Single malt whisk(e)y can be made anywhere. So can rye whiskey for that matter. But let’s stay on track with single malt. All that you really need is some barley, a process to malt it (or not), some mashing tanks, fermenters, stills, and space to stack up some barrels. There’s a lot more to it than that, but you get my point.
For this blind tasting, I grabbed ten pretty much brand new single malts whiskies from, well, all over really. Taste is the primary factor for my ranking of these based on sipping them blind, sure. But there’s also a bit of jostling for prominence. I know going in that the Japanese single malt is going to be hard to beat — that’s why I picked it. I also know that the Canadian single malt is going to struggle against this lineup. Can it breakthrough? Is the most expensive pour going to reign supreme? What about the oldest whisky, where will that fall? Age in single malt is far more of a defining factor than it is in, say, bourbon or Irish whiskey.
I’m probably overthinking all of this. Maybe it is all about simply what tastes the best. Anyway… Our lineup today is:
- Shelter Point Single Cask Whisky Canadian Single Malt (CAN)
- Lost Lantern 2022 Single Cask #15 Copperworks Distilling Washington Single Malt Whiskey Single Variety, Single Farm (USA)
- Old Line American Single Malt Double Oak Series Sherry Cask (USA)
- Starward Octave Barrels Single Malt Australian Whisky (AUS)
- Bruichladdich Organic Barley 2010 Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky (UK)
- Morris Australian Single Malt Whisky Muscat Barrels (AUS)
- The Dalmore Aged 14 Years (UK)
- Indri Single Malt Indian Whisky Trini, The Three Wood (IN)
- The Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky Spanish Oak 2022 Edition (JP)
- MaltyVerse First Edition 30-Year-Old Single Cask Whisky (UK)
There’s a lot to get into, so let’s get going.
Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Scotch Whisky Posts of The Last Six Months
- All Of Johnnie Walker’s Core Whisky Line, Blind Tasted And Ranked
- Johnnie Walker Vs. Chivas: Which Scotch Whisky Brand Will Win Our Blind Test?
- The Winning Scotch And Bourbon Whiskeys From This Year’s Ascot Awards
- World Class ‘Sipping’ Single Malt Whiskies Under $100, Ranked
- Peated Scotch Blind Taste Test: Our Professional Taster Picks His Earthy Favorites
Part 1: The Tasting
The nose is full of butterscotch to the point of diacetyl (which feels like a fault in the cuts used for aging) next to malty crackers, a hint of raisin, and some honey. The palate holds onto the diacetyl with a note of tannic oak, apple skins, soft brown spices, and sour red wine. The end has a slight leatheriness with a honey malt finish.
Sour grapes and vanilla malts mingle on the nose with a hint of white pepper and dried lavender next to a touch of almost sweet cinnamon and nutmeg. The palate leans into the sweet spices and cuts some apple saltwater taffy, creating a sweet and spiced apple cider next to old wicker and a twinge of vanilla lurking in the background. The end has a whisper of dried lavender braided with old wicker and apple tobacco leaves next to a hint of creamed honey.
This is much nicer (and way better built) than the last pour. It’s very nice overall.
Caramel jumps out on the nose with a touch of salt and burnt toffee next to soft brown sugar, old leather, and prunes with a whisper of spiced tobacco. The palate is very plummy with plenty of buttery brown sugar and cinnamon clumps (like fancy restaurant butter balls) next to a hint of almond and rum-raisin. The end leans toward the almond shells with a touch of vanilla tobacco wrapped up in old leather and cedar bark.
Again, this is way better than the first pour. It’s nicely made and has a nice depth. It’s very bourbon-heavy on the nose and palate though, which is fine but not very “malty.”
The nose has a mix of silky chocolate-dipped toffees next to rum-raisin, sharp cinnamon bark, tart red berries, and a thick braid of dried sweetgrass, cedar, and peach tobacco. The palate is kind of like blackberry pie filling on top of a warm buttery biscuit with a bowl of creamy vanilla sauce on the side for dippin’. The end goes back to that dry braid from the nose with a sense of huckleberry, firewood bark in black dirt, and well-worn leather gardening gloves.
This is the best pour so far. Where it’ll land (since I’m not even halfway through) is another story.
The nose is soft like soft-serve vanilla ice cream next to green apple skins, pear candy, and wet straw bails. The taste is malty and earthy with a sense of buttery brioche next to orchard wood with a hint of moss under apricot jam, stewed pear, and some saffron. The end has a malted vanilla milkshake vibe next to wet sweetgrass and a hint more of that sweet pear throughline.
This was fine. It didn’t really grab me. It’s still about a million times better than pour number one though.
