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Your Whisk(e)y of the year 2019

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RianC started a discussion

It’s that time of year again and after watching Ralfy's WOTY last night I was reminded to think about my own favourites from this year. In fairness, I've probably drank a little less this year and not attended any festivals or tastings so am drawing from a slightly smaller pool than usual.

My selection criteria is very simple. If i drank it in 2019 and liked it more than others it made its way into my top five picks.

  1. Pikesville 6 yo Rye
  2. Laphroaig 10 CS Batch 11
  3. Talisker 8 SR
  4. Old Pulteney 17
  5. Four Roses SB

So, the first time I've chosen a rye but I suspect not the last. A superb whiskey and one I strongly urge you to seek out if you havent tried it. The next two are more predictable and my long wait for the Laffy CS was not in vain! Great news also that it will be available in the UK from now on but, sadly, the Tali 8 seems to have been a one off! With one hand he giveth ...

And, yes, the Pulteney is also discontinued but it was certainly worthy of a place on my list. Id bet many reading this will have stocked up anyway and there are still bottles out there for decent prices. The Four Roses was a pleasant surprise and hits the bourbon sweet spot. Lots of spice and herbal notes to balance the sweetness. Hopefully future barrels will be just as good ...

Honourable mentions, which are of course required, would be from two samples I received, Lot 40 Rye CS and an @11 yo IB Macduff. The former was excellent and it's a shame it's not available in the UK. The latter was from North Star Spirits and I shall be keeping an eye on their future offerings. The Arran 10 JMcT ed. was also highly enjoyable and well-made whisky but perhaps not quite enough going on to push its way into my top five picks.

What have been your favourites from 2019?

30 days ago

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Replies: page 1/2


Funny you should mention this; I'm just finishing up my blog post on this very subject, but I might give some different answers here. For my blog I tend to choose things that are more readily available and that I've tried more than once. Since I get to taste and review samples here, the answers might be a little different. Also, many of my fellow Connosrs have access to some harder to find whiskies. My top picks for the year would be:

  1. Ardbeg Corryvreckan: a commonly available whisky, but a terrific one. I went through my first bottle this year and I hope it won't be my last. Smoky, spicy, and a bit fruity too.
  2. Amrut Portonova: a friend gave me this as a mystery sample and it was incredible. The mix of sweet and savoury (umami) aromas was just fantastic. Here's hoping they don't discontinue the Cask Strength version altogether.
  3. Tomatin 14 Port Cask: a bit of a sleeper, but one that really impressed me. Fourteen years and a port cask finish, yet the malty spirit character isn't overwhelmed. Lovely stuff.
  4. Forty Creek Portwood: this whisky is a double-edged sword. It's wonderful to see what FC is like at a higher proof, but it's also a reminder of how much better FC was a few years ago.
  5. Kilkerran 12: this one got better and more interesting with time. I scored it 88 when I reviewed it, but I probably would have scored it higher by the end of the bottle. I look forward to more releases from them.
  6. Tyrconnell 16: I love exclusive bourbon cask maturation and this is a great example of that. Some of my whiskey friends thought I was nuts to choose this one over the 15 year Madeira finish, but I'm nothing if not honest.
  7. Weller Antique 107: while my experience with wheated bourbon is far from extensive, this is easily the best wheater I've tasted. It hits all the right notes for me, and I was fortunate enough to be able to bunker 6 bottles before BT introduced the $30 cork that drove the price up.

29 days ago 8Who liked this?

Nozinan replied

Well, 2019 isn’t over yet...

I have tasted some amazing whiskies this year and I’m not sure I’ll be able to remember them all. I reserve the right to put as many whiskies into my top five as I want. SOME of the best I have tasted this year:

  • Octomore 7.3 - simply fantastic and bursting with flavour.

  • Mister Sam. just a taste but it was fantastic. I look forward to reviewing it in 2020

  • Alberta Premium Cask Strength - especially with the disappointment of this year’s Lot 40 CS, this one shines. I look forward to trying the 20 YO in 2020 ( I just ran out of time...)

  • Not surprisingly, Shelter Point CS Rye for KWM. Alberta Distillers had a great year.

  • Ardbeg Corryvreckin. I don’t remember tasting it before this year and I am thoroughly enjoying my first bottle of this.

