Fiddich Review Centre
Whisky

The 50 Best Scotch Whiskies Of 2022, Ranked

There were a lot of Scotch whisky releases this year. But not all of them can be the best Scotch whiskies of the year. Some were great. Some were transcendent. Plenty were mediocre. And yes, some were flat-out bad, too.

All of that means that it’s time for our Best Scotch Whiskies of 2022 list. 50 whiskies from all across Scotland!

Over the last year, I’ve been lucky enough to taste around 1,500 whisk(e)ys across all categories. Though to be honest, the vast majority were bourbons, ryes, and Scotch whiskies. So for my list of the 50 best Scotch Whiskies of 2022, I’m pulling the absolute killers that crossed my palate this year. Then I’m ranking those by delectability, depth of flavor, nuance, and a category I’m dubbing… sheer splendor.

A quick reminder before we dive in, this list isn’t about what you can get or afford (how could I know that?). This is about the absolute best Scotch whiskies that I was lucky enough to taste this year via multiple trips to Scotland, judging spirits competitions, attending industry events around the world, and working in whisky media 24/7/365. This is about calling out the best of what’s out there right now (though I did omit any direct-from-the-barrel tastes I had over the last year — shout out Lagavulin’s Iain McArthur for cracking open some truly outstanding barrels for me in the damp, seaside cellars on Islay!).

Let me tell you, there were some astoundingly delicious Scotch whiskies that dropped this year. So let’s dig in!

Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Scotch Whisky Posts of The Last Six Months

50. Lochlea First Release

Lochlea First Edition
Lochlea

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $52

The Whisky:

This new release from a brand new distillery is aiming to put the Lowlands of Scotland back on the map. The juice is a 100% malted barley whisky (naturally) that’s aged for three years in a combination of first-fill bourbon and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks. Those barrels are blended and the result is proofed down with local spring water for bottling as-is.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a touch of black licorice with old peaches and honey but it’s all very light and malty. The palate leans into spiced malts with bruised banana and melon next to a hint of non-descript oak and maybe some dry oats. The finish has a nice peppery warmth with a hint of bourbon vanilla smoothing things out on the short and malty end.

Bottom Line:

This new whisky from a new distillery is fresh, young, and worth keeping an eye on as they grow.

49. The Sassenach Blended Scotch Whisky

The Sasannach
The Sassenach

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $102

The Whisky:

Yes, Scotch whisky has celebrity white-labeled brands too. This one comes from Outlander star Sam Heughan. The whisky’s recipe/build is under wraps so there’s not much more to say.

Tasting Notes:

Lemon drops and Almond Joys drive the nose with a hint of honey, bourbon vanilla, and dried apricot. That apricot gets leathery on the palate as the malts arrive with plenty of honey and cinnamon-forward spice next to a hint of eggnog nutmeg. The finish is concise with a little cinnamon, honey, and almond rounding things out.

Bottom Line:

This is a steadfast blended scotch with a subtle sensibility that’s perfect for bespoke cocktails.

48. Loch Lomond ‘The Glengarry’ 12

The Glengarry
Loch Lomond Distillery Company

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $76

The Whisky:

This single malt from the famed Loch Lomond Distillery is all about the aging process. The hot juice is loaded into ex-bourbon, re-fill bourbon, and re-charred oak barrels for 12 long years. Those barrels are then blended and the whisky is proofed down with Highland spring water.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is a mix of white summer flowers and a lot of fruit kind of like a fruit salad out of the can. The palate really amps up the fruitiness with overripe peaches, bruised pears, and plenty of grilled pineapple next to a rummy spiced cocktail vibe with a little bit of vanilla, allspice, and woody cinnamon. The finish keeps it easy with more canned fruit syrup, a hint of sweetgrass, and a bit of malty spice.

Bottom Line:

This award-winning whisky is a great introductory to the Highlands and fruity, unpeated whiskies.

47. Scapa Skiren

Scapa Skirn
Scapa

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $68

The Whisky:

This unpeated malt from Orkney starts its life on a barrel-shaped Lomond wash still. This still from the 1950s is super rare and only a few are left in operation. The whisky then spends an undisclosed amount of years mellowing in barrels from Tennessee and Kentucky. Those barrels are then vatted and proofed all the way down to 40% before bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Old apple skins and floral honey lead the way on the nose with a hint of sour cream and roasted almond with a thin line of salt. The taste has a slight damp straw funk to it as more honey smooths out the mid-palate with notes of dry anise and licorice leading to a touch of lemon pepper spice. The finish has a note of old oak stave next to a lemon creaminess and that honey sweetness with a fair amount of that proofing water calming everything down.

Bottom Line:

Scapa Skiren is s funky, fun, and fresh example of old-school distilling mashing up with new ideas and flavors.

46. Glen Scotia Victoriana Single Malt

Glen Scotia
Glen Scotia

ABV: 54.2%

Average Price: $95

The Whisky:

This Campbelltown whisky is a rarity, like most whiskies from the tiny region. After an initial maturation, the whisky spends a final 12 months maturing in 30% Pedro Ximenez sherry butts and 70% heavily charred American oak before bottling truly as-is — no proofing, no filtering, no coloring.

Tasting Notes:

The nose on this is thick with a lot of savory fruit — figs, squash — next to sweet oranges, overripe pineapple, and robust but fresh florals. On the palate, that floral nature takes in a nasturtium vibe with a layer of spice next to a thin line of saltwater taffy wax paper wrappers, rum-soaked cinnamon sticks, and a thin layer of creamy vanilla. The end has a vibe that’s kind of like malt-soaked tropical fruit next to spicy vanilla pudding with a whisper of singed apple bark lurking in the background.

Bottom Line:

This Campbelltown whisky is an insider’s pour that might get you hooked on the subtly of the mico-region.

45. Isle of Raasay Sherry Cask Finished Single Malt Whisky

Isle of Raasay
Isle of Raasay

ABV: 52%

Average Price: $102

The Whisky:

This Island malt was aged in ex-Woodford Reserve rye barrels for an undisclosed amount of time before a finishing spell in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry quarter casks. Those whisky barrels were then vatted and bottled as-is.

Tasting Notes:

The whisky’s nose opens with dashes of green peppercorns next to a line of smoked almonds and plums with a hint of medicinal menthol in the background. The palate mixes freshly ground nutmeg with clove-spiked orange rinds as a creamy almond paste leads to a wintry mulled wine sour red fruit with a light sweetness and smoked plum vibe. The end is full of earthy and almost floral smoke next to more of that almond paste and mulled wine sour spiciness.

Bottom Line:

This is a fascinating pour that pushes flavor profiles to new and fun corners of your whisky palate.

