How to find the best Whiskey Prices

Whiskey Prices: How to get the best quality at the lowest price

Whiskey prices can vary from as little as a few dollars for a mass produced whiskey, to tens of thousands of dollars for a rare example.

Does buying the cheapest whiskey mean that you are cheating yourself from the taste of an expensive one? We take a look at some great whiskeys for you to enjoy, that won’t burn a huge hole in your pocket.

Tomatin 12-Year-Old Malt Whiskey

Tomatin 12 year old whiskeyFrequently, I receive requests for recommendations for affordable single malts. I attempt to balance the Favorite Malts selections with a mixture for all price ranges but I must admit that it’s easy to overlook the small gems in favor of a new release from a silent distillery. A visitor recently suggested I pass on a recommendation of Tomatin 12-year-old, noting that it was selling for about $17 a bottle.

Tomatin is a delightful whisky, a step up in flavor from Lowland and lighter Highland malts, without becoming too challenging (like Islay or heavily sherried malts). It exhibits a smooth balance of malty sweetness, a perfumy lightness, a peaty nuttiness, and a smoky softness.

I sometimes surprise guests during an evening of tasting various whiskies. After a sampling of several light malts, Tomatin tastes distinctly rich and flavorful. Although prices have increased a bit, it is still a good buy at around $24.

Cadenhead Lochside 19-Year-Old

Cadenhead Lochside 19 year oldLochside is a delicious whisky; delicate, fruity, sweet and dry at the same time, with a soft, peaty creaminess. Unfortunately, the distillery was unable in its brief 35 year history to establish a following. Lochside’s delicate malt was either buried in blended whiskies or exported to the Spanish market. The fact the distillery was isolated in Montrose rather than in the Speyside, and the misfortune that the facilities were located on prime real estate all led to its demise.

There’s currently an opportunity to find out what you’ve missed. I purchased a bottle of this Cadenhead 19-year-old (1981-2000, 58 vol.), on a trip to Scotland. Finally some bottles have made their way to the US. It’s from an oloroso sherry cask, which adds subtle sweet and fruity notes to a relatively dry and faintly peaty malt.

It’s delicious, and perhaps your last chance to affordably sample (about $100) a vanishing single malt.

Glenfarclas 12-year-old

Glenfarclas 12 year oldMany years ago, at a bar in New Orleans, Louisiana, I came across a bottle of 12-year-old Glenfarclas. I was embarking on a driving tour of Cajun Country and was surprised to find a single malt that wasn’t widely distributed in America. In the course of the following week, Glenfarclas and I became good friends.

It may just be the fond memories of a journey through an exotic part of America, but I like to believe that Glenfarclas is a particularly “Nawlins” style of whisky. Perhaps that’s why the Sazerac Company of New Orleans was chosen to be the American distributor. It’s a whisky that has the sophistication and charm to be at home in an antebellum mansion; comfort and warmth to fortify the soul at a late night voodoo funeral; and the common man earthiness to sip while eating fresh cooked crawfish by the side of the road at a “boiling point”.

The nose has an earthy, sweaty, pungent aroma, mixed with sweet vermouth and licorice notes. The palate begins with sherry notes, then a smoky, peaty dryness. The finish is long, dry, smoky, and trails off with echoes of oak.

The Balvenie PortWood 21-year-old

Balvenie Portwood 21Though it’s only the beginning of February, there’s a touch of Spring in the air near my home. It’s not cold enough for a thick, sherry cask release, yet hasn’t warmed up to the point that a light malt is refreshing. There is however, something in between.

The 21-year-old PortWood from The Balvenie has an exquisitely well balanced combination of complex flavors, starting with a grapey sweetness in the nose and continuing through notes of heather, toffee, and anise. A cedary dryness keeps it from becoming overly sweet and heavy, maintaining an appetizing lightness. A snip at $200.

Signatory Bladnoch 1974 25-year-old

It wasn’t difficult to choose a single malt to usher in what is officially the new millennium. I’ll share part of a message I sent to Raymond Armstrong, the owner of Bladnoch distillery, on Christmas Eve:

Signatory Bladnoch 1974How nice to hear from you, and with such good news. Bladnoch is operating again!  It must be wonderful to smell the smells, hear the sounds, feel the energy, and most of all — take pride in the knowledge that you have rescued a piece of living history from extinction.

