacco leaf.
Most American single malts aren’t aiming to recreate the flavors of scotch, but this well-balanced whiskey made in San Jose could easily blend into an Islay lineup. Briny, with rubbery, mineral peat on the nose, along with lemon peel, Asian pear, red apple, grilled pineapple, and beach bonfire. The palate is sweet and savory, with salty peat, burnt ends, charred nuts, tobacco, lemon peel, and black pepper. It finishes nutty, with tobacco, espresso, pepper, and lingering smoke.
Maison Benjamin Kuentz Fin de Partie Single Malt, 46%
French Whisky | $110
Distilled at Lorraine’s G. Rozelieures, this whisky from an erudite and cultivated independent bottler has a nose of peach, orange buttercream, asphalt, toasted oak, and black peppercorn. On the palate there is citrus, vanilla, and spice, developing more tangy flavors of candied peels, orange buttercream, and ground pepper. As it softens, a little smoke curls around a taste of taffy candy. Hot smoke, spice, and diminishing citrus notes signify game over. (1,0000 bottles)
The Lakes Distillery The Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.1, 60.6%
World Whisky | $87
Matured in Pedro Ximénez and red wine casks, blender Dhavall Gandhi’s first main release has a nose of pomegranate, cranberry, and fine spices. The red fruits come through slowly on a wave of alcohol, developing a tasty flavor of chewy toffee, with fruitcake, cinnamon, and vanilla. Water exposes a spicier character, but it’s worth experiencing this at full strength for that exceptional fruit-edged toffee flavor. (5,922 bottles) £65
This Glenkinchie malt and Cameronbridge grain blend highlights the vanilla character of Black Label with a nose of green apple, dry grasses, vanilla toffee, peach pit, and banana custard, with subtle hints of oak and spice. The mouthfeel is light with green apple and candied lemon, growing fruitier with boiled candies and a hint of creaminess, all held in check by the spice. Grassy finish with a hefty backdraft of spice.
The loveliest qualities of wheat grain are present in this delicate whiskey. It starts off with banana-nut muffin, orange Creamsicle, toasted wood, lemongrass, and bubble gum on the nose. The palate has a simplicity that’s well-executed: orange oil, toasted Popsicle stick, roasted nuts, and a full complement of oak spices. It finishes clean and satisfying, with chocolate, cinnamon, white pepper, and pecans. The definition of easy-drinking. Best Values
This strikes an earnest tone with a nose of rich fruit, dried apricot, whole orange, macadamia nut, ground spices, and pepper crackers. A blend of 21 malts, and the first blended malt in Royal Salute’s 66-year history, this has a harmonious palate comprising citrus, apple, pear, barley sugar, and ginger spice, with a finish focused on orange and a little spice.
A period of finishing in a combination of Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry puncheons and hogsheads distinguishes this release. The nose is fragrant, with spicy red wine, raspberries, ginger, milk chocolate, and nutmeg. Viscous on the palate, with lots of cloves, plus vanilla, raisins, and instant coffee with a slug of sherry in it. Dark chocolate, licorice, and black coffee feature in the finish. Overall, nicely balanced.
Duncan Taylor 10 year old Dimensions Cask Strength 2008 (distilled at Aultmore), 53%
Single Malt Scotch | $70
A rich, fruity nose of baked apple, fruitcake, sliced almond, honey, and white pepper. At cask strength this is quite a bumpy ride, with warm apple, sultana, and caramel revving up to a jagged peak of ginger, pepper, and clove. When your taste buds emerge on the other side, it settles into a more pleasing caramel and toffee sweetness. Perfect for armchair mountaineers.
Duncan Taylor 11 year old Dimensions Cask Strength 2008 (distilled at Miltonduff), 53%
Single Malt Scotch | $60
Lime syrup, grapefruit peel, Smarties candy, ripe peach, and orange peel zested over vanilla frosting make for an attractive nose. Fruity and tangy with green apple, lemon, vanilla, burnt oak, clove, and pepper, developing more candy sweetness than fruit flavors in the latter phases. As the spiciness blooms, extra layers of vanilla and toffee are added. A tangy fruit finish with a citrus edge.