This opens fairly tannic with a sense of burnt leaves and very dried dates, raisins, and prunes next to blackstrap molasses, darkly roasted espresso beans covered in dark AF chocolate, and a hint of salted caramel smoothness under it all. The palate leans into dark caramel malts with plenty of cinnamon bark, nutmeg, and nutshell next to a soft vanilla chewing tobacco. The end is malty and kind of tannic with a burnt orange next to very dried prunes.
This was a lot of “dark” and “burnt.” Still better than the first pour though! At least this had a hard-boiled character and was enticing enough that I wanted to go back to it.
The nose opens with a sense of subtle citrus — almost bitter orange and lemon — next to salted black licorice, caramel malted ice cream, toffee candies, and marzipan cake covered with poppy seeds and vanilla wafers. The palate is pure sticky toffee pudding fresh out of the oven with a little bit of orange zest and flaked salt next to black-tea-soaked dates, sweet cinnamon, fresh nutmeg, rum-soaked caramel sauce, and a dollop of brandy butter with a twist of dark chocolate nibs. The end leans into the dates and marzipan with a touch of spiced fig jam and prunes dipped in creamy yet very dark salted chocolate.
This is so polar opposite of the last pour (and miles beyond most of this panel).
The nose greets you with a hint of Earl Grey next to rich toffee with a nice sense of apricot jam with a line of cinnamon and clove next to creamed honey and a touch of tangerine rinds and passion fruit-infused malts. The palate opens with a sweet oakiness next to vanilla pods before a hint of bruised peach arrives and slowly boils down to fresh mango, seared pineapple, and a hint of pomelo pith. The end dries out toward rummy macerated peaches and mango with a hint of dried banana leaves and warm brown spices.
This is delightful but very fruity, which all works well but does sort of make it feel like an old rum at times.
This is dank on the nose with a mix of old dates packed into an old wooden box next to tart dried cranberries, lush and meaty prunes, and a lavish sense of stewed plums with dark winter spices that are cut with a hint of forest mushroom and thick green moss. The palate leans into thick and moist sticky toffee pudding with a hint of Pekoe tea, dates, and spicy cinnamon next to creamy eggnog, creamy salted caramel, dashes of orange oils, and dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans with a hint of sourness to them. The end is luxuriously smooth with a deep mix of bitter orange and espresso next to creamed marzipan and chocolate next to orchard wood dryness and a fleeting sense of powdered mushrooms and maybe a hint of mashed red berries.
This is just f*cking incredible. Like “best whiskey of the year” good.
The opens with a dried fruit salad brimming with brandy-soaked dried cherries with a hint of tartness to them, rum-soaked raisins, stewed plums, Earl Grey-soaked dates, and some prunes swimming in cinnamon syrup spiked with cloves, allspice, and star anise next to a hint of oakiness by way of an old dirt cellar floor. The palate leans into the dried fruit while layering in mulled wine spices with a sour yet sweet edge next to a hint of minced meat pie next to Christmas nut cake with plenty of fatty nuts and a hint of fig pudding. The end opens with a hint of red peppercorn spice next to dried vanilla pods, a twinge of date pits, and a whisper of huckleberry tobacco leaves.
And again, f*cking great. This is so nuanced and delicious. It’s old, sure, but that doesn’t get in the way of the subtle profile.
Part 2: The Ranking
10. Shelter Point Single Cask Whisky Canadian Single Malt — Taste 1
Average Price: $90
This British Columbia whisky is made with malted barley grown in BC. That juice then spends a few years aging near the sea before a single barrel was hand-selected, proofed, and bottled.
This was faulty from the jump. The diacetyl and ethanol dominated the nose and palate. Hard pass, unfortunately.
9. Morris Australian Single Malt Whisky Muscat Barrels — Taste 6
Average Price: $85
This whisky from Down Under is made with 100 percent locally grown malted barley in the mash. The juice is aged in Muscat wine barrels from local wineries for three years. Those barrels are then batched and proofed down with local pure water from the nearby Snowy Mountains.
This was very tannic and I liked it for having its own vibe. The only reason it’s so low is that it’ll be a lot for someone looking for a softer experience on the palate.
8. Bruichladdich The Organic Barley 2010 Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky — Taste 5
Average Price: $129
These special releases from Islay’s Bruichladdich are all about highlighting specific barley farms/farmers. In this case, the barley used is specifically from Mid Coul Farms in Inverness, Scotland, was harvested in 2009, and was distilled into this whiskey in 2010. After eight years mellowing next to the sea at Bruichladdich’s warehouse in ex-bourbon casks, the whiskey was vatted, proofed, and bottled.
This was nice but a little light for me today. I think I’d probably build this into a cocktail before I’d sip on it, though it feels like adding a rock will help it bloom in the glass a bit.
