In terms of whisky, 2022 has been a pretty good year…
Having close friends with whom to share a whisky can be a deeply rewarding experience. These relationships can provide support, companionship, and a sense of belonging that is essential for mental and emotional well-being. Friendships can also be a source of fun and relaxation, especially when enjoyed over a glass of whisky.
In addition to the personal benefits of having friends with whom to drink whisky, there are also social and cultural benefits to consider. Sharing a whisky with friends can help to build and strengthen social connections, which can be especially important in times of stress or isolation. Drinking whisky with friends can also be a way to celebrate special occasions, mark milestones, or simply spend time together.
Overall, the importance of friends with whom to share whisky cannot be overstated. These relationships can enrich our lives in countless ways, providing support, connection, and enjoyment. Whether enjoyed at home or out on the town, whisky shared with friends is a truly special experience.
For many people, a shared passion for whisky can be a great way to make new friends and connect with others who share similar interests. Whether through whisky tastings, club meetings, or simply enjoying a dram with like-minded individuals, there are many opportunities to meet new friends who share a love of whisky.
Meeting friends through a shared passion for whisky can also be a great way to learn more about the spirit and discover new brands and styles. By sharing experiences and discussing different whiskies, you can expand your knowledge and appreciation of the drink, while also forming lasting friendships.
In addition, participating in events and activities related to whisky can be a great way to meet new people and make connections. Whether it’s attending a whisky festival, joining a whisky club, or simply chatting with others at a bar or tasting room, there are many opportunities to connect with others who share your love of whisky. So whether you’re a seasoned whisky aficionado or just starting to explore the world of whisky, don’t be afraid to seek out new friends and connections through your shared passion for this timeless and beloved spirit.
In 2022 and the years before, I have been fortunate to form many meaningful friendships through my passion for whisky. Some of these friends I have only met virtually through social media or online tastings, while others I have been able to spend time with in person in the past.
One highlight of the year was a whisky-filled vacation to London, where I was able to reconnect with friends I hadn’t seen in a while and finally meet in person some of the people I had been chatting with online for years. It was a truly memorable experience and one that I will always treasure.
In addition to this trip, I also attended a few whisky shows, which provided the opportunity to catch up with friends I have made through my love of whisky and to meet new people who share this passion. All in all, it has been a wonderful year of friendship and whisky, and I am grateful for all the people I have met along the way.
And for that, I am grateful. I am so, so grateful I could spend time with people like (in no particular order) Claire, Matt, Jamie, Dave, Graham, Fay, Jens, Iain, Franck, Aurélien, Mathieu, Nathalie, Laurent, Benoît, Nicolas and so many more. Spending time with you guys was definitely in the highlights of 2022, and I cannot wait to spend some more time with you all again. I raise my glass to you.
Whisky shows can be a great way for whisky enthusiasts to learn more about the spirit and discover new brands and styles. At a whisky show, you can find a wide range of whiskies from different distilleries and regions, giving you the opportunity to taste and compare different expressions and find new favourites.
In addition to the opportunity to taste and learn about new whiskies, whisky shows can also be a great way to meet other whisky enthusiasts and learn from experts in the field. Many shows feature seminars (grandiloquently named ‘masterclasses’) and other educational events, allowing you to deepen your knowledge of whisky and its history, production, and flavour profiles.
Another advantage of whisky shows is the opportunity to purchase bottles and other whisky-related products. Many shows have vendors selling a variety of whisky-related items, such as glasses, books, and other accessories, giving you the chance to pick up something special for yourself or as a gift for a fellow whisky lover. Or special whisky show bottlings, like the Chichibu Paris or London Edition for instance.
Overall, whisky shows can be (are!) a fun and educational way to learn more about whisky and connect with others who share your passion for the spirit.
But I’m sure all of you, dear readers, know that already, and went to many whisky shows already.
In 2022, I had the opportunity to attend several whisky shows as both a visitor and exhibitor. These included the Lyon Whisky Festival, Dugas and Nantes Spirits Festival, and, as an exhibitor, Whisky Live Paris, where I represented Dingle Distillery alongside Graham and Fay Coull, Stephen O’Carroll, and Elliot Hugues, the managing director of Dingle.
Sharing my love of whisky with others is always a highlight, but doing so with friends and for a distillery that I truly like made the experience even more special. I was also able to meet the French ambassadors for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society at the Lyon Whisky Festival, which was a great opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and learn more about the Society. As a result of this experience, I decided to join the SMWS and have purchased several bottles of whisky from them since. Overall, it has been a very enjoyable and rewarding year for me as a whisky enthusiast.
Tasting Rare and Exclusive Whiskies
One of the great advantages of attending whisky shows and visiting whisky-specialised venues, such as whisky bars, is the opportunity to try exclusive or hard-to-find whiskies. These types of events and locations often have access to a wide range of rare and sought-after whiskies that may not be available at regular bars or liquor stores.
For example, whisky shows often feature special tasting areas where attendees can sample limited edition or single cask expressions that may not be widely available. Similarly, whisky bars may have a selection of rare and exclusive whiskies on their menus, giving you the chance to try something truly unique and special.
