A nip from Loch Ness: The top 10 rarest Scotch whiskies (part 2)
We recently ventured into the heart of Scotland on a journey to encounter and uncover some of the rarest, most enigmatic and hard-to-find single malt Scotch whiskies ever released. Today, we continue that journey, traveling rolling fields of rarity and exploring iconic, one-of-a-kind bottlings from Macallan, Lagavulin, Bowmore and Glenfiddich. Join us as we revel in the finest craftsmanship that Scotland has to offer, and toast a dram to the distillers who have made the fantasies of some become a very happy reality.
The Macallan 1926 Valerio Adami 60 year old
Stumbled upon a bottle of Macallan 1926? Buy yourself a lottery ticket. Macallan's magnum opus, the 1926 60 year old single malt, designed by Valerio Adami is perhaps the rarest whisky in the world, and one that regularly sells for upwards of $1 million when it surfaces for auction. Alongside Michael Dillon's iconic 1926 and Peter Blake's enigmatic version of the same vintage, the Valerio Adami is one of the most eye-catching, emphatic and aesthetic bottlings to ever come out of The Macallan Distillery, with the 1926 60-year-old representing the absolute pinnacle in form and function when it comes to crafting and engineering fine whisky. It is no surprise that the 1926 holds the record for the most expensive whisky ever sold, and holds the next 4 positions on the list of most expensive whiskies.
A distinctive and desirable statement piece that’s testament to Lagavulin’s outstanding reputation for quality, the Lagavulin 37 is one of the most sought-after single malt whiskies of the last 2 decades, and is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of quality craftsmanship in the realm of Scotch whisky. For collectors, connoisseurs and whiskyphiles all over the world, the Lagavulin 37 is one of the most coveted releases, mainly due to the highly limited nature of its bottling. With only 1,868 individually numbered bottles ever released, this is an iteration that will rarely ever see daylight on the market, and its value has only increased since its 2013 release.
Glenmorangie Sauternes 1981
A 1981 release that typifies the quality and complexity of Glenmorangie’s finest exports, the Sauternes Wood Finish 1981 is a legendary bottling which is so rare that it rarely sees the light of day. Matured for 21 years in casks formerly containing sweet wine from Chateau d’Yquem, a formidable Sauternes vineyard, the Glenmorangie Sauternes Wood Finish is one of the foremost examples of wood finish whisky and is today, one of the most sought-after and celebrated released from Glenmorangie. For collectors of the finest, most enigmatic Scotch whisky, this is a must-have for the top shelf.
The oldest whisky ever released by Macallan, the Genesis Lalique 72 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky needs no introduction. A celebration of a seminal moment in Macallan’s history, namely the opening of a new Distillery and Visitor Experience, the Genesis Decanter has been designed specifically to mirror the magnificent architecture of the new distillery, and seeks to celebrate the masters of malt, past and present who have shaped and influenced the Macallan throughout its history. As you would expect, a 72 year old single malt Scotch from Macallan has seen eye-watering demand and in turn, seen eye-watering prices for this one-of-a-kind dram, and for collectors and connoisseurs, just setting eyes on this majestic piece of craftsmanship may be enough… But for those with the appetite, hungry for a slice of history and an iconic bottle to add to their collection, the Genesis Lalique 72 is the coup de gras, the holy grail, and the final piece of the puzzle.
A 20 year old Scotch whisky, distilled in 1964, there are actually two different iterations of the Bowmore Black, both as rare as one another. The 30 year old is a ridiculously luxurious and sophisticated piece of whisky craftsmanship that is intense and perfectly balanced, while the 42 year old iteration is a sumptuously exotic and remarkably rare dram, that is testament to Bowmore’s ridiculously high standards and peerless pursuit of quality.
Branded as the Scottish distiller’s “heirloom” release, the Glenfiddich 50 is a powerful and pronounced single malt whisky that represents the culmination of countless years of whisky innovation, dedication and care. A remarkable piece of engineering, presented in one of the most spectacular, sophisticated boxes, the Glenfiddich 50 is a true icon of style and makes for an alluring and audaciously luxurious statement piece for any connoisseur’s collection. A Scotch that has defined the distillery’s approach to curating and crafting whisky with meticulous precision and an almost eye-watering pursuit of quality, this bottle rarely surfaces on the market and when it does, it’s not available for long.