Other than your infectious enthusiasm and the warmth of June and the rest of the staff, there has been a feeling of sadness on my visits to Bladnoch. As though it were haunted by the ghosts of a lively and cherished past. Against all odds you accomplished a seemingly impossible task — the spirits have returned to Bladnoch. My glass is lifted to you.

As I wrote I sipped a bit of a 25-year-old Signatory bottling of Bladnoch (1974-99, 54.8 vol.).

It’s a delicious malt that balances the clean, lemony, grassy notes of a young Bladnoch with the cedary, herbal notes that come from 25 years in an oak cask. Few Lowland malts age well beyond their teens as the lightness of the whisky tends to be overpowered by the oak and cedar notes that emerge from the cask. In this case it is a perfect combination of flavors, and a perfect symbol, bridging the Bladnoch of old and the new Bladnoch.

A bottle will now set you back around $680.00

What is the best single malt whiskey?

Best Single Malt Whiskey

What is the best single malt whiskey?

I think the answer to this question is really down to individual taste, however before we look at the answer, we should understand what a single malt whiskey is.

As the name suggests the best single malt whiskey must come from a single distillery and not from a blend. It is much more difficult to achieve a consistent taste from a batch of single whiskey, as you can’t rely on blending to achieve the same results. The whiskey can also differ in flavour from barrel to barrel.

Whilst single malt whiskey is made all over the world, the rules for single malt scotch are much more stringent. Firstly scotch can only be distilled in Scotland for at least three years and the mash used in the distilling process must be from malted barley, whereas an American Whiskey is normally made from malted rye.

The Whiskey Prophet’s best single malt whiskey selection

Ardbeg Uigeadail

ardbeg-uigeadail-whiskyA single malt whiskey from the Ardbeg Whiskey Distillery in Islay Scotland
This is a cask strength bottle and means the dark and mysterious place in Gaelic. Uigeadail is also the name of the lock where the distillery gets its water from and what gives it a strong peaty flavour.

This bottle of whiskey has won several awards over the last few years.
This is perfect for those of you that like strong tasting whisky (a big hint of sherry ) with smokey overtones 54% priced at $80

 

 Laphroaig triple wood

As its name suggests this is matured using three different wooden barrels. Firstly Laphroaig-triple-woodit is kept in bourbon barrels, secondly it is moved to quarter casks and finally it is finished off in Sherry European Oak butts, which gives the whiskey it’s unique sweet flavour.

It originates from the Islay distillery and has an exotic spice and toffee taste. You still get that smokiness associated with this distillery, but it is dampened by the fruity aftertones from the sherry casks.

Expect to pay around $70

The Balvenie DoubleWood 12-Year-Old

This summer I spent some time revisiting some old friends. It had been a while since I’d tasted The Balvenie balvenie-12-year-old-doublewood-whiskyDoubleWood, it was a joy to rediscover its smoothly balanced pleasures.

In 1993, when the DoubleWood was introduced, the “finishing” of whisky in wine casks was a relatively new idea. Today, of course, it’s a commonplace practice with many (if not most) distilleries offering one or more “finished”: releases. The results have been uneven, in some cases disasterous (Auchentoshen Triple Wood comes to mind). The Balvenie DoubleWood is one of the successes, a delicious balance of sweet and dry, soft and spicy flavors.

Priced at a cool $50

Lagavulin 16-Year-Old

lagavulin-16-year-old-whiskyLooking over the Favorite Malts selections I was surprised to find that I had overlooked Lagavulin — a major oversight.

Lagavulin isn’t a whisky for everyone. The very bigness of flavor and aroma that speaks to the seasoned whisky drinker tends to overpower the novice. My advice to everyone serious about whisky — buy a bottle of Lagavulin. If you don’t care for it now, you will. Put it on the shelf, come back in a year, another year . . . a day will come when it will be a favorite.

