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10 Essential Whiskeys For Your Collection in 2022

For those beginning (or continuing) their journey in whiskey collecting, one of the biggest challenges faced is navigating the noise from within the community and the ‘hype’ generated by each and every new release. The next big thing is always around the corner, and popularity in whiskey circles is incredibly fleeting. A must-have for your collection today could very easily be a huge pass for your bottom shelf tomorrow, such is the fickle nature of the game. 

Nevertheless, there are still countless bottles that transcend the volatility of popularity by simply being excellent, best-in-class, value whiskeys. For collectors that are also connoisseurs of the finest, rarest and best, these are bottles essential to your collection, whisk(e)ys that represent the ideal balance between exclusivity, quality and timelessness. Here are 10 essential releases that you should have in your collection for 2022 (that also won’t break the bank), and will allow you to drown out the noise of hype this coming year and enjoy focusing on collecting the truly excellent.  

The Macallan A Night on Earth Single Malt

An homage to Scotland's Hogmanay, New Year's Eve and the last day of the year, Macallan's A Night On Earth Single Malt Scotch Whisky is a celebratory limited edition Scotch that ensnares the joy and conviviality of change of year celebrations and bottles this feeling with uncanny likeness. 

A collaboration with Japanese-French illustrator Erica Dorn, expect a bold aromatic experience defined by vanilla, baked biscuits and stone fruits, as well as shortbread, dried citrus and cinnamon on the palate.

What better whiskey to bring into 2022 than a single malt that celebrates the end of the year and 2021? To us, the perfect addition to any collection, and certainly a dream for connoisseurs looking for rare and unique bottlings that will appreciate in value and taste very very good.

An incredibly unique single-barrel bourbon and one of the most unusual to come out of Buffalo Trace Distillery, Hancock’s President’s Reserve is a whiskey shrouded in mystique. 

This is a bottle that you don’t come across very often, which is the perfect reason why it should be on your list of bottles to bring into the New Year, an understated and somewhat muted high-rye whiskey, which is composed of Buffalo Trace’s Mashbill 2. 

With Hancock’s, the bourbon lets its flavor do the talking, with a sophisticated bouquet that’s reminiscent of the esteemed company it holds (think Elmer T Lee, Rock Hill Farms and Blanton’s). 

Expect a considered balance of sweet vanilla, cinnamon, and subtle stone fruits on the nose, before a silky mouthfeel that swims with faint oak, refined ethanol, caramel and cherry notes, before slight spice and swathes of black pepper round out the long, lavish finish.

Blue Run Spirits, just a marketing powerhouse or perhaps a phenomenal whiskey distiller? If you ask us, it’s the latter. Blue Run may be one of the best up and coming producers of bourbon and rye whiskey anywhere in America, winning countless awards and acclaim for its limited edition, expertly crafted spirits.

The High Rye is no different, a considered small-batch rye that offers peaks and troughs that range between sticky caramel and baking spice, to toasted oak, stone fruits and black pepper. Bottled at 111 proof, this punchy and peppery rye is another highly collectible release from Blue Run that is surely set to increase in value.

If the trajectory of previous releases is anything to go by, then the High Rye is a must-have for those who collect the best from Kentucky.

A new offering from esteemed distiller The Macallan, the Harmony Collection Rich Cacao is the first release in a new annual line of limited edition single malt scotch whisky designed to celebrate  'perfect pairings' and harmonious flavor profiles - and on that might very well be the most hyped and anticipated whisky of 2021. 

The Rich Cacao, a collaboration with world-renowned pastry chef Jordi Roca (of 3 Michelin star fame at El Celler de Can Roca), is specifically tailored to pair with fine chocolates, crafted from a combination of European and American oak casks with a 'zero-waste' approach. A homage to the cacao plant in its entirety, the gift box is made using discarded cacao pod husks and is 100% recyclable, another aspect of this fine whisky that tells a unique and interesting narrative from inception to final product.

For those looking for a statement piece, and something that is going to define their collection for years to come, the Macallan Rich Cacao is a must-include.

Don’t let the price tag fool you… this is a bottle that’s impossibly rare outside of Kentucky due to its extremely limited availability. 

Old Fitz Prime is a bourbon lover's bourbon, a classic traditional whiskey that’s swimming with vanilla, caramel, baking spice and cinnamon.

While it’s a low entry-level bottle, the Prime is genuinely a stone's throw from the revered Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond series, and is a slightly softer, more approachable whiskey defined by the sophisticated smoothness of its wheated mashbill. 

A staple in Stitzel-Weller’s catalog since in the early 1900's, Old Fitzgerald has stood the test of time, and today is one of the most refined and renowned bourbons produced in Kentucky.

An award-winning full-proof bourbon that brings barrel entry proof heat from the oldest fully-operating distillery in Bardstown Kentucky, 1792's Full Proof is an exhilarating fireball and a piece of whiskey engineering that has brought countless accolades and critical acclaim. 

A deserved winner of 'World's Best Whiskey' by the World Whiskies Awards in 2018, the Full Proof is 1792’s magnum opus, a stunning and inspired bourbon, aged for 8.5 years before undergoing a special filtration process that circumvents traditional chill-filtration. 

