Canadian Club Chronicles Issue No. 1 Water of Windsor 41 year old, 45%
Canadian | $300
Recently, a new “oldest Canadian whisky ever,” appears every year. In 2018, the honor goes to Canadian Club. Cedar lumber, fresh apricots, hints of bonfire, and sweet applewood on the nose. On the palate it’s butter tarts with vanilla, waves of pepper, pears, peaches, bonfire notes, and hints of pipe tobacco. Crisp, clean, and slightly bigger than Canadian Club 40 year old, the 41 is woodsy, silky, and mouth filling. (2,472 bottles for U.S.)
Crown Royal Noble Collection 13 year old Blenders’ Mash, 45%
Canadian | $60
If Canada made bourbon (it doesn’t), it would taste like this massive dram. The mashbill of 60% corn, 36% rye, and 4% malted barley is identical to that used for Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel Coffey rye. Beer still distillation and virgin oak barrels yield huge vanillas, rye spices, barrel tones, cherries, dark fruits, soaring floral esters, and gingery, peppery spices. Strong woodiness, slightly pulling tannins, and something almost chocolaty.
Part of the permanent Ardbeg range since 2008, Corryvreckan is created from a blend of standard Ardbeg and Ardbeg aged in virgin French Limousin oak casks. Smoky bacon and seaweed, plus dark berries, prickly spices, walnuts, lemon, and sweet peat on the nose. Sweet and savory on the palate, with more lively spice, woodsmoke, phenols, and licorice. The finish is lengthy, with peat, sea salt, pepper, and black coffee. Editors’ Choice
Fresh spring floral bouquets, white peach, and nectarine tumble with sweet caramel, dried cherry, white chocolate, fresh linen notes, and vanilla cake batter. Silky smooth with fresh summer fruits, the strong peppery spices push to the fore, but this is nimble, graceful, and displays a real lightness. Compelling, captivating blending for the Flask Collection by Sandy Hyslop, this has a fragrance you could enjoy all night.
Launched in 2003, Uigeadail remains one of Ardbeg’s core offerings. Matured in a mix of sherry and bourbon barrels and bottled at cask strength. Peppery peat, warm tar, coffee grounds, machine oil, and black pepper on the nose. The palate is complex and rich, offering orange segments sprinkled with sea salt, dark chocolate, malt, and ever-present sweet peat. Nicely balanced. Lengthy in the finish, with smoky caramel.
Like a delicious bowl of breakfast cereal, this has pecan, cinnamon, and Quaker oats, all wonderfully balanced with oak, barley, vanilla, dry spices, and drizzled runny honey. Savoring this rare aged Irish whiskey laid down by the legendary Frank McHardy delivers sweet butterscotch, vanilla, honey, toasted cinnamon, fresh orange, and barley, all thickly spread at this strength so it really hits home. What a way to start the day! (1,200 bottles)
Aromatic with smoke, this lays down thick chocolate ganache, toffee banana, and salted caramel. It bowls you over with chocolate-dipped sultanas, soft melon, and ripe berries ahead of a spicy middle section replete with pepper, coriander, cinnamon, fig rolls, baking chocolate, and a dry finish of cocoa and peppery spices. As blended Islay malts go, pretty special.
Fifteen years ago, Forty Creek used starboard (port-style wine) barrels to finish their legendary Portwood Reserve. The wine was emptied into fresh Forty Creek whisky barrels. Now, master blender Bill Ashburn has added back some of that original starboard to Forty Creek Unity. This lush, mouth-filling, butterscotch-sweet whisky bursts with red fruits, raisin tarts, hints of burnt toffee, and a restrained peppery glow.
Initially matured in bourbon barrels, then transferred to two Graham’s port colheita pipes from 1961 and 1963. Finally, it was married in first-fill bourbon casks. Wood resin, canola oil, sultanas, and red currants on the nose. Medium-bodied, with sweet resin, honey, and sherry on the palate, turning to treacle and raisins. The finish is very long, with dark chocolate and spicy oak tannins. (500 bottles)
Laphroaig 10 year old Cask Strength (Batch 010), 58%
Single Malt Scotch | $70
A turbocharged version of the formidable standard 10 year old, Cask Strength varies in ABV from batch to batch. Tar and antiseptic hit the nose immediately, along with peat smoke, malt, newsprint, and new leather. There’s also lemon, vanilla, and brine. The sinewy palate mirrors the nose, adding charcuterie and cocoa powder. Predictably medicinal and phenolic in the very long finish, with balancing sweet malt.
Initially aged in bourbon barrels before being transferred into quarter casks, and ultimately oloroso sherry butts. The sherry influence adds an additional dimension to the quarter-cask style, hence an oily nose of dates, vanilla, tropical fruits, and bonfire smoke. The palate is drier than might be expected, with Laphroaig iodine, barbecued meats, muted sherry, and peat smoke. The finish comprises dried fruits and lots of oak.
Dripping with caramel and tingling with spice, this is a blockbuster whiskey that delivers across a spectrum of flavors. Maple syrup, sugar in the raw, and caramel-drizzled flan highlight the aroma, while the palate turns fruity and tropical with the sweet drive of peach nectar, grilled fruits, and pineapple upside-down cake. At the same time, it’s lemony bright, warmly spiced, tremendously rich, and oh-so-good! Pour on the water and enjoy the ride!
Typical of Booker’s this bourbon shows lots of concentration and muscle, oozing with caramel and maple syrup, with hints of lavender and bouquet garni. Flavors explode on the palate, with more herbal complexity, root beer barrel candy, green almond, black cherry, and a big rush of dark, bitter-sweet burnt sugar and caramel. Lovely baking spices and lots of toasty oak linger on the long finish. The youngest barrel in the blend is just over 6 years, 2 months of age. Editors’ Choice
Driven by lovely maple syrup and sweet bread pudding, this is like waltzing into a bake shop serving up warm sticky buns—all bready sweet, spice, and dried raisins—laced with toasted oak. The body is delightfully rich and viscous, with a generous jolt of sweetness and spice that pours long and satisfying. The sweet maple, candied nuts, dried berries, and white pepper spice strike a wonderful balance.
Michter’s 10 year old Single Barrel Bourbon (Barrel #18B202), 47.2%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $120
There’s evident age here, with dried leaves, old suede jacket, and dusty oak at the forefront, but underlying that maturity is plenty of dried fruit, figs, and cola. It pours broad and mouth filling, exuding both power and grace as it delivers caramel, tobacco, and a mélange of baking spices—cloves and nutmeg. The solid wood structure and oak tannins are here in abundance, but never out of balance.
Classic ‘southern shores’ Islay from the onset: salty and medicinal on the nose, with smoked haddock, citrus fruits, and milk chocolate. The palate yields full-on hot peat, pipe tobacco, black coffee, licorice, and more chocolate. The finish is long and malty, with sweet smoke. Non-chill filtered.