The 16-year-old (the only US release) seems to combine all the disparate Islay flavors: it has the smoky, peaty, phenolic flavors of an Ardbeg, the seaweed, salt and iodine of a Laphroaig and Bowmore, and a touch of the smoked-fruit flavor of a Caol Ila. These elements, combined with the softness and gentility of a Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich, are softened by the balancing contrasts of sherry sweetness and malty dryness.

There are many good whiskies, there are a very few great ones. A snip at $70 a bottle.

The Macallan 15-Year-Old

the-macallan-15-year-old-1997-cask-9552-directors-cut-douglas-laing-whiskyIn 1966 The Macallan gained the distinction of being the first distillery to bottle whisky that was matured exclusively in sherry casks (oloroso casks from Jerez). Other distilleries have “finished” their whiskies with a year or two in sherry casks, and Glendronach has released exclusive sherry cask bottlings, but no one has managed to come close to the consistent quality and character of The Macallan.

The 15-year-old expression, new to the American market, is a delicious example of the sherry cask whisky that The Macallan distillers have made into an art form. From the rich toffee-and-smoke nose, to the dry, smoky finish, it’s a unique and exquisite single malt. (This comes from someone who has never been particularly fond of sherry cask whisky!)

If you haven’t tasted The Macallan in a while, it’s the time to get reacquainted. Difficult to get hold of prices around $210.

Tomatin 12-Year-Old

tomatin-12-year-old-whiskyFrequently, I receive requests for recommendations for affordable single malts. I attempt to balance the Favorite Malts selections with a mixture for all price ranges but I must admit that it’s easy to overlook the small gems in favor of a new release from a silent distillery. A visitor recently suggested I pass on a recommendation of Tomatin 12-year-old, noting that it was selling for about $17 a bottle.

Tomatin is a delightful whisky, a step up in flavor from Lowland and lighter Highland malts, without becoming too challenging (like Islay or heavily sherried malts). It exhibits a smooth balance of malty sweetness, a perfumy lightness, a peaty nuttiness, and a smoky softness.

I sometimes surprise guests during an evening of tasting various whiskies. After a sampling of several light malts, Tomatin tastes distinctly rich and flavorful. Now sells for around $50.

Cadenhead Lochside 19-Year-Old

Lochside is a delicious whisky; delicate, fruity, sweet and dry at the same time, with a soft, peaty creaminess. Unfortunately, the distillery was unable in its brief 35 year history to establish a following. Lochside’s delicate malt was either buried in blended whiskies or exported to the Spanish market. The fact the distillery was isolated in Montrose rather than in the Speyside, and the misfortune that the facilities were located on prime real estate all led to its demise.

There’s currently an opportunity to find out what you’ve missed. I purchased a bottle of this Cadenhead 19-year-old (1981-2000, 58 vol.), on a trip to Scotland. Finally some bottles have made their way to the US. It’s from an oloroso sherry cask, which adds subtle sweet and fruity notes to a relatively dry and faintly peaty malt.

It’s delicious, and perhaps your last chance to affordably sample (about $100) a vanishing single malt.

Glenfarclas 12-year-old

glenfarclas-12-year-old-whiskyMany years ago, at a bar in New Orleans, Louisiana, I came across a bottle of 12-year-old Glenfarclas. I was embarking on a driving tour of Cajun Country and was surprised to find a single malt that wasn’t widely distributed in America. In the course of the following week, Glenfarclas and I became good friends.

It may just be the fond memories of a journey through an exotic part of America, but I like to believe that Glenfarclas is a particularly “Nawlins” style of whisky. Perhaps that’s why the Sazerac Company of New Orleans was chosen to be the American distributor. It’s a whisky that has the sophistication and charm to be at home in an antebellum mansion; comfort and warmth to fortify the soul at a late night voodoo funeral; and the common man earthiness to sip while eating fresh cooked crawfish by the side of the road at a “boiling point”.

The nose has an earthy, sweaty, pungent aroma, mixed with sweet vermouth and licorice notes. The palate begins with sherry notes, then a smoky, peaty dryness. The finish is long, dry, smoky, and trails off with echoes of oak.

