Top Whiskies of the World

Top Whiskies of the World

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

Region: Australia

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.

Sullivans Cove French Oak Cask

Sullivans Cove French Oak Cask

Crown Royal XO

Region: Canada

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.

Crown Royal XO

Crown Royal XO

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.

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Four Roses

Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013

Region: Japan

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.

Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013

Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013

Dalmore Cigar Malt

Region: Scotland

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.

Dalmore Cigar Malt

Dalmore Cigar Malt

Glenmorangie Ealanta 1993 Private Edition

Region: Scotland

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.

Glenmorangie Ealanta 1993 Private Edition

Glenmorangie Ealanta 1993 Private Edition

Macallan 18 Year

Region: Scotland

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.

Green Spot

Region: Ireland

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

Region: Scotland

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

Region: Scotland

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

Region: Scotland

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

Redbreast 21 Year Old

Redbreast 21 Year Old

Region: Ireland

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

Region: Scotland

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.

Laphroaig 18 YO Jubilee

Laphroaig 18 YO Jubilee

Lagavulin 16 Year

Region: Scotland

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

Region: Scotland

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

Region: India

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

Region: Scotland

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.

Compass Box - The Peat Monster 10th Anniversary Edition

Compass Box – The Peat Monster 10th Anniversary Edition

The John Walker

Region: Scotland

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.

Conclusion

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?

Summary
Article Name
Top Whiskies of the World
Description
List of Top Whisky Drams from around the world including Scotch, Bourbon, Irish Whiskey etc. including exotic bottles from India & Japan.
Author
14 replies
  1. Avishek says:

    Are the flavors you describe in these whiskeyes, such as whipped cream, baked apples, roasted chestnut, and soft caramel a result of the natural aging and production of whiskey or are they sometimes flavors companies add in to enhance the product?

    • Jakub says:

      Distilleries (at least in Scotland and Japan as far as I know) have very strict rules on making their whisky’s. One thing they can’t do is add artificial flavors at any point in the distillation or aging process.

    • J.A. Shapira says:

      That’s a great question. Most whiskies that are made “traditionally”, as Jakub said, are flavored naturally. However, there are some regions around the world that do allow for the addition of certain flavors. In most cases, or in the best cases, however, it’s a few different stages that result in the combination of the flavor and aroma profiles.

      1. A big part of the whisky flavor profile is based on the water source that’s used. Most of the Scottish distilleries are very protective of their water and the distilleries are located adjacent to their source. This is why you can often blind taste whiskies and immediately tell where in the world they’re from.

      2. When drying the barley, one thing that can mold the taste is whether it’s dried with hot air or peat smoke. Most distilleries buy their barley pre-malted, however, there are still a few that pride themselves on their traditional malting floors.

      3. During the fermentation process, the standard time for mixing the wort with yeast is 48 hours. However, distilleries that wish to make a fruitier whisky will leave the wort mixing in the washback for up to another 70 or so hours.

      4. The actual distillation of the whisky is a big factor when it comes to taste and aroma. Pot stills come in various shapes and sizes which has the ability to change the profile of the whisky dramatically.

      5. Finally, and some consider most significantly, is the maturation process where the whisky is stored in Sherry or American Oak casks. It’s here that the whisky soaks up the flavors of the leftover spirit that was previously stored in the cask. This is why cask selection is so important and such a sacred process. Everything from the prior spirit to how charred the cask is will deeply affect the finished whisky product.

      I hope that helps to answer your question.

  2. JimyD says:

    This is an exceptional and well researched list of premium whiskies. I was surprised to see many of these on my “already purchased” or “to buy” lists. Whiskies are so diverse that it’s hard to single one out as a favorite but here are just a few excellent choices that I would add to the list:
    1) Balvenie Caribbean Rum Cask 14 year-old
    2) Auchentoshan Three Wood
    3) Glendronach 15 year-old Revival

  3. Oleg says:

    My daily dram is always different but I mostly prefer Edradour 10, Glenfarclas 15 and Laphroaig Quarter Cask. But I like to taste different whiskies from Brora 30, Port Elen 1979, Dallas Dhu 1984 to Middleton Single Cask, Readbreast 12 Cask Strength and Amrut Fusion with Nikka Taketsuru 15

  4. W.Adam Mandelbaum Esq. says:

    An interesting single malt, perhaps not the top of the plonk ladder, but bearing the color of a dark rum, and a rather unique flavor is LOCH DHU.

  5. Mike W says:

    A list with some favourites and some new recommendations to investigate……excellent.

    I can heartily recommend anything from the Highland Park distillery. Softer and rounder than the Islays.

    Keep up the good work

    Mike

  6. Atanas says:

    Thank you for your article.
    One thing that surprised me though is that you dubbed Royal Lochnagar 12yo as an “exceptionally rare whisky”. It is actually rather an entry level malt that is made widely available by DIAGEO. Perhaps it is not well represented in the USA but is far from being a rare let alone exceptionally rare whisky.
    It is a bottle that I do enjoy a lot but in essence it is not striking with anything in particular. Just a good all-rounder and easy sipping every day dram.

    For the cigar lovers – in case the Dalmore Cigar Malt is not available, one should look for the Cigar Malts whiskies released under the Old Malt Cask label of indie bottlers Hunder Laing. There are some true gems there.

    Cheers

    • J.A. Shapira says:

      In most parts of Europe it’s relatively easy to find, but in North America it can be difficult. You’re right that it’s fairly entry level but I would call it striking due to its unique flavor profile that really separates it from most whiskies in Scotland. It is, as you put it, an easy sipping dram, and that’s exactly why it’s listed here. Great suggestion by the way on the Hunter Laing cigar malts.

      Best,

      J.A. Shapira

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