Best Sherry Cask Scotch: The Glendronach Allardice
Region: Highlands, Scotland| ABV: 46% | Tasting Notes: Dark chocolate, Walnut, Spice
For at least part of the aging process, many Scottish distilleries use sherry casks in addition to ex-bourbon barrels to add bold, dried fruit and spice flavors to the whiskey. But some distilleries exclusively age their whiskey in these seasoned barrels, like The GlenDronach.
The 18-year-old Allardice may not be the most famous single malt in the world, but it is perhaps one of the most perfect, says Daniel Burns, lead bartender at Elixir Saloon in San Francisco. Its deep sherry notes and flavors of toasted nuts and jammy fruit last seemingly forever on the palate. The 18-year-old whiskey is matured entirely in Spanish Oloroso sherry butts, no color is added, and it delivers one of the best full-flavored sipping experiences.
“If you can get your hands on The GlenDronach 18-year-old Allardice, count yourself lucky. It’s such a beautiful example of what can happen when you age a single malt in sherry casks for nearly two decadeswonderfully rich flavors emerge.” Prairie Rose, Editor
Macallan 12 Year Double Cask
The Macallan 12-Year-Old Double Cask is 100% sherry-seasoned. It is created from a mash bill of 100% malted barley and aged for 12 years. It has malt, honey, brown sugar, nuts, and orange peel aromas. It has tasting notes of malt, brown sugar, orange zest, and cinnamon.
It has a medium finish with a fruity and vanilla taste. We like that the elements are individually distinguishable but also contribute to the whole.
Best Islay: Ardbeg An Oa
Region: Islay| ABV: 46.6% | Tasting Notes: Nuts, Stone fruit, Salinity, Smoke
The first addition to Ardbegs foundational range of scotches in a decade, this 2017 introduction is named after the Mull of Oa, a rocky peninsula on the Kilodalton coast where the distillery is located. This affordable bottle is as approachable as Islay whisky gets, thanks to the balance that the former sherry barrels bring to the salty smoke.
Theyre taking a super-peaty whisky and taming it with beautiful wine-cask, says Shanahan. Theres no age on it, but still, its brilliant. Its a great introduction to the islands style.
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Pour One Out In Style
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Chloe Jeong / Liquor
There are a lot of opinions when it comes to the best whiskey glasses. Many preach that the tulip-shaped copita glass is ideal for presenting the spirits aromas and flavors. Others prefer a classic Old Fashioned or rocks glass for sipping whiskey. Or, Let’s be honest, quips Robin Goodfellow, co-owner of Toronto’s PrettyUgly and Bar Raval, most of the whisky we consume in our life is from a shot glass.
Whatever you pick for your poison, a glass can change your whole drinking experience. Some are designed to highlight the spirit, while others are versatile enough for cocktails, neat pours and beyond. Still, all are good options, though wed argue a well-stocked bar should carry a few different types.
Whether bourbon, Scotch, Rye or Irish Whiskey is your drink of choice, here are the best whisky or whiskey glasses to add to your collection.
Best Blended Irish Whiskey & Best In Class Teeling Whiskey Small Batch Irish Whiskey
Teeling was the first distillery to reopen in Dublin after nearly a century of tough times for Irish whiskey. The craft distillery ages its juice in bourbon barrels before transferring that whiskey to Central American rum casks. Those barrels are then batched, proofed, and bottled in Teelings big, dark bottle.
It takes a minute to find the nose on this one but there is a hint of rum-raisin, vanilla, and spiced malts in there. The palate has a slight mustiness to it with a thin line of vanilla tobacco that leads to a potting soil echo. The end is a bit warm on those malts and spice with a little bit of earthiness.
This is another whiskey thats perfectly fine but not my favorite . This is squarely a cocktail base whiskey for mixing.