Hunting Unicorns: Blanton's Polish Enigmas
In previous installments of Hunting Unicorns, we've put some of the rarest and most sought-after bourbon and rye whiskeys under the microscope, deep-diving into the nuances and intricacies of each bottle and what makes them so hard to find. Today, we take a different approach, uncorking a few bottles that are arguably rarer than anything we've covered before, a Kentucky-produced silo that's rarely found in America and is scarce all over the globe; enter Blanton's Poland Editions.
An annual "LE" release, and one that represents the zenith of exclusivity, is specific to the European nation's M&P Wine and Spirits Festival, made available each year in eye-wateringly limited numbers.
While reserved only for the Polish retail market, these bottles do trickle into markets internationally following their annual release, and as a result of the cap on the number of bottles (which varies between seasons and can be less than 1000), they tend to fetch a pretty penny if and when they do surface.
So are they worth the money? The answer depends on who's asking it. While the Poland Edition doesn't stray too far from the classic, iconically smooth Blanton's Original Single Barrel, there are several points of difference that potentially warrant the heftier price tag.
Blanton's is notorious for its silky smooth mouthfeel and the almost casual ease with which it drinks. From the first sip, the profile is lavish and languid. It relaxes on the palate and caresses the tastebuds with vanilla, sweet caramel, baking spice, and chewy toffee prominent and pronounced. The same rings true with the , yet, there is more energy and gusto to the experience. Here, heat and spice accentuate and elevate the primary flavors, creating a decadence and elegance that is never overbearing and always in tune with the rest of the bourbon.
The vibrancy and power of the Poland Edition's profile are multi-faceted, but it largely owes this vitriol to the heightened proof and residual potency that come with these elements. The hum in the finish is something that not many Blanton's bottles possess or achieve (save the precise cutting warmth of the 'SFTB' and 'Gold'), and this aspect of the M&P release makes it all the more outstanding. At 117 proof, or 58.5% alcohol, it is a fearsome beast of a bourbon that punches well above its usual weight and is quite simply more than the sum of its parts.
Or perhaps, the lack thereof. The fact is that the Poland Editions are unicorns. For the everyday bourbon drinker, these are mythical bottles, the absolute precipice of rarity and exclusivity. The 2020 M&P Wine and Spirits Festival 'Special Release' is a remarkably elusive iteration of the Poland Edition silo, with barrels 366, 368, 371, and 376 used in the production. Given that each barrel yields an average of 200 bottles, there were very few bottles released globally, and there are far fewer available today.
To secure your bottle of , click here.
Review: The Macallan x Sir Peter Blake
A limited-edition single malt from Macallan, is inspired by the appreciation of nature, beauty, and legacy shared by Macallan and Sir Peter Blake. Aromas of rich dried fruit, cinnamon, and clove fill the nose, complemented by notes of black pepper, orange oil, vanilla, treacle, and dark chocolate throughout the palate. This specially-created single malt is presented in a blue and green presentation box which houses the bottle, a certificate detailing the history and heritage on which the art was based, and Sir Peter Blake artwork printed on a scroll.
One of the most iconic pop artists in history, Blake is revered for his collage and pastiche artworks which were prevalent in the '70s and '80s and drove the pop art movement in the United Kingdom. For An Estate, A Community and A Distillery, Blake draws on inspiration from the Macallan Distillery and its surrounding landscapes and brings forth a nostalgic trip that transgresses Scotland's nature and iconic historical figures.
The bottle itself is magnificently crafted and highly collectible, a 95.4 proof single malt Scotch which will undoubtedly become one of the most coveted bottles ever released by The Macallan, and is beautifully presented with an artwork by Blake printed on a scroll and included with the bottle.
It is rare that a whisky release comes with such intricate presentation and novelty, however, such is the beast that is Macallan, they have created a most intriguing and enticing whisky to accompany what is a truly captivating experience. Complex, balanced, and with a bouquet of flavors, An Estate, A Community and A Distillery is a once-in-a-lifetime single malt Scotch that's testament to Macallan's status as the foremost innovator and leader in the modern Scotch making industry.
Interested in adding one of the finest Highlands Scotch whiskies to your collection? Then
The Comprehensive Beginner's Guide to American Whiskey
For the uninitiated, American Whiskey is the umbrella term used to describe any distilled spirit that's produced using a fermented cereal mash in the United States of America.
