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The Whiskey Wash's Favorite Whiskeys of 2017


The Whiskey Wash’s Favorite Whiskeys of 2017

Tasting Notes:


We tasted a lot of whiskey in 2017. As of December 20th, we’ve published 261 reviews, including whiskeys from every corner of the globe. And while there have been some duds, a lot of the whiskey we’ve tried has been pretty darn delicious, which made answering the question I posed to our reviewers all the more challenging to answer: What was your favorite whiskey you reviewed in 2017?

Here’s what they said. Note as well we are not recommending one specific whiskey over the other, nor have we chosen a specific “whiskey of the year.” These, rather, represent the specific thoughts of each of our reviewers.

Lagavulin 16-Year-Old. Photo by Margarett Waterbury, image copyright The Whiskey Wash.

Whisky KirkMortlach 22 Year Old Chieftain’s Single Cask

It’s no stretch to say Mortlach 22 year old Chieftain’s is one of of the best single malt whiskies that I’ve ever owned…up there with the greats. Highly bourbonic in the best of ways. Speaking of which . . . if you need me, I shall be ubering around town, from bar to bar, in search of Buffalo Trace Antiques, Parker’s Heritage 24 Year Old, and PVW’s up through the 20 Year Old. ‘Tis the season for losing one’s reason, at least in so far as spending is concerned. Don’t ask about the 23 Year Old. I will probably need to wait for a friend to offer me a glass of that one. Sean?

Jim BonomoMichter’s 10 Year Single Barrel Rye

This was the perfect whiskey for the chilly March day on which I first sipped it; it was beefy and burly. The extended finishing time provided ample and thought provoking contrast to the huge fruity rye character. A bottle I’ve savored immensely since the temperatures have again dropped.

Shauna McKnight: Wigle Malty Baere

My favorite whiskey this year was Wigle Malty Baere. I loved the unique flavors from the wild yeast and the light toasty oak. It was complex enough to excite a seasoned whiskey drinker, but the flavors were so good that even someone who isn’t a whiskey aficionado would fully enjoy this spirit.

Carin MooninBarber’s Single Malt Rye

This rye, quite frankly, blew my mind. Barber Cellar’s wine “roots” lead to such a complexity and lightness in its first-issued single malt rye. It’s unusual in the best way. I continue to hoard it, always drink it neat, and rarely care to share. More, please!

Katelyn Best: Koval Four Grain

I don’t know that it was the best whiskey I reviewed this year, but Koval Four Grain was definitely the most fun—bananas foster over vanilla ice cream and fluffy buttermilk biscuits. This is the kind of spirit that makes reviewing interesting.

Zach BraunsteinJim Beam Kentucky Dram

Figuring out my 2017 top whiskey was really no contest. Hands down it’s got to go to Jim Beam’s bold (and oh so delicious) duty-free only offering, the Jim Beam Kentucky Dram Whiskey. I would never have guessed a part bourbon part scotch Frankensteinian creation could be so good. Goes to show that sometimes the whole really is more than the sum of its parts. Now excuse me, as I need to go plan an international trip so I can pick up another bottle.

Aaron Knapp: Gunpowder Rye

I liked Gunpowder Rye  a lot when I reviewed it early in 2017 and it has only grown on me since. Made by New England Distilling in Portland, Maine and inspired by an old family recipe, this rye finds an exceptional balance between its flavors, managing to be spicy, smoky, and sweet without any of those attributes overpowering the others. While Gunpowder Rye didn’t get my highest rating of the year, it has become one of my favorites to sip, whether it’s the end of a long, hot summer day or kicking back under a blanket in winter.

Margarett Waterbury: Lagavulin 16-Year-Old

My favorite whiskey I reviewed this year wasn’t showy, rare, new, or hyped: it was plain old Lagavulin 16-Year-Old, practically a cliché in the whisky world. That doesn’t mean it’s any less delicious.

Margarett Waterbury

Margarett Waterbury is the author of Scotch: A Complete Introduction to Scotland's Whiskies and a full-time freelance writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Whisky Advocate, Food and Wine, Spirited Magazine, Artisan Spirit, Edible Seattle, Sip Northwest, Civil Eats, Travel Oregon, Artisan Spirit, and many other publications. She is the former managing editor of Edible Portland, as well as a cofounder and former managing editor of The Whiskey Wash. In 2017, Margarett won the Alan Lodge Young Drinks Writer of the Year award. She received a fellowship for the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers in 2017 and 2019.

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