The best time of year has come once again! While some of us wish we could say that 2020 was, yet again, a fantastic year for Toronto Whisky Society, 2020 was far from ideal.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot of challenges to whisky drinkers around the world and has severely impacted the drinks and hospitality industry from the distilleries who make your favourite spirits, to the bars and independent shops who curate and bring you the great bottlings that we had the pleasure to drink and enjoy this year. While we were very lucky in being able to quickly adapt to the new circumstances surrounding social distancing by moving our whisky tastings online, many others in the whisky and broader drinks industry weren’t so fortunate and have had to face some real difficulties due to sweeping new laws amidst the growing strain of new COVID-19 related hospitalizations on the global health care system.
We hope that 2021 will be a big move back to normalcy, and hopefully to running in-person tastings again, but for now we hope that our members, and anyone reading this post, continue to support their local distilleries, breweries, wineries, bars, restaurants, and other businesses that need the support to make it through these troubling times so that we all can continue to share great memories of get togethers with friends and family once this pandemic is a thing of the past.
So now, onto what our members thought were their favourite whiskies of the crazy year that was 2020!
- Scotch: Benriach 1992 Tawny Port
- American Whiskey: Traverse City Ryeger King
- World Whiskey: Kavalan KAVAFAN Solist Virgin Oak
- Scotch: Jura 33 Year 1966 Old Malt Cask
- American Whiskey: George T. Stagg 2019
- World Whiskey: Millstone 20 Year 1996 Virgin Oak
- Scotch: Highland Park 30 Year Old
- American Whiskey: George T. Stagg 2012
- World Whiskey: Tie between Kavalan KAVAFAN Solist Madeira Cask and Paradigm Spirits Co. 19 Year Old Cask Strength Canadian Whisky
- Scotch: Bowmore The Devil’s Casks III
- American Whiskey: William Larue Weller 2017
- World Whiskey: Hakushu 12 Year Old
- Scotch: Glendronach The Revival 15 Year Old
- American Whiskey: Angel’s Envy Rum Cask Finish
- World Whiskey: Redbreast 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey
- Scotch: Bruichladdich Octomore 7.3 (Hon. Mentions: Balvenie 30 Year 1989 Le Gus’t, Caol Ila Elements of Islay CI11)
- American Whiskey: Stagg Jr. Batch 10
- World Whiskey: Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique
- Scotch: Glenlossie 25 Year 1993 Valinch & Mallet
- American Whiskey: George T. Stagg 2018
- World Whisky: Redbreast 21 Year Old (2018 Bottling)
- Scotch: Glentauchers 21 Year 1997 Archives for Heads & Tails (Hon. Mentions: Springbank 15 Year Fresh Bourbon, Bunnahabhain 31 Year 1980 Whisky-Doris)
- American Whiskey: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A120 (Hon. Mention: W.B. Saffell)
- World Whisky: Irish Whiskey XO The Whisky Agency for Heads & Tails
- Scotch: Bunnahabhain 36 Year 1980 Canasta Sherry Finish (Hon. Mention: Talisker 15 Year Old Cask Strength)
- American Whiskey: Whistlepig Single Barrel 11 Year Distillery Store Pick
- World Whisky: The Irishman 17 Year Cask Strength Sherry Cask
- Scotch: Laphroaig 21 Year 1996 SMWS 29.261 “An evil Dutch dentist’s dram”
- American Whiskey: Thomas H. Handy 2017
- World Whiskey: Yoichi Woody and Vanillic Distillery Limited Edition Cask #02J42C
Much like last year, Sazarac again dominated the American Whiskey category while the World Whisky category has a lot more Irish whiskies being loved by our members this year, with Japanese and Taiwanese whiskies not far behind! In terms of Scotch Whisky, the dominance by Islay malts continues but is followed right behind by some stellar older Speyside drams from distilleries such as Glentauchers and Glenlossie that are sometimes overlooked and it just goes to show that the amount of choice in the whisky world right now continues to expand!
Thanks once again to our members for providing their top whisky lists this year! Let’s hope 2021 makes next year’s list even more interesting!