This encompasses an extensive range of whiskey types, the most common of which are bourbon whiskey, rye whiskey, malt whiskey, wheated whiskey, Tennessee whiskey, and corn whiskey.
Within these general categories there are further intricacies and specifics that define how an American whiskey has been crafted or distilled, with blended whiskeys, straight whiskeys and single-barrel whiskeys to name but a few more granular varietals.
So what are the characteristics that determine what constitutes each of the various strains of American whiskey? Here we discuss the finer points and delve into the definitions of each sub-variety.
But before we get into discussing this, first we need to understand what a mash bill is…
A mash bill is a specific mix of grains and cereals used in the process of whiskey making. These grains are cooked, fermented, aged and then distilled, with typical whiskey mash bills being comprised of corn, wheat, rye and barley.
The percentage of each grain fluctuates depending on the type of whiskey being produced, as well as the specific distiller producing a spirit, but generally, one of these grains will be the dominant ingredient in a mash (usually when one grain is represented by 51% or more of the total mash bill) and will determine the varietal of the spirit itself.
Bourbon whiskey is, by law, a whiskey composed of 51% or more of corn in the mash bill, with the other 49% being barley, wheat or rye, with a fairly even mix being common for standard bourbon mashes.
In a bygone era, a bourbon was also required to be made and distilled in the state of Kentucky, however today numerous distilleries exist in states such as Virginia (John J. Bowman), Nevada (Nevada Distilling Co.), Texas (Garrison Bros.), and many more.
It’s common for larger, well-known distillers to use a similar mash bill for a variety of their catalog offerings, with the differences in flavor and profile derived more from the aging and specifics of the distilling process.
At Buffalo Trace, for example, there are 3 generic bourbon bills:
While there are countless other distilleries that have similar processes and practices defining their mash bills and the bourbon whiskeys they produce, this gives a good insight into the general ways in which bourbon can be produced.
Now we know that a 51% corn-based mash bill constitutes a bourbon whiskey, what about others that use less corn?
For rye whiskeys, a similar rule applies, requiring a 51% or higher rye content. The remaining 49% is generally a mixture of corn and barley, however, this depends on the preferences of the distiller and the type of taste/flavor that the whiskey will be instilled with. High-rye whiskey generally possesses a more robust earthiness and a spicy and powerful flavor, while low-rye content whiskeys resemble bourbon more closely but a more distinctive, natural undertone.
To provide some context about how composition can affect ryes, let’s take a look at the ryes produced by two acclaimed distillers - High West and Buffalo Trace.
Like bourbon’s Kentucky-based heritage, Tennessee Whiskey is made in the same way and is a 51% corn composed spirit, with the remaining 49% similarly mixed up of barley, rye and potentially wheat depending on the preferences of the distiller.
The spirit does, however, have to be aged in charred new white oak barrels, and must also be charcoal filtered prior to ageing. These are the requirements for a whiskey to possess the ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ label, and the filtration process is known as the Lincoln County Process.
The charcoal used for the filtration is derived from sugar maple trees, and is burnt to produce a ‘smoother’ product designed to mellow the distillate and make an overall smoother whiskey.
Popular Tennessee whiskeys, such as Jack Daniel’s or Dickel, have made this process world-famous, and continue to use the boundaries of fine whiskey craftsmanship with a deep respect for history.
Well, the great thing about starting a whiskey journey is that you get to start from the beginning, and the best way to begin is to learn what you like, and how do you do that? By diving in head first and trying your first bottle.
If you are a fan of hard-hitting flavor and like heat and spice, a higher-proof bourbon might be something you’re interested in, or a high-rye content whiskey may be more to your liking. For those who aren’t sure where to begin, then a great starting point can be found in our (which are also fantastic value).
This is the fun part of the journey, so if you’re keen and willing to explore the world of whiskey, why not take a look at the following drops:
The signature whiskey of , arguably Kentucky's finest whiskey distillery, this Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a testament to Buffalo Trace's respect for the art of whiskey craftsmanship. Melding vanilla, barrel char, and complex spiciness, this particular straight bourbon whiskey is inspired by American wilderness and seeks to emulate the rugged, rich flavors that define Kentucky's countryside. No collection is complete without this stalwart of the American whiskey scene.
