As the year concludes, lots of bloggers and publications are putting out their “best of” lists. Instead, I’d rather reflect on the past twelve months. It’s been a rather remarkable year. Here are a few standouts.
I was fortunate enough to see Scotland for the first time in an unforgettable manner that included touring three distilleries(Oban, Talisker, and Glen Ord) and a helicopter ride to Skye. In the spring, my wife accompanied me to the picturesque Maker’s Mark distillery, and I’m glad she garnered a new appreciation for the bourbon.
As far as whiskies, there were a few highlights. In the single malt Scotch arena, as sad as I was to see the Old Pulteney lineup placed into the archives, their new core lineup proved exciting. Highland Park knocked it out of the park with their Twisted Tattoo, which partially matured in Spanish red wine casks. Diageo stepped up their Game of Thrones collection with an exquisite 15-year-old Mortlach. Laphroaig killed it with their latest Cairdeas release, a cask-strength version of their Triple wood bottling.
On the bourbon side, Barrell released delicious batch after delicious batch of bourbon. Michter’s expanded delicous toasted barrel lineup wiht the addition of their Sour Mash whiskey. It’s a winning formula, in my humble opinion. Heaven Hill dropped a delicous new 7-year bottled-in-bond bourbon as well as a beauty of a whiskey in Larceny Barrel Proof. And don’t forget Maker’s RC6 release… wow. Some of the most interesting stuff coming from that distillery. Another standout – Booker’s 30th anniverary. It was nice to taste some older whiskey still centered around the vanilla-centric Booker’s taste profile. Little Book Chapter 3 is another release worth mentioning. It was a blend of Knob Creek, Booker’s, Baker’s, and Basil Hayden. The result was some of the best bourbon from Jim Beam I’ve tasted in a while. Buffalo Trace released a “low proof” George Stagg, which still managed to deliver a big, robust whiskey-drinking experience.
While we’re talking about Kentucky, I have to mention Copper & King’s A Song for You. That brandy was so delicous, I’m still thinking about it months after finishing off the bottle.
As far as rye whiskey is concerned, two releases really stood out for me. First was Michter’s barrel strength rye. It was big, rich, spicy, and most importantly, quite tasty. Second is probably my favorite WhistlePig to date – a New Orleans Bourbon Festival single barrel pick. That barrel was everything I like about WhistlePig turned up to eleven.
Of course, there were other delicious releases last year, but these stood out just a bit more. 2019 was a great year, and I’m excited about the possibilities of the upcoming one.
Lastly, thanks for being a loyal reader of this blog. Cheers to you, and have a happy new year.