2017 has been an epic year here at The Whisky Barrel. We marked our 10th Anniversary (2007-2017) in style with seven exclusive bottlings of single malt whisky, single grain whisky and even a rather special single cask rum. But to top these celebrations off we were also awarded Online Retailer of the Year 2018 at the Icons of Whisky Scotland awards from the Whisky Magazine. Just amazing. But it is what passes through our door that helps us to be who we are as a specialist online whisky merchant. So, following on from last year we present below our list of ‘Dram Fine Whisky Awards 2017’. No scoring. No judging. No trophies. Just Dram Fine Spirits.
Happy New Year!
Best Whisky of ‘Youth’ (under 10 years old)
Now, this bottling from Morrison and MacKay couldn’t use the distillery name. But let’s just say that between the distilleries of Balvenie and Glenfiddich, there is a stream that run by them…. Neither of these distilleries release single casks into the wild very often at all. So, this release under the Carn Mor Striclty Limited label provided a great opportunity to try Balvenie (I’ve said it now) away from the official guide. We love the Strictly Limited release for bottling such as this. A chance to try whisky usually not seen in this guide and at ridiculously great value.
Best Whisky of ‘Wisdom’ (over 10 years old)
Certainly full of wisdom with this vintage. We featured this Old Pulteney 1983 Vintage alongside the new 25 year old expression in a tasting blog feature. And, we loved it. It’s heavy on age but that’s not to give it any sense of not being an approachable dram, even for a whisky novice. It’s well rounded with notes of fruit crumble, toffee, chocolate and a little salt. A luxurious feel. Pulteney have a knack of producing good whisky, and of all the older aged whiskies we’ve had through our door this year, this is a favourite.
Best ‘Dressed’ Whisky
Glengoyne whisky is once of those easy to recommend distilleries. A great distillery to visit and a great whisky to drink. The core range includes 10, 15, 21 and 25 year old. In 2017 they released this superb new 30 year old expression. Limited to 6,000 bottles this was a big sherry cask matured whisky. I say was – we sold through this lot quickly. But encasing this fine whisky is another superb example of Glengoyne’s spot on packaging. A lovely wooden box but not too flashy. Just nice little nods to the distillery. It slides out on its own little plinth and with markings of the distilleries ethos ‘Comes of Age at Drumgoyne, Scotland’ and slogan ‘Glen of the Wild Geese’ etched in. And atop sits a neat little cask bung and gauze to hint at the select casks this was bottled from. Lovely.
Best Whisky ‘Newbie’
It may seem odd to put a single cask release in as our favourite new whisky of the year. In theory, every single cask is new. However, this rather special release from Morrison & MacKay is single cask that has family. Eight sister casks to be exact. So although each cask will be different ti marks new limited range of Old Perth whisky. It’s quite impressive too. A blend of Macallan and Highland Park single malt whisky. Perhaps more Macallan than Highland Park but both make their mark on this single cask. This is why we love the indy whisky bottlers. Bring on release #2.
Best ‘Dram of all Trades’
Lost Distillery, Aged 40 years. 1970s Vintage. Single Cask. Cask Strength. Under £250gbp. That is a lot of whisky for your money. And it is a very, very approachable whisky that offers plenty of character and depth. This is a fine example of what single grain whisky can be. From Hunter Laing’s The Sovereign range it offers real whisky luxury combined with a far from scary content. It is lovely and even comes is a swish svelt and simply pleasing presentation. On top of this, the age and vintage make this a rather handy whisky gift for the whisky drinker in your life.
Best Rum Malternative
Caroni Rum. One of the sought after rums on the market due the Lost Distillery status. But also, its a Rum if fine quality. This release from Bristol Classic represents some of the last ever casks to be shipped over to the UK. Not only that, having been allocated for release several years ago and then pulled, the casks had to be married with some older but unspecified Caroni stock to bring the ABV back up. So not only a lost distillery but nearly lost casks! Great value and a great chance to get hold of a product which may not been seen much more.
Best Gin Malternative
We love this gin. The Isle of Skye musters up any spirit’s enthusiast. A combination of a stunning Scottish island and scenery and pedigree of Talisker distillery make this highly desirable. Not only that, this gin is excellent. A beautiful bottle design with reference to the hilly landscape. The botanicals include Juniper, coriander, grains of paradise, orris root, liquorice root, black cubebs, lemon peel and cassia bark. There is a lovely cinnamon flavour that comes out from the combination of these botanicals. With so much gin on the market it is hard to stand out. But this one from the Isle of Skye Distillers does just that
So there you have it. Our top picks from 2017. Memorable and amazing. Here is to 2018 – we have a few treats in store.