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International Whisky Competition 2021
An annual event that generally takes place in Chicago, the International Whisky Competition sees whiskies blind tasted and rated by a professional tasting panel, the results of which are then used to produce tasting notes for an International Whisky Guide. Under the International Whisky Competition 2021 guidelines, judges blind-tasted, judged and scored each whisky individually for eight minutes based on a select series of criteria. These included:
- Sight: Color , Visual Appeal
- Nose: Intensity and Complexity , Distinctiveness of Aromas , Balance of Aromas
- Taste/Mouth Feel: Palate and Balance , Alcohol, Body and Complexity , Distinctiveness of Flavours , Balance Between Flavours
- Finish: Length and Finish , Quality of Finish
As mentioned, Ardbeg Uigeadail came away with the Whisky of the Year award, scoring an industry-leading 95.9 out of 100. Adding to the victory, Ardberg chief Bill Lumsden was named Master Distiller of the Year, with the Scottish icon also walking away as the winner of the Golden Barrel Trophy. Interestingly enough, last years surprising winner of the Worlds Best Whisky, Dewars Double Double 32-Year-Old slipped in the placings, falling to third, just behind Glenmorangie Vintage 1997. While no Australian release managed to crack the top 15, in a separate acknowledgment, Morris Muscat Barrel Australian Single Malt Whisky was named the nations best, with a score of 90.3.
Glenfiddich 21 Year Gran Reserva
- Category: Single malt scotch
- Region: Speyside, Scotland
This exquisite, traditional whisky has been patiently matured for 21 years at the distillery. A sip of this rum is a great step towards discovering the untapped glory of the whiskey world. Finished in Caribbean rum casks, this single malt scotch whisky combines hints of banana, figs, rich toffee, new leather, and oak.
Glenfiddich is a staple in standard whiskey bars and a great option for whiskey newbies. Also, the 21-year bottle of Glenfiddich is currently the worlds best-selling single-malt whisky. Therefore, it could be the perfect gift to share with old-time whisky lovers if you have been seeking one. Better still, grab a bottle for yourself and tuck it away for future special occasions.
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Best Scotch Whisky: Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19 Year Old Whisky
Scotch whiskies made on the island of Islay are famous for their robust smoky profile imbued from the peat-fueled fire used to roast the barley. Ardbeg embraces that tradition and makes some of the finest bottlings for those who love a big mouthful of smoke. Traigh Bhan 19 is no exception.
This single malt is rich and smoky, but what elevates it to the next level is that through that peaty layer explodes a shimmering and intense pineapple note that radiates on your tastebuds and will forever alter the way you experience single malt Scotch.
ABV: 92.4 Proof | Age: 19 Years | Volume: 750 milliliters
% change: 6.3%
Place last year: N/A
Despite the challenges of tariffs and the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 was a picture of health across American whiskey for the most part, with most brands in growth including Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey variant. Its sales rose by 6.3% to 2m cases.
The drink is a blend of whiskey and honey liqueur. Brown-Forman added the expression to the Jack Daniels range in 2011, and it became the first flavoured whiskey to sell over 1m cases back in 2014.
Best Old Fashioned Glass: Marquis By Waterford Glasses
A solid Old Fashioned glass is a must-have for any bar, like this one from Waterford. It doubles as an excellent vessel for tasting spirits and is large enough to build out Old Fashioneds and other cocktails. I love a nice sturdy, weighted, cushion-cut crystal rocks glass for whiskey, says Ryan Maybee, the co-founder of J. Rieger & Co. The laser etching makes the glass extra comfortable in your hands, and the heavier the base, the less heat transfers into the spirit itself!
These 11-ounce glasses are made from lead-free crystalline with elegant detailing that will withstand the test of time. They’re part of Waterford’s Marquis line, which offers more affordable crystal pieces than the brand’s other glasses. Whiskey distillers love these glasses because they have weight to themthey’re a particularly excellent glass to swirl.
