Best Irish: Redbreast 12 Year Old
Region: Ireland | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Sherry, Spiced apple, Cream.
While there are cheaper Irish whiskey blends available, Redbreast is worth the extra splurge. There’s no blend hereinstead, its a single pot still Irish whiskey, meaning it’s made from a mash bill of malted and unmalted barley and produced at one distillery in copper pot stills. The whiskey is aged for 12 years in a combination of ex-sherry and bourbon casks, imbuing it with rich red berry, spice and sweet vanilla flavors. Redbreast is the pot still showcase, says Vacheresse. He considers it an excellent whiskey teaching tool and the perfect introduction to the Irish pot still category.
Best Rye: Pikesville Straight Rye
Region: Kentucky | ABV: 55% | Tasting Notes: Cinnamon, Vanilla, Oak.
Two styles of rye whiskey dominate the whiskey market these days: rye made from a 95% to 100% rye mash bill and the Kentucky-style mash bill that usually contains just above 50% rye, the minimum legally required to be classified as rye whiskey. Pikesville, which falls into the latter category, was originally made in Maryland and is now distilled in Kentucky by Heaven Hill. Try this in a classic cocktail like the Manhattan.
Pikesville is my favorite rye because it provides a great symphony of flavors from the rye spice, baking spices, the high proof and maturation from the six years in the barrel. The strong taste of cherries, vanilla and baking spices gives it a really fun take on a cherry Coke. Paul Gonzalez, head bartender for the Allegory Bar at D.C.s Eaton Hotel
Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Whiskey
Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Whiskey is a 93 Proof Whiskey aged a minimum of 7 years. Each batch is hand-selected by our founders, and curated by our 5th Generation Master Blender, Victoria Butler.
Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey is the fastest growing independent American whiskey brand in U.S. history. In 2019, Uncle Nearest 1884 joined the award-winning Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey line-up including Uncle Nearest 1820 and Uncle Nearest 1856. Together, these three ultra-premium whiskeys have garnered more than 85 awards since launching in July 2017, including two Worlds Best by World Whiskies Awards, Top 5 Whiskies in the World, by Cigar & Spirits Magazine, Chairmans Trophy, Platinum and Double Gold by SIP Awards and Best American Whiskey.
Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Whiskey
The company built its brand on its knack for sourcing the best of Tennessee whiskies and bourbons, and using its own non-temperature-controlled aging process and unique post-aging double filtration method that significantly changes the characteristics and profile of the original whiskies. Uncle Nearest is the most awarded new American premium whiskey brand in United States history, garnering 75 awards since its July 2017 debut, including being one of two brands named Worlds Best at Whisky Magazines 2019 World Whiskies Awards, and earning 15 Best in Class. Cigar & Spirits Magazine also named Uncle Nearest one of the Top 5 Whiskies in the World.
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Jack Daniels And Uncle Nearest Launch New Diversity Initiative
June 15, 2020 | Ted Simmons
Amid increasingly vocal national anti-racism demonstrations and demands for equality action, the Jack Daniel Distillery and Nearest Green Distillery have announced a joint, three-pronged initiative aimed at increasing diversity in the American whiskey industry. The two Tennessee whiskey makers have pledged a combined $5 million as part of the Nearest & Jack Advancement Initiative.
The piece I think our industry was missing until now was that we were all trying to figure out how to foster diversity within the American spirits industry separately, Fawn Weaver, founder and CEO of Uncle Nearest, tells Whisky Advocate. The events of the last two weeks brought us together to figure out, with a great sense of urgency, how we can create change and accelerate progress now.
Uncle Nearest and Jack Daniels have a shared history: Nearest Green was the enslaved man who taught Jack Daniel how to distill, though his story went untold for well over a century, and has only become more widely known since Weaver founded the company in 2017. The Jack Daniel Distillery has begun highlighting Greens contributions to visitors, but the Nearest & Jack Advancement Initiative marks the first official collaboration between the two companies.
The story of Nearest and Jack and this initiative is bigger than whiskey, and the telling of their story is important to our industry, our country, and the world, says Matt Blevins, Jack Daniels global brand director.
Best Canadian: Lot No 40 Whisky
Region: Canada | ABV: 43% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Raisin, Coffee.
When you think of Canadian whisky, the purple velvet-draped Crown Royal might be the first thing that comes to mind. There are some decent expressions to be found from that popular brand, but there is a whole world of lesser-known Canadian whiskies to sip out there. One highly regarded bottle is Lot No. 40, a 100% rye whisky that is distilled at Hiram Walker in Windsor, Ontario. Look for a little bit of spice here, but overall this is a smooth sipper with notes of cocoa and caramel that pop in the palate.
Region: Speyside, Scotland | ABV: Varies by batch | Tasting Notes: Sherry, Spice, Vanilla.
