I see a lot of blog(ger)s out there have already started their end-of-year lists rating some of their most favourite whiskies of the annum. I’ve been doing the same since I started so I can’t lag behind now, can I?
These end of year lists can be a nice ‘what to buy’ guide, but also work for me to see whether or not I should adjust my buying strategy a bit more to collect the drams I like most. Of course, this will not be a 100% guarantee that I will gather all my favourite drams as you will see further down this post.
I decided to list the top ten whiskies I’ve had this year. All of them will be reviewed on this blog and all have to have been released in 2013 or very late in 2012. Sometimes it takes quite a while for whiskies to pop up in Dutch stores so there is a bit of leeway there.
The list is in no particular order.
- Invergordon, 41.6%, batch 1 – That Boutique-y Whisky Company
The first grain whisky from That Boutique-y Whisky Company and a stunning one at that. Ridiculously old on average (I believe 41yo) but the flavours were absolutely gorgeous! (buy batch 2)
- Midleton 1991, 20yo, bottled for The Whisky Exchange
I don’t have much experience with Irish whiskies, but this one was absolutely lovely. Gentle and very flavoursome. A bummer Midleton charges a very high premium for private bottlings, since the only I won’t buy this is its price. (buy)
- Karuizawa 1964, 57.7% – Number One Drinks
As with the previous one, the price is prohibitive, but in this case even more so. I still feel very flattered and incredibly grateful to Master of Malt for sending me a sample of this. A whisky that changes your perspective of what whisky can be. (buy)
- GlenDronach 1995, PX Puncheon, 56.6%, The Whisky Exchange Exclusive
A GlenDronach that is very sherried, but not overly so. That can be a pitfall for GlenDronach but this one was done perfectly. I bought a bottle right away.
- Millstone 100 Rye, 50%, 100 months old – Zuidam
The Dutch entry. A couple of years ago I would never have expected a proper whisky being made in The Netherlands. Zuidam has proven me wrong, on multiple accounts. This rye whisky is everything you hope for. Gentle but spicy, has incredible spices and is just very lovely. Oh, and compared to many ‘craft’ whiskies, affordable! (buy)
- Balblair 1975, 46%, 2nd release
This one is very, very gentle. A whisky you have to sit down for to fully appreciate. One that wouldn’t have charmed me as much on a festival (Maltstock proved that) but one to be savoured at home, at a quiet moment. The flavours are stunning but need to be discovered. Again, a bit pricy (€ 250 or so) but at the distillery they sold miniatures at € 15, which made 14 minis cheaper than the full bottle… (buy)
- Balblair 1997-2012, 46%
A lot more affordable than the one above. Also, somewhat less impressive, but at its price of about € 55 VERY good. There’s fruit and spices which makes for an ideal highland whisky in my book. There’s a chance I’m picking this up today if the shop I’m going to has it. (buy)
- Springbank 12, Cask Strength, 2013 edition, 53.1%
A whisy that reeks of moldy cellars and damp attics. Old furniture covered in hessian. All kinds of weird flavours but because of its individuality it’s a great whisky. I’m glad I’ve been able to find a bottle of this exact batch!
- Glen Scotia 21, 51.5% – Douglas Laing’s Old Particular
First tasted at the ‘unveiling’ Twitter Tasting with Cara Laing, I immediately fell in love with this one. It tastes a lot more mature than the 21 years suggest and the combination of all flavours just works very well. A posh whisky if there ever was one!
- Lagavulin 1995, Feis Ile 2013, 51%
Jon Beach was kind enough to pick up a bottle of this on Islay during the Feis Ile this year. I was a very happy camper when he let me know he had one for me! He also allowed me a taste during my afternoon in his Whisky Library (or store room, by how it looked). An Islay whisky that keeps the peat slightly down but compensates for that with tonnes of flavour.
- Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon 2012, 55.7%
I’m usually not much in the mood for bourbon that break the mould. That’s why during this year’s bottle share I was most enthusiastic about bourbons that did what bourbons do, but then do it exceptionally well. No strange flavours and just straight forward Kentucky Bourbon. This one does that. It’s fierce but every boxes is ticked after you’ve tasted it.
- High West American Prairie Reserve, 46%
This one fits the previous description well too, but the nose on this is just too good to be ignored. In retrospect this might my personal favourite of the bottle-share. It’s high on the wish list for next year. (buy)
Keep in mind that this list is by no means definite. There are so many whiskies I’ve missed, and even quite a lot that I did buy but haven’t tasted yet. For example, our club bottling of GlenDronach 10 Virgin Oak, BenRiach 1984 Peated Port Cask, Bowmore Devil’s Casks and many more.
There are, of course, a lot of interesting other whiskies that I’ve tried during the last year. I’ve left those out since if I start including every possible thing I tasted this year there would be no point in the list as it would be way too random. The same goes for whiskies that I didn’t write enough notes on (my own judgment). In these categories we can put a Strathisla 1937 I tried in Limburg, The Balvenie’s Tun 1401 batch 8, and others.
And for the ones that are truly paying attention, this is my version of 10. That how I’m home in ten minutes, drink ten beers or list ten whiskies. You smuggle in some extras.