Another year has passed and it is time for one of our favourite blog posts - our top 10 whiskies from last year. Everyone will have a different opinion about what should and should not be on such a list. Our list is simply our favourites with no agenda or criteria, other than the whisky had to be released in 2020.
2020 was a year like no other in our lifetimes. The effects of Covid-19 have impacted all facets of daily life and beyond. It has had huge implications for the whisky industry around the world too. But after a short hiatus in March and April, companies began to carry on with adapted plans and release new bottlings. Launch events, tastings and even whisky shows turned to the online format and have now become commonplace.
As with previous years we have struggled to narrow our choices down to just ten. We have sampled many nice whiskies, reviewing over 100 of them. As with the last few years, we have decided to again list the final ten in alphabetical order, rather than ranking them. Please let us know your thoughts and your favourite whiskies of 2020 in the comments. So here goes ...
Our Top 10 Whiskies of 2020
A Summer release that saw another permanent addition to the increasingly popular Smokehead range of Islay single malts. Like with Scarabus, the distillery is un-named but in this case the whisky has been finished in ex-rum casks from the Caribbean. It was launched on International Rum Day (August 16) as a result. Good value for money too, as with most of our choices (£55).
As we said, it has been difficult to select our final Top 10. In the end we went largely with value for money. All 10 are below £100 per bottle and all give you plenty at their various price points. But of course there are other whiskies that we considered and that almost made it. These deserve an 'honourable mention'.
Some limited edition and permanent releases impressed us especially the Blue Spot 7 years old and Tamdhu Batch Strength No.005 from the Autumn. The Mackmyra Grönt Te and Glen Moray Madeira Cask Project from earlier in the year were also highlights. A few single cask releases were also of superb quality. Those worth noting include the Glenglassaugh Coastal Casks and Glendronach Batch 18 that we sampled, plus the Rosebank 1993 Casks and the John Crabbie 1994 Single Cask.
At the expensive end there were some excellent whiskies released. The Redbreast 27 years old matured in ex-Port casks was an early pre-Covid highlight. Then came two from Diageo - the John Walker & Sons Bicentennial Blend, part of the brand's 200th anniversary celebrations, and The Singleton of Glen Ord 38 years old. The new Benriach The Twenty Five and The Thirty were both superb, as was the Glendronach Kingsman 1989 Vintage.