Captivating, enticing, and wonderfully charming, this first blended malt from Chivas Regal contains selections of five Speyside malts: Strathisla, Longmorn, Tormore, Allt-a-Bhainne, and Braeval. Red apple, cherry, raspberry fudge, peach and mango fruit salad, dusting of cinnamon, and dry heather sprigs. In essence, it’s rich and satisfying, with dark vanilla, apricot, Bourneville-covered Brazil nuts, and tangerine, smoothed over by caramel and wood spices, maltiness, and gingersnap biscuits. Quite heavenly. Editor's Choice
Celebrating the 60th anniversary of a Parisian retailer, this represents the most mature Redbreast of the modern era. Rich dark prunes, papaya, and the aroma of polished antique furniture. Treacle, oily and weighty, baked apple, Black Forest gateaux, char, and sizzling spices, with new flavors appearing minute by minute. Water encourages cherry to the nose and pomegranate to the taste buds. The faithful will respond to the call. (540 bottles, La Maison du Whisky only) €490
This 100% rye-grain whisky is distilled in Alberta, then shipped to Sonoma, California for final touches. Finished in new American oak, batch PSA3 is one of the tastiest U.S. bottlings of Canadian rye ever. Soft caramels cushion ethereal honeysuckle, blackened firewood, and lusty rye spices on a framework of pulling oak tannins. Hugely complex, with new rewards in every sip.
A blend of three rye and three bourbon barrels ranging from 10 to 33 years old. Powerful and mouth-coating. Initially, a French bakery, with caramel, vanilla, and torched brown sugar dominating. Then, more complex notes, such as cinnamon roll, coconut, chocolate, slight hints of oak, allspice, hints of smoked paprika, chipotle, roasted almond, and Polish sweet bread. A long finish offers fruit and nutmeg. Tasty sipper at the perfect proof.
Jaw-dropping: Aberlour 1973, Bunnahabhain 1968 and 1969, Bowmore 1968, Caperdonich 1972, Glen Grant 1974, Glenfarclas 1966, Glenlivet 1968 and 1970, Highland Park 1967 and 1970, and Macallan 1969. It includes a 14% grain content from Caledonian 1974, Carsebridge 1970, Girvan 1974, Invergordon 1972, Lochside 1966, North of Scotland 1974, and Port Dundas 1973. An elegant, refined mélange of peach, pear, soft oak, and rose cream florals, with dark fruit, chocolate, and fine pepper. Outstanding.
Floor 5 of the Kavalan warehouse is packed with their best sherry casks. The story begins with sultana, Brazil nut, vanilla pod, dates, and chocolate macaroons. The palate has ripe fruit, cherry, date, coffee, candied orange, chocolate, mocha, fruit pastilles, and some pepper, ending with bitter coffee notes. Cutting the strength provokes more citrus, though it reverts back to mocha eventually. Outstanding whisky and definitely the best of the bunch. (499 bottles)
Recognizably Spice Tree, but it’s richer, more dapper, traveling in style, and wearing better shoes. Peanut brittle, toasted coconut, and pale, light sherry. Honeyed palate with caramelized sugar, red apple, and red berry fruit before the gingersnaps and clove bite. It revs up with another spicy blast for the finish. A tasty fifth Tenth Anniversary bottling from Compass Box; just don’t let yesterday take up too much of today. (12,240 bottles)
There has been an excellent streak of Islay blended malts recently, and here is another worthy contender from the Spencerfield Spirit Company. This one offers the sizzle of bacon fat, thick clods of peat, cocoa, and breezy smoke. The rounded palate has sweet satsuma, spice, generous malty notes, and burnt caramel. The wafting smoke builds until it engulfs the back of the palate. You will be wanting one of these.
Rich and intense nose, with paradise cake, honey, dried apple, plum, and crème d’abricot. The mouthfeel is dry, nutty, and fruity, with a silky consistency. The cask strength is more noticeable here, but as it dissipates, there is some late complexity of plum skin and coffee bean with wave after effortless wave of flavor lasting for minutes on end. Finish is hot and nutty, with moist coffee grains. (499 bottles)
Masterson’s bottles singular rye whisky. Yes, this 100% rye-grain whisky is sourced, but finishing by 3 Badge Beverage in French oak casks makes it their own. Booming, gingery spices cavort on a creamy, leathery, almost oily palate. Snappy sour pickles and vague herbal notes contrast pointedly with sweet vanilla and hints of milk chocolate, dried black fruit, and aromatic pipe tobacco.
