Whisky Advocate

Which whiskies impressed you this year?

December 3rd, 2012

In my last post, I told you about four whiskies that impressed me this year. Not it’s your turn. Please share your thoughts. And explain why, if you can.

I see a Christmas “wish list” in the making. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

(P.S. In my next post, I’ll ask you to name your disappointments. Hold off telling us about those until then.)

No Responses to “Which whiskies impressed you this year?”

  1. Lew Bryson says:

    Was thinking “Yellow Spot” as soon as I saw the headline, so I’ll just agree with you on that one. For now.

  2. Terry Lozoff says:

    There were so many great whiskies this year! Red Breast 12 Cask Strength, Parker’s Heritage 2012, EH Taylor Tornado Surviving, Bruichladdich PC10, Four Roses 2012 Limited Editions, Balvenie 17 DoubleWood… to name a few.

  3. David Rogers says:

    Leviathan I from Lost Spirits Distillery.

    There are peated whisky expressions such as those found in Ardbeg’s Uigeadail (which I enjoy). The Leviathan is peated, and Lost Spirits mentions the phenol is 110 ppm which exceeds most peated scotch that I have ever had.

    However the peatiness is overwhelmed by the nose and sweetness from the Cabernet cask aging. The nose is of berries, and the finish is long and soft. I found this to be an excellent after dinner drink, especially when a fire is going.

  4. Judd says:

    This will be dumb, but Gold Bowmore that I had at whiskyfest was the finest I have ever had. EVER.

    Knowing it isn’t attainable for me or most normal folks, LoL, I will say the best I had this year was Hibiki 17. It is just so balanced, full of incredible fruit flavors, and develops wonderfully through the dram. Tons of layered fruit with a touch of milk chocolate, I find it to be the best bang for the buck and while pointless, it looks awesome in the bottle 🙂

    I will always have this in my collection of 125 bottles or so!

  5. Tom Alexander says:

    Amrut Portonova, Taketsuru 21 Year Old, Ben Nevis 15 Year Old (independent bottling) and Barry Crockett Legacy

  6. Jacob says:

    I was most impressed with the Bunnahabhain 12 (new 46.3% version), which I probably had a year later than most. I also loved the two new peat monsters finished in sherry: Kilchoman Spring 2011 and Laphroaig Triple Wood. I also liked the 2012 release of Lagavulin 12 cask strength a lot.

  7. Tom D says:

    The best bourbon I found was a bottle of Willett 18 Single Barrel #43. From the Irish, it was Yellow Spot. Scotch was Lagavulin 16. On the world side, I have enjoyed the Hakushu 12. Just picked up a bottle.

  8. Lisa Wicker says:

    Lots of good finds after moving to Bardstown, but Johnnie Drum in the round bottle turning out to be a “go to.”

  9. Bernie says:

    This was a revival year for me, getting back to great whiskies [especially anticipating a trip to Edinburgh].
    I’ve been lucky with a few choices, across quite a breadth of expressions. Ardbeg Corryvreckan, Aberlour a’bunadh, Red Breast 12 Cask Strength are examples. I bought a Sherried Kilchoman from Royal Mile Whiskies that’ll be opened for Christmas. I’m hoping for bottles of Old Pulteney 17 year and Ardbeg Uigeadail. I’ll be looking to this list for any others to put on the list.

  10. cedric says:

    For me it was Octomore 04.1, what could I say .. outstanding !

  11. Jordan says:

    Arran’s 10 YO (fantastic, except for the price) and Sherry Single Cask (kind of like Mac CS, but with less pronounced sherry influence), Talisker DE (the floral/peat/sherry combo was lovely), Longrow CV (exactly what I want a young, peaty whisky to taste like), and Hazelburn 8 YO Bourbon Cask (simple, but ethereally delicious).

  12. James says:

    Willet 21yr was the best this year and probably the best I’ve ever had. Right behind was a 2010 Stagg that I have just opened. I was really surprised on how well the Smooth Ambler Very Old Scout 19yr was and at a price of $55, it’s hard for me not to go back and clean the shelf.