7. Lost Lantern 2022 Single Cask #15 Copperworks Distilling Washington Single Malt Whiskey Single Variety, Single Farm — Taste 2
Average Price: $100
This super rare release of only 225 bottles is all Washington state in a bottle. The juice is mashed from 100 percent Baronesse malted barley from Joseph’s Grainery in Colfax, Washington. The whiskey was loaded into a single 53-gallon barrel and left to settle for three years in Seattle before it was picked and bottled as-is.
This is where we start to get into the good stuff. This is very nice but a little milder than the rest of the list. That said, this over a rock would be pretty damn nice. So grab one of those bottles if you can.
6. Old Line American Single Malt Double Oak Series Sherry Cask — Taste 3
Average Price: $65
This Baltimore whiskey is made with 100 percent malted barley — Premium 2 Row Malt and Deep Roast Malt — before going into new American oak for exactly “3.6 years” (their metric). Once those barrels hit that sweet spot, they’re vatted and then re-barreled into ex-Olorosso sherry casks for a final ten-month rest.
This is a lush and easy-to-drink whiskey. I think I rated it a little higher (but also lower) due to it really tasting like a sweet American bourbon. If you’re looking for a bridge from bourbon to American single malt, this is it.
5. Indri Single Malt Indian Whisky Trini, The Three Wood — Taste 8
This whisky starts off with Six-Row malted barley grown in Rajasthan. The whisky is then filled into three types of casks, ex-bourbon, ex-wine, and ex-sherry casks, and left to rest through extreme temperature shifts from season to season, ranging from 120+F in the summer to freezing in the winter. That, in turn, allows for a lot of expansion and contraction of the wood, which lets the spirit have more direct contact and rest with/from the wood.
This had a hint of butterscotch on the nose that was more like candy than burnt butter, which was nice. Then there was all the fruit. It was truly complex and built to a natural crescendo. That all said, I need to take way more time with this. It’s enticing but so fruity.
4. Starward Octave Barrels Single Malt Australian Whisky — Taste 4
Average Price: $80
This new whisky from Austrailia really leans into the old-school red wine tradition from Down Under. The 100 percent malted barley juice is aged in old shiraz red wine barrels that held Yalumba The Octavious from the oldest wine-making family in Australia. Those barrels were dumped in 2018 and Starward filled them with their whisky. Three years later, those barrels were vatted and just proofed with a little local water before bottling as-is.
This was just a nice and easy sipper.
3. The Dalmore Aged 14 Years — Taste 7
Average Price: $110
This Highland single malt is classic malted whisky from The Dalmore that spends 14 years mellowing. Then The Dalmore’s Master Whisky Maker Gregg Glass hand-selects specific barrels for vatting and re-barreling in very rare Pedro Ximénez casks from the House of Gonzalez Byass in Spain. Once Glass deems those barrels just right, they’re vatted, proofed, and bottled exclusively for the U.S. market.
And here we go! This was fantastic. It’s deep and fun. The only reason it’s not a little higher is that it was not as mind-blowing as the next two.
2. MaltyVerse First Edition 30-Year-Old Single Cask Whisky — Taste 10
Average Price: $399
The first-ever whisky released as a comic book — and available in the U.S. right now — is way more than just a gimmick. The juice in this bottle is a super-rare 30-year-old whisky from the now-shuttered Cambus Distillery in Scotland. That means that you’re never seeing this whisky again. The actual juice was aged for three decades in first-fill ex-sherry butts (huge 500-liter barrels) and then bottled in 2021 with a touch of proofing water.
This was crazy good. It’s supple and subtle. The only reason it’s not first is that the next pour is a tiny bit more well-rounded. But that’s me reaching hard for something to nitpick.
1. The Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky Spanish Oak 2022 Edition — Taste 9
Average Price: $5,120
This single malt is all about marrying meticulously made Japanese whisky with Spanish oak. The malt whisky is aged exclusively in oak from Northern Spain. After the flavor profile hits the exact right depth, the barrels are vatted and proofed with a dash of water for bottling.
This is one of the best whiskies of 2022. Full f*cking stop.
Part 3: Final Thoughts
Yeah, I know. The expensive and rare stuff really cleaned up in this tasting. Not everything can be about value for money. Sometimes you have to accept that great whiskey is, well, great … and gonna cost ya.
Seriously though, that Yamazaki is so good it’s kind of painful that it’s so rare and fleeting. That could be my forever pour. It’s just delicious from top to bottom and hits every note so true. It’s like hearing Daniel Barenboim play Beethoven’s sonatas or watching Jake Kiszka play a 20-minute face-melting guitar solo for the first time with every sip.
In the end, you’ll be set with any of the bottles between number nine and three too. Just avoid that Shelter Point bottle at all costs.