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
    Sweet & Woody
    San Francisco-based No. 209 Distillery produces vodka and gins, with the latter distilled 5 times from Midwestern corn. Their gin uses 8 to 11 botanicals including juniper, bergamot orange, lemon peel, cardamom pods, cassia bark, angelica root, and coriander seeds. Their Sauvignon Blanc Barrel-Reserve Gin is the distillery's flagship original gin aged for three months in French oak barrels. These barrels previously were used to age said wine made at their sister winery, the Rudd Oakville Estate in Napa Valley. It is bottled at 46% ABV.
  • 19
    Sweet & Rich
    As the name indicates, the rum is copper pot-distilled, using a still known as "The Old Copper”, the only one of its kind in Australia. As Beenleigh says, it was modified a long time ago by “an old German Guy”. After the distillation, it is aged in ex-brandy vats, before being finished in charred American oak barrels for a minimum aging of two years in total. It is crafted with local ingredients. Sold in 1L-sized bottles with availability in western US (at 40% ABV) and in 700ml-sized bottles (at 38% ABV) in Australia.
  • 18
    Sweet & Hogo
    Opened by Bev and Ian Glen, Stone Pine Distillery was conceived with the dream of being the first micro-distillery in the Bathurst area. With a background in the alcohol trade, their dream is slowly being realized. The Dead Man's Drop rum is named after the Ribbon Gang, an Australian gang made of some 80 escaped convicts from the Bathurst area in 1830. Ten members of the gang were captured after a prolonged shoot-out, and hung on the 3rd of November, 1830. Available only in Australia.
  • 17
    Floral & Sweet
    The peat used in the construction of this whisky comes from home soil in the Valley of the Giants in Western Australia, some 100-Kilometers outside of Albany itself. Matured in an ex-Bourbon American oak cask. This tasting was completed using bottle 035/294. Note: Not available outside of Australia
  • 16
    Sweet & Rich
    Wild Turkey Spiced is an 86-proof bourbon flavored with "island spices." It's a whiskey-take on spiced rum, if you will.
  • 15
    Sweet & Rich
    Jim Beam Honey is made with real honey and natural flavors. It is infused with Kentucky straight bourbon. Bottled at 70 proof.
  • 14
    Mineral & Hogo
    Sea Wynde is a blend of pot-still rums from Guyana and Jamaica. The blenders select casks from both countries which they blend and bottle in small batches in an attempt to achieve a British Navy style of rum.
  • 13
    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.
  • 12
    Sweet & Herbal
    Cruz Del Sol was founded in 2005. Produced from agave sourced in the Highlands where rich red soil, and optimum temperature yield the finest agave. Naturally fermented and double-distilled before being packaged in eco-friendly recycled materials. Cruz also donates 7% of its profits to various charities.
  • 11
    Sweet & Umami
    Made from 100% Blue Weber agave, Tequila Amate Añejo is aged for 18 months in American oak after being double-distilled. The agaves are roasted in traditional hornos (brick ovens) and then shredded prior to fermentation.
  • 10
    Sweet & Earthy
    Distilled in small batches by Carlos Monsalve-Algraz and Juan Carlos Jimenez-Ahedo in traditional brick ovens, Tequila Azteca is then fermented and double-distilled before resting in American oak for 6 months. $1 of every bottle sold is donated to Children Mending Hearts organization.
  • 9
    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.
  • 8
    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.
  • 7
    This Acholado (or blend) pisco is comprised of four grapes: italia, muscatel, quebranta, and negra criolla. All of the grapes, with the exception of the negra criolla, are aromatic grapes, which is exactly what they sound like: grapes which provide a fragrant aroma, particularly with floral and fruity notes.
  • 6
    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.
  • 5
    Spicy & Woody
    Maison Ragnaud-Sabourin is a family-owned cognac house and they only bottle cognacs from the Grande Champagne region. The Fontvieille is named for their oldest plantation of vineyards on the estate and the cognac is comprised from three grapes: 60% ugni blanc and 40% folle blanche and colombard. Though they have classified this as an XO, the number on the bottle (35) is the minimum age of the cognac.
  • 4
    Sweet & Rich
    Jack Daniel's Tennessee Fire was released countrywide in March 2015 after a brief three state limited release. It is made from a blend of Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey and Jack's original cinnamon liqueur.
  • 3
    Fruity & Spicy
    As stated on the bottle, chill-filtration was not used during the process of making this Aberlour. Distilleries sometimes use chill-filtration to remove residue and cloudiness in the whisky. This version of Aberlour 12 Year is also bottled at a higher ABV (48%) than their chill-filtered expression.
  • 2
    Smoky & Vanilla
    Ballantine's Finest dates back to 1910 and is the brand's oldest recipe in its current portfolio. It is blended using 40 different malt and grain whiskies from four different Scotch regions. Sandy Hyslop has been Ballantine's master blender since 2005.
  • 1
    Currently only available in travel retail, QA is shorthand for "quercus alba" meaning "white oaks" in Latin. This is in reference to the fact that after the initial period of maturation in ex-bourbon barrels, it is tranfered to charred American white oak casks.