We’ve covered whisky in detail. We’ve talked about Scotch, Irish, Canadian, American and even Japanese whiskies. We covered the basics from how to purchase a bottle to how to properly taste whiskey and we even spoke of how it’s made.
In this feature, we’re going to discuss some of the top whiskies of the world. Which ones are worthy of your attention and which whiskies deserve to be on the top shelf of your bar.
“There is no bad whiskey. There are only some whiskeys that aren’t as good as others.” – Raymond Chandler
Sullivans Cove French Oak Cask
With a distinctly fruity flavor, this Tasmanian whisky is a beautiful full bodied dram with notes of dark chocolate and red wine on the nose mixed with beautiful bursts of coconut and cinnamon. On the palate it has strong notes of white pepper and fresh cut grass with a finish that is decisively fruity. Australia is doing some pretty remarkable things when it comes to whisky and this is a prime example.
Crown Royal XO
One of the best whiskies to ever come out of Canada in my opinion, this cognac cask finished dram is chock full of cedar, tobacco, oak and leather. It’s creamy and heavenly on the palate with a full mouth feel that’s bursting with cherry, caramel and fresh citrus. It has notes of almonds with a hint of ginger and toffee. This is a dram worthy of your attention.
Four Roses 2013 Limited Edition Small Batch
Region: United States
An exquisite blend of thirteen and eighteen year old bourbon, this beautiful and elegant bourbon is full of vanilla and honey, toffee and fresh fruit with just a hint of chocolate and cinnamon. The finish is long and lingers and has the same maturity and beauty as the nose. If you enjoy bourbon whiskey, this is one you need to try.
Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013
Recently named the number one whisky in the world by Jim Murray, this really is something special. It’s got a thick mouthfeel with a dryness that’s almost tacky. Pleasingly sweet, it is quintessentially Asian with fresh orchard fruit and light spice. It’s strong and bold but refined and elegant at the same time. There’s a reason it’s been named number one.
Dalmore Cigar Malt
For those who enjoy pairing a cigar with their Scotch, this is the pick for you. Specifically created to pair perfectly with any medium to full bodied cigar, this is one of my favorite drams on the shelf. Rich and shared, it’s smoky and oily with notes of sweet malt, fruit cake and marzipan. It has hints of orange zest and seaweed, yet is surprisingly bold and mature with a full mouth feel and a sweet, dry finish.
Glenmorangie Ealanta 1993 Private Edition
A remarkably sophisticated dram, the Glenmorangie Ealanta is chock full of orange zest with just a touch of vanilla and toffee. It continues with more orange and fresh oak before lingering away into a more refined finish of dried figs and cherry. It’s a unique, and yet marvelous dram that I highly recommend.
Macallan 18 Year
If you’re looking for a daily dram that’s worthy of your praise this is it. Rich and chocolatey with sherry, nuts and orange peel, this voluptuous and smooth whisky is one of my favorite daily drams. Full bodied and elegant it’s a perfect gift for the holidays or ideal for a drink at home in front of a warm fire.
Pappy Van Winkle’s 23 Year Old Family Reserve
Region: United States
Known as one of the rarest and most difficult whiskies to find, Pappy has a reputation for being something quite spectacular. And it is. A full bodied whisky with notes of dark fruit, coffee, caramel and nuts, it has a refined and yet sweet taste with puffs of smoke and spice. If you have a chance to procure a bottle of this, don’t hesitate. It’s worth the price tag.
One of my favorite whiskies in the world, this is a nearly-perfect dram. It’s malty with hints of peppermint, vanilla, barley and porridge and a burst of citrus and fresh orchard fruit. It’s got great spice and notes of fresh cut grass. It’s full bodied with a long creamy finish. You’ll be hard pressed to find a nicer whisky than this.
Bowmore 46 year old
Just eight bottles were made for the US and it’s as spectacular as it is rare. Bursting with lavender, it has a rich and sweet flavor with notes of exotic and tropical fruits. It has small puffs of smoke and some spice that reminds you it’s from Islay. What I really love is how long the finish lingers and how remarkably elegant it is.
