In 2012, I probably tasted a wider range of malts than in any year previously. But which did I like the best?
Note: this is a small, non-systematic selection of single malt whiskies I tasted last year and particularly enjoyed. They are not the 'best overall', and are certainly not restricted to malts 'released' last year.
The inclusion criteria are:
1. They are all single malt whiskies
2. I tasted them in 2012
3. I liked them, and
4. They came to mind readily for the purposes of writing this post.
Carn Mor Caol Ila. Tropical fruit, elusive smokiness; something different every time tasted, yet always complex— and always very, very good. Better than good, actually: a truly great whisky.
1981 Karuizawa. I can't think of a whisky that pulls off the sherry/smokiness integration quite this well. But there's a lot more besides: fantastically complex. Sometimes, a bit of hype is justified.
Rosebank 12 yo. There's probably an element of 'closed distillery idolatry' in my liking for Rosebank, but it makes the list anyway. I also tried an older bottling last year, but reckon the 12 yo F&F wins out when it comes to subtle flowers, meadows, and herbs.
Ledaig, unaged. I bought some last year (at less than £20, why not?). The bottle went very quickly. Lots of fresh, young grassy spirit at first sip, but then there's some smoke and some sweeter flavours coming through, and lovely herbs, honey and ginger rounding it off.
Glendronach 12 yo. It's just possible that sentimental attachment has promoted this above other worthy contenders. But it's still a good 'un. The sherry is there but restrained, and balances well with honey, ginger and spices.
Honorary mentions should go to the Glenlossie, the Sainsburys/Cooley Dun Leire, all the Mortlachs I tried last year, the Benromachs, and the Bowmore 18. And probably more besides.
In general I'm finding I'm less keen on the heavily sherried whiskies these days compared to a few years back— bigger instead on lighter flavours: citrus, orchard fruit, herbs and spices, the restrained end of the smoke and peat spectrum. But no doubt my preferences will continue to shift. The world of malt whisky seems to be more than large enough to accommodate them.