Henry McKenna 10 year Bourbon Is the Best Whiskey in the World?

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The @sfwspiritscomp , probably the most prestigious spirits competition there is, has just named Henry McKenna 10 year Bourbon (@heavenhilldistillery) as the best whiskey in the world. It’s a helluva good choice. And you can actually buy it! #professorcocktail #bourbon #whiskey #award #best #drinks


Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2018

jim murray whisky bible 2018Today is another important date in the whisk(e)y-lover’s year, circled on everyone’s calendar: the day when Jim Murray announces the latest selections from his Whiskey Bible.

Murray is a controversial figure in the whisky world, for a variety of reasons that others would be better positioned than I to explain. (Although I’m guessing that pose on his book cover isn’t helping.)

But two things are certain about him and his humbly named book: his selections are sure to cause plenty of eye-rolling — and they’re also sure to set off a buying frenzy.

Whiskies that nobody previously paid any attention to will suddenly become the “it” spirit of the year, just by being named in Murray’s book. It’s not because he has such wonderful taste. He may or may not, and it scarcely matters either way. But much like with Robert Parker in the wine world, Murray is a “name,” he gives a number, and he gets lots of publicity.

So without further blather, here are his picks for 2018 (which are really his picks from the last 12 months).


2018 World Whisky of the Year
Colonel E.H. Taylor 4 Grain Bourbon

Second Finest Whisky in the World
Redbreast Aged 21 Years

Third Finest Whisky in the World
Glen Grant Aged 18 Years


Scotch Whisky of the Year
Glen Grant Aged 18 Years Rare Edition

Single Malt of the Year (Multiple Casks)
Glen Grant Aged 18 Years Rare Edition

Single Malt of the Year (Single Cask)
Cadenhead’s Glendullan 20 Year Old

Scotch Blend of the Year
Compass Box The Double Single

Scotch Grain of the Year
Cambus Aged 40 Years

Scotch Vatted Malt of the Year
Compass Box 3 Year Old Deluxe


No Age Statement (Multiple Casks)
Ardbeg Corryvreckan

10 Years & Under (Multiple Casks)
Glen Grant Aged 10 Years

10 Years & Under (Single Cask)
Scotch Malt Whisky Society Tomatin Cask 11.32 8 Year Old

11-15 Years (Multiple Casks)
Gordon & MacPhail Ardmore 2002

11-15 Years (Single Cask)
That Boutique-y Co. Clynelish 15 Year Old

16-21 Years (Multiple Casks)
Glen Grant Aged 18 Years Rare Edition

16-21 Years (Single Cask)
The First Editions Ardmore Aged 20 Years

22-27 Years (Multiple Casks)
Sansibar Whisky Glen Moray 25 Years Old

22-27 Years (Single Cask)
Hunter Laing’s Old & Rare Auchentoshan 24 Year Old

28-34 Years (Multiple Casks)
Glen Castle Aged 28 Years

28-34 Years (Single Cask)
Old Particular Glenturret 28 Year Old

35-40 Years (Multiple Casks)
Brora Aged 38 Years

35-40 Years (Single Cask)
Xtra Old Particular Caol Ila 36 Year Old

41 Years & Over (Multiple Casks)
Gordon & MacPhail Glen Grant 1957


No Age Statement (Standard)
Ballantine’s Finest

No Age Statement (Premium)
Compass Box The Double Single

5-12 Years
Grant’s Aged 12 Years

13-18 Years
Ballantine’s Aged 17 Years

19 – 25 Years
Royal Salute 21 Years Old

26 – 50 Years
The Antiquary Aged 35 Years


Irish Whiskey of the Year
Redbreast Aged 21 Years

Irish Pot Still Whiskey of the Year
Redbreast Aged 21 Years

Irish Single Malt of the Year
Bushmills 16 Year Old

Irish Blend of the Year
Bushmills Black Bush

Irish Single Cask of the Year
Dunville’s VR First Edition Aged 15 Years


Bourbon of the Year
Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain

Rye of the Year
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac 126.2 Proof

