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Your Top Five Whisk(e)ys of 2018

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@RianC
RianC started a discussion

It’s that time of year again (hooray!), and with less than two weeks of 2018 to go, what better than a reverie of the year’s whisky consumption and then performing some mental deliberations on deciding which were your favourites?

I did this last year with a top three but as I know the audience likes to experiment, shall we say, I feel five might be a better number. So after much pontificating here are mine:

  1. Talisker 18
  2. Ardbeg Corryvrekan
  3. Talisker 57 North
  4. Benromach 15
  5. Bruichladdich 10 2nd Ed

Talisker has stood out for me this year and I think that distillery has pushed its way well into my top five. Whisper it . . . but the 18 may be my favourite whisky! Honourable mentions, which are of course required, would be Lagavulin 16 and Lot 40 Rye. The former was a real pleasure, eventually, and one that I will definitely be getting again soon on this showing. The Lot 40 was a real gem of a find and great value as well.

I'll also be opening an 8 year old Talisker, Old Pulteney 17 and a Booker's bourbon on or around xmas so probably should have waited . . . that said, if they're as good as I hope then they can feature next year :)

Be very interested in your faves from 2018 . . .

5 years ago

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@casualtorture

2018 Was all about cask/barrel strength for me.

  1. George T Stagg 2018
  2. Jack Daniels Single Barrel - Barrel Proof (130.6 proof)
  3. Belle Meade Black Belle Bourbon 2017 (111.5 proof)
  4. Laphroig 10yo Cask Strength batch 9 (review to come)
  5. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof batch C (review to come)

Out of those, I obviously appreciate having the opportunity to try a Stagg for free thanks to a friend. As far as the best whisk(e)y of 2018 for me? I might give a slight edge to the Laphroig and the only scotch on my list.

5 years ago 7Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

This is a tough one, but here goes:

  1. Lagavulin 12 Cask Strength: the fact that I spent well above my self-imposed limit to buy a bottle of this says all there is to be said.
  2. Springbank 12 Cask Strength: one of the most complex whiskies I've tasted.
  3. Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength: I wish this was available in Canada. Probably the best Laphroaig I've ever had.
  4. Lot 40 Cask Strength 11 Year Old (2018 release): Last year's release is wonderful, but this year's is even better, imho.
  5. Wild Turkey Rare Breed: Looking back through my notes, it's crazy to realize this bourbon only came into my life this year. I think I've polished off 3 bottles of it. I'm indebted to someone for introducing me to this bird.

5 years ago 9Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

I sooooo want to try the Laphroaig 10 CS . . . sigh

5 years ago 2Who liked this?

RikS replied

@RianC me too... Was it not for the fact that it's about four times more expensive in the UK, where it's produced, than it is across the Atlantic!!! Now, explain that to me someone....

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@archivist
archivist replied

Thanks to Connosr member recs and reviews, my year was full of whiskies I had not tried/heard of/considered before and so these are my top treats for this year. A big thank you and happy holidays to all of you who have encouraged me in my exploration and education!

In no special order:

  1. Dry Fly Triticale
  2. Ardbeg Uigedail
  3. Lot 40 Canadian Rye
  4. 291 Single Barrel Colorado Rye
  5. Arran 14

5 years ago 7Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied
  1. Abraham Bowman17 YO Limited Edition

  2. Hibiki 21 YO

  3. Little Book

  4. Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch #9

  5. Century 30 YO

Honourable Mentions: Laphroaig 18 YO and Laphroaig Lore.

Two on my list are blends, don't knock 'em 'til you've tried 'em. Hibiki 21 YO is a whisky that I could nose for hours...and I have. Little Book combines Kentucky 8 YO Rye with two Canadian single grains; CC 40 YO double distilled corn and Alberta Distillers Ltd 13 YO Rye (think Whistle Pig, Masterson's, Cooper's, Hochstadter's). All are cask strength, final weigh-in is 59.4% abv.

The Balvenie Tun 1401, 14 casks spanning 5 decades, eleven bourbon and three sherry, 49.3% abv. This one has game and a back class that is hard to match. A special bottle for a special day.

Century 30 YO Rare Single Cask is another beautiful long-aged Canadian, from an older bond than Highwood Ninety 20 YO, Canadian Rockies 21 YO, Century 25 YO, and ta similar pedigree to Cadenhead's Potter's Indian Corn 24 YO single cask 126 bottles. Century 30 YO is elegant, delicious, and highly addictive, 45% abv.

My top pick for this year was bottled in 2011. Abraham Bowman17 YO Limited Edition Virginia Whiskey is pure delight! Don't let the138.6 proof fool you, it is an easy sipper...if only I had a case of this...

