Top Spirits of 2014... We Close the Books on this Year

Top Spirits of 2014... We Close the Books on this Year

So this is the end of 2014! We saw a rise in competitive competitions and critical reviews across the board, for which we're quite happy. For all the flaws of so-called "expert opinion" and numerical rating assigned to something so subjective as taste, we stand by the following facts:

  • There's no way you can taste everything... it's both cost-prohibitive and self-destructive (even though we'd really like to try) so you can

  • Either believe the commercials and marketing or

  • Use "expert" and/or inexpert (amateur... AKA, your friends and the internet) opinion as a general guide.

That's it. There's really nothing else. You can have marketing bullshit or you can have opinion from others who have tried it.

With that said, our database has climbed to a cool 8,000 spirits with the vast majority having some kind of critical opinion. For your easy reading, here are the top 20 in each category as they stand at the end of 2014. Print, frame, attach to the refrigerator door... or do whatever it is you do. This can be a great guide towards stocking your home bar (though not all spirits are readily available in all places). These are the top 20 whiskeys, top 20 vodkas, top 20 tequilas, rums, gins, and all the rest. It's not perfect but we think it's the best there is.


In whiskey, the Taiwain Kavalan line reigned supreme vaulting to the top but Irish whiskey did fine with both Jameson (the rarest reserve) and Bushmills (the 16yr) sitting in the top 10 critically. Don't turn a blind eye to Knob Creek, which continues to represent North America in the top 20.

  • Kavalan Solist Fino Cask Strength Whisky
  • Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask Strength Whisky
  • Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve
  • Kavalan Ex Bourbon Cask Whisky
  • Dewars 18yr Blended Scotch
  • Midleton Barry Crockett Irish Whiskey
  • Chivas Regal 25yr Scotch
  • Yamazaki 18yr Single Malt Whisky
  • Bushmills 16yr Irish Whiskey
  • Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch
  • Kavalan Solist Vinho Whisky
  • Classic Cask Batch 40 Single Batch Scotch
  • Isle of Jura 1977 Single Malt Scotch
  • Knob Creek Rye Whiskey
  • Knob Creek Bourbon
  • Buchanans 18yr Scotch
  • Chivas Regal 18yr Scotch
  • Dalmore 1974 Single Malt Scotch
  • Highland Park 25yr Single Malt Scotch
  • Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey


In vodka, the Lithuanian Gera vodka continues to sit atop the charts but now the Idaho-produced Grand Teton sits at #2. In the volatile world of flavored vodkas, Van Gogh Double Espresso, Crop Tomato, and Indigenous Apple all round out the top 20. Whipped cream and other shock flavors did not make the cut... maybe next year. This continues, by far, to be our most volatile spirit category with respect to rankings outside of the Gera, Grand Teton, and Stoli Elit.

  • Gera Vodka
  • Grand Teton Vodka
  • Stolichnaya Elit Vodka
  • Kremlin Award Vodka
  • Fuzzys Vodka
  • Moulin Jean Paul Vodka
  • Fair Quinoa Vodka
  • Eristoff Vodka
  • American Harvest Organic Spirit
  • Platinka Platinum Filtered Vodka
  • Cameo Vodka
  • Leaf Alaskan Glacier Water Vodka
  • Monopolowa Vodka
  • Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka
  • Froggy B Vodka
  • ID Black Onyx Vodka
  • Stalinskaya Vodka
  • Crop Organic Tomato Vodka
  • Indigenous Apple Vodka
  • Russian Caliber Vodka (tie)
  • Infuse Cinnamon Apple Vodka


Louis Royer absolutely dominates the brandy listings while Hennessy is nowhere to be found. Pisco, an un-aged eau-de-vie from South America, sits in the top 20 with Waqar.

  • Louis Royer Extra Grande Champagne Cognac
  • Louis Royer Force 53 VSOP Cognac
  • Louis Royer XO Cognac
  • Waqar Pisco
  • Comandon XO Cognac
  • Drouet and Fils Ulysse XO Cognac
  • Louis Royer Preference VSOP Cognac
  • Camus Elegance VSOP Cognac
  • Boulard XO Calvados
  • Boulard Grand Solage VSOP Calvados
  • Pere Magloire 20yr Calvados
  • Berneroy Fine Calvados
  • Cognac Frapin Fontpinot XO Cognac
  • Berneroy XO Calvados
  • Courvoisier 21yr Cognac
  • Vecchia Romagna 10yr Riserva Brandy
  • Camus Borderies VSOP Cognac
  • Ysabel Regina Brandy
  • Le Giare Gewurztraminer Grappa
  • Bertrand XO Cognac (tie)
  • Camus Elegance VS Cognac (tie)


People who like their gin, like their gin and don't tend to move much. But big market players Tanqueray 10 and Beefeater continue to top our lists with newcomers Aviation and Bluecoat still making waves. For the first time since we were founded, Hendrick's Gin has fallen out of the top 20.

