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Reviews for 2017

December 2017 - 2017 Best Spirits, Mixers & RTD

December 2017 - 2017 Best Spirits, Mixers & RTD
This month's Spirits feature is the 2017 Best Spirits, Mixers, and RTD of the Year.

2017 Best Spirits, Mixers & RTD Reviews

Grand Marnier Quintessence Liqueur
98 points
$899
Clear golden amber color. Aromas of fresh orange zest, allspice, eucalyptus, hibiscus, galangal, and lemongrass with a round, vibrant, moderately sweet medium body and a peppery, very complex, long dark chocolate dipped tangerine peel, persimmon, dried apricot, black tea, lime oil, nutmeg, and underripe pineapple finish. A knockout, musky orange liqueur with a warm, tropical edge and persistent, elegant flavors.
Awards: 2017 Top 3 Best Spirits, 2017 Best Liqueur
Kavalan Solist Port Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky
98 points
$299.99
Dark mahogany color. Aromas and flavors of dried fruit melange, chocolate genache, port wine and ripe black cherries, and salted peanuts with a round, lively, fruity full body and a peppery, very complex, very long charred sweet corn, cinnamon, clove, black pepper, wassail, preserved hibiscus, rose jam, winter orange peel, and anise and soy sauce finish. An exemplary study in cask finished whiskey; superb depth, complexity, length and soul.
Awards: 2017 Top 3 Best Spirits, 2017 Best Whisky, 2017 Best Taiwanese Whisky
98 points $299.99
Sagatiba Preciosa Cachaça
98 points
$300
Medium amber color. Complex, spicy aromas and flavors of cherry pipe tobacco and white ash, honeyed fruit cake and fig bread, cedar cigar box, and spiced bananas and mango with a satiny, vibrant, fruity medium-to-full body and a warming, complex, very long roasted nuts and banana leaves, vanilla cola, sassafras and mint, exotic tropical fruit chutney, and leather and polished wood finish. A superb sipping cachaça that will be fantastic with cigars.
Awards: 2017 Top 3 Best Spirits, 2017 Best Cachaça
Drouet et Fils Paradis de Famille Hors dAge Cognac
97 points
$230
Bronze color. Aromas of sweet ripe mango, creme fraiche, fine leather, polished furniture, cherry fruit leather, and cured meats with a slightly chewy, crisp, dryish full body and a warming, subtle, very long aromatic barks, terra cotta, toasted crumpet, and roasted pumpkin seeds finish. A giant, chewy cognac for the most special of occasions.
Awards: 2017 Best Cognac, 2017 Best Luxury Cognac, 2017 Best Brandy
Midleton Dair Ghaelach Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey
97 points
$200
Medium amber color. Complex aromas of vanilla-almond and dandelion, lime leaf, blackberry and currant, men’s cologne, and pottery with a glycerous, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity full body and a peppery, massive, endless butterscotch drenched cherries and cola, fresh new Orleans praline and resin, spearmint, baby’s breath and tobacco leaf, allspice, and clove and nutmeg-kissed pastry finish. A gentleman’s club of a dram dripping with mystery, richness, and a perfect balance of power and grace.
Awards: 2017 Best Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey
Elephant Gin Elephant Strength Gin
97 points
$38
Clear color. Vegetal, spicy aromas of zucchini, steak seasoning, rose sachet and basil, and apple jacks and anise with a round, lively, fruity sweet medium body and a peppery, amusing, medium-length sweet lemon blossom, grilled nectarine, mint cream, and lilac water finish. A vibrant, very well-balanced over-proof gin that is surprisingly smooth, even neat.
Awards: 2017 Best Gin
Selection Olivier Blanc XO Extraordinaire Cognac
96 points
$180
Amber color. Elegant aromas of rich caramel, teriyaki sauce, roasted nut butter, fruit preserves, and anise with a round, lively, dryish medium-full body and a warming, complex, very long salted peanut skins, black tea, warm earthy spices, and menthol finish. An exceptionally balanced, powerful, and lengthy cognac for whiskey lovers.