US Micro Whisky of the Year
Balcone’s Texas Blue Corn Batch BCB 16-1

US Micro Whisky of the Year (Runner Up)
291 E Colorado Aged 333 Days Bourbon

No Age Statement (Multiple Barrels)
George T. Stagg 144.1 Proof

9 Years & Under
Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Organic 6 Grain Whisky

10 Years & Over (Multiple Barrels)
Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain


No Age Statement
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac 126.2 Proof

Up to 10 Years
Pikesville 110 Proof

11 Years & Over
Sazerac 18 Years Old


Wheat Whiskey of the Year
Bernheim Original


Canadian Whisky of the Year
Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye


Japanese Whisky of the Year
Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky

Single Malt of the Year (Multiple Barrels)
Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky


European Whisky of the Year (Multiple)
Penderyn Bryn Terfel (Wales)

European Whisky of the Year (Single)
The Norfolk Parched (England)


Asian Whisky of the Year
Paul John Kanya (India)

Southern Hemisphere Whisky of the Year
Limeburner’s Dark Winter (Australia)


The World’s 15 Most Important Tiki Bars

Tiki cocktail on bar

Punch magazine has accomplished a feat worth cheering. They have put together what is, in my opinion, the most impressive list of “The World’s 15 Most Important Tiki Bars” that I’ve yet to see.

It helps that their panel of experts includes the top people in the field, including Sven Kirsten, Martin Cate, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, and others. If you want to know what’s the best, you ask the people who are the best. And that’s exactly what they did.

Really, the only bar I can think of that they omitted is the “original” Trader Vic’s location in Emeryville. It’s not the first iteration of the bar, but it is the location that Vic himself opened in 1972, and it’s been the chain’s flagship operation ever since. It might not be the best restaurant/bar you’ll visit, but it’s still a damn fine Tiki operation, steeped with history.

Sadly, the only location on the list that I have visited is the Mai-Kai, a one-of-a-kind feast for the senses masquerading as a restaurant. I hope to cross another off my list next month, though, when I’m in Los Angeles. (That location, of course, would be the Tiki-Ti.)

I don’t have a bucket list, but if I did, this collection would make a very nice start.



10 Whiskies Everyone Should Own

whisky recommended best

The folks over at Whisky Advocate magazine have put together a list of their “10 Essential Whiskies Everyone Should Own (And Why).” I love whiskey and I love lists, so I was delighted to read it.

I’m going to list their selections below along with my own commentary. The article is worth clicking through to see their thoughts — it’s a very quick read.

1. A Versatile Mixer: Jameson
Every bar needs some Jameson. I only ever use it for Irish Coffees, but it’s the perfect whiskey for them, in my opinion.

2. The Quintessential Blend: Chivas Regal 18 year old
I’ve never really explored the world of blended Scotch, so I’ve never had this. But Chivas is very highly regarded in the industry.

3. A Dependable Straight Bourbon: Evan Williams Single Barrel
A staple of the bourbon world, this is as reliable as Old Faithful. Which is why I included it in my recent Good Bourbon You Can Afford (and Actually Find) post.

4. A My-Oh-My Rye: High West Rendezvous Rye
I’m a big fan of High West ryes. They are very gifted in the art of blending. This one has long been on my list to try, but haven’t done so yet. But their Double Rye is a staple in my house.

5. A Dram with Universal Appeal: Highland Park 12 year old
One of the legendary Scottish distilleries, this one makes most lists of the best. I haven’t had it in years and really need to revisit it.

6. The Power of the Pot Still: Green Spot
Pot still Irish whiskey has grown increasingly popular in recent years. (Redbreast is probably the better known one.) I have a bottle of Green Spot hidden in a box somewhere, so have not tried it.

7. A Guileful Persuader: Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or
Glenmorangie doesn’t get the attention that the better known “Glens” do, but it’s a top-notch distillery. This whisky is finished in sauternes casks before bottling, given the spirit a slight honeyed sweetness to go along with all the malty goodness.

