It’s been a great year for Scotch whisky, folks. There have been some absolute mammoth whisky drops from brands big and small. We’re seeing high-age statement whiskies actually make it to the U.S. market alongside incredible cask blends and some truly unique oak finishes with already amazing whisky bases. All of that is leading to this — it’s time to call out the 50 best Scotch whiskies of 2023, so far.
I went deep for this list. There are truly some once-in-a-lifetime whiskeys listed below. That also means that there are some mind-boggling price points — you’ve been warned.
Before we dive in, the throughline of this list is two-fold:
- These are new whiskies that were bottled and released this year or very late last year and are on shelves now. This is about the present.
- Secondly, this is all about taste. That means this is a list of the 50 best Scotch whiskies that I’ve had the pleasure of tasting since January 1st, 2023. Between my day-to-day job reviewing whiskey, judging international spirits competitions, attending industry events, and consulting on whisky, I’ve tasted a lot.
Let’s dive right in!
Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Scotch Whisky Posts of The Last Six Months
50. Ardbeg BizarreBQ Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $84
This new release from Ardbeg is their first-ever barbecue-inspired release. Ardbeg’s Master Distiller Dr. Bill Lumsden teamed up with DJ BBQ (Christain Stevenson) to build a three-cask whisky. The casks, in this case, were double charred oak, Pedro Ximénez sherry, and “BBQ” casks. The blend was then vatted and bottled as-is at cask strength.
Nose: There’s a creamy essence to the nose kind of like the fat on a smoked brisket that leads to an espresso and winter spice rub deep in a charred fattiness with marmalade hints and whispers of smudging sage and singed provencal herbs with this light sense of smoldering hickory ash underneath.
Palate: The taste is creamy as well with a sense of fatty pulled pork smothered in a chili-spiked gingery bbq sauce with creamy honey and plenty of winter spice layered with grilled steak fat flaked with salt and dusted with white pepper as a fainter twinge of black licorice and that smoldering hickory draw a line from the nose to the back of the palate.
Finish: The end leaves you with fatty smoked meats, soft spices tied to burnt orange, and a sense of chili creamed with espresso pudding next to the ashes from a 24-hour smoker smoke session.
This is a great place to start since it’s summer and this whisky is all about those sizzling summer vibes. If you’re smoking or barbecuing meat in the backyard this summer, this is an essential whisky to have on hand.
49. Mossburn Blended Malt Scotch Whisky Island Smoke & Spice
Average Price: $44
This blended malt (that means only single malts are in the blend and not single malts and single grain whiskies) is made from a mix of whiskies aged in American oak. Those barrels came from the “Island” region of Scotland which is very wide-reaching. Mossburn vatted those barrels and then re-barreled the whisky into ex-bourbon barrels that were refitted with toasted new European oak heads for a final rest.
Nose: The nose feels like it’s almost salted with a sense of smoked apples and plums next to vanilla cream cut with fresh lemon zest.
Palate: The citrus turns into lemon meringue pie on the palate as caramel malts sweet toward digestive cookies with a hint of chocolate lurking somewhere deep in the palate.
Finish: The end kind of thins out the lemon pie toward a soft sweet grain roundness and a hint of salted vanilla sauce.
I’ve come around to this whisky this summer. It’s light but delivers a nice balance over a glass full of ice. It also works well in a highball format with a nice fizzy water and a bold floral/herbal garnish.
48. Glenmorangie A Tale Of The Forest Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $102
This new expression from Glenmorangie’s mad scientist Master Distiller Dr. Bill Lumsden is a total departure. Dr. Bill kilned the barley (the drying process during malting) with a very old-school method using local botanicals from the Highlands. The kiln was accented with a bushel of juniper berries, birch bark, and heather flowers which layered their flavor notes into the malted barley that was used to ferment the juice that eventually was distilled, aged, and bottled in the Highlands.
Nose: This lives up to its name from the jump with a nose full of dank pine resin, fresh juniper, and dry coriander with a hint of malted rye cakes and the faintest whisper of wet campfire smoke.
Palate: The palate leans into bitter burnt orange rinds with a sense of clove buds and chinotto leaves next to oolong tea leaves cut with eucalyptus and a kiss of old oak.
Finish: That old oak and tea vibe drives the finish toward a hint of spiced malt cakes and a drop of fresh honey cut with wild sage and Scotch broom flowers with a fleeting sense of that dank pine from the nose reappearing briefly.
This is a funky and fresh whisky that rules in a highball with sage or rosemary as your garnish.
47. Aberfeldy Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky 15 Finished in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Casks
Average Price: $65
This year’s Aberfeldy 15-year Limited Edition takes classic unpeated Aberfeldy malt and marries it to California wine country. The whisky is filled into Napa Cabernet Sauvignon casks that were hand-picked. Once that whisky is just right, it’s vatted, proofed, and bottled.
Nose: This is jammy whisky on the nose with a sense of blackberry pie, blueberry muffins, and fresh raspberries in cream with a light summer floral vine — kind of like sitting under a wisteria tree on summer’s day.
Palate: A lush and creamy cinnamon cake drives the palate toward dark chocolate-covered espresso beans and floral bunt cake with a dollop of berry compote.
Finish: The end leans into the cinnamon bark as dark chocolate and dark berry mingle and sweeten toward a soft and delicious finish.
This feels like eating wild berry crumble in the backyard after a barbecue with a glass of whisky as a chaser. Who doesn’t want that?
46. Glencadam Reserva Andalucía Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $43
This bespoke whisky is made from special Andalucia sherry casks that are blended with malt aged in ex-bourbon casks. The final product is then finished in fresh Olorosso sherry casks before proofing and bottling.
Nose: Sharp marmalade over scones with a hint of cream drives the nose toward ginger candy and soft vanilla.
Palate: That orange bitters toward chili pepper spice in the creamy malts with a hint of salted caramel and floral honey.
Finish: The sharp spice gets a little woody at the end with a hint more of vanilla and orange rounding things out.
This is classically rendered unpeated malt. It’s so clearly cut that it hits every note perfectly. It’s just nice. Drink it over one big rock.
45. Macbeth Bloody Sergeant Household Series Act One Blair Athol Aged 10 Years
Average Price: $100
This expression from the new Macbeth series celebrates Blair Athol whisky — a true whiskey nerds distillery. The actual whisky is a blend of ex-bourbon and red wine casks that are vatted and then bottled at cask strength.
