So long, 2018.
This time of year, everyone is publishing their “Best of” lists, remembering those who passed away in the course of the year, and making resolutions for the new year. It’s customary in the whiskey world for bloggers and writers to publish their versions as well. But here’s the thing. The “Best Whiskey of 2018” is probably something you can’t buy anymore because it’s already gone. And even if you could buy it, it’s totally subjective. I thought Jim Murray’s selection of the 2017 William Larue Weller as his whiskey of the year was complete crap – in my opinion it wasn’t even the best BTAC in 2017. But I digress. In lieu of a “Best of” list, I’m providing something else. First the things that are as dead as 2018 or just dead to me…
- Age Statements – They’re all gone. No one is providing meaningful age statements on flagship brands anymore. Hopefully this trend will turn around in the next few years but Heaven Hill pulling their age-stated bottled-in-bond product from the market was the last straw.
- Bourbon Hunting – I haven’t walked into a store and found anything meaningful in the past year. This used to be my hobby. Now I don’t even bother. My 2019 will be limited to retail relationships and distillery gift shops.
- Meaningless Reviews – Reviews are only helpful to me if I can read the review and go into the store and buy the whiskey. Now many reviews are for stuff you can’t find. The only value in super premium reviews seems to be boosting the secondary market for complimentary reviews. And for many of the reviews, people are using words and descriptions that don’t translate. I’m looking at you, Fred Minnick. What the hell is fenugreek, anyway? You shouldn’t have to google an adjective to know if a whiskey tastes good.
Whiskey 2019 New Year’s Resolutions
- I’m not camping, standing in line, lottery-ing, raffling, or anything else. If I can’t buy it through a retail relationship or by visiting a distillery gift shop, so be it. Cheers to the guy who skipped Thanksgiving again this year to be first in line at my local store for the Black Friday allocated whiskey release. You must really hate your family.
- I’m not chasing stickers. Your store pick is probably good, but a sticker does not a good whiskey make. I blame Willett for their super clever bottle-naming. They were trend setters. Drink curious, but this sticker stuff is out of control.
- Non-distiller producers aren’t worth the prices they’re charging. So, I won’t buy them in 2019. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Kentucky Owl Rye at a lower proof at almost $200? Dickel and MGP is everywhere in pretty labels at $70+/bottle. Nope. Just give me a flagship Buffalo Trace or Elijah Craig at less than $30 and I’ll be happy. You might not feel the same way, but a line must be drawn. And I’m drawing it.
- More cost plus shipping. I’ve tried just about everything out there in whiskey. I live in a state that gets great distribution and I am fortunate to have generous friends that share the stuff I can’t get. Some of you aren’t so lucky. Although distribution isn’t going to be sufficient in super-premium releases, there’s no reason someone can’t get their hands on an Old Weller Antique at $50 or less if we all do more C+S in the new year.