Containing some precious closed distillery stocks, this feels like the height of luxury with its aromas of clove-studded oranges, cinnamon sticks, rich chocolate, and caramels. It’s slick and mouth-coating, emitting flavors of butter toffee, orange, and melted chocolate, with a nibble of ginger sponge, Jaffa cakes, and clove. It’s smooth and impeccably well mannered. (Global Travel Retail only)
A 7 year old single barrel. Fruit and flowers jump out of the glass, with caramel popcorn and dried apricot not far behind. Caramel, berry fruit, and baking spices develop into complex and rounded notes of crème brûlée, blackberries, blueberry pie, burnt brown sugar, coconut, and pumpkin pie with extra nutmeg. Long finish delivers a hint of peach cobbler crust. The perfect example of a below 90-proof whiskey with complexity. (Liquor Barn Springhurst exclusive)
This dark dram is distilled from malted and unmalted rice along the Kuma river in Hitoyoshi. The nose is redolent of stewed prunes, raisins, plum wine, and walnut, with a palate of treacle, molasses, burnt sugar, licorice, prune, dark fruits, mocha, praline, and nuttier elements. Skillfully, it never veers into bitterness. This should rock the boat for those who love a huge sherried-style whisky. (506 bottles)
Triple distilled and fully matured in bourbon casks, this single malt has a sweet, soft, and inviting nose of crisp green apples, vanilla custard, and lemon butter biscuits. Soft lemon meringue pie on the palate. Sweeter orange breaks through with a little spice on the fringes, then hits its stride with dried fruits and baked apple. A final flourish of spice and candied peel rounds off this excellent whiskey. Value Pick
This year’s liquid missive from head distiller Brian Nation has a nose of caramel, macaroons, and beeswax with green, grassy notes. The first sip evokes barley sugar, which grows into a citrus glow, nourished by some green oak and a little white pepper. It has lovely poise this year, effortlessly lighter on the tongue than the 2015 or 2014 creations. The conclusion is slightly nutty with soothing oak.
This 42 year old expression was matured in a single American oak hogshead (#4606) and offers a lovely mature, fruity nose, especially peaches and pineapple, plus vanilla and marzipan. Smooth and rich on the palate, with sherry, hessian, and spicy pineapple. Dries steadily but satisfyingly, with a hint of smoky fruit. Another veteran classic from the team at Forres. (52 bottles) £1,400
This is comprised of whisky aged in a bourbon barrel, a 30 year old Matusalem sherry butt, and a Colheita port pipe. Figs and malt on the early nose; resinous, with tangerines, vanilla, and soft leather. Slightly thin on the palate, but very smooth, with spiced orange, dates, and coffee grounds. Dries very slowly in the finish, with persistent orange, a sprinkling of black pepper, and a suggestion of mouth-drying oak. (1,000 bottles per year for five years)
Quintessence is the first single malt to have undergone secondary maturation in five different types of California red wine casks: zinfandel, pinot noir, syrah, merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Sweet sherry, ripe cherries, marzipan, and white pepper on the nose. Rich and mouth-coating; strong flavor of thick-cut orange marmalade, oloroso sherry, malt, and milk chocolate. The finish features gentle warming spice and lingering Jaffa orange. Plain chocolate and orange notes seem as though they are never going to end! £1,000
The first release in Glenmorangie’s new Vintage Collection, named Bond House No.1 after the 19th century warehouse that became the distillery’s new stillhouse in 1990. Matured in a mix of bourbon and sherry casks. Mandarins, honey, and vanilla on the floral nose. Very smooth on the palate, with malt, vanilla, more honey, and milk chocolate orange. Attractive soft oak notes and gentle herbal spice in the medium to long finish.
The first Batch Strength expression of Tamdhu appeared in 2015 and was also matured entirely in sherry casks and not chill filtered. Big, sweet sherry notes on the nose, with vanilla, sultanas, maraschino cherries, and Turkish Delight. Rich and full-bodied, with oloroso sherry, milk chocolate, vanilla, dates, ripe cherries, sweet oak, and allspice. The finish is sweet and long, with lingering, lively spices. A very quaffable, well-priced dram for sherry bomb lovers.
High West A Midwinter Nights Dram Act 4 Scene 5, 49.3%
Rye Whiskey | $80
A blend of straight rye whiskeys finished in French oak and port barrels. Gobs of fruit (red and black raspberry, plum, dried citrus) and crisp mint on a bed of caramel and vanilla. Lingering cinnamon and fruit on the finish. Distinctive and impressive.
WhistlePig The Boss Hog III: The Independent 14 year old, 60.3%
Canadian | $300
So much wood, so beautifully integrated into dry straw, black fruits, and tart, pink grapefruit juice. Dry, with a farmy earthiness, and like the scotch hogsheads it was finished in, bigger than life. Icing sugar, red wine, and floral perfume. WhistlePig was the original U.S.-bottled Canadian 100% flavoring rye and after 4 years flexing in Vermont its muscles are enormous.
Damson jam, herbal undertones, banana leaf, scallions, and clean, fresh oak notes. Burst of red fruit; raspberry, strawberry, rosehip, and sherry with lips tingling from the PX spices, citrus enters the fray, then chewy butter toffees. Wonderful complexity and flavor trajectory, it rounds off on a strawberry note. It is great to find a heavyweight whisky that is perfectly approachable at cask strength. The finish stays juicy, with vibrant spices. (502 bottles)
Kavalan Ex-Bourbon Cask Strength Single Cask, 57.8%
Taiwanese Whisky | $175
Delicately complex. Dried vanilla, pineapple, toasted coconut, tangerine, and cream. A kiss of honey and polished oak on the finish. Quite lovely and very versatile; it would make a delicious pre-dinner dram. (Julio’s Liquors and Loch & K(e)y exclusive)
Stalk & Barrel cask strength 100% rye whisky takes rye into innovative new flavor territory. Rye spices, rose water, vanilla, earthy tones, and dark rye bread on first nosing are all typical of rye. However, once it broadens into linen, oilcloth, linseed oil, high fruity esters, malt, and breakfast cereal (Weetabix?) it’s all wonderfully original. A real honey barrel. Dang!
