The varieties of whiskeys from around the world are very exciting. Whether you like to sip them straight or make your favorite whiskey cocktail, we recommend starting with one of these top 15 blends we have on our shelf. Enjoy the list and begin your taste journey.
- 1. 23RD STREET HYBRID WHISKEY
- 2. BRUICHLADDICH CLASSIC LADDIE UNPEATED ISLAY SINGLE MALT WHISKEY
- 3. BUFFALO TRACE ANTIQUE COLLECTION
- 4. DRY FLY PORT FINISH WHEAT WHISKEY
- 5. HANYU ICHIRO’S MALT FULL CARDS SERIES WHISKY
- 6. KOOPER FAMILY RYE TEXAS WHISKEY
- 7. NAKED GROUSE WHISKEY
- 8. BARRELL WHISKEY BATCH 004
- 9. TINCUP AMERICAN WHISKEY
- 10. WOODFORD RESERVE BATCH PROOF BOURBON
- 11. JACK DANIELS IS RELEASING A LIMITED NUMBER OF RED DOG SALOON BOTTLE
- 12. GLENMORANGIE THE ORIGINAL: SINGLE MALT WHISKY FROM THE TALLEST STILLS IN SCOTLAND
- 13. JOHNNIE WALKER: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT
- 14. EH TAYLOR FOUR GRAIN
- 15. TROY AND SONS PLATINUM: WHITE WHISKEY
1. 23RD STREET HYBRID WHISKEY
TwentyThird Street Distillery hails from Renmark, South Australia, and makes a variety of delicious spirits and blends – Signature Gin, Not Your Nanna’s Brandy, and Prime 5 Brandy. Add whiskey to that. Their newest blend is 23rd Street Hybrid Whiskey, which combines both Scotch and Bourbon into a rich, malted blend. It was made from prime barrels of Scotch whisky and American Bourbon, collected and curated by head distiller Graham Buller. The Scotch has been aged for an average of 5 years, while the Bourbon for an average of 2 years, before the blend itself is put back into the barrel for finishing.
The result is a distinctive drink with aroma of toasted oak, hints of sweet sherry, and floral, earthy notes. Rounded malt like flavors and rich sherry characters finish the package, all wrapped up in a nice 42.3%. So far, 23rd Street Hybrid Whiskey has been good enough to win a Silver Outstanding Medal and the International Wine & Spirits Competition 2017 and a Bronze Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017. Sounds worth trying, in our opinion, whether neat or on the rocks. Pair with a cigar and fireplace for the perfect evening, and enjoy the best of two whiskey worlds.
2. BRUICHLADDICH CLASSIC LADDIE UNPEATED ISLAY SINGLE MALT WHISKEY
In a world where everybody is trying their hand at making “craft” spirits, there are a few that really stand out from the pack. The folks at Bruichladdich Distillery, which has been around on the famed island of Islay since 1881, are one of them. These are the same folks behind Botanist gin, and their Scotch is just as good. Their Classic Laddie is definitely unique among the world of Islay whiskeys – an unpeated single malt distilled from 100% Scottish barley right on some of their authentic Victorian-era machinery.
Scotch whiskey can usually be split into two categories: peated and unpeated. Another way to describe that would be as smoky or not smokey, as it’s the drying of the peat over a fire that gives Scotch that signature smokey flavor. As Classic Laddie is unpeated, you won’t find much smokiness here; instead, the smoothness of the It’s trickle-distilled, and then aged in American oak by the shores of Loch Indaal, right on the isle of Islay. The result is an ultra-smooth whiskey with the Scottish barley’s signature salt-citrus tang. Classic Laddie is a multi-vintage cuvee, which means it’s carefully created some certain select tasks. They never chill-filter their whiskies, in order to retain all the natural oils that gives the whiskey it’s strong, natural flavor.
At 50% alcohol, Bruichladdich Classic Laddie a strong spirit that still allows the the smooth, slightly twangy flavor shine through, and being unpeated means it stands out a bit from the majority of other Scotch’s. Perfect for a night by the fire, unwinding with some relaxing tunes on the record player.
