The Top Scoring Spirits From January 2017

These twenty spirits represent the highest scoring spirits out of everything our expert tasters reviewed in January!
Feb 01, 2017
  • 20
    20 Bruxo No. 3 Barril Mezcal
    87
    Rich & Smoky
    Bruxo is a mezcal project founded in 2010 by a group of friends who are true agave lovers. Each expression is created in a different part of Oaxaca by its own mezcalero or maestro. This one, made from 12 -15 year old barril maguey that is harvested in such remote locations that it has to be transported to the distillery by donkey, is the work of Tio Conejo (that's right, Uncle Rabbit.)
  • 19
    19 Stone Pine Barrique Rum
    88
    Spicy & Woody
    Established in 2008, this rum was the flagship rum of the Stone Pine Distillery. A now limited edition bottling from Cask 1, the rum is aged in first-fill Serbian oak barriques and is made with local Australian molasses. Each bottle of the rum is individually numbered, with only 294 produced. This tasting was completed using bottle number 245 from Cask 1 (and named Founders Rum). Note: Availability is extremely limited and found only in Australia.
  • 18
    18 Don Amado Joven Rustico Mezcal
    89
    Mineral & Smoky
    A mezcal distilled in a very old-school method: small clay stills. This ancient method is usually not considered beyond small home distilleries because of how fragile the clay pots are (they often need to be replaced as they break) and how expensive this method is to produce spirits. Another thing to note is the clay stills are made from the soil of their estate. This is bottled at 94 proof, much higher than their traditional Plata expression which is 80 proof.
  • 17
    17 Copper & Kings 3 Marlenas Apple Brandy
    90
    Floral & Fruity
    Copper & Kings took a new twist with their latest apple brandy release, 3 Marlenas. The brandy is five years old, with the final two years of aging taking place in tequila casks, before being bottled at 100 proof. A total of 1,000 375-ml bottles of 3 Marlenas were released in this limited edition expression, with the bottle label showcasing artwork from Louisville painter Damon Thompson.
  • 16
    16 Port Charlotte 2007 CC:01
    90
    Peaty & Smoky
    A travel retail exclusive, this is from Bruichladdich and is a part of their Port Charlotte line up, a heavily-peated range. The CC:01 is aged in French oak which previously held Cognac (the CC is meant to refer to the use of Cognac Casks). There is no age-statement and the whisky is bottled at 57.8% ABV.
  • 15
    15 Canefire Back Burn Rum
    90
    Sweet & Oily
    Hailing from the Kimberly region of Western Australia, Canefire Rum starts with sugar cane grown from the Ord River Valley in Kununurra. From there, it is harvested into an unrefined sugar, brewed with high quality yeasts, and refined again to remove the unwanted phenols, methanol and fusel oils. Canefire rumsare all Australian-developed, grown, owned, made and bottled in Western Australia. Availability limited to Australia.
  • 14
    14 Green Island Spiced Gold Rum
    90
    Spicy
    Using their Superior Light Rum as a base, Green Island produces their Spiced Gold expression. The spice blend that they use is not disclosed. This molasses-based Mauritian rum is available for sale in the UK and other European markets.
  • 13
    13 Blaum Bros. Oak Reserve Gin (Batch 2)
    91
    Floral & Sweet
    Not content with the typical bourbon barrels almost exclusively used for cask-aged gin, the Blaum brothers have a wonderful collection of wooden vessels for tinkering the flavors of their spirits. Batch number 2 features mostly ex-bourbon refills, but also incorporates a half-filled ex-Madeira barrel filled with their distillates of juniper, orange, and fennel. Who knows what will land in batch number 3?
  • 12
    12 The Macallan Edition No. 2
    91
    Fruity & Rich
    The Edition Series from The Macallan consists of limited edition blends of the distillery's malt whisky that have been matured in variety of different types of casks. This expression, the second release in the series, is the result of the collaboration between Master Distiller Bob Dalgarno, and the Roca Brothers - Joseph, Joan, and Jordi - owners of the El Cellar de la Roca restaurant. Together, they selected seven casks sourced from 4 different cooperages in Spain, for the whisky to mature in prior to blending. This is bottled at 48.2% ABV.
  • 11
    11 Koch el Mezcal Arroqueño
    91
    Fruity & Salty
    This arroqueño was harvested wild after, on average, 15 years of maturation. It is made using traditional methods in an earth pit using red oak and mesquite as the fuel to roast the piñas. It was distilled by Adrián Bautista in a copper pot still in the village of Rio de Ejutla, Oaxaca. It is bottled at 94 proof.
