The 2016 Spirits Of The Year

These 20 spirits had the highest ratings from the Distiller Tasting Table in 2016!
Dec 29, 2016
  • 20
    Sweet & Herbal
    The base of this Rock & Rye is a blend of straight American rye whiskies, varying in their age. There's a variety of traditional and modern flavorings, including citrus peels, rock candy, Angostura bitters, horehound, and raw honey. It is bottled at 84 proof.
  • 19
    Sweet & Rich
    Ginger was considered a powerful curative in the early 1900s, and was commonly found mixed with rye whiskey and sweetened with rock candy for a concoction found at many bars called "Rock and Rye." Post Prohibition it was relegated to a dusty jar kept behind the bar for old timers, but has recently found a resurgence. Reilly's selected the rye whiskey (mash bill 51% rye, 45% corn, 4% malted barley) with Master Blender Dave Pickerell and infused it with ginger and spices for this updated interpretation.
  • 18
    Rich & Sweet
    Cooper Spirits follows up their initial Hochstadter's Slow & Low Rock & Rye, bottled at 84 proof, with this 100 proof edition. While the same flavorings are included, rock candy, raw honey, bitters, and air dried navel oranges, apart from the higher proof another change is in the form of an older whiskey. Here, it's an 8-year-old rye whiskey, sourced from an unspecified location.
  • 17
    Fruity & Rich
    This is a Peruvian pisco comprised of the quebranta grape exclusively, making this a "Puro" pisco,--a pisco made with one grape varietal. Santiago Queirolo was in Italian immigrant who settled in Peru and established a winery in 1880. They now make wines of all types including dessert and sparkling wines as well as their line of piscos.
  • 16
    This Vintage Armagnac was distilled from fruit from the 1993 harvest on the Tariquet estate's vineyards. The grapes used were ugni blanc and Baco. It was aged 17 years (bottled in Feb 2010) in French oak barrels ranging in size from 218-400 Liters.
  • 15
    Poitin is an Irish-style white whiskey. This offering from O'Begley in Pittsford, New York -- founded in 2011 -- is made from 75% New York barley, 20 % malted barley, and 5% oats, fermented with ale yeast.
  • 14
    Sweet & Fruity
    Plantation is a collection of rums sourced by the Maison Ferrand brand. Some of the rums are vintage-dated as is this bottling which was distilled at the Diamond Distillery in Guyana. Distilled in copper stills, the rum was then aged in refill American whiskey barrels before being transported to Cognac. The rum was then re-casked in a former cognac barrel and aged further for at least a few months.
  • 13
    Distilled in the Dominican Republic, this rum is then aged in a solera system. Ron Matusalem was founded in Cuba, but the family that owned the brand fled in the 1950's due to the Castro regime. It has been made in the Domincan Republic ever since. Note: The Solera 7 is not currently available in the US.
  • 12
    Rich & Spicy
    This expression is part of the second release of the Expresiones del Corazón. Two harvests of Los Altos, Jalisco agave were used in the base spirit - one measured for higher sugar content and one with considerably lower. It was then rested at Casa San Matias in select barrels of ex-Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon from Buffalo Trace Distillery.
  • 11
    Rich & Earthy
    As part of the second release of the Expresiones de Corazón, a special blend of tequila was made using agave from Los Altos, Jalisco with brix measured for sweetness before harvesting. Some were harvested with higher sugar, some with lower. The resulting blanco was then added to select ex-Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels and aged for several months.
  • 10
    This navy rum is produced from rums made in a couple of islands in the Caribbean. It is named for an Admiral who served in the Royal Navy from 1678 until his death in 1702 from a wound to his leg he suffered in the West Indies under French fire. He returned to Jamaica, and court-marshaled two of his captains for insubordination for failing to engage the enemy. He succumbed to his wounds and is buried in Kingston. This rum is available in the UK.
  • 9
    Sweet & Fruity
    This Mauritian rum has been around since the 1960's. This is a rum made from molasses and is column-distilled before aging between 3-5 years. It is charcoal-filtered to remove the color. The rum is available in the UK and other European markets.
  • 8
    Fruity & Spicy
    This cognac was specifically designed to enjoy with a cigar. Cognac from both Petite and Grande Champagne as well as the Fins Bois and Borderies are used to create this cuvée. Unusually for cognac, some of the brandy has been aged in new oak to accentuate the barrels influence and this is bottled at 84 proof rather than the traditional 80 proof that is standard.
  • 7
    Spicy & Woody
    Daniel Bouju is an independent cognac house which dates back to 1805. The family's estate is in Saint-Preuil in the Charente in the Grande Champagne region. Ugni blanc is their grape of choice and they age in Limousin oak and refuse to use coloring or boisé (mix of sugar, oak chips, and lower proof brandy) to their products.
  • 6
    El Ladrón (The Thief) is distilled in Santa Cruz, California from agave juice sourced from the highlands of Jalisco. The Reposado is aged from 3-6 months in a combination of new and used whiskey barrels and is bottled at 94 proof.
  • 5
    Herbal & Rich
    Released in the summer of 2015, this is a mezcal produced with 100% agave cupreata (aka papalote). The agaves are sourced from the slopes of the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range and distilled in the village of Mazatlán in the state of Guerrero. Natural fermentation takes place in open pine vats and this is double-distilled in a copper pot-still. Unaged, this is bottled at 86 proof.
  • 4
    Fruity & Rich
    This Indian whisky was originally matured in either ex-bourbon casks or virgin oak casks. The whiskies then went through an intermediate maturing process in Sherry butts at Amrut’s Bangalore distillery. Amrut then transferred the whisky back into ex-bourbon casks for another round of aging.
  • 3
    Smoky & Fruity
    Copper Fox Original Rye Whiskey centers around using new and used apple wood and oak chips to flavor the house-made malt during drying as well as when the whiskey is aging in the used bourbon barrels. The mash bill itself is 2/3rd parts rye and 1/3rd malted barley with all grains sourced from Virginia.
  • 2
    Rich & Full Bodied
    The middle child of the standard age specific Caol Ila family is the 18 year old. The 18 year is bottled at the brand's regular 43% ABV. That much time in the barrel is noted for diminishing the whisky's smoke, while a mixture of refill casks were used so as to play down the impact of the wood.
  • 1
    Rich & Full Bodied
    Elijah Craig’s claim to fame was discovering the benefits of ageing bourbon in charred oak barrels. When Heaven Hill originally released this whiskey in the mid 1990s, it was touted as the oldest single barrel bourbon in the world. Its cult status and shortage prior to the 2015 release has tripled this bourbon’s retail price.