Looking back at the year, these are the 33 best things we drank this year.
It is hard to keep track of every single thing we drank over the past 12 months but we did our best. And here we’ve pulled 33 of the best bourbons, best rye whiskey, best scotches, and best tequilas to hit our classes in 2022.
Following any of the links in the list below will take you directly to the snippet for that item.
- WhistlePig Boss Hog IX: Siren’s Song
- Blue Run Emerald Rye
- George Dickel Reserve 17-Year Tennessee Whiskey
- Wild Turkey Master’s Keep ‘Unforgotten’
- Kentucky Owl Takumi Edition
- Booker’s Bourbon ‘Ronnie’s Batch’
- Pursuit United Oak Collection
- Horse Soldier Bourbon
- ‘Nikka Discovery’ Series: Yoichi and Miyagikyo Aromatic Yeast
- Widow Jane’s ‘The Vaults’ 14-Year Blended Bourbon Limited-Edition
- Knob Creek 18-Year-Old Bourbon
- Redwood Empire’s 2nd Batch Of Bottled In Bond Whiskey
- Little Book Chapter 6 ‘To The Finish’
- 2022 Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition
- Rabbit Hole Founder’s Collection: Nevallier
- Cascade Moon 15-Year-Old Barrel Proof
- Heaven’s Door Decade Series Release 01
- E.H. Taylor Jr. Bottled in Bond Single Barrel
- Waterford Distillery’s Arcadian Farm Origins Peated Irish Whiskies
- Frey Ranch Limited-Edition Single Barrel Rye
- Uncle Nearest First-Ever Rye Whiskey
- George Dickel’s 13-Year-Old Bottled-In-Bond Fall 2008
- Rare Hare 1953 17-Year-Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- Fuji Whiskey Single Grain
- Ardbeg Traigh Bhan Batch 4
- The Glenlivet 25
- Jefferson’s Ocean Aged at Sea New York Edition
- Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye
- Redemption Sur Lee Rye
- A. Smith Bowman Cask Strength Bourbon Batch No. 2
- The Famous Grouse Ruby Cask
- Tequila Ocho Reposado Barrel Select Widow Jane 2022
- Espolon Cristalino Sipping Tequila
The 33 Best Things We Drank This Year: Bourbon, Rye, Scotch, and Tequila
WhistlePig Boss Hog IX: Siren’s Song
The WhistlePig Boss Hog IX: Siren’s Song pushed the boundaries of the Boss Hog ultra-premium whiskey line further than ever before by incorporating elements that haven’t been employed in the whiskey world until now.
WhistlePig Boss Hog IX: Siren’s Song begins with ‘some of the oldest rye’ on the WhistlePig farm. From there it is double-finished in two unique barrels. The first are barrels that formerly held Greek fig nectar and from there they move to barrels that previously held scratch-made Tentura which is ‘a Greek style liqueur inspired by Ancient Patras.’
It is single barrel in origin, bottled at proof, and barrel strength between 102.5 – 106.2 proof. The nose is overflowing with orange blossom, dried fruit, brown sugar, and characteristic rye spice. On the palate you’ll find rich notes of black cherry, cinnamon, and clove. And the long finish is where all of that ‘jammy fig’ from the Greek fig nectar barrels is found along with the classic rye spice found in every WhistlePig Boss Hog release.
Part of drinking Boss Hog is knowing you get to sample a whiskey that’s unlike anything else on the planet and that’s certainly true with Boss Hog IX: Siren’s Song. And it’s not just unique, it’s truly exquisite.
Blue Run Emerald Rye
Once again, I have fallen in love with a Rye Whiskey from Blue Run Spirits. The first time I found myself completely enamored with Blue Run’s rye was their Golden Rye in 2021. They’ve once again struck gold but this time it’s with the Emerald Rye.
Blue Run Emerald Rye clocks in at 116.7-proof which is on the higher end of the spectrum for some drinkers but the higher proof packs so much flavor it’s impossible not to love. For Blue Run’s second rye release, they contract distilled through Castyle & Key in Frankfort, Kentucky and the entire release came from just 189 barrels.