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Best Wine Barrel Aged: Starward Nova Single Malt
Courtesy of thewhiskeyexchange.com
Region: Australia | ABV: 41% | Tasting Notes: Caramel, Plum, Burnt orange
If youve never tried an Australian whisky, youre not alone. Australia is a relative newcomer to the craft spirits scene, but the absence of any long-standing distilling traditions in that country has led to some innovative approaches to establishing a regional style. For Starward, the first Aussie distiller to achieve widespread distribution in the US, that innovation has taken the form of a unique aging process: when it comes time to put their single-malt whisky into barrel, they skip the ex-bourbon or Sherry casks, and instead source ex-shiraz and cabernet barrels from local wineries.
The result is an 82-proof whisky with a fruitier, jammier nose than anything found in Scotland . Playful notes of plum and cherry segue into a malty, toasty, and tannic palate that might just be the perfect stepping-stone for that wine drinker who thinks they dont like the hard stuff.
Region: Kentucky | ABV: Varies per batch | Tasting Notes: Brown sugar, Cocoa, Baking spices
The Balvenie Doublewood 12 Year Old
Photo: Courtesy of The Balvenie
The inimitable David Stewart has been at The Balvenie going on 60 years. Hes the longest-tenured and most highly decorated malt master in the business and has had a hand in the development of some legendary whiskies, from the Tun 1401 series to the DCS Compendium, a collection of 25 handpicked casks curated by Stewart that include vintage single malts spanning his illustrious career. But of all the whiskies hes made, Stewart once told me, hes most proud of DoubleWood 12 Year Old, which changed the way the industry approached spirit maturation. Its aged in two types of barrels: American oak and European oak sherry. Today, virtually every whisky distillery in the world has similarly aged whiskies in their portfolio, but only one is the true original.
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The Whiskey Bucket List: 15 Whiskeys You Need To Try At Least Once
Youve seen all the features. The best Scotch. The Bourbon Bucket List. The Best Japanese whisky. When it comes to whiskey, bourbon, scotch, whisky or whatever else you want to call what we consider to be the finest liquor out there, you have a lot of choices. Were going to keep talking about it until weve consumed at least as many different varieties as Jim Murray. This time around, the categorical gloves are coming off. The Whiskey Bucket List is a combination of rye, bourbon, Irish whiskey, Scotch, Japanese whisky and even a wheat whiskey we believe you should try. This is the ultimate whiskey bucket list, a collection of the best whiskey out there. Its time to get to work.
What Should I Look For When Picking A Whisky
If whisky is all new to you, you might want to avoid the overly smoky, peated styles, which can be quite overpowering to the uninitiated. Instead, the best whisky for your palate will likely be an easy-drinking sweet and fruity dram, but if in doubt, our tasting notes should direct you to the perfect whisky for you.
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The Glenlivet 12 Year Old
The Glenlivet 12 year old is one of the most popular whiskeys in the world. The distillery is based in Scotland and although the Glenlivet 12 is produced there, it is still one of the best-selling malt whisky in the United States.
One of the main reasons is the price. Considered one of the cheapest whisky, the flavour you get from this bottle of Scotch whisky is a steal. The Glenlivet 12 is distilled in pots that use 100 percent malted barley with a combination of the historically famous mineral-rich spring water at the Glenlivet distillery.
Tropical fruity flavours with a long, creamy and smooth finish, the Glenlivet 12 year old is a staple in almost every bar due to its sophisticated flavour.
Best Glencairn Glass: Glencairn Crystal Whiskey Glass
Smaller capacity than other options
“I’m quite stuck on the traditional Glencairn glass, describes Nicole Ross, the head bartender of New York City’s The Chester. A Glencairn glass really lets you fully appreciate the notes you get on the nose and the layering of the flavors.
These Glencairn glasses are beloved by whiskey drinkers as they concentrate the aromassomething a rocks glass does not. Each 6-ounce glass is designed to show off the color and the aroma of the spirit.
