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E very year, Cigar & Spirits Magazine pours over hundreds of quality spirits, tasting each one for quality and consistency.

This year, our expert tasting panel explored 5 categories of spirits: Vodka, Rum, Tequila, Whiskey, and Gin. Only very best spirits made the cut to be selected to our exclusive Top 25 list, thus earning them the titles of Best Spirits of 2015.

Over the next 5 days we will reveal our Top 25 Spirits, one category at a time.

Read on and enjoy!

Vodka

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 #1 Ketel One Vodka

KetelOne

 

Made with a careful selection of the finest European wheat, Ketel One is a smooth and pure vodka. Once harvested and fermented, the master distiller combines the perfect marriage of old world pot still craft and modern distilling techniques. The aromas of Ketel One Vodka show hints of citrus and honey. On the palate is the taste of a crisp, un- mistakable coolness as it smoothly coats the tongue. The long finish leaves a lively tingle from the ultra-premium spirit.

Retails for about $25. 40% ABV

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#2 Crystal Head VodkaCrystal head

 

Created by entertainment legend Dan Aykroyd, Crystal Head is an ultra-premium vodka made with water from an aquifer in Newfoundland, Canada, blended with select grains. Quadruple distilled and triple filtered through Herkimer diamonds, this blend creates a creamy, earthy, slightly sweet flavor. Crystal Head is a “pure spirit” with no added glycerin, citrus oil, or sugar. The bottle looks great on the bar.

Retails at about $45. 40% abv.

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#3 Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Titos

 

Tito’s Handmade Vodka is produced in Austin at Texas’ oldest legal distillery. Distilled from corn, it is made in batches utilizing old-fashioned pot stills, Tito’s Handmade Vodka is designed to be savored by spirits connoisseurs and every- day drinkers alike. The process used is the similar to that of fine single malt scotches and high-end French cognacs. It re- quires more skill and efforts than other methods, but is well worth it.

Retails at about $25. 40% abv.

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#4 Grey Goose Vodkagg-image-gallery-001

Grey Goose is made with the finest ingredients from France: soft winter wheat from in and around Picardy, plus pure natural spring water from Gensac in the Cognac regions, one of the undisputed homes of fine spirits making. One the nose, Grey Goose is is clean and lively with subtle green apple, white blossom from orchard fruits such as apple and pear, light citrus, dried pear, soft anise and hints of almond cream. On the palate, the taste is sweet, creamy and harmonious, with richness of almond, sweet warm apple, lemon balm, green capsicum and cooling anise at the finish. The finish is fresh and bright throughout with a long, satisfying finish.

Retail for about $29.99 for 750mL.  40% abv.

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#5 elit by Stolichnaya

Stoli

 

This super-premium vodka is made using a unique freeze-out filtration process, and is crafted using Alpha Spirit, the highest grade of spirit recognized by the Russian authorities. Inspired by the old Russian tradition of leaving casks outside in plummeting winter conditions, the liquid is chilled to exactly -18 C̊ . It is then put through ion-charged carbon filters at an extremely slowed velocity. This ensures the finest impurities are captured and removed, leaving a pure liquid charged with character. The result is a vodka with a weighty, rolling mouth-feel, and clean, crisp flavor.

Retails for about $60. 40% abv.

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Tequila

 

#1 Gran Patrón

Gran Patron

 

Gran Patrón Burdeos is twice distilled from the finest Weber Blue Agave grown in Jalisco, Mexico. The tequila is first matured in used American oak barrels for a minimum of 12 months. It is then distilled a third time and aged in new French oak, before it is finished in vintage Bordeaux wine barrels. Hand-selected from the great châteaux of France, these barrels impart a dark amber color and add the distinctive flavors of vanilla, raisins and dried fruit.

Retails for about $499 40% abv.

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#2 Don Julio 1942Don Julio

This 100% agave tequila is aged for at least two and-a-half years in American white oak barrels. Only three barrels are produced per cycle. It has a full-bodied, deep, bright amber hue with specks of gold. The aroma is sweet with notes of caramelized cherries, nuts, and chocolate, combined with cinnamon and a light essence of oak. Flavors of roasted agave, vanilla, and tropical fruit complement spicy undertones. This ultra-premium tequila is presented in an elongated bottle inspired by the agave leaf.