The result is nothing short of transformative and breathtaking; an unassuming and elegant bourbon whiskey that will stop you dead in your tracks. 

Expect bold oak and maple flavors, nuanced hints of toffee and cinnamon and an awe-inspiring heat that will certainly put hairs on your chest.

The best of the rest? Definitely the best from TX. 

We’ve said it before, the small batch is a transportive and mesmerizing bourbon whiskey that’s symptomatic of the resounding skill and passion of the acclaimed Smoke Wagon whiskey house. 

This is a captivating and cultured bourbon that ensnares the senses and mobilizes the palate, enchanting the taster with a journey that spans from hints of sweet oak and lashings of fresh fruit, to new depths of bourbon complexity and nuanced, subtle rye spice.

Having won numerous awards for its caricature of high-rye bourbon whiskey, the Smoke Wagon boasts full-bodied flavor, punchy spice, and a sumptuous, smooth mouthfeel - impeccably balanced and masterfully blended. 

Bringing together the electrifying bite of younger vintage batches with the sensual sweetness of older vintages, this complex, 100 Proof Bourbon Whiskey will captivate your tastebuds and envelop them with hints of sweet oak, fresh fruit, and rye spice.

While it isn’t the most recent from their catalog, it’s the standout for the turn of the decade.

 Perhaps the finest release from Stagg Jr. to date, this is one that Buffalo Trace truly got spot on. Often it is the pattern for exceptional whiskeys to hit the ground running and then fade away before the next big thing arrives, however for Stagg Jr’s 15th instalment, the opposite is true. 

Aged for almost a decade. Released in extremely limited, small run batches. Today, Stagg Jr. is one of Buffalo Trace's most fearsome and formidable offerings. First released in Fall of 2013 with the exceptional Batch 1, Stagg Jr. has garnered cult status and critical acclaim over 8 years of production and has cemented its place as one of the finest names in barrel-proof bourbon whiskey.

Heavy-hitting and hearty. Batch 15 is a rich and robust bourbon defined by lush praline and brown sugar, powerful potency on the palate, and a long luscious finish that's beautifully complemented by nuanced orange peel, pepper, and oak notes. Staying true to the recipe that has made Stagg Jr a household name, Batch 15 is not to be missed by collectors and connoisseurs.

With 9 releases hitting shelves since the renaissance of this powerhouse bourbon, Old Fitzgerald's Bottled in Bond Decanter series has become one of the finest expressions of Kentucky whiskey available to the public. 

The Spring 2021 Release, aged for 8 years (the youngest bottling in the entire series thus far) and bottled at the requisite 100 proof, is the latest in this storied lineage and brings forth a vibrant and robust flavor profile with the familiar silky smooth mouthfeel and quintessential Old Fitz character. 

Dark auburn, full of subtle oak and sweet brown sugar which give way to toasted cereal notes, oatmeal and pecan with subtle hints of clove and delicate spice on the palate, beautifully accentuated by a long, warming finish - Old Fitzgerald's Bottled in Bond is a must-have for anyone looking to add a bottle that does more than just carry hype to their collection.

Did you miss this limited edition from Wild Turkey in 2021? Well if you didn’t manage to snap up a bottle of this highly sought-after 13 year old bourbon, then now’s the time. Extremely collectible and never to be repeated again, the Father & Son edition from Wild Turkey is a must-have for collector’s of the acclaimed Kentucky distiller.

The bottle itself is a triumphant celebration of the world's only father and son master distiller duo, Jimmy and Eddie Russell, and represents a masterful, sophisticated and distinctive bourbon which personifies the quality and consistency for which Wild Turkey is revered. 

Aged for 13 years and with a nuanced, subtle profile that's exceptionally balanced thanks to its 86 proof alcohol content, this fantastic 1L travel exclusive will singvon the palate and makes the perfect Father's Day gift and a dram fit for any occasion.

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The Ultimate Guide to Gifting Whiskey

Old faithful, the classic fallback, booze. It’s the ultimate last minute gift, something you can always rely on and something that there’s never enough of (as long as you ask us!) But what if you don’t want that gift to just be satisfactory, or a fallback? What’s the best way to gift liquor?

For business gifts or some of the biggest occasions, liquor and alcohol gifting is actually much easier than you think. Here’s our foolproof guide to gifting bourbon, rye and scotch, and a few pointers on how you can ensure your gift never falls flat or underwhelms.

What’s worse than gifting someone a cheap bottle of wine for a special occasion? Gifting that cheap bottle of wine to someone who doesn’t drink. The best tip for someone looking to give alcohol as a gift is to know who you’re giving it to! If someone doesn’t drink, then it’s pretty simple - don’t give them booze. This advice has additional pointers, however, if you know someone has a penchant for whiskey or Scotch, or perhaps if they have a preference for old-vintage Bordeaux wine, then cater to those specific varietals and categories - in other words, stick to what someone likes (and what you know), don’t risk being too adventurous but rather, select something that you’re confident in and one that fits the recipient.

