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Winter 2020 Editors' Choice: Barrell, Highland Park, The Legendary Dark Silkie

Winter 2020 Editors' Choice: Barrell, Highland Park, The Legendary Dark Silkie

January 8, 2021 –––––– Whisky Advocate, , , ,

In each issue of Whisky Advocate, the editors select three whiskies that we consider the most impressive, considering score, price, and availability. For Winter 2020, our Editors' Choice whiskies include bourbon, island single malt scotch, and an Irish blended whiskey.

For all whiskies reviewed in the Winter 2020 issue, check out the full Buying Guide.

STANDOUT WHISKIES FROM WINTER 2020



Barrell Cask Strength Blend of Straight Bourbons (Batch 025) bottle.Barrell Cask Strength Blend of Straight Bourbons (Batch 025)
94 points, 56.7% ABV, $90


This basks in beautiful baking spices—clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon—with toasty oak and candle wax hinting at its maturity. The palate is wonderfully dense with fruit, including flavors of marmalade, strawberry jam, and bright tropical fruits, woven with more spice. Even with water the richness and viscosity stand tall, as more caramel and butterscotch emerge. The spellbinding finish is long, sweet, and nutty. —Jeffery Lindenmuth


Highland Park Cask Strength (Release No. 1) bottle.Highland Park Cask Strength (Release No. 1)
92 points, 63.3% ABV, $90


This first cask-strength expression in Highland Park's core range was matured predominantly in sherry-seasoned American oak. Honey, bonfire smoke, orange peel, and a suggestion of treacle on the nose. Sweet and smoky on the palate, with toffee and orchard fruits turning more citric in time. The finish yields sweet spices, more honey, dark chocolate, black pepper, and bonfire embers. Classic Highland Park—turned up to 11! —Gavin Smith


The Legendary Dark Silkie bottle.The Legendary Dark Silkie
92 points, 46% ABV, $44


Burning straw, berries, and allspice, but the smoke from the double- and triple-distilled peated malts beckons you in deeper, adding peppery barbecued meats, tree bark, and earthiness. The delicious palate brings stewed apple, currants, conference pear, raisin turnover, and brown sugar. Peat smoke infiltrates stealthily, leaving a finish of dried strawberries and pepper. This is a superb nightcap dram, and a great champion for smoky Irish blends. —Jonny McCormick