A mix of 29 bourbon and sherry casks that were mingled for 3 months in Balvenie’s bespoke marrying vessel, the Tun. Fragrant oriental spices on the nose: ginger, cinnamon, fresh orange juice, and brittle toffee. Full and smooth on the palate, with sweet sherry and spicy Jaffa orange. Long in the finish, with dark chocolate, oak tannins, raisins, and licorice at the close.
The second release from Glenmorangie’s Bond House No. 1 Collection, this 27 year old includes whisky from a parcel of casks that received a period of secondary maturation in Côte-Rôtie red wine casks. Honey and nectarines on the nose, plus ginger, icing sugar, and damp heather. A silky palate delivery of peaches in cream, apple crumble, nutmeg, and white pepper. The finish is lengthy, with lingering spicy orange notes.
Following last year’s release of The Dark, this parallel 17 year old cask-strength expression was matured in refill American oak. The nose yields vanilla, oats, ripe pears, and mild wood-fire embers. Supple and initially sweet on the palate, with icing sugar, tangerines, and developing darker, spicier notes. Lengthy in the finish, with spicy cedar oil. Proof that Highland Park doesn’t need sherry casks to be good. (4,500 bottles for U.S.)
This expression offers an uncompromising note of brine-laden peat and iodine, with charcoal and sweeter fruit notes also present. The palate is equally out there, with old-fashioned fabric Band-Aids, bladderwrack seaweed, black pepper, smoldering peat, vanilla, caramel, and sweet oak. The finish is as big as everything else, with barbecue, iodine, and asphalt. Still a classic!
This 2017 release includes spirit from three sherry-seasoned hogsheads and three butts, some of which had previously held a peated whisky. The nose offers familiar dark chocolate, dried fruit, sultanas, and ripe cherry notes, with a whiff of woodsmoke. More dried fruits on the rich palate, with coffee grounds, ginger, and sherry merging with subtle peat. The finish is luxurious, with smoky raisins and pleasing wood spice. (40 bottles for U.S.)
This limited edition is quite a color: deep orange with beautiful rose tints. Quite vinous on the nose, with orange peel, crème brûlée, honey, toasted coconut, grated chocolate, and preserved lemons all benefiting from the higher bottling strength. It’s darkly sweet with piquant plums, juicy raisins, sweet shortbread, fig, chocolate, honeyed lemons, and tangy candied peel. Truly excellent, the spice dominating the dark fruits and chocolate throughout the finish. (4,800 bottles)
Subtle and rounded smoke on the nose, balanced by lemon, grilled pineapple, and chocolate-chip cookie dough. A big, tannic, and chewy palate, chocolaty and extremely fruity—hints of Meyer lemon, grilled plums, walnut paste, and five-alarm chili wrapped in a thick, spicy smoke. A fiery finish benefits from water. Their first peated release and it’s a showstopper. (531 bottles; distillery only)
The Exclusive Malts (distilled at Cameronbridge) 25 year old, 53.1%
Single Grain Scotch | $140
A rich nose of sweet, dark fruit: dates, dried fig, sultana, orange drizzle cake, honey, lemon zest, and taffy. The fruits merge beautifully with the grain to give a tightly integrated and sophisticated nose. The thick, luscious palate drips with dates, burnished orange, pepper, and clove, leading to ginger. Mouth-coating finish of cardamom and bitter spices. (474 bottles)
A distillery exclusive until now, Ninety Nine Proof is finally in distribution across the U.S. One hundred days finishing in Gretzky’s own cabernet sauvignon barrels put wagonloads of ripe fruit on the nose, with some dry hardwood, peanut brittle, and a slight tickle too. This is powerful whisky, quite fruity, with long, fading dry pepper and an inviting hint of spent gunpowder leading to a dry, slightly woody finish.
I’ve yet to taste any Hyde whiskey that I haven’t loved, and this may be their best yet. A wave of soft, sweet caramel and toffee, light vanilla, fresh apricot, zesty citrus, rum notes, and an agreeable mix of aromatic spices. Buttery soft mouthfeel with butterscotch sweetness, banana custard, vanilla, and gentle spices. Very approachable and dessert-like, the spices becoming slightly more assertive than the sweetness on the finish.
Orange, banana, and nutmeg lead on the nose, along with a subtle note of cigar box. A smooth, chocolaty palate melds with maple syrup, caramel, allspice, and more tobacco. Water brings out heat and more spiciness, with orange and chocolate notes reprising on a long finish. The ABV here is lower than most barrel-proof whiskeys, but make no mistake: this one can stand up to the best of them.
Distilling has been in the Grallet-Dupic family for 150 years. With the influence of sauternes casks, this great value whisky develops a lovely richness with a nose of dates, strawberry, raspberry, passion fruit, dried apricot, hard candy, and mandarin segments in Jell-O. This barrels through flavors of dark orange, mandarin, coffee, after-dinner chocolates, cocoa, black cherry, and bramble, and leaves behind a slow burn with flashes of mint and chocolate.
Seashells, brine, warm toffee, peat smoke, chocolate bars, sun-crisped seaweed, and dry aromatic spices, with augmented smoky notes if you leave your glass for ten minutes. Sweet honey, spun sugar, lemon, Edinburgh rock, and shimmering spices; a hard-core Islay at this strength and a terrific offering of fruit, peat smoke, citrus sweetness, and warming chocolate. Mouth saturating finish with juicy citrus and spices on the tongue. A rhapsody on peat.
Old Forester The President’s Choice (Barrel No. 1), 55.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $90
Lovely concentration of flavors, including whiffs of vanilla cream soda, clover honey, bananas Foster, and a dash of pepper define this selection of barrels by Old Forester president Campbell Brown. Zippy and bright, with lemony verve, peach puree, and warming ginger. The finish smacks of pecan, bitter citrus oil, and peppery spice, with the exquisite oak content in a supporting role. (Available at Old Forester Distillery)
This was matured in American oak sherry-seasoned casks. The nose offers cherry liqueur, sultanas, fruit spice, honey, and new leather. Vanilla and sweet orchard fruits on the early palate, followed by darker berry fruits, soft oak, and a savory note. Cocoa powder and a wisp of smoke in the medium-length finish. (3,150 bottles for U.S.)
This expression is aged for approximately 5 years in bourbon barrels before spending a final few months in quarter casks. Characteristic tar, engine oil, and ashy peat on the nose. Oily and full on the palate, with sweet grain notes, cinnamon, seaweed, hot peat, and black pepper. The finish is long and powerful, with persistent peat and chili, plus a sprinkling of sea salt.
A beautiful rye nose of clove spice, sandalwood incense, warm cinnamon toast, and vanilla sugar leads to a palate that is both creamy and juicy, with abundant apricot, orchard, and citrus fruit; the citrus smacks of ruby-red grapefruit with its hint of bitterness. Shows a good bit of heat and power, as the seamless flavors and well-integrated spice coast through a long finish. The first bottling to include High West’s own-make spirit. Tasted blind against previous batches.
