My Favourite Drams of 2017 (Part 1) / by Jason Hambrey

What a year for whisky, and, particularly, for Canadian whisky – likely the best ever. I always like to recount the best whiskies of the year – my most memorable. They are not necessarily the best whiskies I tasted in the past year – but the most memorable. I’ll divide it into two parts, as usual – the best standard (i.e. available) whiskies, and the best limited edition whiskies I’ve tasted. Here we go!

These are not in any particular order, so let’s start with Canadian:

1. J.P. Wiser’s Legacy Canadian Whisky

One of my all time favourite whiskies, and nearly universally adored by all except the company, evidently, as it is going out of production to make space for the inferior (though still good) Wiser’s 15 Year Old. Enjoy it while you can!

Read my reviews here. And an additional piece, before I knew it was going to be discontinued, here.

2. Gooderham & Worts

I’ve always liked this, and I’ve scored it very well on my own and in multiple competitions, but when I took a bottle to Hungary (I was working for Audi) I fell in love with it all again. Terrific complexity, very interesting, and very easy to get through.

Read my reviews here.

3. J.P. Wiser's Triple Barrel

What a terrific whisky. I love to mix with it, and I love sipping it – and all this at $28. My favourite bottle of whisky under $30 right now.

Read my review here.

4. Two Brewers Special Finishes

Tthe Yukon micro distillery is turning heads with phenomenal releases of single malt, releasing not only some of the oldest Canadian single malt on the market but also producing it in fantastic fashion. It is somewhat significant, for me, who loves „value” to spend $100 to buy a second bottle of a micro-distillery product when it’s competing with the most expensive (well, until the latter half of this year) and oldest expressions of Canadian whisky on the market. Terrific. Batch 5 is also great.

Read my review here.

5. Leatherback Special Reserve

I've discovered big rum this year, and here is one that is big and delicious, and I love it. I’m sure it’ll only get better, but a very worthwhile buy if you are in Ottawa.

Read my review here.

6. Eagle Rare 10 Year Old

I have had a number of batches of Eagle Rare, but this year I just had a fantastic barrel, and I loved it. Terrific rye integration.

Read my reviews here.

7. Wild Turkey 101

I’ve never loved Wild Turkey that much, but didn’t actually try this until earlier this year. It’s my favorite regular wild turkey, and the flavor forward style of the whisky is addicting.

Review coming next week!

8. Redbreast 21

Just phenomenal. So much oak, so much complexity, so much Redbreast.

Read my review here.

9. Old Pulteney 17

I love this whisky. It’s so easy to drink, and yet it holds you back because of the way the flavor is built in and all the unique notes, from straw-like malt to all the tropical fruit.

Read my review here.

10. Craigellachie 17

It’s amazing how craigellachie brightens as it ages. Really nice body, and really complex.

Read my review here.

11. Springbank 12 Cask Strength

Phenomenal. A landslide winner at multiple tastings of mine this year, to my surprise (not because it isn’t great, but because I didn’t think it would be so approachable!).

Read my review here.

12. Botanist Gin

Wonderful gin. The marine character from all the marine botanicals come through, and if you take time to notice them you reap many rewards...

Read my review here.

13. Blackstrap (Last Straw Distillery)

I am no expert in rums or rhum agricole, but this is my favorite white rum I’ve tasted and it mixes beautifully. I like the white version more than the aged version I tasted.

Read my review here.

I have some favorite special editions coming tomorrow!

 

 

8. Bowmore Laimrig 15 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Yes, you'll notice that I have a penchant for good cask strength peated whisky. Good peated whisky, alongside good rye, is my favorite style of whisky. This whisky is 15 years old and matured in sherry casks which bring in great fruitiness and complexity to complement the smouldering peat. For what it is, it is usually very well priced too.

Read my review here.

9. Laphroaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky

I was only introduced to this whisky during the summer, and I fell in love with it (no surprise). It's laphroaig, but a lot bigger which does wonders too for the complexity. Any big peat lovers need to try to get a taste of this stuff.

Read my review here.