3. BUFFALO TRACE ANTIQUE COLLECTION
Bourbon lover? You may want to keep an eye out for the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, a series of 5 bottles of different ages, proofs and flavors. Buffalo Trace hails from the heart of Bourbon Country, has over 200 years of whiskey history, and their original Bourbon keeps snatching up awards all over the country, winning a Double Gold Medal at the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition this year, as well as the 2017 Gold Medal at World Whiskey Masters.
The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection consists of the 129-proof George T. Stagg, a sweet combination of fudge, espresso and even tobacco. It’s accompanied by a 127-proof Thomas H. Handy Sazerac rye, with clove, vanilla, anise and pepper, 128-proof WL Weller wheated bourbon, with caramel, honey, butterscotch, and a soft woodiness, and by a a 17-year, 90-proof Eagle Rare Bourbon, which contains bold, notes of candied almonds, rich cocoa, toffee, leather and oak. The collection is rounded out by the 18-Year Sazerac Rye, clocking in at 90 proof.
The Antique Collection is available this October, but only in limited quantities. Each bottle makes an excellent gift for the whiskey fanatic in your family – or just an excellent way to enjoy the coming chilly months yourself.
4. DRY FLY PORT FINISH WHEAT WHISKEY
Distilled in Spokane, Washington, Dry Fly Port Finish Wheat Whiskey is one of those unusual, but delicious, whiskeys you never asked for, but need to try anyway. It’s made from the same whiskey as their award-winning flagship Dry Fly Straight Washington Wheat – 100% local white wheat, distilled twice in traditional American whiskey style, and aged for at least 3 years in charred American Oak barrels. But it’s then moved to a Port Wine barrel for 6-12 months – Huckleberry Port, which imparts the whiskey with a sweetness that regular whiskey just doesn’t have.
The Port itself has “dried black currant, huckleberry, fig and black cherry with a hint of licorice. Huckleberry, chocolate, coffee and black currant linger with a long satisfying finish.” Pour a glass of the whiskey and you should definitely pick up that sweet fruitiness right on the nose. When you sip it, you’ll immediately get some notes of maple and sugar. There’s even some oiliness from the port, and on the finish, a smooth, sweet taste.
A very unique whiskey, for sure. If you’re a straight up bourbon or rye lover who can’t reconcile the idea of a sweet mix, this may not be for you. But if you’re open to expanding your comfort zone and trying out some new ideas for your palate, then the Dry Fly Port Finish is definitely worth a look – if $50 a bottle doesn’t sound too risky. It clocks in at a comfortable 90 proof.
5. HANYU ICHIRO’S MALT FULL CARDS SERIES WHISKY
There are expensive whiskeys out there, and we’re always hankering to try new ones. We also know quite a few people willing to drop big bucks on good whiskey. But we think the number of people able to afford Hanyu Ichiro’s Malt Full Cards Series will be quite a few.
That’s because the Full Cards Series – consisting of 54 bottles, each representing one card from a full deck of playing cards – will sell for at least $580,000. Maybe more – it’s going to auction, and only four full sets have ever been produced.
Each bottle was distilled at the legendary Hanyu distillery – which closed 15 years ago – between 1985 and 2000, and then bottled sometime between then and 2014. Each and every bottle is a rare work of whiskey art. The 2 of Spades, for example, was distilled in 1991, aged in Port barrels and bottled 20 years later at a whopping 55.8%. The legendary Ace of Spades got an even finer treatment…distilled in 1985, bottled in 2006 at 55% and picking up a unique character from the Spanish Oak Sherry butts where it spent the intervening years.
So yeah, if you’re a lover of Japanese whisky (heck, a lover of American whisky, or Bourbon or Irish or Scotch). . .we think you’d be all over this stuff. Could you afford it? No…but you can try.
6. KOOPER FAMILY RYE TEXAS WHISKEY
Deep within the heart of Texas, in Hill Country, is the town of Dripping Springs, where the Kooper Family Whiskey Company makes one of the best rye whiskeys you’ve probably never heard of. Their family history in Texas goes way back, and their great-grandfather Howard Kooper adorns the labels of their whiskeys. So it’s safe to assume hat they put pride and hard work into every bottle of spirit they produce.
