As I complied this list, I have realized that they were special beyond simply tasting spectacular. On that note, there is only one reason that I was able to taste all of these – friends. Particularly with rare, expensive, and/or inaccessible bottles – no one needs all of them, but everyone wants to taste all of them, and the solution to this problem is friends in a whisky community. If you don’t have any, I recommend joining a site such as Connosr to see if there are any enthusiasts in your area. Broadly, I have found, the whisky community is eager and generous – a very great quality indeed.
Last year I also tasted a Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Old, a William Larue Weller from the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, and Four Roses 125th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch. All those were great, but all of them didn’t make this list. The bottles with craze and hype around them are, generally, over-priced and over-hyped compared to the other bottlings which you can find. If you tell most people that this is the best bourbon on the planet, it’ll probably taste like it is, whether or not it actually is. In fact, the guy who gave me some of his Pappy 15 kept calling it “Pappy Crappy”, not because it wasn’t good, but because the hype is ridiculous.
So, here are my five favorite drams of 2015, with 5 being my favourite:
- Masterson’s 10yo Straight Barley Whisky: One of the most unique and earthiest whiskies I have tasted with notes of broccoli, reeds, anise, and caraway. Largely, it has flown under the radar even beside it’s highly acclaimed sister Rye. Fabulous, memorable stuff.
- Forty Creek Confederation Oak, Batch A: The first batch of Canadian Oak matured whisky released from Forty Creek – the first of its kind in the modern era of whisky, and perhaps ever. John Hall almost gave up on this after he found it tasted quite terrible, but it improved to quite the bit of nectar. This is long gone, having been released in 2010 – but if you can find any, try it.
- Forty Creek Evolution: The best nose that I have ever encountered in a whisky, and when I opened the bottle I didn’t move for a solid 2 hours while I couldn’t keep my nose out of my glass. My tasting notes will tell you why! Again, this is now no longer generally available – but well worth a nose or two.
- Alberta Premium 25 Year Old: The best Canadian whisky I have ever tasted – incredibly complex, leathery, and dry. We all have our fingers crossed to see something like this again – a 25 year old, 100% rye whisky.
- Harwood’s Blended Canadian Whisky:This whisky was bottled in 1946, just after World War 2. It not only was delicious, but very unique and quite the experience to taste something that old. A friend of mine had picked it up at an auction in New York and gave me a taste of it.
Notably, all of the above were Canadian – this was not intentional, though I do taste more Canadian than anything else. An honorable mention goes to Alberta Premium 30 Year Old, which was my 6th favorite dram of the year.