The Emerald Rye is bursting with spice on the finish but you’ll find caramel, oak, butterscotch, and spicy peppers on the tongue. It brings waves of apples, pears, and cloves combined with the characteristic rye spice. This is a perfect campfire-sipping rye and an excellent gift to yourself or any other whiskey lover.
George Dickel Reserve 17-Year Tennessee Whiskey
Cascade Hollow Distilling Co. saved their best for last this year.
The George Dickel Reserve 17-Year Tennessee Whiskey is a cask strength release so good it will have Dickel drinkers champing at the bit to track down a bottle.
Cascade Hollow Distilling Co. first released a 17-Year George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey back in 2016. That release came in tiny 375ml bottles and Dickel enthusiasts snatched them up in a heartbeat. Master Distiller and GM Nicole Austin brought the George Dickel Reserve 17-Year back in 2022 but this time it was released in proper 750ml bottles (full sized). The bigger bottle carries a bigger price tag. 750ml bottles have a suggested retail price of $250 but it’s the holiday season so that hefty price tag can be justified as a ‘present to yourself’.
The mashbill for the 17-year George Dickel Reserve is the same as Dickel’s flagship recipe (8% malted barley, 8% rye, 84% corn). This release clocks in at 92 proof (46% ABV) which makes it very, very approachable.
Wild Turkey Master’s Keep ‘Unforgotten’
The annual Wild Turkey Master’s Keep release is one of the best annual releases in the whiskey world. Master Distiller Eddie Russell absolutely crushed it this year with ‘Unforgotten’.
Wild Turkey Master’s Keep ‘Unforgotten’ was released at the end of September and carries a suggested retail price of $200. So this is certainly on the high end of bottles. But this blend of bourbon and rye whiskeys is worth every dollar.
The idea for ‘Unforgotten’ was first borne in 2010 when Eddie Russell blended bourbon and ryes together for a limited release named Forgiven. 12 years later, he revisited that blending style with a 13-year-old bourbon, 8 year old rye, and a 9-year-old rye. What resulted was greater than the sum of its parts. A truly special blend.
Kentucky Owl Takumi Edition
This was a real standout pour for me in 2022. Kentucky Owl partnered with (award-winning) master blender Yusuke Yahisa of the Nagahama Distillery for this 2nd limited-edition release from Kentucky Owl.
‘Takumi’ directly translates to ‘Master’ in Japanese but it can be taken further to a craftsman who has unmatched expertise in their field. So it was the perfect name for a Japanese whisky x Kentucky Owl collaboration with Yusuke Yahisa.
It is a blend of 4, 5, 6, and 13-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon. What makes this one so special is how they took a Japanese whisky approach to Kentucky bourbon. The master blender possesses expertise in flavor profiles of Japanese whisky and this finished blend of Kentucky bourbon has some of those characteristics to be sure.
It has ‘light rye bread with sweet caramel richness’ on the nose with hints of fruit salad. The first sip will bring you cinnamon, caramel, apple, and pear, along with a long and smooth finish. The 750ml bottle is available on ReserveBar below with an SRP of $150.
Booker’s Bourbon ‘Ronnie’s Batch’
The first Booker’s Bourbon Batch release of 2022 to hit shelves was ‘Ronnie’s Batch’. It was named in honor of Ronnie Land, a longtime employee of the James B. Beam Distlling Co., working at the Jim Beam Clermonot and Boston, Kentucky plants under master distiller Booker Noe.
Ronnie worked for Jim Beam for 40 yers and rose the ranks all the way up to Warehouse Manager before retirement. Over his four decades, he was responsible for keeping inventory of the aging barrels and he was renowned for knowing the exact location and quantities of barrels by heart.
Ronnie Land was also the person who prepared samples for Booker Noe to evaluate. One time Ronnie sent Booker a batch of samples that “werent’ big enough to get a proper sense of the whiskey.” He then followed up with noticeably larger sample sizes for Booker and that actually became the company’s standard sample size and it’s still used to this day when evaluating whiskey batches.