Nose: Subtle winter spices and apple hand pies drive the palate toward rum-macerated blackberry, cloves stuck in orange peels, and cinnamon-heavy raisin bread.
Palate: The palate is classically sweet malt dipped in toffee and vanilla sauce with a counterpoint of star anise and clove wrapped in black tea leaves with a whisper of fall briskness.
Finish: The end has a nice honeyed malt vibe with more rich toffee, caramel malts, and mossy bark in a winter apple orchard feel.
This feels like a great after-dinner pour. It works very nicely in cocktails too.
44. Tobermory Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 12 Years
Average Price: $97
This unpeated malt from the Isle of Mull spends 12 years aging in first-fill ex-bourbon barrels (those are barrels that haven’t had anything but bourbon in them so far). Once that whisky is just right, the malt is transferred to new American oak barrels for nine more months of mellowing before bottling at cask strength with no fussing whatsoever.
Nose: Bourbon vanilla comes through on the nose with a deep creaminess that’s punctuated by orange zest, woody cinnamon, and a light hint of granite.
Palate: The palate leans into warm and soft malts as soft hints of orchard fruit lead to pencil shavings and a touch of chili-chocolate tobacco.
Finish: The end is a mix of winter spices with a woody edge next to soft suede, more vanilla cream, and soft maltiness that’s nearly chocolate custard.
This is one of those whiskies that can ride under a lot of radars. It’s one of the better 12-year-old whiskies out there and makes for a great workhorse. That means it’s good for on the rocks pours, highballs, and cocktails.
43. BenRiach Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky Malting Season Second Edition
Average Price: $232
The second edition of BenRiach’s Malting Season series is also made with barley malted fully in-house at the distillery in Speyside. The barley in this case is Concerto barley grown for this release. Once distilled, the hot juice went into 30 first-fill bourbon barrels and was rested for around nine years before batching and bottling as-is.
Nose: There’s a nice sense of rich caramel malts on the nose with a sense of distiller’s beer from the washback next to fresh tangerine skins, almond shells, and a touch of macadamia nut cookies.
Palate: The palate leans into fresh and lightly piney honey with a sense of apple bark and orange oils next to creamy caramel malts and vanilla malts.
Finish: The end leans into marzipan laced with lemon oils next to plums and apricots dipped in that fresh honey and spun with thin lines of apple tobacco.
This late 2022 release is on shelves now and worth checking out to get a sense of how important malting is to the whisky-making process. That aside, it tastes pretty damn good too.
42. The Glenturret Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Triple Wood 2022 Release
Average Price: $58
This is unpeated malt that’s aged in both bourbon and sherry barrels alongside new American oak barrels, adding a bourbon-iness to it all. Those barrels are then vatted and proofed down before bottling.
Nose: Rum raisin and Turkish Delights drive the nose toward rose water and orange zest with a hint of honey.
Palate: That honey drives the palate toward classic Christmas spiced nut cake and dried leathery fruits with a hint of burnt toffee.
Finish: The rum raisin returns on the finish with a good dose of winter spices and vanilla cake with a hint of leather and spiced tobacco.
This is a great option if you’re looking to dip your toes into single malts and are wary. There’s a nice bourbon vibe that comes through and will make you feel at home. Try it in cocktails first and then go from there.
41. Kingsbarns Balcomie Lowland Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $51
This new blood from the Lowlands of Scotland is a quality single malt. The vat of whisky here is from 100% ex-Oloroso sherry casks. Once vatted, that whisky is bottled completely as-is at cask strength, letting the whisky in the barrel shine on through.
Nose: Sweet caramel malts draw you in the nose with a mincemeat pie and nutty fruit cake aura with a solid toffee sweetness.
Palate: The taste leans into grilled pineapple with plenty of nutmeg and cinnamon that edges toward sharp ginger and maybe some rum raisin.
Finish: That ginger really pops on the spicy end with a rock candy feel as this Nutella lushness takes over at the very end.
This is a bold whisky and a great introduction to Lowland whiskies. Give it a shot neat and then mix it into your favorite whisky cocktails.
40. Glen Moray Single Malt Scotch Whisky Elgin Limited Edition Aged 10 Years
Average Price: $81
This limited edition whiskey is made from 10-year-old Glen Elgin. The twist here is that this batch was finished in Chardonnay casks and then bottled as-is with a dash of proofing water.
Nose: The nose opens with a lush lemon creaminess next to stone fruits and stewed apple with a hint of spiced oak.
Palate: The palate leans into the spicy apple with a cider vibe before the stone fruit sweetness and the spiced oak leans into vanilla and light leather.
Finish: The end has a spiced nut holiday cake vibe with candied lemon and orange peels and a hint of rum raisin.
This award-winning whisky is essential unpeated malt. There’s a nice lightness to it that helps it feel like a good food pairing whisky.
39. Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky Solera Aged 15 Years
Average Price: $89
This unique Glenfiddich has its own vibe. The whisky is aged in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks for 15 years. Those barrels are then vatted in a special large-format solera barrel that’s never fully emptied as new whisky goes in. The whisky from that vat is proofed down and then bottled.
Nose: Dark dried red fruit mixes with old vanilla on the nose with a hint of orange and maybe some light winter spice.
Palate: Soft plummy fruit mingles with marzipan and vanilla with a light oaky spiciness that’s part spicy mulled wine and part mincemeat pie.
Finish: The holiday sweetness drives the finish with a sense of raisins, marzipan, and gingerbread cookies.
This year’s edition of Glenfiddich 15 feels special. It’s a really good sipper that makes a mean cocktail.
38. Macbeth Act One First Murderer Ledaig Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 18 Years
Average Price: $237
Ledaig — a tiny distillery on the tiny Isle of Mull — makes some serious whisky nerd whiskies. This special bottling from an independent bottler is an 18-year-old peated malt that was aged right on the sea. Then Elixir snagged the barrels, vatted them, bottled them, and added the Macbeth-inspired artwork.
Nose: The nose on this one feels like fresh olive oil and balsamic dusted with white pepper and salt next to Ace bandages, burnt wild sage, and fatty smoked pork wrapped in nori.
Palate: Oyster liqueur and white pepper drive the taste toward lemon marmalade, sourdough crusts, more nori, and a sense of old brick whisky barrel warehouses by the sea.
