Whisky Ranking

Since 2019 I have been tasting whisky in a structured way: two at a time, making simple notes and picking a winner. I have used a computer program to produce a ranking list.

There are separate pages for tasting notes and details about my ranking system.

There are separate ranking lists for peated and non-peated whisky. Some moderately peated whisky can be found on both lists, or on the non-peated list.

Non Peated List

  1  Glenmorangie 19
  2  Glenlossie 1999-2009 Managers Choice
  3  Glenlivet Archive 21
  4  Brora 38
  5  Bunnahabhain 1986-2010 Carn Mor
  6  Glenlossie 22YO Cadenhead
  7  Imperial 21 (Auld Rare)
  8  Longrow 14 (old bottling)
  9  Deanston 18
 10  Glenlossie 1995-2018 (Carn Mor)
 11  Bunnahabhain 1991-2020 Symposium #3077
 12  Mortlach 20
 13  Glenlossie 18 PX (The Maltman)
 14  Longrow 18
 15  Dalwhinnie 15
 16  Old Pulteney 18
 17  Mortlach 13 2021 Special Release
 18  Glenfarclas 25
 19  Miltonduff 1991-2009 (Chivas Brothers)
 20  Redbreast 15
 21  Springbank 9 Local barley
 22  Bushmills Single Malt 21
 23  Glenlivet 18
 24  Springbank 11 Madeira
 25  Glenlossie 1996-2014 Cask 7058
 26  Bunnahabhain 18 Elexir (WB158992)
 27  Bushmills Single Malt 16
 28  Bunnahabhain 1989-2016 Samaroli
 29  Bunnahabhain 21 Königsmann Oloroso
 30  Springbank 15 Rum PC#629
 31  Springbank 15
 32  Hibiki Harmony
 33  Yoichi Single Malt Woody & Vanillic
 34  Longmorn 16
 35  Hazelburn 10
 36  Springbank 15 Rum
 37  Glen Ord 18 (2019 Special release)
 38  Highland Park 18 Viking Pride
 39  Bunnahabhain 28 Untold Riches
 40  Tobermory 12
 41  Bunnahabhain 1979-2000
 42  Glenfarclas 21
 43  Glenlossie 25 (Boutique-Y)
 44  Johnny Walker Blue Label
 45  Mannochmore 1984-2004 (Helen Arthur)
 46  Deanston Signatory 10YO #900074
 47  Dufftown 18
 48  Arran Quarter Cask
 49  Springbank 18
 50  Glenlossie 2007-2020 (Carn Mor)
 51  Ballantines 17
 52  Deanston 8 Red Wine
 53  Strathmill 2006-2020 Autumn Single Cask
 54  Glendronach 18 Allardice
 55  Glengoyne 21
 56  Old Pulteney Vintage 2006 (11YO)
 57  Glenfiddich 15 Solera Reserve
 58  Glenmorangie Signet
 59  Macallan 1993-2013
 60  Nikka Red
 61  Oban 14
 62  Deanston 12
 63  Longrow
 64  Longrow 14 Burgundy
 65  Mackmyra Reserve Förlagrat Refill Gravity
 66  Glen Scotia 15
 67  Highland Park Leif Eriksson
 68  Glen Scotia Double Cask
 69  Mackmyra Reserve Extra Rök Svensk Ek
 70  Springbank 10
 71  Deanston Virgin Oak
 72  Balvenie 12 Double Wood
 73  Redbreast 12
 74  Mackmyra Reserve Elegant Ambassadör
 75  Highland Park Cask Strength
 76  Bunnahabhain 12
 77  Glenfiddich 18
 78  Mannochmore 20 (1984-2004) Sherry
 79  Macallan Fine Oak
 80  Glenfiddich Select Cask
 81  Johnny Walker 18YO
 82  Bunnahabhain 28 Statement
 83  Aberfeldy 16
 84  Bergslagen Two Hearts
 85  Highland Park 10 Viking Scars
 86  Deanston Kentucky Cask Matured
 87  Balvenie 12 Triple Cask
 88  Glenlivet 15 French Oak
 89  Super Nikka
 90  Nikka from the Barrel
 91  Longrow 13 Red
 92  Strathmill 24 (1994-2018) Sherry
 93  Bladnoch Adela 15 Oloroso
 94  Bergslagen Gast
 95  Bunnahabhain 18
 96  Glen Scotia Victoriana
 97  Springbank 12 Cask Strength
 98  Antiquary 21
 99  Longrow 11 Sherry Society Bottling
100  Aberfeldy 12