Ronnie’s Batch came from:
4% came from the 3rd floor of 7-story warehouse 5
7% came from the 4th floor of 9-story warehouse D
15% came from the 5th floor of 7-story warehouse 1
26% came from the 5th floor of 7-story warehouse Q
48% came from the 5th floor of 7-story warehouse Z
Pursuit United Oak Collection
One of the final tastings I did this year was the new Pursuit United Oak Collection release. This included the Rye Oak Collection batch #11CC and the Oak Collection (bourbon) batch #11CC.
The Oak Collection Bourbon is a blended bottle of bourbons from three states: Tennessee (not Tullahoma), New York (Fringer Lakes Distilling), and Indiana (MGP). The mashbills are all over the place with the first one (TN) 80% corn, 10% rye, and 10% malted barley. The New York mashbill is 70% corn, 20% rye, and 10% cherry smoked barley. Indiana’s mashbill is 60% corn, 36% rye (!!!), and 4% malted barley.
The finished product is a 108-proof blended straight bourbon that is absolutely bursting with flavor and carries a fascinating story.
The Rye Oak Collection from Pursuit United is also a 3-part blended whiskey but from 2 states instead of 3. The first is a Bardstown Bourbon Co with a 95% rye and 5% malted barley mashbill. The other two ryes are from Maryland’s Sagamore Spirit. One mashbill is 95% rye, 5% malted barley and the second is 52% rye, 43% corn, and 5% malted barley.
This rye was one of the best ryes I tasted in 2022. It carried layers of coconut, tropical fruit, and tea. There’s smooth brown sugar and plenty of spice throughout. You can hit that ‘where to buy’ button below to see if it’s available in your area.
Horse Soldier Bourbon
I came to know Horse Soldier Bourbon better in 2022. If you went down to your local store right now and picked up a bottle of the Horse Soldier Barrel Strength you could put it against anything else on your shelf in a blind taste test and I virtually guarantee you’d rank it in the 90s on a 100-point scale. It’s that good.
The Horse Soldier Barrel Strength “Wheated” Bourbon has a deep Amber color, is uncut, has been awarded 93 points at the New York International Spirits Competition, 95.5 points in the Whiskey Bible, and what struck me the most was the rich butterscotch and vanilla aroma. At 110+ proof it is still bursting with flavor while packing plenty of heat.
‘Nikka Discovery’ Series: Yoichi and Miyagikyo Aromatic Yeast
These two releases are the second release of the Nikka Discovery Series in the United States, an annual release that highlights fascinating components of the whisky-making process. Using Yoichi Aromatic Yeast and Miyagikyo Aromatic Yeast from their ‘Culture Collection’, Nikka is able to shine a light on the variety of yeast within its two distilleries and their unique aromas.
These limited releases are available on ReserveBar with an SRP of $274.99 but only 2,640 bottles of each expression will be available to the public so it could prove to be difficult to track down.
The Nikka Discovery Yoichi Single Malt Aromatic Yeast 2022 was fascinating. It was crafted to have flavor elements of a Ginjo-style sake. I found notes of campfire on the tongue along with an array of fruity notes.
Widow Jane’s ‘The Vaults’ 14 Year Blended Bourbon
There are only 2,000 cases available to the public and Widow Jane’s 2022 expression of The Vaults carries a hefty price tag of $250 (750ml bottle). But you get what you pay for, right? A release like this is the distillery masterfully blending *their favorite* and oldest expressions together. And when there’s a passion like that behind a release you know it is going to be special.
- Aged 14-19 years, finished in air-seasoned Missouri Ozark oak casks
- 49.9% ABV
- Non-chill filtered and proofed with mineral water from New York’s Rosendal Mines
- 750ml bottle with an estimated SRP of $250
- Only 2,000 cases are being released
If you aren’t familiar with Widow Jane it’s time to introduce yourself. I previously ranked the Widow Jane Lucky Thirteen in the ‘Top 25 Things I Drank‘ last year.