Sells for around $55

The Top 10 Whiskeys of all time

top 10 whiskeys

Top 10 Whiskeys

Having spoken to a lot of whiskey lovers in my time, they all have their definate favourites. Whats interesting is that once a whiskey lover finds their favourite, they tend to stop looking, or just keep to that one distillery.

Whilst Scotland is the Manchester United of Whiskeys, there are now distillers all over the world and so I have selected my top ten whiskeys from an outstanding international list. These are all affordable and accessible and hopefully something for everyone. First in my top ten whiskeys is;

Hibiki 12 & 17, Japanese Blended Whisky

 

suntory-hibiki-17-year-old-whiskyThis whiskey originates from the Suntory Whiskey company in Japan, which commenced production in 1923. Japans climate is very different to Scotlands and that creates a totally different tasting whiskey.

The fresh waters in the local area and the huge number of malt and straight grain whiskeys that go into the finished product create a unique taste on the palette.

The Whiskey is casked in japanese oak and has a subtle amber hew. Hibiki whiskey smells of rosemary with subtle hints of sandalwood. The taste is sweet and clean with overtones of orange and white chocolate.

Cost per bottle is around $148.00.

Green Spot, Irish Single Pot

Greep Spot Irish WhiskeyThis whiskey has been described by Jim Murray as one of the worlds best whiskeys. Green Spot is one of only a couple of single pot whiskeys being produced today. It can’t be called malt, because some of the grains are unmalted and also single pot whiskeys are distilled three times not twice like malted versions. The whiskey is produced at the Midleton Distillery in Cork Ireland.

Green Spot was one of several different colors that were sold under the “Spot Brand”  The current batch is a complex blend of eight and nine year old whiskeys and was difficult to get hold of, unless you lived in Ireland as it is mainly sold through a specialist shop in Dublin that is owned by Mitchell and Sons, the owners of the Spot brand.

However with the brand gaining in popularity in the United States it is now freely available through online stores.

Whilst the whiskey is rich and robust in colour, it doesn’ have that smokey or sweet flavour like scottish whisky’s. instead it has a very soft and smooth taste and is easy to drink neat. Cost is around $45.

Whistle Pig 12 Year Old Rye Whiskey

Whistle Pig 12 year whiskeySituated in 250 acres of Vermonts finest countryside, the Whistle Pig Distillery is a 150 year converted dairy barn. Rye grain is harvested from the company owned fields and distilled in distinctive especially designed copper pots and matured in American white oak barrels that have been carefully charred and which gives Whistle Pig a unique smokey flavour.

The 12 year old whistle pig is a careful blend of European oak casks – Madeira, Sauternes, Port, Cognac, and Sherry. The Master Distiller Dave Pickerell, has created a one of a kind whiskey, which whilst distinctly American has notes from all over the world.

The whiskey has won numerous awards and is in huge demand. Whilst the underlying taste is rye, you also get hints of the fruitiness, a combination of plums, raisins, combined with honey and apricots.   Prices are around $135.

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Straight Kentucky Bourbon

Russells Kentucky BourbonThis is an old school bourbon from the Russell stable that packs an almighty punch! The way this bourbon is produced hasn’t changed for 60 years, in fact it costs more to produce than its modern competitors, but the unique taste remains to be enjoyed by all.

The Wild Turkey Distillery that produces many award winning products is situated in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky and can be traced back the the late 1800’s.

As the name suggests the Russells reserve is a single barrel bourbon distilled from rye and aged in American Oak barrels. The process that gives this bourbon its distinct aroma is in part to the charring of the barrels. Each barrel is given what is known in the trade as a “No 4 Alligator Charr”. This is apparently as deep a burn as you can get without, weakening the actual barrel.

It is bottled at 110 proof and it is advised not to drink it straight! Even with water, its still rich and full flavoured with overtones of hazelnut and toffee, combined with that unmistakable hint of smokiness. Priced at $55.00.