Kooper Family Rye is a careful blend of two whiskeys – 15-month old high rye, and 4-year old straight rye, aged in charred White Oak barrels. They age and mature them in the Hill Country climate, which is ripe for aging and imparts its own signature flavor, before blending them together with Texas spring water, filtered through limestone, to get that silky-smooth flavor.
Taste? On the nose, you get strong rye spice with fruit – raisins and apples, with hints of Butter and caramel. The palate is strong in brown sugar and smoke, with dark fruit and tobacco. A rich rye whiskey, in our opinion. They say to look out for some mint and anise, and even dill, but it’s tough to find. On the finish, you’ll get sweet toffee, caramel apple and vanilla, along with those fruity raisins and hints you saw before.
Honestly, of all the different whiskeys we’ve tried out, this one is a favorite. At a smooth 80 proof, it’s powerful yet easy, flavorful and unique, without parting too far from your trusty rye, and heading into unknown territory. We also just love it because we love anything that’s made with the kind of care, pride and family spirit that Kooper Family Rye is made of. So why not give a bottle ago and try out some of the taste of Texas. What could be better?
7. NAKED GROUSE WHISKEY
We’ve reviewed a lot of good whiskey, but we’ve yet to really see a whiskey as unpretentious, and as unlike the brand’s usual offerings, as Naked Grouse. Created by the makers of The Famous Grouse, maker of classic Scotch whiskey, Naked Grouse is what the distillery calls “whiskey at its most uncomplicated,” and uses “first fill” sherry casks in which to age the whiskey. This slightly-unusual (though not unheard of) aging vessel imparts a much sweeter, fruitier flavor to their spirits – and one that gives the drink it’s slightly cheeky personality. (Don’t believe us? See the website.)
Naked Grouse is based on more traditional malt whiskeys from Macallan and Highland Park, where The Famous Grouse is located. The result is a smooth, easy drink, with notes of cocoa, butter, an oak finish, and even some toffee. It comes in at a traditional 80 proof.
According to the creators, Naked Grouse was envisioned because of the currently-rising popularity of single malt whiskeys. Everybody wants to order them and they’re in high demand, and so the distillery felt they ought to create a unique version that stood out from the competition. The distillery also makes it clear that Naked Grouse is, despite sharing the distinctive bird on the bottle with the flagship drink, not entirely a part of their portfolio; the drinks will remain separate.
Naked Grouse goes well in a variety of mixed drinks; the brand considers their signature serve to be mixed with a cherry cola and lime. You can grab a bottle for a very reasonable under-30, and it’s got a cool glass rendition of the Grouse on the front.
8. BARRELL WHISKEY BATCH 004
New for 2017, Barrell Crafts Spirit’s has just released Batch 004 of its Barrell Whiskey, which scored a 95 and was a finalist at the 2017 Ultimate Spirits Challenge. Barrell Whiskey is a relatively new whiskey to Barrell Craft and Spirits line, first introduced back in 2015.
Batch 004 is a Cask Strength American Whiskey, distilled in both Indiana and Tennessee and then bottled in Kentucky. Made from the signature Kentucky mash of corn, rye and malted barley, Batch 004 has been aged 11 years in barrels of American Oak, before being finished in either rum casks or rye casks.
New Whiskey, New Twist
Barrell made 4 versions of Batch 004: Tennessee whiskey finished in rum casks, Tennessee whiskey finished in rye barrels, Indiana whiskey finished in rum casks, and Indiana whiskey finished in rye barrels. Whichever one you get, you can be assured you got a unique whiskey, that can please everybody.
Batch 004 will be an interesting blend of bourbon and rum, something that can please both fans of both. It has hints of caramelized apple, warm coconut milk and nutmeg, with finishing notes of steaming spice stone fruit and cacao powder.
Barrell says you can also taste some Caribbean influence from the rum, clove, cardamom, and kaffir lime, as well as vanilla, cinnamon and butter.
It’s also 120.6 proof, for a heck of a punch.
9. TINCUP AMERICAN WHISKEY
With a name like TinCup, you know this stuff must have some real Old West flavor. Distilled high in Denver, just feet from the Rocky Mountains, TinCup American Whiskey is named after the town of Tincup, Colorado – an old mining town in Gunnison, Colorado, on the Western Slope of the Rockies. And it’s the epitome of what real American whiskey should be; rugged, wild, untamed.