Finish: That briny seaside vibe mixed with what I want to call an aspirin pill next to a soft oyster shell, salted butter, gently smoked pork fat with sage, rosemary, and pepper, and a fleeting sense of smoldering fruit orchards in the late fall.
This is really getting into the good stuff. This is a funky and almost weird seaside sipper that will keep drawing you back for more. Make sure to add some water or ice to really plumb the briny and fatty depths of this one.
37. Glenkinchie Single Malt Scotch Whisky 2023 Distillers Edition
Average Price: $98
This limited edition expression of this year’s Diageo Distiller’s Editions is expertly crafted Lowland whisky. The malt is finished in a specially made barrel that is constructed from used and new American oak that’s then filled with Amontillado sherry for a month. Once that fortified wine is dumped, the whisky goes in for its final maturation.
Nose: The nose is a soft mix of cedar, red berry, and vanilla pods next to a bowl of fruity candy with a hint of caramel and raisin.
Palate: The palate starts off watery but then explodes with flavor — black pepper, brie rinds, sour candy, a dirt cellar floor, smooth malts, and a hint of sour apple tobacco all make appearances.
Finish: The finish continues to build with a cheese cellar vibe next to fresh cream touched with winter spices, dried red fruits, soft cedar, and vanilla on the back end.
This is probably the best Lowland whisky that is actually on shelves right now.
36. Laphroaig Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Càirdeas Warehouse 1
Average Price: $99
This year’s Càirdeas release celebrates the Friends of Laphroaig and how they keep the brand going. The whisky in the bottle is made from Laphroaig’s high-phenol peated malt right next to the sea on Islay. The hot spirit was then filled in first-fill limited edition single barrel Maker’s Mark bourbon barrels. The barrels were then stored in the famed four-story Warehouse 1 right next to the crashing sea until they were just right and then bottled as-is after vatting.
Nose: The nose opens with a huge note of smoked grainy malts next to an un-opened box of Band-Aids, peppery smoked brisket with plenty of smoked fat, and smoked sea salt counterpointed by vanilla sheet cake with a honey icing and dusted with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Palate: The palate opens with burnt yet buttery toffee next to white wildflowers, dried fennel, and rich and creamy honey smoothness and sweetness.
Finish: The end gets a little woody with a fatty smoked peppery vibe next to more toffee and a dash of seawater-washed granite.
This is an excellently made peated malt from Islay. It’s not going to be for everyone though — it’s very medicinal and funky. My advice is to try it at your local whiskey bar and then make a decision whether to buy it or not from there.
35. The Sassenach Blended Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $96
Yes, Scotch whisky has celebrity white-labeled brands too. This one comes from Outlander star Sam Heughan. The whisky’s recipe/build is under wraps so there’s not much more to say besides that Sam Heughan is not simply slapping his name on a bottle. He’s fully involved in the process as a deeply caring whisky fan who wants to put something special on the shelf.
Nose: Lemon drops and Almond Joys drive the nose with a hint of honey, bourbon vanilla, and dried apricot.
Palate: That apricot gets leathery on the palate as the malts arrive with plenty of honey and cinnamon-forward spice next to a hint of eggnog nutmeg.
Finish: The finish is concise with a little cinnamon, honey, and almond rounding things out.
This is a concise whisky that keeps winning tons of awards. It makes a great on the rocks pour.
34. The Singleton Single Malt Scotch Whiskey 18 Years Old Glendullan Distillery
Average Price: $99
This Speyside whisky rests mostly in ex-bourbon casks. The final product adds in a few finishing barrels from Europe to mellow out the heavier bourbon barrels. That blend is then cut down to a low 80-proof for bottling.
Nose: The nose opens with hints of cedar and winter spice underneath caramel candies, roasted almonds, and a hint of stewed orchard fruits.
Palate: The palate largely carries on those flavors with a subtle hint of bourbon vanilla and spicy tobacco warmth attached to the maltiness, with an echo of dark chocolate-covered hazelnuts.
Finish: The finish leans into the cedar and tobacco with a slightly mineral water base.
This is another release that just hit better this year. It’s a quintessential single malt that feels like a great bridge between bourbon and Scotland. It’s also amazingly easy to drink thanks to those low ABVs.
33. Oban 2023 Distillers Edition Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $156
This expression is a love letter to the tiny town of Oban on the western coast of Scotland. The whisky is standard Oban that’s finished in Montilla Fino sherry casks to add an extra dimension to the already finely crafted whisky from the distillery. Those casks are then vatted and proofed before bottling.
Nose: A small billow of smoke greets you on the nose next to notes of sea brine, orange zest, and a hint of vinous fruit that feels a little like saltwater taffy and a little like old Fruit Roll-Ups with a sense of soft winter spices lurking under it all.
Palate: Sweet caramel malts form on the silky palate as stewed pear and apple mingle with salted toffee and a light sense of oyster shell and toasted seaweed barely breakthrough on the back end.
Finish: That hint of the sea fades on the finish as you’re left with soft caramel maltiness and even softer stewed pear just kissed with saffron, clove, and anise next to a whisper of plum pudding.
If you buy one Oban this year, make it this one. It’s a great sipper that’s so beautifully subtle yet deep. Make sure to add some water or ice to really let it bloom in the glass.
32. Highland Park Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $86
This yearly drop has become a cornerstone of the Orkney Island distillery. The whisky is a blend of single malts that are aged exclusively in old American oak that previously held sherry. The barrels are married and bottled as is, to assure you’re getting all the nuance and flavor of their malts meeting that oak.
Nose: There’s a light sense of wildflowers on the nose with a rich vanilla husk that leads towards a touch of peaty-smoldering nori, soft vanilla cakes, and a rich and vibrant caramel.
Palate: The taste is silken with rich and buttery toffee next to honeysuckle, eggnog spices and creaminess, and a small dose of orange zest with a supporting act of salted caramel, apple pie tobacco, and a whisper of pine dank.
Finish: The end holds onto the creaminess and spices as the peat just edges in with a whisper of resinous pine smoke, soft caramels, and dark chocolate pie sprinkled with dried berries, pears, and citrus rinds.
This is a bold AF whisky. It’s rich, bourbon-adjacent, and really packs a punch. You’ll definitely want to pour this over a big ol’ rock and take your time with it.
