The Cosmo India SNAs Best Whisky Winners Have Been Revealed

The first annual Cosmopolitan Saturday Night Awards identifies the best spirits available—the wines, champagnes, gins, vodkas, whiskeys, and more. Team Cosmo India and our expert jury panel judged hundreds of Indian spirits to arrive at a list of fabulous winners. 

26 April, 2022
The Cosmo India SNAs Best Whisky Winners Have Been Revealed

1. Best Blended Whisky

Scottish Leader

This one is a blended whisky (from malt and grain) from Scotland—the brand was created in 1976, so it’s a rather young label, considering the history of single malts and whisky in the region. In 2014, Scottish Leader (owned by South African drinks group Distell) went for a brand ‘refresh’ and put the discernible ‘soaring eagle’ on its label. What’s great about this whisky is that it’s an all-around great find—and Cosmo’s SNA panel picked it because it’s smooth, rich, and highly versatile. You can add it to cocktails or pair it with food, the choice is yours. The colour is copper-gold, and on the nose, there are notes of malt, oak, honey-drizzled fruit, with bits of smokiness and wooden spiciness. There’s also a delightful touch of sherry sweetness. On the palate, it’s creamy, with honey sweetness, orange, and caramel, with a dash of smokiness. It’s not very complex, but is a great, easy drink—just add a splash of water or an ice cube and you are set.

Scottish leader

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2. Best Blended Whisky - Editor's Choice

Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve

The perfect blend for an indulgent celebration, Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve is luxurious, creamy, and honeyed, and if you look at the history of the brand, it’s easy to see why this was Editor Nandini Bhalla’s pick for the best blended whisky. Founded two centuries ago by Johnnie Walker, who was one of the first to ever create blended whiskies, the eponymous label today features Master Blender Jim Beveridge, who has at his disposal, the largest stocks of single grain Scotch whisky and single malt Scotch whisky in the world. It’s all about understanding not only the character and traits of each whisky in his care—from the ingredients used to the treatment of the casks—but also how they combine and react when brought together. The Johnny Walker Gold Reserve is a wonderful tribute to the harmonious partnership of Speyside and Highland Whiskies, with just a hint of smouldering embers from the West Coast. Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve is made for those unforgettable celebrations, big and small—including weddings, birthdays, and special moments. Enjoy Gold Reserve on its own, with a dash of water, or with your favourite mixer. With some apple juice and soda, you can create your own heavenly cocktail!

Johnnie walker gold

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3. Best Single Malt Whisky

Barrhead’s One

This single malt is part of a distinctive set of whiskies from the heart of whisky country in Speyside, Scotland, from a quaint little town near Glasgow, known for its rich ancestry and heritage. Immersed in the native traditions of Scotland, Barrhead’s One is crafted using select barrels to age single malt Scotch whiskies (made from malted barley, distilled in copper stills, and the product of a single distillery) that embody the region’s signature style. This light single-malt Scotch whisky offers refined nuances of vanilla, honey, cinnamon, caramel, and café latte on the nose. And the aromas are complemented on the palate by the flavours of roasted almonds, sun-dried raisins, moist banana cake, and maple syrup, with a smooth and silky mouthfeel. It’s best enjoyed neat with water or ice. A classic malt whisky that is really a connoisseur’s delight.

Barrheads one

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4. Best Bourbon - Editor's Choice

Woodford Reserve

If you’re a bourbon fan, it’s very hard not to fall a little in love with Woodford Reserve. This could possibly be the world’s most exquisite bourbon, and that’s why it tops Editor Nandini Bhalla’s list! The art of making bourbon itself took place in 1812 on the site of the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Kentucky, a US National Historic Landmark today, the same place that creates this clean, brilliant, honey-amber potion. Crafted from a grain recipe of 72 percent corn, 19 percent rye, and 10 percent malted barley, the sweetness of corn is balanced with the spice of rye and nuttiness of malt to build the base for a most flavourful bourbon. This Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey includes more than 200 detectable flavour notes, from bold grain and wood to sweet aromatics, spice, fruit, and floral notes. On the nose, it is heavy with rich dried fruit, hints of mint and oranges, covered with a dusting of cocoa and a faint whiff of vanilla and tobacco. The taste is rich, rounded, and smooth, with complex citrus, cinnamon, and cocoa; lots of toffee, caramel, chocolate, and spices. To the finish, it is silky smooth, almost creamy at first, with a long, warm, satisfying tail.

