10 Highest-Scoring Whiskies in the Spring 2019 Issue

More than 150 whiskies were reviewed for the Spring 2019 issue of Whisky Advocate—everything from straight rye and single malt Islay scotch to Mexican corn whisky and whiskey distilled from beer. Here, we pulled out the ten most high-scoring whiskies (plus a bonus!) that are available for sale in the U.S. Each of these bottles scored 93 points or above.

Chivas Regal The Icon Blended Scotch
95 points, 43% ABV, $3,500

A spectacular citrus nose with incredible freshness; neroli oil, bergamot orange, an array of wood spices, baked apricot, dried strawberry, heather, lavender, honeysuckle, jasmine, and hyacinth. An intense array of citrus on the palate—the strongest being mandarin, it is thick-textured yet agile—accompanied by baked brioche, Ling heather honey, vanilla, and oak, with a hint of eucalyptus on the extraordinarily long finish. A masterclass in rare whisky blending. —Jonny McCormick

Michter’s 20 year old Straight Bourbon 2018 Release (Batch 18I1371)
94 points, 57.1% ABV, $700

Age is readily apparent, not as weariness, but sheer intensity—like a Vise-Grip handshake from an old man. The flavors come in rapid waves, first on the nose with pipe tobacco, dark chocolate, sassafras, cassis, licorice, orange peel, and menthol-like hints of solvent. Then chewy fruit and drying oak harmonize on the palate, the dark berry fruits playing off the refined oak with its cedary spice. The drying finish echoes of rustling autumn leaves and plum skins. Exquisitely balanced and muscular. —Jeffery Lindenmuth

Midleton Very Rare 2018 Blended Irish Whiskey
94 points, 40% ABV, $200

Each MVR vintage has its own character, and the latest version has a sweet motif coddled in a soft, fruity bounty. Orange tartlets, white pepper, cantaloupe, nectarine, pear, malt, and rounded oak greet the nose. Honey and caramel with citrus, pulped fruit, and spice, before a sweeter phase of tablet, toffee, and vanilla flavors on the palate. Spices only nibble at the sweet and comforting finish. —Jonny McCormick 

Barrell 25 year old Cask Strength Whiskey
93 points, 55.6% ABV, $250

Some whiskeys have already peaked at a quarter-century, but this one, distilled in Indiana and finished in sercial madeira casks, is at its apex. Caramel-covered peanuts, candied orange, fresh-baked bread, Toblerone, cinnamon ginger snaps, blueberry cobbler, black tea, and plenty of oak on the nose. The palate is supple and elegant, with peanut brittle, cherry cordial, milk chocolate, blueberry, horehound candy, cola, white pepper, ginger, roasted pecans, and refined oak. Leave plenty of time to enjoy the finish, with its subtle white pepper and dark fruit undertones. —Susannah Skiver Barton

Booker’s 30th Anniversary Bourbon
93 points, 62.9% ABV, $200

This is a whiskey that knows exactly what it wants to be, a rambunctious bourbon that throws the full weight of its barrel behind a flavor-packed punch. Lots of dry, charred-matchstick oak meets chewy fig and dried fruits, fudge brownie, and fresh meadow, with hints of banana and furniture polish in the aroma. Brawny and unapologetic on the palate; peach syrup and baked apples meet a torrent of spices as the moreish finish oozes on like chocolate lava cake. —Jeffery Lindenmuth 

GlenDronach Grandeur Single Malt Scotch (Batch 10)
93 points, 50.1% ABV, $580

This 27 year old expression includes whisky matured in a mix of oloroso and Pedro Ximénez butts and puncheons. The nose is rich and inviting, with freshly polished antique oak furniture, cherry blossom, and vanilla. Big sweet sherry notes on the palate, with wood spice, hazelnuts, and cherry liqueur-filled dark chocolate. The long finish features ripe plums, treacle, and more dark chocolate. Luscious! (2,293 bottles) —Gavin Smith

Old Ezra 7 year old Barrel Strength Bourbon
93 points. 58.5% ABV, $40

Dripping with butterscotch and marzipan, this is a gorgeous mix of confections and spice. The toasted sweetness of coconut macaroon cookies and graham cracker pie crust meets clove, orange peel, teaberry, and a seductive sandalwood note. A whirlwind of spices grabs hold of the tongue, sinking slowly into creamy nut butters, earthy tannins, and toasted pecan. The persistent sweet caramel and fruit handle generous water without yielding, just revealing ever more flavor. —Jeffery Lindenmuth 

Port Askaig 33 year old Single Malt Scotch
93 points, 50.3% ABV, $800

The nose offers canned peach halves in syrup, peat smoke, and brine. Oily in the mouth, with sweet orchard fruits, followed by a medicinal note, pepper, and dry spices. Plain chocolate and a hint of chili in the long finish, with a final touch of coal dust. (115 bottles; U.S. exclusive) —Gavin Smith

Redemption 18 year old Barrel Proof Rye
93 points, 54.95% ABV, $400

Big vanilla and toasty oak meet the generous sweetness of overripe plums and cooked fruits, like canned peaches and marmalade. The deep char aromas suggest toasted marshmallows and bananas Foster, with glints of rose petal. The flavors pour forth like dense fruit preserves, coupled with sweet dried corn, whole-grain toast, and waxy notes of paraffin and honeycomb. A richly layered, complex rye with dried herbs and strawflower on the finish. —Jeffery Lindenmuth

Teeling Vintage Reserve 29 year old PX Finish Single Malt Irish Whiskey
93 points, 46% ABV, $2,500

Lean green fruits and dry spices, with fresh Comice pear, honeydew melon, lychee, toasted sesame, cardamom, banoffee pie, creamy vanilla, and delicate, perfumed florals. The PX has framed this beautifully with flavors of sultana, shortbread, apple, pear, clove, and black pepper, with the orchard fruits and spices fading into the finish. This has aged gracefully and shows the great potential for long-aged Irish whiskeys. (100 bottles, U.S. exclusive) —Jonny McCormick

Plus, a bonus! Tied with Booker’s 30th Anniversary is the final Booker’s regular release of 2018.

Booker’s 2018-03 “Kentucky Chew” Bourbon
93 points, 63.35% ABV, $70

Originally touted by Booker Noe, the “Kentucky Chew” is a way of tasting whiskey: swishing it around your mouth, then swallowing and smacking your lips—an urge that’s hard to resist with this intensely flavorful bourbon. Aromas of peanuts, cherry cola, candied ginger, blackberry jam, and curing tobacco are echoed on the palate, which has grape jelly, blueberry pie, peanuts in Coke, Mexican hot chocolate, and a hint of licorice. The finish is warming, lengthy, and sweet, with a lift of cherry and spice undercutting chocolate and oak. —Susannah Skiver Barton

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