101  Chivas Regal 18
102  Deanston Oloroso Finish (9Y)
103  Bunnahabhain "Taiwan"
104  Glenlossie SMWS 9YO Petrichor Vindaloo
105  Johnny Walker Black Label
106  Yoichi Sherry & Sweet
107  Nevis Dew Deluxe 12YO
108  Macallan 12 Sherry Oak
109  Longrow 14 Sherry
110  Smögen Sherry P201
111  Balcones
112  Nikka Coffey Malt
113  Andalusia Triple Destilled
114  Glenlossie SMWS 9YO General Custard
115  Nikka 12 Blended
116  Old Pulteney 12
117  Glenlivet 16 Nadurra
118  Glenmorangie 10
119  Highland Park 12 Viking Honour
120  Svensk Whisky för Ukraina
121  Glenfarclas 15
122  Mackmyra Första Utgåvan
123  Glenfarclas 17
124  Bushmill Single Malt 12
125  Glenglassaugh Evolution
126  Tottori
127  Loch Lomond 15
128  Aberlour A'bunadh
129  Loch Lomond 12
130  Glenfarclas 105
131  7 dlight Ichiro Wine Reserve
132  Tomatin 18
133  Glenfiddich 12
134  Glen Moray
135  Bushmills Black Bush
136  Glenallachie 12 PX
137  Smögen Dante
138  Glenfarclas 12
139  Oban Distillers Edition
140  Buffalo Trace
141  Chivas Regal 12
142  Glenlivet Founders Reserve
143  Glenallachie 10 (Murray McDavid)
144  Glendronach Batch 9
145  Suntory Toki
146  7 dlight Ichiro Mizunara Reserve
147  Paul John Nirvana
148  Tomatin 15
149  Paul John Edited
150  Glenmorangie 12 Lasanta
151  Johnny Walker Gold Label
152  Glenfarclas 2000 Sherry
153  Highland Park 1998-2010
154  Paul John Bold
155  Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask
156  Jameson Black Barrel
157  Bushmill Single Malt 10
158  Gentleman Jack
159  Jack Daniels Single Barrel Select
160  Glenburgie 29 (Gordon Macphail 1990)
161  Knob Creek 9
162  Balvenie 17 Double wood
163  Tomatin 12
164  Jim Beam Rye
165  Glasgow 1770 The Original
166  Balcones Peated
167  Jim Beam Black
168  Makers Mark
169  Hudson Baby Bourbon
170  Glenglassaugh Revival
171  Mackmyra Preludium 06
172  7 dlight Mars Cosmo Sherry
173  Penderyn Madeira
174  Glenfarclas 1989 Vintage
175  Motörhead
176  TX Texas Straight Bourbon
177  Jameson
178  White Walker
179  Deanston 15 Organic
180  Glenmorangie 14 Quinta Ruban
181  Macallan Gold Double Wood
182  Glen Garioch 12
183  Jack Daniels
184  Loch Lomond Original
185  Dalmore 10 Vintage 2006
186  Bushmills Original
187  Crown Royal Rye
188  Bulleit Rye
189  Hudson Four Grain Bourbon
190  Hudson Manhattan Rye
191  Ranger Creek Rimfire
192  Paul John Classic Select
193  Deanston 10 Cadenhead Small Batch
194  Benromach 7 Woods (PX 2002-2010)
195  Benromach 7 Woods (Port 2000-2012)
196  Paul John Brilliance
197  Mackmyra Brukswhisky
198  Storm
199  Isle of Lime Midaik
200  Antiquary 12
201  Jura Superstition
202  Loch Lomond 18
203  Amrut Fusion Batch 10
204  Floki Young Malt
205  Famous Grouse
206  Hazelburn 13 Oloroso
207  Kilkerran 8
208  Glenmorangie Sauternes
209  Bushmills Banyuls
210  Benromach 7 Woods (Madeira -2008 7YO+)
211  Benromach 7 Woods (Hermitage 2001-2010)
212  Grants
213  Johnny Walker Red Label
214  Benromach 7 Woods (Sassicaria 2002-2009)
215  7 dlight Three ships
216  Benromach 7 Woods (Pago C P 2002-2009)
217  Dalmore 11 Rare Find Oloroso
218  Benromach 7 Woods (Tokaji -2006 5YO+)
219  J&B
220  Urquhart Castle
221  Officers Choice
222  Bagpipers Gold Reserve
223  Talisman
224  Bunnahabhain PX 2003-1017

