Whether you prefer it neat, on the rocks or with a refreshing splash of water, whiskey has long been the preferred tipple of the weary globetrotter. The age old drink has experienced something of a revival in recent years – similar to the micro brewery explosion of the ‘80s and ‘90s – with independent distilleries across the world offering handcrafted quality products and unique twists on whiskey’s best-known forms.
That’s why Elite Traveler has enlisted the help of writer and expert Ian Buxton, author of 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die, to create a list of ten of the best whiskeys in the world today.
Ian became a Keeper of the Quaich in 1991, the highest honor that is conferred by the Scotch Whisky industry, and is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Distillers. Probably the most diverse spirit on the market, the whiskey enthusiast can avail of countless options – from a peaty barley-based Scotch to a spicy Rye whiskey or a sweetly syrupy bourbon from the sun soaked cornfields of Kentucky.
Distillation processes have come a long way since the spirit emerged in monastic Ireland in the thirteenth century and the drink we know and love today is virtually unrecognizable as a far smoother, flavorsome and refined affair. Similar to beer, whiskey comes from fermented grain – but in the case of this luxury spirit, the grain is then distilled to create a more intensely textured and flavored drink with a higher alcohol volume.
As any whiskey connoisseur worth his salt will know, there are limitless factors that contribute to a single barrel’s unique character – from the type and mixture of grain used, to the length of time the liquid spends casked and the kind of containers in which it is aged. While rarity and price tag do not always mean one whiskey is necessarily ‘better’ than another, the production of a ‘small batch’ does inevitably create the opportunity be one of a select group to have ever experienced a specific whiskey’s unique properties. Neither does the number of years the silky liquid has spent aging in casks automatically denote superiority – although it does naturally result in a darker, heavier liquid and a stronger flavored, more complex whiskey.
There are some general guidelines though, our expert agrees, which include the quality of the raw ingredients used, the stills and casks involved in the distillation process and the purity of the whiskey itself. More often than not however, it is the distiller’s investment in their own product that allows one whiskey to stand head and shoulders above the rest and the list that follows is ten of the very best across the globe – from traditional whiskey producing countries such as Ireland, Scotland and the US to the more unexpected, including Taiwan.
Read on to find out Elite’s Best Whiskeys in the World.