8. A Japanese Grand Master: Yamazaki 18 year old
If you can find it, this is a $400-500 bottle of whisky. I have not had the pleasure of tasting it. But the 12-year-old version is wonderful, so I assume this is a real delight.

9. A Smokin’ Good Islay: Lagavulin 16 year old
I have been slowing coming around on the topic of peated whisky. It’s definitely one of those flavors that takes some getting used to in my experience. I have not yet tried this one, but it’s on my list.

10. A Trophy Whisky: Glenfarclas 40 year old
“Trophy Whisky” is right. A bottle of this will run you close to a grand. I would never spend that much on a whisky, but if you would, please share.


Good Bourbon You Can Afford (and Actually Find)

glass of bourbon whiskey

We’ve all heard of the great bourbons that exist somewhere, even if we’ve never seen or tasted them. Pappy Van Winkle, George T. Stagg, Parker’s Heritage, and A.H. Hirsch Reserve are just a few. The problem is you’ll never see them on the shelves of your local liquor store. And if by some miracle you did actually find them, you probably wouldn’t want to pay the price tag.

But fear not! Despite everything you might have heard or read about bourbon shortages, strict allocations, and skyrocketing prices, there are still plenty of top-quality whiskeys that can be found without too much trouble and won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

These aren’t bargain bourbons, per se. They’re reasonably priced, but aren’t the cheapest, and they generally come from a slightly higher spot on the quality scale.

If you’re more interested in getting good booze for cheap, I’d recommend trying bourbons such as Very Old Barton, Benchmark, Evan Williams Black, Old Grand Dad, and Jim Beam Black. Each of them can usually be had for under $20. They might not be as good as these, but I think you’ll find them quite acceptable.

On the other hand, if you want to drink some really fine whiskey, here are some suggestions that I enjoy.

 eagle rare bourbon whiskey Eagle Rare 10 Year Old Bourbon ($30-$40)

Made by Buffalo Trace, this still has an age statement and remains a fine bourbon no matter the price. This is made with a “low-rye” mashbill and is an excellent balance of sweet and spice.

makers mark bourbon whiskey Maker’s Mark Bourbon ($25-$30)

A wheated bourbon — just like Pappy! — that you can always find and always enjoy. Maker’s is a shining example of Kentucky distilling excellence on proud display. There are few spirits in the world that reflect such a high level of craftsmanship as this. (The cask-strength version is a more expensive, but even better.)

 1792 small batch kentucky straight bourbon whiskey 1792 Small Batch Bourbon ($25-$35)

This brand, from Sazerac’s Barton distillery, seemed to fly under the radar for a long time. But with the new variations they’ve been producing (full proof, sweet wheat, etc.), it’s suddenly become a hot brand. You probably won’t be able to find those other labels. But that’s okay because the regular expression is very good, too.

 weller bourbon whiskey W.L. Weller Special Reserve Bourbon ($30-$40)

You’re unlikely to find the 12-year-old Weller for a reasonable price, but the Special Reserve (90 proof) and Antique (107 proof) can often be found, especially the former. Weller is one of the original wheated bourbons and if you’re craving Van Winkle, this is probably the next best thing.

knob creek bourbon whiskey Knob Creek Small Batch Bourbon ($30-$35)

Another old standby from Beam, this is a high quality whiskey at a good price. With nine years in wood and a full 100 proof, Knob Creek packs a wallop, both in alcohol and flavor. If people say there are no good, affordable bourbons around, hand them a bottle of this and see if you can’t change their mind.

evan williams single barrel bourbon whiskey  Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon ($25-$35)

One of the best ongoing releases in the bourbon world, these annual single-barrel picks from Heaven Hill never disappoint.

four roses small batch bourbon whiskey  Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon ($30-$35)

Despite not producing a whiskey with a Pappy-level cult following, Four Roses is one of the most popular distilleries with bourbon conniseurs. The reason is no surprise: they made damn good bourbon.

 henry mckenna single barrel bourbon whiskey  Henry McKenna Single Barrel ($30-$40)

This is probably the least well-known bourbon on this list, but it’s also one of the best. A single-barrel, bottled-in-bond whiskey from Heaven Hill for around $35? Yes, please!