Woodford reserve

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5. Most Luxurious Whisky - Editor's Choice

Johnnie Walker Blue Label

The first thing you notice about Johnnie Walker Blue Label is the sleek bottle holding the golden liquid—the presentation, inarguably, is top-shelf and luxurious. When you were lucky enough to be travelling first class, Blue Label was the whisky served on the trolley cart. When you wanted to impress guests, this was the whisky you brought out. But Blue Label’s luxury isn’t just about positioning and good tasters also love the way it sits on the palate. Most will describe it as ‘incredibly smooth’, with well balanced flavours. In 2018, Whisky Advocate gave it a score of 97—one of the highest ratings ever awarded. A little over a year ago, this aspirational whisky celebrated its 200th anniversary, which is two decades of smelling like vanilla, spice, and honey; tasting like caramel, hazelnuts, and dark chocolate; and offering a decadent, long, warming, smokey finish. Cosmo Editor Nandini Bhalla also points out that when in doubt, Blue Label makes for a timeless present that will certainly be appreciated by the receiver.

Johnnie walker blue label

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6. Best Single Malt Whisky

Aberlour 18 Year Old

Born out of a small and intimate distillery along the river Spey, Aberlour, which literally means ‘little river’ in Gaelic, is nourished by Bronson’s Well with its clear spring water that is key to making great whisky—a natural phenomenon Speyside is famed for. Founded in 1879 by James Fleming, this special site on the pink granite of Ben Rinnes Mountain, houses the distillery, with its stone buildings consisting of four pear-shaped pot stills. It is the slow distillation process that gives this whisky its unique, sweetly calm taste, and the flavour comes through with the use of sherry and bourbon casks. On the nose, it is peachy, honeyed, and creamy, like melted vanilla ice cream. On the palate, you get the freshness of juicy apples and spicy oranges before the sherry [oak barrels] kick in with the sultanas and raisins. The finish is intricate, with dark chocolate and oily caramel notes. The reason for choosing this single malt as the best in our selection is quite simply because only the best casks go into the making of this whisky, with the richest spirits. Incredibly, Aberlour, which was one of the most modern distilleries during its early days, today has one of the biggest outputs of the region of 3.5 million litres a year. Quite a feat!


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7. Best Whisky To Gift Your Boss - Editor's Choice

Scapa Glansa

 If your boss is the kind to appreciate a (somewhat) hidden gem, then this just might be it. In the many varieties of whisky, the Scapa Glansa stands out as a peated single malt that originates in a distillery located on Orkney Island that lies to the north of Scotland, founded in 1885. Scapa Glansa (which means shining, storm-laden skies in Old Norse), is the first peated expression of this distillery, with a no-age-statement, and double matured in first-fill, American oak casks and ex-peated whisky casks to enhance the taste. It goes without saying that these whiskies made with 100 percent malted barley from a single distillery are a treasure in a world of ordinariness, and something to be coveted. And that’s why Cosmo Editor Nandini Bhalla chose this unique peated single malt as the number one choice to gift with love. Not only do the notes open with light peat—to be expected as it is dried with peat and matured in an ex-peated whiskey barrel—but there is a wonderful aroma of the sea that surrounds the distillery, from a salty sea spray as well as a hint of vanilla and ripe banana. On the palate, it is earthy and fairly dry with a bit of toasted oak. What Editor Nandini Bhalla also appreciated was the elusiveness of this single malt and the fact that it sits on one of the lesser-known islands of Scotland and is literally the second northern-most distillery in Scotland. Purchased by Pernod Ricard in the ’50s, its production was halted between 1994 and 2004 and kicked off again in 2016 in the small, manually operated distillery, which is truly a representation of how the world’s best single malts are made.