    • Tadas A. says:

      Where did you buy Smooth Ambler Very Old Scout 19yr? Would be great to hear some notes about it dfrom you 🙂
      Where do you think it was distilled?

      • James says:

        Smooth Ambler came from Frugal McDougal here in Nashville. It’s one of those warehouse types, but as of a week or so ago they had 4 bottles on the shelf.

        I’m not really a note taker, just like to drink what taste good. I did a side by side against Vintage 17 (one of my favorites) and the SA was a lot smoother. At 100 proof there was very little heat at all. I think this one is a keeper and for the price, I think it’s a very good deal.

        I think the label stated that it was LDI bourbon.

        • David says:

          While I am an avid supporter of the rare and look forward to what comes in at Frugal’s, I was not a fan of the Smooth Ambler 19. It was a great first sip at first, but something just did not click for me. While it did have the 19 year color and smoothness you would expect, it was a bit heavy on the finish for my taste. Too much tannin for for me to enjoy. The price is great, but I’d rather put the $55 towards that Jefferson Presidential Select 18 year or the Four Roses Single Barrels.

  13. NP says:

    Bowmore 24 Signatory (though not 100% sure this was release in 2012 and not 2011)
    Mortlach 16 Chieftain
    Balvenie Tun #3
    Very Old Scout 19yr (cant beat that value me thinks)

  14. Judd says:

    Oops! Not my favorite “tried” this year… My favorite released… Duh *facepalm

    Favorite released is the Balvenie Tun #3 hands down!

  15. Josh West says:

    Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch No. 4. Amazing stuff. When I pour a dram, I’ll sit and nose the glass for a half hour without realizing I haven’t even yet had a sip.

  16. SteveBM says:

    My favorites this year were both Four Roses LE offerings, John J. Bowman Single Barrel, EH Taylor Single Barrel, & an 11yr Williet Single barrel bourbon I picked up. On the rye side it was Redemption Rye, High West Double Rye, Sazerac 18, & Thomas H. Handy

  17. JohnL says:

    I received a Old Forester Birthday 12 year old Bourbon for my birthday. It was very good. I would recommend it for special occasions.

  18. Exile says:

    Willett Straight Rye $32.00! I was very pleased with this whiskey. Neat with a little filtered water revealed a warm, soft and slightly sweet Rye. Worth twice the price, I am thrilled that such quality can be found for under $50.00. Van Winkle is also very good (if you can find it) but it costs almost twice as much and not really that much better. My extravagance was a Glenmorangie 25 years old Quarter Century. It was exceedingly complex on the nose and in the mouth with honey and old leather in the finish. I also liked their Signet.

  19. Evan says:

    Ardbeg Day and Bowmore Tempest batch 2

  20. Louis says:

    The Springbank 14yo/1996 Cask #268. The closest thing to the classic Sprinbanks in ages. And the High West Double Rye on the American whiskey side. Just picked up the Compass Box Whisky Flaming Heart 4th Release yesterday, I have no doubts that it will join the lsit as soon as I open it.

  21. Lazer says:

    Two from Tennessee, GD12 and JDSB. I never had either of them before this year, but they both exceeded my expectations. Oh yeah, and Larceny. I like these whiskeys because they are just easy going easy drinkers.

  22. pat kelley says:

    Four that impressed me this year are Colonel E.H. Taylor Warehouse C Tornado Surviving,Very Special Old Fitzgerald 12 Year old,Willett Single Barrel 8 years old Barrel #805,and Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller Series 86 proof honoring the 1st master distiller Jack Daniel

  23. Jeff Harner says:

    First time I’ve ever had it (and, to be fair, there is a relative scale when we’re talking ‘impressed’), but the single malt from Wasmund’s in Virginia was something very unexpected. I don’t really have the vocabulary to describe it, but I was impressed, and I’m encouraged about the future of craft distilling in the US.

