The Editor's Choice

Some top tips from Whisky Magazine's archive
By Jonny McCormick
Whenever a new issue of Whisky Magazine is published, everyone eagerly flips to the new whisky releases reviewed in the back. The Editor's Choice is your shortcut to picking out the best of the bottles based on the exceptional quality of their aromas and flavours. Packaging, limited editions and price should not enter the equation. If you had followed the salient advice of the reviewers and purchased a bottle of each Editor's Choice, you would have built up a remarkable whisky collection by now. You could say they were right under your nose all along. Some will have rocketed in value since being released. Others will have been too irresistible not to tug out the corks and consume. Remembering Whisky Magazine Editors past and present, we plunder the archives for some choice whiskies.

The Balvenie

Vintage Cask 1972, Cask 14816


Bottler: William Grants
Region: Speyside WM tasting scores: 9.3 & 9 (Issue 34)
Recent auction price: £880
Auction: Scotch Whisky Auctions, Glasgow
Date: July 2013

Comment: Number One Drinks supremo Marcin Miller was Editor when this Balvenie was selected as a new release back in Issue 34 (the Sean Connery cover issue from October 2003). Given the popularity and auction success of recent bottlings from this distillery, it's amazing this 30 year old single cask Balvenie doesn't sell for more.


1968, 37 Years Old


Bottler: Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd
Region: Islay
WM tasting scores: 9.5 & 9 (Issue 59)
Recent auction price: $1,400
Auction: Bonhams, New York
Date: April 2013

Comment: November 2006 was Editor Rob Allanson's first issue in charge and he has captained the ship ever since. There were 708 bottles of this Bowmore released which scooped one of the highest ever review scores. It's a bourbon cask expression, just like the new Bowmore 50 Years Old, but this particular one can still be found at auction for under £1000.


17 Years Old Fèis Ìle 2004


Bottler: Allied Domecq
Region: Islay WM tasting scores: 8.8 & 9 (Issue 43)
Recent auction price: £2,150
Auction: Scotch Whisky Auctions
Date: September 2012

Comment: Dominic Roskrow was Whisky Magazine Editor when this festival bottling was reviewed by Michael Jackson and Dave Broom back in November 2004. It reached this price on its first appearance at Scotch Whisky Auctions, but subsequent auctions have not come close. Some sellers' optimistic reserves have been more than the market will bear.

The Glenlivet

Cellar Collection 1969


Bottler: Chivas Bros
Region: Speyside WM tasting scores: 9.3 & 8.5 (Issue 66)
Recent auction price: $750
Auction: Bonhams, New York
Date: April 2013

Comment: Whisky Magazine's Consultant Editor Michael Jackson's final column appeared in the tribute issue in November 2007, published after his untimely death on August 30th 2007. This rich, luxuriant Glenlivet was the Editor's Choice and received high praise from the reviewers. It's a genuine scarcity at auction, so don't hesitate if you get the opportunity to buy one.