Premium Batches

CROWN ROYAL XR, $150

This limited Canadian whisky is blended from the last remaining whiskies from Crown Royal's now-closed Waterloo (Ont.) distillery. It is creamy and full-bodied with hints of vanilla, toffee, and spice. But it also tastes overly wooded and lacks the refinement and character one expects at this price.

BUSHMILLS 21-YEAR-OLD IRISH WHISKEY, $115

This single-malt whiskey is aged in three different vessels: American bourbon barrels, Spanish oloroso sherry casks, and Madeira drums. The Madeira leaves hints of raisins, toffee, and almonds. It's now a sought-after sip, with the 2004 release held in high regard. All told, well worth the premium price.

JOHNNIE WALKER BLUE LABEL MAGNUM, $500 (1.75 liters)

Blue Label, which now comes in a 1.75-liter bottle, is blended from several small-batch reserve whiskies. It's complex, with myriad tastes: tobacco, allspice, marzipan. Blue Label is an undeniably fine Scotch whisky and is at its best after it has opened up in the glass and without ice.

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