Dr Stoner’s Smoky Herb Whiskey

Best Bourbon: Knob Creek 12 Year Old Bourbon

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With an average price of close to $70, this release doesnt qualify as an everyday sipper for most drinkers. Yet so enticing and characterful is its profile that you might struggle to reach for anything else in your bourbon collection after buying a bottle. At 12 years old and 50 percent ABV, it finds a powerful yet balanced sweet spot, overdelivering on age and quality compared with similarly priced bottles .

Average price: $68

All Of The Best Whiskey To Drink In 2022

From the simple combination of grain, water, and yeast, distillers yield a stunningly complex array of spirits. Were talking, of course, about the world of whiskey. And it is a veritable planet, with single nations producing myriad styles, and distillers planting flags in each of the metaphorical corners of the globe.

While its hard, if not impossible, to reduce each style and nation down to one definitive example, certain bottles serve as shining ambassadors for their categories. Catering to every budget, palate, and drinking occasion, here are 15 of the best whiskeys to drink in 2022.

The Worlds Best Whiskey

Our Top Pick Is The Aberlour 16 Year Old

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Best Splurge:Lagavulin 16 Year Old at Drizly

Aged in second-fill ex-bourbon barrels, the 16-year-old expression is well worth the splurge.

Many scotch enthusiasts may discover that they’re well into their journey of appreciation before they ever actually learn what the phrase “single malt” even means. To be considered a single malt scotch, the whisky must be distilled from a mash bill of 100 percent malted barley at one distillery and aged for a minimum of three years in wooden casks. Distillers are then allowed to get as creative as theyd like, from experimenting with the number of distillations to using a variety of cask finishes.

There are more than 120 distilleries in Scotland making single malt whiskymuch of which is ultimately destined to be used as a component in blended whiskies, but some of which is bottled as an individual expression of the particular distillery’s character.

Aberlour 16 Year Old is our top pick because the whisky marries during the sweet spot of maturation and creates a balanced flavor of rich oak, sweet vanilla, ripe fruits, and spices.

With a style out there for everyone, here are the best single malt scotch whiskies available in a range of categories.

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Best Irish Whiskey: Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey

Irelands native single pot still style offers a unique experience within the whiskey world, delivering rich, cereal-forward sips with complex texture. Made using a blend of 7- and 10-year-old distillates, Green Spot is a shining example of the style, captivating the senses with oaty, dried fruit aromas, rich banana notes, and playful tannic spice on the palate.

Average price: $64

Best Cask Finished Whiskey: Arran Single Malt Sauternes Cask Finish

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Cask finished whiskies are by no means hard to come by these days, but this bottling stands out from the pack, especially in the Scotch realm. Aged in Sauternes casks, this whiskys notes of honey, white flowers, and ripe peaches reflect those of the prized sweet wines from Bordeaux. Add to that a rich texture that coats the palate, and you have a truly memorable spirit ideal for sipping over a large cube of ice.

Average price: $80

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Best Peated: Ardbeg Uigeadail

Region: Islay | ABV: 54.2% | Tasting Notes: Peat, Spice, Oak

If you like peated whisky, this is one of the best out there for sure, says Kurpinsky. Ardbeg is something of an Islay cult favorite, particularly appealing to true lovers of smoky whisky. The flavor of this Scotch comes from burning peat to dry out the barley and stop the malting process, which infuses the grain with smoke. This bottling, named after a local loch, has all the maritime salinity you come to expect from the distillery literally on the water, but also has one of the most satisfying finishes in Islay, adds Kurpinsky. You’ll get plenty of smoke, dried fruits, fresh coffee, dark sugars and that bit of sea salt.”

Region: Islay | ABV: 43% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Black Tea, Smoke

McCoy is a big fan of Lagavulin, an Islay distillery that produces some nicely peated scotch. The 16-year-old expression, aged in second-fill ex-bourbon barrels, might be a little pricey, but its well worth the splurge. one of my all-time favorites from Islay, says McCoy. Big peat smoke, spice, sherry and notes of soft wood and black teadelicious all by itself while you’re unwinding next to the fire.

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Best Under $: The Glenlivet 12 Year Old

Courtesy of Reserve Bar

Region: Speyside | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Apple, Citrus, Vanilla

The Glenlivets 12-year-old expression is extremely popular, and for good reason. Its priced affordably and has a really approachable palate, according to Chris Dempsey, bartender at Xaman in Dallas. Its not too peaty, and its really the best everyday drinking whisky for a great price, he says.

The whisky was matured in a combination of American and European oak and is a good entry-level bottle for those who dont want to spend too much but are looking for something with complexity of flavor.

Region: Highlands | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Almond, Baking Spice

This is a classic Highlands whisky and is an interesting look at one of the whiskies that makes up the much better-known Dewars White Label.

