For better or worse, one thing folks agree upon is that the future of publishing will be influenced by the use of artificial intelligence and software such as ChatGPT. But just how good is it at developing a list of the greatest whiskeys of all time, and then reviewing them? We (Rob and Chris) took a test drive with a ChatGPT prompt and evaluated each of the AI’s selections. Let’s find out what Big Brother thinks and drinks.
Our prompt: Generate a list of the ten greatest whiskeys of all time. Provide a one-paragraph review for each inclusion.
Results: “These ten whiskeys represent a diverse range of styles, regions, and flavors, showcasing the craftsmanship and artistry that define the world of whisky. While opinions may vary on what makes a whisky truly exceptional, these selections have gained recognition and appreciation from enthusiasts around the globe.
Certainly! Here is a list of ten whiskies that are widely considered some of the greatest of all time, along with a brief review for each.”
1. Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23-Year-Old
(Our review) (Our grade: B)
“Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23-Year-Old is a legendary bourbon that has attained near-mythical status among whiskey enthusiasts. With its rich and luscious flavors of caramel, vanilla, and oak, this bourbon delivers an exquisite drinking experience. The extensive aging process contributes to its complexity and smoothness, making it a cherished and sought-after whiskey for connoisseurs.”
Rob Theakston: Of course it’s Pappy as the lead-off hitter, and I usually reserve this level of dissent for non-spirit-related matters such as the DMV and insurance companies. It may be one of the most coveted bourbons on the planet, but that mythos overshadows what over-aging can do to a perfectly good barrel. AI coming correct with some fan service clickbait.
2. The Macallan 25-Year-Old Sherry Oak
“The Macallan 25-Year-Old Sherry Oak is an exceptional single malt Scotch whisky that showcases the distillery’s commitment to quality and craftsmanship. Aged exclusively in sherry-seasoned oak casks, it exudes elegance and sophistication. The whisky offers a harmonious blend of dried fruits, spices, chocolate, and a lingering warmth. With its impeccable balance and depth of flavor, it stands as a true gem in the world of whisky.”
Christopher Null: We’ve never formally reviewed Macallan 25, so we’ll let the AI have it on this one. It makes perfect sense to drop a whisky from this Speyside treasure into the mix. I’m not sure if this is the one to make the top 10 cut, but we’ll defer for the moment.
3. GlenDronach 18-Year-Old Allardice
(Our review) (Our grade: B+)
“The GlenDronach 18-Year-Old Allardice is a superb Highland single malt whisky that pays tribute to the distillery’s founder, James Allardice. This expression boasts a captivating combination of rich sherry influences, dark fruits, spices, and toffee. The whisky offers a velvety texture and a long, satisfying finish. It exemplifies the mastery of sherry cask maturation, resulting in a whisky of remarkable complexity and depth.”
CN: A bit of a baffling pick for this list, with the AI reaching for a somewhat obscure single malt that is 100% sherry matured for 18 years. Definitely not my personal highlight of the GlenDronach lineup, but it is at least something that’s reasonably affordable in comparison to some of the other choices.
4. Balvenie DoubleWood 17-Year-Old
(Our review) (Our grade: A)
“The Balvenie DoubleWood 17-Year-Old is a prime example of whisky craftsmanship. Matured in traditional oak casks and finished in sherry casks, it presents a beautiful marriage of flavors. This expression displays notes of honey, vanilla, dried fruits, and spices, all complemented by a subtle influence of sherry. With its smoothness and impeccable balance, the Balvenie DoubleWood 17-Year-Old is a delight for whisky enthusiasts.”
RT: The sherry influence here was less than subtle. Immensely satisfying, but subtle? Nah, son. This was a beauty in its prime, and it’s sad to see this has faded into the Balvenie ether.
5. Lagavulin 16-Year-Old
(Our review) (Our grade: A)
“Lagavulin 16-Year-Old is an iconic Islay single malt whisky that has become a benchmark for peated whiskies. Known for its intense smokiness, rich maritime character, and layers of complexity, this whisky is a true classic. The robust flavors of peat smoke, iodine, brine, and a touch of sweetness create an unforgettable drinking experience. The Lagavulin 16-Year-Old is beloved by peat enthusiasts for its boldness and depth.”
