Archive for January, 2013

Whisky Advocate’s 19th Annual Award: Artisan Whiskey of the Year

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Corsair Triple Smoke, 40%, $45

Darek Bell and his partners at the Corsair Artisan distillery in Nashville have been swinging hard since they opened, rolling out one new whiskey after another. There are craft brewers who put out fewer beers in a year than Corsair does whiskeys. Rasputin, Nashville, Quinoa, Wry Moon, Pumpkin Spice Moonshine, Ryemageddon, 100% Rye…and our Artisan Whiskey of the Year, Triple Smoke.

triple_smoke[1]Bell will try just about anything when it comes to distilling: “Creativity is free,” he says. He’s written a book about it, Alt Whiskeys, that covers the gamut of that creativity: alternative grains, yeasts, hops, spices, and smoke, the whole bag of brewers’ tricks, really. Bell touches on several ways to get smoke into whiskey in the book, and uses multiple smoked grains in Triple Smoke.

Triple Smoke uses three batches of malt: one each smoked with peat, cherrywood, and beech. The peat is the Scottish tradition, the beechwood-smoking will be familiar to fans of smoky German rauchbier, and the cherry is just for fun.

They all come through in the whiskey. The nose is layered, with the rich island peat filling the middle, bacony beechwood curling out from underneath, and more delicate cherry top notes. After a quick rush of juicy malt, you’ll get the peat front and center again, the beech around the edges of the mouth, and the cherry floating above it. Imagine having a sip of Islay whisky with a smoky Bamberg-brewed chaser…and then a light pull on a fine pipe tobacco.

None of that would work if it weren’t for a solidly made malt whiskey providing the framework. That’s what makes Corsair more than a freak show of variety. Anyone can throw grains, smoke, hops, or spices in a fermenter or a still. It takes skill, restraint, and a good palate to make an award-winner out of it. —Lew Bryson

The American Whisky of the Year will be announced tomorrow.

Whisky Advocate’s 19th Annual Awards will be announced daily beginning Monday, January 21st

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

The Whisky Advocate Awards exist to recognize excellence in the world of whisky. Now in its 19th year, the program is still simply about the world’s greatest whiskies and distilleries, and the individuals who make and promote them.

wa.awards2013LRAs always, these awards are not simply assigned to the whiskies that get the highest ratings in our reviews. The winners might be the highest-rated, or they might instead be the most significant, the most important, or represent a new direction for a category or niche. The awards process is not, in short, a mere numbers-based formula. It is recognition of a combination of excellence, innovation, tradition, and…simply great-tasting whisky.

These awards are the oldest and longest-running annual whisky awards program. We taste and sample over the course of the year, at year’s end we consider and confer, and then we make our decisions based solely on the merits of the whiskies…as we have done for nineteen years. We give you our word: that’s how it will continue to be.

Join us, starting this Monday. (The complete awards feature will appear in the Spring, 2013 issue of Whisky Advocate, on sale March 1st.)

Stitzel-Weller Distillery to start making bourbon again!

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

Yes, it’s true. My sources at Diageo informed me back in September, but I was asked to keep quiet until they were prepared to go public with the news.

However, it appears that someone in the company (or with knowledge of the company’s plans) let the cat out of the bag, as you will witness by the comment just posted on this thread. (Secrets are practically impossible to keep these days.) So, before rumors begin flying regarding whether it’s true or not. let me just clarify and say that it is. Not only that, they are still sitting on stocks of very mature bourbon. Hopefully, some of the better barrels will be bottled for sale in the future.

As soon as I get formal details from Diageo, I will pass them along. That should be very soon. No matter how you look at it, this is very good news indeed!

Davin de Kergommeaux joins the Whisky Advocate review team

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Davin de Kergommeaux LRWe are very pleased to announce that Davin de Kergommeaux has joined the Whisky Advocate Buying Guide review team. Davin has been writing and teaching about whisky for over fifteen years, and is one of the top experts on Canadian whisky. He is the author of Canadian Whisky: The Portable Expert, recently named Canada’s Best Spirits Book of 2012. Davin lives in Ottawa.

Naturally enough, he’ll be reviewing Canadian whiskies and Canadian flavored whiskies for us. His reviews will begin to appear in the Spring issue. Welcome to Whisky Advocate, Davin!