Royal Lochnagar 12 Year Old
A light and fresh whisky, it’s unusually light with notes of soft caramel and hardwood on the nose with pine, hay, citrus and linseed oil. It’s sweet and short on the finish with a burst of acidic and a lingering sandalwood and leather aftertaste. An exceptionally rare whisky, it’s worthy of your attention if you like trying new and unusual whiskies.
Old Pulteney’s 21 year-old single malt
A well-balanced and perfectly charming dram, this golden Scotch is full bodied with strong notes apple and pear and a burst of spice. It’s creamy with traces of caramel and vanilla and baked apple with just a puff of smoke and a long, dry finish. It’s one of the most elegant whiskies you’ll find readily available.
Booker’s 25th Anniversary
Region: United States
Full bodied, unfiltered and rich, this is a very complex whisky with strong notes of vanilla, leather, oak and tobacco with bursts of honey and nuts. It is incredibly full flavored and is a whiskey you won’t soon forget.
Redbreast 21 Year Old
Rich and spicy with strong notes of toasted peanuts and pineapple, it has bursts of baked apple, leather and pepper. A remarkable whisky, it has a full mouthfeel with pops of menthol throughout. A long and dry finish, it’s touched lightly with prunes and figs mixed with citrus and fresh cut grass.
Aberlour a’Bunadh Batch 49
For the money you just can’t go wrong. A bold, cask strength sherried whisky, it is bursting with notes of leather, tan and hardwood. It has notes of citrus and orange peel that’s cut with dried fig and prunes. It has a long, lingering and complex finish that makes this a perfect sipping whisky when you have nothing else on your plate.
Lagavulin 16 Year
Another great daily dram, this is a smoky, peaty dram from Islay. It’s got strong, big notes of iodine and spice with a touch of vanilla and cream. On the palate it is very thick and creamy with notes of fig, dried cherries, leather, nuts and oak. The finish is long and spicy with lots of peat smoke and a touch of vanilla wafer.
Laphroaig 18 Year Old
This is a monster. If you enjoy peaty, smoky, full bodied whiskies this is another pick for you. With notes of leather, tan, salted butter and toast, it has hints of banana loaf and apple. On the palate it’s very thick with syrup, salt and hot spice. It has notes of anise with prunes, figs and a burst of cocoa. The finish is long and lingering with licorice, marmalade and citrus. It’s a really extraordinary dram.
Amrut Intermediate Sherry
Starting in bourbon casks before being moved to Sherry and back to bourbon, this is a very unusual and yet pleasing whisky. It has strong notes of moist cake, biscuits and some spice with bursts of oaky vanilla and raisin. The finish is long but doesn’t linger and has an abrupt spice with some pepper and cumin.
Compass Box The Peat Monster 10th Anniversary Special Cask Strength Bottling
It doesn’t need to be said that this is a peaty dram. What may surprise you is that it’s not just peat. It has wonderful notes of honeysuckle, pear, apple and creamy vanilla which really help to round it out. It’s soft and actually quite elegant with the peat smoke rounding it out. Truly one worth trying and a great bottle design for those who care or collect. Read more about the Compass Box Whisky Company here.
The John Walker
A blended Scotch and the pinnacle of the Johnnie Walker range of whiskies, this particular dram is fresh with citrus and orchard fruits. It has a creamy vanilla and banana burst on the palate with honey and a little spice at the end. When it comes to blended Scotch, this is some pretty remarkable stuff.
Balcones Texas Single Malt
Region: United States
In one of the most unusual stories, this small distillery from Waco, Texas has really been intriguing whisky connoisseurs the world over. I’m shocked to say this, but this particular whisky bottling from Balcones is worthy of making the list of the top whiskies of the world. Why? Because it’s bloody delicious. With notes of fresh banana bread and honey, it has bursts of creamy vanilla and cedar. The palate has touches of roasted chestnuts and whipped cream with baked apple, brown sugar and soft caramel. It’s a dreamy whiskey and it’s one that you should buy today.
Whisky is something that each man has his own taste for. Some like it peaty and smoky, whereas others like it light and smooth. Regardless of where you stand, these whiskies listed are some of the best drams on the market and ones that are sure to further your whisky experience. What is your favorite dram?