44. Grand Old Parr 18

Old Parr 18
Diageo

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $94

The Whisky:

This old-school brand just expanded into 18-year territory this year for the U.S. market. The whisky is made from malts and grain whiskies mostly pulled from the famed Cragganmore distillery. Those whiskies are vatted/batched, proofed, and bottled in this old-school stubby bottle.

Tasting Notes:

Dark and meaty dates and figs are countered by a hint of vanilla cream, woody cinnamon, and … I want to say … oyster or clam shell. The palate is a classic malty experience with a touch of sage over caramelized root vegetables with a touch of vanilla cake filled with spicy stewed plums. The end has a mild woodiness that’s attached to the spices with a hint of oak and mustiness.

Bottom Line:

This is a classic on the rock pour of whisky.

43. Dewar’s Double Double 32 Blended Scotch

Dewar's 32
Bacardi

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $170 (375ml bottle)

The Whisky:

Master Blender Stephanie MacLeod really hits it out of the park with these blends. This one starts with 32-year-old barrels of both single malt and single grain whiskies. Then all the single malts are blended and re-barreled in an “exhausted” barrel (meaning the barrel has aged its last whisky and would otherwise be repurposed). MacLeod does the same with the grain whiskies. Those grain and malt whiskies are then blended and put into another exhausted barrel for a spell. Finally, those barrels are blended and filled into an ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry barrel for a final maturation.

Tasting Notes:

The nose opens with a rich sticky toffee pudding full of black-tea-soaked dates, sharp cinnamon, nutmeg, buttery toffee sauce, and vanilla ice cream with hints of orange zest, wicker, and an old leather tobacco pouch. The palate largely delivers on the nose’s profile with meaty dates, figs, and prunes countered by woody spice, dark fruit leather, and a touch of honey barrel staves. The finish is shorter than expected with all that dark and dried fruit leaving you with a sweetened and wintry vibe.

Bottom Line:

This is blended scotch at its best with true depth that’ll keep its hooks in you.

42. Ardbeg Fermutation

Ardbeg Fermutation
Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy

ABV: 49.4%

Average Price: $255

The Whisky:

The “happy accident” that led to this whisky was Ardbeg’s boilers breaking down. Instead of throwing out the mash until those were fixed, Dr. Bill Lumsden (the mad-scientist distiller behind Ardbeg) decided to see what would happen if they let it be. The washback lids were opened and the mash was allowed to ferment with the sea-kissed Islay air for three more weeks. To put that in perspective, Ardbeg (and most whiskies) usually ferment for 72 hours before distillation. Once the boilers were back up and running, the whisky was distilled and then barreled in first-fill and re-fill bourbon casks. 13 years later, Dr. Bill decided it was ready and here we are.

Tasting Notes:

The nose starts off with this burst of fresh green grass just after the rain that melts into a summer herb garden (mint heavy), grapefruit seeds, and smoked butter with sweet lemon candy and orange trees that’s underpinned with a dark and rich soil that’s been turned with manure. Going deeper on the nose, you get fresh tires, mossy fir bark, and maybe a hint of fennel-heavy focaccia. The palate starts off incredibly soft with a toffee note before veering into burnt scones, hints of absinthe, what feels like powdered turmeric, and finally cigarette ash. The finish lets that sweetness stay while the cigarette ash builds towards a crescendo and leaves your senses feeling like you’ve licked an ashtray.

Bottom Line:

This is the quintessential love/hate whisky. I fall on the former side but totally understand if this is too much for the uninitiated in the bowels of hardcore peatiness.

41. The Glenlivet Aged 21 Years

The Glenlivet 21
Pernod Ricard

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $345

The Whisky:

This redesigned The Glenlivet is still a classic whisky. The hot juice is aged in a triple combination of first-fill Oloroso sherry, Troncais oak Cognac casks, and vintage Colheita Port casks. After 21 long years (at least), the barrels are vatted and proofed down before bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Leather and winter spices lead the way on the nose with a hint of saffron-stewed pears, ripe peaches, and lush eggnog next to boiled beans with a bay leaf. The palate leans into the peaches and pears but puts them in a pie with plenty of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg next to apricot jam and rum-raisin. The mid-palate hits a pine resin note before descending toward brandied cherries and dark chocolate with fresh ginger sharpens and a dash of cinnamon candy.

Bottom Line:

This is a subtly beautiful pour of whisky that’s perfect for anyone looking for deft unpeated whisky glory.

40. Johnnie Walker Green Label

Diageo

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $55

The Whisky:

Johnnie Walker’s Green Label is a solidly crafted whisky that highlights Diageo’s fine stable of distilleries across Scotland. The juice is a pure malt or blended malt, meaning that only single malt whisky is in the mix (no grain whisky). In this case, the primary whiskies are a minimum of 15 years old, from Talisker, Caol Ila, Cragganmore, and Linkwood.

Tasting Notes:

Soft notes of cedar dance with hints of black pepper, vanilla pods, and bright fruit with a wisp of green grass in the background. The palate really delivers on that soft cedar woodiness while edging towards a spice-laden tropical fruit brightness. The finish is dialed in with hints of cedar, spice, and fruit leading toward a briny billow of smoke at the very end.

Bottom Line:

This blended malt is the high water mark of the standard Johnnie Walker line and seems to be getting better and better with each passing year.

39. Highland Park 18

Edrington Group

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $148

The Whisky:

This Viking whisky from high up in the Orkneys takes barreling one step further. Their 18-year expression is matured in casks made from American and European oak specifically for Highland. Those bespoke vessels are sent to Jerez, Spain to age sherry for three years. The same barrels are then sent back to Orkney to age this whisky for 18 years.

Tasting Notes:

This really feels like a classic scotch at every step. You’re greeted with notes of marzipan, dark berries, honey, and light lines of smoke on the nose. Those notes hold on as buttery toffee arrives with a dark chocolate counterpoint, leading towards ripe red cherries and floral honey. The end embraces distant billows of sweet smoke with a dry and earthy undertow on the slow, sweet, and berry-filled fade.

Bottom Line:

This is Highland Park at its most straightforward and, frankly, delicious.

38. Laphroaig Càirdeas Warehouse 1

Laphroaig Cairdeas Warehouse 1
Beam Suntory

ABV: 52.2%

Average Price: $90

The Whisky:

This year’s Càirdeas release celebrates the Friends of Laphroaig and how they keep the brand going. The whisky in the bottle is made from Laphroaig’s high-phenol peated malt right next to the sea on Islay. The hot spirit was then filled in first-fill limited edition single barrel Maker’s Mark bourbon barrels. The barrels were then stored in the famed four-story Warehouse 1 right next to the crashing sea until they were just right and then bottled as-is after vatting.

