Apart from looking back, using hindsight to evaluate what happened on a more generic level, there was of course a lot of booze last year.
In The Netherlands bottle-shops are in the same legal category as supermarkets and other foodstuff shops, and are therefore considered essential. Looking back at 2021, and 2020 for that matter, they might actually be that.
So, yeah, a lot of booze. A lot of whisky, a lot of beer (almost 300 new check-ins on Untappd…), quite some rum and a surprising number of cognac, even.
I’ve decided to separate the best of lists you’ll see below into four different categories. All lists are based on the rating I gave a dram, unless otherwise stated
- The best new releases
- The best older releases
- The best non-whisky
- The most surprising stuff, without it being about rating.
The last one is the odd one out. If you start looking solely at ratings, some really good and impressive stuff doesn’t make the cut. Stuff that stands out without it being better than anything else. When listing these, I’ll state why it made the list.
The best new releases
The first seven were easy, those were statistically the highest rated newer releases. So, anything from the second half of 2020 onwards, more or less.
- Speyside Region 47yo, 1973-2020, 45%, The Whisky Agency (93pt)
- Ardbeg 20yo, 2001-2021, 46.6%, Wu Dram Clan (93pt)
- Springbank 23, 1996-2020, 47.3%, Private cask with Superman Label (93pt)
- Springbank 28, 2021, 48.2%, Springbank Society (92pt)
- Ben Nevis 24, 1996-2021, 45.6% Wu Dram Clan (92pt)
- Clynelish 24, 1996-2020, 54.9%, WhiskyNerds (92pt)
- Kilchoman 13, 2007-2020, 55.5%, Private cask for Max & Julia (91pt)
After those seven there are the 90 point scoring whiskies. This is when things get a little bit more tricky. There’s another nine in that wee list alone. Varying from ridiculously old grain whiskies by Boogieman Import, to one of the two oldest ever Ardmores, but also some more surprising ones. A 12 year old Mannochmore by Fable Whisky, a 12 year old GlenAllachie by The Old Pipe and an Old Rhosdhu. The list:
- GlenAllachie 12, 2009-2021, 56.6%, Private cask for The Old Pipe
- Ledaig 25, 1995-2021, 50.6%, Wu Dram Clan
- Cameronbridge 46, 1974-2021, 40.1%, Boogieman Import
- North of Scotland 49, 1971-2021, 40.4%, Boogieman Import
- Ardmore 32, 1988-2021, 48.6%, Michiel Wigman
- Mannochmore 12, 2008-2021, 55.4%, Fable Whisky
- Old Rhosdhu 29, 1990-2020, 48.2%, WhiskyNerds
- Glenmorangie 15, 2005-2020, 58.1%, SMWS
- Four Roses 12, Small Batch 2020, 55.7%
By now, if I did a ‘bottler of the year’, it should be rather obvious that that ‘honor’ would go to Wu Dram Clan. I’ve yet to place some cognac reviews of stuff I also bought last year, but it would only increase their lead.
Let’s keep it simple and say that there was quite a lot of really good whisky released in 2021. Let’s NOT talk about whisky prices. That’s for another post…
The best older releases
Then the favorite older releases of 2021. As in, they’re not releases of 2021, but things that came out before and I only reviewed them during last year. There’s quite a range of stuff with things from all over the place, from various sources. Some come from my own bottles, some from samples I bought, some from Jon Beach’s awesome Advent Calendar. So, slightly more random that the above list.
- Springbank 37, 1974-2007, 43%, Secret Treasures (94pt)
- GlenDronach 19, 1993-2012, 59.2%, Hand Filled at the Distillery (92pt)
- Redbreast 21, 2019, 46% (91pt)
- Clynelish 23, 1995-2019, 56.4%, Signatory Vintage (91pt)
- Port Ellen 19, 1977-1997, 58.9%, Scott’s Selection (91pt)
- Longmorn 1976, 52%, Dalriada Whisky (91pt)
- Bowmore 17, 2002-2020, 54.6%, The Whisky Barrel (91pt)
- Elmer T. Lee, Bottled in 2012, 46.5% (91pt)
- Rare Ayrshire 37, 1975-2013, 48.5%, Signatory Vintage (90pt)
- Highland Park 15, 2003-2018, 58.1%, Private cask for the Independent Whisky Bars of Scotland (90pt)
- Port Charlotte 14, 2004-2019, 53.4%, Dramfool (90pt)
- Rosebank 21, 1992-2014, 55.3% (90pt)
- Laphroaig 21, 1987-2009, 50%, Old Malt Cask (90pt)
- Girvan 27, 1989-2017, 51.4%, Càrn Mòr (90pt)
That Springbank was a chance buy quite a few years ago and around my birthday in November, I finally emptied it, and wrote the review. One of the few not-cask-strength drams on the list, but it was everything you hope a whisky to be, apart from it probably having been better at a higher percentage.
I think the most surprising one in this list is the Elmer T. Lee. I didn’t really know what to expect from this, when I saw it in last year’s Advent Calendar, but expectations were high. It did not disappoint. It seems there is a category of bourbons out there that do very well with people that love single malt whisky, and it’s those more complex and less sweet ones.
I have some others lined up that might have made the list, if I had gotten around to trying them last year. Luckily, this tells me that in about 12 months, I have another list to write…
Let’s keep the ‘other booze’ and other ‘impressive whiskies for different reasons that their high score’ for another post. I guess most people have stopped reading by now… It’s been a rather long one.