Barrell Cask Strength American Vatted Malt (Batch #1), 58.75%
American Whiskey | $90
This is a blend of single malt whiskeys from a number of U.S. distilleries, and malt indeed shines throughout. On the nose, there’s cooked apple and pear, with nutmeg, chamomile, milk chocolate, and salt water taffy, followed by a biscuity sweet palate packed with floral and stone fruit notes, milk chocolate, toasted almonds, cinnamon, and salinity. The dry, round finish has vanilla biscotti, gentle oak, warm almonds, and tobacco leaf.
This four-grain bourbon (corn, rye malt, caramel malt, and honey malt) starts with aromas of herb garden and notes of strawberry, dried apricot, orange, and licorice. There’s more apricot and orange on the palate, as well as candied almonds, tiramisu, light oak, and pepper spice. The finish has maltiness and is also spiced and nutty, with chocolate sauce and an earthy back note. Rich and sweet, with balanced herbs and spice.
Distilled in 2013 from Scottish barley, this 107 ppm 5 year old was matured entirely in first-fill American oak casks. Quite elemental on the nose, with brine, rock pool, and cigarette ash aromas, plus ginger and an ultimate hint of nougat. Peaches on the palate, with lively spices, roasted nuts, oak, and dark peat. The finish features licorice, overt peat, and black pepper. (42,000 bottles)
The youngest Octomore released to date, 10.4 was distilled from Scottish barley peated to 88 ppm, then aged for 3 years in 28 highly toasted virgin Limousin French oak casks. The nose offers vanilla, new leather, cloves, sawdust, and white pepper. Intense fruitiness on the palate, with malt, a medicinal note, and more cloves. The finish yields dried fruits, bitter oak, and hot spices. (12,000 bottles)
Initial vanilla and fruit aromas are quickly overtaken by savory notes of fresh dill, licorice, earth, and alpine herbs. The palate serves up some figgy fruit, dried cherry, and sassafras leaf, but the style is clearly oak-driven, perhaps hinting at roasted chestnuts and some dusty, stale spices. Even with water, it remains a bit hot, and while somewhat angular oak lacks integration and holds it back from greatness, there’s still a lot to enjoy for wood fans.
Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Tennessee Whiskey, 46.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $50
1884 references the final year Nathan “Nearest” Green, the former slave now known as the first African-American distiller, made whiskey before retiring. A nose of blossom honey, fresh cherries, banana cream pie, licorice, and spice is followed by a palate that’s delicate and creamy, with notes of vanilla frosting, orange, peanuts, marshmallow, and light pepper spice. Tobacco leaf on the finish, with cherry, oak, and understated spice. A sturdy, finessed exemplar of Tennessee style.
A blend of 4 to 12 year old bourbons, including some made at Sonoma County’s Graton Distilling Co., along with bourbons from Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee. Named after Pipe Dream, a giant redwood near the distillery. An herbaceous nose offers spearmint, spice, tea, and leather. Coconut on the palate, followed by orange oil, peach pie, vanilla, brown sugar, and chocolate-covered almonds. The finish has spice, nutty dark chocolate, espresso, and melon. Cohesive, balanced, and well-textured.
Spring flowers, vanilla, toasted coconut, lime zest, and cashew make for an understated nose. Coupled with its delicately light tone, this feels like it was designed for sipping while contemplating a zen garden. With Creamsicle, coconut, orange, kumquat, and fluttering spices, it is further enhanced by dried strawberry, raspberry, and a spicy aftertaste. Delightfully unhurried development of flavors.
