UK now gets Bulleit Rye which is great news for the UK. Sure, they have access to a lot of great whiskey sitting there with Ireland and Scotland. But America is making great whiskey too and the States have their own building tradition in bourbon and rye whiskey. Bulleit is one that made the market and helped spur the rye renaissance that’s been going on. Congratulations to Bulleit and Diageo and you’re welcome United Kingdom.
Diageo has been named the UK’s Most Admired Company for the second consecutive year in a review by analysts and financial commentators. Big companies in general - and big liquor in particular - take a lot of rocks thrown in their direction. They may even deserve some of them. But they also pull down honors like this and we would be remiss in not pointing it out. (Not to mention they apparently employ 36,000 people around the world.)
Distiller is a new whiskey finder platform that helps a person explore the world of whiskey. They offer their owner personal ratings and allow you to leave your own… that’s not too unusual, a lot of people do it including us here at Proof66. Their distinguishing aspect is that they have a whiskey guide, that’s a question-and-answer tour into the world of whiskey to provide somewhat personalized recommendations. They also have a little tasting graph that identifies the flavor profile as smoky, peaty, spicy, herbal, oily, full, rich, sweet, briny, salty, vanilla, tart, fruity, and floral. One could sort of graph that against other whiskeys. Might be interesting to try out! Note: they also have great, accessible notes about what whiskey is.
Congratulations to Grand Teton on a nice write-up (and we got a press mention as well). They make a fantastic vodka (in our opinion) and the report indicates they sold 2,000 cases in their first year and are on pace to double that next. That’s a great story… this is an example of a great vodka meeting great critical acclaim and that leading to great sales. There’s a lot of vodka out there - a lot of new upstart spirits - and it’s nice to see the good ones making it.
Alcohol has often fueled art inspiration but now the residue is the subject. According to a write-up in Wired Magazine (Jakob Schiller), Ernie Button has been taking artistic photos of the dried remains of scotch whisky in glasses. There are several samples on the article. It’s intriguing - even beautiful in some ways (and we’re no art critics) - but to us it’s also unsettlingly similar to how we feel our stomachs look on the inside while suffering from a hangover.
Kentucky beats Scotland in whiskey production, according to whiskey legend Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible. He singles out the Buffalo Trace Distillery in particular as the “best distillery in the world.” Based on our own statistics here at Proof66, we’ve maintained for a while that bourbon is some of the best value on the market with great bourbon a tiny fraction of the price of equally great scotch.
We had an interesting exchange of email with a person who wrote in asking about the quality of the Glenlivet 18yr versus the Glenlivet 21yr. Proof66 has the former rated higher than the latter despite it being less than half the price ($60 versus $130). We should note that both are rated very high in the top 10% of all whiskey.
There are a couple of thoughts that run through our head. First: we actually do prefer the 18yr to the 21yr having tried both. The 18yr is a bit sweeter, a bit mellower, a bit more robust. Meanwhile, the 21 is a bit too much of oak and a little too heavy and bitter on the finish. (This according to our “street trained” palates… certainly, there are many elite that would differ.) The point is, there’s nothing at all wrong with liking something with a little less age despite the prestige and price that go with the longer age. That longer age comes with, well, more oak. You don’t have to like that. If you don’t, you can save some money.
Second, though, is it highlights something about our aggregate ratings. We’re proud of our ratings and we work hard to make them as accurate as possible. Still, they’re only as good as producers’ willingness to submit their spirits to the competitions and judges. The more prestigious and expensive labels don’t necessarily get submitted as often. So the aggregate scores suffer a bit. So, use our ratings properly: as a guide. But it’s not a precision instrument fine enough to split hairs between spirits of very similar quality.