Scapa glansa

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8. Best Whisky To Gift Your Boyfriend - Editor's Choice

Monkey Shoulder

In some ways, this is the ultimate guy’s whisky. It’s fun-loving and versatile, much like a good boyfriend should be, and is just made for mixing—perfect for savouring those popular cocktails. A blend of three Speyside single malts, created by Master Blender Brian Kingsman, Monkey Shoulder fans will tell you that it’s the kind of smooth, sweet drink that is incredibly easy to love (and, hence, share with others). Now stand back for a quick history lesson: created in 2003, with the intent to create a whisky that one could use for mixing drinks all over the world, a wonderful blend of only single malts was created, starting off a new category of Scotch—a blend of malts—that no-one had ever done before. This is a whisky with a cheeky sense of humour that has a unique versatility. Its richness and vibrancy, combined with fruity aromas and mellow vanilla notes, makes it the perfect 100 percent malt whisky for mixing. It can be enjoyed neat on the rocks or experimented with in cocktails. Some of the fun cocktails that you and your boyfriend (or girlfriend) can try with Monkey Shoulder are Lazy Old Fashioned (Monkey Shoulder, Angostura Bitters, sugar syrup, and orange zest); Monkey Splash (Monkey Shoulder, soda water, and orange wedge); and Ginger Monkey (Monkey Shoulder, dry ginger ale, and orange wedge).

monkey shoulder

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9. Best Blended Malt

Royal Salute 21 Year Old The Signature Blend

Born in Speyside in 1953, Royal Salute began life as a tribute to a young Queen Elizabeth II on her coronation. It’s the best-blended malt, because, quite simply, it’s the blended whisky that will make your heart sing (high ratings at the Cosmo SNA jury meet second that feeling)! Sophisticated and opulent, the Signature Blend was created for joyous occasions, and almost 70 years later, this remains a classic example of the master blender’s art. On the nose, sweet pears and citrus are balanced with the fragrance of autumn flowers. An elegant blend of vanilla and dry oak is crowned with subtle notes of sherry and just a wisp of smoke. In the mouth, the welcome warmth of orange marmalade and fresh pears is followed by a delightful explosion of spices and hazelnut. And then, after the fireworks, a trace of smoke lingers on. Its unique flagon is made of porcelain, crafted by Wade Ceramics (UK). The first flagon in 1953 was crafted by Royal Doulton. Royal Salute 21 is best drunk on its own, with a smidge of water or an ice cube or two, but you can also create some memorable cocktails with the Royal Salute 21 Year Old—such as The Kensington (50ml Royal Salute 21 YO The Signature Blend; honey syrup; lemon juice; and soda water) or you can try The Sussex—that has a spicy secret, a hint of red chilli! (50ml Royal Salute 21 YO The Signature Blend; Maraschino liqueur; lemon juice; red chilli; pear syrup; and soda water).

royal salute

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10. Best Whisky to Serve at Parties

Jameson Original Irish Whiskey

This is an iconic Irish whiskey founded by James Jameson in 1740 (Jameson himself came from a long family line of pirate fighters from the 1500s, whose family motto was Sine Metu, meaning ‘without fear’). It was this bravery that led Jameson to open his own distillery in the mid-18th century. His descendants took Jameson well into the 20th century, and today take the best of pot still and fine grain whiskies (from a mash of malted and unmalted barleys) that are triple distilled using techniques that date back to James Jameson’s days (after all, he invented triple distilling, today the gold standard for Irish whiskeys), before being aged for a minimum of four years in a combination of ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks. Jameson says that the triple distillation is what gives this whiskey its distinctive smooth taste, perfect for gatherings and parties, where tastes differ and where your ultimate aim is to be a crowd-pleaser! On the nose, the whiskey has a light, floral fragrance, peppered with spicy wood and sweet notes. To taste, it’s the perfect balance of spicy, nutty, and vanilla notes with hints of sweet sherry. The finish is smooth and mellow.