Yellowstone 2016 Limited Edition Bourbon 7 year old, 50.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $100
A blend of 7 and 12 year old bourbons, married in new toasted barrels. Vanilla, caramel-coated berries, orchard fruit, cinnamon, soft mint, and teasing toasted coconut-spiked chocolate. Dry, spicy oak finish. Nicely integrated. Excellent combination of youth and maturity.
Think of walking in a prairie meadow at a state fair, the wind curving slight hints of grain, and then an explosion of cotton candy, marshmallow, and florals. Initial earth turns to powerful notes of smoked paprika, maple, salted caramel, and fried bread. Every note is pronounced and beautiful. A strong and long finish follows with an amalgamation of everything tasted, and then cinnamon appears out of nowhere. (Kentucky only)
Not the pimply youth you might be mistakenly expecting, this tongue-in-cheek release is impishly contemptuous of the regulations challenged by Glaser during the transparency debate. Lemon bonbon, heavy vanilla scents, beeswax boot polish, and white chocolate are well integrated with peat. The exotic fruits and citrus zest tumbling with golden syrup are knocked sideways by clove and pepper. Water provokes more sweet smoke. A dry, spicy, waxy finish remains. (3,282 bottles)
This is a 9 year old from the OBSF recipe. Brings to mind intense cinnamon over fruit, sprinkled on pumpkin bread, cooked in kettle popcorn, with a scone. Then there’s an explosion of caramel: crème brûlée, salted German chocolate cake, glazed doughnut holes, and caramel-drizzled baked peaches. Hints of smoke, ginger, tobacco, and clove. A delightfully long finish carries a hint of cinnamon for a must-have quaff. (Maisano’s Fine Wine and Spirits exclusive)
This is the ultimate PortWood expression from Balvenie and has been finished in 30 year old port pipes. A more vibrant and textured Travel Retail variant is non-chill filtered and bottled at 47.6%. Soft, red grape notes, vanilla, and milk chocolate on the nutty nose. Very discreet smoke. Rich plum flavors in the mouth, dark berries covered in cream, and spicy honey. The finish is long and elegantly drying.
Nutty on the nose, with a whiff of new leather and tropical fruit, plus the aroma of unsmoked cigars. Complex on the full palate, with almonds, citrus fruit, ginger, plain chocolate, a slight herbal note, and sweet oak. The finish is long and spicy, with black pepper and increasing oak. An often underrated single malt at its very best. (1,600 bottles)
The 8th Private Edition release. This one is finished in sun-baked casks which previously contained Malmsey Madeira. A predominantly sweet and fruity whisky, with caramel, honeyed almonds, peaches in syrup, and orange scone. Soft, soothing finish. Delicious!
The oldest house bottling of Longmorn to date is non-chill filtered and lavishly presented in a purple casket, which probably accounts for a chunk of the purchase price. The nose is classic Longmorn: soft and sweet, majoring in honey, hazelnuts, caramel, and milk chocolate, while the creamy palate features orchard fruits, ginger, and allspice. The finish is lengthy and softly spiced, with honey, orange, and sweet oak.
Elijah Craig Small Batch Single Barrel Bourbon 10 year old, 47%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $35
Subtly complex and nicely rounded. A bed of sweetness (caramel, vanilla) peppered with honey-kissed fruit, golden raisin, and a hint of marzipan. Pleasing oak grip and dried spice on the finish. A great value for such a high-quality bourbon. (Loch & K(e)y exclusive)
Soft berry fruits and roasted spices, draped in the wine flavors of the California Cabernet Sauvignon barrique. The flavors start softly, with rhubarb, apple, blackberry fruit, and Brazil nut before a spice steamroller rattles through, jettisoning licorice and star anise over cooked fruits. The reverberations of the spices continue through a dry finish. With the grain as a canvas, the wine’s colors work particularly well here.
The feedback loop is short when the guys who make the whisky also pour it for consumers. This “tweaked” version of Red Label blends home-distilled corn, rye, and single malt whiskies with a sourced base. Tweaking the proportions yields a brighter, bolder, and crisper whisky than the original, with soaring esters, fragrant flowers, succulent vanillas, and brisk spices.
Gordon & MacPhail (distilled at Strathisla) 1967, 43%
Single Malt Scotch | $763
Part of the Rare Vintage range, this was matured in first-fill sherry butts. Spicy sultanas and figs on the nose, plus a menthol note. Fragrant old hessian. The palate is initially malty-sweet, with sherried Christmas cake notes, then plain chocolate and raisins emerge. The finish is long, spicy, and drying in a leisurely manner, with the expected level of tannins for a whisky of this vintage.£620
There should be few qualms about snapping up this aged Highland gem given the blender’s prowess and the generous pricing. Ripe stone fruit, straw, sweet oak, and ground almond on the nose. For its advancing years, it’s quite a ride at full strength; thick, glossy, and mouth-coating with tangy sweet oranges, fudge, and candied citrus. Best sipped neat, it ebbs away with bright orange fruit and buzzy spices. (1,080 bottles) £200
This 2016 release in its ceramic flagon entices you with lemon, soft fruits, honey, digestive biscuits, and taffy candy. It’s dense and weighty; oozing with flavors of barley sugar, caramel, sweet oak, and some mature orange peel characteristics underpinned with ginger and pepper. Profoundly long, sweet finish pricked with bitter orange and spice. One of those great drams that you can happily imbibe at cask strength without dilution. (2,000 bottles)
Non-chill filtered and matured exclusively in bourbon casks. Very floral on the nose, with toffee and spicy new leather. Soft and slightly smoky in the mouth, with vanilla and spicy, ripe pears. A touch of licorice leads into a long, slightly drying finish. (670 bottles)
The distillery, founded in 1943, lies in Uttar Pradesh in the Himalayan foothills where they have been making whisky for 25 years. Chocolate, coffee, dried cranberry, and dark toffee notes. Across the tongue, chocolate-dipped dried fruit and citrus peel, apple, strawberry, raspberry, malt, and glimpses of cinnamon, ginger, and star anise. Great quality whisky, the flavor plateaus through to a medium-length finish of ginger with bitter cocoa notes.
