It’s that time of year again, the one we all look forward to: when content creators are running out of steam and resort to listicles to fill their feed for the end of the year.
Jokes aside, monitoring which reviews are resonating with our readers is a routine part of running this site — and since we do try to be as transparent as possible with our readers, we figured why not take this opportunity to share the most popular reviews among our readers this year?
#5: Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
I’m actually really glad that this one made the list, even if it just squeaked by (less than 1,000 pageviews separated it from the number six bottle — which was Willet Pot Still Bourbon, if you’re curious). The reason I’m happy is because this offering really sits in that sweet spot for an affordable-yet-delicious spirit. If you’re looking for a good scotch whisky that won’t break the bank, Monkey Shoulder is always my number one recommendation.
Monkey Shoulder is a blended scotch whisky that uses spirits from William Grant & Son’s other distilleries and combines them to create a consistently delicious flavor profile. You can expect something a bit sweet and malty, with some honey, vanilla, and even a touch of Earl Grey tea.
#4: Solan Number One
To be frank, I feel like this review of Solan Number One makes the list more because of the lack of other online content about it and less because of the spirit itself.
That’s not to say that it’s a bad drink — I like it quite a lot actually, and at this price point the spirit is damn hard to beat. Caramel, nutmeg, orange peel, and even a bit of licorice all make up the flavor profile in this surprisingly sippable bottle.
But we’re one of a handful of spirits review websites that have actually tried it. This seems to be a bit of a dark horse because of its country of origin, as Indian whiskies generally aren’t as sought after as their Scottish counterparts. But that’s our goal here: we want to find the best out there. And this is pretty darn good for the money.
#3: Laphroaig 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
There are two spirits on this list that we actually reviewed this calendar year — this one and the top pick. In fact, both reviews came out within a couple days of each other and have gotten a good level of attention ever since. And for good reason, to be frank.
Within the world of Scottish spirits, there are a bunch of Islay scotch whiskies that are delicious and peaty in their own way. Topping that list, in my opinion, is the Lagavulin 16 Year — but not everyone is in the mood to drop damn near $100 on a bottle. Which puts this bottle of Laphroaig 10 Year in that sweet spot of being perfectly balanced and delicious without breaking the bank.
The trick that Laphroaig pulls off is the ability to be peat-forward in the flavor profile while still having a diverse cast of supporting characters to make it an engaging flavor experience. Definitely worth being on the list, and worth checking out.
#2: Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey
Blanton’s is one of those “holy grail bottles” where everyone in the whiskey world seems to be trying to get their hands on one. And while it is a good tasting bourbon, I candidly think this bottle is a bit over hyped for what you get.
The flavors are all on point, certainly. Brown sugar, sticky toffee caramel, cherry, pear, and a bit of black pepper spice all mix together for a rich and delicious sip of whiskey. Add in the unique bottle shape and the slightly gimmicky line of stoppers and you’ve got the recipe for something that is sure to fly off the shelves.
However, there are better bottles out there at this price point that are much more attainable. Here’s a look at other similar bottles we’ve reviewed, and in my opinion the Bardstown Bourbon might actually squeak out a win. There are more interesting flavors going on in the Bardstown bottle, and while it might not have the same shelf appeal that really doesn’t matter when the liquid is in your glass.
If you can get a bottle of Blanton’s, you won’t be disappointed. But if you can’t find it on the shelves of your local store, just know that there are other options to explore.
#1: Dalmore 15 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky
I really do feel like the wisdom of the crowds picked a winner here. This is a remarkably good scotch whisky that everyone should try at least once, even those who proclaim that they hate scotch.
What’s interesting about the flavor profile in this Dalmore 15 is that, thanks to the sherry cask finishing, it pulls off some tricks that you’d normally only see in a really good cognac — and does so in a way that is complex and interesting. There’s flavors of dried apricots and figs, raisins, and baking spices that combine with the more traditional toffee caramel, vanilla, and honey drizzled sourdough bread notes of a Highlands scotch whisky to create a delicious experience.
While these five spirits might have gotten the most buzz in 2022, I’m really looking forward to what we will see in 2023. Whether that’s a change in the tastes of the public towards a different style of spirit, or if we discover something new together that is really amazing — either way, there’s always something new. And that’s our hope for 2023: that we all discover some new spirits, new drinks, and new experiences. Cheers!