Fall 2018 Editors’ Choice: Ardbeg, Booker’s, Nikka

It’s hard to argue with the potency of barrel-proof whisky. As a staff, we often favor the strong stuff and our Fall 2018 Editors’ Choice picks represent an array of high-proof whiskies from around the globe. These are the issue’s most impressive whiskies considering score, price, and availability. For all whiskies reviewed in the Fall 2018 issue, visit our Buying Guide.

Ardbeg Corryvreckan
95 points, 57.1% ABV, $90

Part of the permanent Ardbeg range since 2008, Corryvreckan is created from a blend of standard Ardbeg and Ardbeg aged in virgin French Limousin oak casks. Smoky bacon and seaweed, plus dark berries, prickly spices, walnuts, lemon, and sweet peat on the nose. Sweet and savory on the palate, with more lively spice, woodsmoke, phenols, and licorice. The finish is lengthy, with peat, sea salt, pepper, and black coffee. —Gavin Smith

Booker’s 2018-02 “Backyard BBQ”
93 points, 64.4% ABV, $75

Typical of Booker’s this bourbon shows lots of concentration and muscle, oozing with caramel and maple syrup, with hints of lavender and bouquet garni. Flavors explode on the palate, with more herbal complexity, root beer barrel candy, green almond, black cherry, and a big rush of dark, bitter-sweet burnt sugar and caramel. Lovely baking spices and lots of toasty oak linger on the long finish. The youngest barrel in the blend is just over 6 years, 2 months of age. —Jeffery Lindenmuth

Nikka from the Barrel
91 points, 51.4%, $65

Wonderful to see this portly bottle in U.S. stores at last. An exotic nose, with turned woods, stewed plum, sultana, ground ginger, dried chilies, and black cherry, it oscillates between spice and dark fruits. Rich smoke is packed deep; it’s far from the most dominant aroma. Orange, cherry, mango, and bubble gum 
notes are beaten back by a spicy rush of ginger and pepper, the sweetness prevailing over the cloves. —Jonny McCormick

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