A major malt component of the Dewars blend comes from Aberfeldy, a distillery that has been around since the beginning of the 20th century. The 12-year-old expression is a great value single malt, usually available for somewhere between $30 and $40. For that relatively low price, the discerning drinker is rewarded with flavor-rich, syrupy notes of honey punctuated by bursts of vanilla and paired with a gentle spice undercurrent.

Best Rum Cask Finish: The Balvenie Caribbean Cask

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Region: Speyside | ABV: 43% | Tasting Notes: Brown Sugar, Caramel, Spice

Finishing whisky in a rum cask might not be as popular as sherry or wine casks within the single malt scotch category, but there are some benefits. A rum barrel brings new flavors to the mix, like banana, brown sugar and cocoa. The Balvenies Caribbean Cask 14-Year-Old Scotch is a stellar example. Everything about this whisky draws you in, says Otsuji. The ex-rum barrel finish creates a sense of richness in the flavors, like toffee or caramel, toasted oak, or perhaps a bit of honey on fresh papaya but rather than expressing itself as a sugary taste, it comes through as a luxurious textural element.

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Best Peated Scotch: Kilchoman Distillery Machir Bay Islay Single Malt Whisky

A sweet and savory blend of caramel and grill char, this peated single malt was practically made for barbecue pairings. Expect mesquite aromas followed by some welcome buttery and caramel sweetness on the palate for balance. This will surely be the star of your next cookout.

Average price: $66

Best Blended Scotch: Johnnie Walker 18 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky

As the second child in the Johnnie Walker family, many might look past this 18-year-old release in favor of the brands iconic Blue Label bottling. Where value for money is concerned, this could be considered a mistake. With an average price of around half its elder siblings, this expression comes exceedingly close in terms of quality, complexity, and depth of flavor, delivering a greatest hits of the many styles of Scotch in one harmonious blend.

Average price: $91

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Best Single Barrel Whiskey: 1792 Single Barrel Bourbon

This single barrel release is produced at Buffalo Traces Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, Ky. Sure to please those who enjoy their bourbon on the decadent side, it opens with nutty, caramelized banana aromas, then follows with toasted oak and a touch of rye spice. Each sweet, concentrated sip coats the palate in a warm, flavorful embrace.

Average price: $53

Best Port Cask Finish: The Dalmore Port Wood Reserve

Smoky Herb Whiskey

Region: Highlands | ABV: 46.5% | Tasting Notes: Berry, Mocha, Ginger

Many scotch distilleries finish their whiskies in port pipeshuge wooden vessels that previously held port, and named for the Portuguese word “pipa,” or caskwhich provides a different way to enhance the flavor of a whisky. The Dalmores already intensely fruity and complex single malt offers striking notes of ripe plum, cherry and dried apricot in the Port Wood Reserve expression. This non-age statement whisky is initially aged in bourbon barrels before being finished in Tawny Port pipes from W & J Graham’s winery in Portugalexemplifying why port wood is a preferred cask finish.

Region: Highlands | ABV: 46% | Tasting Notes: Espresso, Tobacco, Orange

Glenmorangie offers a wide selection of whiskies, from the 10-year-old core expression to some incredibly expensive vintages. Although the Signet single malt does not bear an age statement, it does not need one .

According to the distillery, roasted chocolate barley malt is used in the mash bill, and the spirit is aged in designer casks. I love coffee and chocolate notes in both spirits and cocktails so this one sings to me, says Meaghan Dorman, bar director at Dear Irving on Hudson. Velvety and sophisticatedthis is a unique spirit, worth the investment.

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Best Single Malt Scotch: The Glen Grant 15 Year Old

For this single malt, age is but a number. Despite its 15-year age statement, its floral and citrus-forward aromas give the Scotch a youthful profile. Add to that sweet undertones of cake batter, and the result is a rounded, balanced sip thats lively but with a restrained alcohol content not too hot on the palate.

Average price: $93

Best Overall: Aberlour 16 Year Old

Region: Speyside | ABV: 43% | Tasting Notes: Caramel, Oak, Spice

Aberlour is often overlooked by whisky drinkers here in the US, but undeservedly so. This Speyside distillery has an excellent lineup, with the 16-year-old landing right in the sweet spot of maturation between the 12 and 18, the other two age statement bottles in the range. The whisky is matured in both bourbon and sherry casks for 16 years before being married together and bottled. This provides it with the best of both worldsa rich, oaky structure with some sweet vanilla notes from the lengthy time in bourbon barrels, and ripe fruits and spices from the sherry casks.