 

Retails for $125 40% abv

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#3 Milagro Select Barrel Select Silver

Milagro

 

This tequila is made with 100% agave grown in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. Harvested at the peak of ripeness, the agaves are slow roasted in traditional clay ovens for 36 hours. This helps to achieve the perfect balance of smoothness and caramelized flavors once it is triple distilled. Aged for about 35 days in American oak and French white oak casks, this is a crisp and fresh tequila with notes of vanilla, and a spicy,  dry finish. Each bottle is hand crafted and individually numbered.

 

Retails around $50. 40% abv

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#4 Casamigas Añejo TequilaCasamigos Anejo 750ml

 

Casamigos Añejo has a beautifully pure and refined complex aroma with soft caramel and vanilla notes. It’s the perfect balance of sweetness from the blue weber agaves layered with barrel oak and subtle hints of spice with a lingering smooth finish.
Retail for about $54.99 for 750mL.  40% abv.

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#5 KAH Blanco Day of The Dead Tequila

KAH_Blanco_HR
The highest rated blanco in Beverage Testing Institute History: ”Clear. Pure roasted agave aromas and flavors of yams, olives, cashew nougat, cream, and delicate spice with a silky, dry-yet-fruity, medium body and an elegant dulce de leche gelato, dried fruit, pepper, chalk, and grass accented finish. Incredibly smooth with great purity, flavor and style.”
Retails for about $79.99 40% abv.

 

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Whiskey

 

#1 John Walker & Sons XR 21

XR21

 

JOHN WALKER & SONS XR™ 21 is a superiorblend of exceptional, extremely rare whiskies aged for a minimum of 21 years in oak casks, imbued with subtle vanilla and golden honey notes and an incredibly smooth finish.

 

Retails for 1L, $178.00/SRP | 750ml, $138.00/SRP. 40% abv.

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#2 The Macallan Rare Cask

Rare Cask Bottle

The Macallan Rare Cask’s impressive journey from acorn to bottle begins in the ancient oak forests of northern Spain. From this tannin-rich Spanish oak, the staves are hand-fashioned in the province of Cadiz and the casks are hand-crafted and toasted by the Tevasa cooperage in Jerez. The Macallan’s casks are seasoned with dry oloroso sherry for eighteen months, before being emptied and shipped whole to Scotland to be filled with fresh whisky.

Retails for about $300 43% abc[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

#3 Four Roses Single Barrel

 

four roses single barrelA Premium Singel Barrel Bourbon with a taste that begs to be savored again and again; its taste is complex, full-bodied and surprisingly smooth with a delicate, long finish that is unbelievably mellow. Contains hints of ripe plum and cherry tastes with fruity, spicy aromas including maple syrup and cocoa. Drink straight up or on the rocks.

 

Retails around $35.99 (750ml) 50% abv.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

#4 Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon WhiskeyBourbonFront2014

 

Finished in port wine barrels, this expression possesses a warm spirit, lacking any hint of edginess with ephemeral hints of port wine and a rich amber hue. It is distilled for an unparalleled smoothness, aged for 4-6 years in American white oak barrels and finished in hand-selected port wine barrels for an incremental 3-6 months. The final result in an exceptionally smooth, nuanced, and refined bourbon.

Retails for about $46.00 (750ml) 43.3% abv.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

#5 Bulleit Bourbon

 

BulleitBour_BottleNEW2014

Aged in new American white oak barrels and formulated by combining the brand’s proprietary yeast strains and mash bills, using only the hear of the distillate rich in ethyl alcohol to achieve consistency, this is a smooth bourbon with a rich, oaky aroma and a distinctive taste with hints of vanilla, spice, and pepper.

Retails for about $27.99 (750ml) 45% abv.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Rum

 

#1 Ron Zacapa XO Solera Gran Reserva Especial

Zacapa

 

This limited edition rum is crafted from first-crushed virgin sugarcane and aged 7,500 feet above sea level. Zacapa XO is a deep, rich sipping rum meant to be less sweet than the traditional Zacapa 23. Best enjoyed served neat or with a cube of ice, it is a blend of rums between 6 and 25 years old that are aged in several different barrels, including bourbon, sherry, and Pedro Ximenez wine casks. The flavor is sweet and spicy with toasted oak and orange peel.

Retail $100.00 40% abv[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

#2 La Aurora 110 Anniversary RumLa Aurora Rum

 

La Aurora, the original cigar factory in Dominican Republic, celebrated its 110th anniversary with the La Aurora 110 Anniversary rum; a different spirit with a limited production of only 3,000 numbered bottles a year. The La Aurora rum is a blend of selected rum reserves, which undergoes an extra aging in Sherry casks. Dark amber colored, its a perfect complement for La Aurora cigars. Featuring flavor notes of honey, red fruits, vanilla and cocoa, this is a powerful and delicious spirit that may well be considered a work of art.

