Whiskeys of the Year 2020
Well, friends, it’s that time of year: that time to look back on the ups and downs of the previous calendar pages and think about the great bottles that have helped us through them. It’s no secret that this year brought with it a substantial set of [never before seen] challenges for individuals and businesses alike. That said, I’m happy to have included the Craft Corner into both this website as well as our Weekly Whiskey stream, because while this has been a tough year for all of us, it’s been exceptionally hard on smaller distilleries. Moving forward I am excited to continue trying new whiskey and sharing it with you through my website and social media. Come with me now to have a look at my whiskeys of the year!
Man 2020 has been a wild ride in many ways! Obviously the way that I’m here to discuss with you is the way 2020’s whiskey releases have impacted our lives, and while this may be white noise in the grand scheme of everything else that has occurred this year, I think it’s white noise worth taking a few moments to focus on.
This year, instead of doing a big blind tasting of some favorites, I’ll be creating something more like a checklist for the Best Of list. I’d like to break down a bunch of great bottles into categories and mention my top picks for each category (in a ranked order). I feel like this provides clearer exposure to the whiskeys that have left an impression throughout the year, instead of just which of my favorites wins a single blind against the others.
- Weller Single Barrel
- Wild Turkey Master’s Keep (17 Year Bottled-in-Bond)
- Four Gate Foundation (Batch 3)
- Stagg Jr. (Batch 15)
- Elijah Craig Barrel Proof B520
- Baker’s 7 SiB (Eight Years Six Months)
- Wild Turkey Rare Breed Rye
- Crown Royal (Noble Series) 16 Year Rye
- Pursuit Series (Episode 29)
- Whistlepig 10 Year
- Barrell Dovetail
- Whistlepig Boss Hog VII (Magellan’s Atlantic)
- Maker’s Mark Limited Edition 2020 (Wood Finishing Series)
- Yellowstone Limited Edition 2020
- Chattanooga 111
- Bull Run 13 Year (Single Barrel Selection by Seelbach’s)
- New Riff Winter Whiskey
- Rolling Fork Single Barrel Rum (12 Year Seelbach’s selection)
- Christian Brothers’ Sacred Bond (Bottled-in-Bond) Brandy
The Bourbon Finder’s Best of 2020: Rare Breed Rye
I want to take a moment to thank you, the reader, for joining me for a yearly roundup of the best whiskeys out there. Ultimately, the winner (which wasn’t even bourbon this year!) was chosen to reflect the things we whiskey geeks clamor for: barrel proof, non-chill filtered, fairly priced, and [somewhat] available. While Weller Single Barrel was one of the best bottles I tasted this year, it doesn’t represent what I look for in my Best Of.
Rare Breed Rye is a delicious representation of the aforementioned things–and while it may not be sitting on every shelf in the nation (it certainly isn’t in Maine as of this post) I was able to get a few bottles this year which tells me it isn’t so limited that no one is willing to share it. The ability to sip a whiskey neat or to place it into a cocktail without feeling like you’re going to hell scores a lot of points for me. Combine that with the previously mentioned checkboxes and you’ve got yourself a winner, Wild Turkey!
As far as the other bottles go, they have certainly made an impact on my whiskey experience throughout the course of this wild year. Some out of sheer value (read: Crown Royal 16 Year Rye for $69.99) some for being recognized as under-performers and being relaunched (read: Baker’s 7 Single Barrel) and some just because they’re damn tasty (read: Rolling Fork Single Barrel Rum). This isn’t meant to be an all-inclusive playlist of the year’s best hits so much as it is meant to share some bottles that stood out to me as having an impact on the whiskey world throughout these past twelve months.
As we proceed into a new year I look forward to finding a new form of normal. I look forward to finding more great whiskey to write about, and I look forward to sharing it all with you. Cheers, everyone, to making 2020 memorable in a variety of ways…but ultimately for enjoying the whiskey world with me. If you’re looking for additional content to close out the year I encourage you to find myself and my good friend Jay (t8ke) on YouTube for our weekly livestream, aptly titled “Weekly Whiskey”.