jameson irish whiskey

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11. Best Blended Whisky

Dewar's 12 Year Old

If you, like many whisky aficionados, like rich, creamy blends, especially in winter, then this blended whisky from Dewar’s (founded in 1846 by John Dewar in London, made famous in the 1880s by his son Tommy), will lift your spirits. Dewar’s 12 Year Old, one of the world’s most-awarded whiskies, is a blend of single malt and single-grain whisky, that’s double aged in sherry and oak barrels (after the initial maturation and blending, it’s aged in oak for six months)—and is the successor to Dewar’s Double Aged 12 Year Old. This ensures that all the source whiskies for this blend are in harmony. The single malt comes from Aberfeldy, a distillery that was built in 1886 by John Dewar’s other son Alexander, which acts as a ‘blueprint’ whisky for most Dewar’s blends. A vibrant amber colour, on the nose are notes of sweet caramel, black cherries, and chocolate. There is also a whiff of floral, almond, orange peel, and smoke. On the palate, it’s creamy and smooth, with a taste of caramel and a hint of smokiness. Then the flavours turn into dark cherry, vanilla, chocolate, honey, aniseed, and orange, with a buttery feel. The finish is smooth, long, and caramelised...and highly reliable!

Dewars 12 yo

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12. Best Scotch Whisky

Johnnie Walker Blue Label

Johnnie Walker Blue Label is, in many ways, an unrivalled masterpiece, and that’s why it grabs the top spot in the Cosmo panel’s voting list. It is an exquisite blend made from some of Scotland’s rarest and most exceptional whiskies. Only one in every 10,000 casks has the character and flavour to deliver the signature taste of Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Johnnie Walker is famed for its coloured labels but what does the Blue Label really mean? It’s said that when Alexander Walker, son of founder Johnnie Walker, created Old Highland Whisky in 1867 as a blend that featured flavours from the four corners of Scotland, that this velvety, rounded, and incomparably rich and smokey whisky—the Blue Label—was born. Created from hand-selected casks of some of the rarest and most exceptional whiskies, Johnnie Walker Blue Label is quite the sensory experience. Hazelnuts, honey, sherry, and oranges tumble in first, before releasing hidden secrets like ginger, kumquats, sandalwood, and dark chocolate. A rich honey sweetness emerges, accompanied by hints of pepper and dried fruits, before an impossibly long, lingering, smooth finish of perfectly balanced, soft smoke.

Johnnie walker blue label

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13. Best Whisky for your Home Bar - Editor's Choice

Ballantine’s 12 Year Old

This is the whisky that a Ballantine’s master blender made for himself in the ‘60s, so you can be rest assured that this would be the perfect whisky for you to savour at home too! A sophisticated blend of whiskies selected at their peak, honed into a drink that’s honey-sweet and perfectly balanced with oak and vanilla notes. To this day, it is Master Blender Sandy Hyslop’s favourite whisky to have at home, as it’s made in the distillery (owned by Chivas Brothers) previously in Dumbarton (yes, one of Prince Harry’s official dukedoms! They still have a warehouse there, and now all of Ballantine’s blending takes place at the Glenburghie distillery, Scotland (Glenburghie is the largest single malt that is part of this Ballantine’s blend). Ballantine’s is a truly storied legacy. At the age of 13, at the beginning of the 1800s, George Ballantine started his apprenticeship as a grocer in Edinburgh, and five years later, he started his own grocery store in Cowgate, learning how to age hand-selected malts, to finally open a Ballantine’s shop in 1836. Did you know, that he was the first to start the ‘shop and drop’ concept—free delivery within 16km (approx) of his store—before the Internet was even a dream? In 1881, the brand went worldwide and export propelled it into becoming a major player. The iconic shape of the square bottle harks back to the time when salesmen had to hide the bottles in their briefcases during Prohibition in the US when cops came calling! But back to the 12 Year Old, which was launched in the 1960s as the cocktail scene was hotting up, taking this whisky beyond the straight and narrow. This whisky is a blend of 40 whiskies and has an intense flavour, that is soft and gentle, consisting of red apple and citrus fruits.  