There you have it. Good whiskey at good prices, and any halfway decent liquor store should have several of them on the shelf. So drink up! The good folks of Kentucky are hard at work making more.


Rye Whiskey Tasting from the New York Times

The New York Times recently convened a panel of experts to taste several rye whiskies. If you’re a fan of Professor Cocktail’s, you’ll know we’re rye lovers around here. So we were interested to see the results.

The tasting panel consisted of Eric Asimov, David Wondrich, Robert Samuelson, and Florench Fabricant. I think we can rest assured that this quartet knows their whiskey very well.

The article includes a lot of interesting background on rye whiskey and what’s happening with the category these days. So I highly recommend reading it.

Here were their favorites. (They mention several others as well.)

#1: Knob Creek Straight Rye Whiskey 100 Proof (3 stars)
#2: Jim Beam Pre-Prohibition Style Rye 90 Proof (3 stars)
#3: Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Rye 90.4 Proof (3 stars)
#4: New York Distilling Company Ragtime Rye 90.4 Proof (3 stars)
#5: Michter’s U.S. 1 Straight Rye 84.8 Proof (2.5 stars)

The only two I have tried are the Knob Creek and the Michter’s. I liked both of them, but I don’t think either would be in my top five.

rye whiskey tasting best


Jim Murray’s World Whisky of the Year (2017)

Whisky connoisseur Jim Murray has released the winners from his 2017 edition of the Whisky Bible. Last year’s choice was a controversial one — Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye — as was the year before that: Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013.

Murray’s selection for 2017 will no doubt raise some eyebrows as well, as he named Booker’s Rye 13 Year Old as his World Whisky of the Year.

bookers rye whiskey


From the press release:

A unique Kentucky rye has been crowned the planet’s finest dram by the latest edition of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.

Booker’s Rye 13 Years, 1 Month, 12 Days began life as an experiment by Booker Noe – grandson of Jim Beam – at the family distillery in Clermont, KY, shortly before his death in 2004.

Now it has become his remarkable legacy after landing the title of World Whisky of the Year.

Jim lavishes praise on its “brain-draining, mind-blowing” nose and finish of “amazing depth”.

And he hails it as a “staggering example of a magnificent rye, showing exactly what genius actually means. A very big, unforgettable whiskey from a very big, unforgettable man”.

Booker followed in his iconic grandfather’s footsteps by becoming master distiller at Jim Beam, but he was long-retired when he dabbled one final time.

After he passed away aged 74, son Fred kept an eye on his casks – and the result is pure liquid gold, scoring 97.5 out of 100 in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.

The top three whiskies of the year, in Murray’s view were:

1. Booker’s Rye 13 Year Old
2. Glen Grant 18 Year Old
3. William Larue Weller Bourbon (Bot. 2015)

Here are the rest of the named winners.

Scotch Whisky
Scotch Whisky of the Year: Glen Grant 18 Year Old
Single Malt of the Year (Multiple Casks): Glen Grant 18 Year Old
Single Malt of the Year (Single Cask): That Boutique-y Whisky Co Macallan 25 Year Old Batch 5
Scotch Blend of the Year: The Last Drop 1971
Scotch Grain of the Year: Whiskyjace Invergordon 24 Year Old
Scotch Vatted Malt of the Year: Compass Box Flaming Heart 2015 Edition