Awards: 2017 Best XO Cognac
Luxardo Bitter Liqueur
96 points
$25
Bright red color. Herbal, citrusy aromas and flavors of gentian, wormwood, dried citrus, and toasted almond with a round, crisp, bittersweet medium-to-full body and a smooth, elegant, long orange blossom, rhubarb, black licorice, alpine herbs, and cherry pits finish. A complex bitter with a healthy dose of anise.
Awards: 2017 Best Bitter Liqueur
Grand Mayan Ultra-Aged Tequila
96 points
$89.99
Medium copper color. Sweet, oaky aromas of cinnamon rice pudding and black tea, jamaica drink, honey cake, and leather with a lightly tannic, crisp, fruity medium-to-full body and a peppery, compelling, medium-long chicory coffee, cinnamon-honey, jalepeno, and cola finish. A rich, honeyed and nectar-llke tequila.
Awards: 2017 Best Tequila, 2017 Best Extra Añejo Tequila
96 points $89.99
Ron Cartavio XO Rum
96 points
Brilliant mahogany color. Woody, elegant aromas of fine furniture, soft tropical fruit, leather wallet, and warm cinnamon roll with a lightly tannic, crisp, off-dry full body and a tingling, nuanced, long caramelized nut tart, mango flan, orange caramel sauce, and vanilla bean and nutmeg finish. A rich aged rum for sweet palates.
Awards: 2017 Top 2 Best Rum, 2017 Best Aged Rum
Banks 5 Island Rum
96 points
$29.99
Clear color. Grassy aromas and flavors of sugared dried pineapple, mint chutney, coriander seeds, and rendered fat with a satiny, lively, dryish light body and a peppery, complex, long allspice dram, banana peel, licorice candy, and spiced cake finish. Put this rich flavor bomb in tiki cocktails to add tremendous depth.
Awards: 2017 Top 2 Best Rum, 2017 Best White Rum
96 points $29.99
Hoodoo Chicory Liqueur Legba Reserve
95 points
$35
Nearly opaque mahogany color. Aromas of charred vanilla bean, pecan, roasted coffee, freshly charred oak, and dates with a round, vibrant, sweet medium-to-full body and a warming, complex, long warm spices, chocolate cookies, sage, hazelnut latte, and candied roasted root vegetables finish. A fantastic complex liqueur that will charm your guests and gussy up classic cocktails; superb.
Awards: 2017 Best Herb/Spice Liqueur
Wild Turkey Rare Breed Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
95 points
$44.99
Medium amber color. Nutty aromas and flavors of butter roasted peanuts, cherry-peach pastry, root beer float with coffee-banana ice cream, and sandalwood soap with a supple, vibrant, fruity full body and a warming, elegant, very long vanilla toffee, brown and peppery spices, and cola finish. A flavor-packed, thrusting, in-your-face bourbon that hits the senses like a velvet brick.
Awards: 2017 Best Bourbon Whiskey
95 points $44.99
Highland Park Valkyrie Single Malt Scotch
95 points
$79.99
Light gold color. Smoky aromas of burning cigarette paper, freshly baked biscuits, sweet honey and burnt orange, and shoe shop with a round, vibrant, fruity medium-to-full body and a warming, very complex, very long cherry jam, luxury leather, warm wet sand, and mango chutney and mixed peppercorns finish. A tempestuous storm of a whiskey that brings with it several lifetimes of flavor and intrigue.
Awards: 2017 Best Island Single Malt Scotch
95 points $79.99
ArteNOM Seleccion de 1414 Reposado Tequila
95 points
$54.99
Straw color. Complex, rustic aromas of cinnamon purple corn pudding, coriander and vanilla, cola and fresh succulents, and pistachio paste and stewed mango with a round, fruity medium body and an intricate, medium-long earthy ancho chile pepper and alfajores with cajeta finish. A natural and complex Reposado Tequila that will be perfect with dinner, neat.
Awards: 2017 Best Reposado Tequila
95 points $54.99
El Tesoro Añejo Tequila
95 points
$54.99
Pale golden green color. Attractive aromas of aloe vera, sweet orchard fruit, vanilla nougat, and singing minerality with a slightly chewy, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a tingling, intricate, very long citrus peels, earthy tomato and sage, dried white flowers, and sweet vanilla caramel with roasted sesame finish. Sip this añejo tequila neat or on the rocks and enjoy lush aromas and rich flavor with an outstanding, traveling finish.