In addition to trying exclusive whiskies, attending whisky shows and visiting whisky bars can also be a great way to learn more about these rare and sought-after expressions. Many events and venues have knowledgeable staff or experts on hand to answer questions and provide more information about the whiskies being poured.
Overall, the opportunity to try exclusive and hard-to-find whiskies at whisky shows and specialized venues is a major advantage for whisky enthusiasts looking to expand their knowledge and tasting experiences. So, these events and venues can be a great way to discover new favorites and learn more about the wide world of whisky.
I had the opportunity to spend two evenings at the Melody Whisky Bar during my stay in London back in April. For those who do not know the Melody Whisky Bar, this venue has a fantastic selection of whiskies of all sorts, from reasonably priced drams to unicorns from lost distilleries. I indulged myself to two flights, featuring whiskies from lost distilleries I hadn’t tried anything from before. I did the same kind of thing at a whisky bar in Lyon, or at the Golden Promise bar as well, La Maison Du Whisky’s own bar, also featuring a mind-blowing selection of whiskies … though the price is not as fair as Melody’s… Finally, my last jaw-dropping flight was at the house of Franck ‘La Cave de Cobalt’ Debernardi back in September, the day before the Dugas whisky show, and I had more than my share of stunning amber liquids…
To drop a few names, these tastings allowed me to taste some Port Ellen, Karuizawa, Glenugie, Mosstowie, Rosebank, Glenesk, Glen Albyn, St. Magdalene, 1960s Balblair & Springbank… I really cannot complain. My credit card does, however.
But Also ‘Normal’ Whiskies
Whilst trying rare and exclusive whiskies can certainly be an exciting and enjoyable experience for whisky enthusiasts, it’s important to remember that there is also value in drinking and tasting ‘regular’ or more widely available whiskies. For one thing, ‘regular’ whiskies are often more readily available and affordable, making them more accessible for everyday drinking and enjoyment. In addition, these whiskies can also be of high quality and offer a wide range of flavour profiles and styles, making them worth exploring in their own right.
I had more than my fair share of ‘regular’ whiskies in 2022. I have not crunched the numbers to count exclusive vs regular whiskies tasted in 2022, but I will give statistics in a few moments.
More Drams Less Drama
This humble blog saw quite a growth over 2022. I have written more, and this shows in its statistics. 2021 had been quite a slow year with just 57 whiskies reviewed over 25 reviews, but in 2022, I reviewed 120 whiskies over 68 posts, and the two first ever malternatives over two posts. I’d like to think the quality of my articles grew as well, but I’ll let you, dear reader, the judge of that.
In terms of views, we’ve had more views in 2022 than between 2019 and 2021 combined, and December 2022 was our best month ever, with almost double the views than November 2022 which had been the best month until then.
We have had visitors from 104 different countries. The top 5 of the visiting countries are, from 1st to 5th, the United Stated, the United Kingdom, France, Canada and Ireland. The United States have almost twice as many views as the UK, ranked second.
The 2022 article that got the most views was the Yamazaki Distillers Reserve vs 12yo vs 18yo review. The one that got the less views was the Creations 1996 Cadenheads, but to its defence it was published only in the second half of December.
Overall, I am happy with the blog. I write more, and this gets results. Sure, we’re still far from the millions of views or the quality of writing and thinking of some of the blogs that inspire me, but I’d like to think we’re going in the right direction.
I will try to continue on this path in 2023 and we will see where it brings us. I hope you will continue this journey with us and continue reading my articles and reviews.
Now, amongst the whiskies reviewed in 2022:
The bottom three is a bottom 7 due to five whiskies tied at the 3rd from last place:
- Last place: Deanston 12-year-old bottled in the 1990s, with 65 points.
- Second to last place: Canadian Club Original 1878 (2022), with 70 points
- Third to last place: Dublin Liberties 5yo, Canadian Club 1969, Gerston Classic Blended Malt, Stratheden Classic Blended Malt and Aberfeldy 16-year-old, with 78 points.
At the opposite of the scale, here are the top-rated whiskies reviewed in 2022, with four of them tied on the third place as well:
- Third place, with 92 points: Glen Moray Mastery, Brora 1981 Signatory Vintage, Glendronach Grandeur batch 9 and Speyside 1988 32-year-old Le Gus’t
- Second place, with 93 points: Ardbeg 2001 from The Character of Islay Whisky Company
- First place, with 95 points: Yoichi 1988
For 2023, expect to see the rating scale be more widely used…
Rennes Whisky Club
In 2020, I co-founded the Rennes Whisky Club with two friends. Our first session was held shortly before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns, and for a time, that session remained the only one. However, as the pandemic began to ease, we decided to relaunch the club. Luckily, I was quickly able to find a few interested colleagues, and since May, we have been having monthly sessions (with the exception of the summer holidays).
Currently, our club is still quite small, and we have not yet reached the point where we can cover the cost of buying bottles for the club through membership or attendance fees. As a result, my co-founders and I are providing bottles from our own collections for now. We hope that the club will continue to grow in 2023, so that we can reach a point where we can sustain the cost of bottles through membership fees.
