"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." -
2014's Highley Recommended Whisky
Last year's Highley Recommended whisky was a Japanese single malt (Suntory's Hakushu: Bourbon Barrel), and this year Nikka followed through with their signature grain whisky. If Hakushu is outshining Scots at their own game, then Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky is taking on grain whisky's older brother - the Irish. This whisky is so sweet, so delicately matured, so simply delightful that I'm amazed you can find it around town and online for only $60. What. The Actual. Heck. Nikka could easily sell this whisky for twice that price. It meets all the wickets, and its the only whisky this year that had me continuously coming back for more.
2014's Highley Recommended Literature
Part of the joy of spirits - and the drinking world as a whole - is discovering just how much the natural world (a.k.a. Provenance) is responsible for all that we call good drinkin'. Plants and micro-organisms are a huge part of it. Many of them have arguably domesticated us while we were domesticating them. This book is a fascinating read, and its research is so illuminating that nearly each page repels a common alcohol myth or misperception. It is the ground truth - pun intended - for all things related to what's in that drink. It's cold outside. Grab a book. LeVar Burton wills it.
2014's Highley Recommended Spirit Shop
If you've avoided turning to online retail because (1) you don't trust online purchasing or (2) you worry you'll be roped into some book club you didn't sign up for, I think it's time for you to reconsider. I've ordered from many online retailers, but none of them have as slick and direct a website as Caskers. Yes, they do have clubs for those of you interested, but their prices are exactly what you would expect to see in a store and their shipping is prompt and secure. One of these days I'll update my blog with a list of all my trusted online retailers, but now you know that I consider Caskers to be the cream of the crop.
2014's Highley Recommended Distiller / Distillery Tour
Many can speak to what's in the Breckenridge bottle, but what I'm really impressed to see is a craft distiller eschewing micro-cask maturation. No shortcuts, no tricks, no over-oaked stave rape. The altitude and the temperature swings almost surely lend that Amrut bit of speed to what's in their warehouse, but then American whisky always does pretty well given 3-7 years of maturation. If you're planning a Colorado visit, you will enjoy every minute you spend at this place, all while tasting some of the finest craft whisky in the nation / world. Breckenridge Distillers - 2014's most Highley Recommended distillery and tour.
Sole author and editor of Cereal Alchemist