No prizes for guessing where the peated Islay quarter casks used for finishing came from, but this beautiful whisky has firm, sooty charcoal smoke, impressive maritime characteristics, and aromas of fresh lemon, mandarin, and buttered toast. Sweet citrus with a buttery mouthfeel, and generous smoke and spice. Beautifully weighted, it ends with darker fruits, chocolate, and spicy smoke on the finish. Love it!
The Tyrconnell 10 year old Sherry Cask Finish, 46%
Irish Single Malt | $75
On the nose there are warm, grassy tones wrapped in a blanket of sherry, apple, and sultanas, with a tickle of fine white pepper, lemongrass, scented balms, and poppy seed cake. In the mouth there is apple, cherry, and honey nougat, backed by richer sherry fruits. The flavor develops steadily, with late additions of pepper coinciding with a confluence of sweetness and sherry notes. Baked apple sweetness on the finish.
This includes whiskies from nineteen oloroso sherry butts filled in 2007, 2008, and 2011. Medium sherry, orange marmalade, cinnamon, and developing sea salt on the nose. The palate yields more sherry, earthy peat, dark chocolate, honey, and ginger. Fruit spice, sultanas, and charcuterie in the medium to long finish. The best Loch Gorm to date. (15,000 bottles)
Wonderful to see this portly bottle in U.S. stores at last. An exotic nose, with turned woods, stewed plum, sultana, ground ginger, dried chilies, and black cherry, it oscillates between spice and dark fruits. Rich smoke is packed deep; it’s far from the most dominant aroma. Orange, cherry, mango, and bubble gum notes are beaten back by a spicy rush of ginger and pepper, the sweetness prevailing over the cloves. Editors' Choice
Made by the sea in Côtes d’Armor on direct-fired small stills attached to worm tubs, which the French elegantly call condenseurs serpentins. This has smoked fish, iodine, pine forests, driftwood, lemon zest, and clean medicinal qualities rather than peatiness. Waxed lemon, light fudge, lemon bonbons, and vanilla from the bourbon barrels ride a crescendo of pepper and ginger before smoke obscures all before it. A match for any Islay.
Earthy, leathery, and spiced, this bourbon shows nice maturity and polish, evoking a well-worn wood-paneled barroom. The flavors offer good intensity and concentration, striking a nice balance of sweet and savory notes, as spicy cedarwood and cigar box come draped in toffee. Water releases some vivid chocolate, vanilla cream, and clove-studded orange. Nice verve, fine balance, and evident maturity.
Bursting with hawthorn, red currant, cherry, pomegranate, baked sugar sweetness, roasted spices, cardamom, dark honey, and plum pudding. This pot still whiskey from 1985 is mouth drawing with fruit flesh and skins, tasting of stewed fruits, baked orange, apple, and pomegranate, with a very fine shimmer of spices that sparkles on the tongue. Adding to their canon of single cask Redbreast releases, this is absolutely smashing. €500
Distilled from Scottish barley, this is the first permanent age-statement Port Charlotte bottling. First and second-fill American oak and French wine casks were used for aging. Rock pools, lemon juice, caramel, but little overt peat on the nose. The palate boasts big orchard fruit notes, smoky coconut, and brine. Again, the peat is quite muted. Long and spicy in the drying, peaty finish.
Vanilla, dark chocolate, pepper, ground ginger, hard candy, floral blooms, Parma Violets, and dried apple sing from this oloroso sherry butt-finished blend of 18 year old triple-distilled single malt and 8 year old single grain. Syrupy fruit textures with flavors of apricot conserve, the European oak finds harmony with the orchard fruits, gingerbread, and pepper. Mouth-coating, lingering finish of oak and dried banana. (5,000 bottles)
Hyde No. 5 The Áras Cask Burgundy Cask Finish, 46%
Single Grain Irish Whiskey | $48
Triple distilled in Coffey stills and aged for over 6 years, the black grape, blackberry, dry-roasted spices, and cocoa demonstrate how the 6-month finish was well-judged. A wonderful mouthfeel, the wine notes chasing the vanilla sweetness, fudge, gentle spices, and creamy custard tarts before a finish of chocolate and spiced dark fruit. This is so good, I had to check the bottle to confirm this was grain whiskey. (5,000 bottles)
After 12 years of waiting, Francis Cuthbert has finally released the first bottling of his Daftmill Lowland single malt. The nose is soft and floral, with peaches, walnuts, coconut, warm caramel, and milk chocolate. The palate features cereal, almonds, nougat, and subtle citrus fruits. Drying in the relatively long finish, with subtle oak. Well worth the wait! (629 bottles) £210
Chocolate orange, a sizzle of bacon fat, and dry peat. While this feels less potent than Samaroli’s other Islay offerings, it fits the mood perfectly for a nightcap. The taste buds detect orange, honey, chocolate praline, hazelnut, Oreos, a hint of cocoa, and an underbelly of peat smoke that carries into the finish. A wonderfully rich, smooth digestif that will transport you back to Islay in your dreams.
Jameson Bow Street 18 year old Cask Strength, 55.3%
Blended Irish Whiskey | $200
This whiskey finishes its maturation at Bow St., Dublin, the first time this former distillery site has been involved in any whiskey production since 1975. A beautiful balance between toffee, spice, and oak, this has aromas of concentrated citrus, polished oak tables, caramels, and nut brittle. A supremely smooth concoction of dark nutty toffee, vanilla, pepper, clove, and oak. The strength is epic. Fabulous, rewarding special occasion stuff.
Dried heather, peppercorn, salt crystals, green fruits, dried fennel, aniseed, dry leaves, and floral top notes produce a lip-smacking bouquet like a chilled manzanilla. The palate has vanilla tablet sweetness like the previous Delilah’s release, though this is bottled at higher strength, with flavors of dried fruits: peach, apricot, and mandarin. (8,520 bottles)
Wheated bourbon fans will enjoy this wheat whiskey with its distinctly bourbon nose of sweet cornbread and new oak, topped off with mint and pine aromas. It starts soft on the palate, but flavors build nicely as it rolls along, delivering graham cracker, citrus fruit, pecans, and cake batter. It remains really fresh and lovely, as caramel corn and drying cocoa powder emerge on the finish. A well-crafted and easy-drinking alternative to bourbon.
Temporis is a peated variant of BenRiach, and like its unpeated 21 year old stablemate it was matured in a mix of four types of barrels: bourbon, virgin oak, Pedro Ximénez, and oloroso sherry. Sweet leather and peat on the nose; emerging vanilla and woodsmoke. Quite muscular on the palate, where orchard fruits are balanced by drying oak. White pepper and aniseed in the relatively long finish.
