Posted by: Nick and Ted
2018 has been a huge year in the Waffle-verse. It’s been crammed with trips to Japan, to Scotland, and 25 days of
Christmas Aussie Whisky. We conclude this action-packed twelve months with a reflection upon our favourite drams of the year.
That’s right – it’s the 2018 Waffle Awards!
So get ready for a series of deeply subjective and divisive decisions as we reveal the whiskies that impressed us throughout 2018!
The Isle of the Drammed Award for the best Tasmanian whisky
We are, as far as we know, the only whisky awards to have a category specifically for Tasmanian whisky. But with so many stellar drams coming out of our home state we think it deserves to be the latest chapter in Jim Murray’s whisky diary. This year the Isle of the Drammed goes to:
Launceston Distillery Tawny Cask
We visited Launceston Distillery out at their ex-Ansett hangar a few years ago, right when they were beginning their whisky journey. Now they finally have some product out and we’re happy to say – it’s been worth the wait! There are ex-sherry and bourbon releases out there, but our favourite is the port cask, or ‘tawny’ as it’s correctly labelled. And it’s fantastic – big, bold and fruity with flavours of chocolate and blackberries thrown in. It’s everything we love in a Tassie drop and is a worthy winner of the 2018 Isle of the Drammed.
The Tartan Slipper Award for the best Scottish whisky
So many amazing and interesting drams continue to come out of whisky’s motherland. And yet, they also produce a few simple drops that deserve more recognition than they get. With that in mind, this year’s Tartan Slipper goes to:
Glenfarclas 15 Year Old
Occasionally you find one of those drams that continues to impress every time you go back to it. It’s not necessarily blingy or in-your-face, it just quietly keeps on doing its thing and gives you a warm welcome whenever you drop by to say hello. For us, the Glenfarclas 15 Year Old is one of those drams. We’ve tried both younger and older releases from Glenfarclas, but none of them seem to have the balance and intangible x-factor that the 15 does. It has a dash of the liveliness of a younger dram, without being harsh, and retains a complexity of character that can sometimes get lost in the older, smoother drams. The best bit is that if you can get it on special, it’s also very forgiving on the wallet. The Glenfarclas 15yo is family-owned, heavily-Sherried whisky at its best.
The Pocket Pleaser Award the perfect pick for the parched penny pincher
We acknowledge that often the more expensive a bottle is, the higher the quality. But this perspective often sees cheaper gems overlooked. We love discovering tasty drops that don’t hit the wallet too hard. This year, the Pocket Pleaser goes to:
Dobsons Old Reliable
Dobson’s certainly come across on the cheap-and-cheerful spectrum whisky, nothing giving this away so much as the white wine bottle it is packaged in. But look past this and you’ve got an easy drinking buttery toffee dram which will displease no one. And as an Australian drop available for under $80 you cannot go wrong. It’s a top quality quaffing whisky – or, better still, a session whisky. It goes down beautifully when paired with an Australian summer.
The Weirdsky Award for the most WTF whisky
One of worst things a whisky can be is boring. So we have an award for the dram that pushes things in the complete opposite direction. Rarely is this award won by a favourite drinking drop, but gosh, it’s always fun to try. This year the Weirdsky Award goes to:
23rd Street Hybrid Whisk(e)y
Scotch whisky, blended with American bourbon, aged in Australia. There is no way this should work… and yet… it somehow does. The corn notes add a sweetness to a speysidey character and the overall effect is a pleasant easy-drinker. It’s an insane sounding drop, but definitely worth a taste.
The Bill Lark Award for service to the Tasmanian Whisky Industry
Every year we consider it a privilege and an honour to be a part of the whisky industry here in Tasmania. There are so many wonderful people involved and each year we like to acknowledge one for their contribution to the scene. This year, the Bill Lark Award goes to:
We’ve always swelled with pride over the fact that Tasmanian whisky makers are happy to help out one another and share their expertise with new distillers. No one on the scene demonstrates this more than Mathew Cooper of Fanny’s Bay. So many of the new players in the Tas whisky scene, particularly in the north of the state, have received invaluable wisdom and assistance from this man as they’ve got started, and others have simply gained the confidence that they’re on the right track due to a few kind words from Mat. He is generous with his time, his praise, and his pouring and he was even prepared to demonstrate the distillation process to a couple of Wafflers over the course of a few days earlier this year where much information was passed on and many drams shared.
However no mention of Mat Cooper could be complete without acknowledging the contribution of his wife, Julie. As well as designing the Fanny’s Bay labels and helping behind the scenes, she embodies the welcoming and generous spirit of the distillery and the Tasmanian whisky industry in general.
The Golden Dram for the best dram whisky in the world
This is it! The top drop! Out of everything we tried throughout 2018 what do we consider to be the best? So without further adieu the 2018 Golden Dram goes to:
Laphroaig PX Cask 13 Year Old
Sorry folks, you’re going to have a hard time finding this one. On my extensive tour of Laphroaig I was presented with the opportunity to bottle some 13 Year Old whisky straight from the cask! There were several cask options available, but I couldn’t go past this one. I mean, Laphroaig fully matured in sherry casks – how often do you come across that? Now I’ve got the bottle home and shared it with m’colleague we decided it was a wise decision to plump for this particular dram. It’s rich and complex, firey at 52%, and packed with all the smoke anyone could desire. It’s the dram of the year and one that I’ll be very sad when my 200ml runs out…
And finally, two little mentions to finish on:
We give an Honourable Mention to a couple of fantastic South Australian discoveries from Ted’s advent calendar: Fleurieu and Iniquity. We hope to find out some more about these two whiskies in 2019!
The Founders Reserve Award (AKA the dishonourable mention) is also split two ways: – to Yamazaki Distillery for failing to have any single-malt whisky for sale in their gift shop. Come on Japan, get your act together!
and to Tiger Snake Whiskey by Great Southern Distilling Co. for being so… meh. Allegedly it’s meant to be an Aussie take on bourbon, but it doesn’t really do its Southern inspiration justice. Doesn’t really do much for Australian whisk(e)y either. Such a shame when the Limeburners is so good.
Keep on waffling into 2019.
Nick and Ted.
Great stories as usual. Whisky-drinking wife & I compared the Glenfarclas 15 and 17 (and some other sherry bombers) and the 15 really held its own. So I’m with you on that pick. Also, I imagine it’s a different cask but the wife & I decanted (valinched?) a Laphroaig from the sherry cask when we visited and it IS the bomb. More flavor than a street full of BBQ! I just have trouble rationalizing when to actually drink it, LOL.
Sorry I’m slow replying to this. Been off on summer holidays and am only just back into the waffling! How long ago were you at Laphroaig? If not the same cask then I reckon it’s similar. I’m so pleased that someone else knows what we’re fanboying about! And yes, when to drink it… that’s the big question!
Thanks for the comment and happy new year (however belatedly)!
=D – Nick
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Hi Nick no worries. We were there Aug 2017. No idea how fast they go through casks though. Probably a different one…but yes sounds similar.