The whisky nerds (that is, all of us) had another challenging year trying to narrow down the hundreds of possibilities we assessed in 2023 to the top 10 that piqued our interest. Your complaints from last year—that there were too many expensive unicorns and not enough affordable juice—have been heard. While the majority of the whiskies we selected for 2023 cost above $100, we were able to rein in our penchant for four-figure spirits; still, there is one that falls into the “unicorn” category. However, we couldn’t leave it off because it truly deserves to be part of this list. Require further options? Have a look at our Christmas buying guide.
For the following ten days, starting on Christmas Eve, we will release one whisky per day until we reach #1. As you get ready for the big reveal, why not relax with a few of our prior top ten whisky lists? Here they are: 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017. Find the lowest prices on all these goods and more by searching numerous retailers at wine-searcher.
A Journey with the Wild Turkey Master’s Keep
The inclusion of this whisky on the list almost caused a brawl to break out. Reason being: our voting panel also gave Generations, another release from Wild Turkey, a lot of praise. Not because it’s awful; it’s fantastic. We usually only feature one whisky from each distillery on the list, and the two distilleries were nearly evenly divided in the voting. In the end, the Voyage, which was finished in rum barrels, triumphed above all of the other Wild Turkey whiskies we’ve tasted because of its unparalleled depth and fruit-laden richness. Intriguing and addicting, it seems suited for speciality cocktails yet has enough alcohol to hold its own in a glass. In all honesty, it ranks among the distillery’s finest whiskies. What a year it has been for the people of Lawrenceburg.
“A Tale of Tokyo” as sung by Glenmorangie
The newest release from Glenmorangie’s “Tale of” series, finished in mizunara oak barrels, elevates the already excellent original Glenmorangie flavour profile to new heights. After a sweet scent of orange, vanilla, and caramel, it reveals layers of sandalwood, black tea, and pepper as it matures in the glass, adding a great deal of depth. The sweetness is maintained on the palate by hints of milk chocolate, ginger, and anise, which provide complexity without becoming too syrupy or complicated. Putting forth the effort to get a good sip with this one is well worth the cost because of its profound complexity. Timeless promises of a good time abound in the limited-edition Glenmorangie expressions. Included here without a doubt, “Tokyo” keeps the winning ways rolling.
Exciting New Series from Bardstown Bourbon Company
As a first-time entry on our esteemed list, this bourbon from the indefatigable Bardstown Bourbon Co. came incredibly close to taking first place. Something about the eleventh installment of its Discovery Series captivated our taste buds, albeit the collaborative bottling with Foursquare rum distillery earlier this year was also really impressive. Cinnamon toast in a glass—balanced, accessible, and tasty. The use of BBCo.’s house-distilled bourbon stocks may indicate an even greater degree of excellence for this blend in the future, or perhaps the stars simply aligned for this one. The new year will provide the answer, I suppose.
Distillery Year 2023 Eagle Rare Bourbon 17 Years Old
Eagle Rare 17 is a superbly oak-driven whisky, even though it is just the third-oldest Eagle Rare expression available. The 2023 vintage from Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection flies because it manages to combine the best of both worlds—the maturity of hyper-aged bourbon and the energy of its younger sibling, Eagle Rare Single Barrel. Eagle Rare 17 is still one of the most sought-after bourbons, and although many people moan about its exorbitant price and restricted supply every year, the 2017 release is on par with, if not better than, previous years’. 101 proof. 2,000 – fiduciary duty [Purchase it from ReserveBar right now]
Irish Whisky Teeling Single Pot Still Aged in Virgin Portuguese Oak
based in Dublin The consistent releases from Teeling, whether they’re ultra-high end or more modest, never fail to wow. For example, this new batch is aged in half malted and half unmalted barley in previously unused barrels constructed from Portuguese oaks. The tartness of the Portuguese oak imparts pepper, tobacco and hints of furniture polish to an otherwise delicate and fleeting whisky, making all the difference when you shake things up like this. A bittersweet winter delight, it’s earthy and dark on the aftertaste and stays with you long after you’ve finished drinking it.
Old Augusta Distillery Bottle
A rocks glass and Buckner’s 13-year single-barrel bourbon.6. Thirteen-Year-Old Buckner’s Bourbon — An unusually popular bourbon, Buckner’s Bourbon from Augusta Distillery was an overnight sensation. Spoiler alert: It lived up to all the hype after receiving rave reviews and receiving several accolades. We finally got our hands on a bottle, and let me tell you, it was delicious. After an initial explosion of flavour, the tongue is rewarded with a subtler, more complex taste that will have you reaching for another glass. Of all the dull releases that year (along with the gems, of course), Buckner’s 13 stood out as a high-octane smash hit.
Blue Label Absinthe by Johnnie Walker
The inclusion of “Umami” in the name of a $400 whisky appears to be an illogical choice, but I’ll give the House of Walker the benefit of the doubt. No tricks here; Walker and Japanese chef Kei Kobayashi simply collaborated on this barrel pick, which features whiskies from Walker’s collection that have umami flavors—mushrooms, white pepper, sesame—everything you could want in an excellent Asian dish, but in whisky form. A few of those flavour nuances may make it seem excessive, but rest assured, this is still a joyful, carefree experience that revels in its intricacy.
Octomore from Bruichladdich
Octomore hasn’t cracked our top ten since the second iteration of the 10-year-old blew our minds in 2017, when we first started ranking expressions, despite the fact that several of them have come very close in previous years. Finally, after much waiting and several proposals, we have version 14.2, the pinnacle of all versions. Notice how different 14.2 is from its siblings 14.1 and 14.3. With just 128.9 ppm of peat, the spiced fruitcake, tobacco leaf, and red berry notes can really pop. Then, the classic coastal notes like campfire, seaweed, iodine, and lemon zest dance their way to a long and gratifying finish. It lacks Octomore’s signature raw phenolic throat punch, but any further exploration in this direction is exciting. I’d be surprised if Octomore didn’t show up on this list again before 2030. Proof number 115.4. -RT $260
Special Edition Cragganmore Distillers
Cragganmore has always been one of the most underappreciated Scotch whiskies because to its lack of fame, but this special version from the Distillers version collection for 2023 is much better than the original since it is finished in American oak barrels that have been seasoned with Port. The malt acts as the primary flavour carrier, so the fruity Port notes don’t overpower the malt. The low proof (80 percent) further guarantees a mild, pleasant taste. If you’re on the market for a new single malt to enjoy every day, you won’t find a finer choice than this one.
Tokaji-Finished Filibuster Triple-Cask Bourbon
Since I am the boss around here, I was able to win the struggle and get this whisky on the list, even though there were a lot of other great competitors. That it was a limited release makes it more difficult, if not impossible, to track down, which adds fuel to the fire. Unfortunately, I really enjoy this year’s batch of bourbon, which is a combination of Filibuster’s distillate from Virginia, MGP stock, and a Hungarian Tokaji wine barrel. As a consequence, you get a magically fragrant, nutty, fruity and highly sweet whisky that will make you rethink your notions of bourbon. We can only hope that next year Filibuster attempts something like.