31. Dalwhinnie 2023 Distillers Edition Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $129
The Dalwhinnie is a tiny distillery that whisky nerds love, and for good reason — they make amazing whisky. This yearly edition of the iconic peated malt is double cask matured with Port wine cask before batching, proofing, and bottling.
Nose: The nose opens with a very Highland sense of floral honey next to soft minerality — kind of like walking on slate after the rain — before dark plums and figs mingle with caramel malts and a fleeting sense of smoked pears dipped in clove and anise syrup.
Palate: The palate follows that smoked pear toward old honey jars with plenty of crystallization and a faint hint of a rainy forest next to winter spice cakes full of fatty nuts and dried fruits with a note of bourbon vanilla and burnt orange lurking far in the background.
Finish: That burnt orange leads to more holiday spices with a creamy maltiness on the end that’s pure silk as a whisper of that floral honey returns with a spiced maltiness.
This is a subtle peated whisky. It’s so well-balanced and nuanced that you can’t help but fall in love from the first sip.
30. Benriach Speyside Single Malt Whisky The Sixteen Triple Cask Matured
Average Price: $132
This new Benriach is all about the barrel blend. The 16-year-old single malt was aged in ex-bourbon, ex-sherry, and new oak casks. Those barrels were vatted, proofed with local water, and bottled.
Nose: Classic Speyside apple orchards with plenty of herbal honey mingles with fresh ginger and dried apricot on the nose.
Palate: That apple turns into spiced apple pie filling on the palate as the honey leans toward nuttiness with a touch of candied orange.
Finish: Honeyed malts with a twist of burnt orange dance with grassy spice and soft and creamy nutty chocolate.
This is just good. Drink it however you like to drink your whisky.
29. Kilchoman Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Loch Gorm Sherry Cask Matured 2023 Edition
Average Price: $89
This new peated malt from Islay’s bespoke Kilchoman Distillery is a masterpiece of blending. The whisky is hewn from 22 casks: eight 2013 barrels, six 2014 barrels, and eight 2015 barrels with a mix of European and American oak. The vatted whisky is just touched with local spring water before bottling.
Nose: Black Forest cake with a moist sponge and spiced black cherry compote drives the nose with a lush vanilla that feels like it was smoked in the husk before baking into the cake.
Palate: Fire-roasted hazelnut arrives with very dark and salty chocolate next to smoked plums and dates with a whisper of old brisket smoker lurking in the background.
Finish: The salinity from the chocolate acts up on the finish with the dark red fruits taking on more smoke and a twinge of creamy vanilla custard with hints of poppy seed and pipe tobacco.
This is just freaking delicious. When you add a little after or ice, this gets super creamy and the chocolate veers toward woody espresso and dark winter spiced layered into mulled wine, making it even tastier.
A quick note, this is where we launch into the stratosphere with the amazing 2023 bottles.
28. Cragganmore 2023 Distillers Edition Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $88
Cragganmore is an iconic Scottish distillery. This yearly whisky release is matured in sherry casks for 12 years. It’s then transferred into port-seasoned American oak casks for a final maturation phase before proofing and bottling.
Nose: Fennel leads to dried fruits — sultanas, prunes, dried fig — and fresh apples on the nose with a hint of tartness and skin next to savory (almost oily) herb branches and leaves.
Palate: The taste, on the other hand, leans into sweet oak, pear candies, fresh figs, and a softness that’s almost hard to believe while this medley of caraway, fresh fennel, and sweet cardamom dance together on your palate.
Finish: The end is full of sweet fruits — think ripe pears, green tomatoes, and star fruit — and has just the right touches of soft oak, oily vanilla, and savory green herbs as it fades towards a final note of wet wicker right after a rain storm.
This is a phenomenal pour of fruit-forward malt. It’s so easygoing that you can drink it neat all day (responsibly of course).
27. Johnnie Walker Blue Label Blended Scotch Whisky, Limited Edition Year of the Rabbit
Average Price: $232
This is the mountaintop of Johnnie Walker’s whiskies. The blend is a marriage of ultra-rare stock from extinct Diageo distilleries around Scotland. That’s just … cool. This expression is all about barrel selection and the mastery of a great noser and blender working together to create something special.
Beyond what’s in the bottle, the actual bottle is also really freakin’ cool. This year’s Chinese New Year design was created by rising fashion star Angel Chen. Chen interpreted the Chinese rabbit Zen sign for a stunning bottle and box design that hinges on the ethea of mercy, elegance, and beauty.
Nose: The nose on this one feels like silk with soft malts, dried plums, good marzipan, old boot leather, mulled wine spices, and a whisper of fireplace smoke.
Palate: The taste layers orange oils into the marzipan as rose-water-infused honey leads to a line of bitter dark chocolate that’s touched with smoked malts and nuts.
Finish: The end has an even keel of velvet mouthfeel next to floral honey, soft smoldering smoke from a fireplace, and old dried fruit.
It’s always a good idea to get a Johnnie Blue. This year’s gorgeous bottle art adds so much more. This is just a beautiful bottle to have around that also happens to have great whisky inside.
26. Ardbeg Heavy Vapours Limited Edition Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $167
This Ardbeg committee release is one of the more esoteric in a while. The whisky was distilled without the purifier in the still. Without getting too lost in the weeds, the purifier softens some of the harsher edges of the distillate. Since that didn’t happen, this whisky was built to be a deeper and darker version of the classically already deep and dark whisky.
Nose: Rich and dark is a good way to describe a nose full of fresh asphalt, burnt rope dipped in seawater, muddy barnyard after a fresh rain, I want to say jet fuel, and this deep counterpoint of dark dried red fruit and the darkest of dark cacao nibs tossed with salt.
Palate: The taste starts off subtly with mild cinnamon bark and cardamom pods next to really dark salted chocolate, spicy and fresh peppermint, and crushed oily espresso beans with a bitter sense of a mouthful of really expensive Japanese charcoal (binchōtan).
Finish: The finish is oddly numbing — it’s not hot at all — while coal and espresso bitterness wane as the chocolate, peppermint, and spice settle on your senses for a patient fades out.
This is another bold AF whisky that you should probably try at a bar first because it’s a whisky that you’ll immediately love (or hate). That aside, this one runs so deep and really takes you to the edges of where peated malt can go. It’s a wild ride.