  • Tanqueray No 10 Gin
  • Gin Mare Mediterranean Gin
  • Bluecoat Gin
  • Beefeater Gin
  • Aviation Gin
  • Aria Gin
  • Plymouth Gin
  • Citadelle Gin
  • Damrak Gin
  • Tanqueray Gin
  • Rogue Pink Gin
  • Only Gin
  • Copperworks Distilling Gin
  • Haymans London Dry Gin
  • Fifty Pounds Gin
  • New Amsterdam Gin
  • Warner Edwards Harrington Dry Gin
  • Dillons Unfiltered Gin 22
  • West Winds Cutlass Gin
  • (9-way tie for the #20 gin)


In the rum world, Bacardi made waves with their premium Facundo releases but Pusser's and Appleton continue to top the charts. Craft distilled rums are having trouble gaining traction (at least critically) in this space with the exception of the Thai Phraya Rum.

  • Appleton Estate 21yr Rum
  • Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros
  • Bacardi Reserva Limitada Rum
  • Facundo Bacardi Paraiso Rum
  • Clement Homere Rum
  • Pussers Nelsons Blood Rum
  • Pussers Gunpowder Proof Rum
  • Phraya Gold Rum
  • Clement VSOP Rum
  • Havan Club 3 Anos Rum
  • Facundo Bacardi Exquisito Rum
  • Santa Teresa 1796 Extra-Aged Rum
  • Cockspur Old Gold Rum
  • Clemente Premiere Canne Rum
  • Appleton Estate Extra 12yr Rum
  • Clement 6yr Rum
  • JM Rhum VSOP Rhum Agricole
  • Ron Cartavio XO Rum
  • Clement XO Extra-Aged Rum
  • Real McCoy 5yr Aged Rum (tie)
  • English Harbour 25yr 1981 Rum (tie)


The always rambunctious tequila category still rewards the fine El Tesoro line of tequilas but it is now being edged out in our rankings by the Alquimia brand. Note that for the third year running the humble little MIlagro Silver continues to sit in our top 20.

  • Herradura Seleccion Suprema Tequila
  • Alquimia Reposado Organic Tequila
  • Alquimia Anejo Organic Tequila
  • El Tesoro Anejo Tequila
  • Alquimia Don Adolfo Extra Anejo Tequila
  • El Tesoro Platinum Tequila
  • El Tesoro Reposado Tequila
  • Siete Leguas Reposado Tequila
  • Herradura Anejo Tequila
  • Cazadores Anejo Tequila
  • KAH Blanco Tequila
  • Casamigos Reposado Tequila
  • El Tesoro Paradiso Tequila
  • Siete Leguas Blanco Tequila
  • Partida Blanco Tequila
  • Milagro Silver Tequila
  • Don Julio 1942 Tequila
  • Cavalino Reposado Tequila
  • Dos Lunas Reposado Tequila
  • Casa Dragones Joven Tequila


Liqueurs have always been a category where we think the critics perform best, consistently guiding us to try fascinating spirits that we'd have otherwise ignored. Merlet French liqueurs continue to do well as does Grand Marnier. But Whidbey Island blackberry? Berentzen Ice Mint? Peel Bananacello? These are things that would never pass our lips but for our algorithm declaring the in the top 20 liqueurs in the world in 2014.

  • Sovrano Limoncello Liqueur
  • Merlet Creme de Cassis Liqueur
  • Merlet Creme de Peche Liqueur
  • Whidbey Island Blackberry Liqueur
  • Vittone Fernet Menta Liqueur
  • Grand Marnier Cuvee du Cent Cinquantenaire
  • Merlet Creme de Frambois Liqueur
  • Amaro Montenegro Liqueur
  • Lazzaroni Maraschino Liqueur
  • Sovrano Limoncello Cream Liqueur
  • Grand Marnier Cuvee du Centenaire
  • Amaro Nonino Quintessentia Liqueur
  • Berentzen Ice Mint Schnapps
  • Merlet C2 Cassis Liqueur
  • Merlet Creme de Mure Blackberry Liqueur
  • Peel Bananacello Liqueur
  • Grand Marnier Quintessence Liqueur
  • Gran Gala Orange Liqueur
  • TMD Kurumba Rum Liqueur
  • Merlet Creme de Fraise Liqueur (tie for #20)
  • FruitLab Crism Hibiscus Organic Liqueur (tie for #20)


Lastly is the always interesting "Exotic" category of things that defy categories. While cachaca and mezcal might be spirits you would consider trying we see baijiu, distilled stout, lambanog, and soju as well. All spirits that defy the common man's easy knowledge and where a little critical acclaim goes a long ways in encouraging a purchase.

  • Mozart Dry Chocolate Spirit
  • Leblon Cachaca
  • Don Amado Rustico Mezcal
  • Grune Fee Absinthe
  • Kweichou Moutai Baijiu
  • Los Amantes Joven Mezcal
  • INOX Original Cachaca
  • 8 Viboras Anejo Mezcal
  • Mina Real Reposado Mezcal
  • El Rey Zapoteco Joven Mezcal
  • Infanta Lambanog Coconut Spirit
  • Tamiangs Soju
  • Coisa Nossa Gold Cachaca
  • Coisa Nossa Silver Cachaca
  • Mikkeller Black Rum Cask Distilled Stout
  • Iba Joven 55 Mezcal
  • Yaguara Cachaca
  • Leblon Reserva Especial Cachaca
  • Scorpion Tobala Anejo Mezcal
  • Pernod Absinthe Superieure (tie for #20)
  • 8 Viboras Joven Espadin Mezcal (tie for #20)

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