These are my five highlights for 2018, not such a bad bunch nudging out Laphroaig 18 YO.

5 years ago 8Who liked this?

@casualtorture

@archivist Arran 14 is an old one for me so I can't count it for this year but as most know it's an all-time fave of mine.

5 years ago 2Who liked this?

@archivist
archivist replied

@casualtorture actually, it was yours and @RianC reviews of Arran 14 that made me to track it down to a Total Wine near Sacramento! It was worth the two hour drive to/from. relaxed

5 years ago 2Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@archivist, if you like Lot 40 you'll like Little Book Chapter #2. It is more expensive, but cask strength at 59.4%...full of flavour, light fruits, dark fruits, clean oak...A blend of 8YO, 13YO, and 40YO whiskies.

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@archivist
archivist replied

@paddockjudge thank you for the tip! it sounds delightful - will report back!

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

I have a tough time with these...

  1. Top 5 whiskies I tasted in 2018, all comers?

  2. Top 5 whiskies I tasted for the first time in 2018?

  3. Top 5 whiskies released in 2018?

What about a whisky I tasted in 2015 and then again this year?

If I go with number 1:

  • Amrut Single bourbon cask

  • Amrut peated CS

  • Maybe Abraham Bowman 17 YO 73.75% or George Stagg 2012

  • Lot 40 CS (either one)

  • Ardbeg Uigeadail was mighty fine a few times this year

For whiskies I tasted the for the first time, the only ones that would stay on there would be the Bowman and this year's Lot 40 CS. I would add to it Amrut Naarangi, maybe Laphroaig Lore. Maybe Hibiki 21.

I don't think I tasted enough whiskies that were actually released this year to make a list.

Hope this helps.

5 years ago 7Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor replied

@RianC, a 2018 list of 5 favourites for me is a list of the 5 whiskies which I tried for the first time in 2018, and which made the greatest favourable impression on me. The five newcomers which made the greatest impression on me in 2018 were:

1) 2018 release George T. Stagg

2) 2017 release Wiser's 35 yo

3) 291 Distillery Single Barrel Colorado Rye

4) SMWS 10.118 Bunnahabhain 10 yo "Enthralling pink and peat intensity"

5) Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Rye

Of none of these do I own a bottle, though I would be happy to own bottles of any of them.

..............

The lists would be different depending upon whether the criteria were: 1) of all whiskies tasted and not necessarily owned by me by the bottle, 2) of whiskies I/we've owned, 3) of whiskies available now, etc.

My all time favourites list would, if limited to only a measly five i have tasted, would be:

1) 1967 40 yo Duncan Taylor Springbank

2) 23 yo Willett Rye, "The Iron Fist"

3) 2010 or earlier release of Pappy Van Winkle 15 yo ('Stitzel-Weller' Distillery)

4) William Larue Weller, any year

5) 69.4% ABV 10 yo Abraham Bowman Rye, from a barrel owned by The Party Source and released in 2011 (my favourite of all bottles I have owned)

It would be hard to live without, in addition:

6) Amrut Intermediate Sherry Matured

7) L 10 151 or L 11 028 Ardbeg Uigeadail and/or any Ardbeg Supernova

8) 2010 release George T. Stagg (any Stagg will do in the absence of 2010)

9) Octomore Orpheus 2.2

@RianC, don't think that i don't like Talisker. Talisker 57 Degrees North and Talisker 18 yo would make my list of 30 or 40 top picks, which I would always want to have on hand. It makes me a little nervous that I have only 3 or 4 bottles of each of these remaining in stock.

5 years ago 6Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@Victor that’s why I do my best to maintain a list of about 20 whiskies that I consistently rank in my top 5..... see_no_evil hear_no_evil speak_no_evil

5 years ago 6Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor replied

@Nozinan given the variability of mood and circumstance, your approach seems quite reasonable to me.

5 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@Victor And probably about 30-40 that I fit into that list of 20....

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Robert99
Robert99 replied

The five that I tasted for the first time this year.

1- Lagavulin 28 yo straight from the cask (not an appellation but literally from the cask at the distillery)

2- Highland Park 25 yo

3- William Larue Weller 2017

4- Bunnahabhain Moines Oloroso (tasted at the distillery)

5-Arran 1996 / 20yr old Sherry Cask 1649 KWM

The first two are as par. They are simply the best Scotch I have ever taste.

5 years ago 9Who liked this?