The peated sibling to Heritage generates a nose of woodsmoke, incense sticks, oiled leather, and peppercorns. This has a thick mouthfeel of honey, peat smoke, and spiced pears. The spices put on quite a show to keep the fruits at bay, but when it settles down, the common theme of pears in cream comes through in the end. The spices return to harangue the tongue in the finish. (225 bottles for the U.S.)
This staple bottling is aged primarily in bourbon barrels, along with a modest portion from sherry casks. The nose yields tropical fruit, hazelnuts, caramelized sugar, and cereal notes. On the palate there’s barley, vanilla, coconut milk, a hint of sherry, light oak, and ginger. The medium-length finish offers black tea and black pepper. An ideal stepping-stone from bourbon to single malt scotch. Best Values
Aromas of cooked cherries and plums, caramel, cocoa powder, tiramisu, toasted tobacco leaves, cut grass, and pulled taffy create a heady first impression. In the mouth, it’s silky and somewhat light, with notes of peanut, walnut shell, cherry cough drops, cinnamon, black pepper, and cigar wrapper. The finish is short and leathery, with espresso, cocoa powder, and bitter almond.
Sullivans Cove Double Cask Single Malt (Batch DC097), 45%
Australian Whisky | $300
A bright golden whisky with a nose like a basket of fruits: green apple, honeydew, clementine, and pastries. Made from Tasmanian barley and matured in bourbon and French oak barrels, the fruity palate follows the journey begun with the nose, though with greater emphasis on citrus than apple. Layer upon layer of peppery spice overlay some sour fruits, ending on a finish of grapefruit sourness. (950 bottles)
Smooth Ambler Old Scout Straight Bourbon (Batch #1), 49.5
Bourbon/Tennessee | $45
A bit understated at first, this offers simple candy sweetness and burnt marshmallow aromas, along with citrus, dried apple, and cinnamon hearts candies that follow through on the palate with a hearty jolt of spice. The delicate wood and banana flavors, followed by a finish of cocoa and warming ginger, are well-crafted; however, the flavors are inhibited by searing alcohol that feels out of sync for a whiskey of this proof and stature.
Sweet notes of vanilla, hazelnut, and chocolate meet fragrant leathery oak on the nose, along with chocolate mint and French burnt peanuts candy. On the palate, this bourbon achieves a nice balance of stone fruit sweetness, lively spice, fresh spearmint, and drying oak that strikes a sandalwood note. A splash of water makes it sing.
Duncan Taylor 9 year old Dimensions Cask Strength 2010 (distilled at Ardmore, peated), 53%
Single Malt Scotch | $65
This bruiser is not afraid to show its softer side to the world. Earthy wet turf smoke, grilled bacon fat, faint vanilla, menthol, and brand new erasers make quite a statement. But inside it’s all about a creamy, light vanilla base with aniseed, clove, ginger, and smoky bacon that capitulate to fruitier elements of banana and honeydew, which retreat with a drying, spicy finish.
Duncan Taylor 13 year old Dimensions Cask Strength 2005 (distilled at Jura), 48.9%
Single Malt Scotch | $85
Jura has been partial to releasing 13 year old limited editions over the years, so this independent bottling attempts to compete, with grassy notes, orchard fruit, aniseed, peppercorn, lemon pith, and hints of jellied fruits. There is dried banana, mandarin, orange Jell-O, Italian meringue, and a little pepper to taste, with bitter orange on the finish. Perfectly serviceable, but the flavors seem a little stuck on repeat.