This scotch has something of a cult following, and with good reason: it’s a high-proof, sherry cask single malt that is consistently delicious. This is a rare example of a single expression being recognized and sought after by consumers, while the rest of the brand lineup is mostly , says Vacheresse. Add a bit of water or drink it neathowever you prefer, Aberlour ABunadh does not disappoint. Take your time with this as you sip to unveil layer after layer of flavor.
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Tasting Notes: Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey
Vital stats: Mash bill of 90% corn and rye with at least some of the remainder being malted corn, all from Tennessee farms, according to Uncle Nearest. Filtered with Maple charcoal via the Lincoln County Process and aged in charred, new American Oak barrels for an undisclosed time. Bottled at 50% ABV and sold for about $58 per bottle.
Appearance: Sold in a plain and tall but still elegant bottle. Both in that bottle and poured in a glass, it has a bronze quality with a hint of red to it that makes it a hair darker than average.
Nose: A sniff initially brings in a rich, molasses-like sweetness through the nasal passages. That quickly gives way to an earthier bouquet of grass, charcoal, and nutmeg, and a touch of maple adding a bit of sweetness.
While Uncle Nearest wouldnt be at the tip-top of my list of favorite whiskeys to sip on, it certainly has plenty of character and lots of flavor for a wide variety of palates. With a smooth caramelly flavor to satisfy drinkers with a sweet tooth, it also packs a decent punch for those looking for something a bit stronger and spicier. Although it gets a bit spicier than Id like, I still admire how Uncle Nearest manages to retain a variety of flavor elements in both its sweetest and harshest moments. Its a bit pricey, but Uncle Nearest is still worth a try if come across it.
Best Scotch: The Balvenie Doublewood
Region: Speyside, Scotland| ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Raisin, Vanilla, Spice.
Among an abundance of single malt scotch to choose from, with various regions showcasing different styles and flavors, The Balvenie stands out as one of the best. The distillery was an early adopter of cask finishes with its DoubleWood 12, which is matured in ex-bourbon barrels and finished in sherry casks.
The beauty of this bottle really shines in the notes that explode from the second aging in Oloroso sherry barrels. That rich, round finish gives this scotch a bit more chewiness and lasting linger that I love with every sip. Pamela Wiznitzer, consulting bartender
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Support Across The Spirits Industry
Another element of the initiative is the Leadership Acceleration Program, which will offer apprenticeships specifically to African Americans already in the whisky industry with aspirations of becoming a head distiller or holding other significant roles, and the Business Incubation Program, which will offer African American entrepreneurs mentorship in all areas of the distilling business.
We realized that what we were doing with the Nearest Green School of Distilling was not going to create an impact as large as was needed and as fast as we wanted to better foster diversity within our industry, Weaver says. We decided to expand our initiative to address three issues: developing a pipeline of women and people of color in the distilling business, creating a program that helps African American start-ups in the spirits business succeed so more can follow, and helping put more African Americans and people of color into leadership roles.
The Nearest & Jack Advancement Initiative is among a wider movement to enhance diversity throughout the spirits industry. Black Bourbon Society founder Samara Rivers launched Diversity Distilled earlier this month to assist spirits brands in developing diversity and inclusion policies and actions, and drinks giant Diageo recently announced a $20 million community fund to support Black communities and businesses that have been disproportionately harmed by COVID-19.
Best Bourbon: Elijah Craig
Region: Kentucky | ABV: 47% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Char, Cinnamon.
Elijah Craig is made by Heaven Hill, a distillery that makes other great bourbons and rye whiskeys as well. The liquid in this bottle is aged between eight and 12 years, and it really has everything you are looking for in an affordable but high-quality bourbon. Strong notes of vanilla and oak, and a higher proof of 94, make this a great sipping whiskey, as well as an excellent cocktail component to consider when making an Old Fashioned or Boulevardier.
Region: Kentucky | ABV: Varies per batch | Tasting Notes: Brown sugar, Cocoa, Baking spices.
Barrel-proof means that the whiskey has not been cut with water to reduce the alcohol content, often down to 40% ABV, before bottling . This is as close to drinking straight from the barrel as most people can get, with an ABV often exceeding 60%. The higher proof offers an unadulterated whiskey drinking experience with an amplified range of flavorsand of course, you can proof it down yourself with some water, if you like. Stagg Jr. is the younger brother to George T. Stagg bourbon, also made by Buffalo Trace, but its easier to obtain and usually just as good. Stagg Jr. is so unfairly under the radar, says Vacheresse. Whiskey drinkers are blown away when they are introduced to a few different batches side by side.
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Best Under $: Buffalo Trace Bourbon
Region: Kentucky | ABV: 45% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Anise, Oak.
Buffalo Traces eponymous bourbon really stands out from the pack in terms of flavor and price. If youre looking for a dependable bourbon for less than $50, give this one a try. Its unpretentious and flavorful, with an ABV that makes it stand up to being used in any cocktail. There are so many good bourbons from the distillery that are expensive and hard to find, and thats great for collectors. But for the average drinker, stick with this workhorse that is vibrant and bold.