Tasting Notes:

Here we go again. The nose opens with a huge note of smoked grainy malts next to an un-opened box of Band-Aids, peppery smoked brisket with plenty of smoked fat, and smoked sea salt counterpointed by vanilla sheet cake with a honey icing and dusted with cinnamon and nutmeg. The palate opens with burnt yet buttery toffee next to white wildflowers, dried fennel, and rich and creamy honey smoothness and sweetness. The end gets a little woody with a fatty smoked peppery vibe next to more toffee and a dash of seawater-washed granite.

Bottom Line:

Peat lovers unite! This is the whisky for you.

37. Oban Old Teddy The MacLeans

Oban Old Teddy The MacLeans
Diageo

ABV: 51.7%

Average Price: $182

The Whisky:

This distillery-only Oban edition is made to celebrate the whisky makers of the past at Oban. The whisky in the bottle is made from Oban’s subtly peated malts. It’s then filled into ex-sherry casks, both first fill and refill. After a good rest, the barrels are pulled and vatted before being bottled as-is.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with a supple sense of pear candy, soft honey, smoked apple chips, burnt orange rinds, and a hint of white saltwater taffy with mild hints of woody spices tied to warm malts. Those warm and spicy malts open the palate toward dark and tart berries, pear Starbursts, orange oils infused into marzipan, and almost sour apple peels. The end slowly descends through the spiced malts toward the dried berries with a hint of honey and vanilla before the apple/pear vibe leans into a hint of orchard wood smokiness.

Bottom Line:

This special edition of Oban celebrates the tiny distillery’s massive impact on the scene and your palate.

36. Old Pulteney 18

Old Pulteney 18
Inver House Distillers

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $154

The Whisky:

Old Pulteney is a renowned Highland single malt. The unpeated whisky is aged in second-fill ex-bourbon casks for 18 years before being re-barreled into first-fill ex-Oloroso sherry casks for a final maturation. Finally, the whisky is vatted, proofed down, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

Bright notes of floral honey greet your nose as yellow pears, orange blossoms, and tart apples mingle with a thin line of vanilla cream, winter spice, and chocolate-covered raisins. The palate leans into the chocolate while the taste gets slightly bitter like an espresso bean before a minced meat pie drops in with sweetness and meaty dried fruit with a good dusting of brown spices. The end has a nice hit of orange zest that leads to a holiday cake with tons of dried and candied fruits and a good measure of wintry spices.

Bottom Line:

This is one of those unpeated malts that’s just delicious from top to bottom.

35. Ledaig 18-Year Single Malt

Ledaig 18
Ledaig

ABV: 46.3%

Average Price: $310

The Whisky:

Hailing from the Tobermory Distillery on Mull, this brand is all about the peat. The whisky was made to mimic the hardcore peated whiskies of the 1700s that were made in the Inner Hebrides. That heavily peated barley is mixed with local spring water for fermentation. Finally, the whisky spends 18 years in used oak before a finishing spell in Oloroso sherry casks.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with a nose full of smoked apple and pear chips with a woody underbelly next to dates and prunes swimming in dark spices and honey with a touch of sweet cherrywood. The palate leans into the spice with a mix of ground ginger, allspice, clove, nutmeg, and maybe some mace as fatty pork belly smokiness adds some serious depth and creaminess. The finish has a malty chocolate vibe that leads to more smoky fat, woody spice, and dark leather fruit on the very end.

Bottom Line:

This is one of those whiskies that if you know, you know. And if you know, you know how great it is. If not, it’s time to grab a bottle and dig in.

34. Bruichladdich The Organic Barley 2010 Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Bruichladdich The Organic
Bruichladdich

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $129

The Whisky:

These special releases from Islay’s Bruichladdich are all about highlighting specific barley farms/farmers. In this case, the barley used is specifically from Mid Coul Farms in Inverness, Scotland, which was harvested in 2009 and distilled into this whiskey in 2010. After eight years mellowing next to the sea at Bruichladdich’s warehouse in ex-bourbon casks, the whiskey was vatted, proofed, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is soft like soft-serve vanilla ice cream next to green apple skins, pear candy, and wet straw bails. The taste is malty and earthy with a sense of buttery brioche next to orchard wood with a hint of moss under apricot jam, stewed pear, and some saffron. The end has a malted vanilla milkshake vibe next to wet sweetgrass and a hint more of that sweet pear throughline.

Bottom Line:

Bruichladdich is doing some of the most interesting work in the game when it comes to sourcing and experimenting with barley.

33. Lagavulin Offerman Charred Oak Cask Aged 11 Years

Lagavulin Offerman Charred Oak Cask
Diageo

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $85

The Whisky:

This brand-new release is the third collaboration between Lagavulin and Nick Offerman. This time around, the team at Lagavulin took 11-year-old malt and finished it in heavily charred casks that used to hold bourbon and red wine. Those barrels were then batched and built around flavor notes that pair perfectly with a steak dinner.

Tasting Notes:

The nose opens with a rich peatiness that’s tied to pecan chocolate clusters and dried cranberries with a dusting of sea salt, burnt orange zest, and fine nutmeg. The palate dips those red tart berries in dark salted chocolate with cinnamon bark and clove buds next to espresso cream and a whisper of malty vanilla wafers with fresh honey in between. The end has this enigmatic mix of smoked toffee, salted black licorice, and brandied cherries wrapped in cinnamon-laced tobacco and folded into an old cedar box.

Bottom Line:

This is a pretty great pour of Lagavulin that feels fresh, fun, and symbolic of the old-school shingle.

32. Lindores Abbey MCDXCIV Single Malt Scotch

Lindores
Lindores

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $300

The Whisky:

This Lowlands whisky is all about tradition and patience in a nearly-thousand-year-old abbey setting. The wash is made from Kingdom of Fife barley with an extra-long fermentation period. After distillation, the juice is loaded into ex-bourbon barrels, ex-wine barriques (casks from Bordeaux), and sherry butts. Those barrels are batched and blended before proofing and bottling as-is without filtration or coloring.

Tasting Notes:

A pile of grilled tropical fruits greets you on the nose with pineapple and mango being the most distinct alongside wintry spices, a touch of vanilla, old leather gloves, and a hint of sweet oak. The taste largely follows that path and layers in fresher orchard fruits, some dried-out dates, more dark spice, and a touch of dry vanilla tobacco. The end is a distillation of the sugars from the tropical fruits with a line of spicy malts tying it all together.

Bottom Line:

This is cool whisky with a cool story that also delivers on the palate in every way.

31. Springbank Local Barley 2022 Edition Aged 10 Years

Springbank
J and A Mitchell and Company

ABV: 56.2%

Average Price: $650

The Whisky:

This is as local as whisky gets. The locally grown Belgravia barley is malted in-house with a little bit of local peat from the Kintyre Peninsula. The whisky is then distilled two and a half times before barreling in used bourbon barrels. Those barrels then rest in the old, moldy warehouses for 10 years before this expression is built and bottled as-is at cask strength.

