Whiskey drinkers have never had it so good. Over the past decade, whiskey varieties have exploded giving connoisseurs a ton of different options. If you feel like it, you can now drink bourbon that’s aged entirely on the ocean or indulge in a Japanese single-malt that blows away Scottish whiskey in a blind taste test. With so many options on the table, the only question is what to drink?
Fear not, there are guides to help navigate you through the complex world of whiskey. Some of the top connoisseurs have come together to help you pick out that perfect beverage. 18 top experts from the wide world of whiskey — writers, bartenders, and restaurateurs have collectively sampled over 1,000 bottles and have the answers. We have narrowed them down to the top 20 whiskeys from around the world.
So whether you’re looking for massive peat smoke for a frigid winter night, an easy weekend sipper on the rocks, or a budget bourbon for a pitcher of Old Fashioneds, we’ve got the perfect bottle for you.
According to Whiskey Advocate:
Each year, Whisky Advocate Buying Guide reviewers collectively sample hundreds of whiskeys. These include rare and extremely limited releases, as well as new and emerging labels that will find their way to shelves across the nation. To determine our Top 20, we begin by looking only at whiskeys that rated “outstanding” (90 points or higher on Whisky Advocate’s 100-point scale). However, the Top 20 is not simply a collection of our highest-rated whiskeys, because many of those are so limited they would be impossible for most readers to locate or purchase. Therefore, in addition to quality (based on score), our selection also prioritizes value (based on price) and availability. Buying Guide reviewers nominate whiskeys based on these criteria.
An important step in gauging the true merit of these whiskeys is blind tasting review by a panel of international reviewers. The review panel tasted the nominated whiskeys in a series of blind tasting flights to arrive at the final list. The panel did not know the identity of the whiskeys being tasted—not their producer, country of origin, age, nor price. The average rating from the blind tasting panel supercedes the original Buying Guide rating. The individual reviewer rating will remain noted in the Buying Guide for the record. The final decision for placement weighted average score, price, and availability.
Our Top 20 is a selection of whiskeys worthy of your attention. The list includes great values that might otherwise be overlooked, whiskeys that are best in class for their style, and highly accomplished bottles you should be looking for. Most importantly, each of these whiskeys generates excitement and marks a highlight across a year of tasting.
The Whisky Advocate buyer’s guide is an annual ranking of the best whiskeys on the planet, and it’s determined by a panel of expert tasters sampling hundreds of the top whiskeys. If that sounds like a dream job you’re not alone.
1. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof B517
2. Glenmorangie Astar 2017 Release
3. Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Decades
4. Lagavulin 12 Year Old (Diageo Special Releases 2017)
5. Rampur Select
6. Ardbeg An Oa
7. Compass Box Spice Tree Extravaganza
8. Tamdhu Batch Strength 002
9. Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2010
10. Glen Moray 18 Year Old
You can see the full list of ‘TOP 20 WHISKEYS OF 2017 by clicking that link and visiting the Whiskey Advocate‘s annual buyer’s guide where they have tasting notes on each of the whiskeys listed above. The only whiskey on their list which I sampled this year was ranked #11, called “Little Book.” And if that’s the 11th ranked whiskey of the year, I cannot imagine how heavenly the top 10 are because Little Book is one of the best whiskeys I’ve ever had.
Now that you are up to speed, there is no reason not to find that perfect whiskey that will satisfy you. There have been great strides made in the whiskey game and we should expect to see more amazing whiskeys making their way into our lives. So get out there and give them a try! You never know whether or not you will find the drink that suits you. This is a perfect time to experiment with the holidays upon us. At your next gathering be sure to impress your friends with the perfect whiskey.