25. Lagavulin 2023 Distillers Edition Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $115
2023’s Distillers Edition is a prime example of the heights Lagavulin can reach. The whisky was aged for 15 years in the core Lagavulin barrels (ex-bourbon and ex-sherry) and then finished for around six months in Pedro Ximénez sherry casks that were specifically made and held specific sherry before the whisky was loaded into the barrels. The result is a 15-year-old Lagavulin that’ll help you fall in love with the brand and style.
Nose: This feels like all the subtle notes across the Lagavulin range have come together in the best way. You’re drawn in with hints of honeyed smoke, salted caramel apples, mild hints of vanilla, and smoldering coffee grounds.
Palate: The taste ties the honey to a soft oakiness next to vanilla chocolate coffee, seaside salted taffy, and a touch of fish oil.
Finish: The end is very long and pure velvet on the tongue as the sweet oak fades towards a sweet smokiness, with a hint of salty roasted almonds and burnt vanilla husks.
This is on the subtle side of Islay’s peated whisky. It’s so nuanced that it feels like the sea is whispering to you through a beach campfire. It’s lovely.
24. Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Heavily Peated Islay Barley 2014 Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $99
This brand-new release from Bruichladdich is all about Islay and local malt. The mash bill (recipe) is hewn from 100% Islay Concerto and Propino barley malts (grown in 2013) that are heavily peated. In 2014, the whisky was made and filled into a first-fill bourbon cask (84% of the final blend), second-fill new oak (8% of the final blend), and second-fill Bordeaux wine casks (8% of the final blend). After seven years, those barrels were vatted and just proofed with local water for bottling.
Nose: Old pear and apple orchards mingle with singed vanilla pods, salted toffee, rum-raisin, and grapefruit pith next to smoked peach and melon over cinnamon bark dipped in seawater.
Palate: That grapefruit leads to burnt orange with a deep smoked plum, cherry, and apple vibe next to grilled peaches, toasted coconut, and burning wild sage with a slight sense of moist marzipan and apricot tobacco.
Finish: Apricot jamminess and chewy malty spice drive the finish toward smoldering coals in a barbecue and a bit more of that smudging sage.
This is back on that hardcore peated jam. There’s so much more here than just peatiness though and it’s super rewarding, especially when you add a rock or some water to let it bloom.
23. Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 14 Years
Average Price: $46
Glenmorangie’s 14-Year expression spends 10 years resting in used American oak casks. Those barrels are vatted and the whisky is re-barreled into Quinta Ruban port wine casks from Portugal for another four years of mellowing before batching, proofing, and bottling as-is.
Nose: The nose draws you in with a sense of burnt orange layered into dark chocolate and then melted over a singed marshmallow with a hint of malted vanilla cookie tying it all together.
Palate: That dark chocolate drives the palate with a hint of waxiness and woody winter spice next to whole black peppercorns, fresh tangerine, and a whisper of mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Finish: The dark chocolate, woody spice, bright orange, and sharp spearmint all collide on the finish with a sense of soft malted sweetness and faint old oak staves.
This is a standard release that just keeps getting better year after year. The new branding feels fresh and the whisky in the bottle is quintessential unpeated malt.
22. The GlenDronach Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Cask Strength Batch no. 12
Average Price: $79
This brand-new batch from Dr. Rachel Barrie at The GlenDronach is all about long aging. The whisky is left to mellow in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks from Andalucía, Spain. The age statement is on the bottle, but the blends tend to lean over a decade. The final mix is then bottled at cask strength to really highlight that Spanish oak.
Nose: Scoops of decadent dark chocolate powder draw you in with a hint of espresso cream, burnt orange, and marzipan with a moist sticky toffee pudding vibe next to a faint whisper of dried rose.
Palate: The palate is lush with a roasted and rich espresso bean vibe with salted dark chocolate, chinotto orange, and more rich and moist marzipan with a dash of ginger candy dipped in clove and allspice tea.
Finish: There’s a rich vanilla underbelly that smooths everything out on the end with a sense of rum raisin and faint bourbon cherry tobacco layered with soft cedar and mocha lattes.
This is a great whiskey for both bourbon drinkers and high-proof acolytes. I love it with one big rock but usually save it for the holiday season.
21. Compass Box Delos Blended Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $317
This brand-new release from Compass Box came off the bottling lines in December of 2022 and is hitting shelves right now. The blend in the bottle is a mix of single malts from the Imperial Distillery, Miltondu Distillery, and Glen Elgin Distillery with a single grain whisky from Cameronbridge Distillery.
Nose: The nose opens with a stewed pear with a deep sense of orchards in the sun next to bright pineapple, burnt orange, and a lush sense of vanilla buttercream.
Palate: Tart berries lead to macadamia nut cookies with a hint of floral honey, oolong tea, and savory guava with a touch of honeyed malt.
Finish: That honeyed malt drives the finish with a creamy nuttiness and a touch of spiced and creamy chai.
This is just good. It’s an excellent example of Compass Box’s prowess as one of the best blenders working today.
20. Springbank Aged 15 Years Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $314
This is made with Springbank’s mildly peated malts and then aged for 15 years in ex-sherry barrels. The whisky is then blended and proofed down with local spring water before bottling.
Nose: This is a funky and savory nose with hints of teriyaki beef jerky next to powdery stock cubes with a hint of smoked brisket fat next to hydrogen peroxide before turning sweet with stewed prunes with a hint of cinnamon and honey.
Palate: The palate is like a marriage between a nutty and spicy Christmas cake and a low-and-slow brisket with tons of sea salt and fat and a whisper of smoke.
Finish: The finish arrives with a walnut dark chocolate crumble with minor notes of old leather and fireplace ashes next to a thin line of rocky beach after the rain.
This year’s Springbank 15 hit a little harder and deeper. It’s so well-balanced and just kind of keeps giving you more and more flavor notes the more you back to it. It’s pretty awesome.
19. Benromach Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky Vintage 2013 Cask Strength Batch 01
Average Price: $199
This new 2023 Benromach release was 10 years in the making. The batch is made from a mix of first-fill ex-bourbon barrels (that means that this whisky was the first thing to go into the barrel after the bourbon was dumped) and ex-sherry casks. Those casks were vatted and then the whisky was bottled 100% as-is at cask strength.
