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Expand Your Whiskey World With These Bottles From Beyond The ‘Big Five’ Whiskey Producing Nations

The globe is figuratively drenched in whisk(e)y. And while it might seem to the uninitiated that the U.S., Scotland, Japan, Canada, and Ireland make all of those bottles, that’s not exactly true. These days, whiskey is made all over the planet; and while the big five dominate, Mexico, France, Australia, Israel, South Africa, Germany, and many more are cranking out high-quality whisk(e)y expressions that definitely deserve your attention.

Before we get into the 11 whiskeys to make our list, we just want to point out that we’re highlighting whiskey expressions, in general. We’re not here to break down the specific whiskey laws of France or how the industry is run in Australia. This is about the whiskey we like drinking from places that don’t come immediately to mind when thinking of whiskey. There’s no MO other than that, and the bottles we picked range from peaty single malts to peppery ryes to standard blends.

The point here is that the world of whisky is vast. It’s important to keep exploring its further reaches.

Mackmyra Brukswhisky (Sweden)

Mackmyra

ABV: 41.4%
Average Price: $44

The Whisky:

Mackmyra has made a name for itself in the whisky world over the last few years. They have a strong core of high-quality, great-tasting expressions. Assuming you’ve never tried it, you should start at the beginning by sipping on the brand’s core expression Brukswhisky. It’s made up of whiskies aged in ex-bourbon barrels, sherry, and Swedish oak casks. On top of that, smoky malt whisky is added to complete the flavor experience.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find nutty sweetness as well as ripe berries, orange peels, and sweet vanilla. The first sip yields creamy butterscotch, dried fruits, and just a hint of smoke. The finish is long, warming, and ends with hints of caramel apples, and cinnamon.

Bottom Line:

This is truly a unique dram. If you find yourself with a bottle, take your time to discover all the various layers of this exotic whisky.

Abasolo El Whisky De Mexico (Mexico)

Abasolo

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $42

The Whisky:

A new whiskey on the market, Abasolo is a farm-to-table distillery located in Jilotepec de Abasolo (an hour a half from Mexico City). While tequila is king in Mexico, Destileria Y Bodega Abosolo (where the whisky is produced) is the first-ever distillery exclusively making whisky. Made from 100% non-GMO Cacahuazintle corn, Abasolo is a truly unique whiskey that you should make a point to try.

Tasting Notes:

Since this corn whiskey is only aged for two years (in former bourbon barrels), it has a younger, brighter, more unaged flavor than bourbon. But it’s not harsh by any means. The nose is filled with sweet corn, vanilla, and charred oak. The first sip is filled with fresh, roasted corn, caramelized sugar, and sweet cream. The finish is medium, warming, and ends with a final flourish of butterscotch.

Bottom Line:

This young whisky is so sweet and rich that it’s most suited to be an after-dinner drink, on par with a complex liqueur.

Penderyn Celt Single Malt Welsh Whisky (Wales)

Penderyn

ABV: 41%
Average Price: $64

The Whisky:

Penderyn opened in the mountain village of Brecon Beacons back in 2004, making it the first new Welsh distillery to open in over 100 years. Their flagship whisky is the Celt Single Malt. This small-batch whisky is first matured in ex-bourbon barrels before being finished in Madeira barriques.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is subtly spicy with hints of cinnamon, dried orange peels, and slight smoke. Taking a sip will bring you flavors of creamy vanilla, candied orange peels, shortbread, salted caramel, and a hint of woodsmoke. The finish is long, warming, and ends with a final kick of campfire smoke.

Bottom Line:

Sometimes it seems like Wales is the forgotten U.K. whisky region. But if the country keeps cranking out high-quality spirits like Penderyn, that won’t be the case for long.

Seven Seals Peated Port Wood (Switzerland)

Seven Seals

ABV: 46%
Average Price: $75

The Whisky:

The folks at Switzerland’s Seven Seals created a new technique that’s designed to accelerate the aging process. Located in Stans, Switzerland, the brand was created for more than just whisky production. The real goal is to innovate and so far, whatever it’s doing is working — because the whiskies are receiving heavy acclaim and awards.

One of its best is Peated Port Wood, with its smoky, peaty flavor complimented by sweet, rich port wood.

Tasting Notes:

The first nose is filled with obvious peat smoke followed by dried orange peels, and cherries. The first sip is full of more smoky peat, cloying honey, cooking spices, and sweet vanilla cream. The finish is long, full of lasting heat, and ends with a nice final whiff of campfire smoke.

Bottom Line:

If you’re a fan of peaty Islay Scotches, why not give this unique whisky a chance? You’ll be treated to a highly nuanced, flavor experience you won’t soon forget.

Starward Nova (Australia)

Starward

ABV: 41%
Average Price: $44

The Whisky:

Southern hemisphere countries like New Zealand and Australia are well-known for their award-winning wines. But, in recent years, whisky has begun to gain ground because of brands like Starward. While the whole collection of whiskies is memorable, Nova is the real winner. Instead of the usual barrels, this single malt whisky was matured in Australian red wine barrels for two years to give it a complex, one-of-a-kind flavor profile.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is loaded with fresh, juicy berry and dried fruit flavors that soon move into sweet vanilla. The sip is full of sweet clover honey, spicy cinnamon, more berries, and nutty sweetness. The finish is long, filled with warmth, and ends with toasted caramel and more sweet cinnamon.

Bottom Line:

After you’re done drinking Aussie shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, crack open a bottle of Starward Nova to experience another boozy side of the great Down Under.

