Top Whiskey Picks for 2013

Yellow Rose Outlaw Bourbon

Yellow Rose Outlaw Bourbon:
proof that small barrel bourbon
doesn’t suck
(Credit: Jake Emen)

The Whiskey Reviewer doesn’t have any formal awards to give out, at least not yet. However, that does not mean that we don’t have our opinions. Our staff comes across plenty of noteworthy whiskey during the year. Our purview extends to embraces all types of whiskey, from bourbon to moonshine to scotch; covers whiskey from around the world, from Australia to Japan to Iceland; and includes new releases, old classics, rare and aged limited editions, and liquor sore sleepers.

In sifting through everything that is whiskey, our staff comes across some particular items that merit special attention. We may not have awards at The Whiskey Reviewer, but in 2013 each of our staff made a personal pick for the best new whiskey for the year, as well the best whiskey (old or new) to pass their lips during the year.

Jake Emen, Staff Writer

  • Best To Pass My Lips: Johnnie Walker Blue Label, which I enjoyed with the fellas on my wedding day. Ultra-smooth and while it may be hard for the price to be “worth” it, it’s even better than you may think. Have never been that into blended scotches, but if they were all like this.
  • Best New: Yellow Rose Outlaw Bourbon. Aged just six months in small barrels, but achieves great maturity and complexity. Caramel, honey, corn, vanilla, molasses, lots of flavor and sweetness, easy drinking.

Kurt Maitland, Staff Writer

  • Macallan 18 Year Old Gran Reserva

    Macallan’s Gran Reserva
    18 Year Old
    (Credit: Kurt Maitland)

    Best To Pass My Lips: The Macallan Gran Reserva that I reviewed after I got back from Hong Kong, which was both amazing and rare. This was followed by the Pappy’s 23 YO I was able to get at Idle Hands.

  • Best New Whiskey: Low Gap 2 Year Wheat Whiskey. It’s young but triple aged in (1) new American oak, (2) used Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels and (3) used 350-liter Limousin oak barrels (formerly used for Germain-Robin brandy). The triple barreling blunts the new wood taste that often plagues young spirits and replaces it with a dark chocolate/raisin finish that comes with the brandy barrel along with some elements from my beloved Pappy’s. How good is it? I’ve actually bought 3 bottles of it and am about to get more since I don’t want to run out.

S.D. Peters, Staff Writer

  • Best To Pass My Lips: Laphroaig 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch.
  • Best New Whiskey: Yellow Rose Straight Rye tied with James E. Pepper 1776 Straight Rye. Yellow Rose for its excellent balance of sweet & spice all-around, neither of which cancels out the other, as sometimes happens in newer Ryes. J. E. P. for its traditional Rye perfection (sweetly spicy on the nose, but straight-up spicy taste).
Compass Box Peat Monster 10th

Compass Box’s Peat Monster 10th Anniversary
(Credit: Compass Box)

Richard Thomas, Managing Editor

  • Best To Pass My Lips: The Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Bourbon. This was a late 2012 release that didn’t pass my lips until just after New Years, so technically it wasn’t “new” to this year. I adored the stuff, so much so that I campaigned for more, a wish that was granted in September.
  • Best New Whiskey: The Peat Monster 10th Anniversary vatted malt from Compass Box. As good as the original Peat Monster is, this stuff is just a little bit better. Serious peat-lovers should pony up the £83.00, get this scotch, and feel privileged to have it.
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