Best Wishes & Best Whisky of 2023

Happy New Year! Let’s go over the past year once again and make a list of our personal highlights of 2023 before we start a new year of whisky reviews.

The amount of spirits keeps rising. In 2022 I reviewed 530 bottlings, this year I reached 572 reviews. At the same time I keep telling it is hard to keep up this pace, but hey, as long as the liver is healthy…

The rapid fire tasting notes weren’t published every month like I intended (only four editions in one year), but even then I do think it’s valuable to work through a pile of samples.


Best new whisky in 2023

Talisker 45 Year Old - Best Whisky 2023

As often Gordon & MacPhail was responsible for three highlights with 93 points, although one Talisker managed to stand out above. It took the crown with 94 points – it is the best whisky I’ve tried this year:

Many whiskies reached 92 points, like the Lagavulin 1991 Cask of Distinction, the Macallan and Bowmore Symington’s Choice, the Linkwood 31 Years Lady Macduff, Bunnahabhain 1990 Oloroso for The Whisky Exchange and the Macallan M Collection among others. These often have the same premium price tag as the ones above.

East Village Whisky Company gets a special mention as the best release from a small independent name. I loved the Highland Park 1989 for Whisky-Maniac.

The best old(er) release I tried this year was the Caol Ila 1974 bottled by Signatory Vintage. Merely 18 years old and such huge power and complexity!


Best cognac 2023 / Best rum 2023


Favourite other spirits in 2023

Lots of great cognacs in 2023 again, from different bottlers. A couple of them reached 92 points:

The same level could also be found in rum. Here Distilia deserves a special mention, as they were responsible for the two highest scores:

Another special mention for the outstanding TDL releases of late. The TDL 2003 and TDL 2009 from The Whisky Jury opened my eyes. Swell de Spirits presented an equally excellent TDL 2008.


Best whisky 2023: Millstone, Waterford, Port Askaig, Aberlour, Kilkerran

Best value whisky in 2023

When looking at value for money, my personal aim is to find a whisky that scores 90 points or higher for less than € 250. In my opinion one release deserves the gold medal here: the Millstone 1996 for The Whisky Exchange. It was a glorious mix of different styles, with a relatively accessible price.

Two bottlings that come close are the Armagnac Lous Pibous 1995 (Grape of the Art / L’Encantada) and the Highland Park 2003 (Maltbarn ‘The 26’).

When looking at widely available bottlings, my favourites were:


Whisky blog statistics

I’ve had some difficulties in the switch from Google Analytics 3 to 4, which means direct comparisons may be problematic this year.

Overall it seems we welcomed just above 1 million visitors this year, which would be a 5% decrease compared to last year. That said, 2022 was really a record year. Also, with cookies being banned from the internet, there’s only so much information these days…

When looking at the visitor locations, the UK is still increasing its share (now almost 22%) with the US showing a downward trend (13%). Germany (6%), Canada (new!) and The Netherlands (both 5%) complete the top-5. Then further down we see significant increases in France, South Korea, Spain and Turkey.

The most popular page is easy to guess: the Special Releases 2023. Despite the criticism, it stays strong. Then comes the Lagavulin Distillers Edition 2022, the Macallan Harmony Intense Arabica and Talisker 45 Year Old Glacial Edge. As much as we like independent bottlings, I guess it proves that the audience for official releases is still much bigger.