2013 Ends, 2014 Begins
So in no particular order...
Bunnahabhain 23yr / The Rare Casks (Abbey Whisky)
This cracking peated Bunnahabhain, something that doesn't happen often, from the brilliant Rare Casks range from Abbey Whisky is deserving of a place in my top drams of 2013, there's something just so fantastically special about this dram that you can't quite put your finger on but that really does make it special.
There isn't a lot of this about so if you want one i would certainly advise popping over to Abbey Whisky sooner rather than later. The Rare casks series from these guys (Caperdonich, Bunnahabhain and Ben Nevis) have all been brilliant and i'm really looking forward to seeing what comes from these guys in 2014, I'm very much expecting good things.
Tomatin 30 Year Old
I'd managed to miss out on this dram in 2012 at Whisky Fringe by a matter of minutes but made sure to try it a good number of times in 2013... at Glasgow Whisky Club, Livingston Whisky Club, Whisky Stramash and Whisky Fringe plus whilst on a wee tour of the distillery. This is a fabulous whisky that really deserves all the accolades being given to it.
It's not the only weapon in Tomatin's arsenal though as the brilliant Legacy and peated Cu Bocan are both worthy of a place on anyone's whisky shelf. I've got a lovely Bottle Your Own (ex Bourbon cask) from my recent distillery trip to work through and if the sample that i had of something a bit special is anything to go by, 2014 is going to be yet another BIG year for Tomatin.
Officially the news for 2014 from Tomatin is "We have a jam-packed release schedule for our brands, 2014 will be a busy year for us and very exciting.
"You can expect some changes to our 'line-up' along with limited releases for both Tomatin and Cu Bocan, and we're giving one of our brands a new lease of life. "
Wemyss Malts Chocolate Honeycomb
I tasted a fair few different Wemyss Malts drams in 2013, in fact they were placed second in the list of bottlers that i had in 2013 on the basis of quantity as i have reviewed 14 whiskies from Wemyss Malts in 2013.
They are always brilliant quality drams and so it was difficult to pick my favourite but i just couldn't look passed this 2001 Vintage Bunnahabhain which I really did fall in love with, there's something so sweet, chocolatey and honeycombed about it that i could nose and sip this all day long.
With a cracking range of Whiskies (and more to come) and the Darnleys View Gin range, you may ask what else Wemyss Malts can offer, but i think 2014 is going to be another great year for them, when I asked what were the big plans for 2014 I was told "Our main activity is opening the distillery at Kingsbarns. The target opening date is St Andrews Day 2014, but we've got a few things to do before that!
"We'll be extending our blended Scotch range in the early part of the year and also looking for our next single cask release in March time."
SMWS 31.26 - BBQ Smoke on the Rolling Sea
2012 saw me making one of the best decisions of my whisky life by joining The Scotch Malt Whisky Societyy and since I've been lucky enough to spend a fantastic amount of time drinking and appreciating some of the best single malt drams available on the planet.
I reviewed 30 different Scotch Malt Whisky Society drams this year, and tried a lot more, and with them having jsut released distilleries 130, 131 and 132 I would expect 133 to be coming in 2014 sometime too.
I couldn't really pick a favourite of all the drams i tried from them but then the 31.26 - BBQ Smoke on the Rolling Sea from my favourite distillery and a present from my wife was a really special one this year so it wins this time although the 5.36 - Rubbing White Tiger Balm on Your Forehead is definitely one of my all-time favourites.
2014 will be another big year for reviews of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society drams on the blog as I have just done a bottle share with some friends on some Japanese drams that were just released with reviews of those coming in January, and a group of us are just about to go all systems go on a bottle sharing scheme which will see us taking shares of a bottle a month, at least, and more to come.
If you arent a member already, i can't recommend highly enough joining (and let me know before you do and i can give you my membership number as your recommender to help me get a wee bit off a bottle)
The Best of the Rest
I've been very lucky and managed to taste and buy a huge amount of fantastic drams in 2013, and with over 300 reviews posted in this year alone on the blog it is difficult to pick out some crackers of drams, there are obviously the very special like the Highland Park Thorfinn and Highland Park 40 year old but i've went for drams that are pretty affordable and in my eyes represent great value for money too.
I'm sure the guys at Master of Malt will have yet more surprises up their sleeves for 2014 and I can't wait to see what the new year brings.
2014 - onwards and upwards