Laws Whiskey House 4 year old Centennial Bottled in Bond Rye, 50%
Rye Whiskey | $70
Billed as one of the first bottled in bond wheat whiskeys, its nose starts pleasantly oily and tart, leading to notes of green tea, sassafras, licorice, and leather. The palate is grain-forward, offering spice, raspberry jam, sweet orange, and black pepper. A finish of chocolate, baking spice, and honey is balanced by light bitterness. A restrained but expressive wheater, with lots of character and flavors that linger. Opens up beautifully with water. (600 bottles)
Kiwi, apricots, and other tart fruits precede dry wood and malt on the nose. The sweet, lush, and weighty palate delivers white pepper and mild oaky tones, quickly turning very hot before fading to sweet barley sugar. Butterscotch notes turn watery for a second, then hot and fruity with malty herbal tones and sweet baking spices. Finishes on fruit, malt, bandages, and grain dust. Quite complex. $98 CAD
The entry level anCnoc is aged principally in bourbon barrels, with a small element of sherry wood-matured spirit included in the mix. Floral and quite delicate on the nose, with barley, apples, and honey. Medium-bodied, smooth, and well-balanced, with more honey, apple, malt, vanilla, and cinnamon. The finish is relatively short, drying, and mildly oaky.
A potpourri of herbs, dried flowers, licorice, candied lemon peel, baklava, and furniture polish on the nose. The palate shows some minerality and is a bit bitter, but has prominent blueberry, grape, and boysenberry flavors, along with licorice, coriander seed, mint, and oak spice. It finishes with dark fruit, menthol, licorice, roasted nuts, and plenty of oak. Takes water well.
Showcasing the sweeter side of rye, this has tropical aromas of papaya, guava, kiwi, and melon, along with candied oranges, Craisins, and aromatic spices: cassia, cardamom, sandalwood. The palate is sweet and spiced, with pineapple, blueberry jam, bananas, Fruit Stripes gum, and orange Creamsicle, finishing with chili pepper, dry oak, and a hint of flowers. A combination of 3 to 5 year old ryes made at Graton Distilling Co. and MGP Distillery. (54,000 bottles)
Lots of confectionary notes on the nose: orange candy, bubble gum, marshmallow, meringue, nougat, and banana pudding, along with pine forest and clean mineral aromas. The chalky sweet palate brings to mind bagged marshmallows, banana candy, Toblerone, zingy lemon peel, and shelled pecans. More banana and lightly roasted nuts on the clean finish. Simple, innocuous, and easy to drink. Made with 100% malted barley and aged in toasted, lightly charred barrels.
A very unusual nose for a bourbon, with notes of cedar, botanicals, juniper bush, pine forest, and sweet mesquite wood. A zingy, herbal palate offers dried orange peel and leather, but also sweeter notes of chocolate-covered marshmallows, black cherry, almonds, cotton candy, and oak. The finish has excellent length, ending with chocolate, allspice, espresso, old leather, and coffee ice cream. Deliciously chocolaty, spicy, and different.
Spirits of the Apocalypse The Walking Dead Kentucky Straight Bourbon (Batch #01), 47%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $35
When the zombies come calling, fortify yourself with this bourbon that ties in with the popular AMC show. Vanilla, lemon curd, and vinous fruit—overripe raspberries, boysenberry syrup—on the nose, along with candied rose petal and violet pastilles. The promise of sweetness is borne out by the palate, which is floral and fruity, with orange marmalade, Juicy Fruit gum, ginger-lemon cake, rosewater, nuts, and dry oak. The finish has orange marmalade, ginger, cinnamon, and chocolate.
Mandarin segments, crystalized pineapple cubes, tropical fruits, and green apple, with a dash of white pepper and ground ginger. This begins with a pleasant, supple mouthfeel of vanilla, red apple, citrus, and flitting spices. The mandarin wells up, partnered by butterscotch, ginger, and pepper, but then tumbles through flavors of Parma violets, gooseberry, and pineapple, ending up floundering in childhood cough remedies. Lip-puckering sour gooseberry finish bristling with spices. (1,000 bottles)
Slaty minerals, fruitiness, and floral hints on the nose suggest plenty of rye in this satisfying, complex dram. More mineral notes emerge on the crisp, sweet palate, along with citrus elements, burley tobacco, hints of wine, dark chocolate, mild vanilla, and subtle oak. A soft peppery spice bursts onto the mid-palate and throat. A bit austere but with toffee sweetness and mild fudge. Mouth-filling, though a bit dry.