Knappogue Castle 16 year old Twin Wood Limited Release, 40%
Irish | $100
The Twin Wood release is the result of refilling this triple distilled single malt from its bourbon casks into oloroso casks for a 21-month finishing period. This produced a wonderfully dry nose of macadamia nut, pepper, and baked apple crumble. Rich sweetness, more sherry fruit, and raspberry, which develop with plum notes, some bitter fruits, old chocolate, and a little heat. Fruity sweetness is maintained through the finish.
Gorgeous dried apricot, peach cobbler, vanilla custard, plus a hint of cherry-flavored pipe tobacco. Rich, layered, and rounded caramel, with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and allspice. Then earth, and lots of it, over a slightly chewy mouthfeel of caramel chew and Red Hots cinnamon candy. Medium finish counters wonderful bouquet and palate notes, but still lovely for sipping.
Fire is the first Highland Park expression to be fully matured in “refill port wine-seasoned casks” and it carries a 15 year age statement. Very fruity on the nose—raspberries and prunes —plus lightly-smoked pineapple and vanilla. More smoky, spicy fruit features on the palate, with a light sprinkling of cinnamon. The peat dries to leave ashy licorice and black pepper in a lingering finish. The port is pleasingly discreet. (4,938 bottles for the U.S.)
The 18 year old is Loch Lomond’s flagship single malt and marks the improvement in quality from this distillery during recent years. The nose offers peaches and vanilla, mild spice, pipe tobacco, and a hint of sweet wood smoke. Nicely textured, with bold, sweet, citrus fruit flavors, vanilla, almonds, and cocoa. Nutty, gently spicy, with cocoa and a hint of coffee in the lengthy, subtly peated finish.
Having replaced the 16 year old Longmorn with a no age statement Distiller’s Choice, owner Chivas Brothers reintroduced the16 year old. Vanilla, milk chocolate, and honey on the nose, plus quite intense sweet pear and apple notes. More rich fruit notes on the nicely textured palate, with vanilla and milk chocolate carrying over from the nose, plus raisins. The finish is long and silky smooth.
This straddles the existing Sherry Oak and Fine Oak ranges by being a mix of spirit matured in both European and American oak sherry casks. Earthy sherry and old leather on the nose, with toffee, polished oak, and cherry blossom. Medium to full-bodied, with sherry, orange, cocoa, nutty vanilla, and developing wood spices on the honeyed palate. The finish is creamy, with insistent spices, cocoa, and tangy oak.
This limited release was aged in seven cask types—both American and European oak in a variety of sizes—from four Spanish bodegas: Vasyma, Diego Martin, Jose Miguel Martin, and Tevasa. Citrus fruits, ginger, black pepper, light smoke, and rubbery leather on the nose. Ultimately, carnations. The palate is rich, nutty, and sweet, with malt, toffee, sticky sherry, maraschino cherries, milk chocolate, and gentle spice. Long in the finish, with spices and creamy cocoa.
This is the oldest core expression of Tomintoul’s Gentle Dram, now available in the U.S. It is a classic of this style of Speyside single malt. Peaches, malt, honey, vanilla, and developing floral notes on the nose. Full-bodied, with ripe apples, cocoa, milky coffee, honey, vanilla, and soft spices. Spicy and drying, with plain chocolate in the relatively lengthy, mellow finish.
Old Potrero Hotaling’s Single Malt Rye 16 year old, 50%
Rye Whiskey | $165
Soft and subtle aromas, but bolder on the palate. A base of creamy caramel is peppered with cinnamon heat, vanilla, brittle mint, and dried fruit. Firm oak grip on the finish balances the sweetness. Very enjoyable.
Clove-spiked orange, melon, pomegranate, cherry lozenge, and aniseed. Cherry, Strawberry Laces, growing spiciness, ginger, pepper, almost effervescent fruit jamminess. Later, citrus peel, vanilla. Finish has vanilla bitterness and fresh green herbal tones. Water keeps the fruit but boosts those spices on the finish. (532 bottles)
Insights developed from four generations making fine California wine are applied brilliantly to Masterson’s 100% rye-grain whisky. Finishing in Hungarian oak barrels lends softness to warm glowing spices, ripe Bing cherries, Granny Smith apples, and cocoa powder. Sandalwood follows, then Humbugs, farmy notes, sweet grainy beer mash, fragrant esters, and candy canes, on a slippery palate. Long, spicy, vanilla finish.