A blend of straight Rye whiskeys ranging in age from 2 to 7 years, this rye is a "must-try for rye Whiskey aficionados," according to Whisky
Advocate. Marrying two straight rye whiskies that perfectly combine the feisty and fiery properties of high rye, this mature, corn-heavy blend provides some additional sweetness to calm the classic rye bite. Perfect for collectors of rye searching for a complex and considered daily drinker or for beginners looking to explore intricately crafted rye varieties, does not disappoint.
A beautifully refined bourbon whiskey from is one of the finest exponents of the Buffalo Trace distillery. Impeccably balanced and remarkably complex, this straight bourbon is widely considered a 'dual-barrel' as it was once a single barrel but has now adopted a new, unique production method. As is tradition with the Eagle Rare brand, this bottle is most difficult to source thanks to its exceptional flavor and popularity with purists, so given the opportunity, it's a must-buy!
This Tennessee whisky is crafted from 10 barrels, all aged 10-12 years and personally selected by Master Distiller John Lunn. A specially selected whiskey from , blended from casks chosen each year by the master distiller - hence 'Barrel Select'. It's made in a batch of about 10 casks, each having aged their contents for 10-12 years.
Hunting Unicorns: The top 10 rarest American whiskeys in the world (part 2)
In case you missed our first installment of Hunting Unicorns, feel free to read part 1 .
So we've covered a few of the big names, the heavy-hitters, some of the rarest, most-sought-after and hardest-to-find bourbon and rye whiskeys anywhere in the world. Now what? Well, we start on the next 5 rarest bourbon and rye whiskeys in the world! Below are five of our absolute favorite drops, some of the most enigmatic, elusive and exceptionally excellent bottles money can buy.
One of the most highly regarded and critically acclaimed bourbon whiskeys to be produced by Buffalo Trace, Elmer T Lee’s standard Sour Mash Bourbon is hard enough come by, let alone the uber limited edition commemorative releases that they celebrate milestones with.
While the 100 Year Anniversary bottle is more widely known as one of the rarest and most exclusive bourbon whiskeys to come out of the realm of Kentucky bourbon, the 90th Anniversary is much hard to come by, and has solidified its place in folklore as one of the most elusive, exclusive and highly sought-after bourbons in the world.
Expect a generous, silky smooth mouthfeel and lashings of succulent flavor spanning vanilla, caramel and toffee, as well as nuanced hints of butter, oak and light citrus. Signed by Elmer T. Lee himself, this bottle is the definition of collector's item, and is likely a bottle that even the most seasoned connoisseurs will never set eyes upon in their lifetime.
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What a gift this would be… Released in ridiculously limited numbers just once a year, the ‘birthday’ bourbon moniker is incredibly fitting, commemorating founder, George Garvin Brown’s birthday. Old Forester’s most exclusive bottling has a new iteration each year, and each year is entirely different to the last.
As with any annual release, there is a finite number of bottles in circulation, and as a result, there is an extremely high level of demand and an increasing appetite for each year’s vintage. Whenever a new release is announced, the previous year’s release appreciates in value - so collectors will be hard-pressed to find older vintages and competition is high for each upcoming version.
The 2020 vintage release for example, is made from a single batch distilled on a single day from a grand total of 93 barrels. Beautifully balancing soft butterscotch, subtle hints of banana, oak and some nuanced citrus, it is deliciously appointed and swimming with complex yet majestically balanced flavor profiles.
A must-own for Kentucky whiskey purists, the bottle is an eye-catching centerpiece for any collection that will be a talking point for anyone who knows whiskey.
Where to ?
With only 273 bottles made available to the public, Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash is a challenger for the most limited bottle on this list, owing its extreme exclusivity to Master Distiller Willie Pratt and his meticulous and unwaveringly dedicated approach to blending the finest barrels in the Michter’s distillery.
This blended Kentucky Whiskey combines a number of the best barrels produced by Michter’s, all of which are aged for a minimum of 20 years, with some aged more than 30 years, to produce a flavor profile unlike anything else in circulation. As you can imagine, whiskeys of this age lend themselves to extremely limited numbers, so it is no surprise that this particular bottle is more than a ‘unicorn’ it is effectively an apparition.