Tincup is a blend of whiskeys, aged in #3 oak barrels for four years and cut with water straight from the Rocky Mountains. The first of the two flavors is “High rye,” a bourbon mashed and distilled in Indiana. It’s blended with a single malt whiskey straight from Colorado, using a bill of corn, rye and malt, before the Rocky Mountain water is added. The result? A smooth, perfectly rounded American whiskey with a sweet, spicy bourbon kick.
The best part? The cap is designed like a tin cup, so you can pour into it and drink right out of it, in addition to using it like a shot glass. So you’re never without a drinking vessel, and get that cowboy-on-the-trail, in-the-mountains feeling every time.
If you like it but something with a bit more age, Tincup 10 has the same bold flavor but has been aged for a full decade; looks for extra-strong hunts of vanilla and cinnamon.
So the next time you’re heading out for a weekend trek into the mountains or an Old-West style camping trip, opt for some Tin Cup Whiskey as you relax by the campfire.
10. WOODFORD RESERVE BATCH PROOF BOURBON
With summer here, it’s time to start expanding that bourbon collection. Woodford Reserve – one of the best whiskey makers in the world – is here to help, bringing us the 2022 rendition of their Batch Proof Bourbon.
Part of Woodford Reserve’s Master’s Collection, Batch Proof Bourbon is the crème de la crème of their whiskey lineup. It’s quite similar to their regular Bourbon – starting with the same mash bill and distilling process, to be precise – but has been aged longer and bottled at more precise cask strength.
And how strong is that? A whopping 90.4 proof.
Stiff. To say the least.
According to Woodford Reserve’s master distiller, the aim of releasing bourbon this strong is to unlock the full “range of sweet vanilla and toasted oak”…..and allow people to taste “intensity of the aromas and the smoothness of the whiskey at a higher proof point…the way the masters taste it.”
We can only imagine it packs quite a punch in every sip. If you’re interested, you can expect to dish out about $130 a bottle to try out some of this bold American spirit.
11. JACK DANIELS IS RELEASING A LIMITED NUMBER OF RED DOG SALOON BOTTLE
Be part of this limited edition 125th Anniversary 86 Proof release! Next time you’re relaxing at home, leaning back and enjoying some great tunes and looking for a whiskey to sip, reach for some Jack Daniels. And if you can wait until later this summer, you can grab a bottle of Red Dog Saloon, which they will be releasing in limited numbers this year.
Back in the late 19th-century, when Jack Daniels first opened his famous Lynchburg, VA distillery, he also opened two saloons to sell his whiskey in – the Red Dog and the White Rabbit saloons. The aptly Red Dog Saloon whiskey thus commemorates the 125th Anniversary of these saloons – just as a few years back, the distillery released a similar whiskey called White Rabbit.
Red Dog Saloon isn’t a whole lot different than regular Jack, but it’s unique. It’s a bit stronger, at a sold 86 proof. It’s also a little more expensive.
Jack Daniels is only releasing a limited amount of Red Dog Saloon this summer, so keep an eye out for it. You may want to get on the waitlist for this release.
12. GLENMORANGIE THE ORIGINAL: SINGLE MALT WHISKY FROM THE TALLEST STILLS IN SCOTLAND
Located in Tain, Scotland, Glenmorangie is a Highland Distillery that boasts the distinction of having the tallest stills in Scotland – standing more than 26 feet tall, and lending a sweeter, lighter flavor to the whisky they produce. The Glenmorangie distillery goes all the way back to 1843, and for years, the 16 Men Of Tain, as they were called, distilled single malt whisky around the clock, all-year round. The operation is a bit bigger these days (turns out they are now owned by Louis Vuitton, and in turn, own Ardbeg). But the Glenmorangie whisky remains as good as ever, with a few more years behind it.
Glenmorangie The Original is a 10-year old single malt aged in American white oak casks, including “designer casks” from Missouri, which they have grown and sourced from the Ozarks themselves. These bourbon casks give their whiskies a flavor that is soft and creamy, fruity and complex all at once, combining the best of both Scotch and American whiskey.
