Yeah, another year has come and gone. 2011 was a fairly tumultuous one for me, and due to circumstances totally within my control, I didn’t spend as much time with whisky as I have in the past, which was fine with me and most likely fine with my liver. However, this isn’t to say that I didn’t drink/taste/take notes on/gaze longingly at my fair share. I did, and since no year’s end is complete without some kind of heartfelt yet smug, serious yet snarky top-10 list, here’s my list of top 10 whisky something-or-others…all 12 of ’em.
FAVORITE LEAST-FAVORITE WHISKY: My favorite least-favorite of the year had to be the Senator’s Club pint I picked up in a state-run booze store in Lexington, Virginia. No, I haven’t tried it yet, but, as evidenced by politics this year (or any year, really) anything associated with a senator is bound to be horrible. Senators are horrible.
FAVORITE SF WHISKY BAR I SHOULD PROBABLY GO TO MORE: This is still Broken Record, though I’d like to add that the newly opened Dear Mom reportedly has a nice little whisky list, so I probably need to go there more as well.
FAVORITE LARGE-SCALE WHISKY EVENT: As fun as Whiskies of the World, WhiskyFest, and the SMWA Extravaganza were, my favorite events this year were the ones that I hosted at 18 Reasons. Granted, these didn’t really qualify as “large-scale”, and I probably got more out of them than those attending, but still…
FAVORITE SMALL-SCALE WHISKY EVENT: The one that happens every couple of nights after the baby boy goes to sleep and I find myself simultaneously relieved to have a break, yet already missing him, I sit and wonder, “now what?” Well, the “what” is usually a wee bit of whisky.
FAVORITE DISTILLERY TOUR: C’mon, I have a new baby at home, where am I gonna find the money or time to visit distilleries?
FAVORITE IRISH WHISKEY: Easy, Red Breast 15 year old. And yes, that is what I said last year. I’ll even go out on a limb and say my favorite Irish Whiskey of 2012 is going to be the Red Breast Cask Strength 12 year old…see a trend here?
FAVORITE AMERICAN WHISKEY: Crap, I really haven’t drunk much American Whiskey this year, sorry about that. This year’s Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, whose pretty much stellar quality year in and year out make them always worth a mention, and that crazy, hopped-up Sierra Nevada-ized 5 year-old from St. George Spirits that I had the fortune to try at Whiskies of the World left the biggest impressions.
FAVORITE SCOTCH WHISKY: Tough choice, I tasted a lot of great Scotch this year, if I had to choose it would be between that Chieftain’s 1995 Mortlach 15 Year Old and the 1975 Single Cask Ardbeg poured at the Ardebg seminar at Whiskyfest. Luckily, I don’t have to choose, these are both fantastic whiskies, I’m lucky to have tried each. The BenRiach 15 Year Old 1995 Pedro Ximenez Single Cask, Balvenie’s Tun 1401 Batch #3, and the Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt were high on the list, too.
FAVORITE JAPANESE WHISKY: Since Chris from Whiskywall never came over to my house with a trunk full of exotic Japanese boozes for me to drink (thanks for nothing, Chris), this category is kind of a gimme. I mean, at the beginning of this year there were three Japanese whiskies available in the US, or rather there three I could afford, one that I could not. Thankfully, by the end of the year, another great whisky had joined this small but excellent group, Suntory’s Hakushu 12 year old.
FAVORITE CANADIAN WHISKEY: Had the chance to explore a range of Canadian Club whiskies this year, and while none of them blew me away completely, I really enjoy…and will continue to enjoy the Canadian Club Sherry Cask. Complex yet almost too easily-drinkable, and a good value to boot, this one will probably have a semi-regular place in my cabinet.
FAVORITE SOMETHING OR OTHER: That Butterscotch dessert at Baker & Banker…god, that Butterscotch dessert…the heart leaps. Yes, I realize that other than the word “Scotch”, this has nothing to do with whisky, but that’s how good it was. If I was putting together a list of the best books or movies of 2011, that Butterscotch dessert would still be on it.
FAVORITE WHISKY MOMENT OF 2010: Being able to give my Dad a wee dram of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt in person for Christmas. For me, this vatted malt that Richard Patterson and the Whyte & Mackay folks put together to recreate the deep-freezed Shackleton whisky has the rare distinction of living up to all its back story hype. The generous folks at the Baddish Group were kind enough to send me a sample, and I was able to pull together good notes on the stuff with a bit left in the bottle. In an incredible display of self-control and self-sacrifice, I was able to save it for the old man, who was very curious but had figured he probably wouldn’t get the chance to try it. The best thing about good whisky is sharing it with those you love.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!
and surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!