George Dickel Superior No. 12 Tennessee Sour Mash, 45%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $25
A nose of peanut oil, roasted pecans, dried figs, crushed herbs, dark fruit, and a light note of dunnage house floor. The palate is layered with flavors of allspice, dark fruit, bitter orange, dark chocolate, and cherry, balanced against drying oak and a light hint of musty attic. The finish dials up notes of fresh blueberry pie, honeyed nuts, peanut butter cookies, sweet red fruits, pancake syrup, and wood spice.
This limited release is aged in new charred oak, like Michter’s bourbons and ryes, but finished in uncharred barrels with a milder toast profile. Made from a mashbill that doesn’t qualify it as bourbon or rye, it has a nose of perfumed oak, candle wax, iced tea, orange blossom, and wild strawberries. A silky palate of licorice, spice, raisins, and dark fruits is followed by a finish of apple, pear, honey, chocolate, and oak.
The floral and violet candy notes on the nose suggest a younger rye, followed by fresh citrus, and a pronounced herbal quality that borders on vinyl, with primary grain aromas peering through like warm porridge. On the palate, it emerges a bit hot up front, on the thin side, as sweet vanilla, honey, and tropical fruit meet peppery spices, tinged with caraway and licorice. A solid, if somewhat simple sipper.
Ransom The Emerald 1865 American Whiskey (Batch #005), 43.8%
American Whiskey | $90
Made by Oregon’s Ransom Wine Co. & Distillery, Emerald is an American interpretation of a traditional Irish pot still whiskey. The nose offers charred oak, bitter orange, toasted grain, oatmeal, dried leaves, and cherry bitters. A spicy palate features notes of orange marmalade, milk chocolate, and red apples. Water unlocks flavors of candied melon, fresh oranges, and raspberries. The finish has charred oak, chocolate fudge, coffee, and roasted malt.
The nose is a bit reticent, but with time reveals lovely aromatics of kiwi, grapefruit, mango, banana, hibiscus, lilac, and pistachio. This light sweetness is borne out on the palate, which has tropical fruits, chai masala, brown sugar, rye bread, and a little nuttiness counterbalancing sharp oak and a full-bodied mouthfeel. The finish is short, with honeyed sweetness.
A sauternes cask-matured whisky from Alsace with a sweet nose of vanilla, caramel, soft stone fruit, macaroon bars, and coriander seed. The sluggish palate takes a while to get going, with flavors of citrus peel, barley sugar, and ground ginger. While there’s a medley of fruit and spice, it all feels a little half-hearted. Short finish as the fruit fades. (1,000 bottles)
High West Valley Tan Utah Whiskey (Batch #19G03), 43.5%
American Whiskey | $50
Delicately expressive on the nose, with lemon icebox cookies, pistachio ice cream, almonds, lemon-lime soda, toasted oak, and a hint of dried chili. There’s zingy citrus zipping through the oak-led palate, which also has sweet vanilla, hints of nuts, spice, and some savory dried chili. It finishes short, with sweet oak. A blend of whiskeys made with wheat and malted barley, and oats and malted barley. (Utah only)
O’Danaghers 5 year old American Hibernian Single Barrel, 45%
American Whiskey | $55
The mashbill for this single pot still-style whiskey from Dry Fly Distilling contains oats, along with wheat and malted and unmalted barley. The delicate nose has pistachio pudding, carob chips, dried flowers, iced tea, white pepper, allspice, and almond nougat. It’s led by oak on the palate, but add a few drops of water and cherries, berries, candied violets, almonds, pistachios, semi-sweet chocolate, and gentle spices reveal themselves. Saving the best for last, it finishes with cooked dark fruits, varnish, and leathery oak. (250 bottles)
Luca Mariano Small Batch Straight (Batch #2019-01), 41.5%
Rye Whiskey | $45
Contract-distilled and aged in Danville, Ky. and bottled by Danville-based Luca Mariano, the whiskey company owned by entrepreneur Francesco Viola. Oak influence and licorice on the nose lead to a light palate of orange peel, grapefruit, bitter oak, and pepper spice. Water unlocks dark chocolate, toffee, and peppery heat. Melon and orange peel punctuate the finish, with hints of almond and coconut. Barrel-forward and youthful, but with some interesting notes. (20,000 bottles)
This blended malt has stronger color and flavors than Hatozaki Finest, with scents of marzipan, orange sherbet, lime rind, apricot Danish pastry, and delicate wood spices. The palate keeps a focus on vanilla fudge and spice, but doesn’t really take you on a journey. There’s creamy vanilla, a slow burner of peppercorn, a little fudge, and honey for sure, but the anticipated fruitiness never really arrives.