Tasting Notes:

Old oatmeal cookies with hints of nutmeg and cinnamon lead to a mix of a malting room floor with sweet barley warming up on your senses next to a hint of sultanas and dried cherry. The palate feels like a vanilla angel food cake drizzled with floral honey and served with a dusting of hot cinnamon and allspice as malty birch water rounds things out. The finish touches on sweet malts and heavily salted caramel.

Bottom Line:

This is a great way to get into the wide world of Springbank whiskey, albeit at a price.

30. Aberlour A’bunadh

Pernod Ricard

ABV: 56.2%

Average Price: $95

The Whisky:

A’bunadh (ah-boon-arh) means “the original” in Gaelic and the whisky in this Highland bottle represents that for Aberlour. The whisky is matured in old Oloroso sherry casks exclusively. The whisky then goes into the bottle at cask strength, unfussed with.

Tasting Notes:

That sherry plumminess is evident right up top, with hints of bright orange oils, clumps of dark chocolate, honey, and nuts, and a hint of oak. The taste shines with notes of dark, ripe cherries, prunes, more bright orange zest, dark chocolate, and a good measure of svelte vanilla. The slow finish leaves you with a creamy mouthfeel next to bitter chocolate next to sweet cherries and plums, all of which lead towards a warming spice on the tongue at the end.

Bottom Line:

This remains Aberlour’s true shining bottle of unpeated, cask-strength glory.

29. The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve

The Dalmore Cigar Malt
Whyte & Mackay

ABV: 44%

Average Price: $240

The Whisky:

This Highland whisky is a no-age-statement version of The Dalmore. The juice is made from Golden barley that grows on the island in the rich and very coastal soils. The ground malted barley is mixed with pure water from the Cromarty Firth nearby during the mashing process. After a couple of times through pot stills, the hot whisky is loaded into ex-bourbon casks, 30-year-old Matusalem Oloroso Sherry butts, and former Cabernet Sauvignon from the Saint-Estèphe appellation of Bordeaux. After 10 to 15 years, those barrels are vatted, the whiskey is proofed, and it’s bottled.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is openly complex from the first inhalation with a matrix of sticky toffee pudding spices — cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg — next to dried red berries with a slight earthiness, a touch of salted toffee candies, and a whisper of vanilla wafers. The palate opens with a chocolate maltiness next to a bowl of fresh and tropical fruits — pineapple, tart apples, sweet pears, plums, bruised bananas — with a mild nuttiness, sharp orange zest, and subtle winter spices. There’s a light mustiness on the back end that leads to soft and moist pipe tobacco with a thin layer of orchard fruits and stewed figs.

Bottom Line:

This is dark and stormy and The Dalmore almost showing off how skilled their team really is.

28. The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 10

GlenDronach Batch 10
Brown-Forman

ABV: 58.6%

Average Price: $220

The Whisky:

The 10th release from the most beloved The GlenDronach Cask Strength series is another instant classic. The whisky in the bottle is blended by Dr. Rachel Barrie from whisky aged in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks. The whisky is then vatted and bottled as-is with no fussing.

Tasting Notes:

Backporch wicker vibes with soft prunes and spicy holiday cake with a clove focus next to soft sultanas and berries with an echo of dead fall leaves lurking underneath it all. The palate leans into the holiday cake with a matrix of ginger sharpness, cinnamon, nutmeg, candied fruits and citrus peels, and a roasted nuttiness with a hint of dates and black tea with soft toffee drizzle just touched with salt. The end leans back into that wicker from the nose with a supple sense of toffee-covered shortbread and stewed plums.

Bottom Line:

The GlenDronach at cask strength is a wonderful pour of unpeated delights.

27. Talisker 18

Talisker 18
Diageo

ABV: 45.8%

Average Price: $252

The Whisky:

This is a classic single malt that also happens to hold the title of “Best Single Malt Whisky in the World” from the World Whiskies Awards. The iconic juice is rendered in Talisker’s bespoke stills and then spends nearly two decades resting in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry barrels, like most of the true classic single malts.

Tasting Notes:

This is subtle. The nose has a light yet clear sense of ripe plums, orange oils, buttery toffee, and an almost sour apple next to a distant whiff of briny campfire smoke from one beach over. The orange oils remain on the palate as eggnog spices peek in gently, with hints of that butter toffee driving a rich silkiness. The smoke remains in the distance as the spices warm your senses and the meaty fruit takes the edge off on the slow and satisfying fade.

Bottom Line:

This classic whisky got a new look for 2022 and the whisky in the bottle has never tasted better.

26. Octomore 13.3

Octomore 13.3
Rémy Cointreau

ABV: 61.1%

Average Price: $215

The Whisky:

This brand-new limited edition Octomore from Bruichladdich is all about Islay. The whisky is made from heavily peated malts grown on the island (most malts are shipping in from the mainland) back in 2015. In 2016, the whisky was distilled right by the sea at Bruichladdich and then loaded into first-fill, ex-American whiskey casks and second-fill European oak casks from the Rivesaltes region of France and the Ribera del Duero region of Spain. After five years, the casks were vatted and then bottled completely as-is.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is a subtle mix of salted caramel with sweet caramel malts, apricot jam, gingerbread, and a touch of nasturtium with a whisper of smoked apples and pears before the ashen peat starts sneaking in. The palate opens with smoked brown sugar next to rich marzipan with a hint of Almond Joy next to Kiwi boot wax, orange marmalade, dried roses, lemon pepper, and a hint of oyster liquor. The end has a caramel maltiness that’s just kissed with sea salt and potpourri cut with mild dark spices and more of that marzipan, finishing on a light fruit soda vibe.

Bottom Line:

Of the Octomore releases that we were blessed with this year, this is the one to get your hands on.

25. Caol Ila Single Malt Single Cask 13-Year Cask Strength Exclusive to Jack Rose

Caol Ila 13
Gordon and MacPhail

ABV: 59.4%

Average Price: $119

The Whiskey:

This Islay whisky is an iconic peated single malt. The juice is aged basically a stone’s throw from the briny and dark sea on the small island. Generally, Caol Ila releases a 12-year-old single malt that’s a blend of their best casks as an entry point to the brand. This is a year older and from a single cask that’s bottled completely as-is for Jack Rose in DC.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a subtle sense of the sea and runway tar on the nose that leads to a fruit orchard on a cool fall day when the fruit is fermenting in dead leaves on the ground and the bark is hardening on the tree with a hint of white moss and soft black soil. The palate has a sense of smoked floral honey with a dash of smoke prunes and pears next to a light sense of cold ash from the bottom of a Weber grill. The warmth on the palate is never overpowering and leads to a finish full of oily green herbs, dried pear chips, oyster pearls, and a sense of a pebble beach campfire on a rainy day.