  • Amrut Peated Port Pipe-matured. I only tasted this from @crcklewood’a bottle and he gave me a sample, but that was enough. Amrut continues to impress. I own 2 expressions I have not yet tried (a single cask sherry - Bangalore Tiger - and the Madeira Cask finish - still in Calgary) and I very much hope to see one of them in my list next year.

29 days ago 6Who liked this?

Nozinan replied

@OdysseusUnbound sorry to disappoint you but Portonova CS is history.

However, I do have a bit of history in my cabinet and once my port-matured whisky-loving MP friend and I open it up, some of that will be going in your direction.

29 days ago 3Who liked this?

paddockjudge replied

@RianC, I've been waiting for the year end to post my favourites of 2019, thank you for creating this discussion. My criteria may not be the same as yours; however, these are my selections for 2019 which meet each criterion listed below:

  1. A bottle introduced to my cabinet in 2019.

  2. A bottle opened in 2019.

  3. A bottle shared in 2019.

I have tasted a great deal of whisky this year, with friends, with family, independently, but not one drop at a distillery or commercial event. No magazines, no books, not a single subscription; I allowed my Instagram account to lapse into obscurity. This is the first year in a decade that I have not allowed the Industry an opportunity to influence me. While I have removed myself from the spin and hype of industry shills and twisted marketers this year, it is oddly enough the year in which I have spent the most money on whisk(e)y.

Listed below are my top three picks for 2019 as well as three honourable mentions. The Top Three Picks for 2019 are all blends. None are Single Malt. None are Bourbon. The honourable mentions are all Scotch, one blended malt, one single malt, and one blend. Noticeable by its absence is bourbon.

Where did you go Bourbon? Availability, or lack thereof, has distanced me from the super-premium bourbon market, but all is not lost. Riding the Wave of the Canadian Big Flavour Renaissance is Beam and Sazerac. The introduction by Beam of Freddie Noe's Little Book series of blends has allowed consumers the opportunity to taste a super-premium North American blend containing Kentucky Rye, Alberta Rye, and Windsor Corn whiskies in Little Book Chapter 02.

Sazerac has released Mister Sam Tribute Whiskey, an homage to Sam Bronfman by Drew Mayville. Whiskies from the best American and Canadian stocks, a bold claim, but once tasted the undeniable truth is obvious, this is an amazing whisky, one that I consider to be a once in a decade whiskey.

Not to be outdone by the competition, Don Livermore, the runaway leader of the Canadian Big Flavour Renaissance gave Canadian Whisky enthusiasts a cask strength 23 YO bursting with flavour and a Windsor Big-Block full-throttle growl punch-in-the-mouth. My favourite style of whisky; any other year this would be my number one.

Whiskey of the Year 2019

  1. Mister Sam Tribute Whiskey by Sazerac Limited Edition 1200 bottles North America distribution.

  2. Wiser's 23 YO

  3. Little Book: Chapter 02 Noe Simple Task

Honourable Mention: Samaroli Speyside Blended Malt 1996, Talisker 57 North, Ballantine's Finest

29 days ago 9Who liked this?

BlueNote replied

@paddockjudge I’m always amazed at how Ballantine’s Finest is still such a good standard, old school type blend. Always worth having around to start the newbies off.

I’ll have to think about my top picks for 2019, but I can say without hesitation that Alberta Premium Cask Strength 100% Rye is well up the list. Possibly my best discovery for 2019, for which I have you to thank. Best of the New Year to you and yours.

29 days ago 6Who liked this?

RianC replied

@BlueNote - I have yet to try any Ballentine's?! Perhaps I'll snag one this year ...

29 days ago 2Who liked this?

Victor replied

The two whiskies I first tried recently which have made the biggest impression on me are:

1) Amrut Naarangi, for its unique and enjoyable sour and bitter orange cum sherry flavour profile

2) 2018 Release Lot 40 Cask Strength 100% Rye. Canada, this is what I want to see from you. Make a whole lot more whisky just like that, OK? This is creme de la creme Rye.

29 days ago 6Who liked this?

fiddich1980 replied

These were my most memorable whiskies of 2019. A list by category.

Single Cask: Glenturret 1999 18 Year Old, Sherry Cask 51.6% Gordon&Macphail

Blended Whiskey: Mister Sam 66.9% followed by Little Book 2 Noe Simple Task

World Whisky: Kavalan "Kavafan" Sherry Solist courtesy of @Astroke at an epic tasting.

