Monday, December 14, 2015
Happy holidays! Here are some of my favorites of this year's new releases for your imbibing friends and family.
The Whisky Exchange had a big hit with a couple of sherry aged single malts from Signatory: a 1998 Laphroaig ($180) and a 1996 Clynelish ($120). Both were excellent, and the Laphroaig might have been my favorite whiskey of the year.
For lovers of sherried Scotch without the peat, it would be hard to do better than this 1990 Glenfarclas from K&L ($170). A vatting of two Oloroso sherry casks, this malt is balanced and highly drinkable. Honestly, I'm shocked there is any of this left, but they seem to have plenty.
Another K&L pick I really liked was their release of the Michel Courveur Peaty Overaged Malt ($90), distilled in Scotland, blended in Burgundy.
My favorite of this year's special releases (that I was able to taste) was the Russell's Reserve 1998 from Wild Turkey, but it's expensive ($250) and hard to find.
For quite a bit less, I was pleasantly surprised by Old Forester 1897 ($50), a Bottled in Bond bourbon that's dry and spicy.
For those of you in the LA area looking for a great deal, Everson Royce in Pasadena bottled a very tasty Old Weller 107 ($30); a really good wheated bourbon at a good price is a rarity these days. UPDATE: Apparently this is now sold out. Sorry folks.
In the rye world, I enjoyed the Redemption Barrel Proof Rye ($100) which is one of the stronger MGP ryes on the market.
This year saw two fantastic new books about American whiskey that would make great gifts. Bourbon Curious: A Simple Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker by Fred Minnick ($15) is a deep dive into the world of bourbon. The book goes further than the average bourbon book with detailed information about the grains, water and wood that make bourbon great. Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America's Whiskey by Reid Mitenbuler ($18) is a fun romp through bourbon history. Mitenbuler has a knack for storytelling and illuminating historical parallels with the whiskey world of today.
Coming Wednesday: Brandy Gifts