RikS replied

This is near impossible, but my 2 pennies' worth (which may well be revised within 24hrs...). In no particular order, and I should say based on "surprising and memorable" more than just outright quality and taste experience -

  1. Amrut fusion: because of the unique tropical malty sweetness and packing 50% ABV.

  2. Ardbeg Uigeadail / Lagavulin DE / Caol Ila DE: because of the successful marriage of smoke, peat and medicinal elements interwoven with a sweetness that adds so much to the experience.

  3. Kavalan PX: because I normally don't take well to PX, but this one was enjoyed together with Kavalans master blender and it was frankly sublime (bummer it's £460...).

  4. Laphroaig quarter cask: because I long ago decided that I don't really like Laphroaig, but the QC had me enamored... And it's a darn good expression for some £30.

  5. JW Green: because who calling themselves a connosr drinks JW....!? Well, I do - the Green one. And whilst not mind shattering, it's a 43%ABV 15yrs single malt blend with some of my much liked expressions for £26, who can complain about that!

And my 'runner-up': Talisker DE - for maintaining all the elements that I really like in the Talisker, and then adding some (rather than diluting or muddling the experience).

(Oh, and I still have two Amrut Intermediate Sherry - never tried before - waiting for me at the country house ;-))

5 years ago 7Who liked this?

@cricklewood
cricklewood replied

This is going to be damn difficult, apologies for the length, I have to say I was very fortunate to try many expressions this year, I have fellow Connosr members and other friends to thank for some of these.

Some of the more interesting spirits I’ve had this year we’re not whisky, I had some stellar rums, Tequilas and Mezcals that had such complexities, some of them we’re unaged spirits to boot, for now let’s stick to whisky.

Top 5 tasted in 2018 in no specific order.

  1. Amrut Intermediate Sherry: Where has this stuff been all my life? I was late to the party on this expression but wham! Strength and complexity battle it out, this is such a different take on the sherry bomb.

  2. Compass Box Flaming Heart 2015: It took a couple of drams before I understood just how good this dram is, power and grace and gasp it’s a blend!

  3. Arran 1996, 20 KWM cask 1649: Deep old school sherry meets Arran’s fruit and maritime side, I haven’t had many older whiskys but they don’t all deliver like this.

  4. Old Pulteney 17: I didn’t think this would live up to the hype but it did even against many other stellar whiskys.

  5. Benriness 1974 Signatory Vintage: A view into just how homogenized many whiskys are today, remarkable not because of its age but when it was made.

  6. Anything Wild Turkey: 2019 was the year of bourbon for me, a taste of Stagg Jr. in December 2017 led be back down the rabbit hole. Of the many great bourbon’s I have to say this year that every WT product I tried just had so much character, from the bottom shelf 101 to a sneaky taste of Decades and Master’s keep.

Oops was that 6??

Honorable mentions to the following

-Wiser’s Legacy / Danfield’s 21 : Late to the party again but I love just how superbly blended these are, the yardstick.

-Glen Garioch 12 : As refreshingly devoid of heavy oak action as of marketing tomfoolery, spirit driven and solid.

-Ne’ Plus Ultra 12 Dewar’s: See #5 Wow, this thing had such a great palate and sustain for something 40% and not considered ultra premium at the time when blends we’re taken seriously.

-Yamazaki 18: damn son…

5 years ago 8Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt

Most noteworthy stuff I drank in 2018:

5. A couple different peaters from the English Whisky Company. Just because it surprised me with how good it was. Their standard 46% NAS beat Laphroaig 10 43% in a side-by-side (and made better peated chili!). And a CS store-pick cask was even better than that.

4. Talisker 18. It was the star of an all-Talisker night my club put on in April.

3. Old Pulteney 1977-2005, Scott's Selection. The novelty and cachet of its age really added to thrill of tasting a very still-fresh & lively old glory.

2. Kilkerran 8 Cask Strength. It's exactly the kind of whisky I like: zippy, young, & fresh, with no rough spots. It absolutely stood its ground among all the other Kilkerrans that I lined up for a club night last month, and because it's a standard release, I came to the pleasant conclusion just this morning that if my days of having a whisky stash were over and I was just buying as I drank, this would probably be my choice about 1 out of every 4 trips to the store.

1. Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength. Because every time I dip a toe into things that are more exotic or old or rare or weird or hyped or whatever, I come back to this old friend and it outshines them all.

5 years ago 9Who liked this?

@JasonHambrey
JasonHambrey replied

These are rather great lists. My top 5, likely: 1. Talisker 8 CS 2. Caol Ila 35 (i know, i know) 3. Crown Royal 13 Y.O. Blender's Mash (this stuff is awesome) 4. Little Book Noe Small Task (@paddockjudge and I, as often, are in agreement). It's very different - very Canadian and yet so very American. 5. An Amaretto-matured Westland straight from the cask. It was amazing. It wasn't an almond Amaretto (I didn't know there was such a thing) so it was a bit more like a fruity, sweet sherry cask.