Campbeltown: Springbank 18 (2013 bottling) 46%

Canadian: Two Brewers Innovative Release 14 Roasted Malt 46% a pleasant Canadian surprise

Best New Canadian Rye: Alberta Premium Cask Strength 65.1% just a SOLID RYE

Islay: Port Charlotte 10 (2018 bottling) 50%

Best Wine/Sherry Finished Whisk(e)y: Deanston 2008 Bordeaux Red Wine 58.7% followed closely by Legent Bourbon 47%

Japanese: NAS Yoichi SIngle Malt Whisky 45.6%

Most Consistent Distillery: Talisker (8,10,57 North)

Budget Bourbon: Jim Beam Bonded BiB 50%

Favourite Rum: FourSquare "Premise" 10 Year Old 46%

29 days ago 6Who liked this?

paddockjudge replied

@fiddich1980, an excellent list of 2019 standouts. Kavalan "Kavafan" Sherry Solist (courtesy of @Astroke), if I had a bottle it would surely make my list. It is a whisky I could nose for hours...wait, I did!!

I believe our palates are in a similar orbit, they line up quite well.

29 days ago 4Who liked this?

paddockjudge replied

@Victor, Amrut Naarangi and Lot No. 40 CS 2018, both great whiskies that hit my top ten for 2019!

29 days ago 1Who liked this?

Nozinan replied

@paddockjudge @Victor I am a big fan of the Kavafan... I had forgotten about it. It is one of the 10 that are in my top 5 list. I would include Naarangi and Lot 40 11 yo but for the fact that I opened and first tried them in 2018.

I think I will probably have to add Wiser’s 23 yo cask strength whisky. I’ve only tried it once, maybe twice, but it has made a big impression. Review will be forthcoming.

29 days ago 4Who liked this?

paddockjudge replied

@BlueNote, AP Cask Strength is another excellent whisky that ranks near the top of the list of the scores (probably hundreds) of whiskies I tasted in 2019. It is my pleasure to spread the joy of fine whisky, glad you enjoyed it.

I sipped a tall pour of Ballantines on Boxing Day and went back for a second. I promised myself to include it on the list of top performers for 2019...or any year!

Wishing a Happy New Year to you, your family, and your whisky clan. Cheers! tumbler_glass

29 days ago 2Who liked this?


@Victor The 2018 Lot 40 CS (11 Year Old) has been my favourite release thus far. I’ve only sampled the 2019 once but it was a bit of a let-down from previous editions. Nevertheless, I’m glad Dr Livermore and his team are pushing boundaries and experimenting.

29 days ago 3Who liked this?

Astroke replied

Well, after some deliberation and in between breaks in the Oklahoma vs LSU game my 2019 list would be:

Best Single Malt Scotch, tie...Longrow 17 Single Cask Chardonnay Finish/Springbank 21

Best Rye, tie...Michter's Barrel Strength Rye/Parker's Heritage Collection 8 year Rye ( HM's...Alberta Premium Rye, High West Rendezvous Rye Barrel Select Hungarian Cask finish 54.2% 2016, Masterson's 10 rye PSA3, Kentucky Owl batch 2)

Best Bourbon...George T Stagg 2018 (HM's...Russell's Reserve SiB Supermarket Liquor pick, Little Book 3, Rebel Yell 10 year SiB )

Best Canadian...Wiser's 23 cask strength (HM...AP CS)

Best blend...Little Book 2 (Wiser's 23 also slots in here)

World Whisky...Kavalan Solist "Kavafan" Oloroso Sherry cask

Irish...Tyrconnell 16 year Bourbon cask

29 days ago 6Who liked this?


My top 5 whiskies of 2019 would be, in no order: - Lot 40 CS 2017 - ECBP B519 - Arran 1996 Single Cask #2003 18 Year Old - Weller 12yo - G&M Linkwood 15yo

  • And as always, Arran 14, which may not make it on many more lists so I must include it while I still can.

And a big shout out to @cricklewood for providing samples of 2 of my top 5 whiskies of the year! And Lot 40 CS 2018 could just have well made it up there but I had to pick between the 2 which I liked best.

Hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday season and wish everyone a happy 2020!

28 days ago 7Who liked this?

BlueNote replied

The top of my list for 2019 is the Kilchoman STR. An absolute revelation.

28 days ago 4Who liked this?

Hewie replied

@BlueNote Haven't had the chance to try it but by all accounts it sounds fantastic.

28 days ago 1Who liked this?

