It’s December and rather than do a review of the year I’m just going to prattle on about my favourite tipples, things I’ve really enjoyed or been surprised by.
I’ve decided to not drone on about the rubbish I’ve tried, apart from Proper 12, that was a truly terrible experience and as always I won’t be in a rush to buy any Glenlivet.
I’m not a big drinker, so I keep telling my both myself and my doctor, but really I’m not, I’ll get through maybe two bottles of spirit, no more than a dozen bottles of wine and maybe the same of beers, and that’s over a whole year, as I get older I just can’t take the hangovers and whether we like it or not, drinking isn’t very good for you and we all have to take care of ourselves as we get older.
I’ve not had any real theme this year, for wines though I’ve only had organic, Natural or Bio Dynamic wines, the lack of additives, sulphates and preservatives bring out some fascinating bottles of wine and I don’t feel rough either.
Beers wise it’s been the odd can of “craft” beer. Craft is a curious word though, I’m well aware that some of the cans or bottles I drink are mass produced in huge factories but I’ll go along with it for now.
Spirits have been a real mixed bag for me, I’ve tried some right dross this year but I’m trying to be less cynical, if firms want to market themselves with horseshit then let them, if they want to sell dross then fine, I just won’t be buying it and I certainly won’t be endorsing it.
Another turn for me is my new approach to a spittoon or, to be accurate, a bin. This has allowed me to try more spirits than I normally would and I’m far more approving of them than I once was, especially if you’ve got Proper 12 or Glenlivet in your mouth, why would you swallow that?
Beers first then, I’ve had a few I really liked the Breakfast Stout by Yeasty Boys, a wonderful thick drink with some strong fruit notes to balance out the stout. I’m more into drinks with a sweet or sour edge, there are loads out there but I’ve really enjoyed Salty Kiss Gooseberry Sour by Magic Rock and Disco Forklift Truck Mango IPA from Drygate. All three of these and many others are available in shops, loads of shops, and really, especially if you’re in England where they seem to have excellent choice pretty much everywhere, then you’ve no excuse not to try these bad boys. Special beer shout out to the Drygate again with their American Stout, in a can, it’s really pleasant and about £1.50 a can so cheap as chips, well done them.
Wine is something I enjoy but don’t really know much about. Natural wine is a wine making technique which to be fair is rather vague in terms of any kind of actual nailed down definition but loosely it’s wine with no added anything. This means it’s a gamble, it’s not the same as buying your favourite Merlot or Barolo, you could get many different things happening in one glass let alone a full bottle but without the added sulphates and additives I can drink red wine again and not fear a brutal day old hangover.
For fizzy wine I will steer you to two truly wonderful bottles. First off is the fantastic Cremant d’Alsace NV from Domaine Klur. I wouldn’t do it justice by trying to explain it but it’s perfect, it’s not cheap at £21.95 but then I think this almost rivals Krug which is about £150 so then yeah, it’s actually very reasonably priced, no one who likes fizz would not like this.
Next up is my favourite but it’s not going to be for everyone. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you with Casa Belfi Col Fondo Prosecco. It’s pure filth, it is as dry as drinking liquid stone, it has sour notes, super sweet over ripe pear notes and is the best summer tipple you could ask for, I’ll grant you it’s pretty much the opposite of what your average Prosecco drinker is looking for but this is serious drinking we’re talking about here and this is a serious bottle of fizz.
Moving on to red and I’m just going to spraff a bit about one bottle of pure perfection.
This is wine will either sound amazing to you or will sound fucking terrible, that’s the fun of natural wine.
It’s red, it has massive fruit notes, it’s like winter berry cordial at first, blackberries picked from their bush and exploding in your mouth, then some light fizz, some light tannin creeps in and then ends dry, that’s one mouthful. A wine like this changes with practically every mouthful, I’m probably not up to the job of describing it properly if I’m honest, but the Vino Rosso, Vino Biologico from Alessandrino is just perfect, best bottle of wine I’ve had, possibly ever, just really fun to drink, I can’t wait to buy more from them.
All these wines have been available from the excellent Good Spirits Wine and Beer shop in Glasgow, link at the bottom of the page.
And that’s all the wine and beer out of the way.
Scotch whisky will always have a place in my heart and I’ve had some lovely bottles this year but Cognac has taken its place in my whisky cabinet with a few absolutely perfect bottles.
