Top Whisky-type stuff List of 2010…

I like reading lists as much as the next guy. Actually, that’s asinine and totally wrong…I like reading lists much, much, more than the next guy and I don’t even know who the next guy is. I don’t care, I suppose if he was the greatest lover of lists the world has ever known, well then maybe I don’t like reading lists more than the next guy, but rest assured I’m not that far behind. Either way…I like lists, though I don’t necessarily like making them, especially “best of” type lists.  They’re too hard, I talk myself into too many categories, too many asterisks and “however’s” and feel bad for leaving sentimental favorites off for purely academic reasons…or vice versa.

Still, I feel bound and determined to generate some kind of list, if only to appease my list-loving self, so here it is, a hastily prepared, few days late, list of my favorite whisky related whatevers of 2010…

FAVORITE LEAST-FAVORITE WHISKY: Cluny to be sure. Those bargain bin whiskies were fun to write about, but not that much fun to taste, Cluny was by far the worst. I laughed out loud when I got a whiff of the day-old chow mein nose, and then wept openly after tasting it.

FAVORITE SF WHISKY BAR I SHOULD PROBABLY GO TO MORE: Broken Record. This place is just far enough off the beaten path to not be a mob scene, but also is just far enough off the beaten path for me to never really get to. Dive bar vibe, a great, deep, chaotic selection, relatively cheap prices, and truly excellent food.

FAVORITE LARGE-SCALE WHISKY EVENT: SMWS Extravaganza. WhiskyFest was definitely fun, but the Extravaganza was the perfect blend of space, whiskies and people. Not too crowded, a comprehensible amount of offerings, excellent food, and enough time to really talk to folks. A great event, can’t wait till next year.

FAVORITE SMALL-SCALE WHISKY EVENT: The impromptu Thanksgiving Weekend get-together at my place with Jason from Guid Scotch Drink, Chris from Whiskywall, and Tim from The Ardbeg Project. Tim not only hauled Jason up to San Francisco, he hauled a big box full of incredible bottles from his collection and Chris added a plethora of fantastic Japanese whiskies as well. A memorable night of great conversation and truly wonderful whisky. Thanks again, boys.

FAVORITE DISTILLERY TOUR: Ok, the only distillery I visited this year was St. George Spirits in Alameda, so this one is just sort of filler, really. That said, St. George Single Malt is good stuff and the place is definitely worth a visit…though it’s probably pretty cold in there today.

FAVORITE IRISH WHISKEY: I’m not sure I like it as much as the 12 year, which I love dearly and love often, but I was still pretty excited to unwrap a Christmas box from my wife (let’s call her Sherry Butts) and find a box of newly-available-in-the-US Redbreast 15 Year Old inside. Excellent pure pot still stuff…review coming soon.

FAVORITE AMERICAN WHISKEY: See…too hard to decide. Four-way tie between Bookers, Van Winkle Family Reserve 13 yo Rye, Four Roses Single Barrel, and Anchor’s Hotaling’s Whisky (thanks Tim).

FAVORITE SCOTCH WHISKY: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I’ve heard there are better Port Ellens out there but it’s my list and the recent 1982 Chieftains’s was a bit of a revelation for me. It’s the only Port Ellen I’ve tried, and though I had pretty high expectations for it, it surpassed them all.

FAVORITE BOTTLE I HAVEN’T OPENED YET: This one’s easy…upon telling me that we were pregnant (ok, she’s pregnant, I’m just excited), my wife (let’s still call her Sherry Butts) handed me a bottle of the appropriately titled Ardbeg Rollercoaster. With 4 weeks to go, we’re just about to crest the big climb and make that crazy drop. It will be interesting to see in a few years which fetches a higher price on the black market, a special edition Ardbeg or a healthy, most likely blond-haired toddler.

FAVORITE WHISKY MOMENT OF 2010: Another easy one, my favorite whisky moment of 2010 was 2010. I didn’t have many expectations for this blog when I started a year ago, it was just a fun way to write and organize it all for myself. It’s been incredibly satisfying to get to know other writers and industry folks and to receive their feedback, compliments, and support. I feel very lucky to have more or less stumbled into this great community and look forward to meeting more of you nutjobs in 2011.



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