Macallan Rare Cask

Macallan Rare CaskDescribed by the Macallan Brewery as “Rare and Rich”  The macallan Distillery is lengendary nestled in nearly 400 acres and has been around for 100’s of years. Using unusually small stills and taking only the top 16% to mature in casks, means that the whiskey produced is second to none.

The Macallan Rare Cask goes one further and uses only 1% from casks that will never be used again.

I have not had the pleasure of tasting this whiskey, so am relying on the notes from the Macallan distillery

The nose is Opulent, yet soft and slightly meandering, picture an orchestra setting up: quiet vanilla with deep notes, already in tune; raisin bold and booming, though only in spells; chocolate a star performer, but not a standout; a sweet ensemble of apple, lemon and orange, beautifully balanced with a spicy quartet of root ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Then oak conducts, mature and elegant, with patience only time delivers.

PalateThe spicy quartet leads, loud and full, unwavering in their performance. Raisin dares to temper – and succeeds!! – but oak takes control; timeless, polished, rich and resonating. Vanilla and chocolate compliment each other in the background

Finish Light citrus zest, yet full and warming

Prices are around $300

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

Crown Royal Northern Harvest RyeNext is the turn of a Canadian Whiskey. Situated along the shore of Lake Winnipeg is the tiny village of Gimli. Here there has been a Crown Royal Distillery for over 100 years.  The harsh climate (down to minus 30 degrees) and lime filtered cold waters of the lake, all add to the unique blended flavors of Canadian Crown Royal Whiskey.

At least fifty different blends of whiskey are carefully brought together using a unique still called the coffey still (after the man that invented it), to create an unmistakeable smooth whiskey.

The maturing casks expand and contract due to the large differences in temperature and this only adds to the taste.

The Northern Harvest Rye is a 90% Rye Blend and has already earn’t its place in the Jim Murray 2016 Annual Whisky Bible. The whiskey itself has a very spicy nose, you can taste vanilla, oak and a hint of pepper, but the overriding factor is the smooth and creamy finish. Its very popular and not easy to get hold of at the moment, the cost is a modest $40 for such a great whiskey.

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Whiskey

Jack Daniels single barrel whiskeyThis is such a well known brand, thanks to billboard and tv advertising and you can pick up a bottle of Jack Daniels for only a few dollars. But the popular tennessee whiskey company also produces some special bottles such as the Single Barrel Whiskey.

Jack Daniels is the oldest registered distillery in the United States, where the process hasn’t changed in the slightest from the day they opened their doors. Unusually Jack Daniels make their own barrels, something I believe no other company does. The contents of their whiskey is of course corn, rye and a tiny part malted barley, combined with pure iron free spring water.

The whiskey is dripped through ten feet of charcoal and matured until the master blender decides its ready.

The single barrel is 94 percent proof and as the name suggests drawn from a single barrel. Each bottle details the specific batch, barrel number and bottling date.  As a result no two bottles will be exactly the same. These barrels are chosen as the best of the best and having the most caramel and toasted oak flavour.  The result is a smooth taste on the palette with hints of toasted oak and almonds.  Prices are around $80.

Frysk Hynder Freisian single malt whiskey

Frysk Hynder Single Malt WhiskeyA new boy by whiskey standards, the Dutch Frysk Hynder distillery was started in 2002. It started off as a bit of a hobby and only produced 77 bottles per day. However as it became more popular, it slowly turned into a business. Unfortunately there were financial pressures along the way and the distillery, have to bottle every three years, so that they can continue to trade.

The climate is quite similar to Scotlands and the pure waters in the local area is critical to such a pure taste.

Matured in port barrels, it has a fruity nose and taste, with hints of malted barley followed by an unmistakable oaky finish. The bottle has a distinctive Freisian Horse Head top, in either a silver or gold finish and is priced at $40.

Bastille 1789 French Whiskey

Bastille 1789 French WhiskeyThis is a luxury whiskey, totally hand crafted in the Cognac region of France. Jean-Marc Daucourt, the famous distiller creates this whiskey from the best malted barley and wheat grown in France. Incidentally this is the wheat and barley that is used my many of the top Scottish Distilleries.

