10 Highest-Scoring Whiskies in the Spring 2020 Issue

There are over 100 whiskies reviewed in the Spring 2020 Buying Guide, covering everything from scotch to bourbon to Irish single malt—and beyond. Here, we highlight ten of the highest-scoring whiskies (not featured as Collectibles or Editors’ Choice bottles, nor from the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection), each netting 92 points or above. For the full line-up of reviews, check out the Spring 2020 Buying Guide.

10 of the Highest-Scoring Whiskies for Spring 2020

Booker’s 2019-03 “Country Ham” Kentucky Straight Bourbon
94 points, 62.35% ABV, $80

Clover honey, floral notes, bright citrus, marzipan, nutmeg, and cinnamon initiate a mesmerizing succession of flavors. On the palate, the impeccable balance of sweetness and spice introduces candied orange peel and cinnamon hearts candies. What is remarkable is how a bourbon this potent can play host to such delicate flavors, making it both massive and bright. The creamy sweetness rolls on and on, with waves of exotic sandalwood and spice appearing on the finish. —Jeffery Lindenmuth

Bowmore 18 year old
94 points, 43% ABV, $130

This 18 year old is aged in a mix of bourbon barrels and oloroso sherry casks. The nose is redolent of a damped-down bonfire, with stewed fruit, wood spice, and pipe tobacco. There are red berries, subtle peat, a hint of iodine, and soft oak on the complex palate. The finish yields more tobacco, oak, rich peat, and spicy dark chocolate. —Gavin Smith

Lagavulin 16 year old
93 points, 43% ABV, $65

This has been Lagavulin’s principal expression for more than 30 years. Iodine, rich peat, and caramel on the early nose, with sherry, sea salt, and charcuterie. The oily, briny palate offers peat and a medicinal note, along with black tea, Seville orange, toffee, cinnamon, and a hint of smoked fish. Peat embers and hot tar in the lengthy, spicy finish. Deeply satisfying! —Gavin Smith

Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series: Stave Profile RC6 Bourbon (2019 Release)
93 points, 54.1% ABV, $60

An impressive nose of cedar cigar box, sweet cornbread crusts, leathery oak, and sweeping vanilla introduce this decadent whiskey. On the palate, the prolific oak offers lots of tobacco, dark chocolate, and sassafras draped over sweet dark berries and coupled with bold baking spices. Coffee, charred oak, and more bitter chocolate linger long on the finish. Water serves well to tame the heat. Finished with the addition of ten toasted RC6-profile staves in the barrel. —Jeffery Lindenmuth

Penderyn 12 year old Portwood Cask-Matured Single Cask Welsh Single Malt (No. PT113)
93 points, 60.4% ABV, $140

Rosy red apples, damson jam, quince jelly, piquant spices, pomegranate juice, and cracked black pepper on the nose. The palate dutifully follows suit with cherry, red apple, cranberry, blackberry, and raspberry until overwhelmed by high-strength alcohol, bristling with clove, pepper, and ginger spices. Lastly, a vanilla-cupcake sweetness is enhanced by cooked apple, while water conjures up a delicious watermelon note, with a finish of overbaked deep-dish apple pie. (251 bottles) —Jonny McCormick

Redbreast Small Batch Cask Strength Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey (Batch A)
93 points, 58.6% ABV, $100

Prominent red apple, tropical fruits, pot still spices, and oloroso sherry notes; this shows great balance. The spices are powerful, with a roasted aroma like a crooked burnt match. The palate is gripped by the high alcohol as pepper and clove break open over the tongue into a bed of red apple, baked citrus, and caramel. Unquenchable layers of flavor usher in a likable, bubble gum finish. (252 bottles) —Jonny McCormick

Weller Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon
93 points, 57% ABV, $50

Fragrant lemon and dried herbs on the nose, along with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and a hint of licorice. The palate offers deep notes of blackberry compote, tiramisu, and milk chocolate, all underpinned by earthy tones of cedar and polished oak. A rich symphony of flavor punctuates the long, impressive finish—mocha, almond, and cooked dark fruit, draped in notes of gooey caramel and pepper spice, set against balanced oak. —David Fleming

Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve Small Batch Canadian Whisky (Lot 1867 L)
92 points, 40% ABV, $65

A complex nose with citrus fruits, hints of sultanas, barrel tones, mild vanilla, butterscotch, and manuka honey. The sweetish palate is rich in stone fruits—peaches and apricots that merge into a vaguely pithy nuttiness, then dried Mediterranean fruits: dates and figs. Classic slippery corn sweetness complements hot, sweet rye spices. Ends in a medium, vaguely oaky, smoky finish. —Davin de Kergommeaux

Glendalough 17 year old Mizunara Cask-Finished Irish Single Malt
92 points, 46% ABV, $299

Beginning with more mature whiskey than Glendalough’s Japanese oak-finished debut, which was 13 years old, this has all the aromatic hallmarks of mizunara, as well as golden pastry, cooked peach, heather honey, light malt, baguette, and white pepper. A honeyed dram of melon, white grape, and clementine peel, with sparkling spices of black pepper and ginger root. It concludes with notes of gingerbread through to a spicy finish, though the sweetness remains a constant. (3,000 bottles for U.S.) —Jonny McCormick

New Riff Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon (No. 15-3150)
92 points, 56.45% ABV, $50

New Riff is still too, well, new to have established “classic” flavors, but this bourbon certainly shows consistency with the distillery’s bottled in bond version—amped up here at barrel proof. Almonds and berries lead the nose, but it boasts voluminous depth with notes of peanuts, iced tea, orange blossom, tobacco leaf, and baking spice. Dark fruit, textured spice, savory peanuts, dark chocolate, mint oil, orange, almond, and cherry on the palate; adding water is a good idea. The finish extends all the flavors with seemingly boundless length. Every sip is thrilling. —Susannah Skiver Barton

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