Limited-Edition Knob Creek 18-Year-Old Bourbon
To honor 30 years of exceptional whiskey, Knob Creek released a limited edition Knob Creek 18-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, the oldest ever release from Knob Creek.
Here is the rundown on what’s inside the bottle, from the recent Knob Creek 18 press release:
- Proof: 100
- Color: Rich copper tones with auburn hues
- Aroma: Brown sugar and aged oak, with notes of char and caramel
- Taste: Full-bodied with notes of caramelized oak and hints of sweet vanilla and baking spices
- Finish: Warm finished with spice and slight floral and fruit notes
The suggested price is $169.99 for a 750mL bottle which, all things considered, is quite reasonable given that it’s the oldest Knob Creek release ever.
Redwood Empire’s 2nd Batch Of Bottled In Bond Whiskey
Redwood Empire’s second batch of Bottled in Bond whiskeys includes two releases, the Redwood Empire Bottled in Bond Rocket Top Straight Rye Whiskey – Batch No. 002 and Redwood Empire Bottled in Bond Grizzly Beast Straight Bourbon Whiskey – Batch No. 002.
The Rocket Top Straight Rye Whiskey – Batch No. 002 has a mash bill of 87% Rye, 5% Wheat, 5% Malted Barley, and 3% Corn. It is a straight rye that has been aged 5 years in American White Oak barrels with a Level 3 Char. The 4-grain mash has some sweetness from the 3% corn and carries aromas of ‘bergamot, candied orange, sage, and dates with a savory palate of fig jam, caramel corn, and cracked pink peppercorn’.
The Grizzly Beast Straight Bourbon Whiskey – Batch No. 002 is a straight bourbon whiskey aged 5 years in American White Oak barrels. It has a mash bill of 66% Corn, 23% Rye, 7% Wheat, and 4% Barley. This exquisite 5-year-old Bottle-in-Bond whiskey has aromas of ‘charred sugar, cherry cola, and reduced red currants open into a rich, full mouth of molasses, almond brittle, and lemon bar.’
The name ‘Grizzly Beast’ comes from two legendary trees in California. Grizzly Giant is a giant Sequoia in Yosemite National Park and Mattole Beast is a massive 375-foot coastal redwood in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
Little Book Chapter 6 ‘To The Finish’
For the uninitiated who only look at names and age statements, Little Book Chapter 6 might seem underwhelming. It is a blend of four 4-year-old whiskeys and a 5-year-old bourbon. ‘What’s so special about that?’ Someone might wonder if they’re the type to judge a book by its cover.
But this really is a unique limited release. It combines four Straight Malt Whiskeys (American Single Malt) with a Bourbon and the finishing techniques are what really sets this apart.
- 4-year-old Straight Malt Whiskey finished with cherrywood staves (28% of blend) adding notes of dried fruit and sweetness with a deep amber color.
- 4-year-old Straight Malt Whiskey finished with applewood staves (25% of blend) that pull toasted grain notes and smokiness.
- 4-year-old Straight Malt Whiskey finished with hickory smoked barrels (12.5% of blend) that bring more traditional smokiness into the blend and balance out the sweetness from the other liquid components.
- 4-year-old Straight Malt Whiskey finished with Maplewood staves (8% of blend) that really brings the blend together.
- 5-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon (26.5% of blend) that anchors the four ‘smoked’ elements of the blend and allow each to really shine while staying balanced.
You can read my full review on Little Book Chapter 6 here.
2022 Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition
The Small Batch Limited Edition release from Four Roses is one of the most highly sought-after bourbons every single year and it has nothing to do with hype, this release always delivers an exquisite bourbon.
- The four liquids in this year’s limited edition small batch indlude: 14-year OESF, 14-year OESV, 15-year OESK, and 20-year OBSV
- This year’s limited edition clocks in at 54.5% (109 proof), slightly less than 2021’s 57.2% ABV
- The main flavor component of the Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition, the element that really drove this blend, is the F Yeast strains which is heavy on herbal notes
- There is a lot of 20-year old OBSV in this blend, with the Mash bill B of 60% corn, 35% rye, and 5% malted barle and Yeast V which is characterized by delicate fruit
This bottle is extremely difficult to find. It’s available each year through lottery. I didn’t win the lottery, I never have. But I stay optimistic one day I’ll be able to purchase a bottle at retial. Meanwhile, it’s best to look for it on a bar shelf or sold on the secondary market if you’d like to try it.
