It's Good to Know What's Best!

I've been digging my way out of emails this morning, coming into work an hour and a half early just to get back to everyone who takes the time to write (by the way, if my answers are short, it's not because I'm being curt, but rather because I'm trying to reply to each and every one!). Many of the emails I've received so far this morning are from customers interested in securing Jim Murray's top whisky selections of the year.

For those looking to sample Jim's top picks, I've got some good news and some bad news.

Let's start with the bad news.

The "Best Whiskey in the World" is all gone. I had tons of Handy Sazerac Rye a few weeks ago.  Why you might ask?  Because the Handy rye is the Ringo Starr of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.  It's the whiskey people will buy only if John, Paul, and George aren't available (Beatles analogies always seem to be quite useful to Jim's selections). If you're new to whiskey drinking and you don't know what I'm talking about, Buffalo Trace Distillery releases five special edition whiskies every Fall - George T. Stagg, Weller Larue, Thomas Handy, Sazerac 18, and Eagle Rare 17.  The Stagg always goes first, followed by the Weller Larue, then the Sazerac, then the Eagle, and when those four are gone, people usually say, "OK, just give me the Handy." However, to those who passed, you were all totally wrong to do so.  That was a very dumb move.  You all just passed on the Best Whiskey of the Year!!  How foolish do you feel now?

The point is, even though we can usually get a few leftover bottles, my entire supply of 2011 Thomas Handy is completely sold out. If Jim is referring to the upcoming 2012 Handy in his review, then I'm likely to only get six bottles, all of which will be sold via raffle to the few thousand people on our whisky insider list.  That makes the odds of getting a bottle from K&L about .001 percent.

As for the Weller Larue, whiskey number two on Jim's list, I usually get about three of those each year, making the odds of getting that bottle about .00001 percent.  I really like the Weller, much like I enjoy the Old Weller Antique, so at least I wasn't wrong about that one.

Ballantine's 17, Jim's number three selection, is definitely available at many fine retailers across the United States.  We don't really dabble too much in blended whisky, so I'm happy to let my wonderful competitors cash in on this one.  You can do a quick Google search and I'm sure you'll find one close by. I do feel foolish for not carrying it now, however.  I should have made an exception for that one. Dang it! I'm such an idiot.

Best Single Malt of the Year was the Ardbeg Day, a limited-edition whisky we sold earlier this year.  It's gone and you probably won't find it anywhere (maybe an overpriced bottle on the East Coast, here or there). I love Ardbeg.  I love the Corryvreckan and the Uigeadail.  I even like the Galileo, which some people thought was too weird.  I did not love the Day.  However, it's now officially the best single malt of the year, so I was incorrect in my opinion.  I now indeed love the Ardbeg Day and, if you ask me, I will tell you that it was the best single malt I tasted all year.

Best Irish Whiskey of Year went to Redbreast 12 Cask Strength.  We've got plenty of that (for now).  While I love Redbreast, the cask strength was my absolute least favorite whiskey of 2012, so it's nice to know how wrong I was. 

Thank goodness I now know what the best whiskies of the year are!  I was trying to help a few people find some interesting booze outside of these selections, but they responded with "these are the best though, right?" Have fun finding one! Please forward this information to anyone you know who is looking to find a bottle off this list.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll