From limited-edition releases to long-awaited aging endeavors, there are few things more exciting than sampling the very latest in wine and spirits. As luxury travel editors, we wholeheartedly believe in furthering our knowledge of a destination by tasting their beverage exports. The artisanal ingredients and aging techniques that go into producing these wines and spirits offer a unique lens into their countries. From the up-and-coming distilleries of Israel to the hallowed wine-making institutions of Tuscany, these are our 2020 Legend Awards honorees for best spirits and wines released in the last year:
Laphroaig’s latest limited-edition release is a 16-year-old single malt whisky. It’s another iteration of their 200th anniversary whisky, aged in an ex-bourbon barrel. The Islay distillery is of course known for producing rich, smoky whiskys, but this one has subtle notes of vanilla.
Milk & Honey Single Malt Whiskey
Israel’s first whisky distillery, Milk & Honey, ages their Classic Single Malt Whisky in ex-bourbon and red-wine shaved, toasted, and re-charred (STR) casks. It’s superbly balanced, with hints of caramel and a slight pepperiness.
Hepple Spirits Co. is known for producing gins with a distinctly juniper-forward flavor. It’s named for Hepple in Northumberland National Park, one of the last reserves for wild juniper. Their signature product is Hepple Gin, with notes of citrus preceding the strong woodsy flavors of the juniper.
Vietti's Barolo Lazzarito 2016
Vietti’s Barolo Lazzarito 2016 is one of most coveted Barolo vintages in years, fermented initially with skin contact in stainless steel barrels, with subsequent malolactic fermentation in French and Slovenian oak. Aged for a total of 30 months, the resulting full-bodied wine has soft tannins and a memorable finish.
Graham’s Stone Terraces 2016 Vintage Port
Graham's "The Stone Terraces" 2017 Port, released in September 2019, is an once-in-a-generation vintage. This single-parcel wine is full of deep fruit flavor and heavenly aromas. It’s rich in color and is charted to age exceptionally into the next century.
Glendronach 1993 Master Vintage
The Glendronach Distillery has a legacy of distilling some of the most sought-after whisky. The 1993 Master Vintage, aged 25 years, has a complex and balanced flavor profile with a smooth finish.
COUP Sabering Gift Case
The new Sabering Gift Case from COUP Champagne allows connoisseurs to gift world-class champagne, with an experience. Four years of testing went into this bottle’s patented design; it’s made so that all users can properly and safely saber a bottle of champagne—many for the first time.
Plume Frapin Grande Champagne Cognac
Plume Frapin Grande Champagne Cognac, aged for an astounding 60 years in the estate’s “Pierre Frapin” cellar, has notes of stone fruit, tobacco, and wood. It’s sold in a bespoke decanter with 18-carat rose gold accents.
The Macallan Edition No.5
The Macallan Edition series is an annual celebration of whisky-making. For their Edition No.5, Macallan partnered with the Pantone Color Institute to create a unique shade of purple that matches the richness of Macallan whisky.
Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin
The Bloody Shiraz Gin, from Australia's Four Pillars, circumvents the juniper-heavy route and harnesses the power of an unexpected helper: shiraz. This gin is steeped with Shiraz grapes for eight weeks—the grapes give the gin a unique flavor and deep red color.
Cincoro Anejo Tequila
Cincoro Tequila, founded by five NBA team owners, including Michael Jordan, is smooth with rich notes of caramel and a subtle sweetness. Production of the Anejo starts with hand-selecting agave and finishes with aging the tequila in bourbon barrels imported from Kentucky for 24 to 28 months.
Knappogue Castle 1951
Knappogue Castle 1951 is one of the rarest Irish whiskies in the world. Distilled in 1951 and aged 36 years in sherry casks, the enticing whisky offers “notes of soft honey, ripe greengages, clean barley, and oats.”
Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Finished in Tawny Port Wine Barrels
Angel’s Envy Kentucky produces small-batch, made-in-Louisville bourbon with a soft fruity flavor. As of February 2020, Angel's Envy released a new take on their straight bourbon, finished in tawny port wine barrels. This 5,400-bottle limited release is the oldest single-release spirit Angel's Envy has ever produced. The 10-year-old bourbon goes through an extended finishing process, spending a full 10 months in the tawny port barrels.