A.De Fussigny might have a name I need to look up three times every time I need to write it down but their Superieur Cognac is delicious, their Champagne Cognac is like drinking from wherever the Gods get their Cognac from. I’ve also had some fun with the Christmas tipple from Aldi, Cognac is easy to drink, it usually doesn’t offer a huge challenge to the drinker but as an after dinner drink it’s wonderful, I once made a Cognac sour too and that was lovely although perhaps a bit of a waste.
Whisky continues to lead me a merry dance, prices continue to rise and we’re starting to see some the start up distilleries releasing actual whisky, most of it frighteningly over priced whisky too, a hundred quid for a 50cl bottle of three year old whisky? Where do I sign up, and that’s reasonably well priced considering some the nonsense I’ve seen.
A couple of positive notes though, Costwalds are now producing whisky which seems reasonably priced, Kingsbarns and Eden Mill are pricey but good liquid and the Clydeside Distillery now producing spirit, the New Make is fantastic and I expect good things to come, it’s also a nice place for a coffee and cake, not the first thing you think about when visiting a distillery but hey when you’ve no whisky to promote then you need to diversify.
I believe it’s getting harder to cut through the epic amount of rubbish people say too. I’m alarmed at how many websites and blogs have become nothing more than adverts for big business, the lack of transparency actually really pisses me off, there are still some decent bloggers out there though, don’t be too disheartened but I’m slowly knocking off the rubbish ones off my follow list, hopefully you will too and I do hope if you ever think I’ve become too much of a fanboy then you’ll let me know and I’ll have a sit down and a good hard think, I will always try my best and be impartial.
Decent whisky then, we’ll there’s been a fair few bottles, but how many were outstanding? Well less so.
Some surprises too, pleasant ones. William Grant both impressed and annoyed me, their Aerstone 10 Year Old is more silly marketing than needed but were solid 10 Year Old malts for buttons and would make excellent introductions to those wishing to get into whisky.
Glenturret came into view this year, a bit pricey but nice, it seems even more of a shame at how poor standard Famous Grouse is when you try all the components, try the Triple Wood if you can, well worth a sip or two.
Berry Bros and Rudd and have rather stepped up their game by releasing a series of Blended Malts that seemed to win over pretty much everyone who got near them, there are new batches out there and I recommend them all and big shout to Berry Bros for not resting on their laurels and changing with the times and in the furious blended malts market they are surprisingly well priced too when they could have easily lumped on another tenner to the price and I doubt anyone would have moaned too much.
An independent bottler I’ve half changed my mind over is That Boutique-y Whisky Company. I’m still not impressed by their over fancy labels and I don’t like their 50cl bottles but I’d find it hard to believe that anyone could moan about the quality of the liquid involved. I was really impressed with a 27 Year Old North British and a 10 Year Old Glen Moray, both were excellent and I look forward to hitting some new bottles next year, in fact, I’ve tried a good handful of their bottles and every single drop has been superb.
Two old distilleries I wasn’t overly familiar with I got to know much better, Deanston and Tomatin really impressed with an 18 Year Old and 14 Year Old respectively, showing, along with Glen Moray and Glenfiddich year after year that you can produce solid whisky for a reasonable price and that you can cater to the masses without dropping standards as all these whiskies are available in Supermarkets.
Favourites of the year, well, the Berry Bros and Rudd Speyside cask Blended Malt was magic, the full range was decent and very well priced but the Speyside was a sexy bottle of whisky.
Both the North British 27 from That Boutique-Y and a 25 Year Old from A.D. Rattray were magnificent. Old grain whiskies are the ideal way for people to sample old whiskies without having to rob a bank to do so, try and get some, they are magic. In fact I would recommend any of you getting one of the Bouti… ahhh the fucking name annoys me when I have to type it over and over, anyway, get a grain from them, trust me.
Two shout outs to America, Uncle Nearest from Tennessee showing us all that Tennessee isn’t a one trick pony of a town, can I say that? Is that a saying? Well, it is now. And buy this and not Jack Daniels because it’s better.
I’ll also say another Hi to my friends over at IronRoot Republic, their second collaboration with Berry Bros (have become a BBR fanboy?) is a more mature offering that their first and they continue to improve and will be a force for good in the annoyingly good American Spirits market.
Oh and a wee thanks to Mark at Whisky Whistle for sending me a sample of the Wayne Gretzy 99 Canadian Whisky, it was excellent, Canada is the best. Mark also sends me Korean spirit but let’s not talk about that, although I’d drink it over Proper 12 or Glenlivet.
Thanks all for the support, if you didn’t read this I probably wouldn’t bother.
Places where I buy stuff online.