Bottom Line:

This Caol Ilabarrel pick from the Jack Rose Saloon team in DC is rare excellence captured in a bottle and shipped over the pond to our shores.

24. Kilchoman Madeira Finish

Kilchoman Madeira Cask
Kilchoman

ABV: 56.2%

Average Price: $160

The Whisky:

This young whisky from the youngest distillery on Islay packs one hell of a punch. The juice is made from peated malts made in-house on Islay. The whisky then spends four years aging in Madeira casks before it’s bottled as-is at cask strength.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear sense of oaty malts next to sweet plums, Christmas spices, singed cotton candy, candied citrus peels, and a hint of new leather. The palate dives further into those notes while bringing about a spicy mulled wine vibe next to red berry leather and rock candy with a good dose of cinnamon and nutmeg rounding things out. The end is a lush slide into sticky berry tobacco with a dash of sharp cinnamon, an echo of old cellar beams, and a fleeting hint of mince meat pies with a sugar frosting.

Bottom Line:

Kilchoman is the whisky lovers’ insider distillery that’s poised to blow up even more as we get into 2023 and this stellar bottle is only one of the reasons why.

23. Benriach The Twenty Five Four Cask Matured Single Malt Scotch

BenRiach The Twenty Five
Brown-Forman

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $500

The Whisky:

This whisky is a masterclass in maturation and blending by Dr. Rachel Barrie. The whisky spends 25 long years in sherry, bourbon, virgin oak, and Madeira casks before Dr. Barrie finds just the right ones to make this superior blend of single malt whisky.

Tasting Notes:

This feels fresh on the nose with caramelized apple mingling with leathery smoked apricots, espresso macchiatos, and brandied cherries dipped into very dark chocolate. Saffron-stewed pears lead the way on the palate as woody winter spices mix with burnt orange peels, a hint of oily vanilla, and a silky layer of smoked salted toffee with smoky almonds. The thin whisper of smoke leans sweet as the leather apricot and brandied cherries dominate the finish with a sweet and subtle dark fruitiness with a thin line of cherrywood smoke and a creamy hint of something medicinal.

Bottom Line:

This expression is Dr. Rachel Barrie flexing hard as one of the true icons of whisky-making worldwide.

22. Talisker 11-Year-Old 2022 Special Releases Collection Whiskies

Diageo Single Malts
Diageo

ABV: 55.1%

Average Price: $119

The Whisky:

This classic lightly-peated Talisker is aged by the sea in American oak, ex-bourbon first fill, refill casks, and wine-seasoned casks. Those barrels are batched and then bottled as-is after 11 years of quiet mellowing.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear sense of seaside campfires far down a rainy beach next to a fruit orchard with a hint of nori sheets, old boat rope, and a dash of brown wintry spices on the nose. The palate leans into the oiliness of the nori with a slightly singed salmon skin vibe, smoked fish oils, and a touch of that distant campfire next to smoked plums and apricots with a hint of salted pear chips and dry red chili pepper. The end has a long meander through a pebble beach with sea salt, smoked pear, and briny seaweed salad next to a hint of fatty smoked salmon bellies with a black and red pepper crust.

Bottom Line:

This was a classic, funky, vivid pour of whisky that feels like coming home to an old house and cooking a new meal.

21. Aberfeldy 18 Finished in Tuscan Red Wine Casks

Aberfeldy 18
Bacardi

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $129

The Whisky:

This year’s limited edition Aberfeldy 18 was finished in special red wine casks. Aberfeldy’s Stephanie Macleod hand-selected Tuscan red wine casks from Bolgheri, Italy to finish this whisky. Once those barrels hit the right spot, they were vatted, proofed, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a cumin and chili powder essence on the nose with vanilla cream, cherry cake, spiced caramel malts, and maybe a fleeting hint of flour tortillas with a hint of lard. The palate Leans into the spiced and sweet malts with a dash of sharp green pepper next to lime leaves before moist marzipan and vanilla cake counterpoint the spice with sweetness. The end has a soft oakiness that leads to a hint of soda bread with a mild pepperiness to the malt.

Bottom Line:

Stephanie Macleod’s ability to choose just the right barrel to finish Aberfeldy every year is always a delightful surprise of perfection and deliciousness.

20. The Balvenie 16-Year French Oak

The Balvenie 16 Year
William Grant and Sons

ABV: 47.6%

Average Price: $199

The Whisky:

The Balvenie just added a new release to its core lineup last week. The whisky here is a masterful blend from whisky legend David Stewart. After around 15 years of aging, the whisky is transferred to Pineau des Charentes casks (a French fortified wine) for a final maturation, which is The Balvenie’s first foray into French oak finishing. The whisky is then bottled with a touch of water but as-is otherwise.

Tasting Notes:

Red geraniums and fresh honeycomb greet you on the nose with supporting characters of green grass, pear skins, apple cores, a hint of a cinnamon roll with vanilla frosting, and a dash of nutmeg. The palate leans into a lemon curd with a hint of grapefruit pith before layering in floral honey, ginger beer, vanilla-heavy shortbread, oatmeal raisin cookies, and a good dose of orange zest with a pinch of dark chocolate powder mixed in. The end is light and airy with a hint of savory fig next to ginger-infused rock candy dipped in creamy dark chocolate that’s just kissed with cinnamon spice.

Bottom Line:

When a legend like David Stewart makes a new whisky, folks pay attention. And this sophisticated pour is proof of that legendary status.

19. Compass Box Ultramarine Blended Scotch Whisky

Compass Box
Compass Box

ABV: 51%

Average Price: $350

The Whisky:

This brand-new whisky from Compass Box is part of the Extinct Blends Quartet they’ve been releasing. The blend is about 50% malt whiskies from Caol Ila and Glendullan distilleries and grain whiskies from Cameronbridge and Girvan distilleries and 50% malt and grain whiskies from seven other lots from all over Scotland. The end result is bottled as-is without coloring, filtration, or proofing.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a light sense of briny fruitiness on the nose with a sweet toffee candied malt, light pine varnish, and a hint of smoked pear and apple woods. The palate has a nuttiness that leans toward smoked pecans and marzipan with a light feel of minced meat pies cut with dark spices and just a whisper of vanilla that leads back to mild earthy peatiness with a whisper of smoked brisket fat. The end is all about stewed plums with a rum-raisin and winter spice feel.

Bottom Line:

Compass Box is always ready with a big and enticing and this whisky hits every high mark the blending house is known for.

