The Top 10 $150 Whiskies!
10 delicious whiskies around the $150 mark and that we feel are equally at home in the whisky glasses of beginners and old dogs alike and represent a particularly good value right now.
For most of us, $150 is no small amount of money to spend on a bottle of the good stuff. But if you know what's good (and what you like), there are plenty of great options out there for whisky that is well worth the money in this price range! Here are a few of our favourites that quite easily make the cut!
GlenDronach 15 Revival - Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The GlenDronach is the 'little' Highland (not a Speyside of course - my bad!) distillery that could (when it comes to delivering sherry bombs) and would feature very highly in most sherry bomb whisky drinkers’ hearts by our reckoning. Having enjoyed much success and acclaim since its resurrection and direction under Billy Walker and its subsequent acquisition by Brown-Forman, The GlenDronach appears to be going from strength to strength under the guidance of its current Master Blender Rachael Barrie.
The GlenDronach 15 Revival is currently enjoying it's second 'revival' after demand outstripped supply during the initial run from 2009-2016. It has since re-joined us in 2018, to the relief of a lot of fans (us included obvs!).
Nose: Is a tale of sweet and tart *ahem*. Ripe dark cherries, toasted walnuts and orange peel are offset by slightly tart wood tannin and a smell like sherry that's been left in the glass overnight.
Palate: A bit drier than remembered from the previous releases, but still very generous in its toasted nuts / Christmas cake fruit and spice and slightly bitter chocolate and oak finishing combo.
Ledaig 18 - Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Happily, relatively easy to find these days, this peated expression from the Tobemory distillery on the Isle of Mull, proves that producers NOT on Islay are just as capable of making seriously deranged but delicious Whisky using barley smoked with super old dead stuff. Big, funky and entirely its own thing (the George Clinton of Whisky). You have been warned! :)
Ledaig 18 is bottled at 46.3% ABV and is listed as a small batch, Spanish sherry wood finished whisky.
Nose: Christmas cake, seaweed, chilli flakes and freshly cracked black pepper
Palate: Coffee, Christmas pudding fruit, pipe tobacco, white pepper and tiger balm(!?!?!) - in a word? *drool*
Redbreast 12 Cask Strength - Single Malt Irish Whiskey
The lower ABV non-cask strength Redbreast 12 made our around $100 roundup with ease, being one of favourite Irish whiskies, full stop. Well (luckily for us whisky nutters) Midleton distillery who make Redbreast have graced us with a cask strength iteration which is now officially available in Australia (although it was possible, but more difficult to find, prior to this).
Nose: A lot more prominent sherry cask notes in the nose vs the regular 12. Sultanas, baking spices and apple pie filling are joined by a buttercream icing note, on top of the regular 12 aromas of rye bread, malt, creaming soda and white pepper.
Palate: The unctuous, oily texture present in the regular 12 is dialled up to 11 here, as are the sherry cask adjacent flavours of chocolate, orange peel heavy marmalade and peppered spicy stewed figs. The malt presents as more of a buttery shortbread in this expression. Seriously one of the best regular release official bottlings of Irish whiskey, period.
Iniquity Batch 016 - Australian Single Malt Whisky
Iniquity are an Adelaide based distillery with a serious pedigree in distilling (and a bunch of downright awesome people) with an ever-growing number of converts.
Iniquity Batch 16 is one of the latest 'regular' strength bottlings at 46% ABV and is a marriage of six casks comprised of both American and French Oak, previously holding a mix of port, sherry, red wine and peated bourbon wood. This has been a serious contender for breakfast whisky of the year here at TWL :)
Nose: More orchard fruit upfront on the nose than recent batches. Definite Apricots, lemon zest, boiled peach, and dark plum and cherry mixed with the typical house notes of ecualyptus and butter menthols.
Palate: Same as the nose in that it features a lot of trademark Iniquity flavours. Boiled Christmas pudding, simmered stone fruits (more tart than sweet) and a caramel/sherry note that’s unmistakeably Iniquity. Caramel takes over and is joined by peanut brittle, menthol and a dry sherry finish.
Black Gate Solera - Australian Single Malt Whisky
It's the worlds worst kept secret that we love Black Gate whisky here at TWL. Something we love even more is being able to recommend a whisky to friends, or decide to buy another bottle and to be able to get our hot little hands on it without having to dive deep into the rabbit hole of chasing single casks. Enter stage left Black Gate Solera!
In addition to the single cask and small batch releases that have been the norm up till now Black Gate have introduced a Solera system in the interests of producing a consistent, easy to obtain bottle of their brilliance :) The first release is from their Tawny barrels, but an Apera/Sherry one is also underway as well so things just keep getting better and better!
Nose: More fruit forward than previous Port expressions, a delicious cross of dark muscat grapes and raspberries and blackberries, a strong backbone of malt biscuits, and the Black Gate signature hint of well used farm machinery (diesel, grease, grass) and an enticing toffee sweetness.
