2019 passed so fast! Though it was a fruitful year for me since I traveled almost 3 times around the world and got the chance to try over 300 new whiskies. Traveling to India and meeting its whisky culture was a big highlight. Also, my trips to major cities like New York City, Los Angeles, DC, Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Diego made me meet whisky friends in each city, where we enjoyed a lot of good drams.
All of the whiskies in this list are tasted at least two to three occasions in different mediums to be as fair as possible. Don’t forget that all of the rankings here is personal, taste can differ from person to person. Choosing 10 whiskies as the best whiskies is not the best thing a lad can ever do but it is a tradition now. So here is the Best Whiskies of 2019 for me!
Not a lot of bourbons make me feel the same this Elijah Craig bottle did. We were in a club in San Francisco with a friend and the bartender brought this beautiful bottle out of nowhere after understanding that we were working in the industry.
A hefty 136 proof 12 year old bourbon!!! 68% abv is almost the amount you get into the barrel. While carrying all those high-quality barrel notes like coconut, toasted oak, dark caramel, 12% barley gives a beautiful, elegant fruity balance to the nose.
I drank this neat! The palate didn’t feel like it was 136. A good amount of orange, tobacco, dark chocolate, Manuka honey. The finish is long with a twirling spicy feeling, vanilla and leather.
This is not an easy find though. You can still find some bottles but not that widely available.
Coming from The Old Bushmills Distillery, this Black Bush was astonishing! Thanks to my fellow friend The Whiskey Jug for offering me the necessary amount when we met back in March in Los Angeles.
What makes this Black Bush different is its 1st fill sherry barrel amount. Dominancy of Oloroso barrels of this one made this whiskey very special for me.
This very old bottling from 80’s came up with beautiful notes of sherry quality. Dried fruits getting together with that Black Bush signature flavors like honey, toasted oak made an amazing collaboration. The palate has a stunning malty feeling with baking spices and chocolate. It develops in time and ends like a fruit orchard. The finish complements the palate with growing cocoa and spicy feeling.
“This is a showcase of how a 4 year old peaty whisky with high proof can be so elegant!”
Paul John Mars Orbiter was released in 2017 in commemoration of launching India’s first interplanetary probe, Mars Orbiter Spacecraft on November 5th 2013.
Only 325 bottles were released and in the US, we were sent the last 45 bottles. Even though the price tag is a high $450, I can totally say that it deserves the price.
Nose is a good blend of Seville oranges with honey, toasted oak and bacon. Palate is out of this world! Great dominancy of cocoa, walnuts, vanilla, tropical fruits lead you to a mossy, earthy peat finish with spicy and sugary fruit notes.
Found this incredible bottle at K&L when I was just getting across the Scotch part. There was a gap and a bottle at the very end, which was far away from all eyes.
This is a bottling by Alexander Murray, which has a 21 year old Ben Nevis, matured in second fill ex-bourbon hogshead from 1995 to 2016. Honeywax, French toast with sweet spices. Palate has malt in the front, tropical fruits at the back, then spices, then floral notes. Palate is like another layer every other five seconds.
Finish has a malty taste with a thin texture. It doesn’t dry but somehow it gets you to want more.
Some whiskies are too good to be true! Even getting so lucky to taste them is a blessing sometimes. I wanted to thank to my friend Andrew Casteel, for inviting me to a night that was filled with fabulous drams all over.
This one of 194 bottles at 50.8% abv was a clear beast of the night. With its milk chocolate start, it gives you the temptation, then Marzipan comes in and creates more temptation. Brown sugar, cinnamon buns, leather and chocolate comes through in minutes.
Palate has a soft start and it is deceiving. In a few seconds, Sherry bomb starts its duty and fills your mouth with excessive tones of dried plums, licorice, raisins, dark chocolate. A never-ending finish is the cream of the pie here.
Honestly, this one is not for sale and probably never going to be, but not putting this bottle on my list would be a hard decision. This is the personal barrel selection of Neil Strachan, the West Coast Balvenie Brand Ambassador in the USA.