Retails for $110 a bottle. 41% abv.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

#3 Havana Club Añejo 15 Años

Havana Club 15 YO

 

Havana Club Añejo 15 Años is created by blending and aging selected rums that are at least 15 years old. Time and the unique aging process provide an un-mirrored richness and complexity to the palate that position this rum as a ‘Legendary Formula’ for an exceptional rum.

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#4 Zaya Grand Reserva Rum

Zaya

 

 

Zaya Gran Reserva rum is a proprietary, handcrafted blend from a library of 12-year-old and older rare rums. Aged in medium charred bourbon barrels, the hand-poured rums are blended in small batches and certified by the master blender in a 12-step tasting process. Made in Trinidad, Zaya is distilled five times and matured for a minimum of 12 years in charred white oak barrels. Flavors of vanilla, caramel and oak are apparent.

Retails around $26 40% abv[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

#5 Rhum Barbancourt Estate Reserve 15 Year OldRhum Barbancourt

 

Rhum Barbancourt Estate Reserve is aged 15 years and is only available in limited quantities. Rich and refined, this Estate Reserve explodes with flavors of citrus, cinnamon and pepper.Previously reserved for the Barbancourt Family, the rum was made available to the public in the mid-1960s. Made for sipping, this rum from Haiti is best enjoyed neat or with a single ice-cube.

Retails around $53 43% abv.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Gin

 

#1 Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin

NOLETS_Silver_750ml_white_bkgrd_High_Res

 

This gin is inspired by well over 300 years of family distilling tradition and the expertise of the Nolet family, who also created Ketel One Vodka. NOLET’S Silver Dry Gin features a unique combination of botanicals never before used in gin that was created for a new generation of gin drinkers. NOLET’S Silver has a floral and fruit forward flavor, featuring fresh notes of Turkish rose, peach and raspberry. The botanicals in NOLET’S Silver were specially selected and individually macerated and then distilled to give the gin its distinctive, all-natural flavor and aroma.

Retails for about $49 47.6% abv.

 

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Tanqueray10#2 Tanqueray No. TEN

 

Tanqueray No. TEN is uniquely distilled using fresh citrus fruits. It is handcrafted in small batches in the unique No. TEN pot still. This still is substantially smaller with a capacity of only 400 liters, as opposed to 10,000 liters. Fresh white grapefruits, whole oranges, and limes, together with fresh juniper berries and coriander seeds, are placed by hand into the still along with a triple distilled neutral spirit for a 4th distillation. This gin combines the essence of its bright citrus flavors, mixed with the flavor of juniper.

Retails for about $30 a bottle. 47.3% abv.

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#3 Hendricks Gin

 

Hendrick's Bottle White background hi res 2Hendrick’s Gin, a super-premium gin, was first introduced to America just over ten years ago and, ever since has been at the forefront of a drinking revolution. With its distinctive blend of eleven different botanicals, its signature infusion of cucumber and rose petals and its pioneering distillation technique, Hendrick’s Gin has captivated the attention of bartenders and bon vivants across the nation. Hendrick’s is an iconoclastic gin not only in the way it is made, but also in the way it looks thanks to its Iconic apothecary-style bottle. The distinctive shape and dark glass of the Hendrick’s bottle reflect the Victorian origina of gin as we know it, and also speaks to the botanicals used during distillation.

Retails for about $34.99[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

#4 Martin Miller’s Gin

MMG 70cl 80 Proof Bottle Shot Medals highres

 

Depressed with the quality of the average Gin & Tonic available at the time, Martin Miller and his two friends set out to create the best gin possible. Launched in 1999, it features a two-part distillation process; starting in a traditional pot still in London, the citrus elements are isolated from the earthier botanicals, giving the gin fresh and clean aromatics. The raw spirit is then transported to Iceland for blending with glacial spring water. The water captures the volatile elements and the burn, to create a soft, clean finish that can be enjoyed neat.

Retails for about $29 ABV 40%

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#5 Leopold’s American Small Batch Gin

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Leopold’s American Small Batch Gin has been in production since 2002. It is a unique gin, as each botanical is distilled separately, rather than placing all the botanicals in the still at once and boiling them together. Only the purest flavors of the botanicals are selected, blending only the hearts of the botanicals in the still. This method is applied to the ingredients of orris root, cardamom, coriander, Valencia oranges and pummelos, carefully extracting the best aromas that these botanicals have to offer.

Retails at around $35. 40% abv.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]