Rabbit Hole Founder’s Collection: Nevallier
This past Summer the Rabbit Hole Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky recently released the newest expression from their Founder’s Collection, Nevallier, which is named in honor of oak selected from the Nevers and Allier forests of central France. The oak was selected by Rabbit Hole’s founder and whiskey maker Kaveh Zamanian who personally oversees the Rabbit Hole Founder’s Collection.
Simply stated, Nevallier from the Rabbit Hole Founder’s Collection checks every single box on my wildest wish list of whiskey characteristics. The limited edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon was aged for 16 years, 15 of those years were spent in new charred American oak barrels and they went into new French Oak barrels sculpted by Tonnellerie Leroi, one of France’s most renowned cooperates, for a full additional year. The finished product is damn near perfect.
Cascade Moon 15-Year-Old Barrel Proof (Not Technically Whiskey)
Three requirements pertaining to the spirit’s alcohol content are: (1) must be distilled to no higher than 160 proof off the still, (2) must enter the oak container at no higher than 125 proof, and (3) must be bottled at minimum 80 proof.
Cascade Moon 15-Year-Old Barrel Proof isn’t technically a Bourbon because when this 15-year liquid went into the barrels at 115-proof (which is fine) but came out 79.8-proof, below the legal threshold required to be called an American whiskey.
It’s really all about the flavor and complexity and Cascade Moon 15-Year-Old Barrel Proof is rich with both. Once in your glass, you will find “an aromatic and tropical nose, with a finish of leather and oak” and at under 80-proof you can easily sip it neat, on the rocks, or however you prefer to enjoy yours.
Heaven’s Door Decade Series Release #01
A tempting new release from Heaven’s Door came out this year. It was the very first release in the Heaven’s Door Decade Series and it’s a 10-year bourbon that’s been carefully and meticulously chosen to showcase Heaven’s Door premium whiskeys.
Bob Dylan’s Heaven’s Door continues to fly a little under the radar for some but it packs as much flavor and delivers as much satisfaction as any whiskey in the game.
Chris Stapleton + E.H. Taylor Jr. Bottled in Bond Single Barrel
If we’re judging on exclusivity alone, there’s no way this one can be topped. The only way for most people to get a bottle of this 12-year E.H. Taylor, Jr Bottled in Bond Single Barrel collaboration with Chris Stapleton was by auction or knowing the artist himself. I got lucky and happened to snag a bottle and it tasted like pure ambrosia.
You can read more on this annual exclusive release for Bottled in Bond Day here.
Waterford Distillery’s Arcadian Farm Origins Peated Irish Whiskies
After recently introducing Waterford Distillery’s Arcadian Farm Origins to the United States, they unveiled a project that has been in the works for years but kept secret until recently. The two new peated Irish Whiskies with single farm origins are Peated: Fenniscourt and Peated: Ballybannon.
Peated Fenniscourt is 50% ABV and only 11,500 bottles are being released globally (suggested retail price of $99.99). It is a blend of whiskeys that have been aged in 37% first-fill U.S. oak casks, 19% virgin U.S. oak casks, 20% Premium French oak casks, and 24% Vin Doux Naturel casks.
The color is described as ‘rich buttermilk with fabulous oils’. On the nose you’ll find ‘saltiness, pear skin, woodland moss, dried thyme, malted biscuits, marzipan, and baked banana’ and as it goes down the palate you will discover ‘barbecue, bog myrtle, white pepper, earthy warmth, and a dry finish in gentle waves.’ It has a peating rating of 38ppm.
The barley in Waterford’s Peated: Ballybannon and Peated: Fenniscourt are grown on two single farms but in the quest to take Irish Whiskey further towards its original flavors, they’ve added 100% Irish peat and are now the first distillery in generations to do this.