Rum barrels replace port wood in a reformulated Pike Creek. The sweetness of the rum finish accommodates higher proof and an extra 5% shot of rye, making this Pike Creek slightly fatter than the original. Crisp clean wood, sweet earthy fruitiness, brisk peppers, lovely tongue-tingling clove-like glow, cigarette tobacco, salt water taffy, raisins, dark plums, and tart fruit.
Rich and rounded vanilla, baking spices, caramel, and cast iron-baked cornbread straight from the oven. Hints of smoke, dried apricot, fresh-cut grass, and tilled earth. Then, raw honey, marzipan, raisins, and sweet oats, followed by baking spices for a medium to long finish. It’s very nice and needs no dilution to open up. Think of this as a high-proof sipper.
A limited edition cask strength blend of four single casks by Alasdair Day released to mark 100 years since the last entry in their blender’s historic cellar book. The nose has warm caramel, whole orange, and a dry, grassy, and gristy note. Rich orange envelops the mouth with golden caramel, shortbread, and underlying spices of ginger and pepper. Takes water well and retains its character; lots to like here.
The Lost Distillery Company Classic Selection Towiemore, 43%
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky | $43
Built between Keith and Dufftown in 1898, but closed at the start of the 30s, Towiemore’s warehouses were still in use until 1993. Fresh peaches and fragrant florals, rich orange, roasted almond chips, and hazelnut. Glenrothes connoisseurs will appreciate this one. Mellow and nutty with a good supple texture; baked peach, dried peel, mango, and light spices, with a candied peel and spice finish.
The first core bottling from Box is named after the Sami people’s word for winter. It’s around 5 years old and matured in bourbon casks, with 24% of the composition using malt kilned to 39 parts per million. Smoky peats and smoked ham in harmony with blossom honey, lemon zest, and pistachio shells. Vibrant orange and lemon notes settle to creamy toffee and Edinburgh rock, the last drops of citrus squeezing out in the finish. 479 SEK
This was matured in first-fill sherry, bourbon, French wine, and tempranillo casks. Initial brine on the nose gives way to malt and orchard fruits, sweet smoke, and buttery malt. Sweet, medicinal smoke notes on the early palate, then toffee and peaches drying to aniseed and chili. Long and prickly in the finish, with licorice and black pepper. A complex rendering of Port Charlotte.
Bruichladdich Octomore 10 Second Limited Edition, 57.3%
Single Malt Scotch | $235
Distilled in December 2005 using malt peated to a whopping 167 parts per million, this was matured in a mix of bourbon and Grenache Blanc casks. Old warm leather, rich smoke, developing peaty peach, chocolate-coated toffee, pipe tobacco, and iodine on the powerful nose. Huge peatiness in the mouth, oily, smoky orchard fruits, developing ginger nuts, and sea salt. Warming in the finish, with licorice, gunpowder tea, and ashy peat.
This just makes me happy. The nose brims with pure blossom honey, a dose of vanilla, whole peach, butter toffee, and an uplifting floral bouquet. A soothingly sweet and syrupy smooth concoction; this light-bodied whiskey of honey, caramel, and toffee feels like it should be dispensed with kindness in regular doses from a medicine spoon. The epitome of uncomplicated, easy-drinking, bourbon cask-matured whiskey.
An 8 year old from Wild Turkey’s Warehouse G, it’s classic Turkey on the nose, with a little spice, caramel, nutmeg, oak, and slight hints of lavender. Then sautéed barley, pecan shell, brown sugar, chewing tobacco, and bittersweet chocolate. An earthy oak note blossoms, with a layered caramel chew following this whiskey home to a medium finish. (Maisano’s Fine Wine and Spirits exclusive)
This limited edition bottling is non-chill filtered and initially matured in bourbon barrels before an unspecified period of finishing in sweet Moscatel fortified wine casks from Spain and Portugal. Sweet grapes, dates, cinnamon, salted butter, wax polish, and printer’s ink on the nose. Viscous on the palate, with ripe plums, honey, plain chocolate, white pepper, and worn leather. The finish is long and fruity, with drying oak.
Bruichladdich The Laddie Ten Second Limited Edition, 50%
Single Malt Scotch | $66
Matured in first-fill sherry, bourbon, and French wine casks. Clean and fresh on the early nose; crisp green apples, vanilla, and floral notes, with just a hint of maritime influence in the background. Smooth on the palate, with spicy pear, honey, and ripe peaches; soon quite drying. The floral finish lingers, with spicy honey, drying spices, and ultimately a hint of smoke. (18,000 bottles)
The oldest expression available from Speyburn, this has been aged in a mix of American oak fino sherry and bourbon casks, and is non-chill filtered. Vanilla, honey, lemon, and spice on the fragrant nose. Quite full-bodied and creamy on the palate; nutty, with malt, honey, and citrus fruit. The citrus fruit becomes spicier in the medium-length, oaky finish.
A composite of Tennessee and Kentucky whiskeys, finished in sherry butts and port pipes. It’s sherry-forward, but rich and layered in roasted nuts, caramel, dried caramel, vanilla cake batter, chocolate, chamomile, and roasted apple. Marzipan and honey flash with hints of hazelnut, pear, and molasses cookie over a slightly chewy mouthfeel. The medium to long finish gives a slight hint of citrus.
