As 2018 draws to a close, we reflect on the news and features that caught your eye the most this year.
Well, we’ve reached the end of another year. The Earth has put in another hell of a shift in its orbit around the Sun. Now is the time where we reflect on all that happened in 2018.
It has been another 12 months filled with standout stories, all manner of incidents, and of course highs and lows. Among the articles you read most on our award-winning blog were round-ups of great booze, limited-edition whisky launches, and a sorry tale of a collapsing warehouse. We shed a tear for all that bourbon.
Without further delay, these are the top 10 stories that you read, shared and talked about the most in 2018.
10. 10 of the best gins with wonderfully unusual botanicals
The first in our list of most-read stories is a round-up of gins that avoided the tired and tested when it came to botanicals. All manner of intriguing ingredients were used to create these 10 interesting expressions, such as Kampot pepper, seaweed, hinoki wood chips, baobab fruit and even Christmas tree needles. It’s well worth revisiting this list, what with New Year’s Eve so close…
9. Kentucky warehouse collapse creates giant bourbon barrel heap
Awful, terrible and impossible not to watch. Kentucky distillery Barton 1792 won’t forget 2018 in a hurry after it witnessed a partial collapse of one its warehouses. Many of you couldn’t peel your eyes away in sympathy, horror or morbid fascination as an estimated 9,000 barrels of bourbon were sent crashing to the ground in the Sazerac-owned distillery’s warehouse. What a waste of good whiskey.
8. William Larue Weller takes top spot in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2019
After all these years people still want to know what whiskies were celebrated in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. The 2019 edition was notable for its new section on English and Welsh whiskies as the categories continue to shine. But the biggest story was, of course, which tipple took home the top prize of 2019 World Whisky of the Year. As a lot will you know by now, that accolade was won by the sensational William Larue Weller (2017 Release).
7. Ardbeg launches limited-edition 22 Year Old whisky
A classic distillery. A limited-edition bottling. What’s not to like? Our dear readers were understandably anxious to learn more when news broke that Ardbeg was releasing a limited edition 22 Year Old single malt Scotch. It’s a notable expression because it was distilled in 1996 when Ardbeg was under threat of demolition, and it contains spirit from the retired still that now stands in the distillery courtyard.
6. Talking trends: What we’ll be drinking in 2019 and beyond
It’s become commonplace for big brands within the UK drinks industry to publish insight reports on the coming trends. Readers of our blog were clearly keen to see what we may be drinking in the future, which explains the popularity of this article on William Grant & Sons’ UK Market Report 2018. If you missed this one yourself, it’s worth taking a look and delving into the core concepts of The Active-ist Consumer; Rooted in realness?; Tangible Transparency and Multi-Sensory Masstige. The future sounds like it’s a confusing place.
5. GlenDronach Revival 15 Year Old is back!
July 2015 was properly rubbish if you were a Scotch whisky and GlenDronach fan. Why? Because cult whisky GlenDronach’s 15 year old Revival single malt was taken away from our lives. But, in September 2018, we received word that it was coming back. It’s understandable that the story caught your collective eye, the Revival was revived for goodness sake!
4. Craigellachie to give away 51 year old whisky for free!
If one thing is clear from this round-up, is that we all love a big whisky launch. Craigellachie releasing its oldest whisky to date was always going to be huge news. But when the distillery revealed that it wouldn’t cost a penny, readers obviously flocked to the site to find out how and why this was even possible. In an effort to stop an incredible new expression from being tasted by very few and becoming another collectable gathering dust on a shelf somewhere, the Speyside distillery made Craigellachie 51 available for whisky lovers to enjoy free of charge at tasting events in the UK, South Africa, Australia and the US. It was a commendable move, and one that we’ll hopefully see emulated in 2019.
3. Make room, Johnnie! Jane Walker has arrived
Since the US presidential election in 2016, rumours across the industry suggested that Johnnie Walker would introduce a female counterpart. That news was finally confirmed in 2018, when we saw Jane Walker for the first time on a limited-edition run of the Johnnie Walker brand’s 12 year old Black Label blended whisky. It was a big story that received a varied response. But, as our Annie pointed out in the original piece, women have played a huge role in the brand’s long and storied history, and continue to do so. Plus Diageo has received praise for its championing of female representation in the workplace.
2. Eight extraordinary wine cask finished whiskies!
The fact that this piece has taken the number two spot is something of a pleasant surprise. It’s all about the relatively new but exciting phenomenon of wine cask finishing in whisky. A total of eight enterprising expressions were listed here, from the stunning Edradour 16 Year Old 2000 – Barolo Cask Finish 56.1% to the wonderful Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection – Sonoma-Cutrer Finish. Another one that’s worth revisiting, what with New Year’s Eve approaching…
1. Whisky is Coming!
The biggest news story of the year will come as little surprise to many readers. Mostly because you’ve almost certainly read this article, but also because it concerned a new Johnnie Walker expression and the smash HBO hit Game of Thrones. It was an understandable tie-in, not just because of the obvious commercial potential, but because the show features prominent villains named the White Walkers (demon-like creatures from the frozen north, if you haven’t seen it). That pitch really wrote itself, didn’t it? The new whisky was created by whisky specialist George Harper and his team at Diageo to be served chilled in honour of its inspiration. A temperature-sensitive graphic was also included on the bottle to spell out the words “Winter is here” when the bottle is at the right temperature.