Single Malt Scotch
No Age Statement (Multiple Casks): Glenlivet Cipher
No Age Statement (Runner Up): Port Askaig 100 Proof
10 Years & Under (Multiple Casks): Glen Grant 10 Year Old
10 Years & Under (Single Cask): Kilchoman Guze Cask Finish
11-15 Years (Multiple Casks): Lagavulin 12 Year Old
11-15 Years (Single Cask): The Single Cask Glentauchers 2002 14 Year Old
16-21 Years (Multiple Casks): Glen Grant 18 Year Old
16-21 Years (Single Cask): Scyfion Choice Mortlach 1996 19 Year Old (Berry Bros & Rudd)
22-27 Years (Multiple Casks): Dalwhinnie 1989 25 Year Old Special Releases 2015
22-27 Years (Single Cask): The Boutique-y Co Macallan 25 Year Old Batch 5
28-34 Years (Multiple Casks): Port Ellen 1983 32 Year Old Special Releases 2015
28-34 Years (Single Cask): Cadenhead Caol Ila 31 Year Old
35-40 Years (Multiple Casks): Brora 37 Year Old Special Releases 2015
35-40 Years (Single Cask): Cadenhead Glentauchers 38 Year Old
41 Years & Over (Multiple Casks): Gordon & MacPhail Glen Grant 1952
41 Years & Over (Single Cask): Gordon & MacPhail Glen Grant 1950 65 Year Old

Blended Scotch
No Age Statement (Standard): Ballantine’s Finest
No Age Statement (Premium): Ballantine’s Limited
5-12 Years: Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year Old
13-18 Years: Chivas Regal 18 Year Old Ultimate Cask Collection First Fill American Oak
19 – 25 Years: Royal Salute 21 Year Old
26 – 50 Years: The Last Drop 1971

Irish Whiskey
Irish Whiskey of the Year: Redbreast 21 Year Old
Irish Pot Still Whiskey of the Year: Redbreast 21 Year Old
Irish Single Malt of the Year: Bushmills 21 Year Old
Irish Blend of the Year: Jameson
Irish Single Cask of the Year: Teeling Single White Burgundy Cask 2004

American Whiskey
Bourbon of the Year: William Larue Weller 2015 Release
Rye of the Year: Booker’s Rye 13 Year Old
US Micro Whisky of the Year: Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon 2009
US Micro Whisky of the Year (Runner Up): Koval Four Grain

No Age Statement (Multiple Barrels): William Larue Weller 2015 Release
No Age Statement (Single Barrel): 1792 Single Barrrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon
9 Years & Under: Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon 2009
10 Years & Over (Multiple Barrels): Blade & Bow 22 Year Old

No Age Statement: Thomas H Handy 2015 Release
Up to 10 Years: Pikesville 110 Proof 6 Year Old Straight Rye
11 Years & Over: Booker’s Rye 13 Year Old

Wheat Whiskey of the Year: Bernheim Original

Canadian Whisky
Canadian Whisky of the Year: Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

Japanese Whisky
Japanese Whisky of the Year: Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 Release
Single Malt of the Year (Multiple Barrels): Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 Release

European Whisky
European Whisky of the Year (Multiple): English Whisky Co. Chapter 14 Not Peated
European Whisky of the Year (Single): Langatun 6 year Old Pinot Noir Cask

World Whiskies
Asian Whisky of the Year: Kavalan Solist Moscatel
Southern Hemisphere Whisky of the Year: Heartwood Any Port in a Storm

Bars News

The World’s 50 Best Bars

best bars in the world

I’ll be the first to say it: any list of the “50 best” anything is necessarily arbitrary, transitory, and mutable.

But I still love lists and you probably do, too.

So here is the latest list of The World’s 50 Best Bars, put together by one of the most reputable groups to do lists like this.

Read ’em over, cheer those included, lament those left off — and make a list of where you’re going to go next.

I have had the pleasure of visiting:

The Dead Rabbit, New York
Employees Only, New York
PDT, New York

I hope to add at least one more by the close of the year. So many wonderful bars to visit!

News Press Releases

Jennifer Le Nechet Named World’s #1 Bartender

Diageo World Class Bartender
Jennifer Le Nechet is crowned World Class Bartender of the Year 2016 in Miami. (PRNewsFoto/WORLD CLASS)

Jennifer Le Nechet has been crowned the world’s best bartender at the climax of the global cocktail competition WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year 2016 in Miami.