The aroma has citrus and vanilla, the taste is a perfect balance of vanilla and some tropical fruit, while the finish leaves you with even more of that orange and peach. And it’s got a beautiful golden honey color you expect from a single malt whisky.
And we’re not the only ones who think it’s good. Glenmorangie The Original won Gold Medals at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in both 2016 and 2017. Add a bottle to the collection this summer and see for yourself.
13. JOHNNIE WALKER: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT
When Blade Runner was first released in 1982, it showed us a glimpse of what whiskey might look in the future: Johnnie Walker in a specially shaped bottle. And while their bottles won’t look exactly like that in 2019, Johnnie Walker has gone ahead and given us an idea for future whiskies, teaming master blender Jim Beveridge filmmaker Denis Villeneuve to bring us Black Label: The Director’s Cut, in commemoration of the release of Blade Runner 2049.
Black Label: The Director’s Cut is based off regular Johnnie Walker Black Label, but puts a “contemporary twist” on it, with more than 30 malt and grain whiskies from all over the world blended into it. And if it’s Black Label, it promises to be excellent, and actually comes in at 49% ABV – in honor of the new film’s title.
The real attraction here, though, is the bottle; based on the prop from the original Blade Runner, it’s distinctly Johnnie Walker, but also distinctly futuristic and sleek. It comes packaged in a commemorative box. The creators wanted to create something as timeless as Johnnie Walker whiskey already is, and give it it’s own unique qualities; Jim Beveridge states that “Johnnie Walker blending tradition dates back to 1820 and I’m honored to carry on the legacy and collective memory of our other past blenders to ensure that the same whisky enjoyed today can be enjoyed responsibly in 2049”.
14. EH TAYLOR FOUR GRAIN
Father’s Day is coming up, and if you’re looking to get Dad a drink something classic, timeless and delicious, grab him a bottle of EH Taylor Four Grain. Fine liquor, ale, or accessories are always a hit during the gift-giving season.
EH Taylor is an off-shoot of Buffalo Trace, inspired by the famed Colonel who set up shop on the banks of the Kentucky River in 1870. Four Grain is the 9th whiskey in the line since 2011, and perhaps the best. It’s made from the trademark bourbon recipe of corn, wheat, rye and malted barley, bottled-in-bond and has been aged 12 years at exactly 100 proof (a requirement of being Bottled-in-Bond).
The nose is light and fruity, with floral notes and hints of sweet berry, bubblegum and vanilla. Cherry, caramel and vanilla provide some strong flavor, with hints of oak and little bit of sweetness. The finish is strong with oak and rye, and round out the sweetness on the tongue.
For a limited-release, unique and not-ridiculously-overpriced bourbon, this is the stuff.
15. TROY AND SONS PLATINUM: WHITE WHISKEY
White whiskey, otherwise known as moonshine, is picking up steam in the craft spirits game. Distilleries, from the small-timers to the big boys, are starting to produce it. But Asheville Distilling (Asheville, North Carolina) wants you to know they were one of the first. They bill Troy and Sons Platinum as the first true, authentic moonshine to be legally distilled in America. And while we can’t back that up with any objective records, their claim could very well be true.
One thing we do believe, however, is how authentically good this whiskey is. Asheville Distilling distills their spirits from Crooked Creek Corn, an open-pollinated heirloom white corn (which must give Platinum it’s clear color). And they use pure Appalachian spring water. So their moonshine really is as authentic as it gets – original mountain man spirit.
And Troy and Sons Platinum doesn’t disappoint. Regular whiskey gets its color and complexity from being aged in charred oak barrels, a luxury that white whiskey doesn’t have. So it’s not quite as complex and lacks some of the subtle, hidden notes of whiskey, but delivers its own, unique character. Perfectly clear and 80 proof, this is a stiff drink with bold vanilla, some floral notes, and corn. Lots of corn, as you should expect from a moonshine. Medium body, rounded, and well-balanced, it’s a tasty drink that goes down smooth.
Serve with a cigar and banjo on a hot summer night, and you’ve got the authentic American moonshine experience. Without the Prohibition, of course.