Like previous releases in the Cask Strength series, this was matured in a mix of oloroso and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks. The nose offers honey, soft sherry, eucalyptus, and cherry blossom. Supple and sugary on the very approachable palate, with nutty toffee, dark sherry, and dark chocolate-coated cherry liqueurs. Long and spicy, with ripe plums in the finish.
Seven types of European and American oak casks were used for maturation. Lively on the nose, with orange, malt, sherry, and sweet oak. Initially, a touch hot on the palate, with sherry and cloves, then toffee and vanilla, red apples, figs, and cocoa. The finish is medium to long, with spicy sherry.
Repackaged at a higher strength, the nose is grassy, with lemon zest, hints of apple and pear, vanilla seeds, almonds, and fresh florals. Light honey and summer fruits, barley notes, and vanilla, becoming juicier over time with base notes of whole spice, before serving up a lemon-and-honey lozenge finish. Very assured, this double-distilled single malt is a must for your Irish whiskey shelf. Best Value
Smoked meat, paprika, cumin, peppercorn, and star anise, amid fragrant smoke and maple bacon. The flavors are supremely fruity with tangerine, marmalade, lime zest, and pineapple juice. Among the fruit is a cascade of aromatic spices, before the interjection of a most compelling sour fruit note, and the smokiness takes charge. It’s certainly no Islay mimic, this terrific Indian whisky demonstrates it has the courage of its own convictions.
This limited edition was distilled in 2004 and aged in eleven first-fill bourbon barrels. Warm lemon juice, rock pools, new tweed, and new leather, plus peat smoke and charcuterie on the nose. The palate is robust, sweet, and fruity, with spicy orange, vanilla, caramel, and earthy peat. Long in the finish, with light tannins and peat coated with stewed fruits. (420 bottles for U.S.)
Mesquite-smoked New Mexico single malt. Rich and beefy on the nose: charred brisket, salted meat, tangerines, dark wood, brine, and white smoke. The palate is powerful, oak-forward without being astringent, and very spicy. Walnut, cayenne pepper, and grilled citrus balance out the meaty, oaky flavors. Saddle leather, cherries, and even more smoke on the finish. Tangy, salty, spicy, and malty. A truly compelling American single malt with great structure.
Sweet smoke mingles with lemon curd, milk chocolate, roasted marshmallow, and vanilla-frosted yellow cupcake on the nose. The palate has a rubbery peatiness, yet the flavor remains fresh, with cherries and grapes, roasted nuts, salted caramel, and milk chocolate. It all wraps up with the ashiness of pipe tobacco and lengthy saline minerality. Beguiling and moreish—a whiskey worth lingering over. (3,000 bottles)
Virginia Distillery Co. Cider Cask Finished Virginia-Highland (Batch #2), 46%
Craft Whiskey | $65
Malty and biscuity aromas mingle seamlessly with vanilla, plums, raisins, and chocolate-covered bananas. The Highland scotch in the blend asserts itself with dry graininess and a floral character bordering on potpourri, but is well-balanced with cooked plum and pear, chocolate, ginger, and Fig Newton. Nuttiness and a bit of ash round out a pleasantly bitter-sweet finish that shows impressive length.
Lots of dried fruit, figs, and caramel lead off this bold but balanced bourbon, as dark berry fruits smack of sweet crème de cassis on the palate. There’s a good bit of spice here, like hot and spicy peanuts, that meets the sweet fruit and vanilla. Shows great length and nice polish on the finish with its dusty oak and cocoa.
Mossburn Signature Casks Series Speyside Blended Malt, 46%
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky | $40
This is clever. Using Mossburn Cask Bill #2, the whisky has been finished in first-fill oloroso sherry butts with heavily toasted virgin American oak heads. The nose is intense: sweet barley, fresh oak, vanilla, pear, fresh apple, orange peel, and dry wood spices. Silky texture, with citrus, barley, coriander seed, pepper, aniseed, and clove, offering further waves of creamy vanilla, fruit Life Savers, and soft malty notes.
The additional year of aging in new American oak is readily apparent in this blend of American whiskeys. Dry, toasty, charred oak takes the lead before cherry cough drop, cedar, clove, eucalyptus, and toasted nuts emerge. The red and blue fruits are met with a jolt of spice that will delight rye whiskey fans, before delivering earthy, leathery, tobacco leaf on the finish. Big in oak flavors, but not overdone.
The aroma is a mélange of sweet goodness, with violet candies, figgy dried fruits, and molasses cake that almost evoke a cane-like rum sweetness, as tobacco leaf, leather, and sassafras notes add depth. It’s a real roof burner on the palate, broad and mouth coating, offering a big blast of spices, cocoa powder, tropical fruits, and vanilla before the wood and minty herbs drive it to the finish line.
The nose smells wonderfully chewy, with buttery toffee, candied nuts, charred oak, cracked pepper, and a hint of fresh dill. The palate sings with electric spice and rolls along nicely with stone fruit, peppercorn, sweet vanilla, and leathery oak, each taking their turn before the slightly hot finish of oak tannins. A blend of 51% and 95% rye mashbills from Indiana’s MGP.
A little savory at first, with burning leaves and green wood, aromatic spice mix, pastrami, malt loaf, and Worcestershire sauce. Certainly complex and distinctive from a sensory perspective. Initially there is light vanilla sponge, citrus, and brown sugar, but the vanilla grows stronger, combines with malt, and meets an angry surge of pepper. The pepper kicks back to peat smoke and then all is right with the world.
Finishing these malts in first-fill oloroso casks helps produce a tempting nose of tangy marmalade, cherry, chocolate sponge, malt, and apple tart, with a rub of spice. Chocolate, spiced orange, pepper, and ginger notes before sweet toffee breaks through, allowing the orange peel-rich marmalade to mingle with the malt. It’s a big mouthful and definitely one to try.
Matthew Gloag introduced this classic blend in 1896, and now Kirsteen Campbell, master blender of Grouse since 2016, is taking it to new heights. Rich toffee, boundless baked orange notes, wood spices, dried banana chips, and some sweet floral top notes. Very smooth drinking, with citrus flavors, toffee and caramel, vanilla, ground ginger, star anise, and lemon peel. The spiciness abounds into the finish with well-rounded dark orange notes.
Compared to classic Grouse, this has more caramel notes, additional sweetness, and a greater delivery of lemon, vanilla, toasted coconut, and finely shredded orange peel. It’s lightly structured, drier, and comes with less-pronounced spices. Sipping reveals sweet light citrus, smooth caramel, vanilla sponge, apricot, soft fruits, and chocolate macaroon bars, with a late development of spice. Sweet caramel hangs on the lips. This is an easygoing, feel-good whisky.
