Welcome to The GreatDrams Review of 2018, a time for me to have a swift light hearted reflection of the year that was and my personal highlights of the year.
Well what a year it has been; Donald Trump is still president, Daniel Ricciardo sacked off Red Bull to move to Renault – massive error in judgement in my view, Brexit is still as screwed up as ever, Harry and Meghan were wed, my wife and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary at the Johnnie Walker Spa F1 Grand Prix, City won the Premiership in record-breaking style, my beloved LFC are finally looking like a ruthless challenger of honours, a load of school kids were trapped then rescued from a cave in Thailand, the World Cup in Russia was one of the best I have ever watched, all manner of politicians embarrassed themselves, their offices, our government and our country and of course, The Greatest Show managed to get me addicted to its soundtrack.
Crazy to even start reflecting on most of the above, but thankfully I only need to reflect on GreatDrams, and of course what’s been going on in whisky.
This year has been amongst my busiest;
285,000 + GreatDrams readers this year
65k followers across social media and email
1,300 articles now on GreatDrams (including a load scheduled for future publishing)
256 hours airborne on planes to presentations and meetings
131 hours on trains to meetings
60 trains to meetings in London
37 flights to distilleries and meetings in seven countries (Japan, China, Germany, Spain, USA, Scotland and Ireland)
23 distilleries visited across Scotland, Japan, Kentucky
11 casks bought for our independent bottling programme
9 events attended (lower than usual due to hectic consulting schedule and family life)
8 publications written for including a year long ‘residency’ writing for Whisky Magazine
5 spirits judging panels sat on
4 whisky shows and festivals attended
3 awards shortlisted for
1 award highly commended runner up
Countless whiskies tried, enjoyed and commented on
Some particular highlights for me personally have been;
Getting to visit Japan, China, Germany, NYC (x2), and Kentucky on business
Meeting so many GreatDrammers at different whisky festivals – you’re all awesome
Visiting Whisky L in Shanghai
Spending time with so many icons of the whisky world including, but not limited to Dr. Bill Lumsden, Richard Patterson, John McCheyne, Georgie Bell, Fraser Campbell, Stephanie Macleod, Donald Coleville, Dr. Nick Morgan, Ewan Gunn, Billy Leighton and Brian Nation
Visiting Kentucky for the first time – wow… and managing to visit nine distilleries in three days, including a day where I just went to one!
In whisky I was fortunate to try some incredible whiskies (in the order in which I remembered them or tried them, not preference);
Johnnie Walker Ghost Reserve Port Ellen
Tullamore D.E.W. XO
Glenfiddich 40 Year Old
Fettercairn 40 Year Old
Hakushu 25 Year Old
Hibiki 35 Year Old Single Cask
Hibiki 17 Year Old Grain Component
Hibiki 17 Year Old Mizunara Component
Hibiki 17 Year Old Sherry Component
Whyte & Mackay 13 Year Old
Redbreast 21 Year Old
Tullamore D. E. W. Distillery Exclusive Red Wine Finish
Roe & Co.
Teeling Brabazon 2
Bunnahabhain PX Finish
Bunnahabhain Moine Brandy Cask Finish
Dewar’s Scratched Cask 12 YO
Royal Brackla 21
G&M Clynelish 12 Year Old
Singleton of Dufftown Malt Masters Selection
Bushmill’s 16 Year Old
Bushmill’s 21 Year Old
Balcones Texas Rye
Starward 10th Anniversary
Rock Oyster Cask Strength Batch 002
Asaka Six Month Mizunara Rested New Make
Chicken Cock Bourbon
Weller 12 Year Old
Wild Turkey Decades
Wilderness Trail Single Barrel
Wilderness Trail 4 Year Old Rye
Russell’s Reserve Bluegrass Tavern Barrel Select ‘Gobble Gobble Gulp’
Bluegrass Distillers Wheated Bourbon
Weller 1950’s Gold Vein
Method & Madness Hungarian Oak Finish
Caperdonach 21 Year Old Peated
Along with all these stunning whiskies and a very busy year, we have seen Scotch exports up, volumes up and huge investment into new and expanding distillery operations throughout Scotland and Ireland in particular, with many new distilleries opening up in England too.
2019 looks to be another busy year with many new distilleries having spirit old enough to start releasing their first bottlings after three or more years of patience, and I’m sure a degree of nervous anticipation.
Thanks for reading, following, liking, Tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming and tagging GreatDrams across the web this year, I’ve had a blast and it’s been so lovely to help so many GreatDrammers with their whisky choices and to meet a fair few of you at events around the UK over the last twelve months.
As always, please do send me pics of your whisky exploration, or tag me in festivities so I can share with the wider GreatDrams Network and please also keep sending your feedback, questions and comments to me, I reply to every single email I get sent; [email protected].
Here’s to a prosperous 2019 for one and all, have a great Christmas, New Year and see you at the next show!