The sparkling clear waters from the Gensac spring filtered through miles of limestone are added to the process. Finally the whiskey is aged in very small batches using only the finest oak barrels, which include the famous limousin oak.

I have not had the opportunity to taste this particular whiskey, but would point out that 1789 does not refer to its age, but rather to the french revolution. 1789 is a blend and according to the International Review of Spirits:

Bright orange amber color. Intriguing aromas of orange marmalade, dried apricot, spice cake, pineapple blossoms and suede with a vibrant, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a long, orange bread crust, peach cobbler, peppery spice and limestone accented finish. A remarkably fruity, exotic and enigmatic whisky that will make unique cocktails.

International Review of Spirits Award: Gold Medal

A bottle can be purchased for $40. Maybe not as refined as some of the scottish offerings, but worth trying.

The final of my top 10 whiskeys is

Chivas Regal 25 Year Old Scotch Whiskey

Chivas Regal 25The Chivas Regal whiskey originates from the Strathisla distillery. It was created in 1786 and sits close to the river Isla. The distillery is one of the oldest in Scotland. In 1950 the distillery was purchased by the Chivas brothers, (hence the name of the whiskey) allowing a centuries old process to continue to this day.

The process includes the use of very short and very small copper stills, water from the River Isla and top quality malted barley. The result is a full bodied single malt scotch whiskey that is extremely popular. (you can still visit the distillery to see for yourself, how such a wonderful whiskey is made)

The Chivas Regal 25 is the culmination of years of refining a skilled process. This bottle contains a blend of whiskeys that have all been aged for at least 25 years.

It is a rich gold in colour, and has a very fruity aroma, hints of oranges and peaches. It is rich but comparitively mild in taste. Again the taste of oranges is prevalent, in this case chocolate orange. The finish is described as smooth, rounded and long.

A bottle of this quality will set you back $250.

Where can I find the Cheapest Whiskey?

Cheapest Whiskey

Finding the Cheapest Whiskey

We have talked about the most expensive whiskey and the top 10 whiskeys. Unfortunately for most people these whiskies are beyond reach due to their prohibitive cost.

Lets take a look at where you can find the cheapest whiskey. Cheap doesn’t have to mean poor quality. If you know where to look, you can find some very excellent bottles of whiskey on a budget.

This is my pick of the top best quality, cheapest whiskey that you can buy for $25 or under.

Sazerac Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey

Sazerac_Kentucky_Straight_Rye_WhiskeyThe sazerac straight rye whiskey is from the Buffalo Trace Distillery located in Frankfort Kentucky. One of the oldest and well known distilleries in the USA. It has a rich 200 year history and is responsible for many top brands of whiskey.

This particular rye whiskey has been aged for a minimum of six years. As this is a blend six years is the minimum age and it may be that some parts are much older.

Rye whiskey must have been aged in New Oak Barrels. Because the barrels are new, the aging process happens much more quickly and you get a flavour that might take other aged whiskies longer to produce. As a result rye whiskey is extremely popular and demand is currently outstripping supply.

The appearance is a deep amber copper color, the nose is strong vanilla, with hints of clove, anise and pepper. The whiskey tastes of candied spices and citrus. The finish is smooth with overtones of licorice and smoked pepper. A bargain whiskey at $25.00 a bottle.

Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage 2002

Evan Williams is a classic good old American bourbon. Produced by the Heaven Hill Distillery, Americas largest Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintagefamily owned distilled spirits company. Founded in 1935, by the Shapira family, they have grown to become the second largest holder of aging bourbon whiskey, with inventory stretching to over one million barrels.

Today the company has expanded and supplies not only whiskeys, but liqueurs, vodkas, rums and other spirits.

Unlike blended whiskey, the single barrel is as the name suggests taken from a single barrel, that has been hand selected by the master distiller. The bottle tells you exactly when it was placed in the cask and then bottled. It also contains the exact serial number of the cask from which is was drawn.

The bottle is corked like a fine wine and the cork is sealed in black wax, to prevent any evaporation.

This award winning whiskey is amber gold in colour. It tastes lushious and spicey with apple, honey and hints of orange peel. The nose is of oak, charred wood and caramel. The finish is a smooth graceful one. At only $23, you just have to try a bottle.