Frey Ranch Limited-Edition Single Barrel Rye
Nevada’s Frey Ranch Distillery just announced the release of limited-edition Single Barrel Rye that’s bottled at barrel strength and features a spicy 100% rye mashbill. Interest in Rye Whiskey has sky rocketed in recent years (up 1275% in a decade) and this might be one of the best releases yet.
Frey Ranch’s Straight Rye Whiskey is fantastic but they wanted to kick it up a notch so they went with a Winter Cereal Rye mashbill, a rye that’s grown and harvested on site at Frey Ranch Distillery’s property. The flavors from this release are smooth but complex. I know this because I was lucky enough to get my hands on a tiny sample ahead of the launch.
You’ll find notes of charred applewood and perfume up front followed by candied berries, fig jam, fruit cake, and leather. And you’ll of course get plenty of Rye spice out of this limited-edition release that’s coming later this fall (September). It will retail for $99 on the Frey Ranch website (link below) so set your calendars for September and check back here for more news on the exact date soon.
Uncle Nearest First-Ever Rye Whiskey
The Uncle Nearest Uncut/Unfiltered Straight Rye Whiskey is the first of what’s hopefully a long line of Rye releases from Uncle Nearest. It was released as part of an ongoing celebration of the legacy of Nearest Green, the man who is known as the ‘Godfather of Tennessee Whiskey’.
Uncle Nearest Uncut/Unfiltered Straight Rye Whiskey was launched as a distillery-exclusive release in late September. This is an uncut and unfiltered straight rye, bottled at 119.7 proof (59.8% ABV) and it is Blend No. 001 as the first of the new Master Blend Portfolio.
As a Straight Rye Whiskey, it has a mash bill of at least 51% rye but the specific mash bill is unknown. Interestingly, it is an American-style Rye Whiskey but the whiskey itself was distilled in Canada before being aged in New York for 4 years before it was transferred to Tennessee.
George Dickel’s 13-Year-Old Bottled-In-Bond Whiskey From Fall 2008
It’s almost unfathomable that a 13-year-old Bottled in Bond whiskey would be released at this price in 2022 after years of whiskey demand spiking through the roof, but that’s exactly what makes this George Dickel release this Fall’s biggest steal.
For this expression of the George Dickel Bottled in Bond Whiskey series, they threw it back to Fall 2008. Why should you care about Fall 2008? Besides the fact that it’s a 13-year-old BiB whiskey, in May 2020 George Dickel released an 11-year-old Fall 2008 expression that won Double Gold at the 2021 San Francisco International Spirits Competition and received a 95-point rating from Whiskey Advocate.
Rare Hare 1953 17-Year-Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey
One of the most exciting whiskey announcements of the past year came this week in the form of Rare Hare 1953 Anniversary Edition. Rare Hare 1953 is named in honor of the year Playboy was founded, and this 17-year-old straight bourbon whiskey was finished in XXO Cognac casks from France’s Champagne.
17-year-old bourbon finished in XXO Cognac casks?! I was almost scared to check the price tag when I saw this announcement but all things considered, a rare release like this is worth every penny to whiskey-lover. Only 1,953 bottles were made (1953 again) and it’s currently available at ReserveBar ($589).
Fuji Whiskey Single Grain
It is a 92-proof blend of three types of grain whiskeys and it’s distilled using pure snowmelt glacier water from Japan’s Mt. Fuji. The FUJI Whiskey distillery actually sits at the base of the mountain just 7.5 miles away from the peak. The water in this whiskey makes a 50-year journey from the peak to the distillery’s aquifer and is filtered and purified by mother nature along the way.
Kentucky has its limestone, Champagne has its chalk caves, and FUJI Whiskey has this divine water sent from the heavens to make a 50-year journey to the bottle. It’s hard to not feel a little poetic when you really think about that journey of the water straight to your drink.