For those who are lucky enough to uncover one in its natural habitat, the opportunity should not be passed up - try or buy, do not squander the chance to enjoy one of the finest bottles that money can offer. It might take deep pockets, but the expense is surely worth the indisputable rarity and exclusivity of a 1/237 drop.
Cause for celebration, Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash is a bottle to die for.
Rare rating: 10/10
Where to ?
Iconic and exceptional, for collectors and connoisseurs, this is a statement piece that will impress and inspire. The elegant crystal decanter is a stunningly crafted conversation starter, and the bourbon itself is decadent and magnificently appointed.
Aged for twice as long as the standard Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight, the Double Eagle Very Rare is a 20 year matured bourbon whiskey that is both complex and captivating, beautifully balancing subtle vanilla and caramel notes, a toasted oakiness and a luxurious and sophisticated mouthfeel.
For fans of Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection seeking a little bit more bravado and panache, the Double Eagle Very Rare is a superb addition to any top-shelf, the only difficulty will be sourcing this ever-elusive variety.
Released annually in extremely limited numbers, there have only been 3 full releases in the history of the brand, meaning it is nothing short of an enigma and incredibly difficult to locate. For those who manage this impressive feat, however, the hunt is undoubtedly worth it - a prized possession for any collector or connoisseur with a passion for sublime Kentucky bourbon.
Rare rating: 10/10
Where to ?
Named by Colonel E. H. Taylor in 1870, O.F.C or Old Fashioned Copper has long been a tour de force in Kentucky whiskey folklore. One part myth, one part magic, O.F.C was the ultimate state-of-the-art facility in its era, and has produced some of the finest, most critically acclaimed and most widely celebrated bourbons the world has ever seen.
Produced in incredibly small numbers and bottled in hand-cut crystal decanters, O.F.C’s Buffalo Trace releases are some of the rarest and most refined Kentucky bourbon whiskeys around. Bottled at 90 proof and aged for 25 years, each annual vintage has a character and charisma that is second to none, and a flavor profile that aptly encapsulates the spirit that is O.F.C, known today as Buffalo Trace.
A warm, buttery nose with lashings of cherry, molasses and oak is complemented beautifully by robust caramel, cinnamon and wood tones on the palate, which resounds in a herbaceous, oaky finish that tantalizes and entices the tastebuds.
For many collectors, this is a bottle they will never have the privilege of adding to their collection, however for those that are lucky enough, it is a bottle that they will never forget.
Rare rating: 10/10
Where to ?
The Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Scotch
Everyone has heard of it, but not everyone knows what it is… Scotch, the world’s favorite spirit and arguably the most elegant and exciting drink created by mankind.
In this blog, we’ll cover the ins and outs of the complex world that is , the different types of Scotch available and their histories, as well as the do’s and don’ts and any other intricacies we’ve learned over the years that we’ve enjoyed trying, tasting, and enjoying the best Scotch whisky in the world.
Scotch whisky is the world’s most popular spirit and defines a distilled malt or grain spirit produced in . Scotch was originally made from malted barley and was commercialized in the late 18th century, however, the first recorded record of distilled malt spirit in Scotland was in 1494, making it one of the world’s oldest historical spirits. (While it is believed to have been introduced by the Irish in the mid-to-late 15th century, don’t expect Scots to admit this!)
Whisky was produced, traded and enjoyed throughout Scotland and particularly the Highlands from the late 15th century and onwards, being taxed as early as the early 17th century and then commercialized in the late 18th century, and then modernized following the introduction of pot stills for distillation in 1831.
The popularity of Scotch spiked in the late 19th century due to a shortage of cognac and brandy being exported from France in the 1880s, which resulted in a boom in the number and volume of Scotch distilleries in the 1890s. While this boom was devastated by the implications of World War I and the Great Depression on the industry, the popularity of Scotch never wavered and today it is the world’s most celebrated and sought-after spirit.
Scotch has been protected by regulatory legislation since 1988, with the Scotch Whisky Act 1988 first instituting the rules and guidelines under which a spirit could be branded, labeled and marketed as Scotch Whisky. This statute was replaced by the Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009 (SWR), which sets out the definition of Scotch whiskey as a whisky that pertains to the following criteria:
In addition to the rules and conditions under which a Scotch’s definition is regulated, a Scotch must also meet certain labeling requirements. The label must explicitly state:
The classic Scotch whisky, single malt Scotch is the sweetheart of the spirit world, renowned for its luxurious smoothness and sophisticated complexity. Composed of malted barley and defined by the use of a copper pot still distillation process, single malt Scotch whisky must be matured in oak casks in Scotland at a single distillery for a minimum of 3 years, though most are aged gracefully for much longer. A superb sipping spirit that is essential to any serious connoisseur's collection.