Peated Glenturret lies at the heart of Smoky Black, but where will the master blender find her smoke when the distillery is sold? Contemporary bottlings are rich, warming, and comfortingly smoky, with chocolate, malt, cocoa, burnt fruitcake, and baking spices. Medium-weighted blend with malt, chocolate, and bourbon biscuits, interwoven with smoke, then cherry, baked apple strudel, and chocolate desserts. Dry smoke, ginger, pepper, and dark chocolate to finish.
This whisky is slowly making its way around the world, but it was worth the wait, as master blender Colin Scott’s use of mizunara oak makes for an impressively different nose from Chivas Regal 12 year old. Pecans, sandalwood, coriander seed, honeycomb, peanuts, and rich oak aromas herald a warming dram with fabulously developed orange zest and vanilla toffee flavors, before a more assertive finish of dark toffee and tenacious spices.
Twelve of the world’s leading bartenders collaborated to create this limited release. Whiskies chosen spanned five decades, and were aged in various oak barrels, including American and German, as well as rum, red wine, and Laphroaig casks. The nose is rich and fruity, with Jaffa oranges, apricots, caramel, and soft ginger. Voluptuous on the palate, with nectarines, Brazil nuts, nutmeg, and honey. Warming spices in the lengthy finish, with lingering nectarine notes.
Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie (Scottish Barley), 50%
Single Malt Scotch | $55
Bruichladdich describes this as a “multi-vintage cuvee” and only Scottish-grown barley is used in its distillation. Ozone, lemon juice, fresh-planed wood, and a hint of honey appear on the nose. The palate features toffee apples, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and oily oak. Pepper, sea salt, and relatively dry oak in the finish are balanced by toffee sweetness.
This limited-edition Bunnahabhain was aged in sherry casks until 2011, when it was transferred into first-fill Pedro Ximénez sherry butts. The nose offers leathery sherry, red berries, ozone, and a little black pepper. Rich, sweet fruit notes on the palate; overt sherry, plus toffee, dark chocolate, and a hint of background salt. Cinnamon, honey, and raisins in the long finish. (2,154 bottles for U.S.)
Described by its distillers as “the most intensified expression” of Glen Grant, this was matured in first-fill bourbon barrels and is non-chill filtered. The nose is fresh and floral, with rose petals, Turkish delight, and cinnamon. Supple on the palate, clean and fruity, with developing soft toffee, pear drops, ginger, and a floral carryover from the nose. The finish is medium in length, with slightly astringent oak.
The Tyrconnell 15 year old Madeira Cask Finish, 46%
Irish Single Malt | $100
Honey, baklava, lemongrass, artichoke, vanilla, herbal stems, and Turkish delight make for a thought-provoking glass of whiskey. Sipping reveals a gentle, fruity delight; this is silky smooth and packed with dried fruits, mango, papaya, vanilla, light caramel, pleasant spices, and as it unwinds, it oozes honey and sweetness. As the honey and peppery spices fade on the finish, a hint of mint appears.
The second Kilchoman to be fully matured in port casks, this expression is a vatting of 30 ruby port casks, filled in 2014. The nose offers milk chocolate sprinkled with white pepper, sweet red wine, and ultimately, smoky citrus fruit. Big red berry notes lead on the palate, followed by ginger and spicy peat. Tangy red currants and bonfire smoke in the relatively long finish. Impressive for its age. (10,000 bottles)
Distillerie Warenghem’s first peated malt, using barley malted to 50 ppm. Waves of coastal character, with lemon, vanilla, marzipan, peat smoke, and hints of antiseptic. The taste is akin to devouring the best fudge in the world, with lemon, rich orange peel, pepper, root ginger, and a steadily building cloud of smoke.
The name should give some indication: this is a big, brawny whiskey. Aromas of orange peel, iced tea, toasted coconut, peanut, honey, and molasses spar with grain and dry firewood. The palate delivers oak, more grain, orange oil, menthol, roasted nuts, iced tea, cherries, and cola. Tobacco, leathery oak, and bitter chocolate tie everything together on the finish, which is especially enjoyable with a few drops of water added.
Colkegan Apple Brandy Cask Finished Single Malt, 46%
Craft Whiskey | $65
Soft and juicy aromas of ginger juice, apple tart, strawberry shortcake, and light, sweet smoke. Very aromatic, with lots of citrus, clove, and cinnamon. Orange Creamsicle on the palate, with a good deal of apple, poached pear, marmalade, and light smoke. Salted butter, gentle oak, and wispy smoke keep this in balance. A good harmony of flavors.
This includes whisky distilled from barley grown on three Islay farms. It was mainly matured in first-fill American oak, along with Syrah and merlot wine casks. Fragrant peat, warm tar, ginger, vanilla, and sea salt on the nose. Peaches dipped in salt on the palate, with milk chocolate and more vanilla, then dark berries. The peat is spicy and quite acrid in the long, briny finish.
Wayne Gretzky’s distillery makes serious whisky. A large, copper Vendome column and a Heriot-Watt graduate distiller make for some pretty fine spirit that will eventually fill Gretzky bottles. Sourced for now, this rich, round, and creamy whisky is finished in ice wine casks from Gretzky’s vineyards. Cinnamon-tinged ripe red apples and kiwifruit in sultana syrup, with baking spices and hot white pepper fading into mild barrel notes.
J. Henry & Sons 5 year old Wisconsin Straight Bourbon Bellefontaine Reserve, 51.72%
Craft Whiskey | $80
Vanilla frosting on the nose contrasts with notes of dried flowers, as well as lime, orange, and a floral back note. The palate offers more citrus, along with brown sugar. The finish is smooth and balanced, with dark chocolate and bitter espresso notes hitting home in counterbalance. The flavor opens up with water, revealing a hint of coconut before a long finish of chocolate and baked apple.
Mossburn Signature Casks Series Island Blended Malt, 46%
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky | $50
Smoke and spice and all things nice. With Mossburn Cask Bill #1, the blenders created a finishing cask using first-fill bourbon staves with heads of heavily toasted virgin European oak. Baked citrus with some fresh grapefruit sharpness, raw butternut squash, and a cool line in salty smoke. The palate riffs off wine gums, citrus, savory smoke, bitter roots, pepper, and clove, leaving a long, smoky finish.
Like sniffing fine soil running through your fingers, with creamy milk chocolate, baked fruit, mild spices, and pungent, acrid smoke that catches the back of the throat. Baked apple, pear, sultana, and cocoa, but then there’s the smoke: an inferno of caustic, thick peat smoke and astringent pepper, the dark recesses of the mouth beginning to blacken. It’s like throwing a punch in slow motion. Try it. (Total Wine exclusive)
This Tennessee-distilled bouron tastes of crusty cornbread leads off this sweet-styled bourbon brimming with Bit-O-Honey, Peanut Chews, and banana taffy. While the bold sweetness and stone fruits take the lead, there is enough tobacco-laced tannin and spice to back up and balance the initial sweetness, as char-grilled corn flavors take this across the finish line and make it decidedly more-ish.
