My Favourite Drams of 2017 (Part 2) by Jason Hambrey

Basically, my favorite special releases this year.

1. Canadian Club 40 Year Old

The oldest Canadian whisky ever released, and it is phenomenal – structured, rich, and incredibly complex. This is a whisky to drink slowly, and enjoy – as with the best of the best whiskies.

Read my review here.

2. J.P. Wiser's 35 Year Old

This is incredible – not only 35 year old corn, but also a good portion of 35 year old rye (~10%). The rye comes in and plays magic with the base of the corn, and the 50% ABV allows incredible flavour to present itself. In a sense, it’s too bad it got overshadowed by the 40 year old Canadian Club, but it is still one of the best whiskies I’ve tasted.

Read my review here.

3. Lot no. 40 12 Year Old Cask Strength

Everything you might expect – massive pot still rye, rich and complex and sharp – and yet lots of creamy caramel and a lot of oak. It’s the only whisky I have bought an entire case of.

Read my review here.

4. Canadian Rockies 35 Year Old

Not quite the level of the wiser’s 35 or CC40, but this came out last year as one of the oldest Canadian whiskies ever, and at a blistering 79.3% ABV. Incredible finish.

Read my review here.

5. J.P. Wiser’s Dissertation

This is so nicely blended, and such a wonderful demonstration of what blending of good rye can produce. It makes Lot no. 40 seem light in comparison.

Read my review here.

6. Gooderham Centenniel 15 Year Old (1967)

This whisky was bottled to commemorate Canada’s 100th anniversary, 50 years ago. It is decadant (but not too sweet), easy, and complex with a nicy spicy edge to it.

Review coming tomorrow!

7. Stalk & Barrel #Canada150 blend

A blend from Still Waters Distillery, a micro-distillery in Concord, Ontario – north of Toronto. It is complex, modern, and delicious.

Read my review here.

8. Lagavulin 8 Year Old:

The smokiest Lagavulin, and the complexity and distillate is amazing. An extremely worthwhile whisky, and a demonstration that a low age statement can actually be a good thing as the producers are happy to stamp approval on even a younger whisky rather than try to hide it.

Read my review here.

9. Laphroaig Cairdeas 200th Anniversary Limited Edition

This floor malted laphroaig is incredibly creamy and complex (as usual with Laphroaig). All the best of Laphroaig, but creamy and complex with all the wonderful smoky, earthy, woody, and mineral notes.

Read my review here.

10. Glen Garioch 1965 21 Year Old

Here is an old one I only would have ever tried courtesy of a friend, and, indeed, it is a hit from those who wrote about it long ago (Serge Valentin loved it). Incredibly thick and rich, weaving both heavy and light notes magnificently.

Read my review here.

11. Four Roses Cask Strength Single Barrels (particularly OESF)

I did a phenomenal tasting this year of single barrel four roses, 6 different recipes, all around 12 years old. Of those 6 barrels, 4 of them amounted to being in my top 10 bourbons ever. The OESF barrel (94/100) is my favorite bourbon I’ve tasted – remarkably complex, spicy, and candied. But there was also a massive OESK (92/100), OBSK (92/100) and a easy, dessert-like OESV (91/100) bourbon.

12. Thomas H. Handy Rye

I’ve had some later batches which were so-so, but the 2011 version I tried this year is nothing short of magnificent. Incredibly complex and rich, showcasing all the best elements of rye.

Read my review here.

13. William Larue Weller

Maybe this is like a broken record given all the love for this, but a magnificent whisky, in large part because it is so massive. The 2015 version I have is magnificent with a huge, oaky finish – my favourite part of the whisky. Usually wheated bourbons are too sweet for me, but this has enough boldness to counter the sweet.

Read my review here.

14. William Heavenhill

How about another big William? This is an incredibly complex, well structured bourbon - different than a lot of what comes out of heavenhill, but full of great complexity and really easy to drink. Went under the radar, but this is terrific.

Read my review here.

14. Willet Family Reserve Rye

Willet is another big name, and many of us know the quality of their sourced rye and bourbon whiskies. This is huge, complex, and didn’t cost too much (finding it is the issue these days).

Read my review here.

15. Elijah Craig Barrel Strength 12 Year Old

I had an older batch this year which felt as if it was bottled at a very full-flavoured 45%, while actually being above 67% because it was so elegant and easy. I suppose I did have a good year of bourbon, too. If you like big bourbons, it’s hard to surpass these Elijah Craig Barrel Proofs.

Read my review here.

A great showing this year, once again! If you’re curious about my drams in 2016, you can read about them here and here.

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.