Once you’ve decided that liquor is the right choice for the recipient, and you’ve narrowed down a particular category or varietal, start doing your research. The best way to find out what’s great, good or not the best, is by jumping online and doing some digging. The world of whiskey, wine and liquor is immersive and endless, so embracing this is the easiest way to learn what someone might like, and what might make a suitable gift. If you aren’t familiar with American whiskey for example, can come in handy, especially leading up to the festive season.

And stick to it... It’s really that simple, there’s no use in putting all of your effort into researching and learning about whiskey, finding and sourcing the perfect bottle, to then find that it’s 200 times more than what you’re willing to spend. The whiskey, wine and rare liquor market can be a volatile space, so having a budget in mind and working around this is key to finding a successful and suitable gift.

Maternity party? Don’t gift liquor. 50th Birthday? Definitely whiskey. Knowing the occasion is crucial to finding the right gift for your recipient. Make sure that the gift fits the bill, if it’s a bigger occasion, then a more exclusive, rare bottle might be suitable. Something more minor? Then a daily sipper probably sounds right. The best way to rise to the occasion when gifting liquor is to understand that occasion. Our list of Anniversary Gift appropriate bottles is an ideal resource for bigger events and milestones.

If you know someone’s a single-malt Scotch drinker and a passionate collector of single malt Scotch, then buying them a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label isn’t going to go down well. More than likely, this bottle will go down the sink rather well, never to be tasted or enjoyed. Such is the nature of whiskey collecting, that once you have found your niche and understand how good ‘good whiskey’ can be, going back to entry level products or those types that aren’t to your taste isn’t an option. That’s where this recommendation comes into play, never cut corners or take the cheap alternative - as this almost always ends up in an underwhelming gift and a black mark next to your name. Don’t be surprised if you receive a regifted pair of oven mitts for your next birthday…

So, now that we’ve covered the basics of what not to do, let’s take a look at a handpicked selection of some of the best bourbon, rye and scotch whiskeys that you can gift this festive season:

PROD1

A widely acclaimed bourbon from the all "wheated" W.L. Weller line, the Antique 107 shares the same mashbill, warehouse, and proof as the stunning Old Rip Van Winkle 10 year. This is a non-age-statement iteration of Old Weller's Antique 107, replacing the now-discontinued with-age varieties, however, it is estimated to be around the 7-year-old mark, with a mature and refined flavor profile. Known worldwide as one of the best value bourbons on the planet, the Weller Antique 107 punches well above its weight with its robust strength and deep complexity second to none.

PROD2

Celebrating a history of tradition and the unique methods and recipes of the founding father of bourbon, Colonel E.H. Taylor's Single Barrel Bourbon is a testament to the acclaimed distiller's dedication to craftsmanship. Fantastically smooth and defined by the smokey undertones for which the brand has become renowned, the Single Barrel is a remarkable sipping bourbon that builds steadily on the palate and lingers in the mind. Spicy, sweet, and with buttery smoothness, Colonel E.H. Taylor Single Barrel Bourbon is a combination of the best a premium whiskey can offer at a more than accessible price.

PROD3

The export release of the 2021-01 cask strength "Donohoe's Batch", aged for 6 years 11 months and 4 days and bottled at 125.3 proof, the 2021-01E batch is just as impressive, with a profile that spans between soft vanilla and warm baking spice before being tied together by a warm, full-bodied finish.

PROD4

Voted 2021's best single barrel bourbon at the San Francisco World Spirits Awards, Henry McKenna's 10 year old bottled-in-bond single barrel is one of the finest Kentucky whiskeys available today, having been awarded this prestigious honor 3 times in the last 4 years (2021, 2019 and 2018). Combining a bouquet of complex flavors, spanning from new car leather, breakfast cereal, and a subtle pepper on the nose, to semisweet caramel corn, toasted marshmallow, and dried fruit notes on the palate, don't miss this opportunity to secure a multi-award-winning whiskey.

PROD5

An award-winning full-proof bourbon, bottled at barrel entry proof, 1792's Full Proof is an exceptional piece of whiskey engineering that has brought countless accolades and critical acclaim. Recipient of 'World's Best Whiskey' by the World Whiskies Awards in 2018, the Full Proof is a stunning and inspired bourbon, aged for 8.5 years before undergoing a special filtration process that circumvents traditional chill-filtration. The result is simply breathtaking; expect bold oak and maple flavors, nuanced hints of toffee and cinnamon and an awe-inspiring heat that will certainly put hairs on your chest.

PROD6

 Now consolidated as a limited production rye, Colonel E.H. Taylor Straight Rye Whiskey is highly collectible and widely sought-after. The subtle, complex blend, made with a mashbill of rye and malted barley, is bottled-in-bond and designed to ensure the sweetness of corn doesn't overwhelm the rye's distinctive character - resulting in a complex and beautiful bouquet.

PROD7

Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Cornerstone is the fourth release in the Master’s Keep series, after the 17 Year Old, Decades, and Revival. Cornerstone is noteworthy as the first rye whiskey that Wild Turkey has released in this series, and is also the company’s longest aged and highest proof rye ever released. The bottle carries a 9 year age statement, however it includes whiskey up to 11 years old, and yielded just 16,000 bottles for the U.S. market.