Distillery 291 Single Barrel Colorado Rye Finished with Aspen Staves (Barrel #231), 50.8%
Craft Whiskey | $75
Heady tropical aromas swirl out of the glass: orange peel, guava, hibiscus, sandalwood, cedar, and cinnamon. Fruit—papaya, nectarine, blueberry, citrus, and grape—shows up in force on the palate as well, tempered by oak and milk chocolate, pistachios, and dried flowers. The finish is long and gently spiced, with soft oak, cedar, and cocoa flavors. Distillery 291 bottles all its rye as single-barrel batches of about 55-60 bottles each.
Although grain changes every year due to the weather, the flavor of Crown Royal Deluxe remains consistent. The skilled blenders who make this entry-level Crown Royal use their finely tuned noses, not a recipe, to ensure this. Wood, orchard fruits, floral tones, and gallons of vanilla on the nose translate into butterscotch, peppery rye spices, and creamy vanilla fudge on the palate.
Floral and minty on the nose, with dusty cedar chest and earth over red and yellow apple. The palate offers a decent concentration of flavors, with citrus oil, apricot, and mouthwatering juiciness. It’s nicely layered and well-balanced, but short on the finish. This whiskey has ranged widely over the years, and as a single barrel selection your experience may vary.
Oak-driven nose, where dusty oak floorboard meets light brown sugar and some herbal notes. On the palate this delivers tropical fruits, with hints of banana and papaya, and features a nice slick mouthfeel that succumbs to drying tannins, ending with nutty qualities and earthy forest floor. Simple and easy to enjoy.
This ever-popular expression of Balvenie is matured for roughly 12 years in ex-bourbon casks and finished for 9 months in Spanish oak oloroso sherry casks. Floral on the nose, with honey, oak, and almonds. Spicy sherry, nutmeg, and dried fruit on the silky palate. Quite long in the finish, with a hint of orange, plus drying spices. Elegant, yet robust.
This was aged in a mixture of bourbon and oloroso sherry casks, followed by a final spell of marrying in wooden tuns. Dried fruits, dark chocolate, figs, and cinnamon on the nose. The palate yields rich caramel and toffee-apple notes, plus ginger, cloves, and medium sherry. More dried fruits, cookies, and a sprinkling of allspice in the slightly smoky, medium to long finish.
This limited-edition bottling was matured in a mix of bourbon and sherry casks. It is non-chill filtered and includes no caramel coloring. Vanilla, milk chocolate, dried fruits, and green apples on the nose. Relatively light-bodied, with orange juice, honey, wood spice, and a hint of brine on the soft, oaky palate. The finish is medium in length, gently fruity, with mixed nuts and salted caramel.
Fresh fruits, satsuma peel, lime zest, pear, lemon meringue pie, and a cheeky burst of spices in this red wine and American oak bourbon barrel-finished whisky. Marshmallow softness, with apple, cooked Jell-O, and cherry slam into fruit-skin bitterness, chicory root, and aniseed, descending into spicy bitter fruit flavors. This perks the palate up no end. Oak seems to hold stronger cards than the wine soaked into the staves.
This addition to the Port Askaig range is presented with natural color, without chill filtration, and matured in refill American oak casks. The nose presents light peat, ozone, and faint medicinal notes, becoming saltier and spicier with time. Bracing. Woodsmoke, kippers, grapefruit, and lime on the palate. The finish is sweet, with receding smoke.
A mix of American and Spanish oak casks was used to mature this addition to the core range. A big blast of orchard and tropical fruits characterizes the early nose, along with honey, vanilla, and toffee. The palate also majors in fruit, this time principally oranges, plus caramel, cinnamon, milk chocolate, and lots of vanilla. The finish is quite short, with banana and ginger.
Distilled from roasted blue corn. The spirit itself, not the grain, is smoked over Texas scrub oak. Spicy Red Vines, herbal notes, and blackened corn aromas. An initial burst of fire on the palate transforms into juicy red fruit, sweet cinnamon apple, and hints of bramble and forest floor. An unusual and polarizing whiskey, Brimstone is aggressive at first, but in the end it’s a gentle giant.
Well-balanced offering of sweet citrus, grapefruit peel, and beach bonfire smoke. Cream, lemon, and lime zest are overcome by smoke as the chili spice and pepper go off like a rocket. More disciplined, it settles down to sweet orange, lemon bonbon, cocoa, and driftwood smoke. An incredibly pale whisky, it’s punchy, but not overly complex, although it does include some fun stickers to let you customize your own bottle. (3,000 bottles)
Berry Bros & Rudd The Classic Range Islay Blended Malt, 44.2%
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky | $42
One of four new affordable blended malts in the range, this delivers a direct line of clean, pure smoke; richly peaty, with shrimp shells, salty sea spray, fresh citrus peel, vanilla, and the aroma of fine cigar smoke. There’s an elegant purity to the nose. The palate takes a different course, with tangy, sharp citrus, bitter orange, herbal notes, lemon sherbet, shortbread, and jagged spices. Quite a stallion. £32
Jura has introduced a new house style of ‘sweetness and smoke,’ and this spent 18 years in bourbon barrels, with a finish in red wine casks. Malt, peach blossom, raspberries, vanilla, and dark chocolate on the nose. The palate offers red berries, more chocolate, cloves, and peat. Dry red wine notes in the finish, with fruity spices and black pepper.
Suntory built Chita Distillery in 1972 to produce a diverse range of corn-based grain whisky styles. This single grain has bright, floral aromas with light honey, orange and lemon peel, freshly unwrapped bubble gum, rose water, and an edge of spice. Clean, pure, and moreish, this high-quality whisky showcases lychee, citrus, banana, and honey, with herbal fringes and a juicy finish. Oh, and it’s terrific on the rocks. JP¥3,800
Mesquite-smoked single malt from Arizona. Very rich and aromatic, dripping with barbecue sauce, paprika, juicy red apple, and smoked bacon on the nose. A full panoply of barbecue flavors on the palate—brisket, roast chicken, ribs. Cayenne, walnuts, and spiced ginger balanced with oranges, apples, and pears. Some tar and creosote notes. Juicy, meaty, and smoky all at the same time. The herbal, vegetative notes are intriguing, but can be divisive.
Breuckelen Project No. 1 Bottled in Bond Wheated Bourbon, 50%
Craft Whiskey | $80
The nose begins with notes of cinnamon, soft oak, cardamom, white pepper, and a hint of new wood. The palate shifts to a subtle blend of orange and vanilla. Water reveals fresh raspberry, along with notes of fresh herbs, roasted almonds, tobacco leaf, and more new wood. The finish is powerful and complex, leading with vanilla and more nuttiness, as well as red fruit and roasted pineapple.