Each month, we select a theme for the tasting, and each member brings a bottle related to that theme. This allows us to try and compare three different whiskies related to the theme of the month. The themes have ranged from new distilleries to specific regions or even world whiskies. At the end of the session, we ask members to rank the whiskies in order of preference, and it’s always interesting to see the diversity of opinions and how different palates can lead to different rankings. Overall, the Rennes Whisky Club has been a great way to share and discover new whiskies with friends.
My Own Virtual Tastings
Since September, I have been hosting my own virtual whisky tastings. I have been a member of a French online community for over 20 years, and while whisky is not the main focus of the forum, there has been a thread dedicated to the subject for a few years.
A few months ago, I offered to organise virtual tastings for forum members, where I would select the whiskies, fill samples, and ship them out. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and I have had no trouble finding enough participants to make the tastings financially viable. In fact, for my Christmas special tasting, I had to hold a weighted ballot to determine who would be able to participate, as there were too many interested parties.
To date, I have hosted three tastings in four sessions between September and December. Each time, the tasting has been a great success, with my virtual guests enjoying the opportunity to try new whiskies and learn about different distilleries and expressions. Many of these guests have gone on to purchase bottles of the whiskies we tried together.
As the host, I have also learned a lot from these tastings, particularly in terms of when to take the lead and talk and when to let others share their thoughts and feedback. Hosting these virtual tastings has been a hugely rewarding and enjoyable experience.
The next tasting is scheduled for mid-January, and I need to quickly get filling and packing samples to ship out to participants. So let’s wrap up with some statistics.
During 2022, I saw significant growth on my social media accounts, particularly on Twitter. At the start of the year, I had 1542 followers and by the end, that number had increased to 2262, a net gain of 720 followers. This works out to almost two new followers per day. I also posted about 5,750 tweets, that’s almost 16 a day.
On Instagram, I didn’t track my follower count at the beginning of the year, but by the end, I had 530 followers. While this platform hasn’t seen as much growth as Twitter, I am not as active on Instagram and may not be taking the necessary steps to increase my following.
On Facebook, I don’t pay as much attention to my number of friends, but I have been more active on the platform recently, joining several distillery fan groups and founding the Glen Moray Appreciation Society (though it was at the end of 2021). As of the time of writing, the group has 383 members.
Overall, while my social media presence has grown steadily this year, I am always looking for ways to further engage with my followers and build my online community.
Over the year 2022, I have tried 510 new whiskies I hadn’t tried before. It’s 42% more than my previous ‘best’ which was back in 2019.
Let’s have a few statistics:
- The oldest in terms of distillation date was a Ballantine’s 30-year-old I acquired a bottle of, bottled in 1974 and distilled before 1939
- The oldest in terms of age were a Longmorn 1971 bottled by Gordon & Macphail and a Spica blend from North Star Spirits, both 40 years of age.
- The distillery I tried the most whiskies from was Glen Moray, with 21 new expressions tried over 2022. It was followed by Bimber, with 11 expressions, and Warenghem, from which I tried 10 new Armorik and Yeun Elez expressions.
If some of the whiskies I’ve tried in 2022 have been reviewed on More Drams, obviously not all the whiskies I tried are. I give a 0 to 5 rating to most of them, using the same scale as Brian ‘@MaltMusings’.
Over 2022, I’ve given a 5 to 34 whiskies, which is quite a large number. This can be explained as I’ve had the privilege to try quite a number of fantastic whiskies through whisky bars, whisky shows, tastings at friends and my annual advent calendar made by a friend who has not the same budget I have…
Now if I choose three amongst those 34 (that I’ve tried for the first time in 2022), it would go this way:
- Third place: Ardbeg 2001 The Character of Islay Whisky Company
- Second place: Karuizawa 1999 Cherry Geisha cask #895 (I’ll write the review in 2023)
- First place: Port Ellen 1979 12th release (I’ll write the review in 2023)
And what about the worst you ask?
- Third place: McAfee’s Benchmark NAS (a Buffalo Trace)
- Second place: Canadian Club Original 1878
- First place: Deanston 12-year-old bottled in the 1990s
Over 2022, I have also bought 48 full bottles of whisky (I’m frightening myself…), with an additional 16 either from splits, or gifts. I guess I won’t lack whisky for 2023, but I’d better buy some more just to be sure.
Finally, I have also been able to visit three distilleries in 2022: Bimber in London, White Peak (south of Sheffield, in England), and Cirka in Montreal.
As I reflect on the year that has passed, I am grateful for the whisky community that has supported and guided me on my journey. From distilleries to fellow whisky enthusiasts and friends, this community has helped me to broaden my perspective on whisky and learn more about this fascinating and complex spirit.
I have had the pleasure of talking about whisky with many of you and sharing drams, and I am deeply thankful for all that you have taught me. Overall, 2022 has been a great year for me as a whisky lover, and I am looking forward to continuing to explore and learn more in 2023.
To everyone who has been a part of my whisky journey so far, I raise my glass to you and send my best wishes for the new year. Here’s to a bright and whisky-filled 2023!