Here’s a perfect example of a bourbon-matured whiskey lit up by a sherry finish; you can sense the toffee aromas swathed in dark sherry, yielding flavors of raisin and fig. A beautiful velvety texture with flavors of cherry, dark orange, rich notes of chocolate-dipped dark berries, toffee sweetness, and wood spices. When a bitter note creeps in, swallow and enjoy the short finish of currants and mixed peel.
BenRiach Pedro Ximenez Sherry Wood Finish 15 year old, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $100
As the name implies, this non-chill filtered expression was finished in Pedro Ximinez sherry butts. The nose offers sweet sherry, honey, malt, and lemon, while the palate yields more sherry, plain chocolate, honey, spicy toffee, and a hint of orange. More spicy toffee, plus drying oak in the medium-length finish.
Initially matured in recharred puncheons, then transferred for an unspecified period into virgin American oak casks. The nose offers icing sugar and soft toffee, vanilla, clementine, and wood varnish. More icing sugar, with orange and fudge on the palate, plus wood spice and an herbal note. Fruity through the finish, while spice builds, with a hint of aniseed at the close. An interesting alternative to the classic sherry-rich GlenDronach style.
The Glenrothes (Vintage Cask #3) 1998 Vintage, 58.3%
Single Malt Scotch | $110
Lush and fruity. Sappy, with waxed fruit, golden raisin, plum, and nectarine rock candy. Mouth-clinging finish. Definitely post-prandial, after a hearty meal. (With a cigar, perhaps?) (Loch & K(e)y retailer exclusive)
Like its elder sibling, Loch Lomond 12 year old is presented in non-chill filtered form, and in this case, matured in a mix of bourbon, refill, and recharred casks. Ripe apricots, vanilla, and a suggestion of peat smoke on the nose. The full palate offers oranges and pears, plus developing spicy malt and mild peatiness. Long in the finish, with spicy fruit notes. Drying, with subtle tannins.
Thick orange peels, grapefruit, lime zest, and Starburst taffy candies keep the nose of this premium expression within the purview of the Black Bull character. Layers of vanilla custard, mellow fruit, and ginger snaps quench an initial rush of sharp citrus. Sponge cake creaminess abounds though the spices nibble at the edges, leaving a long, sweet, citrus finish. Water nips the more acidic elements while leaving the citrus flavors intact.
Amping up the original Blue has pushed this blend of own-distilled flavoring and sourced base whiskies deep into sipping territory. Crème brûlée and a soft vanilla nose become Werther’s caramels, until Still Waters’ signature rye spices and white pepper take charge. Add water and it blooms like a flower, dampening the spices and leaving a round, creamy, chocolate-like mouthfeel.
Nuts, plum, dried red fruits, plump berries, and oak on the nose, while the palate pours lush and fruity, with a sherry-like quality with pot still richness. Cigar wrapper, wet walnuts, and pine emerge to ride the wave of vanilla, soft malt, and spice-laced baked fruits. Offers the fruity allure of a Speyside malt coupled with American bravado for a long resinous and fruity finish.
Malt whisky from the Scottish Highlands finished in Virginia, in Virginia wine casks. A potpourri of red fruit (raspberry, currant, cherry), tangerine, caramel, honey, and marzipan. Polished leather, tobacco, and oak on the finish. The port influence smooths out the rough edges nicely and adds depth to this youthful, lively whisky. (Loch & K(e)y exclusive)
The MacPhail’s Collection 8 year old (distilled at Bunnahabhain), 43%
Single Malt Scotch | $45
Heavily peated Bunnahabhain spirit, referred to as Margadale, was used for this bottling and matured in refill sherry butts. Savory on the nose, with smoky brine, plain chocolate, and Granny Smith apples. The palate offers similar green apple notes, along with sweet peat, cocoa, and licorice. Wood smoke and pipe tobacco in the medium-length finish.
This is 3 years old, Indiana distilled, and has a “ladle” of Maryland spring water added. It includes two rye mashbills—one high, one low—breaking the mold from similar Indiana-distilled ryes. For its youth and strength, it immediately and amazingly feels mature, showing rich caramel, spearmint, and earth. The momentum slows with subtle blueberry rye muffin, black pepper, and cardamom. It finishes medium with a hint of cornbread.
This blend of double distilled single malt and grain has bourbon cask and American oak written all over it. The allure of spice, vanilla cream, cedar sticks, malt, cinnamon, and banana chips draws you in. Burning brown sugar sweetness and vanilla toffee meet the snappy acidity from orange, lime, and pineapple goaded by pepper and cardamom bystanders. Undoubtedly a great session whiskey, so throw away the cork.
This young whisky from the Mars Shinshu Distillery was matured in Japanese wine casks. Fragrantly aromatic with perfumed florals, apple blossom, and pastel-colored chalky candy. By way of explanation, Rindo means “gentian,” the mountain flower of Nagano. Its light texture is rather sweet, with caramel, mango, a piquancy of tart oranges, and a little underlying pepper and clove. A snarl of pepper and lingering soft fruits rounds things off. (8,200 bottles)
Glansa is described as a “peated whisky cask finish,” with the majority of its unspecified maturation time being spent in first-fill American oak casks. Madeira notes on the nose, with vanilla, honey, and pears. Richly fruity on the palate, with cocoa powder, vanilla, caramel, and mild wood smoke. Dark berries emerge from the background. The dark fruits continue through the lengthy finish, where smokiness increases.
