Saturday, 4 January 2014

Spirits of the Year... 2013

No, I don’t believe in doing an annual review post or anything like that. If you want to know what happened in the year, look back over the blog. Nor do I think I try enough of everything to be able to make sweeping generalisations about such and such being the year’s best single malt or whatever. I would though, just very quickly, like to pay tribute to what I’m going to call my Spirits of the Year. Without getting too formal or anything, these are bottles that I enjoyed massively over the course of 2013. There’s only three, and you’ll notice that there isn’t a single malt amongst them. Single malt is probably what I drink most of, but the reason there isn’t one here – despite some excellent drams this year – is that nothing came out of nowhere and surprised me. Yep, Ardbeg 10 is great, yes, I definitely enjoyed the Caol Ila Distiller’s Edition and the Glenfarclas 10… but I kind of expected all that. So just put that aside and let's pay tribute to the unexpected… in no particular order, other than that in which I thought of it.

Vodka: Stolichnaya 100 Proof

You know that I love Stolichnaya, right? Course you do. I’ve been singing the praises of the 40% ABV red variety for years now, so it is undeniably to the blue variety’s credit that it absolutely rocked my world when I finally got around to buying a bottle. You’ll be able to read more about it in the coming weeks, but let’s just say for now that it is all the red variety is and more – with an extra 10% of ABV thrown on top. Awesome.

lended Scotch: Jim McEwan’s Symphony No 1

You might remember this from my Distilgrimage adventure. This one makes the cut because it was an absolute bargain (£13) and whether you factor in the price or not, it was a delight; the first time I’ve enjoyed a blend so fully – though not the last in2013 (shout outs but no awards, to Ballantine’s Finest and White Horse).

Grappa: Mille Lune

Another spirit that delighted and amazed in equal measure, and that you will be able to read about in more detail in the coming weeks. Despite trying it at the vineyard prior to purchase, it still surprised me on opening at home. Clean and beautifully balanced, this rocketed right to the top of my grappa league table.

So, here’s looking forward to another fun year of fine spirits and heavy drinking. I’ve already got some single malts, blends, and Canadian whiskies to open, and have just broken the seal on another grappa… Then there’s plans for trips to Florida, as well as to various countries within the EU that should yield some interesting purchases.

All of the above were so good that for me, they represent the best that their spirit genre has to offer so let’s hope 2014 brings some examples that challenge their supremacy. I don’t know what the year will bring yet, but you can be sure I’ll be telling you all about it. See you soon for the first proper post of the year and, in the meantime, you can tell me about your favourite spirits of 2013 in the comments.

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