Washington, D.C. will never run out of must-see tourist attractions.
And for drinkers, right up there with the Lincoln Memorial, the White House and the Capitol Building, is the city’s monument to whiskey, the Jack Rose Dining Saloon.
The walls of the establishment are covered by rows and rows of shelves holding, at last count, 2,390 bottles. While there are plenty of whiskies from the usual suspects—Kentucky, Scotland and Ireland—there are now additions from places you might not ever expect, like Japan and India.
While the Jack Rose is certainly exceptional in the depth and breadth of its collection, international whiskies have over the last few years become a real sensation with bartenders and connoisseurs.
So, in honor of World Whisky Day today (Saturday), here are five bottlings from around the globe that you should try. Cheers!
Kavalan Ex-Bourbon Cask Whisky ($160)
Taiwan may not have a rich whisky history, but that hasn’t stopped its first whisky distillery, Kavalan, from producing some amazingly complex drams that have thoroughly impressed the critics.
The Kavalan Ex-Bourbon Cask Whisky, which as you can imagine was aged in old bourbon barrels and bottled at cask strength, was named World Whisky of the Year by Whisky Advocate magazine a few years ago.
If it’s not already on it, you should add the bottling to your bucket list of spirits to taste. The brand’s Classic Whisky ($90) is a good one to try if the Ex-Bourbon Cask Whisky isn’t available.
Hibiki 17 Year Old ($150)
It might surprise you, but Suntory has been making whisky in Japan for nearly a century. The company’s Hibiki line, which was introduced to the US for the first time in 2011, has since developed a real following and won a slew of awards.
The Hibiki 17 Year Old is particularly sought after and quite delicious. It can take some time to find but it’s certainly worth the effort. (After all, Bill Murray sipped the whisky in hit film Lost in Translation. “For relaxing times, make it Suntory time,” he intones.)
If you can’t find it, the brand’s very smooth Hibiki Japanese Harmony ($65) is more widely available and is a great alternative.
Lock Stock & Barrel 16 Year Straight Rye Whiskey ($150)
Rob Cooper was one of the rare individuals who could not only see a trend coming but actually come out with a product that capitalized on it and advanced it.
His elderflower liqueur, St-Germain, was certainly an example of his spirits acumen and his last product before passing away was Lock Stock & Barrel.
He was buying up rich, spicy straight rye made in Alberta, Canada, before selling whisky made across the border was chic. The 16-year-rye was his final project, and it’s a fitting salute to his legacy given how much he loved drinking rye whiskey.
Knob Creek 2001 Limited Edition Bourbon ($130)
We couldn’t have a whiskey roundup without featuring at least one bourbon from Kentucky. The category is booming and the Blue Grass state now has more than 6.6 million barrels aging right now.
I suggest you pick up the brand new Knob Creek 2011 Limited Edition Bourbon. While it’s a potent 100-proof and a respectable 14 years old, what makes it truly special is that it’s some of the last bourbon that whiskey legend Booker Noe made before he retired. It’s also the oldest Knob Creek Beam has ever released.
The Glenlivet Pullman Club Car ($350)
While The Glenlivet makes a range of single malts, its brand new Single Cask Edition will certainly get the attention of Scotch drinkers.
The series is made up of three cask strength whiskies but the 18-year-old Pullman Club Car is particularly interesting, since it’s aged in a former sherry cask. That’s pretty unique given that the distillery usually uses American oak barrels.
Don’t delay if you want one: there are just 618 bottles available.