I understand 2021 was rough for businesses, so I'm not complaining, merely observing that once again I wasn't sent a single free whiskey sample.*
Tout comprendre, c'est tout pardonner. But it does mean, when it comes to picking my whiskey of the year, I'm limited to what I bought on my own.**
Playing the odds, that makes it likely to be an American whiskey, since I bought very little scotch this year. More due to availability and price, I think, than preference -- though my cocktail
habit hobby does require more bourbon and rye.
I wish I could say Leopold Brothers Three Chamber Rye is the Weekend Whiskey of the Year, and not just because it was more than twice the price of anything else I bought. It has a great story, and was something I was looking forward to trying from the moment I read about it a couple of years ago. After the release, I tracked down the bottle with the help of the local distributor, opened it the day I bought it, poured a taste, and... yes, it's quite different, and interesting, and complex. But I don't really like it. ***
Otherwise, I bought a respectable amount of homer booze from Maryland distilleries. Baltimore Spirits Company's Epoch Rye is my favorite Maryland distilled whiskey, and a contender for Weekend Whiskey of the Year, but it's finishing as this year's runner-up. I'm going to a blend-your-own rye event at BSC next week, though, which you'd think will result in an early favorite for 2022.
Which means that...
The 2021 Weekend Whiskey of the Year is Maker's Mark 101. The Goldilocks of Maker's Mark, it benefits from a just right proof and a featured role at the delightful Christmas Eve I spent with my family just last week. Also, it's delicious.
2021 Weekend Whiskey of the Year.
Yeah, I know. Same bourbon they've been making for sixty years, a watered down version of the cask strength they've been selling for years, finished in the same bourbon barrels it started in.
But I like it. This year, that's enough.
* Though, improbably, I was sent a dozen free agave spirit samples from S.A.C.R.E.D. as part of a Tales of the Cocktail related promotion. I tried a couple samples during an online Zoom event. They seemed well made, but I tend to find good mescal and tequila more interesting than tasty, so I haven't yet made time to complete the tasting.
** For pandemic related reasons, I didn't spend much time ordering at random in whiskey bars this year.
*** I am planning on trying it again in a month or two, after the initial disappointment has faded. Maybe I'll appreciate it more.