Brenne French Single Malt Whisky (France)

Brenne French Single Malt

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $60

The Whisky:

Like many of the other countries on this list, France is well-known for other forms of alcohol. The land of wine, cognac, and vodka are also home to Brenne — a truly special whisky brand making big waves in the spirits world. The company’s flagship single malt is a “seed-to-spirit” whisky, made with locally sourced heirloom barley and distilled using water from the nearby Charente river before being aged in French Limousin Oak and Cognac casks.

Tasting Notes:

This six-year-old whisky’s nose is full of dried cherries, vanilla cake, and caramelized sugar. On the palate, you get subtle spicy cinnamon, creamy vanilla, brown sugar, and candied orange peels. The finish is medium, warm, and ends with a little zip of cinnamon spice.

Bottom Line:

If you’re a fan of cognac and you’re looking for a gateway into the whisky world, look no further than Brenne.

Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky (England)

Cotswolds

ABV: 46%
Average Price: $54

The Whisky:

Strangely, even though Scotland and Ireland are well-known for whisky, England isn’t. The country is gin-centric and has been for centuries. But, in recent years, a handful of whisky brands have popped up including Cotswolds. Founded in 2014, the brand’s single malt is made using floor malt and distilled in Forsyth copper pot stills before being aged in a combination of ex-bourbon and wine casks.

Tasting Notes:

Before sipping, you’ll be met with a nose of dried apricots, clover honey, and toasted marshmallows. The first sip is filled with brown sugar, cooking spices, candied orange peels, and creamy vanilla. The finish is long, warm, and ends with a nice finale of buttery vanilla.

Bottom Line:

If you can manage to put down the British gin for one night, grab a bottle of this single malt. Sip on it or mix with it, whatever you like.

Milk & Honey Whiskey In Bloom (Israel)

Milk and Honey

ABV: 46%
Average Price: $50

The Whiskey:

Located in Tel Aviv, Milk & Honey is Israel’s first whisky distillery. While the distillery is making a few bottles of note, Milk & Honey Whiskey in Bloom is the most memorable. This single malt is aged in ex-bourbon, ex-wine, and ex-scotch casks from Islay. The result is a well-rounded, slightly smoky single malt whisky.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find sweet cream, brown sugar, spicy cinnamon, and subtle peat smoke. The first sip is filled with buttery vanilla cream, dried cherries, rich caramel, and just a hint of that soothing peat smoke. The finish is long, warming, and ends with a nice combination of smoky peat and sweet clover honey.

Bottom Line:

This well-balanced, highly complex whisky should be enjoyed neat or on the rocks in order to experience every single, nuanced flavor.

Amrut Fusion (India)

Amrut

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $72.99

The Whisky:

India holds an interesting spot in the whisky world. The country has a history of importing whisky, but hasn’t been known as a strong producer. Enter Amrut, an award-winning whisky that’s been available in the US since 2009. While its single malt is heavily lauded by critics, we prefer its smokier cousin Amrut Fusion. 25% of the barley used to make this whisky was actually sent to Scotland to be peat-smoked. The other 75% was dried without peat in Indian, hence the “Fusion” moniker.

Tasting Notes:

Aging in both new oak and former bourbon casks for three-four years creates a subtly peat smoke nose, with hints of charred oak and sweet vanilla. The first sip is filled with hints of caramelized sugar, dried fruits, cinnamon, and a simple kiss of peat. The finish is long, warming, and ends with a nice combination of subtle pepper and rich smoke.

Bottom Line:

If you’re a fan of Islay whiskies, but you want to get a little more worldly, Amrut Fusion is for you. Just be aware that if you’re expecting a smoke bomb, you won’t find it here.

Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky (South Africa)

Bain

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $27.99

The Story:

While this whiskey can be purchased for less than $30, it won the award for World’s Best Grain at the 2018 World Whiskies Awards. This is a bottle that corn whiskey fans are sure to love. First launched in 2009, it’s made from 100% South African yellow maize. It’s double aged, first in ex-bourbon barrels for three years before being moved to different ex-bourbon barrels for 18-30 more months.

Tasting Notes:

The aromas will surprise no one. First your nostrils will be greeted with creamy vanilla, sweet caramel, and just a hint of charred oak. The palate is filled with sweet cinnamon, caramel corn, toasted marshmallows, and brown sugar. The finish is long, filled with heat, and ends with a final kick of sticky toffee.

Bottom Line:

If you enjoy your whisky “the cornier the better,” this is the perfect bottle for you. It might be made thousands of miles away, but it should appeal to the most tenacious bourbon fan.

Drink Editor’s Pick: Stork Club Straight Rye Whiskey (Germany)

Stork Club

ABV: 45%
Average Price: $50

The Whiskey:

This fairly new expression is from Germany’s oldest distillery just outside of Berlin, Spreewald Distillery. The juice is made from rye grown in the surrounding region, making it a very local and a very grain-to-glass experience. The whiskey is then aged in ex-bourbon and old German white wine barrels before blending, proofing, and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

The rye really comes through in equal measures of crusty sour rye bread and peppery spice with a counterpoint of hazelnut and creamy chocolate up top. The taste leans into the Nutella aspects, with a real creaminess next to more of that spice with a hint of fresh chilis and a touch of buttery toffee. The chocolate darkens on the end (especially with a little water) as the nuttiness remains strong and is tied off by a final flourish of orange oils.

Bottom Line:

This is a really solid rye that feels familiar while bringing a whole lot of uniqueness to the game. It’s a great workhorse whiskey as well — working in highballs, cocktails, and on the rocks as a sipper.

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