RT: A very sentimental pick for me, and you would find no complaints on my end with its inclusion. Like the review said, it is a benchmark for Islay single malts and peated whiskey as a category. And while it does mention the coastal notes, there are also notes of charred meat and lemon that are worthy of mention as well.
6. Glenmorangie Signet
(Our review) (Our grade: A-)
“Glenmorangie Signet is an extraordinary single malt Scotch whisky that pushes boundaries with its innovative approach. This expression incorporates a high proportion of chocolate malt in its production, resulting in a unique flavor profile. It offers indulgent notes of dark chocolate, coffee, spices, and a hint of orange zest. The Glenmorangie Signet is a testament to the distillery’s creativity and craftsmanship, delivering a whisky experience that is both sophisticated and memorable.”
CN: I admire this choice if only because Signet is such an odd duck, using chocolate malt to make what really does come across like a chocolate Scotch. A testament to the distillery’s creativity? I’ll go with that.
7. Hibiki 21-Year-Old
(Our review) (Our grade: A-)
“Hibiki 21-Year-Old is a remarkable Japanese blended whisky that embodies elegance and refinement. Crafted with a combination of malt and grain whiskies, it offers a beautifully balanced and nuanced flavor profile. The whisky showcases notes of honey, dried fruits, spices, and a touch of Mizunara oak. With its intricate layers of flavors and its impeccably smooth texture, the Hibiki 21-Year-Old is a true masterpiece of Japanese whisky.”
RT: I’m caught off guard that Yamazaki 18 or the 25-year-old that set the media on fire a few years ago didn’t beat this out. Inclusionary quibbles aside, it seems like the machine had a similar experience to Chris, noting the honey and spice as highlights.
8. Booker’s Bourbon
(Our reviews) (Our grade: varies by batch)
“Booker’s Bourbon is a small-batch bourbon that pays tribute to the late Booker Noe, the master distiller who revolutionized bourbon-making. Bottled uncut and unfiltered, it offers a robust and powerful experience. This bourbon bursts with flavors of vanilla, caramel, toasted oak, and a delightful kick of spice. With its high proof and full-bodied nature, Booker’s Bourbon is a favorite among bourbon enthusiasts for its boldness and character.”
CN: This pick is a bit of a punt, as Booker’s is now regularly released in batches, any one of which the AI could be referring to. If it’s suggesting the standard Booker’s release is a top 10 all-time whiskey, that’s an even more aggressive – and divisive – idea.
9. Talisker 18-Year-Old
(Our review) (Our grade: A)
“Talisker 18-Year-Old is a revered single malt Scotch whisky from the Isle of Skye. This expression is known for its distinctive maritime character and a refined balance of flavors. It combines the richness of dried fruits, smoky peat, brine, and a hint of pepper. The Talisker 18-Year-Old offers a complex and rewarding drinking experience, showcasing the craftsmanship and unique terroir of the distillery.”
CN: Definitely my favorite Talisker bottling in permanent release. Another attainable yet unusual selection, and the tasting notes aren’t bad, either.
10. George T. Stagg Bourbon
(Our reviews) (Our grade (averaged): A- )
“George T. Stagg Bourbon is an annual release from the Buffalo Trace Distillery as part of their Antique Collection. This bourbon is highly coveted for its high-proof and robust flavors. It presents a delightful intensity with notes of dark chocolate, espresso, leather, and a generous dose of oak. The George T. Stagg Bourbon is a bold and unapologetic expression that captures the essence of a classic American bourbon.”
RT: Like Booker’s, this selection doesn’t specify which batch of Stagg, so it may be a baseline aggregate of tasting notes along with some quips from a Sazerac press release. Covers all of the potency and intensity of a Stagg, but fails to mention just how hot it can run. “Delightful intensity” sums it up nicely, though.
Bottom Line: This isn’t the worst top 10 whiskeys list we’ve seen, and we have seen more than our fair share of garbage dump booze listicles. It doesn’t dive too far in the weeds for higher-end and SuperUnicorn selections we see on other sites. Also of mild interest: We ran the query both as top 10 “whiskies” and top 10 “whiskeys” and received vastly different results, with Lagavulin 16 being the only duplicate inclusion. All in all, it appears as if our jobs are safe. For now. Once AI becomes sentient, you know the first thing it’s going to do is start drinking.