The three grain whiskeys in the FUJI Single Grain are a Bourbon-heavy style with a high rye mash bill, a Canadian style, and a Scotch style. FUJI’s Single Grain doesn’t have a listed age statement but the average age in the bottle is over 8 years old and close to 9 years old with the blend consisting of some 5-year, some 15-year whiskey, and some whiskey close to 20 years.
The nose is rich with stone fruits of pear and fruit tart followed by some spicy rye and soothing orange marmalade on the palate. And a mellow but flavorful finish of ‘exotic intense wood’ which comes from the new charred oak first fill bourbon barrels from their sister distillery, Four Roses.
Ardbeg Traigh Bhan Batch 4, aka Ardbeg 19
Release in late Summer, Traigh Bhan Batch 4 aka ‘Ardbeg 19’ was the fourth bottling of Ardbeg’s 19-year-old expression. Ardbeg Traigh Bhan is pronounced ‘Tri-Van’ for anyone out there wondering, and it is produced in small batches.
As is often the case with Ardbeg scotch, the smoke is strong with this one. In a perfect world, I would’ve preferred to wait until late Fall or early Winter before sampling this because I associate these flavors more with cold weather than when I first sampled it in Summer.
There is hazelnut, currant, and mint chocolate on the nose followed by ground coffee, powerful smoke, fudge, clove, and white pepper on the tongue. The long finish is full of cocoa, fudge, and some more clove. This exceptional bottle will make for a special treat in the coming months so check it out on ResereBar below.
The Glenlivet 25
Contrary to popular belief, older doesn’t necessarily mean better when it comes to whiskey. However, that is definitely the case when it comes to this absolutely stellar offering from one of the most celebrated distilleries to call the Speyside region home.
In 2022, The Glenlivet rolled out new 21 and 25-year variants that partially comprise The Sample Room collection. The oldest member of the bunch is undoubtedly the highlight, as the liquid is seriously elevated with the help of the Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry casks and oak barrels that formerly housed Troncais Cognac.
The end result is a rich and borderline creamy scotch bursting with fig and citrus, which pair perfectly with the subtler notes of ginger and oak that impart a slight spiciness into an incredibly well-rounded dram.
Jefferson’s Ocean Aged at Sea New York Edition
There are plenty of whiskey connoisseurs who view the ocean-aging process the folks at Jefferson’s have harnessed to create a number of different whiskeys as a gimmick, although I can’t say I’ve been disappointed by any of the offerings I’ve tried.
With that said, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think the brand had possibly gone a bit too far when I heard about the limited release it whipped up for the New York market in the form of an Aged At Sea batch that was cut with the tap water that is commonly cited as one of the biggest factors in the list of variables that supposedly set pizza and bagels made in NYC apart from the rest of the pack.
However, the results really speak for themselves. Is Jefferson’s guilty of committing Gimmickception here? Sure, but if a bourbon defined by notes of salted caramel, nutmeg, and tobacco is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye
Alberta Premium harnesses the power of 100% rye mash for all of its offerings, and when you combine the inherently spicy nature of that particular grain with the eye-catching proof responsible for the “Cask Strength” label (this year’s bottling clocks in at a somewhat staggering 63.5% ABV), you’ve got a Canadian whisky that puts almost everything else in the category to shame.
The aroma is potent to the point where you can smell the liquid from a few feet away after you pour a dram, and the wood instilled by the charred oak barrels takes center stage along with a boozy heat that stings the nose without being aggressively harsh.
However, Alberta Premium Cask Strength is an incredibly deceptive whiskey when you consider what’s in store once you take a sip. You’d never know you were sipping on a 127-proof liquid based on the tase, which is bursting with the vanilla and butterscotch that jump out on the palate before the rye makes its presence known (along with some dried fig) by gradually overtaking the tongue with a subtle burn that lingers for an impressive amount of time.
As a result, it’s shockingly easy to down a glass at a rate that will quickly catch up to you if you aren’t careful, as “Strength” is far and away the operative word when it comes to summing up its overall essence.
Redemption Sur Lee Rye
A number of the bottles featured on this list decidedly fall into the “Treat Yourself” category, and while whiskey has gotten increasingly expensive across the board in recent years, there are still plenty of moderately priced sleepers you can take advantage of.