Region: Kentucky | ABV: 45.2% | Tasting Notes: Honey, Marzipan, Chocolate.
Woodford Reserve launched its Double Oaked expression in 2012. After initial aging, this bourbon is further matured in barrels that are lightly toasted and then heavily charred. This gives the whiskey a full, almost smoky flavor that brings a cocktail to another level. It’s a full-bodied whiskey with loads of vanilla, caramel, fruit and spice notes, all of which are enhanced by their inclusion in the classic Old Fashioned, says Burns. Double Oaked also has a nice rich, creamy mouthfeel that works super well with a muddled sugar cube, well soaked with bitters.
A Black Whiskey Entrepreneur Will Help Bankroll Others Like Her
Fawn Weaver, the founder of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, has amassed a $50 million venture capital fund to seed minority-owned spirits businesses.
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In 2017 Fawn Weaver began bottling Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey as a passion project to honor Nearest Green, the formerly enslaved distiller who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey. Four years later, her bourbon has sold nearly 1.5 million bottles, according to a recent report in The Spirits Business.
Uncle Nearest is now the nations fastest-growing whiskey brand, according to the drinks-market analysis firm IWSR. Its a testament not just to the quality, but also to the power of an inclusive brand with a compelling story.
On Tuesday, Ms. Weaver, the companys founder and chief executive, went a step further toward diversifying an industry long dominated by white men, as the company announced the creation of a $50 million investment fund aimed at helping minority-owned spirits businesses grow. The announcement was timed to mark the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, in which a prosperous Black neighborhood in Tulsa, Okla., was destroyed and hundreds of residents were killed by a white mob.
I am looking for the brands that have the ability to be the next Uncle Nearest, she said during a recent video conference call with her staff. What that means to me is, they are not building to flip, theyre not building to sell. Theyre building to create generational wealth.
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Whiskey Review: Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey
For many years, the widely accepted version of how Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey got its start was that a preacher and farm owner in Lynchburg took a teenager named Jack Daniel under his wing in 1864 and taught him how to run the farms still. That experience allowed Daniel to found the now internationally recognized brand in 1866.
Yet, as the 150th anniversary approached in 2016, the distillery dove into its own history came out publicly with a new narrative that one of the preachers slaves, Nathan Nearest Green, was Daniels actual distilling mentor.
The revelation inspired a wave of articles delving into the role that slaves and blacks played in making whiskey in the United States most especially by The New York Times and more recently, a new bottling in honor of Greens contribution to whiskey: Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey.
A key driver of the new brands creation is Fawn Weaver. She was so inspired by Greens story, according to The Tennessean, that she launched the Nearest Green Foundation to promote his legacy, pulled together a coalition to launch the brand, and even bought the 313-acre Lynchburg farm where Green taught Daniel and worked together side by side for years afterward.
The founders later picked a historic, 270-acre horse farm in nearby Shelbyville to build their distillery, tasting room, and music venue, with the company wishing to respect Daniels legacy as well as honor Greens.
Best Sherry Cask Scotch: The Glendronach Allardice
Region: Highlands, Scotland| ABV: 46% | Tasting Notes: Dark chocolate, Walnut, Spice.
For at least part of the aging process, many Scottish distilleries use sherry casks in addition to ex-bourbon barrels to add bold, dried fruit and spice flavors to the whiskey. But some distilleries exclusively age their whiskey in these seasoned barrels, like The GlenDronach.
The 18-year-old Allardice may not be the most famous single malt in the world, but it is perhaps one of the most perfect, says Daniel Burns, lead bartender at Elixir Saloon in San Francisco. Its deep sherry notes and flavors of toasted nuts and jammy fruit last seemingly forever on the palate. The 18-year-old whiskey is matured entirely in Spanish Oloroso sherry butts, no color is added, and it delivers one of the best full-flavored sipping experiences.
“If you can get your hands on The GlenDronach 18-year-old Allardice, count yourself lucky. It’s such a beautiful example of what can happen when you age a single malt in sherry casks for nearly two decadeswonderfully rich flavors emerge.” Prairie Rose, Editor
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From Bourbons To Ryes To Single Malts Neat Or On The Rocks
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Best Sherry Cask Scotch: The GlenDronach Allardice at Drizly
Matured entirely in Spanish Oloroso sherry butts, the 18-year-old whiskey delivers one of the best full-flavored sipping experiences.
Best Canadian:Lot No. 40 Whisky at Drizly
Look for a little bit of spice here, but overall this is a smooth sipper with notes of cocoa and caramel that pop in the palate.
In the big world of whiskeys, there’s a bottle out there for every taste, price point and preference. Nowadays, you can find whiskey made in every corner of Americaindeed, every corner of the worldeach with its own specific character and identity. Whether youre looking for the perfect whiskey to pair with a cocktail, something really smoky and assertive, or a smooth sipper, weve got you covered.
Here are some of the best whiskeys you can get your hands on now.