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14. Best Whisky for your Home Bar - Editor's Choice

Glenlivet 18 Year Old

It is balanced, rich, and elegant. It’s for those special occasions at home and that’s what Editor Nandini felt, as she savoured the old-gold, apricot colour and citrusy winter spice flavour of the Glenlivet 18 Year Old (which was introduced in 1994). On the nose, there’s a rich toffee fruitiness, while the palate bursts with sweet orange. It lingers long in the mouth, with floral flavours of raisins, spice, plum, honey, citrus, and sweetness. It makes one wonder what it is about The Glenlivet—a single malt whisky made purely from malted barley and yeast, and water from Josie’s Well nearby, that caught the attention of the world? This is another true-blue whisky from the heart of Speyside, Scotland. Founded in 1822 by George Smith in the remote Livet Valley, where he made the spirit on the sly, hidden from customs’ officers who patrolled the hills and springs; it even caught the attention of King George IV, who asked for a drop of this rare whisky, so great was its fame! From warding off competitors with pistols to being recommended by none other than Charles Dickens in London (he wrote to his friend about this exceptional single malt), to getting their own identity with the three letters—THE—in front of their name to keep their legacy intact, this is the world’s best-selling single malt. In the distillery today, the lantern-shaped copper stills work in pairs, making the sugary liquid from the malted barley, until the vapours boil up and are recaptured into the tank after the first distillation, then it goes back up for the second distillation.

glenlivet 18

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15. Best Value for Money - Editor's Choice

Johnnie Walker Red Label

Johnnie Walker Red Label is Johnnie Walker’s pioneer blend! Highly versatile and with a universal appeal, it has a bold flavour full of character that shines through even when mixed. This whisky is now the best-selling whisky around the globe, and it’s not for nothing—Red Label is a very easy to like whisky, while being accessibly priced. Johnnie Walker Red Label is crackling with spice and bursting with vibrant, smokey flavours. It’s a blend that combines light whiskies from Scotland’s East Coast and more peaty whiskies from the West, creating an extraordinary depth of flavour. Johnnie Walker Red Label tumbles onto your palate with the freshness of spray from a breaking wave, bringing the unmistakable zing of aromatic spices—cinnamon and pepper—fizzing over the centre of your tongue. There’s a suggestion of fruity sweetness, like fresh apple or pear and a mellow bed of vanilla, before the Johnnie Walker signature of a long, lingering, smokey finish. Serve it any way you like, on its own, over ice, or with your favourite mixer. Or try the Johnnie Ginger (25ml Johnny Walker Red Label in a highball glass with lots of ice; a shot of lime; and ginger ale right to the top).

Johnnie walker red label

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16. Best Value for Money - Editor's Choice

Johnnie Walker Black Label

One of the most popular and highest-selling blended whiskies in the world, the Johnnie Walker Black Label carries an age statement of 12 years and brings together the aromas and flavours of East Coast and West Coast whiskies of Scotland. The luxuriant, warming whisky, with a smokey finish, is a steal, and that’s why it has made its way to the top of the list for the best value for money for Cosmo Editor Nandini Bhalla. A peaty and intense drink, Johnnie Walker Black Label is also one of the oldest expressions to form a part of the Johnnie Walker portfolio—it was created by Alexander Walker, founder John Walker’s son, and was known as the ‘Extra Special Old Highland Whisky before 1909’.  

It is said that the Johnnie Walker Black Label is a blend of more than 40 source whiskies, married perfectly to create a rich, flavourful, and smooth Scotch whisky. On the nose, there are hints of vanilla, with a rich essence of tropical fruits. The taste is creamy, with notes of toffee, smokey oak, and dry spice. The finish is a typical long finish of a Johnnie Walker whisky with a fruitiness and smokey flavour. This whisky is literally sweetness wrapped in smoke!

