Whisky Advocate

Four whiskies that impressed me this year, and one disappointment.

November 29th, 2012

I was thinking about the new whiskies I’ve tasted this year, and which ones stood out (for better or worse). Here are four I really liked, and one that let me down, in that order.

Lagavulin 21 yr. old Limited Edition (2012 release)

The first time I had this was at WhiskyFest New York during the seminar’s lunch program. It’s aged in sherry casks, and it’s a real stunner. It’s packed with flavors, seamless, rich, and the sherry and smoke dovetail nicely. One of my most favorite Lagavulin whiskies ever. It’s just getting into circulation here in the U.S. so get one while you can. (You can check out Dave Broom’s review of it for Whisky Advocate here.)

The Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch No. 3

A bottling that went to the U.S. and has been out for sometime now, which I reviewed here earlier this year. Have a look at my review. (There’s a Batch No. 6 that’s replacing it, but I haven’t triend that one yet.) A beautiful whisky, and one of the best Balvenies I’ve tasted in quite a while.

Yellow Spot

We blogged about this new Irish single pot still whiskey here, so check out the link if you want more information. It’s the new, older sibling to Green Spot, which is also a great whiskey. My bottle didn’t last long at all. That’s saying a lot, given that I have plenty of whiskeys at my disposal to drink. (Sadly, like Green Spot, this whiskey is not available in the U.S.)

Four Roses 2012 Limited Edition Small Batch

With two different mash bills and five different yeast strains, you can imagine the potential that Four Roses has to make a great, complex bourbon. Well, the did just that. My review here here pretty much says it all. Like I state in my review, “your decision shouldn’t be whether to buy it, but rather how much water to add.”

And now for the disappointment…

Woodford Master’s Collection Four Wood

I really appreciate the experimentation that Brown-Forman is doing with the Master’s Collection line. It’s always nice to see whiskey companies trying new things, but this one has let me down. It’s the seventh and newest release in the Master’s Collection line. This one’s aged in: American, Maple, Sherry, and Port wood.

I enjoy the nose on this whiskey–there’s plenty going on and it’s very inviting. But the palate is a different story. It’s very sweet up front (bordering on cloying). Then, there’s an emergence of flavors (wood spice, stewed fruit, caramel, etc.) that turns very busy and lacks integration. The flavors just don’t play well with each other. To me, the whiskey is trying too hard to impress and achieves the opposite.


No Responses to “Four whiskies that impressed me this year, and one disappointment.”

  1. ian Millar says:

    John, good to see you’re still taking the whisky seriously, noticed your positive comments on Balvenie and another favourite of mine, Lagavuilin, I kind of got fed up wih Lagavuilin for a couple of years but have since become repatriated, Balvenie Tun’s a great concept and they have just done an exclusive for Taiwan, I’ll see if I can get you a sample as it really is amazing, keep up the good work.

  2. Andre Girard says:

    Tasted the Lagavulin 21yo sooner this year. This is a very complex whisky but for the same price i can have at least 10 bottles of Lagavulin 16yo… can get the price out of my mind when i review a whisky, specially when i pay the bottle.

    Also tasted the Balvenie TUN and it is on my top ten whiskies of 2012 list. Impressive.

    Same as Woodford Reserve serie, nice to see distillers getting out of the usual path.

  3. Tom D says:

    Love the Yellow Spot and Green Spot. Hope to see it in the States one day.

    And while Woodford may have missed the mark here, I would still take it over the proliferation of high priced packaging that seemed to plague this year.

    If the juice is worth $500, so be it. Spare me the handcrafted bottle by the last artisan glass blower found in the sand dunes of a lost city in the first recycled box made of diamond and dinosaur bones.

    Sorry. It’s the end of the year, and while buying a lot of bottles over the past few weeks for family and friends, I had to laugh at the absurd prices on some of this year’s offerings when there was superior product at much better value all over the place.

    • Tom D says:

      I guess I should clarify that I am not a huge fan of the Woodford Master’s series and find it overpriced, but with the other nonsense going on this year, particularly in the scotch world, the price was consistent with the rest of the series, so at least you knew what you were getting into.

      I will stop rambling now…

  4. mashbill says:

    Woodford is very consistent with disappointing me. B-F should stop the goofy nonsense and re-open DSP-414.

  5. […] my last post, I told you about four whiskies that impressed me this year. Not it’s your turn. Please share […]

  6. Eric says:

    I’ve got a bottle of Tun 1401 (Batch 3) just waiting to be opened. I think I’m going to enjoy that one around Christmas time with a few special people. I also happened to see Batch 6 already on the shelves at the same store I purchased the 3. Depending on the results of my tasting, it may be my next big purchase.

    I’ve also been on the hunt for that Four Roses offering, but haven’t seen it. Hopefully I’ll come across a bottle.

  7. Dan says:

    The favorites are many but my biggest disappointment this year is the 2002 Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage. I have bottles from three different barrels and none of them compare to previous releases. Hopefully Parker will work his magic again in the next release.

  8. Very interesting picks. LOVE what Four Roses has been turning out, and I agree completely with your description on the Woodford Reserve Four Wood. I do like the fact that they’re experimenting and trying new things, but it feels a bit gimmicky in the end.

    (here are my notes on it:

  9. […] think we’re now ready to discuss our disappointments for this year. I let you know here about one that let me down. Now it’s your […]

  10. Silverhammer says:

    Knob Creek Rye – I was anxiously awaiting Knob Creek Rye. I wanted it to attack my senses like both the Knob Creek Bourbon releases do. I was very disappointed at how meek it is. I was expecting a bold, slap you in the face rye and to me it feel way short of that.

  11. Gary Gillman says:


    Viz. the Woodford MCFW, just mingle it 50/50 with regular Woodford, you will find the result probably quite excellent. The “extra” or non-integrated flavors in the MCFW will be “absorbed” by the regular recipe and show to greater advantage I believe while enriching the regular profile.

    It puzzle me that people (I am not saying you, because I know you have tried such things) don’t think of this more often. It is a way to turn a disappointment into a star, at no extra cost really since a Woodford fan will buy the next bottle anyway. Plus, it is what in effect the distillers themselves do, excepting single barrel expressions, balancing and mingling their different output to get a satisfactory profile.


© Copyright 2017. Whisky Advocate. All rights reserved.