Palate: Raspberry, plum jam and fig paste smeared on buttered oatcake with a hint of tart rasperries and a rich burnt toffee note underpinned by the slighest taste of wood smoke (even though this is unpeated). If this is the sign of things to come from this regular release, sign us up!
Ardbeg Uigeadail - Single Malt Scotch Whisky
A huge hit around the TWL ‘Office’ Uigeadail is a perennial favourite with its combination of well-balanced old sherry cask influenced ‘Ardbegness’ and generous and befitting higher than standard ABV.
Uigeadail (Oog-a-dal) as a name (besides being fun to say once you hear someone else say it first) is a rough derivation of ‘Dark and Mysterious Place’ in Scots Gaelic, referring to the Loch where Ardbeg draws its water.
Nose: Linseed oil, old dusty/damp book, dark cocoa nibs, Mildura sultanas and freshly ground dark Kenyan coffee beans with dark demerara sugar and creosote soaked rags.
Palate: One of the more malt forward Ardbegs (a key in the flavour balancing act), beautifully complimented by dark rich sherry soaked fruit cake, honey, jersey caramels and slightly charred honey glazed ham. One of the best mouth feels, period.
Deanston 18 - Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Deanston distillery is a stablemate of the perennial favourite here at TWL, Bunnahabhain, but unlike the B-word distillery, Deanston is based in the Highlands region on the banks of the River Teith, not far from Stirling. Deanston is one of the few remaining distilleries in Scotland that does not utilise any computers or technological shortcuts in its production process, is organic certified (by the Organic Food Federation) and is energy self-sufficient thanks to its onsite hydro-power generation (mainly thanks to its past life as a cotton mill).
Deanston 18 first hit the market in 2015 and is presented here at 46.3% and matured in ex-bourbon hogsheads and finished in first fill ex-bourbon casks.
Nose: Honey flavoured Tiny Teddy biscuits, fresh cut, ripe honeydew melon and an faint earthy/damp flint stone smell in there as well.
Palate: Warm citrus, ginger and honey tea on the tongue, pleasingly oily with more malt presence on the finish.
Millstone 100 Rye - Dutch Rye Whisky
Also made by Zuidam (see above) this time we are looking at the Millstone 100 Rye. The 100 as it turns out is VERY significant. This is a 100% rye, aged for 100 months and bottled at 100 proof (American proof - 50% ABV). Obviously this was conceived originally as a marketing gimmick, but what do you know? It worked...as in it resulted in a great rye whisky (and a purchase so it worked on both levels I guess?)
Nose: Very (rye) Old-Fashioned cocktail on the nose, if the Old Fashioned was made with violet infused sugar cubes and honey syrup, stirred with an old sandalwood wooden spoon. The rye itself has the typical white pepper and spicy/prickly floral notes as expected also.
Palate: Starts off as a typical dry and spicy rye but then the sweetness promised by the violet sugar cubes and honey syrup notes in the nose arrive to balance out and complete the Old-Fashioned cocktail illusion. The extra bit of alcohol works well and helps deliver the intense flavours. The finish tends towards more traditional rye notes of pepper and sourdough.
Noah's Mill - Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Noah's Mill is a label and whiskey produced by Willett Distilling - the on again off again Kentucky distillers who have both sourced and distilled whiskey to go into their releases.
Willet once again commenced distilling in 2012 and the spirit produced in house has seen the light of day, bottled under the Willet Family Estate label, in both bourbon and rye forms.
Noah's Mill on the other hand, is a sourced release, meaning the whiskey was distilled by one or more distilleries not owned by Willet. The previous batch of Noah's Mill had a 15 year old age statement which is has been removed since, with rumours putting the juice in this more recent non-age stated release as a blend of 4 to 20 year old bourbon (from a Kentucky bourbon distillery/distilleries).
Bottled at 114.3 Proof, which is around 57.1% ABV in local parlance, this is definitely NOT your average bourbon.
Nose: Noses like a young spicy bourbon with a fair amount of cinnamon, nutmeg and freshly cut hay upfront on the nose, followed by more subtle sour dough and vanilla/sugar/toffee sweetness. Surprisingly easy on the nostrils despite the ABV.
Palate: Very warm on the tongue with prominent cinnamon and nutmeg flavours featuring in nice proportion with bruised mint, burnt caramel and slightly bitter toasted walnuts. Finish is decent for a bourbon with a drying tannin component.
Springbank 15 - Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Produced by one of the few remaining family owned distilleries in Scotland, all the way out in Campbeltown, Springbank are the darlings of whisky nerd circles around the world, due in part to their unique flavour profile (oily, briny) and old school production methodology.
The Springbank 15 is a regular expression released in relatively large, seemingly annual, batches and is comprised of lightly peated spirit aged in predominantly bourbon casks with some sherry casks added. Bottled at 46% ABV.
Nose: Butter menthols, tropical tinned fruits, lighter notes of toffee, and dried leather.
Palate: Good length. Starts out sweet and light with the fruit coming through, followed by a slight salty tang and a rich oak/tannin spice that hides almost all the smoke.
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