Johnnie walker black label

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17. Best Overall Whisky

Black Dog Black Reserve

At the Cosmo India SNA jury meet, Black Dog Black Reserve emerged as a clear winner! This is a Scotch with a formidable Indian connection, but it was really chosen for its rich, mellow, sweet taste. Sir Walter Millard established Black Dog in 1883 in Scotland (it was created by James MacKinlay from Leath), naming it after his favourite salmon fishing fly (it’s also the brand’s logo), after he had to fulfil an order from a wine merchant in Bombay. Then in 1992, McDowell & Co (now known as United Spirits Ltd) established their first joint venture with an international company for bottling alcoholic beverages in Nashik, India. That’s when Black Dog was produced for the Indian market, something that continues to this day. It became the world’s fastest-growing whisky in 1993, and, until today, the whiskies used in this blended whisky come from Scotland, with the Black Dog Black Reserve containing eight-year-old whiskies. The aroma is one of matured wood, toasted malt, mild honey sweetness, delicate butterscotch, with floral nuances at the end. The colour is a warm amber with golden highlights. On the palate, it’s got a robust body, a pronounced rich malt, oak, and sherry sweetness. On the whole, an intense and bright whisky that is really rich to the taste...our panelists agreed!

black dog reserve

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18. Best Overall Whisky - Editor's Choice

Talisker 10 Year Old

This is one classic island single malt from Scotland’s Isle of Skye—one sip and it’s easy to see why Editor Nandini Bhalla put this as number one in her overall ratings for whisky. Established in 1830 by brothers Hugh MacAskill of Eigg and Kenneth MacGaskill, Talisker whisky has been made by the sea in the oldest single malts Scotch whisky distillery on the shores of the Isle of Skye, some of the most remote, rugged, yet beautiful landscapes in Scotland. The name Talisker comes from the old Norse for sloping rock, Thalas Gair. Fun fact: by the 1900s, Talisker was one of the best-selling whiskies in the world! And author Robert Louis Stevenson of Treasure Island fame, wrote that Talisker was the “king o’drinks”! The intense character of the whisky comes from the freshwater drawn directly from underground springs next to the distillery, two very distinctive wash stills and wooden worm tub condensers which, along with its unusual ABV of 45.8 percent (most whisky is 40-43 percent), help set Talisker apart from other malts. This single malt from the Talisker family has a peated, smokey flavour, which comes from the peat burned during the malting process. On the nose, it is fresh and fragrant and beneath the smoke, you’ll find soft fruits (sweet pear and apple) and cereal notes, with pinches of maritime salt from kippers and seaweed. On the palate, it’s a bonfire of peat crackling with black pepper, with a touch of brine and dry barley. A sensation of fruit at this point gives a beautiful balance. It has a long finish, with toasted malt and a crisp sugary underlay.

talisker 10 yo

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19. Best Under 20 Years

Singleton 18 Year Old

An 18-year-old single malt is like a treasure, and is often the richest expression of a particular distillery, as it happens to be for this Singleton from the Glendullan distillery in Scotland (the whisky maison is actually a family of three distilleries in Scotland). The Glendullan, founded in 1897, is located in Dufftown, in the Speyside region. This 18-year-old expression appeared in 2016, and is by far the most sumptuous offering in this range of Glendullan single malts—and it’s the perfect balance of flavours that won our hearts (it’s easy for an 18-year-old to get overpowering, but this one is simply deep and wonderful).
 Distilled in pot stills from 100 percent malted barley, produced in a single distillery (hence a ‘single malt’), and aged in ex-bourbon American oak barrels, for 18 years—the palate is led by notes of toffee, dissolving into coconut, chocolate, banana, cocoa, and hazelnut. The finish is smooth and rounded. Plus, we love its plump bottle and bold, blue colours, making it a joy to behold!

singleton 18 yo

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20. Best Under 20 Years

Chivas Regal 18 Year Old

Chivas Regal is the world’s first luxury whisky, renowned for its benchmark quality, taste, and exclusivity. And it was for its taste that the Cosmo SNA panel blind-tested and picked this one as a winner. Chivas Regal 18 Year Old—with its distinctive royal blue packaging, literally reeks of indulgence, and the world of the hoi polloi. It was personally created by legendary Master Blender Colin Scott, including over 20 of the rarest single malt Scotch whiskies. You can even spot his signature on the presentation box! It is no stranger to winning awards and is a uniquely rich and multi-layered blend. The complex whisky is refined and matured for 18 years; every drop evokes 85 different flavour notes. The incredible whisky is blended with the intent of making a perfectly balanced and exceptionally smooth Scotch—the ultimate whisky under 20 years of age. On the nose, there is a hint of marmalade and malt, with some custard, and coconut. It accentuates a velvety, dark chocolate palate, with spices, and orange marmalade. This yields elegant floral notes, cinnamon, and a wisp of sweet, mellow smokiness.