18. The GlenAllachie 21 Cask Strength (Batch 3)

GlenAllachie 21
The GlenAllachie Distillers Company Limited

ABV: 51.5%

Average Price: $265

The Whisky:

Glenallachie’s Master Distiller Billy Walker hand-selected just five casks for this release. The barrels were ex-Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry puncheons (a large barrel that’s around 100 gallons, give or take). Those whiskies were vatted and bottled as-is.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a note of grapefruit pith when you nose this dram that leads towards honeyed chocolate truffles with a touch of cinnamon and orange. The palate goes full Christmas cake with plenty of dried nuts, candied and dried fruits, rich wintry spice, and a touch of chocolate maltiness next to candied ginger, more orange, and a note of golden corn syrup. That sweetness attaches to the fruit and spice to create a stewed plum vibe on the finish that luxuriates in mild spice, sweet and meaty stone fruit, and a touch more of that chocolate.

The Bottom Line:

This unpeated malt really is just delicious, proving The GlenAllachie as one of the greats from Speyside.

17. Cardhu 16-Year-Old Diageo 2022 Special Releases Collection Whiskies

Diageo Single Malts
Diageo

ABV: 58%

Average Price: $179

The Whisky:

This Speyside unpeated malt was aged in refill and re-charred American oak bourbon barrels for 16 years. That whisky was then refilled into Jamaican pot still rum-seasoned casks for a final rest before vatting and bottling as-is.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a definite sense of aura of funky rumminess with a hint of barrel char and grilled tropical fruits with plenty of brown spices — clove, allspice, nutmeg — surrounded by creamy lemon meringue pie, mango lassi, and freshly washed sheets flapping in the summer breeze (it’s wildly engaging and kind of weird but I love it). The palate has a rummy toffee syrup mood with spiced rum cocktails cut with banana bread, walnuts, and brown butter with a hint of brandy-soaked oak staves. The end has a light black pepperiness with more of that rummy barrel funk and soft and sweet (not acidic) tropical fruit.

Bottom Line:

This might well be the best Cardhu of the year thanks to a truly deep flavor profile that’s comforting yet adventurous.

16. Gordon & MacPhail Tormore Distillery 1994 Singel Malt Scotch

Gordon & MacPhail
Gordon and MacPhail

ABV: 58.2%

Average Price: $216

The Whisky:

Gordon & MacPhail get their hands on some of the best (and rarest) barrels in the whisky game and bottle them as-is. In this case, that was a 1994 barrel of Tormore, which is a very bespoke distillery in Speyside. For this bottling, Gordon & MacPhail chose a barrel that shines on its own without any fussing and at barrel proof.

Tasting Notes:

The nose opens with a mix of orange candies with a hint of winter spice, dashes of clove, cuts of green grass, and a buttery toffee smoothness. The palate leans into dark chocolate laced with a light and almost woody chili pepper as bruised sweet apples (skins and all) counterpoint marzipan and dry cedar bark braids. The end combines those old apples with winter spices to create a spicy apple compote with a hint of vanilla beans and orange marmalade on the backend.

Bottom Line:

This very rare whisky is proof positive that Gordon & MacPhail remains one of the best bespoke bottlers working in the game right now.

15. Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19 Years Old

Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy

ABV: 46.2%

Average Price: $360

The Whisky:

This is Ardbeg’s yearly release of special batches of 19-year-old peaty malt. The whisky is Ardbeg’s signature, heavily peated whisky that’s bottled during a “haar.” That’s a thick and briny foggy morning on Islay, which imparts that x-factor into the whisky before it goes into the bottle.

Tasting Notes:

A soft smokiness comes from smoldering lime leaves that lead to a hint of sour cream bespeckled with fennel seeds and wrapped up in cold-smoked salmon with a hint of pine resin and black tea in the background of the nose. The palate has this soft and sweet hint of grilled pineapple that works the taste toward salted dark chocolate fudge, orange zest, and dried lavender with a whisper of wet granite and sea-soaked charcoal. The end has a slight sweet ash vibe that’s more fruity than peaty with a sense of seawater-soaked wood smoldering away and roasting some marshmallows.

Bottom Line:

Ardbeg hit a pinnacle this year with their 19-year Traigh Bhan masterpiece of peated audaciousness.

14. Oban 10-Year-Old Diageo 2022 Special Releases Collection Whiskies

Diageo Single Malts
Diageo

ABV: 57.1%

Average Price: $109

The Whisky:

This lightly peated Highland whisky from the tiny Oban Distillery is rendered from refill and new American oak barrels. That whisky is vatted and then refilled into Amontillado-seasoned casks for a final rest before batching and bottling as-is.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a lithe sense of lemon/lime saltwater taffy wrapped in white wax paper with a hint of lime leaves and wild sage next to salted smoked lemons and tangerines with a hint of really good and cloudy extra virgin olive oil speckled with smoked sea salt and freshly cracked red peppercorns. The palate is silken and full of layers of smoked grapes, smoked plums, and salted chili pepper candies with a fleeting sense of violet and lavender creaminess tied to a lush vanilla underbelly. The end has a mild woody chili pepper spiciness that’s dry and leads to a limber finish with warmth, lightly caramelized malts, and smoked apricot jam with brandy cream.

Bottom Line:

This new Oban expression is the perfect balance of delicate peat, nuanced sweetness, sharp spices, and just the right amount of eccentricity that makes for deep transcendence in the glass.

13. MaltyVerse First Edition 30-Year-Old Single Cask Whisky

MaltyVerse Release 1
MaltyVerse

ABV: 48%

Average Price: $399

The Whisky:

The first-ever whisky released as a comic book — and available in the U.S. right now — is way more than just a gimmick. The whisky in this bottle is a super-rare 30-year-old whisky from the now-shuttered Cambus Distillery in Scotland. That means that you’re never seeing this whisky again. The actual juice was aged for three decades in first-fill ex-sherry butts (huge 500-liter barrels) and then bottled in 2021 with a touch of proofing water.

Tasting Notes:

The opens with a dried fruit salad brimming with brandy-soaked dried cherries with a hint of tartness to them, rum-soaked raisins, stewed plums, Earl Grey-soaked dates, and some prunes swimming in cinnamon syrup spiked with cloves, allspice, and star anise next to a hint of oakiness by way of an old dirt cellar floor. The palate leans into the dried fruit while layering in mulled wine spices with a sour yet sweet edge next to a hint of minced meat pie next to Christmas nut cake with plenty of fatty nuts and a hint of fig pudding. The end opens with a hint of red peppercorn spice next to dried vanilla pods, a twinge of date pits, and a whisper of huckleberry tobacco leaves.

Bottom Line:

Comic book tie-in aside, this is a superb pour of whisky that would stand up to any whisky pro’s palate and give them a new thrill.

