Here are some of my favourite whiskies from 2015.
Premium (Under $100)
Bunnahabhain Ceòbanach Batch 1 (extra fine)
A whisky that showed up on a lot of radars this year. Delicious, heavily peated Bunnahabhain liquid, matured in Bourbon casks. Well balanced and toothsome. Batch 2 will be released soon, so if you find any Batch 1 still kicking around, grab one for the collection. Alternatively, a recent SMWS release of Bunnahabhain, 10.83 ‘Incredibly awesome’ is conspicuously reminiscent of the Ceòbanach. For a limited time, that SMWS release can be grabbed at one of Canada’s exclusive retailers.
Adelphi Selection Glenrothes 2008 6 Year 66.6% (superlative)
A real shocker. From what I can tell, Adelphi is hanging onto & slowly releasing a parcel of sherry hogsheads filled at Glenrothes in 2008. The 6 year I got hands on this year was a monster that rocketed off store shelves. Big, fresh fruit. A real badass whisky, and a testament to the power of the spirit coming off the Glenrothes stills, matched with a cask ready for it. A real miracle whisky. Gorgeous colour, and a real smack across the head.
Upper Premium ($100-$200)
Kavalan Solist Sherry (fine)
A young spirit that has absolutely ravaged the cask it was maturing in. A mind bending, extremely aggressive cask strength offering from Kavalan. Well worth the ticket price.
Kilchoman Port Cask Matured (extra fine)
I thought Kilchoman’s Port Cask Matured, bottled at a hefty 55% was a cut above. I’m not usually a fan of the influence of Port casks on Single Malt, and this release was extremely different from any other port cask whisky I’ve ever tried. Big, jammy and sweet, it was a real revelation, and a bottle that I carefully rationed like no other this year.
Bruichladdich Octomore 6.3 (superlative)
To my palate, the Octomore 6.3 Islay Barley was the island’s most interesting commercial whisky release in 2015. A few years ago, Mr. McEwan, with a trademark glimmer in his eye, coyly mentioned a whisky in Bruichladdich’s warehouses sitting at over 250ppm of phenol content. And how perfect that whisky came to be. The first Islay Barley edition of Octomore, is a radiant beacon for the premise that terroir indeed matters. Colossal stuff. Part classical, part post rock. The classic Octomore profile – iron fist in a velvet glove, brought to a level of perfection that sets an impossibly high standard for future releases. And maybe, with a glimmer, that was Mr. McEwan’s intention.
Rumour has it that there are still peatier Octomores maturing at Bruichladdich.
Sovereign Invergordon 25 Year (extra fine)
A wonderful release from the Sovereign brand. Sherry cask aged grain whisky, at cask strength. Awesome.
Scotch Malt Whisky Society G13.1 (extra fine)
A whisky from Japan’s Chita distillery, which looks like it was ripped right from the pages of a William Gibson novel. The whisky, only 4 years old, was matured in a virgin oak puncheon. Not only one of the most exciting single grain releases this year, but also one of this year’s most intriguing whiskies period.
Compass Box Hedonism Quindecimus Blended Grain (superlative)
So yes, I’m cheating a bit by adding it to my Single Grain list. But, I’m in a Compass Box mood, and feel like rules are there for the breaking. This bottle was a sublime blend of Single Grain whiskies. Grows on you with every sip. Every time coming back to it, to find some new layer in the mix. Expect that in the coming years, collectors and drinkers of the finest spirits will be looking out for this bottle. Get yours before it’s too late.
What do you think? What were your favourites for 2015?