chivas regal 18 yo

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21. Best Under 30 Years - Editor's Choice

Chivas Regal 25 Year Old

The Chivas Regal’s royal history is one for the books, and intertwined with the history of whisky—the Chivas Regal 25 Years Old makes it to Editor Nandini’s Best Under 30 list with ease! In this blend, not a drop of whisky is under 25 years. Awarded 95 points in the 2010 Whisky Bible, Jim Murray rated this Scotch Blend of the Year in the 18 years and above category. This one’s a delicious blend, with notes of peach and almond. On the nose, it is rich, nutty, with notes of malt and berry fruits, and a bit of liquorice and raspberries. On the palate, it’s soft and gentle, with notes of buttery toffee. The finish is earthy, with a hint of butterscotch. The beautiful thing about this whisky is if you taste it in the glass today, it will be unique to that moment, and it will never occur again, as per Master Blender Colin Scott. “Tomorrow, it will have changed a bit. Each day it picks up nuances.”

chivas regal 25 yo

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22. Most Versatile Whisky

Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7

We don’t think there’s anyone around who doesn’t recognise a bottle of good ol’ JD. The Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 is arguably the most recognised whisky on the planet, and you don’t get that kind of fame for nothing! It’s said that this was Frank Sinatra’s drink of choice, immortalised by a Dean Martin song—“I love Vegas like Sinatra loves Jack Daniel’s.” Made from a recipe that dates back to more than a century (made of corn, rye, and malted barley), it’s painstakingly filtered and mellowed drop by drop through 10 feet of sugar maple charcoal (for purity and flavour), then matured in handcrafted, charred oak barrels made specially by Jack Daniel’s in Lynchburg, Tennessee, by the Jack Daniel’s distillery, which has been a part of the Brown-Forman Corporation since 1956. The classic JD’s sweet and oaky flavour has inspired generations of drinkers to become adherents!

From the days of its founder Jack Daniel, who was born in the 1840s, to when he first started making the distinctive square-shaped bottle in 1897, the No. 7 comes from the number originally assigned to Daniel’s distillery for government registration. Today, it’s the top-selling American whisky in the world. By the way, Tennessee whisky doesn’t follow any calendar. It’s only ready when the tasters at Jack Daniel’s say it is, judged by the way it looks, its aroma, and taste. On the nose, it’s syrupy brown sugar, with sour raisins and green leaves. On the palate, it’s sweet, with a light body and mouthfeel. There’s a hint of chocolate, orange, wood, and cinnamon. The finish is chocolate orange, with a lingering char. What better way to drink it than neat or with a cola? Or have it Frank’s Way, with

3 cubes of ice, 2 fingers of Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, and a splash of water.

JD old no. 7

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23. Best 12 Year Old Whisky

Glenfiddich 12 Year Old

 This 12 Year Old Whisky is a reliable one—great to serve at parties and also savour by yourself. No wonder Glenfiddich 12 is one of the best-selling whiskeys in the world! The Glenfiddich (literally meaning ‘valley of the deer’ in Scottish) 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky is the brand’s signature malt, ‘Original Twelve’, matured in the finest European Oloroso sherry and American bourbon oak casks. It is uniquely married in oak tuns for at least 12 years, to give a beautifully balanced nose, complemented by refreshingly rich and complex notes of fresh pear and subtle oak. With its unique golden colour and freshness from the same highland spring water, Glenfiddich has used since 1887, its distinctive fruitiness comes from the high cut point William Grant always insisted upon.

