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
    10 GlenDronach Tawny Port Finish 15 Year
    90
    Rich & Sweet
    This Glendronach was initially matured in European Oak barrels before being transferred to Tawny Port casks to finish its maturation. The BenRiach-owned distillery chose not to chill-filter this particular single malt.
  • 9
    9 Jameson Crested
    90
    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.
  • 8
    8 Compass Box Spice Tree Extravaganza
    91
    Vanilla & Sweet
    This reinvented bottling from Compass Box was released October 2016, on the tenth anniversary of the original bottling of Spice Tree being pulled from the market for its unconventional use of staves in the maturation process. This reinterpretation features "older components and a significant portion of sherry-cask aged malt whisky." It's a complex blend incorporating a vatting of Highland malts from Clynelish, Dailuaine, Teaninich, and malt whiskies from Glen Ord, Benrinnes, and Allt-รก-Bhainne distilleries. Utilizing a first-fill sherry butt, a refill American standard barrel, a refill hybrid cask, a light-to-medium hybrid cask, and a heavy-toast hybrid cask, it is bottled at 46% ABV.
  • 7
    7 St. George Single Malt Lot 16
    92
    Vanilla & Rich
    Lot 16 is the latest annual release of the highly coveted and award-winning St. George Single Malt series. Distiller and blender Dave Smith incorporated a range of whiskeys between four and 10 years old for this edition, also selecting from a variety of cask types. Hitting the shelves in October 2016, Lot 16 was bottled at 43% ABV.
  • 6
    6 Lagavulin 12 Year (2016 Special Release)
    92
    Peaty & Full Bodied
    A regular representative of Islay on Diageo's annual Special Releases, is the Lagavulin 12 Year. Although younger than its famous older sib, the Lagavulin 16 Year, this single malt expression is one of the most popular releases in the annual line-up with the brand's strong fan base and the bottling's more affordable price tag. It's bottled at its natural cask-strength of 57.7% ABV.
  • 5
    5 Booker's Bourbon Batch 2016-05 "Off Your Rocker"
    93
    Vanilla & Rich
    The fifth 2016 release from Booker's Bourbon is dubbed Off Your Rocker. It's a title in homage both of Booker Noe's penchant for lounging in the rocking chair, but also his big personality. Off Your Rocker is aged for exactly six years, seven months, and 23 days, and the uncut cask-strength bourbon is bottled at 129.7 proof.
  • 4
    4 Caol Ila 15 Year 2000 (2016 Special Release)
    94
    Full Bodied & Sweet
    This "Unpeated Style" of Caol Ila single malt has made previous appearances on the annual Special Release collection from Diageo. For this 2016 bottling, the expression was distilled in 2000 and aged 15 years in a combination of refill American oak casks and European oak butts. It is bottled at its original cask-strength of 61.5% ABV.
  • 3
    3 Old Potrero Hotaling's Single Malt Rye 16 Year
    95
    Fruity & Spicy
    This new release of Hotaling's is a 16-year old whiskey, released in November 2016--20 years after Old Potrero's first rye whiskey release. This is a 100% pot-distilled single-malt rye whiskey, and a single-barrel release at that. It is bottled at 50% ABV after aging in once-used charred American oak for 16 years. Extremely limited, with 200 bottles nationwide.
  • 2
    2 Laphroaig 30 Year
    96
    Full Bodied & Smoky
    The new limited edition Laphroaig 30-year hit shelves in October 2016. Bottled at a cask-strength of 53.5%, the whisky was aged for 15 years in first-fill ex-bourbon casks, before being moved to older refill casks for the duration of its maturation.
  • 1
    1 Ardbeg 17 Year
    97
    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.