A smart little 8 year old blended malt with notes of light vanilla, hay bales, fresh flowers, and orange-flavored candies. Light, clean, and easy to like. The palate majors in orange flavors, first orange juice, with crunchy biscuit, gingerbread, and fizzy sherbet in the middle. It’s packed with flavor and depth, and ends with orange lollipops. The tanginess ricochets around the mouth, leaving a deep glow of citrus.
The port cask finish wraps the toffee and baked orange in an extra layer of richness. There is subtlety in the aroma of the port notes, with red cherry and dried cranberry mingling with well-integrated spices in the background. Richer dark caramels infused with red fruits, including cranberry, red currant, and pomegranate, chased by feisty spices. The finish has concentrated red fruit juices, nougat, and long-lasting spices.
Johnnie Walker Black Label Triple Cask Edition, 40%
Blended Scotch Whisky | $40
This lighter, fruity, spicy whisky is not for peat lovers. Bourbon, whisky, and rum casks were used for finishing, resulting in a nose of rich honey, golden syrup, peach stone, apricot, honeydew, coriander seed, ginger, and white pepper. Citrus, butter fudge, dried and tropical fruits, rumbling spices, and tangy orange create a creamy combination, from which a familiar Johnnie Walker identity suddenly snaps into place. (Travel Retail exclusive)
Redolent of marshmallow and vanilla, this is restrained on the nose, but revels in pretty sweetness, with peaches and cream, ripe banana, and circus peanuts candies. On the palate, this collaboration with actor Matthew McConaughey betrays some of its Wild Turkey pedigree, capturing the house earthiness. For its modest proof, it pours a bit hot on the palate, with plenty of oak tannins, making it a nice sipper on the rocks or with water. Value pick
Launched in 2006 as the first mainstream Arran bottling with an age statement, it is sweet and malty on the nose, with fresh-planed wood and toffee apples. The palate is fruity, with ripe banana, honey, vanilla, coconut, and wood spices. Spicy orchard fruits and malt in the relatively long finish. Well-balanced and eminently drinkable at this age. The quality has improved since earlier bottlings.
Balvenie Peat Week 14 year old (2003 Vintage), 48.3%
Single Malt Scotch | $99
This follows the first limited release of the 2002 vintage Peat Week. Like its predecessor, this was distilled during the distillery’s annual week of peated production. Significantly peatier on the nose than the 2002, with Islay-like phenols backed by sweet floral notes. Sweet smoke, vanilla, citrus fruits, and honey on the bold palate, while the finish features more vanilla and honey, plus spicy bonfire smoke.
Glenfiddich 14 year old Bourbon Barrel Reserve, 43%
Single Malt Scotch | $54
After 14 years in bourbon wood, this was finished in heavily-charred new American oak barrels, sourced from Kelvin Cooperage in Louisville, Kentucky. Malt, vanilla, and fudge on the nose, with ripe apples and lively oak. Toffee, caramel, vanilla, and cinnamon on the palate, while the finish is nutty, with notes of char. The closest Glenfiddich gets to producing a bourbon! Value pick
This madeira-finished whisky delivers a beautiful combination of crunchy red apple, dried apple rings, toasted oak, cubes of vanilla fudge, honey, and dabs of orange. It’s a friendly dram and it draws you in; attractive but not flashy or abundantly fragrant. Soft fruits, though not instantly sweet, accompanied by vegetal notes, almonds, and some spicy bitterness, with ginger, pepper, and clove encircling the tongue.
Made from Indian barley, the nose is soft, fruity, and spicy. There’s cooked apples in crème anglaise, ripe apricot, sweet barley, nectarine, fresh mango, sticky cotton candy, and dry oak spices. Creaminess continues on the palate, with apple, aromatic spices of pepper, ginger, and aniseed, with passion fruit, clementine, and zested limes. This should be your starting point for exploring Amrut’s whiskies.
A solid, basic bourbon, with pure sweetness, honey, marzipan, and wildflower notes. The sweet drive is nicely backed with drying oak on the pronounced finish, like sucking on a sweet and woody cherry Popsicle stick. A simple and enjoyable crowd pleaser, and smaller sibling to the Barrel Proof, our 2017 Whisky of the Year.
Distilled from hickory-smoked malted barley. The nose leads with dark barbecue smoke, mulberry, orange peel, cedar chest, and winter campfire. Earl Grey tea, tobacco leaf, orange oil, and black pepper dominate the palate, along with a great deal of thick, heavy smoke. A lot of new wood character and slightly rough around the edges, but compelling. The sort of whiskey you’d find in a crumbling tower deep in the woods.
Laden with herbs and spices—mint, caraway, earthy ginger—on the nose, along with furniture polish and lemon. The palate is oak-driven and rich, full of dark chocolate, zippy caraway, roasted lemon, and ginger. There’s a pleasant fruitiness as well, but the finish is dry, all gentle spice and chocolate. Takes water well—in fact, a few drops helps to tame some of the punchy heat. A blend of bourbon, rye, and malt whiskeys.
A host of sweet confections awaits in this whiskey, which appears to be Kentucky bourbon with some types of added flavoring. Big caramel gives way to angel food cake, crème brûlée, lemon chiffon, and batter. But it doesn’t stray far enough to resemble a flavored whiskey, delivering an oily texture and nice viscosity, oozing with apple, citrus, grape soda, and hints of leather. Not one for the purist, but enjoyable all the same.
Bright, delicate, and approachable. While not a showstopper, it delivers generous sweet fruit, almost candied red apple sweetness, along with floral and black cherry notes. On the palate, it shows modest structure, with notes of lemon and pistachio, along with gentle wisps of baking spice and sandalwood. A blend of two Kentucky straight rye whiskeys and two Kentucky straight bourbons.
A dry smoke, led by brisket, dry oak, and cherries. Sweetly smoky in the mouth, with black pepper, cayenne, and barbecue flavors, as well as grilled fruits, nectarines, and charred plums. A good balance of sweet and spicy, with a backbone of minerality. The mesquite flavor amps up in the long and spicy finish.
Part of the Jura range exhibiting ‘sweetness and smoke.’ This was aged in first-fill American oak barrels and finished in six different types of French oak casks. Nutty on the nose, with freshly sawn wood, savory notes, and emerging ripe peaches. Very fruity on the palate, with tangerines, fudge, cinnamon, and toasted oak. Drying in the finish, with nutmeg.
Tommyrotter Napa Valley Heritage Cask Bourbon, 47.5%
Craft Whiskey | $70
A bowl of sweet, fresh cherries greets you on the nose, the result of the Napa cabernet cask-finishing, and it melds well with notes of lemon zest, chocolate, and a hint of smoky charcoal. The palate delivers more cherry as well as strawberries, which combine with marshmallow and whipped cream, and the finish has plenty of length. It’s a bouquet of chocolate and berries, with impressive subtlety and complexity.