    • Exile says:

      Wasmund puts wood chips in the barrel to effectively increase the barrel surface area in contact with the whiskey. This has the effect of producing an ‘aged’ whiskey style with a shortened maturity time. Many purists are against this technique, but I’ve had the whiskey and I say it works. Compass Box ran into trouble with the Scotch Whisky Association with their original Spice Tree expression back in 2005. They did something similar with added staves and the SWA got bent out of shape, forcing Compass Box to stop using the innovative technique. I guess some producers don’t want to see 15 year style that only takes a few years or even months to make.

  24. two-bit cowboy says:

    In addition to my reply @ 20, these are my 2012 stand-out whiskies:

    Laproaig 14 yo 1997, 46%, Chieftain’s — best Laphroaig since the ’09 25 yo

    Arran Bourbon Cask 1996, cask # 2096, 52%, USA exclusive, 186 bottles — best ever bourbon cask

    Kilchoman 3, 4, 5 yo (4 yo finished in sherry casks 8 wks), 61%, [Machir Bay’s predecessor]

    Bruichladdich Octomore 04.2 Comus, pre-bottling pour from a standard ‘laddie bottle–oh my

    Edradour Sauternes 2003, Chateau d’Yquem, 8 yo, 46% — honey & red meat — WOW

    Kinclaith 40 yo, 1969, 47.3%, hogshead # 301445, 217 bottles — the summit in a glass

  25. Jim Clarke says:

    Lots of whiskeys impressed but none moreso than the single cask 17 year old cask strength Midleton that the Irish Whiskey Society bottled:

  26. Toby Cline says:

    Pappy Van Winkle 23 yr old. By fat the most rich, full flavored and decadent dram of bourbon I have ever had. I will be having this for a very long time.

  27. Vince says:

    Both Four Roses Limited Editions, Smooth Ambler-Very Old Scout 14 year old, Angels Envy Cask Strength and Old Forester Birthday bourbon 2012 would be the one’s that come to mind. I also really enjoyed the Bowman bourbons out of Viriginia.

  28. tanstaafl2 says:

    I was rather impressed by the Kilchoman Machir Bay, especially since it is now available in the US and hopefully not as limited as past releases. I will also second the 2012 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon as a surprisingly good bourbon in a limited release that isn’t pushing $100. A very nice value. Finally the Yellow Spot is a welcome addition to the single pot still family. I have yet to decide if it will push the Powers John’s Lane out of my top spot but I will enjoy continuing to try to figure it out!

  29. Derek Stewart says:

    Three whiskies stood out for me this year:

    Bruichladdich The Laddie Ten – I was really hoping this one was going to be good and they didn’t let us down. Beautiful in flavor and reasonably priced.

    Bowmore Laimrig 15 – I tried this at a whisky tasting and then spent the next several months trying to track down a bottle of it. I was never a fan of the 15 “Darkest” so this whisky came as a surprise and is a rich, salty, peaty, sherried delight.

    Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve – This one is a bit more polarizing for me, but it generally comes out on the positive side. It is different enough and interesting enough to keep me coming back for more. Again, quite rich, with competing flavors of port and rye somehow melding into something totally new.

  30. Brendan says:

    Dad’s Hat rye. I’ve also discovered that I’m apt to like just about anything that Jim Beam makes. It’s hard to beat Devil’s Cut for the quality/cost.

    Bethany Blues in Lewes (also one in Bethany Beach – both Delaware) is a great bourbon bar and BBQ restaurant. We finished our Flight Club this year and had the chance to try lots of very cool stuff.

  31. pat says:

    Redbreast 12yr CS

    Four Roses Limited Editions

    Kilchoman 2006
    Balvenie Tun 3

  32. woodisgood says:

    This may be rather pedestrian, but . . .

    The EH Taylor Tornado Surviving really impressed me; a week after I opened it, each glass had such a wonderful chewy but smooth mouthfeel, and the flavors were not what I expected. Never needed a drop of water—straight up perfect! I was anticipating very good, and instead was greeted with excellence. Such wonderful flavors!