High West American Prairie Bourbon (barrel #2683), 50.1%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $50
Finished 2 years in Quady Black Muscat barrels. Deep amber, ruby hues. Richly sweet, with raspberry preserve, pipe tobacco, dark chocolate, prune, honeysuckle, vanilla, and black tea. Dry leather finish cuts through the sweetness. Unique and peculiar. (Loch & K(e)y exclusive)
Kyloe is the old Scots name for the famous hairy, horned breed of Highland beef cattle, better known in Scotland as a Heilan coo. This bright NAS whisky has aromas of fresh orange, lemon, grapefruit, and light muscovado sugar. It is soft and sweet to drink, with lemon sherbet notes, some fruity piquancy, and rich butterscotch, with some peppermint creeping in on the finish.
A fusion of Japanese and Scotch whisky from the owners of the Mars Shinshu Distillery, who have recently opened a second distillery named Tsunuki. Dates, treacle, red cabbage, and maitake mushroom add intrigue. Light-textured, sweet and juicy, with burnished orange, toffee apple, dark caramel, but some lackluster spices. The texture becomes fatter with dilution, as damson flavors emerge. Finish of bonfire toffee, flat cola, raisins, and spice. £75
New in 2016, this is an NAS entry-level bottling for the brand, matured in bourbon barrels before spending a finishing period in oloroso sherry butts. Sweet and malty on the nose, a hint of mash, then pineapple. Becoming more floral, with violets. The palate offers soft fruit notes, cocoa powder, light sherry, and mixed nuts. The finish is medium in length, with milky coffee and soft spices.
The youngest age statement Bull in the fold, this one has shredded citrus peel, fleshy grapefruit, candied orange peel, and lemon meringue pie. Soft fudge, honey, tart lemon, and buttery pastry with a nip of peppery spice under the tongue complete a satisfying combination. A delicious everyday kind of dram, and I preferred this expression’s brightness and attack of the flavors over the 12 year old.
This 2016 release follows similar port and Madeira quarter cask-matured Kilchomans, with sauternes casks being pressed into service this time. The casks in question were sourced from Château d’Yquem and the whisky is 5 years old. Earthy peat, a savory note, vanilla, citrus fruit, and sweet wine on the nose, while the palate offers smoked haddock, tarry rope, and bonfire embers. The finish is relatively long, with fruity peat. (6,000 bottles)
Speyburn’s entry level NAS single malt takes its name from the Gaelic term for “golden salmon” and was matured in bourbon casks. The nose is light and youthful, with malt, vanilla, and unripe apples, while the palate offers more malt and vanilla, plus dry, spicy oak. The finish is medium in length and grassy, with ginger and further dry oak.
The Lost Distillery Company Classic Selection Lossit, 43%
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky | $43
The stills ran cold in this lost Islay distillery at Ballygrant in the 1860s. Excitingly acrid smoke on the nose: like fireworks or the smoking muzzle of a rifle mingled with summer lemons and crunchy green pear. Poached pears in cream, greengages, and peppercorns meet a stealthy, sour gooseberry takeover. Fades to a chalky, sour fruit plateau before a chili heat finish.
This whiskey portrays its coastal origin with a lovely sea-air quality that vies for attention with brown sugar, beeswax, and delicate smoke notes. Gentle peatiness weaves through the cocoa-tinged honeyed malt on the palate, culminating in a smoldering finish, where the mouthwatering saltiness seals the deal. Nicely integrated and well balanced, with fine pot still character. A single malt of pale and peated malts, aged 7 years in bourbon barrels.
An intriguing whiskey, this smells like a flat, warm beer that was so good you still want to drink it the next day. Triple distilled from Samuel Adams Boston Lager, the hop notes are quite identifiable and really work well, imparting citrus, pine, and floral aromas. The palate is medium-bodied, with marshmallow sweetness, stone fruits, guava, and passion fruit, sprinkled with sea salt. Unusual, yet delicate, lively, and almost refreshing.
Brenne has a fruity, vinous demeanor unlike anything else on the whisky market, and this year’s bottling deploys a greater use of Cognac barrels. Ripe honeydew melon, poached pear, strands of lemon and mandarin, and warm, creamed rice pudding. Mandarin segments in watermelon juice liberally sprinkled with pepper, then some fudge-like sweetness emerges, barbed with fennel. The French oak spices persist into the finish, heaping on the pepper and licorice.
A.D. Laws Four Grain Straight Bourbon Cask Strength (barrel 48), 57%
Craft Whiskey | $78
An intense nose offers complexity with minty herbal notes, licorice, fresh-sawn oak, and peppery spice at the forefront, giving way to pithy orange peel on the palate. With a bit of water to subdue the punch, this becomes impressively smooth and fruity, revealing sandalwood aromas and offering a lovely, long finish of candied orange and sweet chocolate-covered cherries. 60% corn, 20% wheat, 10% rye, 10% barley.
A solid presence in the range, the strength and malt content continue to mark these out over their contemporaries. Grapefruit peels, sliced juicy orange, and lemon butter icing on the nose. The palate is thinner than others in the range, with crystallized orange, fudge, plus cardamom and mild pepper. The finish of sugared satsumas is boosted by a long lasting trail of spices.