BlueNote replied

For sheer value and quality, Ralfy’s whisky of the year, Deanston 12 YO, is right up there. I’m on my second bottle and at 46%, NCF and natural colour it’s a winner in my book.

28 days ago 4Who liked this?

Nozinan replied

@BlueNote It's not a bad whisky (as we discussed in my review thread), but much more expensive in Ontario.

I don't differentiate between special and daily sippers, because I'm not a daily sipper. So my "go-to" drams can be special.

28 days ago 2Who liked this?

RianC replied

@BlueNote - I was tempted to get a bottle of that. What's the profile like?

28 days ago 0

JasonHambrey replied

I had a few favourite drams this year - Mister Sam, by far, takes the cup. It's one of my favourite whiskies ever. There are a few more that stood out - Port Charlotte 10 Y.O., Little Book Noe Small Task, Wild Turkey 17 years old, Pike Creek 21 (I thought the sherry finish worked perfectly with the whisky, to my surprise) and Wiser's 23.

It seems there are a few consistent ones on the list. One last sneak-in was a single barrel from Shelter Point, finished in virgin oak and bottled at cask strength. I love the stuff. Tons of incense-like wood notes and big character.

One of the most enjoyable for me this year was a four grain whisky from our local distillery in Ottawa - aged now over 5 years in really good casks.

Honorable mention also to Pierre Ferrand chestnut cask finished cognac, bottled at 47%. I tried it again a few weeks ago and thought I should rush to get another one, but evidently I had forgotten the price ($140) so I reconsidered. That dram was fun.

27 days ago 4Who liked this?

JasonHambrey replied

@fiddich1980 great list. I would completely agree with most of your picks.@victor - I love naarangi too, for uniqueness, but a bit too orange-y for me on the whole.

Talisker 8 cask strength was also a stunner - I realize it must have come to the LCBO and slipped under my nose. Sad. Given that I rarely buy whisky in Ontario anymore, I suppose it's not a surprise.

27 days ago 4Who liked this?


@BlueNote, thanks for calling out that Kilchoman STR. I was just thinking of putting some Christmas gift money into a bottle of Kilchoman, and I think I know a store that stocks that one. To the Whiskymobile!

27 days ago 6Who liked this?


My pick for 2019: Springbank 11 Local Barley

27 days ago 3Who liked this?

Wierdo replied

@MadSingleMalt you did well to pick up a bottle of that! It evaporated from shelves on release.

23 days ago 1Who liked this?


@Wierdo, I found it pretty easily here in the States through an online order. It was pricey ($135, I think?), but worth it. We bought it as a club and drained it all too quickly!

23 days ago 2Who liked this?

Wierdo replied

You lot have all cheated and gone for several 'whisky of the year' bottles!!!

I'm gonna stick to just one and in a Ralfy spirit go for a bottle that will be available to most people.

Port Charlotte 10 year old.

Probably not the best whisky I've had this year overall. But under £50 a bottle in the UK and (I think) quite affordable elsewhere in the world too? Natural colour, NCF and bottled at a hefty 50% abv. When I first opened the bottle it was a straight up peat monster but the further I got down it, the more it developed and I noticed other flavours, lemons, oakiness, almost a touch of Springbankesque funk.

In a straight up choice between this Ardbeg 10, Laphroaig 10 and Lagavulin 8 for an affordable young Islay peated whisky I'd go for the PC10.

22 days ago 8Who liked this?

BlueNote replied

@Wierdo Can’t argue with that choice, it’s right up there for me too. Those black bottles are cool, but you can never tell how much you’ve got left. So I just keep buying it in order to avoid FORO. smiley

22 days ago 1Who liked this?

ajjarrett replied

I have been off the site for a while, but I am glad to return to add to this thread.

A bottle I bought in 2019, and/or first had in 2019, that would make my WOTY, which I think many of you can guess from my previous posts:

Glen Garioch 15yo Sherry Cask Matured (which isn't the same as the 15yo Renaissance).

This was definitely among the three bottles I took to a friend's home to celebrate New years, and the one I went to more once.

22 days ago 3Who liked this?

Misty replied

Well for me it has got be Deanston.

In particular the recent Signatory cask strength ones like below. They are just so good. The perfect balanced sherry bomb with a beautiful herbal minty twist. Beautiful to consume at cask strength, even at 67% abv. Clean as whistle sherry casks used here. So good I brought quite a few and stashed them away.

It would be right up your street Victor.....

21 days ago 6Who liked this?

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