    Second for me is the FR SB limited; I expected it to be delicious, but not INCREDIBLY, dangerously delicious!! After my first glass, I searched for a few more bottles to bunker—and I’m not a bunker guy. This is an exceptional bourbon and, cliched as it may sound (sorry), made me completely forget about not scoring any Pappy for the first time in over 10 years. The single barrel was really lovely, but the limited SB for me blew me away, happily so.

  33. BFitz says:

    Yellow Spot 12 year, Jefferson’s 18 Year Presidential to avoid the Pappy craziness, EH Taylor Barrel Stength and all the Elija Craig 18 I could find before it disappeared.

  34. Chris says:

    since I spent most of the year saving up for my recent trip to London, I missed out on a lot of the releases this past year. however it paid off as I found a fresh rum-matured 14 yo Longrow that is beyond sublime. hands-down my favorite whisky this year. miles ahead of anything else I tried this year. runner-up was a 1984 Karuizawa. and honorable mention goes to the Redbreast 12 CS and all the EH Taylors.

  35. Per Nygards says:

    Many they were, but a few were great !!
    1975 Cambus from Clan Deny, Tropical fruit galore
    1989 Littlemill from The Whisky Box Germany, teflon whisky
    1974 Glen Grant Berry Bros cask 7446, sherry cask high in taste but keep’s balance
    1976 Tomatin Liquid Sun. I wish I had a case !!! Simply the best !!

    Looking forward to 2013 and “hunting” down the “gem’s” that will be put on the market…

  36. Keith Sexton says:

    I thought the Deanston Virgin Oak was a real pleasant surprise for something so inexpensive and somewhat experimental.
    For that matter, the whole revamping of the Burns Srewart range was impressive.

    But by far and away, I really love Kilkerran from Glengyle. I love maritime scotches, and this was a salt bomb.

  37. Amrut Kadhambam was great, Corsair Triple Smoke was a pleasant surprise, the Compass Box Great King Street NY Edition was even better than the original, Knob Creek Rye was a great addition to the lineup, Larceny is a great bang-for-your-buck bourbon & I think I am in the minority with this one, but I truly loved the Arran Devil’s PunchBowl. It was very complex without coming across confusing. And Keith, I agree with you on the Deanston Virgin Oak.

  38. Yannis says:

    Two of these are a bit dated, but the other two are very recent. All tasted this year:

    Parker Heritage Cognac Finish
    Stranahan’s Colorado Whisky
    Alberta Premium Dark Horse
    Lot No. 40 Copper Pot Still

  39. D. Houston says:

    Coming off our great Whisky festival in New Brunswick, I would have to say my big stand outs were the entire line of Bunnahabhain, Bowmore Laimriq and on the higher end, Highland Park Thor. I also recently aquired a bottle of Amrut Portonova as mentioned above and it was fantastic. Honourable mention to the Balvenie Caribbean cask as well as the peated Juras which were a big suprise as i was never a fan.

  40. S. Luke says:

    The Taylor Tornado was surprisingly good, The Michters 20yr SB is excellent if expensive.

  41. Dan Updike says:

    Went seeking Old Forester Birthday (have only seen the 2009 in the wild) and for the first time and stumbled upon Old Forester Signature. I like this bourbon A LOT for the price; might be my fave under $25. And I’m really impressed with Willet Rye (110 proof).

  42. Canadian Whisky: Forty Creek John Hall Private cask #1

    Bourbon: Well, i stick to the B Trace Single Oak Project but had a very nice surprise with the George T Stagg and the Thomas Handy.

    World whisky: Amrut Portonova and Mackmyra Gravity Cask

    Irish: still looking – have a bottle of Writer’s Tears waiting in the shelf

    Blended malt whisky: Compass Box The last Vatted malt

    Single malt: Aberlour Abunadh Serie (batch 39 & 40), Balvenie TUN 1401, Glenrothes 1979, Kilchoman Sherry cask for KWM Calgary, Lagavulin 21yo, Laphroaig Caidrdeas 30yo and Talisker 30yo…

  43. Chris says:

    Definetly Kilchoman, but there are two bottlings:
    Machir Bay – Hard to believe, it’s made from 3, 4 and 5 year old Whisky. A real pleasure, not a hint of that stealy youth you can taste sometimes on younger Whisky.