A puzzling whiskey, with golden raisin and treacle aromas, as well as cereal and butternut squash. The palate is dry and herbal, with faint hints of vinous fruit, herbs and spices, and plenty of oak. It finishes short, with almond, chocolate, and amaro-like herbaceousness. The third batch of FarmStock, this includes 52% WhistlePig’s own 3 year old rye, along with 31% 6 year old rye from MGP and 17% 10 year old rye from Alberta Distillers.
Piney and herbaceous on the nose, with Popsicle stick, lemongrass, fresh oregano, Lemon Pledge, and a hint of vanilla. Light-bodied and silky in texture, it has plenty of vanilla and toasted wood sweetness, along with hints of herbs. The finish is short and a bit hot, with simple oak flavors.
Broad Branch Rye Fidelity 6 year old Single Barrel Straight Rye (Barrel No. 0027), 45%
Rye Whiskey | $53
Clearly young and grain-driven, this suffers from a few oddball aromas of pencil eraser and Play-Doh. The palate delivers heaps of sweetness, and an overload of vanilla, along with citrus oil and white pepper notes that succumb to a finish of new oak and mocha. Has merits, but lacking in structure and balance.
Koval Four Grain Single Barrel Whiskey (No. W06P45), 47%
American Whiskey | $45
Distilled from a mashbill of oats, malted barley, rye, and wheat, then aged in heavily charred new oak barrels from Minnesota. The grains are sourced from a Midwestern organic farmer collective. The nose is herbaceous, offering sarsaparilla, vanilla, licorice, and menthol. A somewhat jagged palate has notes of pine, ginger root, vanilla, sweet oak, heat, and pepper. The finish reprises the flavors of the palate—notably menthol, pine, oak, ginger, and vanilla.
Pencil shavings, Popsicle stick, vanilla, cinnamon, toasted coconut, and marshmallow on the nose. The palate is led by dry oak, integrating orange, cinnamon, nuts, iced tea, and apple, leading into a sweet finish. There are some interesting flavors here, but the barrel seems to be overpowering them.
The amber color portends a nose of stewed fruits—apples, prunes, and pears—as well as hazelnut and a hint of oak char. Red berries and cooked fruit on the palate, with overtones of oak tannin. Water brings out flavors of creamy milk chocolate, orange, and peanuts. The finish offers straightforward chocolate notes, and water adds length and depth. Youthful but solid, with flavors that don’t quite come into full balance.
Leopold Bros. Maryland Style Straight Rye (Barrel #139), 43%
Rye Whiskey | $45
Aromas of black tea, clove, allspice, horehound, Vicks VapoRub, new wood, and wet leaves on a forest floor give way to a chewy palate led by green oak, with flavors of cinnamon, semi-dark chocolate, tarragon, mint, licorice, and allspice. It finishes with spiced dark chocolate, menthol, and a slight nuttiness. Water helps integrate the herbal and spice flavors with the oak.