The French bartender, usually found crafting drinks and charming customers behind the bar at Café Moderne in Paris, wowed the judges by creating a spectacular range of vibrant drinks at her Steampunk themed pop-up bar.

Nearly 10,000 bartenders from all over the world entered the competition, with 56 selected to represent their country at the Miami finals. An elite group of six made it through the final round which saw them conceive and create a pop-up bar in just 24 hours. Each challenge showcased a different skill from the bartender’s armoury: technique, personality, spirits knowledge and how well they perform under pressure.

Selecting top brands from Diageo’s Reserve portfolio including Ketel One vodka, Cîroc, Don Julio, Tanqueray No TEN, Bulleit, Zacapa rum and Johnnie Walker Blue Label Blended Scotch Whisky, the bartenders crafted classic cocktails and created their own recipes. They also went up against the clock to mix up to fourteen quintessential drinks in just 10 minutes.

Jennifer Le Nechet, the first female bartender to claim the title, said: “I’m completely blown away – it’s such an honour to take home the title of World’s Best Bartender – especially when competing against such talent from around the world. This week has inspired me to continue pushing the boundaries of flavours and to explore how all the senses can be engaged through cocktails. I can’t wait for the experience ahead!”

Le Nechet is set for a whirlwind year of adventure – she will have the chance to travel the world as a Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador, judging competitions and making bespoke drinks in far-flung locations.

Alex Kratena, former Head Bartender of Artesian London said:

“The standard this year has been absolutely phenomenal. It’s been just so difficult to choose between these bartenders. Jennifer just nailed it in the Superstar Pool Party showing all the skills you could want in a bartender, and her pop-up bar blew us all away with its cool Steampunk theme and twist on classic cocktails with homemade emulsions, cola and organic ingredients.  These bartenders really are at the top of their game and the five runners up were worthy contenders. Not only can they pull off all the classics flawlessly, but they are developing new and exciting techniques every step of the way.”

Johanna Dalley, Global World Class Director said: “This week has been a whirlwind of creativity, flair and amazing talent –  truly raising the role of the bartender to be on a par with that of the world’s leading chefs. And that’s what WORLD CLASS is all about, inspiring people to drink better and appreciate great drinks in the same way they appreciate great food. The final six were exceptional and it was an extremely close final, however we’re delighted to name Jennifer as our winner and our first female WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year.”

At the Awards evening, Mexico City was also revealed as the location for the WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year Global Final 2017.

Dalley continued, “This year, WORLD CLASS will take cocktail culture to a new level in Mexico City, and there could be no better place for this, since for many years, this city been developing into one of the most vibrant capitals for food, drink and culture.”

WORLD CLASS is on a mission to inspire people to drink better and shape the future of drinking, whether at home or in the bar. If you have been inspired to drink better, visit or the WORLD CLASS Facebook community, where you can find delicious recipes, how-to videos and get the low-down on the latest trends.


Let’s Talk Tequila

Today is National Tequila Day. (Tomorrow — no lie — is National Hot Fudge Sundae Day.) Around here, we don’t care about that. But we do care about tequila. Mostly drinking it. Although we also care about mixing it into cocktails and then drinking it.

There are a whole slew of posts on Professor Cocktail about tequila. Here are a few I’d like to highlight:

Professor Cocktail’s Recommended Tequilas — a list of quality spirits that are made in (mostly) the traditional fashion.

Five Tequilas I Like to Drink — this was a couple years ago, so it’s not the most up-to-date list, but it’s still good.

Margarita Recipe — the premier tequila cocktail.

Paloma Recipe — the second-best tequila cocktail.

In case you’re too lazy to read that stuff, here are a few tips.

My Favorite Inexpensive Tequila is Olmeca Altos Plata.

My Favorite Easy to Find Premium Tequila is Don Julio Blanco.

My Favorite Overall Tequila is Tequila Tapatio Blanco.

recommended tequila best favorite