Malt and seaweed drying around rock pools, this builds up a good head of dry, fibrous peat smoke, with sautéed mushrooms, chocolate nibs, and ozone. Sweet lemons and sugar mice on the palate, it slides into a creamy-smooth pool of milk chocolate, the smoke kicking in later on, dragging a layer of clove and pepper in its wake. Proof that an Islay experience need not break the bank.
A Wisconsin rye aged in used American oak and new French oak, then finished in a Limousin oak solera. Heavily perfumed; incense and sandalwood on top of leather, gentle wood, and pleasingly soft rye spice. Golden raisins, white flowers, and violets on the palate, with a sweet and balanced finish. Softer and less assertive than traditional rye whiskeys, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Hailing from the Lorraine region, this single malt is double distilled in Charentais pot stills. Orange flesh, lemon sherbet, strawberry bubble gum, candied fruit jellies, grapefruit, and dry spice, with shades of vanilla on the nose. To taste, a wishy-washy orange note with a thin structure hung with milk chocolate, mango juice, papaya, wood spice, and ground ginger, concluding in a pulped-fruit ending.
Encompassing more than just Islay malts, the youngest liquid in this is from 1995. Malt loaf, peat barns, heavy salty smoke, hazelnut latte, roasted fennel seed, star anise, and sooty embers. This one could set the smoke alarms off. Good weight in the mouth, with pears in chocolate, clove, aniseed, vegetal notes, and deceptively less smoke until the powerfully intense finish of spice, soft fruit, cocoa, and seemingly eternal smoke.
This malt whiskey shows some maple syrup and honey sweetness, but its character comes from savory notes of earthiness and wet leaves. The easygoing palate offers some stone fruit and sweet overripe banana, like a banana cream pie with graham cracker crust. But the finish circles back to savory and herbal, suggesting youth. A creative, if peculiar choice for Woodford, crafted from 51% malted barley.
Comparatively speaking, the aromas of red apple, peppercorn, baked ham, and rowanberry make it the least enticing nose in the Tyrconnell range, although the port cask endows a beautiful delicate blush to the whiskey’s color. The mouthfeel is thinner too, with red apple, watermelon, mouth-drawing oak, fruit chews, and burnt spices in the end. A redeeming finish, however, the gums tingling delightfully with fruit and spice.
Oak-driven and tightly wound, with herbal licorice, beeswax, and dried peaches. There is a real outdoorsy quality here of forest floor, autumn leaves, and cut grass. But it feels somewhat tired and weary on the palate, then falls apart with the addition of water. Grab the older bottling (50% ABV). This release has dropped in both proof and quality.
Wilderness Trail Single Barrel Bottled in Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon (Barrel #14D07), 50%
Craft Whiskey | $52
It’s all about the grain on the nose: corncob, cooked mash, along with hay and grass, brown sugar, and earthy dried herbs. Chewy tannins overtake more subtle fruit and spice notes in the mouth; add a little water to reveal grape jelly, milk chocolate, and cinnamon candy. An impressive start from this young Kentucky distillery, though the short finish shows it has some developing yet to do. (236 bottles)
There’s no missing the peat here; the nose is rife with ash, rubber tires, wood-burning fireplace, and cedar bark. But it also reveals lovely aromas of roasted apples, charred corn, black pepper, and roasted walnuts. Sweet corn, apples, honey, and nuts step forward on the palate, which is a bit hot, along with black pepper, cinnamon, dark chocolate, and oak. The finish is enjoyable ashiness—the end of a cigar.
A much darker dram, with smoke from log fires, chocolate, toasted oak, crispy bacon, and dark toffee, but this really drills home the smoke, which dominates over the other characteristics. Toffee, malt, dark cherry, smoking oak, cinnamon, and pepper, but tasting is a rather linear experience. Some redeeming qualities, but it lacks the focus of the rest of the range. Finish of banana loaf and singed fruitcake.
Seattle bourbon made using Northwest grains. Aromas of goldenrod, golden raisins, and spicy stewed prunes; a panoply of alluring spices, chocolate, and oak. The palate carries through with similar notes, along with apricot and dark red fruits, but a dusty edge and an excess of tight, tannic green oak hold it back. Chili-chocolate spice, minerality, and lingering fruit on the finish. Impressive complexity, but somewhat woody and off-balance.
Whistle Pig raised the share of its own 2 year old rye from 20 percent to 32 percent in this second Farmstock release, balancing it against 6 and 10 year old sourced ryes, like in the 001 release. Fresh oak mixes with vanilla, orange peel, and pepper on the nose, leading to a palate of vanilla and butterscotch. Citrus emerges with water. Pepper notes return on the finish, along with chocolate and caramel. There’s youthfulness here, but also potential.
On the nose, the peat presents itself as an autumn bonfire, with dried logs and dried leaves mingling with gentle spices of white pepper, dried ginger, and a bit of salinity. The wood keeps burning through the palate, which is fairly hot and replete with classic bourbon flavors of vanilla, caramel, roasted nuts, and apples. Pleasant enough, but ultimately a simple whiskey.
Though it takes some easing into, this whiskey shows pretty clove and vanilla notes on the nose, along with some Elmer’s glue and grape Kool-Aid. The palate is where the rye grain starts to shine, with spice, peaches, plums, and milk and white chocolate, and cooked cherries on the finish. Water is a must to cut through the youthful heat.
The black-labeled Carbon relates to heavily charred casks, which bring aromas of toffee, raisin, chocolate, dark concentrated fruits, barbecued meat, and ashy soot. The smokiness broods malevolently if you leave the glass. The texture feels too light to shoulder the flavors of dark char, toffee, spice, and dark fruity chocolate as the balance becomes swamped in smoke. It’s like a young child wearing their father’s thickest winter overcoat. (Global Travel Retail only)
This is one for the oak fanatics. Wood and grain assert themselves right from the start, but the nose retains balance with aromas of butterscotch, fresh ginger, and herbs. The oak-forward palate shows pleasant flavors of cherry cough drop, dark chocolate, blackberries, red licorice, star anise, and ginger. Oak continues on the finish, which has nice length. Don’t be shy about adding water.
Bourbon made with Arkansas corn, soft red winter wheat, and malted barley. White flowers, citrus, fresh dill, and wet cardboard on the nose. The palate is woody and somewhat harsh, with some chocolate, raspberry, and ground pepper flavors. Quite dry, with tannic oak and sticky pine. Bitter oak on the finish. Primarily wood-driven; the oak overpowers the other flavors.
Oak-forward with gentle sweetness and light in body, this is a simple and enjoyable enough, with straightforward vanilla and toasted nuts. The finish is a touch astringent, as the drying oak tannins slightly overwhelm the modest fruit.
Heat and peat dominate the nose—this is young and fiery, with rubber, bonfire, cedar chest, charred corn, and apple aromas. The palate continues to burn, though with a nice amount of grilled meat, red fruit, and flavored tobacco notes, especially when water is added. Unfortunately, the smoke is not so well-integrated and it shows on the finish, which has a cloying sweet ashiness.