PROD8

. After testing over 100 rums to find the perfect cask to finish this entirely unique blend, Angel's Envy Master Distiller Lincoln Henderson has created a true masterpiece with his Rum Barrel Finished Rye Whiskey. Entering the arena of rye whiskey for the first time, Angel's Envy has delighted their dedicated following yet again with this smooth, loud and spicy rye. Spending a full 20 months finishing in Caribbean rum casks, this blend emerges as a fiery 100 proof with creamy peat notes, complemented by the subtle sweetness of dark rum. If you love rye whiskey, or even if you simply love Angel's Envy, this is a blend you must try.

PROD9

One of the only rye whiskeys produced in Australia inspired by traditional American ryes and styled in this fashion, Belgrove Distillery's Rye Whiskey is a unique and interesting 100% rye, developed with sustainability in mind. Bottled at 90 proof and described by such enigmatic figures as Jim Murray as "Liquid Gold", Belgrove Rye is not to be missed.

PROD10

WhistlePig 15 Year Straight Rye Whiskey is hand bottled at 92 proof on the WhistlePig Farm with their calling-card, Canadian mash bill of 100% rye. To the eye this 15 year old whiskey has the rich golden brown color of butterscotch candy. It is mellow to the nose, with an initial burnt fruity citrus wafting out followed by the distinct spiciness of rye. One experiences a complex mingling of flavors when tasting WhistlePig 15 Year. The butterscotch appearance is reflected in the creamy sweetness that hits the front of the tongue. Then the peppery spice comes along and forcefully hits mid-palate with a pleasant heat. An oaky earthiness lingers in the long, deep finish that is not at all dry. There is nothing subtle about this whiskey as it delivers bold flavor without the burn.

PROD11

The final release in the Macallan Editions Collection, Edition No. 6 draws inspiration from the stunning natural landscapes around the Macallan Estate. A highly collectible limited edition bottle, Edition No. 6 uses 5 distinct American and European casks, handpicked by Macallan Whisky Maker Steven Bremner and designed as a celebration of the river Spey and nature around the Macallan property. Expect rich fresh fruits, nutmeg, ginger, toffee and vanilla, which give way to hints of cinnamon, oak, toffee and citrus, before a long, spicy and sweet finish - bottled at 97.2 proof.

PROD12

From its historical home in the Highlands of Scotland, The GlenDronach Distillery has been creating the finest sherried single malts for nearly two centuries. Founded in 1826 by James Allardice, the distillery was purchased in 1960 by William Teacher & Sons and then, in 2008 experienced a complete renaissance under The BenRiach Distillery Company. Named Global Whisky Distiller of the Year at the 2015 Icons of Whisky Awards, this small, privately owned distillery keeps going from strength to strength. Awarded a Silver Medal at the 2009 Malt Maniacs Awards, the GlenDronach Revival 15 Year Old Single Malt is a thick, sherried delight with hints of chocolate, coffee before a dry finish.

PROD13

The Lagavulin 16 Year Old Single Malt dates back to 1816, when John Johnston and Archibald Campbell each constructed a distillery on what today lies the Lagavulin site. This signature 16 year old malt has a strong peat, smoke and seaweed nose, followed by a complex mix of light fruitiness, charcoal, wood and iodine, toffee and chilli. With a richness and dryness typical of an Islay malt, this spirit has become, over its lifetime a true benchmark of Islay whisky.

PROD14

. Johnnie Walker Blue Label is the epitome of blending. Designed to reflect the style of whiskies in the early 19th century, Blue Label is created using some of Johnnie Walker's rarest casks. A blend of both grain and malt whiskeys from different distilleries, Blue Label has legions of avid supporters and detractors alike.

PROD15

Limited edition Macallan Concept Number 2 Single Malt Scotch of 2019 was inspired by world visionaries and creatives. Casks of sherry soaked American oak and ex-bourbon casks where used to develop a rich and harmonious vibe. Crafter Steven Bremner looked to craft this wonderful melting pot of flavors to form a pure symphony of whiskey delight. The taste is one of sweet and dry fruits molded expertly in swathes of toffee candy and cinnamon. Add in the earthy tones of oak wood and warm spice, and the Macallan Concept No. 2 is clearly a taste to remember, again and again. You will reminisce in the notes of honey cereal and homemade coffee cake as your tongue travels the honeycomb laden paths with this indulgent single malt scotch. The Macallan Concept No. 2 Single Malt Scotch Whiskey carries you away with every drop of sweetness, leaving you with a perfectly paired final sip of citrus and berry slathered shortbread.

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Barrel Proof Power Rankings: Stagg Jr. from Best to Worst

One of the most iconic bourbon whiskeys of the last 10 years, is world-renowned as a powerhouse barrel-proof that defies the limits of hellish heat. For those with a penchant for fearsome fire, the original is surely the most exceptional that Stagg has released to date, weighing in at a hefty 134.4 proof (Fall, 2013). However, if you consider yourself something of a connoisseur, then perhaps a more balanced bouquet will pique your fancy, such as the Fall, 2015 Batch 5, still no slouch, but with a slightly more robust silhouette that patters faintly with hints of cherry, cinnamon, and rich cocoa.