  • 10
    10 Tequila Gran Dovejo Blanco
    91
    Fruity & Spicy
    Tequila Gran Dovejo is located in the Highlands of Jalisco and produces only single-estate tequilas. The agave plants are grown by a fifth-generation agave grower in Los Altos. The piñas, or hearts of agave are harvested by hand and then roasted in clay ovens for 36 hours. The piñas are then shredded, the juices extracted and fermented and then double distilled in copper alembic stills. It is bottled immediately after distillation.
  • 9
    9 Barrell Rum Batch 001
    92
    Woody
    Barrell Rum Batch 001 is a Jamaican pot still rum which is barrel aged for seven years. It is finished in Barrell Craft Spirits own single-use bourbon casks and bottled at cask strength in Kentucky.
  • 8
    8 Octomore 10 Year Second Edition
    92
    Rich & Smoky
    It is the second time Bruichladdich releases a 10-year-old Octomore. As for all the other peaty beasts of Octomore, this one shows an impressive PPM level (167). Matured in 50% ex-bourbon barrels and 50% grenache blanc wine casks, and bottled at cask strength. 18,000 bottles available worldwide.
  • 7
    7 Kinsman Apricot Rakia
    92
    Fruity
    Pronounced "door-chol," San Antonio's Dorćol Distilling Co was founded in 2013 by Chris Mobley and Boyan Kalusevic, two friends who met in college 10 years prior. Their first spirit is Kinsman Apricot Rakia, an unaged brandy made from de-pitted, de-stemmed Serbian apricots. After double-distillation in a custom-built 400 L., direct-flame copper pot-still from Belgrade, the brandy is chill-filtered then bottled at 42% ABV.
  • 6
    6 Alacrán Cristal Tequila
    92
    Sweet & Herbal
    Auténtico Alacrán, Spanish for "authentic scorpion," was founded in 2010 and is based in Mexico City. Alacrán Cristal Tequila was released in 2015. It's distilled from 7- to 10-year old blue weber agave harvested in Los Altos (Highland) region of Jalisco. After maturing 14 months in ex-bourbon American oak barrels, this añejo undergoes a filtration process that results in a clear spirit.
  • 5
    5 Belle Meade Bourbon Madeira Cask Finish
    94
    Rich & Vanilla
    Joining the Cognac and Sherry Cask Finished Bourbons, this is the third release in the Special Cask Finish Series from Nelson's Green Brier Distillery in Nashville, Tennessee. Barrels of high-rye bourbon, distilled mostly from a mash of corn, followed by 30% rye and aged for 6 to 9 years in new, charred American oak barrels were blended for finishing in casks previously used in the aging of Malmsey Madeira. Non-chill filtered, Belle Meade Bourbon Madeira Cask Finish is bottled at 45.2% ABV.
  • 4
    4 Boldt Genever-Style Gin
    95
    Woody & Rich
    The Alchemy Distillery (Boldt’s producer) is a very new distillery (first batch December 2015) that produces a range spirits in northern California. Their custom-made Vendome copper-still seeks to create spirits that speak to the local grains used. For the Geneva, a hard red-wheat from a third-generation farmer across the border in Oregon is employed. The distillate is infused with juniper berries, star anise, cassia bark, cubeb berries, citrus, and fresh green-needle tips from native redwood trees on the distillery’s property among other botanicals. The result is rested in oak barrels — in this batch the age is 63 days. Released in August 2016, this currently is only available in California.
  • 3
    3 J.P. Wiser's Union 52
    96
    Rich & Full Bodied
    J.P. Wiser's Union 52 whiskey is a blend of 4% 52 year-old single malt Scotch and 96% 16 year-old Canadian whiskies. It is bottled at 45% ABV. Available in British Columbia only.
  • 2
    2 Rutte Jonge Graanjenever
    97
    Spicy
    Rutte [ROOT-eh] is a distillery located in Dordrecht in the south of the Netherlands. Established in 1872, it was in the Rutte family until 2011 when it joined the DeKuyper Royal Distillers. Their graanjenever (meaning only grains are used in the neutral spirit and malt wine) uses juniper, coriander and angelica among other botanicals.
  • 1
    1 Jean & Roger Glemet 1979 Cognac
    98
    Rich & Sweet
    This special cognac is extremely rare and delicious. Although cognac law allows for vintages, they are seldom seen as many of the big houses encourage blending to make a consistent product. Jean and Roger Glemet take no shortcuts in crafting exquisite brandies on the chalky soils of Cognac's "Grand Cru" Grande Champagne. This represents one of their oldest marques, and only a handful of bottles make it stateside.