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Best Splurge Whiskey: The Macallan Double Cask 18 Years Old

Some things are worth balling-out for. This luxe permanent expression from The Macallan happens to be one of them. The prized juice is aged in ex-oloroso sherry oak casks, which impart aromas of rich caramel and golden raisins, offset by a whiff of spicy ginger. On the palate, expect lush, nutty goodness along with an undercurrent of dried fruit. You wont regret splurging on this bottle.

Average price: $380

Best Canadian Whisky: Crown Royal Noble Collection Rye Aged 16 Years

Redneck vs Mixologist

While age statements neither equate to nor guarantee quality, its worth stating how remarkable it is that this 16-year-old release carries an average price of just $76. Though admittedly still not cheap, the extensive time in barrel has produced a dazzling array of aromas and flavors, ranging from kettle corn and violets to sweet pepper spice and toasted oak.

Average price: $76

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Best New World Whiskey: Stauning Floor Malted Rye Whisky

Made to the same specifications as American rye whiskey, Stauning uses locally sourced grains, floor malting, and pot distillation for this remarkable Danish release. Stylistically, its profile mimics Nordic cuisine, with notes of caraway seeds defining its personality-rich nose and palate. Bottled at 3 years old, it delivers complexity well beyond its age.

Average price: $80

Best Budget Whiskey: Larceny Kentucky Straight Very Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey

As a wheated bourbon, this is not only a budget-friendly option but one that arrives with an approachable flavor profile. At the $20-ish price point, most whiskeys typically dont offer much beyond their suitability for cocktails. Larceny Small Batch proves a reliable, enjoyable, and modestly complex sipper. It also mixes a mean Whiskey Sour.

Average price: $24

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Best Under $: Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie

Region: Islay | ABV: 50% | Tasting Notes: Green Apple, Brown Sugar, Grass

Bruichladdich is known for releasing some intensely smoky whisky, a signature flavor profile of the Islay region of Scotland. This includes the Port Charlotte and annual Octomore releases, which at times reaches some of the highest levels of peat in any whisky out there. But the core bottling is actually this lovely unpeated whisky.

The Classic Laddie is a non-age statement single malt that is light and full of notes of citrus, sweet malted barley, vanilla and honey. This is a good value at under $100, a great whisky to sip neat, and elevates a simple highball cocktail.

The team at Bruichladdich has been hard at work establishing themselves in the field, and this rare unpeated whisky from Islay absolutely brings some modern, forward-thinking, and transparency to the region.” Stephen Kurpinsky, U.S. brand ambassador for Mr. Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur

Best Japanese Whisky: The Hakushu Single Malt Japanese Whisky Aged 12 Years

Smoky Herb Whiskey

The youngest and most available expression from Suntorys Hakushu line, this release still arrives with a hefty price tag but such is the nature of shopping for high-quality Japanese whisky. Stump up for a bottle and rest assured that the liquid inside will deliver considerable consolation. Delicately peated, this single malt serves tantalizing smokiness that weaves wonderfully among savory notes of herbal green tea. Orchard and stone fruit provide a robust, attractive, fruity core.

Average price: $204

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Best Rye: Frey Ranch Straight Rye Whiskey

These are exciting times for rye whiskey, especially among the nations smaller-scale producers. Among them all large and small none capture the spicy, savory, herbaceous essence of the grain in distilled form as purely and attractively as Nevadas Frey Ranch Distillery. A bonafide grain to glass release, this producer grows all of the winter cereal used in this 100 percent rye whiskey, and the finished product is undeniably worth the effort.

Average price: $66

Best For Cocktails: Auchentoshan American Oak

Region: Lowlands | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Nuts, Pepper, Vanilla

While you might want to think twice about using that $300 bottle of 25-year-old whisky to whip up a Manhattan, there are single malt scotches that play beautifully in cocktails . One such whisky comes from Auchentoshan, a distillery located in the Lowlands just outside of Glasgow.

This triple-distilled whisky has an almost bourbon-like character, making it great to use in a Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Boulevardier, or any other whiskey cocktail you can think of.

Auchentoshan is one of the few Lowland distilleries making single malt. These whiskies are traditionally very light and grassy. The American Oak is matured in first-fill bourbon casks, giving it a vanilla fruity note. The grassy notes remain but under a lemon curd light citrusy and cream layer. Lynnette Marrero, co-founder of Speed Rack, bar director at Llama Inn

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Best 10 Year Old: Jura 10 Year Old

courtesy of Total Wine

Region: Islands | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Orange, Cherry

Though not as well-known an island as its neighbor Islay, the isle of Jura also boasts a history of scotch productionand its namesake distillery offers a delicious and approachable 10-year-old expression. This scotch is rested in bourbon barrels and then finished in Oloroso sherry casks, says Adam Morgan, head bartender at Husk Nashville. This unique finish lends a balanced yet sweet finish that dances between spice and oak. The smoke on this particular scotch is soft and intriguing for any first-time scotch drinker.

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