The ideal glass, so I’ve been told by many whisky distillers, for tasting is a stemmed glass that has a wider base than the nose, like ISO or Cordial glass, explains Goodfellow. You can see the spirits wellthe glass tapers towards the top to concentrate the smell when you nose it, and the stem removes any unintentional heat to the spirit.
Kristen Voisey, the owner of Cocktail Emporium and the brands glassware designer, agrees: This is the standard tasting glass used at most distilleries. The shape is meant to enhance the aromas of fine whisky, and I find it does that job well.
Good to Know:
Goodfellow recommends adding a bit of room temperature water to the Glencairn glass to help open up the spirit.
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Glossary Of Terms What Do You Need To Know For Whiskey
The Whiskey culture has its own language not everyone is aware of. This is why we have mentioned the important terms you must know when you become a certified whiskey drinker!
It is the whiskey with high proof that is produced in the barrel.
It is a steam injection that strips the beer and produces it to a cleaner spirit .
Whiskey is beer first and then distilled till it becomes whiskey.
It is a shot kind of whiskey that is not supposed to be shot.
Whiskey extracts various flavor compounds that are spicy, sweet-smelling.
Made by or Bottled by is different than distilled by.
Neat is when you do not require extra ingredients like water, or ice to feel the taste of the whiskey.
It is the ratio of grains that are used in order to make distiller beer.
Perhaps one of the best ways to enjoy a glass of elegant whiskey is to pour it on a glass of ice.
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 Year Old
Peated whisky can be divisive, particularly at the extreme end of the spectrum. You either like it or you dont there are very few people on the fence here. Bruichladdichs core expression is actually unpeated, but the Port Charlotte range goes completely in the opposite direction with whiskies that are smoky like five-alarm fires. The thing is, there is still a good deal of subtlety to this 10-year-old spirit, which is aged in a combination of bourbon barrels and wine casks and has a PPM of 40 . This is an almost savory whisky, with a supporting cast of stone fruit, vanilla and even some honey notes, striking a nice balance throughout each sip.
Photo: courtesy Highland Park
Highland Park is a whisky lovers single malt, releasing peated but not overpoweringly smoky whiskies aged mostly in sherry casks. Fans of this Viking-themed distillery were very excited about the first cask strength release, which came out in 2020. The second batch clocks in at 63.9 percent ABV, slightly higher than the first, with no chill filtration or color added. The whisky was aged in European and American sherry-seasoned oak, with a small amount of bourbon barrels included as well. Add a few drops of water and the palate expands, with baking spice, toffee, pear and dried fig notes intermingling into something delightful.
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Best Under $: Buffalo Trace Bourbon
Region: Kentucky | ABV: 45% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Caramel, Sweet corn
Buffalo Traces eponymous bourbon really stands out from the pack in terms of flavor and price. If youre looking for a dependable bourbon for less than $50, give this one a try. Its unpretentious and flavorful, with an ABV that makes it stand up to being used in any cocktail. There are so many good bourbons from the distillery that are expensive and hard to find, and thats great for collectors. But for the average drinker, stick with this workhorse that is vibrant and bold.
How Man Of Many Chose This List Of Scotch Whisky
While Man of Many are sticklers for research and certainly know a thing or two about Scotch, that didnt negate the need for them to turn to the experts for this list. This list was compiled through personal experience and online research, plus through commentary from drinks critics and expert whiskey reviewers. They only looked at Scotch whiskies with a rating of 4.0/5 or higher through Dan Murphys reviews and took into account the major gripes and positives from the public. For the most part, theyre sticking with globally recognised names that you either know and love or should know and love, such as Laphroaig, Lagavulin, The Macallan, and Glenfiddich, but theyre also throwing a few curveballs your way courtesy of whisky expert, Emma Cookson , alongside The Whisky Lists very own Oliver Maruda and Crown Resorts expert Aaron Shuttleworth.
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