Purely Subjective

Mammoth conglomerates as well as small family owned whisky producers are all in the business of selling their products. Each are on a quest to be the best they can be or the best at bringing in the most profits – and/or along the way being recognized as THE whisky to drink, to own, and to be seen with in hand at this very moment, week or year. I get it.

Whisky experts, aficionados, fans, liquor store sales people and those who simply “drink the stuff” have very personal opinions about their favorites. I’ve also listed my Top 10 the my book Whisky Tales: Tastings and Temptations and written about it in an earlier blog. I  never consider myself an expert just an uber fan who enjoys writing, drinking, sharing with family and friends, and exploring whisky – and not necessarily in that order. Along the way having (responsible) fun is a prerequisite.

But back to my first thought…what is the best whisky? I honestly believe I can  state, “who knows?” It is purely subjective. Period. Of course, I conducted a few hours of dogged research before coming to this conclusion.  I googled ” top 10 single malt scotches.” The result was 1,240,000 hits. I perused a few. Opinions abounded!  Next was digging out a handful of the whisky magazines that I have been hanging on to for the past five years or so. The summer 2010 edition of Wiskeria, The Whisky Shop quarterly magazine, listed its customers’ Top 10 based on sales. I then went back online to the Wiskeria site to find the summer 2015 customers’ list.  A five year span between lists seemed a like decent way to get a sense of preferences and if whiskies stayed popular over time.  First the 2010 list:

  1. AnCnoc 12 Y.O.
  2. Auchentoshan 12 Y.O.
  3. Glenfarclas 10 Y.O.
  4. Macallan Fine Oak 10 Y.O.
  5. Dalmore 12 Y.O.
  6. Old Pultney 12 Y.O.
  7. Laphroaig Quarter Cask
  8. BenRiach 12 Y.O.
  9. Talisker 10 Y.O.
  10. Bowmore 12 Y.O.

The interesting part of this list is the predominance of 12 Y.O. whisky. The other stand out for me is that I only have two of the bottles – the Laphroaig Quarter Cask and the Auchentoshan 12 Y.O.  I doubt that that means anything.  Now on to the 2015 list:

  1. Aberfeldy 12 Y.O.
  2. Bowmore 15 Y.O.
  3. Balvenie 17 Y.O.
  4. Glenlivet Founders Reserve
  5. Glenfiddich 18 Y.O.
  6. Craigellachie 13 Y.O.
  7. GlenDronach 12 y.O.
  8. Dalmore 12 Y.O.
  9. BenRiach 12 Y.O.
  10. Aberlour 12 y.O.
  11. Glenfarclas 10 Y.O.
  12. Jura Superstition

You’ll note that the age statements are much more diverse in 2015, and only one repeat – the  Dalmore. This time around, I only have the Jura. It is purely conjecture on my part as to why such differences between the two lists – better sales pitches, better marketing, more sophisticated palates by consumers, more informed consumers, random?

What does all this mean? Are these actually the BEST whiskies? Who knows? It appears that for most men and women whisky purchases are based on what is easy to find, meets their lifestyle, price and taste points. And they are happy and done.  For those of us who write about it, blog about it, tweet about it (probably way too much), take pictures of it, and seek out all that is new, unusual, hard to find, a special release, our eyes and ears are always on alert. Whisky is our hobby, passion, an experience that takes us to a higher level of living life.  We want to share our excitement with other like minded people, to share it with family and friends, and for some make it a means of employment. Whatever the reason, whisky is it. Many of us will agree on what some of the best whiskies are, many of us will not.  We each have our list – and at the end of the bottle, it remains purely subjective.

What do you think?

In the meantime, my next bottle will be the Ardbeg Perpetuum – and then one that remains as yet undiscovered. Maybe the next one will be the best.

I raise a glass to everyone who enjoys whisky, whichever bottle is in your hand!