Top 10 Whiskies from the Summer 2017 Buying Guide

The Summer 2017 issue hits newsstands on June 6th and includes over 80 new reviews of scotch, bourbon, Irish, Canadian, and many more whiskies. We’re unveiling the top ten highest-scoring bottles from the Buying Guide, including bourbons from Wild Turkey, Elijah Craig, and Four Roses; Crown Royal’s latest addition to the Noble Collection; a very mature Teeling Irish whiskey; and one of the core scotches from GlenDronach.

High West Bourye (Batch 17A09)
92 points, 46% ABV, $80


Straight bourbon and rye whiskeys aged from 10 to 14 years, this nicely balances its dry oak, almost cedary, aromas with bourbon sweetness and a rye finish. The initial hit of orange peel, caramel, and vanilla flan yields to a spicy finish of lemon zest, peppercorns, and ginger. —Jeffery Lindenmuth

Wild Turkey Masters Keep Decades
93 points, 52% ABV, $150

When earth meets sweet in whiskey, it’s a beautiful thing. Here, soil tilled deep, fresh-cut grass, and mushrooms meet leather and dark chocolate, followed by dill, oregano, and oak. Caramel and vanilla explode over a heavy dose of cinnamon. There’s more: apple fritters, spice, and saltwater taffy tingle the palate until the long finish introduces, for the first time, a hint of doughy pie crust. A must-have. —Fred Minnick

The Last Drop 50 year old Double Matured
93 points, 51.8% ABV, $4,500

TLD’s sixth release captivates with dark caramel, Brazil nut, polished oak, cacao, scorched earth, grilled field mushroom, and roasted coffee bean aromas. To sip is to submit to a discombobulating whirl of cherry and jellied black fruits replete with old sherry characteristics, replaced by an unctuous, oily base, torn asunder by seething spices of clove, pepper, and star anise. Ever-changing. Muted exit of dulled spice, browning apple, and eucalyptus. (898 bottles) —Jonny McCormick

GlenDronach 21 year old Parliament
93 points, 48% ABV, $262

Part of the core range from GlenDronach, Parliament has been aged in a mix of oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks and is non-chill filtered. Quite sweet sherry on the nose, with fresh leather, nutty peach notes, cloves, and pepper. Rich sherried fruits on the full palate, with more pepper, ginger, and plain chocolate. The finish is long, with licorice and oak tannins. Not to be rushed! —Gavin D Smith

Exclusive Blend 1993 23 year old
93 points, 50% ABV, $145

You are missing a trick if you don’t snap up these small batch blended malts when you see them. Savory beef juices, black fruits, particularly black currant, loose Keemun tea, and dense oak characteristics. Sweet baked orange with notable alcohols initially, then tangy with caramelized brown sugar, butterscotch, dark rum, Brazil nut, pepper, cacao, and black currant puree. With water, it tastes deliciously of chocolate. A serious heavyweight whisky. —Jonny McCormick

Douglas Laing Old Particular (distilled at Carsebridge) 33 year old 1982
93 points, 45.4% ABV, $100

You little beauty! Maple syrup, pecan, sliced peach, and vanilla-laden bread-and-butter pudding. Soft baked-apple tart, smooth sticky toffee pudding, red apples, oozing with caramels and a fine layer of spice. The mouthfeel is silky, rounded, and effortlessly elegant. Finish of walnut, clove, and marron glacé. Douglas Laing has brought out some amazing grains lately, but this is better than ever. (K&L Wines exclusive, 233 bottles) —Jonny McCormick

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (Batch A117)
94 points, 63.5% ABV, $70

Here, a perfect harmony delivers crème brûlée, butterscotch, fruit, cinnamon, and rising cornbread. Right away complexity sets in, delivering salted baked almonds, cashews, dried apricot, pistachio gelato, Nutter Butters, salted caramel popcorn, rye toast with brown sugar butter, and sugarcane. Somehow, a drop of water makes it even more complex, amplifying the butterscotch and presenting cinnamon-soaked roasted pecans and almonds. Pure bliss; a must-sip. —Fred Minnick

Crown Royal Noble Collection Wine Barrel Finished
94 points, 40.5% ABV, $60

The first expression of the Crown Royal Noble Collection was our Canadian Whisky of the Year in 2016 and this one outdoes the original. This release features the standard Crown Royal Fine De Luxe finished in cabernet sauvignon barrels. To an already complex blend of vanilla, delicate flowers, and fruits, add canned peach syrup, pears, and white plums, with smoldering pepper and grape skin tannins on the finish. —Davin de Kergommeaux

Teeling Vintage Reserve Collection 24 year old
96 points, 46% ABV, $499

Wow—the nose is spellbinding. An exuberant mix of heavy fruit and deep sweetness: crème brûlée, vanilla pod, fruit syrups, sticky jam tarts, and apricot stone. Silken mouthfeel, with orange flan and brown sugar, growing increasingly tangy, with peppery spice rippling over the tongue and hints of smoke at the end. Oak char and marzipan fruits on the finish. The bar has been set high for Irish whiskey this year. (5,000 bottles) —Jonny McCormick

Four Roses 2017 Small Batch Limited Edition Al Young’s 50th Anniversary
96 points, 54.49% ABV, $150

A caramel-laden fruit bouquet, followed by unending vanilla, leather, tobacco, cotton candy, marshmallow, quince, cinnamon, hints of juniper, and wildflowers. Then, brown sugar butter and maple syrup over buttermilk pancakes, Cracker Jack, raw honey, bittersweet chocolate, and hints of pecan shell. Extremely long finish with a fried apple pie note. An incredibly complex and intense, must-have sipper. Perfection. —Fred Minnick

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