Nose: Stewed plums and mulled wine-soaked cinnamon sticks mingle with dark salted chocolate-covered espresso beans, vanilla husks, and creamy toffee rolled in roasted almond.
Palate: Sticky toffee pudding with a hint of black tea and plenty of nutmeg and cinnamon drive the palate toward a moment of burnt orange that’s just kissed with smoldering cacao nibs.
Finish: Smoked plums and black-tea-soaked dates lead to old winter spice barks and more musty orange on the finish with a hint of buttercream.
This is a pretty goddamn tasty whisky, especially for an American whiskey drinker. Add some ice or water to really let this get eggnog creamy in the glass (and then save the rest of the bottle for the holidays).
18. Talisker 2023 Distillers Edition Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $113
The 2023 Distillers Edition is a classic Talisker that’s aged by the sea and finished for six months in Amoroso sherry casks. The whisky was distilled in 2012 and bottled at 10 years old. It was then finished in another Amoroso sherry cask, making it “double cask” matured.
Nose: The nose runs deep on this whisky with mild hints of beachside campfire smoke whispering in the background as hints of red fruit, wet driftwood, and green peppercorns draw you in.
Palate: The palate embraces the red berries with a slight tartness next to the sweetness as the peat remains dry and distant and tied to the brine of the sea with an almost oyster liquor softness.
Finish: The finish lingers for just the right amount of time as sweet berries and dry peat lead towards soft dark cacao powder with a tiny note of vanilla and one last spray from the sea.
This is the best mainstream bottle of Talisker that’s under 25 years old.
17. Bowmore Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aston Martin Masters’ Selection Aged 22 Years
Average Price: $999
This is the next step in the much-lauded high-end Aston Martin series from Bowmore. The whisky is batched from special barrels of Bowmore’s famed barely-peated whisky into a final product that’s refined and just kissed with that iconic Islay spring water.
Nose: Gently smoked cherries and smoked orange come through on the nose with a mild sense of smudging sage ash next to bourbon vanilla and apple fritters with a soft powdered sugar glaze.
Palate: That sweetness presents on the palate with a smoke chocolate powder vibe next to spiced malts, singed vanilla husks, and more of those smoked cherries but this time they have a twinge of tartness with a pinch of salt.
Finish: The finish combines the tart yet salty smoked cherries with the dark chocolate next to a deep sense of oak and spicy malts.
This is another very subtly peated Islay malt. It’s just so nuanced and delicate. This is a great sipper for the peat curious.
16. Scapa Single Malt Scotch Whisky Vintage Edition 19 Years Old
Average Price: $234
This special edition of Scapa was bottled exclusively for The Whisky Exchange. The whisky was distilled back in 2003 and bottled in August 2022. During the 19 years between those dates, the whisky rested in first-fill American oak barrels before bottling 100% as-is at cask strength.
Nose: Tart yet stewed green apples swim in vanilla buttercream on the nose as apricot jam and marmalade mingle with soft winter spices, lemon cream, raisin bread, and a hint of oyster shell.
Palate: Pear orchards and apple hand pies drive the palate as more lemon cream folds into a coffee cake (with a lot of cinnamon and nutmeg) with a dollop of marmalade, thin lines of honey, and raw brown sugar cubes next to a fleeting hint of wood wax.
Finish: Rye crackers with salt and sesame dipped in honey arise on the finish with a soft sense of salted black licorice, more of that raisin bread, vanilla buttercream, and spicy apple butter.
This is a great introduction to the wonders of Scapa, a true whisky nerd’s distillery.
15. Bunnahabhain Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Fèis Ìle 2023 Canasta Cask Matured
Average Price: $103
The annual Fèis Ìle release from Islay’s Bunnahabhain is here! The whisky is an unpeated single malt that was aged exclusively in rare Canasta sherry casks. Those casks were vatted and bottled as-is for this annual release.
Nose: Old-school creamy sherry comes through on the nose with caramel-soaked pears and peach next to roasted almond, plenty of cinnamon stick, and a hint of mushroomy earthiness.
Palate: Those caramelized pears lead to stewed figs and orange-laced dark chocolate on the palate as vanilla cream and maple syrup add some serious sweetness and lusciousness.
Finish: The end is sweet with a sense of maple syrup, candied orange, sweet apple candy, and vanilla buttercream with a light touch of winter spice and roasted chestnut.
Delicious. You know what to do.
14. Caol Ila Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 13 Years Fèis Ìle 2023
Average Price: $250
This year’s Fèis Ìle special release combines Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry butts that were left next to the sea in Islay for 13 years. Once the barrels hit the right mark, they were vatted and then bottled 100% as-is at cask strength.
Nose: Dark smoked cherries tossed in smoked sea salt drive the nose toward fresh green peppercorns, rips of cinnamon bark, and stewed stonefruits with a twinge of moist pipe tobacco and cedar bark.
Palate: The fruit sweetens and takes on more winter spice as the smoked salt and smoked chili pepper move the palate toward a subtle dryness with. a hint of rock beach stones and nori sheets.
Finish: The end leans into the minerality, nori, and spice barks as stewed plums and smoked cherries merge with the malted tobacco on the very end.
This is a high watermark for Caol Ila this year (so far). It’s just great.
13. Loch Lomond Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 22 Years The Open 151st Royal Liverpool 2023 Limited Edition
Average Price: $299
This year’s The Open 151st Royal Liverpool Limited Edition is a 100% organic whisky. The juice is made with unpeated organic barley that’s mashed and then distilled in a combination of straight neck and swan neck stills. That whisky then goes into organic American oak casks for a 22-year rest before cask-strength bottling.
Nose: Mellow honey cut with ginger and mango drives the nose toward a sense of peach orchard, savory melons, and salted lemons pickled with anise and clove.
Palate: Sharp grapefruit pith and seared pineapple skins open the palate toward buttery bourbon vanilla and salted caramel with a hint of dark chocolate ganache cut with dried mango and ginger.
Finish: That ginger really rears its head on the finish with a lush cinnamon cake vibe that leads to old oak with a touch of tobacco.
This is a very good pour of whisky. If you’re spending a summer day golfing, take this bottle along.
12. The Balvenie The Tale of the Dog Aged 42 Years
Average Price: $18,799
This whisky was named after a famed whisky thief — or “dog” — that was flattened to stop too much whisky being thieved back in the day. The actual whisky in the bottle is from two casks that were put on the racks in 1974 and 1978 and left alone.