Johnnie Walker Red Label Whiskey

This label is probably one of the most famous whiskey brands in the world. Started as far back as 1819 by John Johnnie Walker Red LabelWalker out the back of a grocers shop and passed down from generation to generation. This whiskey should be in everyones drinks cabinet.

The Red label whiskey is Johnnie Walkers pioneer blend and one that has introduced whiskey to the world.

This is what the Johnnie Walker website has to say about their most popular tipple

Johnnie Walker Red Label is crackling with spice and bursting with vibrant, smoky flavours. It’s a blend that combines light whiskies from Scotland’s East Coast and more peaty whiskies from the West, creating an extraordinary depth of flavour. Johnnie Walker Red Label tumbles onto your palate with the freshness of spray from a breaking wave, bringing the unmistakable zing of aromatic spices – cinnamon and pepper – fizzing over the centre of your tongue. There’s a suggestion of fruity sweetness, like fresh apple or pear and a mellow bed of vanilla, before the Johnnie Walker signature of a long, lingering, smoky finish.

I think their description is very befitting of this great whiskey and at only $25 per bottle, its great for an everyday whiskey or even at a party or for cocktails.

George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey #12

George Dickel Tennessee WhiskeyIn 1870 George Dickel created the Dickel Distillery in Tullahome Tennessee. He quickly found out that whisky manufacturered during the winter months was much smoother than if it was made during summer time. The Dickel distillery is the only one to chill their whiskey before filtering through charcoal. This additional process removes additional oils and acids that remain in other whiskeys.

The number 12 tennessee whiskey is a blend of much older whiskies. This master blending achieves a much deeper and concentrated flavour. Considered by many to be the gold standard of tennessee whiskey. It has strong hints of rich oak and vanilla, combined with maple and butter and a very smokey finish. $25 per bottle

Jim Beam Black Bourbon

Jim Beam Black BourbonThere are strict laws on who can call their whiskey bourbon. The law relates to the amount of corn used in the creation. To be called bourbon, the whiskey has to produced using more than 51% corn. The more corn used, the sweeter the resulting whiskey.

No colourings or added flavours are allowed in Bourbon and they must be aged in new charred oak barrels. In 1964 Bourbon was legislated to be “Americas Native Spirit” Jim Beam is widely regarded as the number one bourbon in the world.

The Jim Beam Black Bourbon is aged longer than standard Jim Beam. This additional aging gives the bourbon a deeper more full bodied flavour. You can smell caramelised oak, vanilla and cinnamon. The taste is sweet and oaky with hints of toasted grains. The finish is very smooth and long lasting. Prices start from $20.

Wild Turkey 81 Rye

Made in the Wild Turkey distillery in Kentucky and owned by Campari America. The Wild Turkey distillery has been Wild Turkey 81 Ryearound since the mid 1800’s and uses the same process for making whiskey today as it did back then.

Using the deepest “alligator” char on new oak barrels, called 81 because this is an 81 proof straight rye whiskey. It has been aged for at least four years, although some of the whiskeys used in the blend may be older. By law it must be made from at least 51% rye and distilled at a maximum 91%ABV.

The result is a much spicier and fruitier tasting whiskey than bourbon. The 81 Rye is much lighter in colour compared to Bourbon and not as sweet. It as a very fruity nose and a rich fruity flavour with strong hints of the oak char.  Price is also comparable starting at $20.

McClelland’s Islay 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch

McClellands Islay 12 year old whiskeyUnusually McClelland does not have its own distillery and does not produce its own whiskey. Instead the Mclelland company uses the whiskey produced by the Morrison Bowmore Distillery (which owns the McClelland brand) and uses it’s considerable expertise to blend already quality whiskies into the unique brand you see today.

The 12 year old is whiskey produced from the Islay region of scotland, which has been aged for at least 12 years.

The result is a warm and robust full bodied whiskey with the color or honey. The nose is citrus and tar smoke, the taste is malty vanilla and a hint of sea salt. The smokiness is apparent right through the drink and lingers throughout.