Like single malt Scotch whisky, single grain Scotch is distilled at a single distillery, however, in addition to water and malted barley, other grains or cereals are involved in the composition. Single grain is not an indicator that a ‘single grain’ was used to produce the whisky, but rather that a single distillery was responsible for its production and a mixture of grains were used in the process. The main difference in the processes between single malt and single grain whiskies is the distillation, with single grain predominantly employing continuous or column stills.
While it perhaps does not hold the same reputation as its purely single malt sibling, Blended Scotch Whisky remains an exceptionally sophisticated and deservingly celebrated spirit, accounting for the vast majority of Scotch whiskies produced, purchased and enjoyed around the world. Composed of a mix of grain and single malt whisky, expect a complex balance of flavors and a captivatingly smooth mouthfeel when enjoying the harmony that is blended Scotch whisky.
Home to some of the most celebrated, award-winning distilleries in Scotland, the Highlands is the largest whisky region in the country and is synonymous with quality and expert craftsmanship. With household names like Glenmorangie and Glendronach leading by example, the Highlands are known for their luxuriously sophisticated and immaculately textured Scotch whiskies.
A region renowned for its versatility and the vast diversity of its scotch whisky, Speyside scotch whiskies are generally categorized in two ways - the complex, silky, sweeter sherried varieties produced by the likes of the Macallan, and the more modest, lighter whiskies by distilleries such as Glenlivet. It is true that some distilleries are capable of producing Scotch that lies at either end of the spectrum, Glenfiddich to give an example, but Speyside is known as a specialist region, and is undoubtedly a specialist when it comes to quality and exceptional craftsmanship.
Revered for the unmistakable smoky and earthy peatiness of their whisky, Islay is one of the southernmost Scottish islands that produces and distills fine Scotch. Home to 8 acclaimed distilleries and with a budding community passionate about the art of whiskey-making, Islay will continue to grow as one of the world's top Scotch powerhouses.
Once a single malt powerhouse with a rich history of success in the region, Lowland Scotch whisky is predominantly blended today. While large quantities of grain whisky are prolific, there remains a small selection of distillers who are faithful to the Lowland malt sentiment and continue to produce outstandingly nuanced and palatable single malt scotch whiskies.
Perhaps inspired by the affinity the Scottish Isles share with the sea, Island Single Malt Scotch whisky is some of the purest Scotland has to offer. As to be expected when the region is as loosely connected as this, Island Scotch's range is eclectic and can vary from light, clean citrus-inspired whiskies to bold, peaty, full-bodied varieties. Diversity is the key to appreciating this region, a truly breathtaking place on earth with some truly breathtaking single malt Scotch whisky.
When Campbeltown was at its peak, it was a flourishing epicenter for single malt scotch whisky and home to over 30 distilleries, all making exceptional, high-quality spirits, but sadly that's no longer the case. Today, only 3 distilleries remain in the region, however, not all is lost. Springbank, Glen Scotia and Longrow are some of Scotland's finest producers and continue to bring life to the region.
Now comes the fun part, embarking on the journey. Only you will be able to discover what you like and don't like in a Scotch, and the best way to do that is by beginning to try and taste different types of Scotch from the various different regions. It can be a daunting journey, so here are our 3 favorite beginner Scotch whiskeys for entry-level beginners:
The world's most award-winning Scotch whisky, Glenfiddich's 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch is a formidable piece of whisky craftsmanship that blends a distinctive fruitiness, fine, subtle oak flavors and an exceptional, prolonged finish that's testament to the quality of Speyside's best drams. Aged gracefully for 12 long years in American oak and European oak sherry casks, this sleek, sophisticated Scotch is arguably the best value single malt in the world.
An evolution of Macallan's 12 year old whisky, matured in a combination of sherry and bourbon casks. Only 5,000 bottles of this outstanding Speyside single malt will be made available. The Macallan 12 Year Old is a legendary Speyside whisky for good reason; triple cask matured in a unique, complex combination of exceptional European oak casks seasoned with sherry, American oak casks seasoned with sherry, and American oak casks seasoned with bourbon, it delivers an extraordinarily smooth, delicate yet complex single malt, matured at The Macallan Distillery for a minimum of twelve years.