Nose: There’s a classic sense of old and sweet malts on the nose that leads you to sweet and floral perfume that’s so subtle and enticing before a hint of sticky toffee pudding and geranium bound toward old mint rolled into chocolate malts.
Palate: The palate has a soft and salted toffee with honey nut cluster dusted with light notes of sweet winter spice and floral orchard blossoms before a hint more of honey and sweet old oak arrives.
Finish: That sweet oak drives the finish toward nutty creaminess, old orchard wood, and a sense of soft summer flowers with a hint of malt cookies cut with raisin and cinnamon.
Find a pour of this in a whiskey bar. It’s fantastic and will expand your palate.
11. Macbeth Act One Lady Macduff Linkwood Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 31 Years
Average Price: $792
This whisky is from a super whisky nerd distillery, Linkwood. If you know, you know. The whisky in the bottle was chosen by Elixir for its Macbeth lineup this year. The whisky is hewn from four ex-bourbon barrels that held the malt for at least 31 years (it’s a small miracle that any survived). Those barrels were vatted and bottled as-is.
Nose: The nose opens with a beautiful sense of ripe apricot (fresh from vine clarity) with creamy lemon curd, fresh spearmint, lavender lemonade, soft saddle soap, buttery brioche, and … I swear … freshly washed sheets hanging out on a line on a sunny day.
Palate: Fresh pears and sweet apples counter the apricot on the palate as buttery scones just touched with rose water smeared with vanilla brandy butter with a light toward of floral honey and very dry champagne.
Finish: The pear layers into the champagne while the floral honey creates a luxurious mouthfeel next to soft moments of winter spice barks, marmalade, apricot leather, and creamy salted buttercream just kissed with vanilla and summer flowers.
This feels like spending a long summer day in the French countryside with the one you love.
10. World Whiskey Society 31-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distilled by Macallan Distillery
Average Price: $9,999
The World Whiskey Society bottled this amazingly rare whisky this year. The whisky in this very bespoke bottle is from a single 31-year-old sherry cask that The Macallan had in its warehouses. It was bottled at cask strength, which means only 71 bottles were filled.
Nose: The nose opens with the softest marzipan (Niedderegger) dipped in fruity and beautiful brandy next to almost savory pear, apple taffy, and pomelo skins over Sicilian cannolis filled with orange-kissed cream and touched with pistachio and brandied-cherries.
Palate: That malted oak cake gets soaked in cognac with a floral fruitiness and a bright summer’s breeze as a hint of rye bread crusts just kissed with sweet anise brings the taste back toward clove and nutmeg sweet Christmas mincemeat pies and a twinge of dark mulled wine.
Finish: That rye and anise counter the soft malted spice cakes with a deep almond marzipan nuttiness that’s accented with pear brandy, orange oils, and vanilla cream with a deeply old wine cellar echo lingering underneath it all.
This is so incredibly rare and a true must-have for The Macallan fans.
9. Glenglassaugh Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky 46 Years Old
Average Price: $4,800
Glenglassaugh is a reborn distillery in Scotland — having operated from the 1800s to the 1980s before getting mothballed for over two decades before its resurgence in 2008. This is important to know in that the whiskey in this bottle was made in 1975 during the last years of the distillery’s 20th-century heyday. Living legend Master Blender Rachel Barrie found this barrel (a bourbon cask) in the stocks, and by some sort of whisky miracle, there was juice in the barrel.
That whisky was bottled as-is at barrel strength and sent exclusively to the U.S.
Nose: This is almost … fresh on the nose with a sense of tart and woody black currants, fresh plum, mango juice, and red grapes that then veers into the abyss with a sense of old boot leather, maple wood dipped in varnish, and waxy sense of ambergris (I swear) — think boot cream, fresh tobacco, and sandalwood with a hint of salt.
Palate: The taste takes the fruit and tosses it into a fruit salad that’s cut with seawater and nori that’s then countered by menthol tobacco and sharp citrus oils with a whisper of cherry-flavored cream soda.
Finish: A twinge of grapefruit oil drives the finish toward this fleeting sense of cellar dirt, more ambergris, and mint chocolate chip ice cream that’s laced with pipe tobacco and black currants.
This is a super rare whisky that was actually made for this market. At the very least, take a taste of it at a whiskey bar.
8. The Singleton of Glen Ord Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 40 Years
Average Price: $1,127
This new release from The Singleton of Glen Ord is a well-aged masterpiece. The malt spent 12 years aging in old bourbon casks before being re-barreled into fresh used oak for another 37 years. Finally, those barrels were vatted and that whisky was re-filled into a mix of rum casks which were ex-solera rum casks of Zacapa XO Rum and Zacapa Royal Rum. Finally, the whisky was vatted and bottled as-is.
Nose: Soft orchard fruit — plums, pears, quince — mingle on the nose with a light sense of roasting sage, thyme, and rosemary — all fresh and oily — before a mild note of old cellar oak and dried prosciutto skins arrive.
Palate: The taste leans into the orchard fruit before curing everything with salt, creating a tart yet salted plum/apricot/pear vibe that leads to soft yet dry cacao with a hint of spice barks.
Finish: Those spice barks get sharp and peppery on the finish as the chocolate mellows toward salted figs, plums, and pears that have just been kissed with cherry smoke.
This is deep into the whiskies where I’m not really sure what else to say besides something like, “It’s amazing. Duh.” Okay, okay, I actually would hold onto this one until Christmas. It’s a great holiday pour.
7. The BenRiach Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky The Forty
Average Price: $4,500
The legend Master Blender Rachel Barrie assembled this from a few select barrels that survived to 40 years. The peated malt rested in both bourbon casks and Port casks. Those barrels were batched and just kissed with water for this amazingly rare bottling.
Nose: Old fruit leather — think dried plum and fig skins — mingle with burnt grapefruit pith, caramelized orange sauce, and salted dark chocolate covered dried cranberry with a deep sense of buttery walnut cake cut with cinnamon and clove and drizzled with spiced cherry syrup.
Palate: That spiced cherry drives the palate toward apple pie filling, grilled white peaches drizzled with honey, and lychee with a hint of kiwi and star fruit leading to spice barks and tobacco boxes.
Finish: The chocolate comes back on the end with more of that walnut cake and cherry driving the finish toward a moist and soft finish full of spice, orchard fruits, and soft tobacco.
