When looking for the best whiskeys to stock on your own shelves, it’s always wise to listen to people who make their livings from talking about and tasting the stuff. In that vein, Jackie James has carved out a sizeable following as an educator and whiskey consultant thanks to tireless efforts to learn the trade and taste a wide variety of whiskeys from all over the world. So as 2022 comes to a close, we reached out to James to find out what really stood out to her in the whiskey world in 2022.
James was kind enough to name her five favorite pours of whiskey in 2022 below. She added her own tasting notes as well, giving you chance to pique your own interest and maybe find a bottle or two to ring in 2023 with (make sure to click those prices to find a bottle in your area).
Let’s dive right in and see which bottles spoke to whiskey pro Jackie James this year! (All words below by Jackie James.) — Zach Johnston, UPROXX Drink’s Editor
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The Balvenie French Oak 16 Years
Average Price: $199
I wasn’t sure if this was perfume or whisky. The Balvenie French Oak 16 smells so good and tastes even better! Finished in Pineau French Oak casks for the first time in the distillery’s 130-year history, this elegant and innovative single malt is a perfect addition to the William Grant & Sons family.
Nose: Light floral perfume, grass, nature, honey, and apple.
Palate: Citrus, ginger, candied fruit, honey, and vanilla.
Light, refreshing, and approachable, The Balvenie French Oak 16 pairs perfectly with a poolside, relaxing day with great friends, storytelling, and sunshine.
Very Olde St. Nick Estate Reserve Summer Rye Cask Strength
Average Price: $179
Where is the rye from? What’s the mash bill? Just like Santa Claus himself, the mystery and magic behind Very Olde St. Nick make it even more exciting and fun to sip.
Nose: Snickerdoodle cookies, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
Palate: Strawberries, caramel, honey, and vanilla.
With the perfect amount of spice, magic, and mystery, VOSN is truly Christmas in a bottle and my absolute favorite holiday pour.
Blackened x Willett Rye Madeira Finish Cask Strength
Average Price: $160
Distilled by Willett and finished and bottled by Blackened, this unique and bold whiskey is aged for an average of 6.5 years in white American oak casks. After the whiskeys are married together, they are finished in Madeira casks for up to 14 weeks and bottled at cask strength — all while the barrels vibrate to the low hertz frequencies of Metallica.
Nose: Brown sugar, corn, vanilla, and mint.
Palate: Raspberries, honey, caramel, and cinnamon.
Finish: Long finish.
This edgy, bold, and fun whiskey definitely leaves an impression and is perfectly paired with anything adventurous, rocking out, and Metallica.
Bardstown Bourbon Company Collaboration Series Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished In Plantation Rum Barrels
Average Price: $159
This is delicious 10-year-old Tennessee bourbon finished for 22 months in Plantation Jamaican rum barrels.
Nose: Grilled pineapple, citrus, allspice, cinnamon, and caramel.
Palate: Apple pie, molasses, brown sugar, and walnuts.
This is one of my favorite rum-finished bottles out there. I definitely belong somewhere tropical with this bottle.
Redbreast Kentucky Oak Edition
Average Price: $126
The Redbreast Kentucky Oak Edition is triple distilled in copper pot stills and matured in American Bourbon barrels and Spanish Oloroso Sherry butts. Then it’s finished for a minimum of four months in hand-selected, air-dried American Oak from the Taylor family farm in Kentucky.
Nose: Pencil shavings, vanilla, almond, and cinnamon.
Palate: Brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cherries.
I love sharing this one with my Irish-American friends as an introduction to bourbon — truly the best of both worlds!