In 2017 I sampled some amazing whiskeys. From old, rare and collectible to new, limited in production and seemingly impossible to find, there were so many drams to try. Before I get into my list of thought to find whiskeys to try, I want to start with the one I missed out on. The white whale, if you will, was Bainbridge Yama. Never heard of it you say? You’re not alone. What first drew me to this dram was the description:
Bainbridge Yama is the first-ever non-Japanese whiskey to be aged exclusively in hand-crafted barrels made from rare Mizunara oak harvested from the Japanese island of Hokkaido.
Tell me more…Ok, will do. So, then, I found out it was Whiskey Advocate Magazine’s 2016 whiskey of the year. Say what? How did I not hear about this? I tried unsuccessfully, 5 different times to purchase it on the secondary market and missed out each time. Definitely a bummer.
With that, here’s what I tried, in 2017, that’s hard to find (but can be found).
Jim Murray anointed it the 2017 Whiskey of the Year. I concur. It blew my mind. Booker’s, in general, is a favorite of mine. The Rye took it to a whole other level. The right amount of spice. A wonderful finish. And, a killer color. Just about everything you want in a whiskey.
You’re saying, huh? My friend Eric turned me on this and I was not disappointed. Drinkhacker describes it best:
Who or what is Garryana? It’s short for Quercus garryana, a species of oak native to the Pacific Northwest, where Westland Distillery is based. While American oak barrels are traditionally formed form Quercus alba, a species of oak common to the midwest, Westland, as you might have guessed, aged part of this limited edition release of its single malt whiskey in so-called Garry oak, where it spent three years slumbering before hitting the bottle.
Intriguing, right? I don’t have a better way to describe it, other than, funky. It’s incredibly unique and unlike anything, I’ve ever sampled.
Ichiro’s Port Pipe and On The Way
I’m a big fan of Ichiro Akuto and his whiskey. I’ve yet to have a bad one. My first introduction to Ichiro was his “Chichibu The First.” For such a young whiskey it was full of flavor and complexity. This year I tried On The Way and Port Pipe. They couldn’t be more different and yet, both, awesome. Port Pipe is rich, flavorful and almost sweet. On The Way is assertive, layered and warm.
Crooked Water Kings Point
I move to Minnesota and my buddy Kasey, a Minnesota native says, “you have to try Crooked Water bourbon!” Ok, I’m in. Not the easiest to find, but I’m glad I hunted for it. The Whiskey Wash describes it well:
It is described by Crooked Water as a two-year old bourbon that was finished for over six months in a used port barrel imported from Portugal from a 100+ year winery.
I always applaud distilleries that can create or extract flavor from young whiskeys. Crooked Water nailed it with the Kings Point bourbon.
Garrison Brothers Single Barrel Bourbon
I read about the hype. I read more about the hype. Finally, I broke down and took a flyer on a bottle. Initially, I was not a fan. It was not my cup of tea, I felt. But, After 3 or 4 glasses over a month, I became a fan. While not the best whiskey I’ve ever had, it’s very good and has an incredibly distinct taste. The boys in Texas really know what they’re doing.
There’s a lot of great whiskey out there. If you look hard enough you may find a sought-after gem.