Until recently, Gold Label was reserved for the duty-free market. The product has now been released widely and provides lovers of Johnnie Walker with an opportunity to taste the portfolio's "older brother". Initiated by Alexander Walker in 1920, Gold Label had to wait 30 years to be produced, due to a shortage of aged malts caused by the First World War. From its smoky vanilla aroma to its creamy, honeyed taste, this Scotch whisky finishes with a light and lingering spiciness.
This quintessential single malt won a Gold Medal at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and the World Whiskies Awards. A dense, heavily-sherried dram from a distillery now producing again after a six-year layoff. A malt best suited to after-dinner sipping.
Beyond Kentucky: The best American whiskey distilleries outside of the bourbon state
For many collectors and connoisseurs of bourbon, Kentucky whiskey is the ultimate expression of quality. An art form, carefully considered and meticulously cared for, Kentucky bourbon makers share an oath, pledging to deliver the absolute best, the zenith of whiskey making, the pinnacle of spirit craftsmanship. There is no doubting the expertise for which the state is renowned, however, there are some outside of Kentucky that dare to dream... some that have taken similar oaths to deliver whiskeys of the finest caliber. Here are a few of our absolute favorite American whiskey distillers outside of the great state of Kentucky.
In whiskey circles, and particularly those where the opinions of purists are gospel, it's rare that a distillery outside of Kentucky is held in the same esteem as such institutions as Buffalo Trace, Stitzel Weller, Michter's, and Heaven Hill.
For lovers of rye, however, New England's WhistlePig represents the benchmark, an acclaimed and irrefutably innovative distillery that has redefined the boundaries of conventional ryes and redrawn the map for lovers of heat and spice.
For the uninitiated, an entry-level WhistlePig such as the 10-year-old straight rye whiskey is a good place to begin, while those familiar with rye and the WhistlePig ensemble might opt for something a bit more decadent, like the acclaimed Boss Hog Limited Editions or Double Malt 18 Year Old Straight Rye.
Whatever your experience level or preferred taste, if you are a fan of rye, then this distillery is the zenith of quality craftsmanship - regardless of whether it's outside Kentucky or not.
To gain an insight into the quality and complexity of Nevada H&C Distilling Co’s bourbon and whiskey exports, one needn’t look further than the below review of their Uncut and Unfiltered Limited Edition Offering:
"A transportive and mesmerizing bourbon, symptomatic of the resounding skill and passion of the acclaimed Smoke Wagon whiskey house. The Nevada Distilling Co. has forged a captivating and cultured bourbon that ensnares the senses and mobilizes the palate, enchanting the taster with a journey that spans from hints of sweet oak and lashings of fresh fruit to new depths of bourbon complexity and nuanced, subtle rye spice…"
A truly remarkable distiller of whiskey and an adept producer of other spirits, be it their uncut, unfiltered bourbon whiskey, their small-batch iteration, or their silver dollar vodka, Nevada H&C are sure to become a favorite for collectors and connoisseurs brave enough to venture away from the typical Kentucky distillers and into the desert plains of Las Vegas, Nevada.
A lesser-known bourbon producer that garners cult status and has earned countless accolades for its tireless dedication to producing quality bourbon whiskey, the A. Smith Bowman Distillery is a whiskey institution to rival all Kentucky-centric distillers. Based in humble Virginia, where it patiently matures its expertly crafted whiskeys, Bowman is a South-eastern icon, and its John J. Bowman single barrel and other vintages have received plaudits from some of the most esteemed whiskey award bodies.
Recipient of the 2017 World’s Best Bourbon at the World Whiskies Awards for its John J. Bowman Single Barrel bourbon, and winner of the same award in 2016 for its Abraham Bowman Pioneer Spirit bourbon, there is no doubting the caliber of Bowman Distillery and its products.
While it could be argued that the Bowman Distillery owes Kentucky some gratitude given its success, mainly due to the juice being sourced from Buffalo Trace and distilled once in Kentucky, the additional distillations and aging are all thanks to the unique Virginian climate and conditions at Bowman, which make it an even more interesting and approachable bourbon producer.