Whichever side of the coin you land on, no two rankings of Stagg's first 15 batches will be the same, and even after a second tasting, there are no guarantees that your original order would remain untouched. Nevertheless, here is our take on the barrel-proof power rankings - today, ranking Stagg Jr's first 15 batches from best to worst.

Third time's the charm. For many, Stagg Jr's Batch 3 release in Fall 2014 was the most considered and complete of the initial three and looking back, it is the most exciting and well-rounded fireball of frenzy in their catalog. A truly formidable bourbon whiskey that managed to combine the intense, incredible heat for which Stagg was quickly gaining cult status and acclaim, but with a more refined, subdued bouquet of flavors and a more robust, complex profile. Lashings of cherry were prevalent, not seen before in a Stagg Jr bottle, beautifully balanced by the abundance of sweet vanilla before a mouthfeel reminiscent of buttery silk - there's a good reason why Batch 3 remains a fan favorite among collectors and whiskey buffs.

The second coming. The highly anticipated follow-up to Stagg Jr's original release, the 2014 Spring release Batch 2 is perhaps the rarest and most sought-after iteration of all Stagg Jr bottles in circulation. The perfect storm of hot heat, bold flavor, and refined sophistication, Batch 2 is an acclaimed and audacious bourbon whiskey that represents the very very best of Stagg's very best characteristics.

Batch 5 was a bourbon to fall in love with. Widely regarded as one of Stagg Jr's best releases amongst barrel-proof connoisseurs, Batch 5 is decadent and delicious, imbued with rich cocoa, smooth vanilla and shadows of the inspired cherry, cinnamon, and molasses seen in previous batches. Clove and pepper are present and bring a newfound degree of charisma to the hot, hard-hitting bourbon, while this familiar heat works harmoniously with a complex array of flavors to produce a bourbon that is simply sublime.

The bottle that started it all, Batch 1 set the tone for every subsequent release, inspiring the robust and rich complexion of Batches 2-15, and sending fans of fiery warmth alight. Unfiltered, uncut, unrelenting. The original, iconic Stagg Jr. and by far the most potent and punchy batch to have been released, Batch 1 is a true tour de force when it comes to heat and firepower, and there is no doubting its impact on the whiskey world since its release - a must-have for those with a passion for innovative Kentucky whiskey.

Otherworldly oakiness. Another stupendous release from Stagg Jr, Batch 8 is perhaps the most fruity and flavorsome to come from the entire catalog. While the heat is prevalent and captivating (without bordering on the overwhelming), considered allusions to Buffalo Trace's familiar passion fruit, mango and orange notes can be found here, while there is ample sweetness, spice, and a deep, overarching oakiness. Arguably the most interesting and unusual release from Stagg Jr's lengthy portfolio, Batch 8 is a masterpiece of creative, surprising, and inspired whiskey craftsmanship.

A welcoming punch in the face. Extreme heat and grandiose flavor are the defining characteristics of Stagg Jr's Batch 6 release, a heavyweight that offers exceptional, and almost awakening levels of heat and spice, which somehow manage to avoid overwhelming nuanced hints of sweet cream, toffee, and vanilla. There is something different about the cherry in Batch 6 that sets it apart from the rest, as if it has taken on a candy-like form. This becomes a near perfect foil for the robust and rich body, making for an out-of-body experience-inducing bourbon.

Assured and astute. By Spring of 2015, Stagg Jr well and truly knew what they were doing and the well-oiled machine began to start producing some of the finest barrel-proof whiskeys in the world - enter Batch 4. Impressively balanced, true to its roots, and beset with a layered sense of spice, succulence, and smoothness, Batch 4 is not to be missed and finishes like it begins, with purpose.

Bold, brazen, brilliant. Arguably more balanced and better appointed than the George T. Stagg release of the same year, Stagg Jr's Batch 14 dominates the palate with a punchy proof that's stunningly paired with a rich, molasses-like mouthfeel and understated hints of cherry, vanilla, oak, and brown sugar. A classic Stagg Jr release, and a must-have for collectors of BT's mashbill 1.

A true winter warmer. The first Stagg Jr. release to coincide with the Winter months, Batch 11 is shaped by the season and is a warming, welcoming bourbon with a sumptuous bite and effervescent, vicious character. Characterized by toffee, maple, and bitter chocolate notes, as well as hints of cola-like molasses, oak, and vanilla, this is one of the most complex and rewarding releases to come out of the Stagg Jr bourbon house.

Spritely and seductive. One of the lighter and more drinkable Stagg Jr releases, Batch 10 represents a slight departure from the oft 130+ proof recipe which the brand is known for. Uncut, unfiltered, and using the same BT no. 1 mashbill as all previous releases, Batch 10 features brighter cherry and fruit notes and is perhaps more representative of the season in which it was bottled, Spring. A divine barrel-proof bourbon that is still no slouch on heat, for those who have experienced the heavy-hitting power of Stagg, Batch 10 is highly recommended.

Heavy-hitting and hearty. Another scintillating release from Stagg Jr, Batch 15 is a rich and robust bourbon defined by lush praline and brown sugar, powerful potency on the palate, and a long luscious finish that's beautifully complemented by nuanced orange peel, pepper, and oak notes. Staying true to the recipe that has made Stagg Jr a household name, Batch 15 is not to be missed by collectors and connoisseurs.

