Review: Top 10 Rated Whiskies in the Next Issue of Malt Advocate
The next issue of Malt Advocate mails on October 1. Some of the items in the Buyer’s Guide are limited edition whiskies, so hopefully getting this information early will help you stay ahead of the pack.
96 The Glenlivet Cellar Collection, 1969 vintage, 50.8%, $750
It’s great that Glenlivet releases whiskies under the “Cellar Collection” label. It really shows the true potential of Glenlivet. This bottling is classic ultra-matured Glenlivet, and rivals the 1959 vintage Cellar Collection as the best one ever. An incredibly complex whisky, with notes of vanilla, ripe barley, coconut, and caramel. All this is accentuated by glazed orange, hazelnut, and a potpourri of dried spices. Not the least bit tired for such an aged whisky. (Only 800 bottles for the U.S.)
95 Highland Park, Cask #13308, 1973 vintage, 33 year old, 54.4%, $280
Dark and decadent. Notes of old pot still rum, roasted nuts, chocolate fudge, burnished leather, Dundee cake, tobacco, and a hint of damp peat. When I drink this, I feel like I’m sitting in the study of a stately Scottish mansion contemplating a fine, aged Cuban cigar. Royalty in a glass. (Bottled for Binny’s Beverage Depot)
95 Parker’s Heritage Collection, First Edition, 1996 vintage, 61.3%, $80
There are two noteworthy items regarding this whiskey. It’s the first barrel-proof whiskey released by Heaven Hill for the U.S. market. It’s also the first of what will be an ongoing series of releases under the “Parker’s Heritage Collection” label. This one is rich, with thick toffee, molasses, vanilla fudge, and Heath bar. It’s also well balanced, with underlying exotic spice, summer fruit, dusty corn, and tobacco to balance the sweeter notes. Long, soothing, finish. A nicely matured bourbon of character and pedigree.
94 Highland Park, Cask #7957, 1977 vintage, 29 year old, 48.5%, $300
A delicious, well-balanced, ultra-matured expression of Highland Park. Toffee apples, molasses, and vanilla fudge provide a sweet foundation, with evolving notes of dark chocolate, dry spicy oak, tobacco, subtle smoke, and lingering brine on the finish. Nicely done. (Bottled for Old Oaks Cigar & Wine Company)
93 Highland Park, Cask #691, 1983 vintage, 23 year old, 59.8%, $150
Very sophisticated and subtly complex. Perhaps the lightest-colored of the bunch. Fresh, appetizing brine and spice (cinnamon, vanilla, white pepper, and clove) on a bed of soft honey and creamy vanilla, with just a hint of fruit. The notes are bright, clean, and tight. Spicy, briny finish. A beautifully delicate Highland Park. (Bottled for Green’s)
93 Balvenie, Cask #17893, 1974 vintage, 52.8%, $600
The newest offering from the impressive Balvenie vintage cask line. Honey, caramel custard, and Seville orange notes, with evolving—and increasingly noticeable—dried spice, oak resin, and leather that integrates well with the sweet, fruity notes. Incredible depth and complexity. The Balvenie vintage reputation remains intact.
92 Four Roses Barrel Strength, 13 year old, 52.1%, $70
A single barrel offering to celebrate Distillery Manager Jim Rudtledge’s 40 years in the industry. Dry, botanical, and teasingly complex, with bright fruit, crisp spice, and complex oak. Its dryness is prevalent throughout—the maturity is evident—but never excessively so, and there’s always a soft interplay of honey and vanilla. A very elegant whiskey.
92 Four Roses Single Barrel, Barrel #87-6L, 50%, $40
A fuller-bodied, sweeter encounter than Barrel #55-6F reviewed below. More rounded and even-keeled throughout, too! Chewy toffee, rummy molasses, and nougat, with underlying notes of dark, berried fruit, accentuating spice, and supple leather. The heavyweight of the group.
92 Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Zinfandel Aged Bourbon, 14 year old, 45%, $50/375 ml
Aged in Zinfandel barrels for eight years after spending six years in new charred oak. Intriguing spice (mint, cocoa, cinnamon), along with molasses, roasted nuts, and delicately textured fruit (blackberry, boysenberry). Nice interplay between the fruit, sweet notes, and dried spice which emerges on the second half of the palate.
92 Highland Park, Cask #8998, 1974 vintage, 31 year old, 45.4%, $438
Antique gold, relatively light in color compared to the rest of the Highland Parks reviewed here. Nicely rounded on the nose and palate, and surprisingly youthful for such maturity. Mouth-coating texture. Quite fruity—especially with some water—with notes of honey-drenched citrus, sultana, key lime pie, and melon. Caramel and bitter chocolate notes emerge, with the chocolate and a wisp of smoke lingering on the finish. I could drink this all day and never tire of it. (Bottled for Virginia ABC)