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How to Buy the Best Whisky of 2019

Act quick because it’s already virtually unavailable (and it’s only 2018).

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Fake news: There’s a shortage of whisky.

Real news: There’s a shortage of exceptional, award-winning whisky.

A bourbon, rye and single-malt Scotch were the top three selections in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2019, announced this week. This is a return to the norm for Murray, the Panama-hat-clad whisky authority who tests more than 1,200 samples each year to make his selections, and made waves in previous rankings by crowing (gasp!) variations of Canadian and Japanese whiskies.

whiskey
Good luck tasting any of the whiskeys in Jim Murray’s new bible (image via The Whiskey Exchange).

Whether you consider this status quo good or bad news, there is one continuing issue: most of Murray’s selections are impossible to get. First place winner William Larue Weller 2005, a wheated bourbon that’s part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2017, requires a “notify me” sign-up on The Whiskey Exchange page (don’t hold your breath), as does the second place Glen Grant 18 Year Old. Meanwhile, third-place finisher Thomas H Handy Sazerac (yet another Buffalo Trace Antique Collection) is only available as a sampler within a gift set.

A few selections that are readily available, at least online:

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Our divine pick of 2019 that you can actually pick up too (image via The Whiskey Exchange).

Scotch Blend of the Year: Ballantine’s 17 Year Old

Irish Whiskey of the Year (and Irish Pot Still Whiskey of the Year): Redbreast Aged 12 Year Cask Strength

Bourbon (Up to 10 Years): Eagle Rare 10 Year Old

Asian Whisky of the Year: Amrut Greedy Angels 8 Year Old (India)

Still yearnin’ for one of those impossible-to-find winners? We suggest using Wine-Searcher (we found that first-place Weller bottle for $1,600). As well, our guide to procuring Pappy Van Winkle — congrats on their win in the 11- to 15-year-old bourbon category —  has a few secrets that hold true for any rare brown spirit.

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