This is a non-chill filtered bottling. Initially, it’s perfume-centric with highly floral notes until a grain neutralizer sets in, with hints of caramel and vanilla. Cornbread, honey, and slight hints of pepper, herbs, and tobacco. Finishes short with a mouthful of lovely sweet corn pudding.
The Lost Distillery Company Classic Selection Benachie, 43%
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky | $43
Benachie, formerly known as Jericho, was an Aberdeenshire distillery built southeast of Huntly that existed from 1822–1913. A dark amber dram with a nose of marmalade, ground almond, cherry lips, and vanilla essence. Attractive, but not overly aromatic. Cooked plums after a peppery rush begin an attenuated flavor journey, exiting with a spicy finale.
Caramel corn, vanilla cream, citrus, evergreen, and a peppering of cinnamon. Soft oak finish. Pleasant, straightforward, youthful, and uncomplicated. Would prefer to see it bottled at a higher strength.
When one imagines the Indiana ryes, this maximizes every note on the nose, warming up with mint, dill, oak, macerated cherries, and a ton of baking spices. There’s a bit of a medicinal palate property in cherry throat lozenge form, followed by oak and chocolate. Its best attribute is an unexpected long finish with a big bite of candied ginger.
Mosswood Barrel Aged American Whiskey 9 year old, 46%
Miscellaneous | $50
Finished in barrels that once held nocino, a walnut liqueur. This whiskey immediately offers chocolate, oak, leather, vanilla, roasted pecans, and smoke-fired marshmallow. Then port, oatmeal stout, cherry cola, nutmeg, applesauce, roasted nuts, and caramel. The final notes are soft, but an extremely short finish erodes the palate’s promise.
A.D. Laws Secale Straight Rye Bottled in Bond (batch BBL #4), 50%
Craft Whiskey | $75
A nice jolt of violets, pepper, and sawn oak on the nose is underscored by some green stick and leafy sassafras notes, turning a bit more dark and chewy on the palate, with caramel, figgy fruit, green peppercorns, and a long and bold finish dominated by dark chocolate. Softens up nicely with water, and reveals more fruitiness.
A.D. Laws Secale Rye Mash 2nd Fill Oak (batch BBL #4X), 50%
Craft Whiskey | $40
The oak is nicely subdued and integrated here, allowing buttered fruits to show through—baked spiced apple and poached pear—laced with spearmint and bay leaf. The creamy palate is nicely balanced with baking spices of cinnamon and clove and hints of pepper, giving way to a pleasantly drying, chalky finish. Price is per 375 ml.
Soft, creamy, and corn-driven, with sweet stone fruit and char aromas up front. The palate delivers on the nose; simple, direct, and enjoyable, pleasantly soft and creamy, then turning slightly nutty with sweet praline sweetness and a touch of cocoa. While lacking in complexity and verve, it shows smoothness for a whiskey aged less than 2 years.
This whiskey pours light, sweet, and pure, with fresh bread and honeyed malt up front while displaying some evident youth to the spirit. The palate offers warm cereals, floral notes, Bit-O-Honey candy, and malty sweetness on the palate. Not especially complex, but delicate, clean, and pretty.
Beginning with charcoal smoke, oak, herbs, and vanilla, grains set in, in the form of cornbread, rye muffin, and spelt pasta. This 3 year old lacks the mouthfeel or richness one hopes for in a rye. The finish is flat and short. This is an okay cocktail mixer, but lacks the oomph for a sipper.
This composite includes 28 year old barrels that yielded a flavor profile similar to pre-Prohibition blends. Smoke, mint, herbs, dandelion, chamomile, and horehound. Earthiness warms the palate with a slight hint of whole-grain toast. A medium finish shows a bit of black licorice. This style is so reminiscent of early 1900s whiskeys that it’s a must-pour for a palate history lesson. You just don’t taste these notes elsewhere.
Wyoming Whiskey Private Stock Bourbon Unfiltered 6 year old, 56.55%
Craft Whiskey | $45
Generously oaky, with sawdust, horse saddle, vanilla, honey, and a chalky, mineral quality on the nose. The palate is mouth-coating, with a full-bodied punch of sweet fruit, caramel, treacle, and heat, but even with dilution, the astringent wood tannins, chalk dust, and dry leathery finish come on too quickly. The rare craft bourbon that might have been better a bit younger. (Loch & K(e)y exclusive)
Fruit driven, with banana and circus peanuts candies, florals, and violet candies, this turns more peppery and minty on the palate, where warm cereal meets some varnish notes with a bit of heat and slight bitterness that makes it feel a bit rough around the edges. 100% Montana and Canada rye, aged 2 years in full-sized barrels.
Campfire smoke, fusel notes, green twigs, and rhum agricole give a rustic edge to this big and broad-shouldered whiskey. Full-bodied with an attitude, the sweet clover honey, oily character, and lingering burnt sugar bitterness feel a bit disjointed. Pot distilled and aged in charred oak for 3 years.
Sourced whiskey from MGP, it’s fairly muted with hints of dill, oregano, basil, sawdust, hay, and mint. Then vegetal, cherry cough syrup, and candy corn notes over cola, maple, and oak. Traces of baking spices appear just before sweet syrup over an extremely short finish. Although many notes appeared, none were particularly pronounced.