Well, 2012 is pretty much in the books. According to some idiots the world was supposed to end on December 21st…if it did, no one told me about it, so here I am, trying to put together another year-end list at the last minute. It’s been another fairly crazy year for me, and while whisky was once again forced to take a backseat to real life, it did have its high-points. Here’s a quick look back at the highs and lows of 2012 at The Casks.
FAVORITE REASON FOR BASICALLY NOT BEING ABLE TO SPEND A DIME ON WHISKY FOR MUCH OF THE YEAR…I’ve never had a lot of cash and this year, along with supporting that little money pit called my son, my family and I moved from our beloved San Francisco to our beloved Minneapolis. If you haven’t moved a family across the country, take it from me, that shit is expensive. It was brutally hard to leave SF but it was also time. Tucked in cozily here amongst the snow and ice, we couldn’t be happier with our return to the Midwest.
LEAST FAVORITE WHISKY MOMENT…Frantically finishing off all my opened bottles in San Francisco as we packed up our lives in preparation for this move to Minneapolis. A man can drive only so much booze across the country in a 2-door Honda Civic hatchback, and having open containers along just seemed begging for jail time (and as those that know me can attest, I’m far too pretty for prison). Let me give you some advice, whisky does not taste better while frantically packing, and Corryvreckan gains nothing when drunk out of a plastic cup. In the end, I drank what I could and was happy to scatter the remaining bottles amongst our good friends in SF.
FAVORITE WHISKY MOMENT…If 4 days in May qualifies as a moment, then the 4 day moment in May I spent visiting Pulteney, Balblair, Speyburn, and Knockdhu is a no-brainer. Having the chance to meet and get to know an excellent group of people whilst visiting beautiful distilleries, drinking beautiful whiskies, and staying in beautiful places was an absolute and unalloyed privilege. I keep threatening to write the trip up and if I’m not careful, I may even do so in 2013.
FAVORITE SCOTCH WHISKY…This is a tough choice, I didn’t have a clear favorite this year, so a few top stand-outs will have to do. The drinking the superb Old Pulteney 17 year old and the equally so 30 Year Old at the distillery left quite an impression. Similarly, while at Speyburn, we were lucky enough to try what soon after became the 25 Year Old Clan Cask – a deeply rich and complex Pedro Ximenez-matured stunner.
FAVORITE IRISH WHISKEY…Easy. Red Breast Cask Strength 12 Year Old. I told you last year at this time this was going to be my favorite Irish of this year and by the time I got around to trying it this year, I’d proved myself clairvoyant. It didn’t hurt that I didn’t try too many Irish whiskies this year, but it wouldn’t have mattered. This was not only my favorite Irish, it was up there among my favorites of the year period.
FAVORITE AMERICAN WHISKEY…Breaking & Entering Bourbon from St. George Spirits. A surprising choice maybe, I tried some excellent bourbons this year, but in the end my favorite wasn’t the oldest, or the most expensive, or the hardest to get, or the highest proof, in the end, it was the one I found myself looking forward to more and more. Excellent bourbon for those who sometimes find bourbon too bourbon-y.
FAVORITE LARGE-SCALE WHISKY EVENT…SMWSA Extravaganza in Chicago. Always a great event, made even better by the stellar setting, the Union Club of Chicago, and then made even better still by having my dad along for the ride.
FAVORITE SMALL SCALE WHISKY EVENT…Tasting through the range in Pulteney’s warehouse #4 with distillery manager Malcolm Waring and the rest of the folks from the trip. There is quite possibly no better place to taste whisky than in a distillery’s maturation warehouse.
FAVORITE NEW WHISKY SHOP…Whisky Brother in Johannesburg, South Africa. You may well ask, “How do you know? Have you been there?” and I may well answer that I don’t need to have been there to know it’s a great shop. My friend Marc Pendlebury of the Whisky Brother blog is at the helm, and I’m sure there’s no one better qualified to run Joburg’s first and only whisky specialty shop.
FAVORITE BOTTLE I’LL NEVER OPEN…The Glenfiddich 2011 Cask of Dreams bottle I bought for my son (who was born in ’11). It’s his, so he’ll be opening it in about 20 years, I just hope I’m in the same room when he does.
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!