Nick Hall

15 Best Whiskies in the World for 2021 | Man of Many

Held in Estes Park, Colorado outside of its regular Chicago homeland, the International Whisky Competition judged a number of big-name releases from the spirits community. After a bling tasting and judging process, the panel of experts named the top-ranking drams for this year. Here is a list of the top 15 whiskies for 2021, according to the International Whisky Competition.

Best Whiskies for 2021

Named for the loch that Ardbeg sources its pure water from, Uigeadail is a strong, peat driven whiskey with notes of smoke, leather, dried fruits and walnut oil. Courtesy of maturation in both old bourbon and sherry casks, the Ardbeg Uigeadail has a flavour of Christmas pudding, glazed smoked ham with a burst of clove-driven spice on the finish.

1. Ardbeg Uigeadail – 95.9 Pts (Islay, Scotland)

The seventh release in the limited edition The Bond House No. 1 Collection, Glenmorangie Vintage 1997 has spent about 10 years in ex-bourbon casks before a portion was transferred to Château Montrose red wine casks, from the Saint-Estèphe appellation of Bordeaux. It is bottled at 43% ABV and is available as of June, 2021.

2. Glenmorangie Vintage 1997 – 95.1 Pts (Highland, Scotland)

Last year’s winner in this very competition, Dewar’s Double Double 32-Year-Old proved it wasn’t a fluke, finishing in third spot for the Best Whisky 2021 category. This blended whisky is finished in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, bringing rich, ripe treacle notes with a hint of smokiness and a silky smooth finish.

3. Dewar’s Double Double 32 Year Old – 95 Pts (Scotland)

The first of many Kavalan whiskies to make the top 15, this release is rather artsy. According to the brand, this peated whisky from Taiwan bears the fruits of labour for both Kavalan and renowned artist Paul Chiang and the seeds for new growth.

4. Kavalan Artist Series: Paul Chiang Peated Malt Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky – 94.6 Pts (Taiwan)

This single cask whisky was created to celebrate a milestone by Kavalan owners King Car. Aged in ‘Highly Exclusive” red wine casks, this limited edition signifies 40 years of the King Car Company. Matured in a single red wine cask and bottled at 56.3% abv with only, a couple of dozen bottles will be released in Australia.

5. King Car 40th Anniversary Selected Wine Cask Matured Single Malt Whisky – 94 Pts (Taiwan)

A collaboration between whisky lovers, Black Bourbon Society’s Maker’s Mark Private Selection: Recipe 2 was made through the Maker’s Mark Private Selection program, which allows retail partners to “make their own Maker’s” by finishing fully-matured cask strength Maker’s Mark Bourbon.

6. Black Bourbon Society’s Maker’s Mark Private Selection: Recipe 2. – 93.8 Pts (Kentucky, USA)

Another winning release from Kavalan, Vinho is fully matured in used American oak wine barrels that have been toasted and re-charred in a way that the brand claims brings out fruity vanilla notes from the whisky. Add to that a wood overlaid that matches with a delicate background of complex fruitiness and you’ve got a solid release.

7. Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky – 93.7 Pts (Taiwan)

A super-smooth and easy to drink blended whisky, Dewar’s Double Double 21-Year-Old has been finished in Oloroso Sherry casks, giving the whisky “subtle notes of cinnamon and ripe vine fruits with a silky smooth finish”.

8. Dewar’s Double Double 21-Year-Old – 93.6 Pts (Scotland)

Following up their Best in Show whisky award, Ardbeg’s Traigh Bhan 19-Year-Old also scored highly. A permanent addition to the Ardbeg stable, Traigh Bhan is released in much smaller quantities than the rest of the core range, with each batch intended to be slightly different. The 2020 edition continues to focus on ex-bourbon and Oloroso sherry matured whiskies, offering notes of “fresh lime, roasted tea leaves and smoked pineapple”.

9. Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19 Year Old (Batch 2) – 9.4 Pts (Scotland)

Described as the culmination of a lifetime’s experience of Glenmorangie’s whisky creators, Signet is a fusion of some of the oldest and rarest whiskies from the stable’s archives aged in designer casks. According to Glenmorangie, Signet “tantalises with sizzling spices, before the voluptuous texture of rich chocolate and dark intense aromatic coffee create a veritable velvet explosion of taste”.

10. Glenmorangie Signet – 93.1 Pts (Highland, Scotland)

Another winner, Kavalan Solist Sherry is matured in Oloroso sherry casks in special editions, with each release is bottled by hand at the distillery. Better yet, this Taiwanese whisky is crafted with no colouring or chill-filtration, making it as pure as it gets.

11. Kavalan Solist (Oloroso) Sherry Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky – 93 Pts (Taiwan)

A favourite from one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland, Kilchoman’s Machir Bay is matured in a combination of both Bourbon and Sherry casks, creating a well-balanced combination of rich tropical fruit, peat smoke, light vanilla and intense sweetness.

12. Kilchoman Machir Bay – 92.97 Pts (Islay, Scotland)

Arberg returns to the winner’s table with An Oa, a whisky that is described as “singularly rounded”, thanks to its time spent in the newly established bespoke oak Gathering Vat. This process allows the spirit to familiarise itself with whiskies from several cask types – including; sweet Pedro Ximenez; spicy virgin charred oak; and intense ex-bourbon casks, amongst others.

13. Ardbeg An Oa – 92.87 Pts (Islay, Scotland)

Aberlour a’bunadh is a single batch single malt that is sourced exclusively from the Speyside region. Straight from the cask without chill-filtration and alcohol reduction, this whisky is heavy-bodied an not for the faint heart.

14.  Aberlour A’Bunadh – 92.73 Pts (Speyside, Scotland)

Rounding out the top 15 was another old favourite. Glenmorangie’s Quinta Ruban 14-year-old is an intense non-filtered single malt is initially matured in Bourbon casks. The spirit is then extra matured or ‘finished’ in Port casks, to create the chocolate, minty notes of The Quinta Ruban.

15. Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 14-Year-Old – 92.67 Pts (Highland, Scotland)

Alongside the top 15 announcement, the International Whisky Competition also outlined a number of key industry accolades. No surprises here, but Ardbeg managed to clean up, securing three of the five major prizes after a stunning year and vintage release. Here is a list of the major award winners from the International Whisky Competition 2021 event.

Major Winners

An annual event that generally takes place in Chicago, the International Whisky Competition sees whiskies blind tasted and rated by a professional tasting panel, the results of which are then used to produce tasting notes for an International Whisky Guide. Under the International Whisky Competition 2021 guidelines, judges blind-tasted, judged and scored each whisky individually for eight minutes based on a select series of criteria. These included:

International Whisky Competition 2021

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