    Second: The second Edition of the 100% Islay. Liquid Poem!!!

  44. Thomas R. Householder says:

    The Four Roses Ltd Edition Small batch has always impressed me. But, at the San Fran Whiskey Fest last fall I got a chance to try their standard small batch. An excellent bourbon for the money as well as the new Larceny.

  45. Joe Hyman says:

    Benriach/Glendronach single barrel items…
    OMC Glenturret 18 yr from the Loch & Key Society (Julio’s)

  46. Chris S. says:

    Laddie “Infinity edition 3.10” – great balance of peatiness and sweetness
    Power’s 12yo “John’s Lane” – I waited long for an Irish spicy beast
    Springbank 12yo C/S – It’s a cask strength Springbank aged for 12 years…….need I say more?
    Glengoyne 1972, 25yo, C/S, casks #1478 & #1485 – an OB vintage Glengoyne that despite its age, it’s wild and fiery. As much as I dislike young unpeated Glengoynes, I am speechless with some old examples like this.

  47. Mo says:

    Old Weller Antique — 107 proof of faultless bourbon — surprise of the year ……..

  48. Matt says:

    William Larue Weller 2012 is unreal. My first experience with it. Still have a bottle of each of the other BTAC and Pappy 15 and 20 to open. (My buddy and I miraculously hit the motherlode last month.) Also tried the Parkers Heritage Cognac Finished bourbon for the first time this year and love it.

  49. […] two weeks ago, I asked you which whiskies impressed you this past year in this post. Then we got side-tracked a little bit with my “Shit whisky geeks say” post. It was […]

  50. David S says:

    Bowmore 100 degrees. Might be a EU Travel Retail exclusive [and if so ‘Shame on you Bowmore’] but a stunning Bowmore at good value.

    Redbreast Cask Strength – considerably cheaper in the US than the UK but head and shoulders above the 15yo

    Kavalan – almost everything bottled that I’ve tried.

  51. Gary Stratton says:

    One that really stood out to me at WhiskyFest was Longmorn 16 as far as your more affordable whiskies go.

  52. Blue Note says:

    After some initial disappointment, I am now really enjoying my Jura Prophecy. The Big Peat I got early in the year, the 46% version, was as good as any Islay whisky I have ever had. I hope to hell I can get another one.

  53. Simon Spier says:

    Not new for 2012, but new for me in 2012 was Bruichladdich Black Arts II 1989. Velvety and luxurious. Something in this whisky really gets me excited. In-fact I’m finishing of the last wee splash in the bottle right now. Check out my tasting notes of it at
    Also the SMWS 30.71 really got my heart thumping.

  54. John O says:

    Not by any means a polished whiskey drinker, but I was extremely surprised with Jefferson’s Bourbon. I’m not usually much of a Bourbon drinker, as I prefer most Irish Whiskys. I was very surprised at how smooth it was. Looking forward to more bourbon in 2013. Any suggestions of different ones to try are greatly appreciated.

  55. Shirley Jane says:

    Black Maple Hill Small Batch and the Redbreast 12yr Single Still

    I like the them both straight, especially the Black Maple Hill, I love its woodiness. The Redbreast is so assertive I can’t help to love it, the spiciness keeps my attention and inspires me to overindulge a bit.

  56. 1512 barbershop Rye. I really really love this stuff and was so surprised by its complexity. Fragrant stong nose with a very very spicy rye flavor and finish. love love this stuff and its local for me. And i have to mention Williett Rye. what a beast!!! Cant wait to get home to taste but cant decided which one to grab!

  57. Dan says:

    Highland Park 21 – I don’t think I can put into words just how phenomenal this was. Also, Danfield’s Limited Edition 21yr Canadian Rye Whisky, which is by far the best Canadian whisky I’ve ever had, and which prompted me to start exploring this category again.

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