10 Highest-Scoring Whiskies in the Summer 2020 Buying Guide

There are 135 whiskies reviewed in the Summer 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), each netting 93 points or above. There are plenty of other high-scoring whiskies beyond these as well, including the newest Angel’s Envy, Barrell Cask Strength Rye, Redbreast 27 year old and its younger sibling, Redbreast 21 year old, and an enchanting American single malt made in Brooklyn, New York—and many more. For the full lineup of reviews, check out the Summer 2020 Buying Guide.

10 of Summer 2020’s Highest-Scoring Whiskies

Dram Hunters 7 year old Southern Coast Distillers Single Cask Australian Single Malt (Cask No. 112)
95 points, 63.6% ABV, $250

Without water, this oddball is deeply herbaceous and spiced with aniseed, coriander, hardwood smoke, brown sugar, and powerful oak throughout the nose and palate. Add some water, and suddenly the sunbeam breaks through the crack in the curtain. There are still plenty of herbal and spice notes, but now more dimension emerges—orange, forest fruits, semi-sweet chocolate, coffee ice cream, and sweet woodsmoke, fully relaxed in its integration. The finish is savory, then sweet—clean and rich, a revelation. (150 bottles; U.S. exclusive) —Susannah Skiver Barton

Amrut 6 year old Aatma Single Cask Indian Single Malt (Cask No. 4675)
94 points, 57.1% ABV, $215

Sweet saline peat on the nose, along with red berries, milk chocolate, hazelnuts, dates, and nougat. It’s lush and rich, qualities that extend to the palate’s oily, dense character, which is floral and soapy before shifting into plummy red berry fruit, dark chocolate, roasted hazelnuts, and a panoply of spices. The finish is ashy, peppery, sweet, and mouthwatering, with long, lingering smokiness. Water is a must to showcase the rounded, powerfully flavorful balance of this whisky. (360 bottles; U.S. exclusive) —Susannah Skiver Barton

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon (Batch A120)
94 points, 68.3% ABV, $60

An herbal nose featuring menthol, eucalyptus, and horehound is endowed with plenty of earthy oak, evoking sawmill, empty wine casks, and dusty floorboards. Generous oak courses through the palate, the drying tannins reining in the dense sweetness as the whiskey brandishes bold spices, including allspice, pepper, and clove. Water gives this bourbon much needed room to run, revealing greater polish and rich layers of flavor. —Jeffery Lindenmuth

Kentucky Owl Kentucky Straight Bourbon (Batch 9)
94 points, 63.8% ABV, $300

A blend of different bourbons aged 15, 14, 12, 7, and 6 years. A bakery shop nose offers confectioners’ sugar and warm cherry pie. On the palate, wild strawberry and cooked fruit notes of baked apples and raspberry tart meld with tiramisu and black pepper, all well-balanced against leather and oak. The finish offers chocolate spice, raspberry, cinnamon, bitter almond, and lightly roasted coffee beans. Powerful but balanced, and superbly well-integrated. (10,314 bottles) —David Fleming

Midleton Dair Ghaelach Knockrath Forest Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey (Tree 5)
94 points, 56.5% ABV, $320

A superbly balanced whiskey with huge spices meeting vanilla head on: a perfect complement between the American and Irish oak contributions. It has a softer body, with lemon, vanilla, and meringue in creamy custard sauce, but then the spices go off like a rocket, and as they glitter across the palate, there are glimpses of chocolate, coffee, and singed oak.Jonny McCormick

Penderyn 10 year old Madeira Cask-Finished Single Cask Welsh Single Malt (No. 047-3)
94 points, 58.1% ABV, $110

When you feel you’ve earned a treat, pour a dram of this bottled candy. The nose is a tropical fruit basket, with papaya, guava, mango, jackfruit, and dried kiwi; extra goodies come in the form of Jordan almonds and vanilla sandwich cookies. Consistent tropical flavors on the silky palate. Nuttiness, gentle spice, milk chocolate, and coffee bean emerge with water. Intensely satisfying on the finish, with persistent fruit, integrated oak, almonds, and grapefruit peel. (243 bottles; U.S. exclusive) —Susannah Skiver Barton

Stagg Jr. Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon (13th Edition)
94 points, 64.2% ABV, $50

This kicks off with a bounty of dark fruit—dark berries, cherry cough drops, and currants—coupled with heaps of vanilla, mocha, and rich oaky notes. Big and brawny on the palate, it pours bold and viscous, the blueberry and blackberry fruit balanced with the sweet-bitter notes of burnt sugar and pipe tobacco. The flavors harmonize beautifully, culminating in a finish of dark jam, coffee, and semi-sweet chocolate. —Jeffery Lindenmuth

Three Chord 12 year old Twelve Bar Reserve Barrel-Proof Straight Bourbon (Batch 0007)
94 points, 53.5% ABV, $70

Butter pecan ice cream, peanuts in the shell, oily grain, milk chocolate, cooked orange, cherry tart, and blueberries on the nose. The palate is spiced, nutty, and chewy, with milk chocolate, orange soda, cherry cough drop, baking spice, brown sugar, a hint of eucalyptus, and loads of peanuts. More rich spice, chocolate, and fruit on the finish, along with peanut butter, spearmint, and generous oak. Not a hair out of place. —Susannah Skiver Barton

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Batch Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon (2020 Release)
94 points, 61.8% ABV, $130

Lovely lavender-like florals and sweet Bit-O-Honey candies introduce this whiskey, with secondary aromas that suggest the vivid spice and earthy leather that lurk on the palate. Pleasantly sweet pineapple and citrus keep things bright on the palate, along with flavors of chocolate-covered banana. The final show of dusty oak tannins is laced with bitter espresso, then cocoa powder, ending with hints of furniture polish. An intense volley of flavors, skillfully integrated. —Jeffery Lindenmuth

Royal Salute 29 year old Pedro Ximénez Sherry Cask-Finished Blended Scotch
93 points, 40% ABV, $549

This second release in the Flask Collection epitomizes deft management of PX finishing to produce an opulent treat. Honey and sherry notes, chunks of fruit-and-nut chocolate, melting caramel, plummy fruit, chocolate-covered raisins, refined dry spices, and stimulating peppercorn notes as the whisky warms. Thick and luxurious texture with vanilla, caramel, Seville orange, plum pudding, crème caramel, crystallized citrus, and melted chocolate, with a lightly spicy, sweet caramel finish.Jonny McCormick

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