Redemption’s flagship rye has carved out a solid niche for itself thanks to the versatile nature of one of the best bargains on the market; you usually won’t have to shell out more than $30 for a bottle of whiskey you won’t feel bad about mixing but that easily stands on its own when sipped neat or on the rocks.
That liquid serves as the basis for the somewhat unconventional “Sur Lee” offering that hit shelves earlier this year. Redemption took a page out of the winemaking playbook by harnessing a somewhat unique process that involves incorporating “lees” (dead yeast cells that are a byproduct of fermentation) into an aging process that involves routinely rotating the barrels until the desired maturation is reached.
That approach helps to amplify the notes of orange, marshmallow, and maple at the core of a slightly sweet whiskey that’s balanced out by the spice and heat you’d expect from a mash consisting of 95% rye. You might feel a little guilter about using it in a cocktail based on the comparatively higher price, but with that said, it serves as a killer foundation for an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan.
A. Smith Bowman Cask Strength Bourbon Batch #2
This one was VERY memorable this year. The A. Smith Bowman Cask Strength Bourbon Batch #2 clocked in at 144.5 proof and was bursting with flavor. It’s hard to forget a bourbon that special.
This late-year release was announced on December 6th. This annual cask strength release was aged for a minimum of 10 years and available through lottery on A. Smith Bowman’s website. The palate is full of apple and cherry followed by vanilla and pepper.
Did I mention that it’s 144.5 proof?! That alone makes this worth checking out!
The Famous Grouse Ruby Cask
From the Famous Grouse Cask Series came the Ruby Cask release (40% ABV / 80 proof). This expression exhibits the characteristic smoothness found across the Famous Grouse portfolio.
Finished in ruby port wine casks, the Famous Grouse Ruby Cask has an almost fruitcake-like sweetness in the mouth. On the nose you’ll find vanilla, cinnamon, and clove. And it is a very approachable price at $25.99 on ReserveBar.
Tequila Ocho Reposado Barrel Select Widow Jane 2022
I didn’t include too many tequilas in this year’s roundup but the Tequila Ocho Reposado Barrel Select Widow Jane 2022 was beyond exceptional. It is a limited-edition single estate tequila that was aged for 8 weeks and 8 days in bourbon barrels from the Widow Jane Distillery in Brooklyn.
This barrel select release came 2 years after Tequila Ocho’s first barrel select releases and this one is an agave-forward tequila that pulls some bourbon notes from the Widow Jane barrels like caramel and baking spice.
It is 91-proof, only 1000 cases were made, and the agave used showcases the local terroir of Tequila Ocho’s grounds. I think what really struck me about this is not just the flavor but how evident it was that years of work and collaboration went into this special release. You can hit that button below to search for it on their website.
Espolon Cristalino Sipping Tequila
‘Sipping tequila’ can be a bit of a misnomer. While Espolon would encourage you to sip this tequila responsibly, I would encourage you to drink the new Espolon Cristalino Tequila in whatever manner you most enjoy tequila.
If you enjoy using top-shelf tequila to make margaritas then you do exactly what makes you happy, and make sure you reach for a bottle of Espolon Cristalino for your next one. It has a suggested retail price of $59.99 for a 750mL.
While I enjoy sipping tequila as much as anyone, I found that mixing Espolon Cristalino with a little Ancho Reyes, fresh squeezed lime, and a splash of orange juice (shaken in ice) made for the most refreshing drink I’ve had in months.
Espolon Cristalino Tequila Facts:
* 80 proof (40% ABV)
* Made from 100% Blue Weber Agave
* Distilled using water from Espolon’s natural well
* Unique blend of Añejo and Extra Añejo briefly filtered through charcoal to achieve the crystal clear color
* Suggested retail price of $59.99
* Suggested as a ‘sipping tequila’ but you are welcome to enjoy it however
Cass is a partner at BroBible and he’s been found here for the better part of a decade. He’s based out of Florida and you can contact him on Twitter at @casspa or via email firstname.lastname@example.org