It was most probably the favorite dram of everyone who could try it at WhiskyFest San Francisco this year.
All you can get from Balvenie and triple all the intensity of the barrel. Fruity notes dissolve into beautiful oak tannins, then change into dried fruits with elegant notes of toffee, vanilla and heather.
I was at Whisky Fest New York this December and as usual joined a seminar. This time the seminar was with Mr. Shinji Fukuyo, Chief Blender for Suntory.
After dissecting the Hibiki Harmony blend into its components, as a final touch he asked as to taste the Hibiki 30 bottle. I can say I had my big share of it and was amazed by a Japanese whisky after a very long while.
Nose has a really nice combination of orange, marzipan, nutmeg. It develops into great custardy notes with an off note of saffron. Palate is thinner than I have expected but as its age, it is divided into many layers. Sweet tones of honey, bubblegum, raisins is just the start. Over the journey, mint like green notes are backed by oak tannins, baking spices.
Finish is floral and long.
This might be a whisky I voluntarily behaved as a brand ambassador for. Incredible release from the Highland distiller Glenmorangie. An upgrade to its 12 year old sibling, 14 year old Quinta Ruban was definitely one of my favorite whiskies of 2019.
Loved the orange notes with chocolaty notes on the nose. As it opens up, walnuts, coffee notes appear. Palate is floral, the sweetness is just at balance and is followed by great dark fruit notes. Dates, plumbs and baking spices with a creamy texture.
Finish is warm and has a great spicy feeling with cinnamon and almonds.
The first time I have tried Tobias & The Angel was actually 2018 at Compass Box Office in London with my dear friends Cem from @whiskeyinthejar__ and Sarp from @sarpsaddiction . John brought us the components of this whisky and asked us to make a similar blend. So when I got the first bottle, I was over the moon!
This is a blend of and old Caol Ila and an old Clynelish. 49.1% of the blend is coming from Caol Ila and 50.9% is coming from Clynelish. I have a longer story of the packaging on my Instagram post.
Nose starts with a heathery feeling wrapped around with bonfire. You can feel the honeywax, stone fruits in a short while. Gentle peat comes together with mossy earth and grassy notes.
Palate has a great fruity feeling of peach, a harmony of citrus with baked apples. Floral notes come to the front with a good maritime impact on. Finish is long and lingering with a little bit ginger, peat, vanilla and papaya.
And the winner is… Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottling! SMWS 93.114 Barbecue in Fishnets, US Exclusive bottling!
Honestly, it was a close race between the top ranks. I had a real hard time, then I just thought. What did I have over and over again which gave me a new excitement every time? The answer was this whisky! Thanks to Single Malt Alliance for choosing this great Campbeltown, Glen Scotia cask as the USA exclusive cask for 2019!
Wow! Just wow!
Barbecue in Fishnets! SMWS 93.114 just made my day.
Aged 12 years in ex-Bourbon hogshead and finished in a 1st fill Port hogshead.
Intense ripe red and black forest fruits blended with stone fruits dominate the nose. Cedar and sweet smoke swirl through the glass and ends in fresh pear notes. Subtle pear is a great foundation to all the other notes.
Salted caramel blends with nutty dryness in the palate opening to coffee notes with high viscosity covered with milk chocolate.
Finish is medium long with cinnamon bites and dry ginger aftertaste.
Very well balanced Port barrel, developing in the palate,
My day job has a lot to do Paul John Whisky and I have spend a good time working on this bottle this year. Hence, I didn’t want to be biased and place this great whisky from Paul John Distillery as an extra.
Aged for 5 years in Bourbon barrels and 2 years in PX casks, this whisky is #ChristmasInABottle
Nose starts with Manuka honey, followed by raisins, dry plums, Seville orange zest and green apples. Palate is juicy with mocha, baking spices, peppercorn, a light touch of smoke and chocolate notes.
Finish is so delicate but long with light peat, toasted bread and nutty feeling to it.