There has been a good amount of frustrated venting taking place on the blogosphere lately. I wrote a few posts a month or so back about how annoyed I was with the crappy products being released so far this year, and today John Hansell added a new diatribe about mediocre single malts dominating 2010. Just a few days earlier, he posted a shorter rant about whisky producers seemingly forgetting that all we as consumers want are good whiskies at good prices. More and more distilleries, like Bruichladdich for example, are pricing their new releases at higher and higher prices forcing the fans to either shell out or look elsewhere. The key problem with this development is that most of what is being released is simply average.
For that reason I have stopped relying on distillers to taste me on what is good, and I am circumventing them by searching out single casks that have yet to be tampered with. However, if you are as frustrated with single malt distilleries as Hansell is, then I would suggest you look into rum - aged rum, more specifically. With the recent surge of Ron Zacapa sales blowing out Glenlivet 12 (honestly, we're selling more than GL 12 and Glenfiddich 12 combined!), I am literally watching the rum revolution happen before my eyes. Unfortunately, I have yet to get any more rums in that taste as similar to a Speyside malt. Many rums are being aged for a decade or more in sherry casks making them viable alternatives to your favorite Glenfarclas or Macallan expressions.
Today I just tasted two new ones from Dos Maderas (due into Redwood City tomorrow). The Dos Maderas 5+3 is absolutely fantastic and if any one of you were to pick up a bottle you would probably be very surprised with how much you actually love it. I love it because it is nowhere near as sweet as the Zacapa or even their own 5+5. Aged 5 years in oak and 3 years in sherry, it begins with the classic sugar cane flavor and then seamlessly glides into rich vanilla and caramel. I was very impressed. The Dos Maderas 5+5 is done with the same formula except that the sherry barrels are Pedro Ximenez. This is much more like the Zacapa style and is well made - brown sugar and sweet toffee abound!
Other options in the rum category include the Zafra 21 (which we have a sweet deal on right now) and the Appleton 12 which is designed to persuade single malt lovers away from whisky. Rum is becoming a true alternative for single malt drinkers, and the price to quality ratio at this point is strongly in favor of the consumer. Maybe we should taste rum at an event in the near future?