Peated List

  1  Brora 38
  2  Lagavulin 1984 Double Wood
  3  Talisker 18
  4  Laphroaig 16
  5  Lagavulin 12 Distillery Single Cask
  6  Lagavulin 16
  7  Bowmore 18
  8  Talisker 10
  9  Bowmore 1999 Bourbon Hand Filled
 10  Ardbeg 22YO Twenty Something
 11  Ardbeg 10
 12  Longrow 21
 13  Yoichi Peaty & Salty
 14  Longrow 18
 15  Caol Ila 12
 16  Ardbeg Ardbog
 17  Ledaig 10
 18  Laphroaig 10
 19  Kilchoman Machir Bay
 20  Ardbeg Auriverdes
 21  Ledaig 2008 Sansibar
 22  Laphroaig Port & Wine Cairdeas 2020
 23  Bunnahabhain 8 Heavily Peated
 24  Kilchoman UK Small Batch
 25  Mackmyra Reserve Extra Rök Svensk Ek
 26  Paul John Peated Select Cask
 27  Hven Tycho Star
 28  Ardbeg Traigh Bhan batch #3
 29  Ardbeg Corrywreckan
 30  Ardbeg Dark Cove
 31  Ledaig 11 Sherry Butt
 32  Bowmore 15
 33  Longrow
 34  Bowmore 12
 35  Loch Lomond Heavily Peated
 36  Glenglassaugh Torfa
 37  Port Askaig 8
 38  Ileach
 39  Ardbeg 5 Wee Beastie
 40  Ardbeg Blaaack
 41  Longrow 13 Red
 42  Waitrose 10 Islay Single Malt
 43  Ardbeg Perpetuum
 44  Finlaggan (Cask Strength)
 45  Ledaig Prerelease
 46  Mackmyra Svensk Rök
 47  Port Charlotte 2003-2015 Sherry
 48  Longrow 14 Sherry
 49  NWSC Islay 2011-2018 Oloroso
 50  Raasay 1st Release
 51  Talisker Skye
 52  Glen Moray Peated
 53  For Peats Sake

General comments

First of all, this is my list. It ended up being this way because I tasted whisky – two at a time – and this is what came out. There are some things to consider.

It would be more objective to always blind taste, but that would be harder to administrate.

I do have separate lists for peated and non-peated, but I do not have separate lists for sherry-matured whiskies and american bourbon. I generally do not prefer whisky with much sherry flavour. I generally do not appreciate american bourbon as much as I do like scotch whisky.

Background and Idea

The idea is to drink two different whiskies and make a few comments. I usually do this alone, in the evening, with two small drams, a glas of water and some salty snacks (like crisps).

To me the way I experience a whisky can change from time to time. Not the least, it depends on what I have eaten and drunk before I taste the whisky. I find it very hard to drink one whisky one day, and another the next day, and compare them. I also find it hard to try many whiskies, because my senses quickly change. So two whiskies, head to head, should be the most fair way I can compare and rate whisky.

It is not my intention to rate value-for-money. I will mostly try standard whiskies that are produced and available, and expected to have somewhat consistent quality. I think it is more interesting to find good affordable available whiskies, than to seek the ultimate bottle from a lost distillery. Occasionally I will however try a more unique, rare and expensive bottle, to see how it compares.

General Findings

What makas a whisky better? This is obviously a personal experience, but when you look at my ranking (and perhaps find it strange), keep this in mind:

  • prefer smoothness to sharpness
  • prefer much flavour to little flavour
  • prefer long flavour to short flavour
  • prefer balance: when no flavour dominates 
  • I do not quite like bitterness, chemical notes (like glue, synthetic aroma, fusel oil)
  • I appreciate peat, but I do not necessarily prefer it
  • I appreciate sweetness and sherry flavour, but not too much of it, and I do not necessarily prefer it
  • I do not appreciate sulphur, and it seems I find some sherry or desert wine whiskies raw and unsmooth
  • I appreciate bourbon and vanilla flavour, but I may not prefer it
  • I appreciate and usually prefer some saltiness, dryness, and a taste of malt or barley

I don’t think this is controversial or strange, but I know there are people who really have a preference for peated whisky, or for whisky matured on sherry casks, and I dont.

Originality and Experience

A more difficult thing I have found, is how to value originality. I will take one example: Hibiki Harmony vs Nikka Coffey Malt (you can read below). It is possible to argue that either:

  • Hibiki is soft and easy to drink, close to perfect, while Nikka has strange notes of glue
  • Nikka is a very interesting and pleasant whisky that anyone interested in whisky should try, while Hibiki is just an easy to drink boring blend

There can not be a definite right or wrong here. But to me, to taste (or smell) unpleasant is worse than being just boring.