This is a fruit bomb that just keeps going. It’s kind of like walking through an exotic fruit produce section in a specialty shop in the most delicious way.
6. Talisker Forests of the Deep Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 44 Years
Average Price: $4,892
This is one of the more unique Taliskers to hit shelves. The 40-plus-year-old juice is made finished in casks made with staves that were charred with Scottish sea kelp and stave wood shavings. The staves are then used to finish the whiskey before it’s vatted and bottled 100% as-is.
Nose: There’s a sense of classic fruit orchards with a hint of blossom next to briny smokiness from a distance that slowly fades in toasted seaweed salad tossed with roasted sesame seeds and chili oil with a fleeting sense of mild soy sauce lurking way in the background.
Palate: The taste leans into orange zest and maybe even lime leaves with a twinge of old and sweet oak before a twinge of soft rope dipped in seawater leads to a thin line of a beach campfire surrounds by grey stones and spitting rain.
Finish: A mild note of chili pepper arrives late with a mild waxiness tied to chocolate, plum, and pear with a final flourish of a fruit orchard in full bloom.
From here on out, we’re talking about number-one whiskies. The ranking is almost arbitrary. This is amazing. Period.
5. Mortlach Midnight Malt Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged for 30 Years
Average Price: $4,799
This is 30-year-old Mortlach from a couple of barrels that actually made it that long without drying out or becoming undrinkable — it’s kind of a miracle in that sense. The vatted whisky was finished in a trio of barrels — Bordeaux wine, Calvados, and Guatemalan rum — before bottling completely as-is.
Nose: There’s a lovely hint of malt dipped in honey with a touch of apple stewed with cinnamon and saffron that leads to roasted pork skin and fat cut with a sense of rosemary and singed sage before a honeyed oaked sweetness arrives again
Palate: The taste is like a creamy, apple-forward, malty lush elixir cut with hints of black pepper, burnt orange, and marzipan that leads to a sense of honey-soaked cinnamon sticks floating in apple cider.
Finish: Another rush of that black pepper late leads to woody apple cores and wintry barks that eventually fade towards a mildly spiced apple-cinnamon tobacco leaf packing into an old cedar box.
This is another one that’s just f*cking amazing. What else can I really say…?
4. Tomatin Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky 36 Years Old
ABV: 45.1 %
Average Price: $1,535
This is 100% malted barley malt whisky that spends a lot of time in the warehouse. The whisky in the bottle is a blend of a minimum of 36-year-old barrels — both ex-bourbon and ex-Oloroso sherry casks. Those barrels are vatted and allowed to rest before the whisky went in the bottle with a touch of water.
Nose: There’s a deep sense of apple and cherry trees in full bloom on the nose with a hint of mango skins, white peaches, and mulled wine spices that leads toward dark plum jam over buttery scones with a hint of brandy butter lurking in the background.
Palate: The palate is immediately lush and silken with a sense of pear pudding and mincemeat pies next to fire-roasted almonds, dried apples, and raw honeycomb with a light lavender vibe.
Finish: The spices rear their head on the finish with a mild eggnog and spiced Christmas nutcake feel that leads to figs and prunes with a hint of pear pie and soft vanilla rounding out the end.
This was just named the best whiskey in the whole world by the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. So there’s that.
3. Springbank Aged 25 Years Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $989
This is a very rare whisky aged in 60% sherry casks and 40% bourbon casks for 25 long years in the tiny and very old Springbank Distillery in Campbeltown. After that whisky is touched with a little local water, and it’s filled into only 1,300 bottles per year (there are insane lines to get it at the distillery when it drops).
Nose: The nose opens with a soft marriage between fresh raspberries and subtle rose petals with old cellar beams, cobwebs, and a dirt floor rounding things out, with a whisper of seaside air lurking in between.
Palate: The palate veers from that nose pretty drastically with hints of rum-soaked overripe bananas next to wet brown sugar, rock candy, and a hint of large salt flakes.
Finish: The end builds on that saltiness with a rush of malted barley and sweetgrass after the rain.
This year’s revamped Springbank 25 is a life-changing pour. If this doesn’t get you hooked on peated whisky, nothing will.
2. Glenfiddich Grand Yozakura Aged 29 Years Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $1,899
This brand-new limited edition from Glenfiddich is their first foray into Japanese barrel finishing. After 29 years (!) in American oak and re-fill oak, the whisky is vatted and refilled into an ex-Awamori cask — which is an Okinawan rice spirit of sorts — for another nine months of mellowing. Those barrels were then batched and bottled with a hint of proofing water.
Nose: The nose is immediately amazing with deep notes of caramelized orange and grapefruit peels rolled in roasted almonds, allspice, and salt with a hint of confectioner’s sugar leading to this toffee maltiness and dark leathery fruitiness just kissed with creamy vanilla/chocolate before a hint of dried savory herbs sneaks in with a touch of old oak.
Palate: That ultra creamy vanilla and toffee lean into that soft oakiness and caramelized maltiness with a hint of green apple tartness and old wicker baskets full of tree barks next to date tobacco and salted caramel chocolate ganache.
Finish: That tobacco takes on a sticky toffee pudding and mincemeat pie vibe as the creaminess just keeps getting creamier on the long spice malt finish.
This is one of the best pours of new whisky I’ve had in a while.
1. Talisker Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 30 Years
Average Price: $1,000
Talisker’s seaside vibes are on full display in this beautiful bottle. The 2023 limited release (the 30-year is on a random release schedule) was around 3,000 bottles, making this a very rare expression from the Isle of Skye distillery. Those bottles were pulled from both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks and masterfully blended right next to the sea at cask strength.
Nose: The nose is shockingly subtle and soft with velvety notes of smoldering dried nori next to matchsticks that have been dipped in a buttery and rich dark chocolate with sea salt gently sprinkled all over.
Palate: The palate leans into the dialed-back peat by bringing about a smoked cream with fire-seared peaches next to a hint of wet cedar, very old tobacco leaves, and a touch of almond or oat milk flecked with salt.
Finish: That salt drives the mid-palate towards a finish that’s like getting kissed by merfolk on a beach next to a campfire that’s heating a cauldron full of spicy stewed peaches in more of that cream.
2023’s Talisker 30 drop is the whisky to beat this year.