Highest Ranked Whiskeys In December

Leading up to the holidays the Distiller Tasting Table sampled a huge number of whiskeys. These ten stood above the rest!
Dec 30, 2016
  • 10
    Vanilla & Peaty
    An ancient distillery, Ardbeg was founded in 1794, passing through various hands until being mothballed in 1976 by Canadian distiller Hiram Walker & Sons in 1976, and then again by Allied Lyons in 1987. The distillery sat quiet for 10 years after that, slowly gathering dust before being bought by Glenmorangie Plc in 1997, which was later acquired by LVMH. This 17 Year bottling is a rare find on retail shelves; your best bet is through auction houses or fine bar establishments.
  • 9
    Tart & Sweet
    Resting beneath the Knock Hill (Knockdhu being Gaelic for ‘the dark hillock’), the location being chosen due to the vast quantities of high quality water and peat nearby. The first single malt whisky distillery to be commission by the DCL (Distillers Company Limited). Knockdhu is a Scottish rarity, being one of the few distilleries that market their whisky under another name, with the decision to do so coming from an agreement to avoid confusion with Speyside’s Knockando. Distilled in 1996, this was bottled in 2011 making this a 15-year old whisky.
  • 8
    Full Bodied
    This whiskey is named after a Beverly Hills estate famous for hosting lavish Hollywood parties and whose current resident is director Brett Ratner. It was created In partnership with Diageo and produced at Stitzel-Weller in Kentucky, with each component from an undisclosed distillery. The Hilhaven Lodge Whiskey is made from a blend of straight bourbon from the 2000s, American rye from the 1980s, and Tennessee whiskey from the 1990s. Bottled at 40% ABV.
  • 7
    Spicy & Smoky
    The White Oak Akashi Single Malt comes from the White Oak distillery in Hyogo, where for 10 months out of the year the distillery exclusively produces sake and shochu. The whiskey is distilled from slightly peated barley and aged for an undisclosed amount of time in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. It is bottled at 46% ABV.
  • 6
    Smoky & Sweet
    Jim Beam Double Oak was released into the Global Travel Retail market in July 2016. It is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey which is initially aged in new, charred American oak before being transferred to another oak barrel to finish aging. The bottle was initially released in 1-liter sized bottles but other formats have become available. It is bottled at 43% ABV.
  • 5
    Fruity & Sweet
    The trend of no-age-statement releases continues with this Irish whiskey expression from Pernod Ricard subsidiary, Irish Distillers. Released in April 2016, Jameson Crested is a triple-distilled blend of pot-still (malted and unmalted barley) and grain whiskey. A high proportion of the blend has maturated in sherry casks, with the rest in ex-bourbon barrels. It is bottled at 40% ABV.
  • 4
    This offering from High West is an unusual American whiskey in a number of ways. First, the mash bill is 100% corn, rather than being tempered with rye, wheat, or barley as is custom in most American whiskies. Second, during the distillation phase, the spirit is brought into the 80-95% ABV range, whereas most producers rarely break 80%. Lastly, the whiskey is aged in second-fill ex-bourbon casks, rather than new, charred American Oak. Master Distiller Brendan Coyle discovered 100 barrels of it at MGP, all of which were distilled between 1999-2001. Bottled at 46.2% ABV and sold only at the distillery.
  • 3
    Fruity & Rich
    Inchmurrin Madeira Wood Finish was launched in 2015 as part of the distillery's Loch Lomond Island Collection. This expression benefits from double-maturation, first in American white oak barrels, followed by extra finishing in casks that previously aged Madeira wine. This non-chill-filtered single malt carries no age statement and is bottled at 46% ABV.
  • 2
    This now discontinued 30 year expression from Laphroaig was originally released in the early 2000s. Aged for a minimum of 30 years, it was bottled at 86 proof (43% ABV).
  • 1
    A three-grain bourbon distilled from a mash of corn, rye, and barley in Loveland, Colorado. Aged in new, American white oak barrels this bourbon is bottled at 88 proof.