To taste, it’s characteristically sweet, with fruity notes, that develop into butterscotch, cream, malt, and subtle oak flavours. Creamy with a long, smooth, and mellow finish, it’s not without reason that the 12 Year Old is the world’s most awarded single malt!


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24. Best Whisky To Gift Your Boss - Editor's Choice

Ballantine’s 17 Year Old

It has taken 17 years to mature, and now it should be shared with either your friends, or colleagues—or boss—who will appreciate your dedication to discovering a velvety, smooth whisky such as this one. Here are some conversation starters to help along the way: the Ballantine’s 17 is also the world’s first and most awarded 17-year-old blended whisky. With its clear, golden amber colour, on the nose there are notes of smooth

vanilla and oak, with a sensation of smoke. It was in the 1930s that Ballantine’s introduced it (along with the 30-year-old), so this expression has stood the test of time. The 17 Year Old is aged in sherry casks and has a taste of green apples, honey, with hints of oak, liquorice, and a slightly salty touch. It has a mellow mouthfeel, and with its caramel-like sweetness, it can be relished like a truly incredible Scotch. An integral part of a whisky lover’s collection—it makes for a great addition to any aficionado’s cabinet. The brand’s story is equally fascinating, by the way—the distillery’s founder George Ballantine started his career at age 15 to learn the trade and started selling whisky. He was so successful that he started selling in Glasgow, and even got a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria. And within a few decades, he was counting royal families in India among his customers! The Ballantine’s crest is symbolic of this part of Speyside, Scotland—with elements of the horse, helmet, fire, and earth (the earth symbolises the barley used to create the whiskey. Today, Ballantine’s is Chivas’s best-selling blended Scotch by volume, and is nearing 7 million cases per year!

Ballantine's 17 yo

(Left to right) Mishell Earrings (on the sofa), Esme, ₹9,760; Sacramento Green Mini Crossbody Bag, Papa Don’t Preach by Shubhika, ₹12,600


25. Best New Launch (January 2020 Onwards)

Jameson Black Barrel

The real secret to the unique taste of a dram of Jameson Black Barrel lies in the charring of the barrel. Charring is an age-old method for invigorating barrels to intensify the taste. This whiskey is a tribute to the coopers at Jameson, who have painstakingly given the bourbon barrels an additional charring to reveal its untold richness and complexity. The time that the Irish pot still whiskey (which is triple distilled, mind you) spends maturing in these barrels leads to intensified aromas of butterscotch, fudge, and creamy toffee on the nose. To taste, the nutty notes are in abundance along with the smooth sweetness of spice and vanilla. The finish is rich and intense, with lots of toasted wood and vanilla. An overall intense, very plummy whiskey from Ireland—that makes it to the top of the best new launch.

jameson black barrel

Sunglasses, Versace, price on request


26. Best for the Collector - Editor's Choice

United's Epitome Reserve

This is a real collector’s piece—for true whisky aficionados—created especially by Diageo India. Say hello to the country’s first-ever, small-batch, artisanal craft, 100 percent rice whisky. Epitome Reserve was launched some months ago in an exclusive batch of 2,000 numbered bottles, another first for India. It caught the eye of Cosmo Editor Nandini Bhalla, who picked it as the best whisky for the collector. The fact that this pick is crafted in India only adds to the beauty of this pick.  

The golden liquid blend is like no other whisky in India as it’s made of locally sourced rice from the northern frontiers of Punjab, which then travels over 2,000km to be matured in Goa in bourbon casks over three years, and then finished in PX sherry and cherry wood casks in a 50-year-old warehouse. A meticulously crafted blend of woody flavours, vibrant characters of rich dried fruits, sweet toffee caramel, vanilla, and butterscotch with rich spicy notes, the liquid is enjoyed neat, on the rocks or with a dash of water. Epitome Reserve comes in a handcrafted maple wood pack that brings to life the ethos of the banyan tree, with shades of green and teal, and is meant to be a keepsake! And Diageo India honours the craftspeople by carrying the names of makers behind this legendary whisky on the pack.

united epitome reserve

Pink Zephyr Earrings, Aetee, ₹6,000