Ruthlessly rich. Instilled with a familiar flavor profile that brings forth exceptional complexity and balance, Batch 13 is one of the most informed and complete Stagg Jr releases and represents the culmination of the rich, sweet and spicy heat for which Stagg has become renowned. A finish that knows no bounds and a subtle smokiness that inspires and tantalizes the palate, Batch 13 is a remarkable release and must-have for collectors.

Fiery and fearsome. Oozing with class and charisma, the 12th iteration of Stagg Jr is beset with an impressive and eye-watering heat - clocking in at 132.2 proof the 3rd highest of all Stagg Jr releases thus far. While hot and undoubtedly spicy, it remains true to the beautifully appointed character for which Stagg is lauded.

Powerful and pronounced. Aged for almost 10 years and bottled at an eye-watering 131.9 proof, Stagg Jr's Batch 9 Barrel Proof bats well above average - boasting sophisticated complexity and unadulterated potency. A heavy hitter with a whole lot of heat, this is one of the great vintage pieces of Buffalo Trace history and a damn fine and damn fiery bourbon whiskey.

Potent and punchy. Not for the faint-hearted, Stagg Jr's Batch 7 clocks in at a staggering 130 proof and is truly a force to be reckoned with. Barrel-aged for nearly a decade, expect a palate experience like no other, bursting with fiery flavor and a prolonged, pronounced finish.

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A nip from Loch Ness: The top 10 rarest Scotch whiskies (part 2)

We recently ventured into the heart of Scotland on a journey to encounter and uncover some of the rarest, most enigmatic and hard-to-find single malt Scotch whiskies ever released. Today, we continue that journey, traveling rolling fields of rarity and exploring iconic, one-of-a-kind bottlings from Macallan, Lagavulin, Bowmore and Glenfiddich. Join us as we revel in the finest craftsmanship that Scotland has to offer, and toast a dram to the distillers who have made the fantasies of some become a very happy reality.

The Macallan 1926 Valerio Adami 60 year old

Stumbled upon a bottle of Macallan 1926? Buy yourself a lottery ticket. Macallan's magnum opus, the 1926 60 year old single malt, designed by Valerio Adami is perhaps the rarest whisky in the world, and one that regularly sells for upwards of $1 million when it surfaces for auction. Alongside Michael Dillon's iconic 1926 and Peter Blake's enigmatic version of the same vintage, the Valerio Adami is one of the most eye-catching, emphatic and aesthetic bottlings to ever come out of The Macallan Distillery, with the 1926 60-year-old representing the absolute pinnacle in form and function when it comes to crafting and engineering fine whisky. It is no surprise that the 1926 holds the record for the most expensive whisky ever sold, and holds the next 4 positions on the list of most expensive whiskies.

A distinctive and desirable statement piece that’s testament to Lagavulin’s outstanding reputation for quality, the Lagavulin 37 is one of the most sought-after single malt whiskies of the last 2 decades, and is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of quality craftsmanship in the realm of Scotch whisky. For collectors, connoisseurs and whiskyphiles all over the world, the Lagavulin 37 is one of the most coveted releases, mainly due to the highly limited nature of its bottling. With only 1,868 individually numbered bottles ever released, this is an iteration that will rarely ever see daylight on the market, and its value has only increased since its 2013 release.

Glenmorangie Sauternes 1981

A 1981 release that typifies the quality and complexity of Glenmorangie’s finest exports, the Sauternes Wood Finish 1981 is a legendary bottling which is so rare that it rarely sees the light of day. Matured for 21 years in casks formerly containing sweet wine from Chateau d’Yquem, a formidable Sauternes vineyard, the Glenmorangie Sauternes Wood Finish is one of the foremost examples of wood finish whisky and is today, one of the most sought-after and celebrated released from Glenmorangie. For collectors of the finest, most enigmatic Scotch whisky, this is a must-have for the top shelf.

The oldest whisky ever released by Macallan, the Genesis Lalique 72 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky needs no introduction. A celebration of a seminal moment in Macallan’s history, namely the opening of a new Distillery and Visitor Experience, the Genesis Decanter has been designed specifically to mirror the magnificent architecture of the new distillery, and seeks to celebrate the masters of malt, past and present who have shaped and influenced the Macallan throughout its history. As you would expect, a 72 year old single malt Scotch from Macallan has seen eye-watering demand and in turn, seen eye-watering prices for this one-of-a-kind dram, and for collectors and connoisseurs, just setting eyes on this majestic piece of craftsmanship may be enough… But for those with the appetite, hungry for a slice of history and an iconic bottle to add to their collection, the Genesis Lalique 72 is the coup de gras, the holy grail, and the final piece of the puzzle.

Bowmore Black

A 20 year old Scotch whisky, distilled in 1964, there are actually two different iterations of the Bowmore Black, both as rare as one another. The 30 year old is a ridiculously luxurious and sophisticated piece of whisky craftsmanship that is intense and perfectly balanced, while the 42 year old iteration is a sumptuously exotic and remarkably rare dram, that is testament to Bowmore’s ridiculously high standards and peerless pursuit of quality.