Of notable mention is a 30 year old century reserve, Wiser's 35, and Canadian Rockies 17.

If this was a "spirits" list, a Caroni cask strength heavy rum from 2000 (17 years old) would have made the list. It was one of the most complex, and weird spirits I've tasted. Incredibly medicinal, funky, spicy, and rich. It gives some of my friends a headache but I am in love with it.

Not necessarily the best, but my favourite 5 of the year. Also, @Nozinan @paddockjudge that 17 YO Bowman is one of the best bourbons I've ever tasted.

5 years ago 7Who liked this?

@Robert99
Robert99 replied

@cricklewood Yamazaki 18! Wow, you have been lucky this year. I would have loved to taste the Benrinnes and the Dewar even if I'm bit skeptic.

5 years ago 0

@casualtorture

@MadSingleMalt Laphroig 10CS is the best Islay I've had, in my opinion. Better than Ardbeg Oogie and I love that one as well.

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@casualtorture

@cricklewood Super jealous of that Arran 1996. I have the 1999 single bourbon cask #134 16yo. I have yet to open it. I'm sure it will amaze and spoil me.

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Robert99
Robert99 replied

@casualtorture I am not a big fan of Arran but I have tasted that wonderful 20 yo, thanks to @cricklewood , and it was so fruity, rounded and well balance... It is a gem.

To my picks, I should have add an honorable mention to Pikesville 6 Year Old 110 Proof Straight Rye. I don't know what the mash of this one is, but it tastes like a 50-50 corn-rye whisky. It is a very sweet rye and I love it.

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor replied

@Robert99, The Whiskey Jug reports Pikesville Rye to be 51-37-12 rye-corn-malted barley. Yes, while Pikesville de-emphasizes the rye flavour intensity a bit, almost all of the big distillery US ryes only contain approximately 51% rye. Somehow Rittenhouse rye, made by the same Heaven Hill Distillery as is Pikesville, much more emphasizes the spicy rye flavours with the same or a very similary mashbill.

5 years ago 4Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

@JasonHambrey How the heck did you manage to get a hold of the CR 13 Year Blender’s Mash? Lucky!! I enjoyed the NAS (7-9 year old) Blender’s Mash, but I felt it could have used a little more oomph

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Robert99
Robert99 replied

@Victor Thank you for the infos old friend. Pikesville is for me something right on the fence between Bourbon and Rye in a really unique way, and I am sure that the malted barley contribute a lot to the mellowness and balance of it. This mash makes totally sens.

On another point, I hope I will have the opportunity to see you in the coming year; and don't forget, I am still holding a bottle of Glenfarclas 15 for you.

5 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor replied

@Robert99, I do hope to see you in 2019 if at all possible. I have most definitely not forgotten about that bottle of Glenfarclas 15 which you are holding for me. Thank you!

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@fiddich1980
fiddich1980 replied

"Its' the DIVERSITY OF WHISKY flavours which was the hit of the night." The "night" can be substituted with the word, year.

This was a response to a question asked of me by @cricklewood following @Nozinan 's epic tasting in November of 2018. The honest fact for me is that I don't have a favorite top five for the year. They're all unique whether drunk in isolation or with company. I began 2018 with the intention of finding the worst whisky. Why? Because I thought that it would be a good learning experience and it was. Did I find it? Yes! Lambertus from @Nozinan. In the process of looking for the worst I also found a wealth of exceptional whisk(e)y, bourbon (ECBP C917), World Whisky(Amrut Single Peated Cask), Irish Whiskey(SMWS Pastries and Sweets) Canadian whisky(Dissertation), scotch(Compass Box No Name), Single malts(Bunnahabhain XVIII (2012 bottling)), and spirits. Of the best, it was not the drink or dram but, the company on connosr.com. Those that I have met and shared a sample or a dram with, those who I have not met but, shared a conversation with, those who have simply posted a comment which I found relate-able. I value the fact that each individual brings a wealth of insight (historical, cultural, analytical), experience and knowledge which is freely shared. For, those whom may have taken offense to comments made by @fiddich1980 my apologizes, it was not intentional. So, if this sounds like a cop out? It is! Whisky tasting is an omnivorous activity. I recently, tried a Johnnie Walker Black which I found insipid and insulting(a rant for another time). Given all the variables in whisky, defining the best may not be possible. Merry Christmas and safe travels on your journey in 2019.

5 years ago 8Who liked this?

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