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12 Rare Whiskey Brands to Drink

Bottle of Shackleton, rare old highland malt whisky, based on antique blend of Mackinlay's, made at a Scottish distillery

Rare whiskey is a special category of whiskey that’s highly sought after by enthusiasts and collectors alike. These are not your everyday bottles that you can find at any local liquor store. Instead, rare whiskey is often produced in limited quantities and is known for its unique flavors, aging process, and historical significance.

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If you’re someone who appreciates the art of whiskey-making and enjoys savoring the complex flavors of a well-crafted spirit, then rare whiskey might be right up your alley. Whether you’re a seasoned whiskey connoisseur or just someone who appreciates a good drink, exploring the world of rare whiskey can be a fascinating and rewarding experience. The rich history, intricate distilling process, and diverse range of flavors make rare whiskey a delightful indulgence for anyone with a taste for the finer things in life.

Pappy Van Winkle’s 23-Year-Old Family Reserve Bourbon

Pappy Van Winkle's 23-Year-Old Family Reserve Bourbon
source: buffalotracedistillery.com

From the famous Buffalo Trace distillery in Kentucky, Pappy Van Winkle is a collection of the finest vintage Bourbons whose ages range from 10 to 23 years. Pappy Van Winkle’s 23-year-old family reserve bourbon has received countless gold medals in the San Francisco World Spirit competition. It has a sumptuous aroma of cream, caramel, leather, and nuts, transforming into tasting notes of sweet vanilla, honey, and citrus, with spice. It has a long, smokey finish.


Macallan 78-Year-Old Red Collection

Macallan 78-Year-Old Red Collection
source: themacallan.com

Macallan 78-Year-Old Red Collection is a single malt Scotch whiskey made from whiskey distilled 78 years ago and aged in hand-picked oak barrels. This exclusive whiskey comes in a wooden box with a red plush interior. The red mahogany hue is fitting of its name, with aromas of fresh fruit, chocolate, oak, and leather. The tasting notes include spicy ginger and nutmeg, dried fruits, and baked apple and toffee at the tail end.

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JOHNNIE WALKER Masters of Flavour 48 Year Old

JOHNNIE WALKER Masters of Flavour 48 Year Old
source: store.johnniewalker.com

This limited edition Masters of Flavour 48-year-old is the last of four Johnnie Walker Master’s Editions. These rare whiskies are from what Johnnie Walker refers to as “ghost” distilleries from the four corners of Scotland. There are only 288 bottles of Masters of Flavour 48-year-old Scotch whiskey. They sell at auction for a whopping 25,000 dollars in a stunning emerald bottle presented in a wooden box.


Glenfiddich 50 Year Old

Glenfiddich 50 Year Old
source: glenfiddich.com

Glenfiddich is a historic Scottish whisky distillery with five generations of whisky distilling practices. The 50 Year Old is aged in only 9 different casks, each representing each of founder William Grant’s children. The unique aroma has floral notes of rose petals and violets with green tobacco, oak, and smoke. The tasty palate starts sweet with notes of orange marmalade, vanilla, and toffee, ceding to floral and smokey notes. The finish is dry, peaty, and smokey. 


Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 12 Year

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 12 Year
source: oldforester.com

This limited edition Old Forester Birthday Bourbon was released in 2021 to honor the 151st anniversary of Old Forester. It’s called the birthday bourbon because it was also released on September 2, which happens to be the founder George Garvin Brown’s birthday. The aroma of dessert and fresh berries is tantalizing, leading to rich dessert-tasting notes of burnt sugar, buttery caramel, and cookie with a peppery finish.


Hibiki 30 Year Old

Hibiki 30 Year Old
source: house.suntory.com

A branch of Japan’s iconic Suntory Whisky distillery, Hibiki is a blended whisky brand that uses only the finest aged whiskeys. Hibiki 30-year-old contains multiple malt and grain whiskies blended to perfection for a luxurious sipping whiskey. Its aroma has dried fruit notes of prune and raisin along with sweet toasted chestnut. The flavor notes include dried fig, brown sugar, apricot, gingerbread cookies, and cedar.

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George T. Stagg 18

George T. Stagg 18
source: reddit.com

George T. Stagg is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon from the Sazerac Company, distilled in the Buffalo Trace distillery. George Stagg 18 comes from batch no. 18, aged between 7-9 years. The deep brown color almost looks like molasses. George T. Stagg 18 has a rich caramel scent with raspberry undertones. The palate has a cinnamon spice with dry oaky tannins and a complex medley of fruit and vanilla with a strong heat due to its high abv.


North Of Scotland 50 Year Old

North Of Scotland 50 Year Old
source: whiskysaga.com

North of Scotland is a Scottish distillery that opened in 1957 and shut in 1980, giving it time to produce only one collection, which is this North of Scotland 50-year-old whiskey. It is a very complex, full-bodied Scotch with aromas of pecan, custard, baked apple, nectarine, raspberries, and toffee. Tasting notes include custard, nutmeg, cinnamon, blood orange, and toasted hazelnuts with a nutty, vanilla fudge finish. It’s the perfect dessert whisky. 


Eagle Rare 17-Year-Old

Eagle Rare 17-Year-Old
source: buffalotracedistillery.com

Receiving some of the highest ratings from both Wine Enthusiast and F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal, Eagle Rare 17-year-old Kentucky Bourbon is yet another prized whiskey from the Buffalo Trace Distillery. It is a limited edition released once a year in the fall. It has a wine-like aroma that leads to tasting notes of oak, leather, and vanilla with a leather and toffee finish.


W.L Weller 12-Year Bourbon

W.L Weller 12-Year Bourbon
source: buffalotracedistillery.com

W.L. Weller’s 12-year Bourbon is from the Buffalo Trace Distillery and stands out as a wheated bourbon. It recently won gold at four different 2022 world spirit competitions, recognized as a toasty and nutty bourbon with an ultra-smooth finish. The tasting notes start out with almond and creamed corn, transforming into a rich wheat flavor with a long, oaky finish.

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Booker’s 25th Anniversary Bourbon

Booker's 25th Anniversary Bourbon
source: whiskyauctioneer.com

Released in 2013 for the 25th anniversary of the fairly new Booker’s whisky company, Booker’s 25th Anniversary Bourbon is an uncut and unfiltered bourbon aged over 10 years. The nose offers aromas of nuts, coffee, and toasted wood with a palate of wood, caramel, and vanilla. The finish continues the nuttiness with a lingering taste of toasted marshmallows. 


Mackinlay’s Shackleton Rare Old Highland 

Mackinlay's Shackleton Rare Old Highland 
source: cellar.com

This rare vintage scotch whiskey is a blended malt inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s British expedition to Antarctica at the turn of the 20th century. It is actually the scotch crew members drank on their iconic voyage to Antarctica. This rare Old Highland Scotch blend has sweet and spicy aromas, flavors, and finishes. It starts out with aromas of vanilla, toffee, cinnamon, and ginger, leading to brown sugar, dried fruit, and glazed pineapple palate. The finish is chocolate praline, mulled wine, and a final smokiness.


Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

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Paul Kushner

Written by Paul Kushner

Founder and CEO of MyBartender. Graduated from Penn State University. He always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. His restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time he turned 17 he was serving tables, and by 19 he was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, Paul opened his first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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