Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dear Santa: My Whiskey Wish List

In my experience, most whiskey fans have a wish list of some sort, a list of the rare bottling they missed out on or the white whale they have searched high and low for. The list may be ever changing, but it's there. I'm no different so I thought, since I've tried everything else to track these down, I'd ask Santa.

I've tried to come up with a list that's not pure fantasy. Sure, I'd love to try the Mortlach 70 or the original Shackleton whisky they found buried in the ice in Antarctica, but that ain't gonna' happen. This is a list of things that, while off the market and hard to find, are somewhat realistic possibilities. In fact, I may be able to eventually wrangle all of them if I really put my mind to it. Some are rare exclusive bottlings, but others are just things I missed or came on the scene too late for. So, in alphabetical order, here they are (Santa, I hope you see this - I'm banking on the fact that the one North Pole hit I get for the blog is you and not one of those heavy drinking elves).

Alberta Premium (25 or 30): If I lived in Canada this would be easy enough, but I don't live there or go there and this stuff doesn't make it south of the border. Of all the Canadian whiskies we miss out on in the US, which includes most of the good stuff, this one is probably the gold standard, a 100% rye Canadian blend that gets consistently rave reviews.

Ardbeg Provenance: This 24 year old Ardbeg released in 1997 is one of the most legendary Ardbegs around. It is the single highest scoring whisky on the LA Whiskey Society website, and they've had several tastings of it, but I keep missing it.

Ardbegeddon: The first exclusive bottling by the PLOWED Society, the famed (or perhaps notorious) American malt tasting group, the Ardbegeddon was a 29 year old sherry aged Ardbeg bottled by Douglas Laing's Old Malt Cask series in 2002. Having been lucky enough to sample PLOWED's unbeliveably good Brorageddon, I can only imagine how great this is, but it may be the hardest one on the list to get. I don't even know if there are any bottles still in existence.

Bruichladdich Blacker Still: This is one I just missed out on. I had seen it on the shelf and passed it over due to its price at the time (two or three hundred if I remember correctly). Well, this sherry malt seems to be loved by everyone and may be Bruichladdich's most sought after recent bottling. By the time I caught on, it had tripled in price.

Eagle Rare 101: I've done pretty well in exploring the obscure corners of the world of American whiskey, which is why you don't see that many listed here, but I've never managed to find an Eagle Rare 101. Before the brand was purchased by Buffalo Trace and made into a lower proof, single barrel offering, it was a 101 proofer. Originally produced by Seagram's, it was subsequently made by Old Prentice and then by Buffalo Trace before they phased it out in favor of the newer bottling. I'd love to try any of the oldies.

Pennsylvania or Maryland Rye: I'm a big fan of rye, but I've never tried one of the old Mid-Atlantic ryes from all of those now closed distilleries. Pennsylvania and Maryland rye were distinct genres of whiskey that thrived in the pre-prohibition years but never fully recovered and eventually, petered out and sold their labels to Kentucky distilleries. Every now and then a bottle of Pennsylvania distilled Old Overholt or Rittenhouse does pop up in an auction, but Maryland ryes like Pikesville and Mount Vernon are harder to find. As a true fan of rye, I'd love to try these old whiskeys from the original rye whiskey heartland.

Van Blankel: A private bottling of Stitzel-Weller whiskey for one individual, a bourbon that's allegedly as subtle and nuanced as a Cognac, the best barrel ever produced by the Van Winkles...I've heard all of these said about the famous "Van Blankel" bottling of Van Winkle 12 year old Lot B, a single barrel bottled for Randy Blank, a regular on the StraightBourbon forum. Like the Ardbegeddon, this is a private bottling, so I don't hold out a lot of hope, but you never know. Hopefully, someone out there will spare me a taste.

Now mind you Santa, I'm not greedy. I understand it might be hard to get a whole bottle of these things. A small sample in my stocking would be plenty.

So, do you have a list?


Regular Chumpington said...

I would love the Alberta Premium 30. Reasonably priced, well-received... what's not to like?

Since we're in the realm of fantasy:

Would love to try Provenance or Lord of the Isles.

Bowmore Black, but there's a matter of price.

That Brorageddon that you guys polished off...

A '72 Glendronach.

A full bottle of Willett 17y L10-7389 for Reid & Emerald

the '72 Rare Malts Brora

'78 Old Malt Cask (2004) Banff (and on Banff - '75 34y Rattray; '71 37y Dead Whisky)

And no shortage of good times and friends to consume it all.

Steffen said...

My wish list is more or less the same as yours. I wouldn't mind a bottle of the Brorageddon and a Provenance :-). I never heard of that van Blankel but it sounds intriguing to me !


Anonymous said...

Cork 'n Bottle's exclusive Van Winkle selection (1970 14yr, 1968 16yr, and 1967 20yr).

sku said...

Good one Anon, though probably unattainable by mere mortals, right?

Anonymous said...

That's right Sku, crazy expensive. But I'd gladly accept them from Santa.

Anonymous said...

Links for the curious (or Santa):

Greg said...

Steve - Interesting list. The last three are nice selections. ER101 is a favorite of mine. Come on out to WDC and I'll tip a bottle for you. PA/MD rye's are very very good. At a dinner two weeks ago with David Perkins from High West, one of the attendees brought along a pre-pro Mt. Vernon MD Rye. Last, the Van Blankle is good SW whiskey but I would argue that some of the personal barrel picks are strong competition (e.g. 8/18). Just my .02.

sku said...

Thanks Greg. I do get to DC from time to time. I'll look you up next time I have any free time there.

Anonymous said...

Diageo remembers they own George Dickel, realize it's gained a following among US whisk(e)y geeks, sprinkles some cash upon Tullahoma, has them unleash a barrel strength series... No. 12 AND Barrel Select at cask strength!

velcro8ball said...

There are a couple of bottles of Ardbegeddon at Weiland Market, on Indianola, in Columbus , Ohio. I won't be buying them so I thought I would pass it along.

Matt L said...

Anybody ever inquire about how much those van winkles at cork n bottle were? Be fun to know!