12. The Singleton of Glen Ord 39

The Singleton 39
Diageo

ABV: 45.9%

Average Price: $3,150

The Whiskies:

This whisky was drawn from three 39-year-old casks. The first was an ex-red wine cask, the second was an ex-port cask, and the third was a re-seasoned European oak cask that held Pedro Ximinez and Oloroso sherry. The marriage of those three casks gave us only 1,695 bottles of this cask-strength expression.

Tasting Notes:

The nose on this reminds you of a hot day in wine country with rum-macerated blackberries that are countered by a decadent Christmas cake brimming with fatty nuts, dried figs, candied orange, brandy-soaked cherries, raisins, sultanas, prunes, and plenty of cinnamon-heavy spices with a hint of toffee and vanilla smoothing everything out. Moving onto the palate, the silkiness of the mouthfeel is off the charts. That creaminess leads to cloves, anise, and sassafras with hints of red peppercorns, bay leaf, and dark berry tobacco with a distant hint of sea salt. The finish circles back to the spicier edge of the Christmas cake that’s been soaked in cherry liquor (nearly cough syrup) next to that blackberry tobacco leaf with a whisper of mint to it.

Bottom Line:

The Singleton doesn’t get as much play in the U.S. as it does in East Asia, but releases like this are really starting to grab everyone’s attention as true gems.

11. The Dalmore 25

The Dalmore 25
Whyte and Mackay

ABV: 42%

Average Price: $1,500

The Whisky:

Like many whiskies on this list, this is all about the casks. This whisky spends around 25 years aging in ex-bourbon casks and Tawny Port pipes and casks, some of which held Matusalem oloroso sherry for 30 years before they got to The Dalmore. Those barrels are married and then the whisky is proofed down before bottling.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with a hint of lychee next to grilled papaya before veering more traditional with sticky toffee pudding, Earl Grey tea, salted toffee sauce, and a good dusting of dried orange blossoms. The palate amps up the vanilla to the point of rich and oily pods being squeezed in your hands as waxy cacao nibs mingle with soft wintry spices and plum pudding with plenty of dark stone fruit. The finish takes on a slight maple syrup vibe before hitting a soft cedar bark braided with a single leaf of ginger-infused tobacco.

Bottom Line:

This is The Dalmore’s sweet spot. This is the Highland malt at its categorical zenith.

10. Mortlach 20

Diageo

ABV: 43.4%

Average Price: $240

The Whisky:

Dufftown’s Mortlach is one of those distilleries that may just make you fall in love with scotch. The mash is distilled 2.81 times, according to Mortlach’s unique distilling methods. That juice is then loaded in sherry casks and left to do its thing for 20 long years. The results are vatted, brought down to proof with that soft Speyside water, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

Freshly baked apple pie with cinnamon bark and nutmeg leads to black raisins, fatty walnuts, grilled pineapple, and sea-salt-infused dark cacao sauce with a hint of vanilla and pear on the nose. The palate leans into the lard pie crust under that apple pie with a hint of powdered sugar icing next to mint chocolate chip, old vanilla pods, and banana’s foster with a smidge of clove and allspice thrown in. There’s a light sense of caramel malts on the end that leads to a walnut cake full of raisins and cinnamon with a buttery vibe next to a savory note that’s part green herbs and part extra virgin olive oil.

Bottom Line:

This is a perfect whisky that you can still get, so get some while you still can.

9. Glenfiddich Suspended Time Aged 30 Years, Time Re:Imagined Collection

Glenfiddich Suspended Time 30
William Grant & Sons

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $1,299

The Whisky:

This new line from Glenfiddich is all about slow and steady aging over decades. In this case, this ultra-rare whisky was aged for three decades in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks until it hit a perfect point for batching, proofing, and bottling this year.

Tasting Notes:

Soft hints of stewed plums cut with sweet cinnamon, bitter clove, and salted dark chocolate mingle with a sense of old but very soft suede, dusty oak beams in an old wine cellar, and this fleeting sense of old honey stored in stone pots of eons with an echo of orange blossom. The palate builds on that mild floral vibe with and aura of rose-water-laced moist marzipan dipped in creamy dark chocolate with an edge of cinnamon bark and dried apple bushels countering everything. The end has another note of that old honey and stone pots with a lingering sense of pipe tobacco dipped in apple honey and rolled with dry strings of cedar bark and strips of musty leather.

Bottom Line:

This Glenfiddich release is one of the most delicious unpeated malts of the year.

8. Bowmore Aston Martin 21

Bowmore Aston Martin 21
Beam Suntory

ABV: 51.8%

Average Price: $910

The Whisky:

This collaboration between Islay’s Bowmore and Aston Martin is about luxury. The blend of this single malt follows the golden ratio to create an aesthetically pleasing vibe. The base is 61.8% of 21-year-old single malt aged in first-fill Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks. The rest of the blend is equal parts of Bowmore’s other casks that are at least 21 years old ranging up to 35 years old.

Tasting Notes:

Creamy yet floral honey draws you in on the nose with fresh Grade-A maple syrup that has a little of the tree bark in it, alongside hints of peanut brittle, creamy Nutella, and fresh boot leather (almost creamy boot wax). Soft mulled wine spices and sugars open the palate as savory fruit — mostly papaya and gala melon — mix with vanilla lattes dusted with dark cacao, cherry bark, and toasted coconut. The mid-palate sweetness and creaminess give way to spicy woody tobacco, dark fruit leather, and a distant whisper of burnt marshmallows over a smoky backyard firepit.

Bottom Line:

This is one of the best Bowmore releases that highlight the true subtly peated whisky can have.

7. Johnnie Walker Masters of Flavour Aged 48 Years

Johnnie Walker Master of Flavour
Diageo

ABV: 41.5%

Average Price: $25,000

The Whiskies:

This whisky is so rare that the casks it’s made from are from ghost distilleries. Those are the ones that no longer operate. In this case, that’s barrels from Port Dundas, Brora, Glen Albyn, and Glenury Royal. Though, the Brora distillery has officially reopened as of spring 2021 after a nearly 40-year closure. Regardless, single malt barrels from each of those distilleries that were a minimum of 48 years old came together to make a mere 288 bottles for this release.

Tasting Notes:

The nose opens with a soft breeze on a misty pebble beach with a grill box smoking away somewhere in the distance with some oysters and salmon on the fire as dates wrapped in nori mingle with rum-soaked prunes, a hint of winter spice, and an old leather tobacco pouch that’s more old tobacco oil and old dirt than rawhide. The palate leans into the smoke but layers in dried cherries, blackberries, and slightly tart currants as the spice kicks in with sharp cinnamon with browned buttered layered into an apple fritter with a hint of vanilla and a touch of nuttiness. Hot fireplace coals, burnt toffee, and smoked berries round out the finish as a final note pulls in the beachside grill box smoke, berries, spice, and leather into a subtly soft end.