Priced at a competitive $25.

Black Eagle Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Black Eagle KentuckyThe final selection in our cheapest whiskey category is another Bourbon.

Black Eagle bourbon is registered with United States Distilled Products (a Minnesota company) but also listed with an company in Kentucky. It is presumed that the whiskey is made for USDP through a private label contract.

I have not tasted this bottle, but here are some tasting notes

Golden amber color. Honey toasted corn bread, corn syrup, and nut aromas with a silky dry-yet-fruity medium body and a clarified butter on kettlecorn and peppery spice finish. Simple, but pleasant and a solid choice for everyday cocktails. Priced from $10.00.

Is Aged Whiskey the best?

Aged Whiskey

Is Aged Whiskey the best?

We have written about some very old and some very expensive whiskeys on this site. So the question has to be asked, do you need to find the oldest and most expensive whiskey to enjoy the best? Or is it a case of the emporers new clothes?

The producers of whiskey would probably argue that a great whiskey needs time to mature, to draw in those flavours. The other factors in pricing an old bottle of whiskey is time/money. By laying down a cask for over 50 years, you are having to wait a hell of a long time to see a return on your 50 year investment.

Even if the whiskey isn’t the best, you are going to have to pay a premium to taste it.  We have always been sold on the fact that older is better and I am sure producers have taken advantage of this to sell their older whiskeys at an inflated rate.

So what do the experts say? Having spoken to several master distillers, they are of the opinion that in some cases older is better, but not always and an experienced master blender can produce an incredible tasting whiskey that is only a few years old.

There is debate amongst experts as to the optimum age for a whiskey. Corn and Rye based whiskeys are said to be at their best between the ages of 6 and 12. Scotch is placed at around 20 years.

Most experts agree that this is down to the age of the barrels used in the maturing process. American whiskey is normally matured in brand new casks and therefore takes less time for the flavours to be extracted. Scottish distillers favour used sherry, madeira and bourbon barrels. The older used casks have less flavour to be extracted and therefore the process takes much longer. Scottish distillers would argue that this gives the whiskey a better flavour, hence the older whiskey costing more. Japan uses japanese oak which has a very tight grain and therefore flavours take much longer to leak into the contents. This is why alot of Japanese whiskey has been matured for 20, 30 and even 50 years.

Climate also plays its part. In hot dry parts of the world, the whiskey evaporates quicker and makes the remainder much more concentrated in a much shorter time frame. The damp cold climates of Scotland and Ireland makes this process much slower.

Whilst there are older spirits, a 50 year old whiskey seems to set the bench mark for the most expensive whisky title. Most 50 year old whiskey will cost over $2000 a bottle.

Glenfiddich 50 year old whiskey

Glenfiddich 50 year old single malt whiskey

Glenfiddich is a very popular brand of whiskey. You can still visit the Glenfiddich distillery in Dufftown and see how their aged whiskey is created. From the creating of the mash, through to the distilling in the unique copper stills, and the casking process.

The distillery was built in 1886 by William Grant and his sons and named Glenfiddich which means “valley of the deer” in Gaelic. Glenfiddich is one of the few distilleries that is still family owned.

The first ever 50 year old aged whiskey was first launched in 1991 from nine casks first laid down in the 1930’s. Glenfiddich only releases fifty bottles of this vintage. This particular selection was drawn from two casks that have spent the last 50 years maturing in warehouse number 8. The bottles are hand blown and finished with a silver neck and badge. They are encased in hand stiched leather case.

The tasting notes from the Glenfiddich Distillery

Colour Pale gold.

Nose A beautifully harmonious, uplifting, vibrant and complex aroma. Delicate rose petal and violets intertwine with green tobacco leaf, oak and faint hints of smoke.

Taste Initially very sweet, with zesty orange marmalade and vanilla toffee, cascading through layer after layer of aromatic herb, floral and soft fruits, silky oak tannin and gentle smoke.

Finish Exceptionally long, with a touch of dry oak and the merest trace of peat.

This would make a great present to anyone, unfortunately the cheapest bottle I could find was selling for $28,000

Glenfiddich 50 year old