Branded as the Scottish distiller’s “heirloom” release, the Glenfiddich 50 is a powerful and pronounced single malt whisky that represents the culmination of countless years of whisky innovation, dedication and care. A remarkable piece of engineering, presented in one of the most spectacular, sophisticated boxes, the Glenfiddich 50 is a true icon of style and makes for an alluring and audaciously luxurious statement piece for any connoisseur’s collection. A Scotch that has defined the distillery’s approach to curating and crafting whisky with meticulous precision and an almost eye-watering pursuit of quality, this bottle rarely surfaces on the market and when it does, it’s not available for long.

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Hunting Unicorns: Blanton's Polish Enigmas

In previous installments of Hunting Unicorns, we've put some of the rarest and most sought-after bourbon and rye whiskeys under the microscope, deep-diving into the nuances and intricacies of each bottle and what makes them so hard to find. Today, we take a different approach, uncorking a few bottles that are arguably rarer than anything we've covered before, a Kentucky-produced silo that's rarely found in America and is scarce all over the globe; enter Blanton's Poland Editions.

An annual "LE" release, and one that represents the zenith of exclusivity, is specific to the European nation's M&P Wine and Spirits Festival, made available each year in eye-wateringly limited numbers.

While reserved only for the Polish retail market, these bottles do trickle into markets internationally following their annual release, and as a result of the cap on the number of bottles (which varies between seasons and can be less than 1000), they tend to fetch a pretty penny if and when they do surface.

So are they worth the money? The answer depends on who's asking it. While the Poland Edition doesn't stray too far from the classic, iconically smooth Blanton's Original Single Barrel, there are several points of difference that potentially warrant the heftier price tag.

The profile

Blanton's is notorious for its silky smooth mouthfeel and the almost casual ease with which it drinks. From the first sip, the profile is lavish and languid. It relaxes on the palate and caresses the tastebuds with vanilla, sweet caramel, baking spice, and chewy toffee prominent and pronounced. The same rings true with the , yet, there is more energy and gusto to the experience. Here, heat and spice accentuate and elevate the primary flavors, creating a decadence and elegance that is never overbearing and always in tune with the rest of the bourbon. 

The proof

The vibrancy and power of the Poland Edition's profile are multi-faceted, but it largely owes this vitriol to the heightened proof and residual potency that come with these elements. The hum in the finish is something that not many Blanton's bottles possess or achieve (save the precise cutting warmth of the 'SFTB' and 'Gold'), and this aspect of the M&P release makes it all the more outstanding. At 117 proof, or 58.5% alcohol, it is a fearsome beast of a bourbon that punches well above its usual weight and is quite simply more than the sum of its parts.

The prevalence

Or perhaps, the lack thereof. The fact is that the Poland Editions are unicorns. For the everyday bourbon drinker, these are mythical bottles, the absolute precipice of rarity and exclusivity. The 2020 M&P Wine and Spirits Festival 'Special Release' is a remarkably elusive iteration of the Poland Edition silo, with barrels 366, 368, 371, and 376 used in the production. Given that each barrel yields an average of 200 bottles, there were very few bottles released globally, and there are far fewer available today.

To secure your bottle of , click here.

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Review: The Macallan x Sir Peter Blake

A limited-edition single malt from Macallan, is inspired by the appreciation of nature, beauty, and legacy shared by Macallan and Sir Peter Blake. Aromas of rich dried fruit, cinnamon, and clove fill the nose, complemented by notes of black pepper, orange oil, vanilla, treacle, and dark chocolate throughout the palate. This specially-created single malt is presented in a blue and green presentation box which houses the bottle, a certificate detailing the history and heritage on which the art was based, and Sir Peter Blake artwork printed on a scroll.

One of the most iconic pop artists in history, Blake is revered for his collage and pastiche artworks which were prevalent in the '70s and '80s and drove the pop art movement in the United Kingdom. For An Estate, A Community and A Distillery, Blake draws on inspiration from the Macallan Distillery and its surrounding landscapes and brings forth a nostalgic trip that transgresses Scotland's nature and iconic historical figures.

The bottle itself is magnificently crafted and highly collectible, a 95.4 proof single malt Scotch which will undoubtedly become one of the most coveted bottles ever released by The Macallan, and is beautifully presented with an artwork by Blake printed on a scroll and included with the bottle. 

It is rare that a whisky release comes with such intricate presentation and novelty, however, such is the beast that is Macallan, they have created a most intriguing and enticing whisky to accompany what is a truly captivating experience. Complex, balanced, and with a bouquet of flavors, An Estate, A Community and A Distillery is a once-in-a-lifetime single malt Scotch that's testament to Macallan's status as the foremost innovator and leader in the modern Scotch making industry.

Interested in adding one of the finest Highlands Scotch whiskies to your collection? Then

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The Comprehensive Beginner's Guide to American Whiskey

For the uninitiated, American Whiskey is the umbrella term used to describe any distilled spirit that's produced using a fermented cereal mash in the United States of America. 

This encompasses an extensive range of whiskey types, the most common of which are bourbon whiskey, rye whiskey, malt whiskey, wheated whiskey, Tennessee whiskey, and corn whiskey.