Bottom Line:

This is Johnnie Walker going so hard in the paint that it’s ridiculous, especially price-wise. But the whisky in the bottle delivers something truly extraordinary that we’ll never see again.

6. Benromach 1978 Single Cask

Benromach 1978
Gordon and MacPhail

ABV: 55.8%

Average Price: $2,300

The Whisky:

This ultra-rare single cask single malt from Speyside is a thing of beauty. The whisky is from a single barrel — a sherry cask — that was filled in 1978 and left alone for 40 long years. That barrel yielded 184 bottles, all of which were bottled as-is with no fussing.

Tasting Notes:

The nose opens with this mix of kiwi skins, sandy pear flesh, saffron threads, and creamy honey with a thin line of old vanilla husks. The palate layers orange and lime citrus into the honey as soft notes of black and green peppercorns mingle with a faint whisper of wet chili pepper, old lemon candy wrappers, and dark chocolate powder-laced tobacco. The end softens considerably toward a lush and silky finish full of chocolate malts, rich toffee, marzipan, and this almost invisible line of peaty yet sweet fireplace smoke.

Bottom Line:

This vintage barrel of whisky is one of those “ah-ha!” moment whiskies where the clouds part and the sunshine warmly hits your face while teaching you how truly great whisky can be.

5. The Balvenie 40

The Balvenie 40
William Grant and Sons

ABV: 48.5%

Average Price: $6,250

The Whiskies:

This whisky is all about Malt Master David Stewart MBE — who basically invented special barrel finishes — finding the best 40-plus-year-old barrels and blending them into this miracle of an expression. The seven barrels are a mix of traditional ex-bourbon casks and sherry butts that somehow survived the four decades in the warehouse with something not only drinkable but delicious still in those casks. Those barrels ended up providing only 150 bottles.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a leathery dark fruit vibe on the nose with a clear sense of old honey barrels and maybe even dead honey bees (honey bee stew is an old-school delicacy) next to fresh cream and raspberries, orange marmalade with plenty of burnt zest, and a soft vanilla cream sauce. The palate leans into that orange with candied edges, kind of like a holiday fruit cake, with candied ginger, candied almonds, tea-soaked dates, and super mellow winter spices that lead back to that creamy vanilla with a hint of black licorice and a small whisper or soft cedar. The finish marries the burnt orange with the old and woody honey with a whiff of the moldy cellar, cobwebs, and a final brush of an old straw broom.

Bottom Line:

This was the best The Balvenie release, maybe of all time.

4. Benromach 40

Benromach 40
Gordon and MacPhail

ABV: 57.1%

Average Price: $3,818

The Whisky:

This Speyside distillery is for the whisky nerds out there. This particular release just dropped last summer with only 1,000 total. The whisky in those bottles was produced in 1981 and then spent four decades chilling out in old Oloroso sherry casks before going into the bottle as-is.

Tasting Notes:

This is soft on the nose with flourishes of plum puddings and mince meat pies next to candied ginger, lightly spiced malts, a hint of dark cacao powder, orange zest, and old brown sugar. The palate keeps that subtly as stewed apples with a hint of saffron dance with a dash of grapefruit pith, more orange zest, old maple syrup, and waxy dark cacao nibs freshly picked from a tree. The end has a twinge of tannic old oak stave with dry sweetgrass and cedar bark braids next to a thin line of black-tea-soaked dates and allspice.

Bottom Line:

This has been the year that Benromach went from a niche to a global powerhouse and this multi-award-winning is a big reason why.

3. The GlenDronach Grandeur Batch 11 Aged 28 Years

The GlenDronach
Brown-Forman

ABV: 48.9%

Average Price: $800

The Whisky:

The GlenDronach Grandeur Batch 11 was created by Dr. Rachel Barrie (who also created the BenRiach above). Dr. Barrie hand-selected a tiny number of rare Pedro Ximénez and oloroso Sherry casks that were filled with The GlenDronach malt almost 30 years ago. Those barrels were vatted and bottled with a touch of water into just over 3,000 bottles.

Tasting Notes:

The nose opens with a sense of black-tea-soaked dates blended with Saigon cinnamon and freshly ground nutmeg next to blackstrap molasses, walnut cake, old oak staves soaked in floral honey, moist marzipan laced with orange oils and dipped in salted dark chocolate, and a little twinge of bourbon vanilla cherries. The palate pops with dark cherry cordial on the palate next to stewed plums with anise and clove, old leather tobacco pouches, and a touch of creamy espresso. The end is a mix of dark chocolate and brandy-soaked cherries next to spent oolong tea leaves, walnut shells, and salted black licorice with a whisper of spiced caramel malts.

Bottom Line:

This is one of the best bottles of The GlenDronach out there.

2. Springbank 25 2022 Edition

Springbank
J and A Mitchell and Company

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $6,500

The Whisky:

This is a very rare whisky aged in 60% sherry casks and 40% bourbon casks for 25 long years. After that, the whisky is touched with a little local water and it’s filled into only 1,300 bottles.

Tasting Notes:

The nose opens with a soft marriage between fresh raspberries and subtle rose petals with old cellar beams, cobwebs, and a dirt floor rounding things out, with a whisper of seaside air lurking in between. The palate veers from that nose pretty drastically with hints of rum-soaked overripe bananas next to wet brown sugar, rock candy, and a hint of large salt flakes. The end builds on that saltiness with a rush of malted barley and sweetgrass after the rain.

Bottom Line:

This is the apex of great whiskies from Campletown and Springbank. If you have a bottle of this, you have a bottle of greatness.

1. Caol Ila 175th Anniversary Aged 24 Years

Caol Ila 175th Anniversary
Diageo

ABV: 52.1%

Average Price: $799

The Whisky:

This whisky was bottled to celebrate the 175 years Caol Ila has been operating on Islay. 3,000 bottles were rendered from barrels of at least 24-year-old whisky, each of which highlighted the sophisticated brand’s nuanced peatiness and fruitiness.

Tasting Notes:

The nose opens with a sense of a beach campfire far away as fresh brioche filled with nougat and dusted with nutmeg dries the profile toward raisins soaked in mulled wine with plenty of orange and clove. There’s a sense of that deeply ruddy mulled wine on the palate with star anise, allspice, cinnamon bark, and rum-raisin butter next to prunes, dates, figs, and tart dried red berries with a flourish of moist vanilla cake frosted with salted toffee and dusted with dark chocolate shavings. The end leans into the woody spices with mulled wine-soaked cinnamon bark and clove buds next to salted caramel tobacco leaves rolled with old cedar bark and strips of nori as that whisper of beach campfire smoke sneaks back in.

Bottom Line:

This is perfection from Caol Ila. Perfection. Perfection. Period.

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