Awards: 2017 Best Añejo Tequila
95 points $54.99
Bols Barrel Aged Genever
95 points
$44.99
Pale light gold color. Earthy, malty aromas and flavors of fruit and nut granola, juniper candy, rose petal jam and pineapple agua fresca, and cinnamon stick and suede with a round, bright, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a tingling, layered, long peach oatmeal with brown sugar and honey almond, caramel dipped salted pretzel, borjomi mineral water, and cocoa nib finish. A satisfying and rich genever for sipping and cocktails; endless possibilities.
Awards: 2017 Best Genever
95 points $44.99
Distillery No. 209 Sauvignon Blanc Barrel Reserve Gin
95 points
$59.99
Gold color. Herbal aromas and flavors of grilled oranges, juniper and ginger root, caramel sauce on whipped cream, and sage and cinnamon sticks with a lightly tannic, crisp, fruity medium body and a tingling, appealing, medium-length caramelized mango, sea salt, rose petal and cedar plank, and mixed peppercorn finish. A classic barrel aged gin for timeless cocktails.
Awards: 2017 Best Barrel Aged Gin
95 points $59.99
Stolichnaya Jalapeño Flavored Hot Vodka
95 points
$19.99
Best Buy
Clear color. Grassy, citrusy aromas and flavors of charred agave, royal lime cologne, toilet bowl cleaner, and fresh ginger with a silky, lively, bone-dry light-to-medium body and a hot, gigantic, very long matcha, sage, hot peppers, and tanned leather finish. Exotic spice and tanned-leather notes round out this spicy flavored vodka.
Awards: 2017 Best Flavored Vodka
95 points $19.99 Best Buy
Monteru Chardonnay Single Grape Brandy
94 points
$47.99
Brilliant light gold color. Attractive aromas and flavors of fresh pannetone, vanilla honey buttercream on graham cracker, nougat and candy corn, and banana custard pie with a silky, bright, fruity medium-to-full body and a tingling, intricate, long creamy toasted meringue, caramelized stone fruits, and delicate spices finish. A wonderfully creamy and effortlessly drinkable brandy that will appeal to wine drinkers.
Awards: 2017 Best Dark Brandy
94 points $47.99
THE SINGLETON 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
94 points
$79.99
Clear golden amber color. Fruity, spicy aromas of cherry pie crusts, nutmeg and ginger, brown sugar, and heather and leather with a velvety, lively, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a warming, intricate, long fresh parsley, meyer lemon and mint, potato skin and mocha, honey, and pear and black pepper finish. A soft yet rich and complex single malt for every palate.
Awards: 2017 Best Speyside Single Malt Scotch
94 points $79.99
Don Amado Arroqueno Mezcal
94 points
$89.99
Clear color. Herbal, spicy aromas and flavors of caramelized smoked bacon, bbq rub, smoked sea salt con gusano, and fancy pipe tobacco with a lightly tannic, lively, bittersweet medium-to-full body and a warming, very long charred ham and pineapple, pickled tropical fruits, and white cigar ash finish. A wonderfully complex and smoky mezcal with great savory spiciness.
Awards: 2017 Best Mezcal, 2017 Best Blanco Mezcal
94 points $89.99
Bacoo 5 Year Old Rum
94 points
$19.99
Best Buy
Light copper color. Candied, funky aromas and flavors of caramel, soft papaya, hearts of palm, and banana with an oily, soft, off-dry full body and a warming, interesting, long nut butter, toffee, and pineapple cake finish. A rich mouthfeel and desert-like flavors shine in this aged rum.
Awards: 2017 Best Dark Rum
94 points $19.99 Best Buy
Kinmen Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor 1958
93 points
Brilliant clear color. Aromas of plantain peel and flesh, galangal, banana nut bran muffin, water chestnut pressed linen, and grass with a satiny, lively, dry-yet-fruity full body and a warming, nuanced, very long zucchini bread with chestnut honey, pink peppercorns, nut brittle, and minerals finish. A vivacious and tasty baijiu for all occasions.
