01 Jan 2014
The whisky year 2013
Tasting notes by Ruben Luyten - Posted in * News
Happy New Year to everyone!
When looking at last year’s statistics, it has been a good year for this little blog. An increase of 28% in terms of unique visitors and almost twice the number of page views (well over 2 million now).
GlenDronach is the most popular distillery again, with Ardbeg now in second place. Among the specific drams, after four years, Laphroaig Triple Wood has lost some of its popularity, and Johnnie Walker ‘The Gold Route’ is now the most visited review (by far), followed by Ardbeg Galileo and Glenmorangie Ealanta. The Johnnie Walker Red Label vs. Black Label is also popular.
Other popular pages were the overview of Diageo’s Special Releases and my article Whisky is dying that has been read by more than 6.000 people. I won’t be looking back at trends of the past year, as I feel I already summarized them in this article. 2013 was simply another year with prices rising out of proportion, declining stocks of old whisky, more No Age Statement whiskies and lowering individuality among modern drams. I fear these trends will dominate 2014 as well.
Here are my highlights of the whisky year that was 2013 (only counting new releases):
- Karuizawa 48 yo 1964 (57,7%, Number One for WealthSolutions Poland, cask #3603)
- Lagavulin 37 yo 1976 (51%, OB 2013, 1868 btl.)
- Karuizawa 30 yo 1981 (55,8%, N°1 Drinks for LMdW 2013, sherry butt #162, 584 btl.)
- Brora 35 years old 1977 (49,9%, OB 2013, 12th Annual release, 2944 btl.)
If you spend hundreds, even thousands of euros a bottle, quality is still available, but in my opinion the real problem is in the category just below: whiskies that are expensive but still accessible to regular people with ‘normal’ budgets. People that aren’t looking for wealth solutions…
Some figures to explain what I mean. The last couple of years, my personal maximum had been around € 200 a bottle, for truly exceptional whisky. This year, it was around € 250-300. I simply can’t justify paying more, no matter what the quality is like. The thing is, in 2011-2012 I could still buy my favourite whiskies of the year, scoring 95 points back then. In 2013 though, the best I could get for my (higher) budget was whisky of 91-92 points. I guess everyone will see this decline, no matter how you set your personal limits.
Let’s also mention my highlights of this ‘affordable premium’ category:
- BenRiach 36 yo 1976 (43,1%, OB for Usquebaugh Society 2012, refill bourbon cask #3031, 124 btl.)
- Bunnahabhain 40 yo 1973 (48,5%, The Whiskyman ‘Birthday dram’ 2013, 155 btl.)
- Bunnahabhain 40 yo 1973 (50,6%, Archives ‘Fishes of Samoa’ 2013, butt #3463, 156 btl.)
- Caol Ila 30 yo 1982 (52%, The Coopers Choice for Limburg Whisky Fair 2013, bourbon hogshead #4721, 275 btl.)
Other highlights are of course the ever expanding list of great (but easy to miss) Karuizawa expressions, the very good (and plentiful) GlenDronachs, the middle-aged Bowmores, and a few surprising outsiders like the Strathmill 22 yo 1991 from Asta Morris which probably gave you the best whisky for money this year. Let’s see what 2014 brings. Slàinte!