Wednesday, August 22, 2012
The Three Most Overrated Distilleries
Earlier this week, I took a stab at what I think are the three most underrated distilleries. Today, we look at the most overrated distilleries. I'm aware that I am committing a number of heresies with this list, so feel free to tar and feather me in the comments, and keep in mind, I'm not saying that the whiskey from these distilleries is bad, just that they don't quite live up to the hype.
Cooley. Whiskey geeks love independence and innovation, but sometimes those factors seem to take precedence over quality. Cooley, up until they sold to Beam earlier this year, was a darling of the whiskey geeks for its independent spirit (pun intended). They make not only traditional Irish blended whiskey, but also single malt, single grain and peated single malt whiskey. But for all their innovation, I can't say I've been overly impressed with many Cooley whiskeys. Just because you can add peat, doesn't mean you should, and Connemara may be the best example of that. Cooley's other whiskeys aren't bad, but they just don't seem to merit the attention Cooley gets.
Ardbeg. Ardbeg has made some legendary whiskies in its time, but what has it done for us lately? The standard line as it's been for a few years: Ardbeg 10, Uigeadail and Corryvreckan are good whiskies, particularly Uigeadail, but certainly not of the quality or sophistication of some of their earlier stars. This is understandable as they were closed for a period and, like much of the industry, are clearly dealing with a shortage of older whisky. What we do get, though, is several annual releases of non-age statement whiskies that seldom measure up to their standard offerings, and a relentless parade of choppers, rockets and other gimmicks. Nevertheless, peatheads still seem to fawn over every rollercoaster, alligator or whisky in space. It seems that Ardbeg's best days are behind it (or, hopefully, in front of it).
Stitzel-Weller. Like Ardbeg, Stitzel-Weller has made some amazing whiskey, but the hype of this closed Kentucky distillery has gotten way out of hand. I've had some fantastic old Stitzel-Wellers, but I've also had some mediocre ones, both recent and dusty. Between every bottle of pre-1992 Old Fitzgerald fetching at least in the mid-three figures on ebay and the regular hysteria around each Pappy release, the hype for this distillery is much more than it deserves.
Runners Up: Macallan, Dalmore and Bruichladdich.
Add your suggestions (or angry tirades) in the comments.