Awards: 2017 Best Baijiu
Kirishima Shuzo Akane Kirishima
93 points
$21.99
Best Buy
Brilliant clear color. Fruity, floral, attractive aromas and flavors of violet candies, rosewood, fresh panettone with lady grey tea, fruit stripe gum and fruit loops, and pear blossoms with a satiny, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a polished, nuanced, long tropical fruit salad, papaya-lychee milkshake, and asian coconut water finish. An ultra-floral botanical garden of a shochu with endless cocktail possibilities; mix as pisco or gin.
Awards: 2017 Best Shochu
93 points $21.99 Best Buy
Cognac Roullet VSOP Grande Champagne Cognac
93 points
$39
Best Buy
Amber color. Aromas of pear tart, coffee cake crust, sweet candied pecans, fruity olive, and agave nectar with a round, vibrant, fruity medium-to-full body and a seamless, distinctive, medium-long cigar wrapper, spice cake, caramel buttercream, and suede finish. A rich, satisfying, flavor-packed VSOP that over-delivers for it’s category.
Awards: 2017 Best VSOP Cognac
93 points $39 Best Buy
Merlet Créme de Poire Williams Liqueur
93 points
$20
Best Buy
Clear straw color. Fruity aromas of ripe Williams pear, dried pineapple, sweet vanilla bean, and honeycrisp apple with a round, crisp, sweet medium-to-full body and an interesting, medium-length banana soufflé, creme Anglaise, fresh grass, and lemon zest finish. A fruity, pure, shining example of pear liqueur.
Awards: 2017 Best Fruit Liqueur
93 points $20 Best Buy
Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Old Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
93 points
$41.99
Pale golden amber color. Perfumed aromas of peach chutney, charred oak, curry, and nutmeg and mace with a velvety, vibrant, dryish medium body and a warming, complex, medium-long rose jam, honeycomb cereal, black tea, rye crispbread, menthol, burlap sack, and caraway finish. A fantastically spicy rye with heaps of exotic flavors and satisfying length.
Awards: 2017 Best Rye Whiskey
93 points $41.99
Hillrock Estate Distillery Single Malt Whiskey
93 points
$100
Clear dark amber color. Smoky aromas of smoking rosewood, sandalwood and crisp apple, wild cherry and ripe melon, and horse saddle with a supple, crisp, dryish medium-to-full body and a tingling, delightful, medium-long cigar, charred vanilla bean, rackhouse, and baking spices finish. A deep-woods, smoky American Single Malt for sipping in a leather chair.
Awards: 2017 Best American Single Malt Whiskey
Jameson Signature Irish Whiskey
93 points
$40
Gold color. Aromas of marzipan, Spanish moss, honey covered wheat biscuit, and sweet peach and tallow with a round, vibrant, fruity sweet medium-to-full body and a complex, medium-long muesli with figs and dates, dried sage, pink peppercorn, and toasted almond cookie finish. A lengthy whiskey with great weight and viscosity; a stupendous sipper.
Awards: 2017 Best Irish Blended Whiskey
Dewar’s The Vintage 18 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky
93 points
$60
Bright gold color. Fruity aromas of candied orange peel and lemon, anise ripe berries, green pear cobbler, and banana bread with a satiny, fruity light-to-medium body and a silky, compelling, medium-length frosted cherry pop tart and stewed raisin, cinnamon dusted creme brulee, ground ginger with heather, and pimiento and honey sesame candy finish. A pleasing blended scotch that hits all the right notes.
Awards: 2017 Best Blended Scotch
Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum
93 points
$27.99
Amber color. Spicy, citrusy aromas and flavors of citrus peels, nutmeg, vanilla bean, and caramel with a round, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity medium body and an engaging, medium-long finish. A great spiced rum with natural flavor and a lasting finish.
