2022 has been a notable year for exploring new whiskies and distilleries. Whilst being able to actually go out and taste new whiskies now that the world has opened up a bit more, I have also been lucky enough to swap whiskies, attend a plethora of tweet tastings, and have signed up to the OurWhisky subscription – all with the evergreen mantra that my new favourite whisky is out there. When compiling this list I’ve noticed that it actually features mainly young single malts but all remarkable for delivering big flavours with good balance.
10. Aber Falls – 2021 Release
To quote Rob Brydon’s Uncle Bryn from Gavin & Stacey: “And I’ll tell you for why…” It’s honest. It’s Welsh. And, more importantly, it’s pretty good on its own right already. Certainly a sweet sipper and a showcase of some great early cask management. It is also a good sign for things to come. A formula that has now become their core release and is being built upon with time. Click here to read more.
9. Mackmyra – Stjärnrök
A smoky sherried single malt ticks many boxes for me. Throw in the Mackmyra spirit that I regularly enjoy and the charm of something unusual (on this occasion, the juniper infused smoke), and you’ve got yourself a happy chappy. Some classic Nordic fruits and berries sit amongst the peat and juniper smoke to make for a delicious winter warmer. Click here to read more.
8. Bowmore – Masters Selection 22yo
A standout dram in a recent tasting of Bowmore’s Aston Martin releases. Unfortunately, it is priced well outside of my budget for a full bottle, and so this represented a well savoured opportunity. One of the things I was most surprised by was just how far the peaty Bowmore origins had been stripped back but the spirit remained fresh and fruity in spite of its years. You can see why the Master selected it. Click here to read more.
7. Brig O Perth – 14yo
Lots of whiskies come with stories (aka tenuous marketing links) to local history or heroes. This whisky may look like it follows that trend but actually breaks the mould by celebrating and reproducing a whisky from a time gone by. The availability of old resources to build out the story and accompany an accomplished whisky makes for a winning combo. Another delightful feather in Keith Bonnington’s well-adorned cap. Click here to read more.
6. Benromach – 21yo
In Summer 2022 I attended an actual, real-life, in-person, tasting of the Benromach core range tasting. Whilst almost every whisky on the night tantalised and excited – this was the top pick of the night by some margin. The 21yo is shaped as the natural evolution of their age statements: the starting point with the 10yo, then the well rounded 15yo (also a standout release) and then this. Full bodied, rich, flavourful, and a unanimous hit for all involved at the tasting – a rare feat in its own right and testament to a quality whisky. Click here to read more.
5. Douglas Laing – The Gauldrons
I bought this bottle on a whim and with it came a chance of discovering more about Campbeltown. Sometimes these decisions turn out to be the best choices. Having now enjoyed the core release of each of the Douglas Laing’s Remarkable Regional Malts series, this has stepped ahead to be my favourite of the lot. I have also really bought into the slightly spooky marketing behind it, but mostly because I’ve enjoyed the whisky itself so much and have regularly read the back of the bottle and box whilst doing so. Click here to read more.
4. Filey Bay – Double Oak
The first and only English whisky entry to this year’s list (and that is not without much deliberation). I had already been converted by Filey Bay’s fruity spirits to date, and leapt at the chance to taste some more. Here, the Double Oak bottling delivers an amped up version of all of Filey Bay’s signature flavours and profile characteristics whilst still feeling balanced and flavourful. A real winner. Click here to read more.
3. The Whisky Cellars – Bruichladdich 10yo
As a fan of the Laddie Ten – possibly the single malt that really kickstarted my whisky fascination – this dram was always set to gain a podium finish by name and memory alone. When it transpired to be a peated Bruichladdich (i.e. in the Port Charlotte vain) it delivered even more. What was contained inside was a fantastic spirit, nurtured well by an unusual cask choice: a Jurançon Doux sweet wine cask. A rich and robust single malt that is testimony to trying out independent bottlings. Click here to read more.
2. Lochlea – Our Barley
This represents the first core release of the Lowlands’ Lochlea distillery and it is a celebration of the quality ingredients that they have available. And it is a delicious celebration at that. Their focus on their own farm-grown barley is front and centre of their brand and they do not seek to rely on local folklore or former glories like many new distilleries (and they could easily fall foul of that, given that one Robbie Burns used to work on the farm!). A delicious gristy, malty, barley-y drink for any occasion. Click here for more.
1. Penderyn – Royal Welsh Whisky
For similar reasons to the Brig O Perth entry above, this entry is close to my heart as a whisky enthusiast. As a welsh whisky, it sits even closer. Here Penderyn sought to honour their welsh whisky predecessors by recreating the last whisky made in Wales before Penderyn came onto the scene a hundred years or so later. The detailed reproduction of the old logo and attempts to match the old bottling’s flavour profile as closely as possible with their own stock makes this piece stand out. What’s more… I enjoyed it. A lot! A Port finish with a slightly peated element makes for a delicious partnership, which, when coupled with the Penderyn base malt and history really sang for me. The bottle was possibly finished quicker than any other bottle I’ve owned. If that’s not a glowing review, then I don’t know what is. Click here for more.