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The world of whiskey keeps on expanding. Not only are great examples being produced all over the planet, and often in unexpected places, but in many of them, unique styles have come (or are coming) to define what sets their best apart from the great whiskies from elsewhere.
With that in mind, here are 10 standouts from all over the world, listed alphabetically, that are worth seeking out. From a benchmark Indian whisky and an urban distillery producing Israel’s first drams in the heart of Tel Aviv, to an international blend from a Japanese legend and a double rye produced at a “ski-in gastro-distillery” in Utah, it’s not only easy to drink well right now, but to travel the world one sip at a time, even if getting on a plane and winging your way to another hemisphere isn’t all that easy to do.
Amrut Fusion Single Malt
Amrut has been a leader in Indian whisky for years, and the Fusion Single Malt has become a benchmark. It brings together Indian malt and peated Scottish malt, which are married for 6-9 months in addition to their individual aging regimens. Aromas of nori-like seaweed, distinctly saline and briny, find a counterpoint in the subtle sweetness of white figs and Italian torrone.
To buy: $70, totalwine.com
Cotswolds Founder’s Choice Single Malt
Dense and incredibly rich, with a complex range of flavors including preserved lemons, spice, yellow nectarines, cloves, toasted fennel seeds, and dark chocolate, all leading to notes of Amarena cherries on the finish. Even though it’s bottled at 60.2% alcohol by volume, this English standout is so much more subtle than that number implies.
To buy: $87, caskers.com
Crown Royal XR
Canadian whisky is nothing new, but this release from Crown Royal mines the history of Canada’s great spirit in a thoroughly delicious manner. Its blend includes whisky from the famous LaSalle distillery in Montreal, and it sings with aromas of nougat and sticky toffee pudding with just a touch of spice. On the palate, this is fresh and deep at the same time, with orange oils, sultanas, and the suggestion of carob, all of it resolving with a subtly floral peppercorn note.
To buy: $120, internationalwineshop.com
High West Whiskey Double Rye!
First, that exclamation point is explained right on the back label: “To signify our aim with this whiskey: showcase the beauty that is rye and create the spiciest rye whiskey anywhere.” I don’t know if it’s the spiciest in objective terms, but it is absolutely, unabashedly spicy, with tongue-tingling Szechuan peppercorn flavors vibrating through candied orange peels, star anise, and balsamic-herb notes, all of it anchored by a distinct licorice note that pulses throughout. As for including an American whiskey in this list of surprising whiskies from around the world? It’s from Utah—not exactly a state that most people associate with excellent spirits. And yet here it is, a notably delicious rye from there, crafted in Park City.
To buy: $30, garyswine.com
Kavalan Distillery Select Whisky
Crafted from malted barley that was grown in Taiwan—the whisky itself was also aged and bottled there—this is impossibly elegant, with nougat and warm brown sugar aromas preceding a silk-textured palate of lemon-blossom honey, orange marmalade, caramel, and a hint of preserved lemons and mangoes studding white chocolate.
To buy: $50, flaviar.com
M & H Classic Cask Single Malt Whisky
Based in an urban distillery in Tel Aviv—Israel’s first, in fact—M & H (for Milk & Honey) has single-handedly put Israeli Whiskey on the map. It’s still very much a niche category, but the quality is fantastic, leveraging the sunny warmth of the local weather to increase the speed and intensity of the spirit’s maturation. This bottling is aged in ex-bourbon and red wine casks, and shows a notably delicate aromatic profile with hints of honey and vanilla, and a more assertive palate, with gently grilled vanilla, lemon oils, and a touch of caramel and nuttiness on the finish.
To buy: $65, blackwellswines.com
Rampur Double Cask Indian Single Malt Whisky
Aged in ex-Bourbon and Sherry casks, this is a remarkable whisky, with licorice, tarragon, and honeyed aromas to spare, all teeing up spice-tinged flavors of preserved lemons, dried apricots, papayas, and a bit of orange marmalade lingering on the long, generous finish.
To buy: $94, totalwine.com
Sierra Norte Single Barrel Whiskey - Native Oaxacan Yellow Corn
Sierra Norte offers a number of whiskies that focus on different types of native Mexican corn. And while I love the Native Oaxacan Black Corn expression, this one won me over: The dry-toasted and creamed corn aromas are otherworldly, and the palate drips with deeply roasted corn, hints of salty dulce de leche, and apricot pits. It manages to be both idiosyncratic and delicious at the same time.
To buy: $50, binnys.com
Starward Two-Fold Double Grain Australian Whisky
Starward makes a point of highlighting Australian components, in this case local malted barley and wheat, and then aging them in ex-wine casks sourced from wineries less than a day’s drive from the Melbourne distillery. The result with this gem is a deeply expressive nose of dried cherries, chocolate-coated caramels, and subtle spice, and a palate of ripe nectarines, vanilla crème brûlée, and mangoes drizzled in honey.
To buy: $38, winechateau.com
Suntory World Whisky AO
The legendary Japanese whisky producer has branched out from their origins here and crafted a fantastic whisky that includes spirits from Japan, of course, but also Ireland, Scotland, Canada, and the United States. It had initially only been available in Japan, but Suntory recently announced that it will find its way to a number of international travel retail locations, too. Even if you don’t plan on being in an airport anytime soon, given the current situation, it’s popping up at high-end retailers in the United State, and is worth looking for: Pleasantly sweet spiciness on the nose is joined by honeycombs and a subtle hint of caramel, all setting the stage for a seamless palate of elegance and power, with flavors of pizzelles, hazelnuts, gently grilled pineapples, and a quiet saline note ringing through a touch of cinnamon, clove, and creamy vanilla.
To buy: $220, beverlyhillsliquorandwine.com
Harmonie by Alfred Giraud French Malt Whisky
There is a distinct floral note here, which provides a fascinating counterpoint to the baked pears and sweet spice, all of them intertwined with the subtlest touch of smoke and, on the finish, a lingering suggestion of salt-sprinkled honey wafers, singed cinnamon sticks, and orange oils. The extensive use of ex-Cognac casks—and very old ones at that—is deliciously apparent. Just seven casks are released each year.
To buy: $190, reservebar.com