Awards: 2017 Best Flavored Rum
93 points $27.99
Alexander Grappa di Cabernet
92 points
$39.99
Clear color. Rustic aromas of hay, green tea, dried mango, dried lime peel, and tobacco with a velvety, bright, dry-yet-fruity light body and a medium-long marzipan wrapped cherries, icing sugar, dried lemon peel, and bee pollen finish. A terroir-driven grappa; sip after a good meal.
Awards: 2017 Best Grappa
92 points $39.99
BOM BOM Nilli Vanilli Almondmilk Rum Liqueur
92 points
$21.99
Best Buy
Opaque creamy light beige color. Aromas of corn pops cereal, sweet cream, wafer cookie, and white chocolate with a creamy, crisp, sweet medium-to-full body and a tingling, medium-length rice milk and warm spices finish. A sweet, creamy liqueur that is effortlessly drinkable.
Awards: 2017 Best Cream Liqueur
92 points $21.99 Best Buy
Disaronno Originale Liqueur
92 points
$24.99
Amber color. Aromas and flavors of apricot stone, sour cherry skins, hazelnut latte, and zucchini with a glycerous, bright, sweet light-to-medium body and a sleek, brisk almond paste and lemon pepper finish. The perfect amaretto for sours.
Awards: 2017 Best Nut Liqueur
92 points $24.99
Forty Creek Barrel Select Canadian Whisky
92 points
$21.99
Best Buy
Golden amber color. Creamy aromas of flan, vanilla caramel sauce, orange zest, coconut shell and walnuts, and waffles with maple syrup with a soft, crisp, dryish light-to-medium body and a smooth, snappy olorosso sherry, roasted almonds, milk chocolate coated toffee, and jicama finish. A lovable creamy and vanilla forward Canadian whiskey to shoot or mix with friends.
Awards: 2017 Best Canadian Whiskey
92 points $21.99 Best Buy
Grand Royal Special Reserve Whisky
90 points
$9
Best Buy
Light golden amber color. Smoky aromas of charred corn silk, honey mesquite, caramel, and puffed cereal with a lean, crisp, dry-yet-fruity light body and a warming, captivating, medium-length perfectly charred corn elotes with all the fixins’, graham cracker, caramel corn, and barbecue brisket finish. A very appetizing, smoky whiskey for shooting and playful cocktails.
Awards: 2017 Best Corn Whiskey
90 points $9 Best Buy
Otake Dream Soju
89 points
$20
Best Buy
Brilliant clear color. Earthy aromas of bamboo leaf and shoot, wax, dusty sticky bun, and wet rattan with a silky, dryish light body and an even, engaging, medium-length rice and wax candy, tapioca, and hint of garlic shoot finish. A delicious and nuanced soju with attractive flavor and style.
Awards: 2017 Best Soju
89 points $20 Best Buy
Kohler Dark Chocolate Brandy
88 points
$34.99
Dark amber color. Confected aromas and flavors of chocolate berry nut bar and cocoa powder with a silky, soft, off-dry medium body and a tingling, appealing, medium-length creamy chocolate mousse and delicate spices finish. A nice chocolate flavored brandy that will be fun to mix with, or try on ice cream.
Awards: 2017 Best Flavored Brandy
88 points $34.99
Catch Fire Cinnamon Whisky
88 points
$14.99
Best Buy
Gold color. Spicy, sweet aromas and flavors of cinnamon candy, fallen lemon, and potpourri with a velvety, vibrant, moderately sweet light-to-medium body and a smooth, fleeting cucumber skin, apple seeds, and vanilla taffy finish. A fun and shootable cinnamon whiskey.
Awards: 2017 Best Flavored Whiskey
88 points $14.99 Best Buy
Great Lakes Distillery KinnicKinnic American Blended Whiskey
87 points
$35
Medium amber color. Curious, nutty aromas and flavors of fresh peanut butter and jelly sandwich, praline and beer nuts, suede, and dried apricot with a supple, bright, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a warming, interesting, medium-long toasted peach scone, nuts, and pumice finish. An interesting nutty, fruity blend for sipping or creative cocktails.
Awards: 2017 Best American Blended Whiskey
Shortcut: http://www.tastings.com/Calendar-Spirits/Review-2017-Best-Spirits-Mixers-RTD.aspx