Bartenders Tell Us The Rare Whiskeys They’d Absolutely Love To Try

Over the past two months, much of the world has shut down in an effort to stave off the COVID-19 pandemic. The hope — however distant — is that someday (relatively) soon we can all return to some semblance of our former lives. In the meantime, we’re stuck fantasizing about how we’ll spend time once restrictions are lifted. And also drinking a fair bit of booze. Specifically, whiskey.

To combine the daydreaming and the day drinking, let’s turn our minds to all the rare whiskeys we wish we could try if price were no object. Jonah Dill-D’Ascoli, bartender at The Aviary in New York City, is down for giving that hypothetical a go — though it’s a toughie.

“That’s like asking which color I prefer when I look at a rainbow!” he says. “But I’m always a huge W.L. Weller fan and I would love to get my hands on some of this year’s Antique Collection. I’ve heard amazing things about it.”

Since picking dream bottles is a difficult-yet-fun task, we decided to head to check in with more experts. We asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us the one rare whiskey they’d love to sip if money didn’t matter.

Yamazaki 50

Jason Strich, bar director of Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos, California

If I’m going to try a rare whisky without having to pay a cent, I’m going for 50-year Yamazaki. I’m a huge fan of Japanese whiskey and would like to see what it is like with over 30 years on it.

Middleton Very Rare

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Danielle Becker, bartender at the Aspen Meadows Resort in Aspen, Colorado

Middleton Very Rare Vintage Release. I’m most partial to Irish Whiskey. Personally, I think really good Irish whiskey doesn’t get the opportunity to stand up very often. Middleton, Redbreast, Powers, and others. They’re all just absolutely divine. This Middleton is a tribute to Barry Crocket and was hand-selected by Brian Nation, two names that are synonymous with art and craft and skill in Irish Whiskey.

The Macallan 1950

Jonah Dill-D’Ascoli, bartender at The Aviary in New York City

I’m huge fan of antique booze, particularly whiskey, and have been lucky enough to taste some really cool antique American bottles but have always struggled to get my hands on antique whiskies from Scotland and have heard tell of a 1938 Macallan Bottling that was bottled in the mid-80s. Being able to taste that piece of history and how things have changed since then would be incredible. If that was unavailable, I would happily settle for their 48-year 1969 bottle or 51-year to start to taste a piece of Mad Men-era history.

I guess I could slum it a bit and go for The Macallan 1950 if that was all that was all that was available.

The Macallan Fine & Rare

Juyoung Kang, lead bartender at The Dorsey at The Venetian in Las Vegas

If I’m going to sample a rare whisky, I’m going to try The Macallan Fine & Rare Series, or any whiskey that was made or bottled the year I was born. I was born in 1979 so that’s pretty rare now.

Yamazaki 25

Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami

I’ve always wanted to try Yamazaki 25 Year. Having sampled up to the 18-year age statement from Yamazaki, the 25 is high on my list. Their whiskeys are so interesting that I can only speculate how the additional age has matured this spirit.

Double Eagle Very Rare

Matt Shields, bartender at The Bay Restaurant in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

Double Eagle Very Rare seems to be self-explanatory. I’m a big fan of Eagle Rare and their 17 Year. I would love to sit down and try this whiskey. Preferably with a distiller from which it came.

George T. Stagg Hazmat IV Edition

Blake Jones, bartender and director of beverage at The Kennedy in Pensacola, Florida

I’d say the George T. Stagg Hazmat IV Edition from the Buffalo Trace antique collection. I’ve always wanted to try that bottle. I think it clocked in at 145 proof.

Karuizawa 1971 Sherry #7267 Geisha in Green

Freddy Concepcion Ucan Tuz, bartender at JW Marriott in Cancun, Mexico

I would love to try the Japanese whisky Karuizawa 1971 Sherry #7267 Geisha in Green because of its history and uniqueness. This whiskey was produced until 2012, unfortunately, there is no more production available — the site closed down. I have heard, that this whisky must be delicious but I worry it will always remain a dream for me.

Yamazaki Mizunara 18

Wesley MacDonald, owner of Caña Bar and Kitchen in Curaçao

I would love to try Japanese whisky aged on mizunara oak or Japanese oak. This oak is much more difficult to work with, Due to its imperfections, whisky aged in these $6000 barrels needs more time to mature to fully take the desired flavors of the oak. Most mizunara whiskies are therefore aged for at least 15-20 years, raising the price tremendously and make tasting any expression quite rare. Specifically, I would love to try Yamazaki Mizunara 18 Year.