Within these general categories there are further intricacies and specifics that define how an American whiskey has been crafted or distilled, with blended whiskeys, straight whiskeys and single-barrel whiskeys to name but a few more granular varietals.

So what are the characteristics that determine what constitutes each of the various strains of American whiskey? Here we discuss the finer points and delve into the definitions of each sub-variety.

But before we get into discussing this, first we need to understand what a mash bill is…

A mash bill is a specific mix of grains and cereals used in the process of whiskey making. These grains are cooked, fermented, aged and then distilled, with typical whiskey mash bills being comprised of corn, wheat, rye and barley. 

The percentage of each grain fluctuates depending on the type of whiskey being produced, as well as the specific distiller producing a spirit, but generally, one of these grains will be the dominant ingredient in a mash (usually when one grain is represented by 51% or more of the total mash bill) and will determine the varietal of the spirit itself.

Bourbon whiskey is, by law, a whiskey composed of 51% or more of corn in the mash bill, with the other 49% being barley, wheat or rye, with a fairly even mix being common for standard bourbon mashes.

In a bygone era, a bourbon was also required to be made and distilled in the state of Kentucky, however today numerous distilleries exist in states such as Virginia (John J. Bowman), Nevada (Nevada Distilling Co.), Texas (Garrison Bros.), and many more.

It’s common for larger, well-known distillers to use a similar mash bill for a variety of their catalog offerings, with the differences in flavor and profile derived more from the aging and specifics of the distilling process.

At Buffalo Trace, for example, there are 3 generic bourbon bills: 

While there are countless other distilleries that have similar processes and practices defining their mash bills and the bourbon whiskeys they produce, this gives a good insight into the general ways in which bourbon can be produced.

Now we know that a 51% corn-based mash bill constitutes a bourbon whiskey, what about others that use less corn? 

For rye whiskeys, a similar rule applies, requiring a 51% or higher rye content. The remaining 49% is generally a mixture of corn and barley, however, this depends on the preferences of the distiller and the type of taste/flavor that the whiskey will be instilled with. High-rye whiskey generally possesses a more robust earthiness and a spicy and powerful flavor, while low-rye content whiskeys resemble bourbon more closely but a more distinctive, natural undertone.

To provide some context about how composition can affect ryes, let’s take a look at the ryes produced by two acclaimed distillers - High West and Buffalo Trace.

Like bourbon’s Kentucky-based heritage, Tennessee Whiskey is made in the same way and is a 51% corn composed spirit, with the remaining 49% similarly mixed up of barley, rye and potentially wheat depending on the preferences of the distiller.

The spirit does, however, have to be aged in charred new white oak barrels, and must also be charcoal filtered prior to ageing. These are the requirements for a whiskey to possess the ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ label, and the filtration process is known as the Lincoln County Process.

The charcoal used for the filtration is derived from sugar maple trees, and is burnt to produce a ‘smoother’ product designed to mellow the distillate and make an overall smoother whiskey.

Popular Tennessee whiskeys, such as Jack Daniel’s or Dickel, have made this process world-famous, and continue to use the boundaries of fine whiskey craftsmanship with a deep respect for history.

Well, the great thing about starting a whiskey journey is that you get to start from the beginning, and the best way to begin is to learn what you like, and how do you do that? By diving in head first and trying your first bottle.

If you are a fan of hard-hitting flavor and like heat and spice, a higher-proof bourbon might be something you’re interested in, or a high-rye content whiskey may be more to your liking. For those who aren’t sure where to begin, then a great starting point can be found in our (which are also fantastic value).

This is the fun part of the journey, so if you’re keen and willing to explore the world of whiskey, why not take a look at the following drops:

The signature whiskey of , arguably Kentucky's finest whiskey distillery, this Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a testament to Buffalo Trace's respect for the art of whiskey craftsmanship. Melding vanilla, barrel char, and complex spiciness, this particular straight bourbon whiskey is inspired by American wilderness and seeks to emulate the rugged, rich flavors that define Kentucky's countryside. No collection is complete without this stalwart of the American whiskey scene.

A blend of straight Rye whiskeys ranging in age from 2 to 7 years, this rye is a "must-try for rye Whiskey aficionados," according to Whisky

Advocate. Marrying two straight rye whiskies that perfectly combine the feisty and fiery properties of high rye, this mature, corn-heavy blend provides some additional sweetness to calm the classic rye bite. Perfect for collectors of rye searching for a complex and considered daily drinker or for beginners looking to explore intricately crafted rye varieties, does not disappoint.

A beautifully refined bourbon whiskey from is one of the finest exponents of the Buffalo Trace distillery. Impeccably balanced and remarkably complex, this straight bourbon is widely considered a 'dual-barrel' as it was once a single barrel but has now adopted a new, unique production method. As is tradition with the Eagle Rare brand, this bottle is most difficult to source thanks to its exceptional flavor and popularity with purists, so given the opportunity, it's a must-buy!

This Tennessee whisky is crafted from 10 barrels, all aged 10-12 years and personally selected by Master Distiller John Lunn. A specially selected whiskey from , blended from casks chosen each year by the master distiller - hence 'Barrel Select'. It's made in a batch of about 10 casks, each having aged their contents for 10-12 years.