Monday, August 20, 2012
The Three Most Underrated Distilleries
In the world of whiskey, there are some distilleries that are constantly on everyone's tongues and others that fly under the radar. Some deserve the praise heaped upon them, but others seem to have inflated reputations. Meanwhile, some of those that fly under the radar deserve more recognition.
This week, I will look at the three most underrated and three most overrated distilleries. In using these terms, I am referring to their perception in the whiskey geek community, not the population at large, which makes it a harder task. For instance, Jack Daniel's is clearly overrated by the population at large, but not by the whiskey lovers.
We'll start on a positive note, with the three most underrated distilleries (in no particular order).
Glengoyne. Lovers of sherried malts tend to gravitate toward Macallan, Glenfarclas and, lately, GlenDronach. All the while, Glengoyne puts out sherried malt every bit as rich as those heavy hitters, with a complex balance of sherry and wood and layers of flavor with unsherried versions are a delectable fruit salad. Unfortunately, the best of these, like the 1987 single cask, tend to be limited to the overseas market. Still, it seems that, recently, when I sip a new malt that really wows me, it's often a Glengoyne.
Four Roses. Four Roses definitely has a following, but it tends to exist in the shadows of the flashier Kentucky distilleries like Buffalo Trace and Heaven Hill. Four Roses is short on fancy packaging and ultra-limited special releases, but it consistently produces great bourbon from the ten recipes it has at its disposal and prices them fairly.
Charbay. Despite the booming craft distillery movement in the US (my complete distillery list is still regularly updated), the American microdistillery movement has yet to produce a recognized stand-out. Charbay is sort of an oddball even among the innovative craft distillers. Marko Karakasevic produces whiskey from finished beer, which includes hops, and releases it in small quantities. Many whiskey fans may get turned off by the high prices that Charbay whiskeys go for, but there is simply nothing else like those hoppy whiskeys, and while I might grumble about the $350 price tag, Charbay makes truly unique American whiskey.
Runners Up: Other distilleries I considered underrated include Midleton (though its reputation is growing), George Dickel, Bunnahabhain, Dallas Dhu and Glenfiddich.
Did I miss any? Add them to the comments.
Later this week: The Most Overrated Distilleries (and get ready for some whiskey heresy!)